Monday Morning Greetings 2023 #49 – “Where There is No Circumference, the Center is Everywhere” and Other Kārtika Realizations

December 4th, 2023

Kārtika ended yesterday. Some realizations from the month:


How to reconcile that on the highest levels of love of God (prema), the greatest suffering is also the highest ecstasy.


During Kārtika I taught chapter two of the Madhya-līlā of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta: “The Ecstatic Manifestations of Śrī Caitanya Mahaprabhu” and the seventh chapter of Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta: “Pūrṇa” (complete devotional perfection). One of the main themes of both chapters was that the emotions of intense suffering that the gopīs feel in their relationship with Krishna is counterintuitively the greatest ecstasy. Here’s a description of such love from Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta:


“But this anguish of separation is praised as greater than the happiness of enjoying with those one loves. Separation is so pleasing to the mind that it cannot be described. It always transforms at last into an abundance of pleasure. Only experts in tasting these moods can understand how this happens.” (7.126)


In both classes questions were asked about how to reconcile this apparent contradiction between the gopīs’ ecstasy being the greatest joy and the greatest suffering at the same time. The answer rests in the fact that the highest joy is love of God and thus the gopīs’ apparently painful emotions in deep separation from Krishna only increase their love and therefore their ecstasy. Still having trouble reconciling the two? I did also, until I thought of an analogy illustrating how painful emotions and joyful emotions can exist at the same time:


Just as in viewing a well written tragedy (drama) one deeply experiences the feelings of tragedy while at the same time enjoying the drama, in the same way the gopīs can experience the pain of separation and while at the same time enjoy the devotional ecstasy it engenders.



Destiny is the language of God.


In the story “The Passing Away of Bhīṣmadeva”, Bhīṣma answers his grandson Yudhiṣṭhira’s inquiry as to why he greatly suffered although he was so righteous by explaining to him the benevolent purpose behind the law of karma. Destiny is benevolent because it is directed towards each individual by the will of God to teach a specific lesson in one’s spiritual evolution provided one responds to it appropriately according to sacred wisdom texts under the guidance of those who have realized them. From that I came up with the above phrase, “destiny is the language of God,” in the sense that God is specifically talking to us by how He moves the world around us, and thus an important part of our spiritual development is understanding what essential lesson He is in fact teaching us, especially in the most trying of times. The worst mistake one can make in such instances is playing the role of a victim, because by excessively externalizing the cause of our suffering we lose sight of what God is telling us in terms of changing something in ourselves internally. In Kārtika I tried to use the clarity of consciousness resulting from a deeper sādhana this month to understand what God was telling me by how He was moving the world around me so that I could move forward with stronger faith in whatever direction that takes me.



Where there is no circumference, the center is everywhere.


This is an anonymous quote from the Liber XXIV, a medieval text consisting of twenty-four “sentences”, “aphorisms”, or “definitions” of God.[1] I can’t remember where I first heard this particular aphorism, but I kept on referring to it when in my teachings we would come upon a philosophical point or story expressing  that we are not separated from God by a physical distance but by the quality our consciousness or a faith. I found this realization very helpful in not seeing the spiritual world just as some place we need to travel to, but as a place we could access anywhere by deepening our spiritual life.


I bow my head to Kārtika, the most favorable of all months, which enthuses the heart with auspiciousness!


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_the_24_Philosophers


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