I was looking through some recent blogs and found an interesting article I missed about a week ago. It was an answer to a devotee expressing his doubts in Krishna consciousness. I don’t want to compete for the better answer, in fact I’m glad I don’t have to answer at all – meaning I can’t fail if that person is not satisfied, but I can ponder over the same questions and doubts because they are quite common to many of us.
We’ve all been there, I believe, and each one of us got himself an answer one way or another, so let’s try again.
Each one of us formulates the questions differently, in essence, though they all ask for proof of the existence of the world around us and, ultimately, Krishna.
How do we know the world really exists? It could be one big elaborate hoax, we could be plugged into some matrix where all the visions and feelings are fed directly into our brains. Meaning when we see beautiful sunset it doesn’t really exist, it’s only a movie, in real life we might be locked up somewhere else. It’s a kind of forced dream from which we can’t wake up.
Well, we can’t really prove that one, but we can draw certain conclusions anyway, and we can decide on certain actions regardless.
So, let’s imagine we really are some ugly babies plugged into a machine that feeds us all our experiences. Fine, then we are ugly babies and so we do have existence outside the matrix, we are just not aware of it. It sounds exactly like what Krishna consciousness tells us anyway, except we are supposed to be beautiful spirit souls, not half developed embryos.
The world around us is indeed unreal, that’s why it’s called maya, I don’t think anyone can claim that maya presents itself in exactly the same way to everyone of us. We can generalize only to an extent that our assumed/assigned identities are similar. Otherwise everyone of us, ugly babies, lives under his own, personal illusion.
Freeing ourselves is also independent of what anyone else is experiencing, they can continue watching the same movie from a different angle, while we can get liberated, and, in fact, we can continue living in the same illusion watching the same movie but see it as who we really are and for it really is. At least theoretically.
So what if we are in the matrix? How’s that different from Krishna conscious view anyway? So what if we can’t be certain how other people really feel? Isn’t it exactly what happens when we mistake guru’s mercy for ordinary display of anger? Aren’t we told right from the start that there’s no way we can understand actions and feelings of the pure devotees?
That kind of doubt is no doubt at all – it’s a sure thing, just presented in a different way.
Let’s continue with our assumption. Another thing we can do, while still in the matrix, is to decide what course of actions to follow. We don’t have much of a choice here, though. In fact we don’t have ANY choice whatsoever – we don’t have any experience outside our box, outside our matrix. We can’t decide to pull the plugs out, for example, as we are simply not aware of the plugs existence. There might be plugs, there might be tubes – there’s simply no way to know.
That means whatever we decide to do will always be within the boundaries of what the illusion is showing us, we might just as well accept it as the only available reality. Meaning that whether you believe the matrix exists or don’t you still have to play by its rules. Just as Krishna says in Bhagavat Gita – everyone is forced to act under the modes of material nature, there’s no escape. Then he offers some solutions and we are certainly free to accept or reject them or to pursue some other religious practices – just like normal people who have no idea about our matrix assumption.
That means the whole idea of the matrix is moot – its existence or non-existence makes absolutely no difference and we are back to square one – should we trust Krishna or not?
Here we come to the core of the doubts. These kind doubts are not about the nature of the world, not about the nature of experience, not about existence of the alternate reality. Those are just fancy dressings. Really what we doubt is our spiritual experience, the effect of our practice on our hearts and minds. If the devotee is content with his progress and happiness that serving Krishna brings him, his heart has no place for these kind of doubts at all. Or at least they will not appear to him as doubts.
So the real, and only question is – why do I not feel any progress, why do I not feel any spiritual happiness that was promised?
Actually the question should be modified a bit as it imposes a lot of underlying conditions.
– Why do I not feel happiness now, or in MY expected time frame?
– Well, is your expected time frame reasonable? How long, for example, do you expect to wait for manifestation of bhava symptoms? Three days? Three years? Three lives?
It is possible, though unlikely, that it will happen in three seconds, too. Our spiritual relationship with the Lord does not fall under jurisdiction of material time in the first place. Today, tomorrow, three hundred thousand lives – time makes absolutely no sense to a liberated soul.
When we wait for manifestations of bhava here this process of waiting happens on a material, bodily platform conditioned by material existence and our material perception of time scale. In this state we not going to see any bhava ever, the waiting is futile.
We might lament that Krishna is not showing us any mercy at all, forget bhava, just a little peace in our hearts. I don’t believe Krishna does not provide that. I’m sure there have been moments when we felt extremely grateful to Him. These moments come and go and sometimes it might feel like there’s a very long time between them but they still come.
So it’s not true to state “I don’t feel anything” and mean “never in my life”.
And that brings us to the unpalatable truth about Krishna – He is supremely independent being, He does whatever pleases Him, not us. If we expect to enjoy Krishna at all times we are going to be severely disappointed. The real truth about devotional service is that it does not depend on what Krishna does either. We just serve him, regardless of how we feel ourselves.
At least that’s what I’m praying for.
Now, if that devotee had read this post, would it be satisfactory? There’s no way to know but I suppose not. Our feelings do not depend on what other people do – that’s one of the features of the matrix like illusion, btw. Meaning whatever I say has no effect on how that devotee feels himself. He is living through his own karma and through his own conditioned emotions. Only Krishna’s mercy can dispel those. It might come from the Supersoul in the heart or it might come from external manifestations – guru, devotees, kirtans, books. If I carried some I would gladly share, too, but I’m afraid I’m the wrong person for this.
Whether it comes sooner or later does not really matter – Krishna knows exactly how it is going to happen and it WILL happen according to His plan. In the meantime He might be enjoying our agony in separation from Him. It’s when we completely forget about Him and don’t care whether we feel progress in our hearts or not – that is the time to sound alarm bells.
Distress of not getting any is part of the deal, indifference is not.
Whatever happens, even our temporary indifference, is entirely up to Krishna anyway.