Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #39 – You’re Wrong!

September 28th, 2020

You’re Wrong![1]

 

How we fight those words even when, well… we’re obviously wrong.

 

It was the early morning in Vṛndāvana during my japa meditation. As my concentration deepened, some mistakes that I made drifted into my consciousness. I could let those thoughts go, or at least I could have tried, but their nature was forcing me to confront them.

 

Then, before the pain of admission could pinch my ego, I heard a soothing internal voice: “It wasn’t your fault! It was circumstantial. The mistakes were exaggerated. And you have accepted responsibility. You’re so humble…”

 

Just as I was rationalizing my faults, however, I was hit by a more powerful and challenging message. That week in my daily sat-saga I had been teaching the story “The Deliverance of the Wives of the Brāhmaṇas” from the Tenth Canto of the Bhāgavatam. I had just lectured on the part where the learned, austere brāhmaas were awakened not only to their own offenses, but also to the realization of how paltry their spiritual attainment was compared to their simple wives. They condemned themselves in the harshest way:

 

“To hell with our being initiated priests, our vows of celibacy, and our extensive learning! To hell with our aristocratic background and our expertise in the ritual of sacrifice! These are all condemned because we are inimical to the transcendental Personality of Godhead.” (Bhāg.10.23.40)

 

What struck me in this story was the Sanskrit word used for remorse, which I gleaned to have the same root as tapa, which means “austerity” or “heat”. At least that’s how I read it. The story brought to my mind the point that embracing our faults is an austerity, a practice that burns our false ego – that cherished conception of being better than others, of being the controller and enjoyer.

 

So, that day, as I was watching the process of rationalization co-opting any sense of remorse, I thought of this pastime and was inspired to stop rationalizing and let the acknowledgement of my blunders burn the false ego, that insidious desire to be the controller. Internally I screamed, but at the same time the holy name became more and more the focus of my consciousness as I embraced the humble position.

 

“You’re wrong!” Oh, how we hate those words, but at the same time how good they can be for us if we accept them properly. We have studied the teachings the Gītā so many times, and we abhor the self-centered. Why then should it be so difficult to hear these words, even for one fairly advanced on the path?

 

We have come to this world to seek our pleasure from enjoyment, not service. We thus seek power in the form of wealth, education, beauty, position, and so on to conform the world to our desires and a sense of superiority. As admitting our mistakes even to one other person, or just to ourselves, means a diminishment of status or a loss of power, we fight that conception tooth and nail, even if it belies our core values, and it is unbecoming to our spiritual life.

 

It is counter intuitive, but all glories to “I’m wrong!

 

 


[1] This is an article from four years ago published on approximately the same month and date as today. It is not that I didn’t write a new Monday Morning Greeting. I did complete one and was very satisfied with what I wrote. But on further reflection I decided that the point I was trying to make was deeper than I initially thought, and an important topic, so I should take more time to revise the article. The article is an analysis of Krishna West, an institution within ISKCON dedicated to making Krishna consciousness relevant in the West.

 

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