That was fast, just yesterday I proclaimed undying love for my precious body and today I’m talking about separation. Kali Yuga, what else can I say.
I didn’t do anything special, the only difference was that I mentioned Siva and Ganesh before commencing my rounds. I just started reading Chaitanya Mangala by Lochana Das Thakura and he includes prayers to Siva and Ganesh in invocation. I thought it was nice, praying to remove obstacles on the path of bhakti.
Then I remembered that I’ve seen similar prayers in various other books by previous acharyas but I never given it much thought. Should I also include prayers to Ganesh, for example?
On the other hand, not worshiping demigods is our ISKCON signature, never did it, never seen anyone doing it. Srila Prabhupada taught us to respect them as great devotees and that’s it, I’ve never read any prayers to Lord Shiva in his books.
Still, there’s nothing wrong with asking anyone for blessings to succeed in service, we ask everyone for blessings like that. Should I intentionally omit Ganesh because he is not an ISKCON devotee? What next, imagine I have a better understanding of our philosophy and Srimad Bhagavatam than Ganesh who actually wrote it down with his own hand? Or was is Mahabharata? Either way it would be presumptuous of me.
So I started the day with these awkward prayers, saying that I don’t offer anything better because I can’t appear more pious than my spiritual master.
First few rounds were a warm up, getting my mind and my mouth to work with proper level of energy and concentration, then it happened – I started breaking up with my body. Maybe I am delusional but I’m not ready to dismiss the incident just like that.
Suddenly I clearly saw that me and my body are two different, barely related things. I wasn’t watching it from above like in out of body experiences in the hospitals, I just clearly felt that I was not the body. I felt nothing in common with this sack of flesh and bones striding around the house, chanting the Holy Names, it had a life of its own, being tossed around by the modes of material nature.
The only connection I had with it was forcing it to chant the Names, that was the only thing it was good for, the only worthwhile occupation, so I threw it into the battle.
The disconnect wasn’t total but unmistakable. I was vaguely aware of the pain in the body’s knee but I didn’t feel it as personal. I saw the room through the body’s eyes but it was not my vision.
Connection to the subtle body layers were still there, unfortunately, but I’ve observed the marginal area for my mind where I could chose to identify with the gross senses, or choose not to.
It was a mystical experience of sorts, but not spiritual. I saw that I’m not the body but I still had no idea who I was, I still had no shred of taste for chanting, it was still something I had to do out of duty.
The feeling was exhilarating, a whole new perspective on the universe, a whole lot of new opportunities. I was prancing around like a boy who just discovered the joys of a swimming pool.
I also realized how much liberation means to me, how exciting and attractive it must be. Devotional service? Still no idea. I knew that I had to keep chanting and eventually I’d be rewarded with appreciation for devotional service but it didn’t seem like a real option at the moment. Instead I was happy planning what I can do with my body in this newly discovered state of separation.
All the old and worn out slogans about engaging you body and the senses in the service suddenly took a whole new meaning. Wow, I thought to myself, that’s what they were all talking about? I can really commandeer the mouth to chant and the legs to walk? What else can I do, now that I’m not associating myself with what happens to the body?
So I got carried away.
All in all I had about forty minutes to one hour of fun, and that’s what it was for me, mostly fun.
There could be many reasons why it didn’t last any longer or why I didn’t make any real progress towards devotional service. I still was identifying myself with subtle body, for example, or I thought myself as controller of my gross body, or I started making my own plans, or I started thinking how I would teach others, or I just simply enjoyed myself. None of that is conducive to developing a devotional attitude, any of that can seriously disrupt one’s progress for a long time.
It was like partaking in a temple feast for the first time. You know you should restrain yourself and you know it’s just gross sense enjoyment but you just can’t stop, it’s too delicious to pass. I hope the Lord isn’t too disappointed in me, I’ll be good, I promise.
On the positive side I’ve seen yet another confirmation that chanting works, works like magic. Technically I was probably somewhere in the namabhasa stage, and namabhasa brings liberation. If one keeps chanting bhakti will eventually develop, too.
I just had no idea that liberation was so literal. I’ve seen only the beginning of it and it was great.
I’ve also come to accept that I am not a devotee, I’m just looking for relief from my struggles, that’s all I am. I just have to hope that by chanting the Holy Names I will one day realize the value of devotion and maybe even start serving the Lord and the devotees with love, not waiting for anything in return.
Just a few words about growing back into my body. It started with me sitting it down on soft cushions. It felt nice. Nice for the body but a few minutes later I appreciated the comfort too. A couple of times I stopped myself and sent the body up, marching around like a madman again, but eventually it got to me.
There was this funny thing with lust and sexual impulses. Just for a dare I recollected some of my recent fantasies and waited for the body’s reaction. Nothing. Confirmed – it was all only in my mind. Now, when I clearly lost the identification with the body all potential sexual pleasures for it seemed absolutely irrelevant. In order to make it work again I had to manually reconnect my mind to my body first and then forcibly feed sexual images through this new channel. I chose not to.
Even now, hours later, I still don’t have any inclination to do so. I feel that I can but I’m afraid it would only bring me back into a full body consciousness again and I don’t want that.
Later in the day I had only brief spells of conviction that my body should be made to chant but I’ve never experience the same “vision” again, couldn’t duplicate it even in my mind.
That makes me think I wasn’t delusional, or maybe I was, but that doesn’t matter – the main lesson I carried from this episode that I should keep on chanting no matter what, and that’s good enough for me.