“Sreyah kairava candrika vitaranam.” We have just eliminated the negative. And now the positive is being introduced. We have cleansed the mirror heart of all the dirt and filth of the anarthas of material attachment. We have extinguished the blazing forest fire of material existence, which is the cause of all miseries and sufferings and now at this stage our actual blissful position of our spiritual nature begins to awaken.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu compares the Holy Name to the beautiful full moon. Of all things within this material existence, the two most pristine symbols of beauty are the full moon and the lotus flower. When we talk about the beauty of the Lord, we talk about His feet like lotuses, we talk about his eyes like lotuses, his heart like lotuses. And we also describe Him as so many moons. His moon-like face—Vrindavan Chandra. Because the beautiful full moon creates such natural beauty and when the full moon comes in contact with this fresh beautiful lotus flower, that is the exchange of ultimate beauty within this material creation. When the rays of the benedictions of the full moon come in contact with the lotus, which is compared to our own soul, then that soul begins to blossom.
When the lotus flower is closed, its fragrance and beauty cannot be enjoyed. But when it comes in contact with the light of the moon, when that lotus blossoms, all of its fragrance… all of its beauty is manifested to the world. So, this is the effect of the Holy Name, when it touches our hearts. It awakens the natural, beautiful loving qualities of our souls. And we realise and understand our own spiritual existence in our relationship with Vrindavan Chandra, Krishna. As that relationship develops, it manifests in five different rasas—as in neutrality, as a servant of the Lord, as a friend of the Lord, as the parent of the Lord or as the lover of the Lord. These transcendental qualities are unfolded as we come in contact with the sweet ambrosial sound of Krishna’s name.
“Vidya vadhu jivanam.” When that lotus of our own soul blossoms, then we can understand what is real knowledge, who we really are.
What is our real purpose and what is that purpose? To surrender completely to the will of God. This awakening is the next stage that comes through chanting Hare Krishna—utter surrender to the will of God. To the degree we surrender, to that degree we feel ecstasy. To the degree we are complacent or reluctant or we refuse to surrender to the will of Krishna, to the service of Krishna, to that same degree we are cheating ourselves of the nectar of transcendental love, which is our very eternal birth right. Complete surrender is the expression of knowledge of the true nature of our self, of our soul. Krishna explains in the Gita, Sarva dharman parityaja…
Abandon all other occupational ideas and all other religious conceptions and just surrender to Me. I shall protect you from all sinful reactions, do not fear.
In the material sense, surrender means to give up against our will and it is a miserable idea. Just when you are fighting a war you want the other side to surrender. And nobody likes to surrender. It means you lose everything. In the spiritual sense it is just the opposite.
In the spiritual sense you are surrendering at all times. It is just the question of who you are surrendering to. Because everyone is in a subordinate position in this material world. Krishna has three energies—His internal spiritual energy, external material energy, and His marginal energy. The Jiva soul is the marginal energy. We have the independent free will to either surrender to Krishna’s spiritual energy or to surrender to Krishna’s material energy. But surrender you do in any case.
The only means of being free from the power of maya is to surrender to Krishna who is the all good, the all beautiful, the reservoir of all pleasure. Why should we be reluctant to surrender to Krishna? Because we are habituated to surrendering to maya. It is such a simple thing. Krishna says, ‘Just surrender to Me’. Actually, it is the easiest, simplest, natural thing to surrender to Krishna. But we have become so much unnatural in our thinking, feeling, willing, that it appears to be very difficult. But through the power of the Holy Name, as the dust of our heart becomes cleansed … as the burning forest fire of material existence and the suffering of our actions and reactions of sinful activities, are extinguished, as the true knowledge in the lotus of our hearts become opened, then it becomes our very nature to surrender to Krishna. What does surrender mean—to love Krishna, to serve Krishna. The expression of love is to serve.
This is part 2 of the four-part series.
Gauranga Sundar Das is Iskcon Inc Communication Director and Social media IT Head.
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RELIGION IS NOT MEANT TO BE USED AS NARCOTICS
Man thinks he lives and he continues to live in the continuity of time. In fact, man exists. And he exists in existence. A man may simply ‘be’, he may simply ‘be’ in the being-ness of his ‘being’. And that is the right way of being. But man thinks he lives so the effort is needed to live. Therefore, he invents a lie to make effort. Because to be you, you simply be. But to live lie is needed. This lie is pedalled as the truth. And on the crutches of that lie a man who continues to live. Man is always anxious to do submission to the lie. That lie becomes a hallucination an illusion. Man is in search of an oasis in a desert that is not there. Life is wasted in search of something that is not there which, in fact, is a deception. Man is in search of a deception.
We have cultivated deceptions in our life. Deception becomes a journey of the man and in the end, he finds that it was mere deception. To live he invents a target and then thinks that the goal of his life is to achieve that target that he imagined. The goal of life is not to run after the quagmire of deceptions.
Man needs a narcotic to live. He needs to forget that which he is-the reality. That intoxicating narcotic is either that is of liquor that makes him forget that what he is, or that is of a lie. Lie also intoxicates you as liquor. A lie always comes as truth to sedate you. That which we call God is also used as a narcotic. That existence of God is an intoxication of people. God is not a lie. But you are a lie. Your deception is a lie. You are built on the edifice of a lie. And God that which you call God is a part of that edifice that is built on your lie, the God that you invented. The God that you raise is the God that you have bred like you have created a statue of God. That which you call God helps you. That which you call God intoxicates you.
Friedrich Nietzsche has said, “Two great European narcotics are alcohol and Christianity.” Narcotics exactly does what the organised religion does. People use religion as a narcotic drug. To get rid of their reality and forget themselves, religion is used as a drug.
People make religion essential crutches for your lie to walk. You say that He is God. Narcotics become the universal truth. God is not your obsession. Once drugged you forget everything for some time. It feels like you are closer to God. That drug was not to be used for forgetting in fact that drug was to be used for remembering who you are.
Karl Marx has said that religion is the opium of the people. Religion is a drug for people. Today, poor opium is out of the race but religion has unfailingly enriched its opium. Karl Marx knew that he was building a state. He knew that a state of commune could only be built by pedalling the state as narcotics. For a state to become narcotics of the people, you have to switch from the drug of religion to the drug of state. He knew that the only way to pedal state as the drug is by switching from Christianity or Judaism to State-ism. When Godless commune the state was built, the state actors became the God. Lenin became God and Stalin became God.
Man uses liquor, weed, cricket, football, revolution, adventure, honour, money, wealth, knowledge, fame, intelligence, cleverness, the seat of power as a drug. Drug distracts you from reality. Today capitalism is the new opium. Mobile phones, Facebook, Instagram followers are modern drugs. Celebrity cult clothing styling are new types of drug and to deflect measure of greatness, power, elitism a dazzle of luxury brands are new drugs. They form poor substitutes to the drug of religion.
We have misused religions and Gods for intoxication. States and religions ban liquor. So-called Godly people are enemies of liquor. Why? Because of liquor and intoxicants same class of intoxicants. Both create the same thing. Forgetfulness. When Buddha was awakened he never followed a religion or did he ever invent a religion. Buddha got awakened and then existed in awakening rest of his life. Buddha told others the way to be awakened. Buddha never knew that whatever that Buddha had said would not be followed as milestones but it would be guzzled as liquor. Religion is normally guzzled as liquor. Religions become liquor.
That which is religion in real is a personal flowering and awakening. Religion can awaken a person. A crowd cannot be awakened by religion. Crowds can be drugged. Crowds can become organised. Crowds can become organisations with a similar goal — to pedal forgetfulness.
The hints that Paigambar Mohammad gave, the hints that Krishna gave, the hints that Buddha left, the hints that Mahavira left, the hints that Jesus gave. Crowds of organised religions prop belligerence. In the name of organised religion and not religion, humanity has bled the globe and fought 5000 wars to claim titles over hints without understanding that hints are maps pointing towards the higher truth where organised religion never reach.
Is there a need for religion? There is a need for awakening and follow hints that lead us to awaken or to become awakened. When one is awakened, religion flowers out of him. That which is awakening cannot be told but hints can be given.
The man continues to live intoxicated and forgetful. There is a way to get out of it. Forgetfulness will go by remembrance. That which is who you are, you should always remember that remembrance. That is the right remembrance to remember who you are. Not that what you remember as part of a mantra. But you have to remember yourself all the time, it is the right remembrances that you continue to remember who you are no matter whatever you do. Your obsessions make you forgetful. You have to be in life you have to have that remembrance that you are, that you exist. Whenever you think, you are praying, you do something you forget that you are. You become not. You have to be in life.
The key is that you be. You remember that you be and be religious as well. You remember that you be, it does not matter if you take liquor. You can have liquor but be in the being. When you go to a temple, go with the full remembrance awake remembering that you are. It is right to leave everything to God. To know That-Which-is has created this creation and That-Which-Is is. We have to see Him that who is That-Which-Is. He is seated inside you. You are that. You have made statues you have made scriptures. But He is seated inside you.
Seated inside That-Which-Is is speaking in you, listening in you, ringing the gongs in temples. Know that the one who is ringing the gong in the temple. Know him that moment. Drown in him that moment. That will be the existence of God. Buddha drowned in that moment, he existed. Then whole life he remembered that remembrance that He is. Nanak said, ‘So Mein Vissarya Na Jaaee’. I should always remember that remembrance that I am that I should not be forgetful of my remembrance.
A remembrance that you are, is the right remembrance, all else is a lie.
The author is a spiritual teacher. He can be contacted at email@example.com
ANASUYA: DEVOID OF FAULT-FINDING EYES
Knowledge will be different at different levels of consciousness. At a particular level of consciousness, you will become anasuya. Anasuya is devoid of fault-finding eyes. If a mirror is dusty, you need a duster to clean it. But if your eyes have a cataract, any amount of dusting will not help. So first you have to remove the cataract. Then you can see that the mirror is already clean.
There is a certain mindset that always finds fault, even in the best conditions in the world. When you give a person with this mindset the best, they still find faults.
Even with the best possible companion, or the most beautiful painting, they will still find something wrong. That kind of mindset cannot know the sacred Knowledge. Krishna tells Arjuna that he is giving him the Royal Secret because he is anasuya. “You are not finding fault in Me, even though you are so close.”
From a distance, even craters cannot be seen. Even on a smooth surface, there will be holes. If you are only interested in the holes, you will not see the magnanimity of things. If you are not in anasuya. Knowledge cannot blossom in you. Then there is no point in giving Knowledge.
DISCRIMINATION AND WISDOM
If it is in your vision, your vision will find discrimination. The moment you are out of the path, everything is all wrong, that is not anasuya. For example, you have a friendship, and after 10 years you decide to leave. When you leave, you do not see the good in that relationship. You find fault. This is not anasuya.
However, once you discover you have the wrong vision, half of the wrong vision has already disappeared. There is a fine line here. There cannot be any better example than the cataract. Instead of saying, “My vision is blurred,” you say, “The whole world is not sharp.” Suppose someone is coming in. It is windy, so you shut the door. But the person thinks the door has been slammed in his face! This is asuya. It is not anasuya. Most of the population is like this.
Asuya is finding fault. It is seeing malicious intent everywhere. It is like a child who says, “Mother, you don’t love me!” The child’s vision is wrong. If the mother does not love the child, who will?
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and an ambassador of peace.
ANALYSING THE REAL PURPOSE OF LIFE
Our destiny is already fixed. We can’t change how much we will enjoy and suffer in the material world. So once we understand this, we can ‘make the best use of a bad bargain’ and use our lives as a way to elevate our consciousness to Krishna consciousness.
T o make the most out of life, we need to know what the greatest achievement possible in life is. If we were to ask the average person what the greatest thing he could achieve in his life was, the answers would almost all centre around increasing material facilities for the gratification of his, or his family’s material senses. People would like to become very wealthy, very beautiful, very powerful, very famous, etc. It is all self-centred. In this materialistic, selfish, self-centred world we have come to think a successful life means providing a sense of gratification.
The truth is that this concept of sense gratification is only an illusion. We can’t enjoy the material world. The actual enjoyable substance is not present in the material world. This material world is called maya, it means “that which is not”. We have the idea of pleasure, the idea of love, etc. But the actual pleasure, the actual love, is not to be found in the material world. This material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world. The spiritual world is the Kingdom of God. The place where Krishna lives is in association with His devotees. The real pleasure is in the spiritual world. Trying to enjoy the material world is like trying to enjoy the taste of the mangoes on a tree that is reflected in the water of a lake. We can’t taste the mangoes in the reflection of the tree. We can get the idea of the mangoes from the reflection but to taste them, we need the actual tree, not the reflection
Although we strive to be the master, the reality is we are all eternally servants. We have no choice but to serve. That is our nature. You can study any person in this world, even the so-called greatest man, and you will find he is a servant. The President is the servant of his countrymen and if they are not happy with his service, they will drag him down from office. So in this way, everyone is a servant. No one is independent. But serving in the material world is not satisfying. We can only be happy by serving Krishna.
Before spiritual life is possible, we have to realise that this material world is not our home. We are in a very hostile foreign country and we can never be happy here. To be happy, we have to go back home, back to Godhead. So there is no point in trying to make a comfortable arrangement here in the material world. It is not possible. We can never be happy in the material world. That is like a fish trying to be happy out of the water. It is not possible. The fish needs to live in a watery atmosphere. The fish can never be happy on the land. Similarly, we are spiritual entities and we can only be happy in the spiritual atmosphere. We can never be happy in the material atmosphere.
We all have our karma, our destiny. It is already fixed, we can’t change how much we will enjoy and suffer in the material world. So once we understand this, we can “make the best use of a bad bargain” and use our lives as a way to elevate our consciousness to Krishna consciousness. The human life is a very valuable boat and we can use this boat to cross over this material world, which is likened to an ocean of darkness and reach the spiritual world on the other side.
Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 8, Text 5): “And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this, there is no doubt.”
In this verse, the importance of Krishna consciousness is stressed. Anyone who quits his body in Krishna consciousness is at once transferred to the transcendental abode of the Supreme Lord. The word “remembering” is important. Remembrance of Krishna is not possible for the impure soul, who has not practised Krishna consciousness in devotional service. To remember Krishna, one should chant the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, incessantly, following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, being more tolerant than the tree, humbler than the grass, and offering all respect to others without requiring respect in return. In such a way, one will be able to depart from the body successfully remembering Krishna and attain the supreme goal.
So here we have the key to understanding the perfection of the human life. Our human life is perfect if we can remember Krishna at the time of death. We should never forget this. And we will not be able to remember Krishna at the time of death unless we practice remembering Krishna during our lives. The purpose of Krishna consciousness is to live in such a way that we always, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are constantly remembering Krishna. Death can come at any moment. We do not know if we will still be living in this body in one hour. At any moment we can die. So the devotee is very careful to fill every moment of his life with Krishna consciousness. We need to adjust our lives so our every action is performed for Krishna under the direction of a pure devotee of Krishna.
This art of living for Krishna, working for Krishna, doing everything for Krishna, this is the science of Krishna consciousness, and Srila Prabhupada has given us all the secrets as to how to easily practice Krishna consciousness in his books. We need to read Srila Prabhupada’s books and put the instructions into practice in our day-to-day lives. That will lead to a very blissful and ecstatic existence for us in the material world and will cause us to remember Krishna at the time of death which will guarantee that at the time of quitting this material body, we will go back home, back to Godhead to serve Krishna there in the association of the pure devotees of Krishna. Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!
Gaurangasundar Das is Director, Iskcon Inc Communication and SM IT head.
TO DEAL WITH CHALLENGES, THINK RIGHT
When there is a tragedy in the family, such as the loss of a loved one, many people are bewildered as to how to deal with the emotions that come up. They wonder how they can be positive in that situation. What does positive thinking mean? It is not thinking about nice things. There are times when nothing seems nice in our life. Positive thinking is thinking right. Knowing how to think right in every situation helps to keep our state of mind good. The vibrations radiating from us then create a strong, supportive environment.
Most people do not pay much attention to their thoughts. They think thoughts occur inside the mind, invisible to others, and they have no practical impact. But thoughts subtly shape our life. Our attention is usually focused on the evident aspects of life, such as physical health, relationships, work, and finances. Taking care of the mind is rarely on our list of priorities. As a result, emotional wounds accumulate in the mind. But since we cannot see them, and neither can others, we do not bother to deal with them.
Another reason why we neglect the mind is that we do not recognise its importance. We think that once everything in our life is taken care of, the mind will automatically be well, and we will be happy. We have heard the saying that one who masters his mind succeeds. But we live the other way round – we try to master everything else in the belief that it will bring us peace of mind. Our thoughts create our world; it is not the world that creates our thoughts. This is another equation we get wrong, because of which we ignore our thoughts. The Covid pandemic has taught us that we need to keep both body and mind strong. Thinking right helps not just during a pandemic, but in every situation.
We can start with thinking right about past incidents that have caused hurt, particularly if we are holding on to the pain. To have a healthy mind is essential to heal old wounds. It helps to remember that our thoughts are like seeds, and the external aspects of our life are the branches and leaves that have sprung from them. When we walk into a garden, we admire the colour and fragrance of the flowers; no one takes note of the seeds buried in the soil, away from sight. The same happens in our life. We compliment people on their looks, their job, their house, and everyone likes such appreciation. So, we too focus on what others appreciate, neglecting the seeds.
Over time, this neglect begins to tell on us. First, it shows in our health. Every thought we create triggers biochemical processes that have an effect on the body. When we hold on to past hurts, guilt, anger or hatred for someone, all that emotional energy does not remain confined to the mind. It affects our feelings, which determine our mental health. Then it impacts on our physical health. Most diseases are psychosomatic – they are caused or aggravated by mental factors such as internal conflict and stress. We may incorporate all the right things into our lifestyle, but if we do not change the way we think, speak and behave, the mental roots of disease will remain, and grow, gradually producing illness.
The third aspect of life affected by our thoughts and feelings is relationships. Each thought carries some energy, which radiates from us in the form of subtle vibrations. Others can sense the vibrations and get an idea of our thinking and feelings and they will respond to that. The right kind of thoughts create an atmosphere conducive to cordial relationships. They lay the subtle foundation for a healthy and happy life, enabling us to deal successfully with any situation and help others do the same.
B.K. Shivani is a well-known motivational speaker and Rajyoga teacher.
WHAT MAKES GOD HAPPY?
God does so much, yet He is beyond the feeling of doing. He does not think, yet still you can say that He thinks. That is His wonderful personality. We cannot become God, because His part is unique. But as His children, we can become like Him. And this is all God wants us to do.
God is very happy to see us making the effort to become like Him. When we are not making this effort, He does not like it at all. This is because He is not just our Mother and Father, but He is our Teacher as well. A teacher is never happy when the students do not study well.
God has given us understanding, made us belong to Him and is sustaining us in such a way that we are becoming like Him. Of course, there is a great difference between the Supreme Soul and other souls, but still it is not difficult to become like Him.
The more we can become like God and serve, the more we can become truly accurate instruments for His task. Then we can enjoy His company even more.
God wants us to become like Him, and we want to become like God, so the desire of both parties is being fulfilled.
Living life in a worthwhile way
“Time is saying to me: Live and make the most of every moment.”
– The late Dadi Janki
Do we know how to appreciate the things that we have in our life? How much do we take for granted?
Just stop for a moment and ask yourself: How much is your body worth? How much are you worth as a person? What is the value of your time? Do you know how much your smile is worth? When you look at all these assets that you have and that sometimes you neglect to appreciate, you will then realise that you are not poor at all.
So, when we come to measure the value of things in our life, we are the ones that will put a price tag on them, not others. How much value we put on something depends on how important that thing is to us. And if we really value something, then we will be mindful of how we use that thing and we will take care not to misuse it.
Spiritual economy is not simply about saving the pennies, but more about how we are putting to use all those pennies that we save. In other words, to put to good use all the assets that we have. Even a miser has several assets. A miser is not poor, but the difference between him and the economist is that the economist makes his assets grow for himself and others, whilst the miser keeps them safe in a locker for himself. But the irony is that, often like Scrooge, he neither gets any pleasure from that money and those assets and nor does anyone else.
Economising is not about hoarding for a rainy day. It is not about penny pinching. It is not about false economies, saving a penny and spending a pound kind of a thing. Economising is not avoidance. For example, not going to work in order to save petrol! That is really not sensible!
Economising is about waste, to have the mindset not to waste things and having that respect for Mother Nature. There are so many ways we can make an effort to make savings. It is not just a matter of money. There are the practical things such as water, food and light, fuel and electricity. But then there are also our precious assets such as time, thoughts, the energy of our mind, our breath, and our physical energy expressed through actions. Why do we need to use ten words, when we can use two? Why do we think too much when the decision can be made instantly?
The reason why we try and save our ‘energies’ is so that we can then do the things that we really want to do. So, if we save some time here, we can use it there, doing perhaps what we love to do. That is good budgeting and good economy! But if after we save the time or money or anything else, and we do not use these in a worthwhile way, then we are wasting those precious items.
We are given things in life so that we can create good karma with them. If we waste or misuse them then the karma comes back to us, and we run into a loss every time. Our lovely planet provides enough for every one of us. But how much do we use wisely and well, and how much do we waste? When we learn to be respectful and economical with the resources that we have, it will mean that everyone can live happily and harmoniously together.
As Oscar Wilde famously said, and we would do well not to forget his words and take care not to become someone who ‘…knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing….’
Courtesy of itstimetomeditate.org
Aruna Ladva is an author and the director of Rajyoga meditation centres in Kuwait and Egypt.
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