I don’t know what is happening, but this little book Sri Isonapanishad has been giving me a lot of grief lately. This is at least the third time I looking at it in a new light and it makes me reassess a lot of long held assumptions.
Today it’s mantras six and seven. There’s nothing special about them, just a general description of a transcendentalist, one who see everything related to the Lord and who sees the Lord in everything, who sees all living beings as parts and parcel of the Lord etc. In the commentaries Prabhupada describes this person in a greater detail, introduces the concepts of kanishtha, madhyama and uttama adhikaris. Isopanishad talks about how this person doesn’t hate anybody and how he doesn’t suffer from anxieties or illusions. In short, trinad api sunichena, amanina manadena – essential qualities for chanting the Holy Names.
Prabhupada talks about the way to see all living beings as spirit souls, how one should look at them from the point of view of the scriptures, how the Lord is actual source of everything and center of all enjoyment, how all our suffering stem from our illusion of our actual position and so on – kindergarten stuff.
Then he drops the bombshell – such mahatma is very very rare and this position is achieved only after many many births. End of purport.
Bummer, I had always assumed that simply by chanting sixteen rounds and following the sadhana one can achieve this position in this life time. I was led to believe that one can approach this position after only a few days of chanting, ok, maybe few days of chanting the way Bhaktivionoda Thakura meant it, for us it might be a few years of chanting, but it was something not very far away for devotees in the sankirtana movement.
“Many many births” is simply not something I expected when I joined this movement.
I think this revelation is not a coincidence, I had too many similar thoughts for it to be a coincidence, that’s why I’m starting to think that it’s the curse of Sri Isopanishad. Any curse of a scripture is a blessing in disguise, perhaps all those years ago I was simply not ready to face this sober reality – it will take many many births, not years, to achieve any semblance of perfection on the path of devotional service. Perhaps if I realized that reality from the start I wouldn’t have even bothered, perhaps my youthful enthusiasm would have been deflated like a punctured beach ball on the day one.
Perhaps God was saving it for the moment when I’m too deeply invested to give up. And that’s a good news – means I’m stronger now even if all my enthusiasm has gone. And it’s also a blessing – any spiritual revelation is a blessing, even if dampens my spirits, and they are pretty low right now.
It will be a long, long time before I take any kind of vrata, I have absolutely no powers to keep any resolutions. Twenty years ago I could have done anything, but probably for the wrong reasons and with the wrong attitude. Today I feel scared like a beaten dog. I feel scared subconsciously, without even giving myself a rational explanation, I just instinctively avoid certain things, certain vows or indulgences, certain trains of thought.
I still have no idea whether it was my own stupidity and arrogance or if it was a lesson from Krishna (or Paramatma). If it was a lesson, it was probably administered so that I avoided certain unfavorable things, but – what is unfavorable about taking vratas, for example? I heard it was a very favorable practice if done in the right frame of mind. Now I am sworn of it totally, the whole concept shudders my soul.
I hope I get over it. In the meantime I’m afraid to read Isopanishad any further – God knows what other discoveries are waiting for me there. I still haven’t prepared myself mentally for many many births of very very hard practice before I even approach the platform of pure chanting. I still concern myself with daily, mundane and routine stuff that refuses to fade away. I still don’t see the big picture.
At least I don’t believe in quick fixes anymore, that should count for something.
Also the thought of me being stronger than many years ago is warming up my ego already.