Actually I mean all credits should go to Krishna but there’s no problem with assigning credits, we all easily take them for ourselves, it’s when the time to spread the blame comes no one steps forward, so for those awkward situations – it’s all Krishna’s fault.
Actually it’s all our fault, originally, it just as removed from us as the original sin – we aren’t even supposed to speculate how we fell down here. Very very few people see it as their own fault in their hearts. We’ve been told about it, we see the results – our attachment to the material nature, but we still have no clue how that happened.
It’s like punishing a three year old kid for breaking a vase two years earlier – now he can understand that it was wrong and so is eligible for punishment even though he doesn’t remember it, so let’s put him in the corner or take away his toys – he deserved it.
So when some devotee feels unhappy and wonders why it is so, why he has lost the taste or inspiration and why devotional service no longer satisfies him, ie me a few days from now – I’ve got the answer. It’s all Krishna’s fault.
Last time I posted an article under the same title it was about responsibility for starting sahajiya movement but that’s not what I mean today.
Why does Krishna make His devotees suffer? It’s one thing to take away their possessions so they lose their attachments or put them in dangerous situations so they could surrender to Him fully, but why does Krishna make them suffer while executing their service to the best of their abilities?
Chanting supposed to make you happy, not apathetic and indifferent. Marrying another devotee supposed to protect you from into the falling deep well of family existence, not lusty and guilty of it, not push you even farther down the hole of family problems. Taking responsibilities supposed to make you stronger and protect your dependents, not utterly fail and appear hopeless when others are still relying on you.
There are all kinds of troubles that we, as devotees, find ourselves in against all our hopes for Krishna’s protection. Why is that?
Let’s start with credits first.
Who has provided us with a chance to meet the devotees? Who arranged our births in countries blessed with ISKCON presence? Krishna.
Who gave us intelligence to understand our books, who gave us intelligence to understand how to apply our philosophy in our own lives? Krishna.
Who gave us the opportunities to visit the temples and engage in worshiping God there? Krishna.
Who sends us powerful preachers who inspire and comfort us with their enthusiasm and strong faith? Krishna.
Who gives us enough time everyday so that we can finish our daily rounds? Krishna.
Who gives us determination to finish our daily rounds against all odds? Krishna.
Who puts books in our hands so that we can flip pages and read about Him? Krishna.
Who allows people to put up free vedabase and lots of other vaishnava literature online? Krishna.
Who gives us memory to think about Krishna when we get in trouble? Krishna.
Who gives us remembrance of Krishna when we see some seemingly mundane objects? Krishna.
Who inspires devotees to sing sweet songs that we keep playing in our heads? Krishna.
Someone smarter than me can go on for a lot longer but my point is – if it’s Krishna who gives us all the good things in life, who is responsible for all the other, bad things?
Our original sin? As I said, it would be like punishing us for a mistake we not only can’t remember, we are prohibited from looking into altogether.
There must be some other reason.
Let’s examine how the process works in some hypothetical situation. A person comes into the temple for a Bhagavat Gita class, sitting cross legged on the floor is not the easiest position to maintain for a long time and eventually he loses concentration for a moment, trying to make himself mode comfortable. Unfortunately at this exact moment the speaker is making an important point about dealing with other devotees and our visitor totally misses it. Some words just enter his ears but they do not register in his long term memory, he does not internalize them, and when a crucial time comes he lashes out another devotee, completely forgetting the lesson he has missed earlier.
I don’t know why he got angry. Our bodies and minds have millions of reasons to feel frustrated, one way or another it came out wrong.
The result is a serious vaishnava aparadha that leads to the loss of interest or the loss of association, things start snowballing, his bosses give him more work, wife presses with her own issues, kids start acting out, too, and pretty soon he finds himself in a middle of a mess of royal proportions. Each new problem elicits more anger and more frustration, meaning less taste and less interest in Krishna.
Whose fault is that?
Who provided the temple and the speaker and the floor? Krishna. Who told us to sit on the floor cross legged against our habits and physiology? Krishna.
Who gives us the ability to concentrate and understand the lecture? Krishna.
So why is that when we lose that ability for a few seconds it’s entirely our fault? From Krishna comes BOTH the remembrance and forgetfulness, right?
Or should I believe that Krishna remembers to help us only from time to time and when He turns away we are totally at the mercy of the material elements – the bodies, the emotions, our minds and so on?
There’s an argument that we CAN control our mind ourselves, but not without being taught, by Krishna, ultimately, how to do it.
In the example above the devotee could have sat through the pain, mentally suppressing it but where would that mental strength come from? Where would the determination not to miss a word from the lecture come from? Krishna. Sometimes He just doesn’t provide enough, or so it seems.
I dare to say that Krishna doesn’t forget any one of us even for the moment even when we feel like being totally abandoned, or when we feel we don’t deserve his attention anymore.
When we feel happy it’s due to Krishna and when we are in pain it’s the same old Krishna showering His mercy again, paradoxically.
No, not really. We feel pain because we mislead ourselves to believe that we are in our spiritually cleansed bodies already that shouldn’t feel any pain or suffering, two days ago I argued that we are most definitely not. I guess the stronger our misconception and attachment to this particular identity is, the more painful it becomes.
I understand that we also under pressure from other devotees and our seniors to fully grow into our new identities and behave like perfect vaishnavas, and we naturally strive to meet their expectations. It’s kinda hard to achieve that without full dedication, meaning developing a strong false ego. On the plus side it’s a better false ego than one given to us at birth or by our families, coworkers and society in general.
However good it is, it still has to go at some point and pain is the essential part of the separation from attachments.
Okay, pain can be beneficial, what about loss of taste? How’s that Krishna’s mercy?
Well, if you realize that it’s missing you are probably learning better what it is and its real value – how’s that not a lesson? The taste will come back, Krishna preserves everything we have achieved, and we’ll have better appreciation for it then.
But what about devotees who not only lost the taste but also don’t seem to mind it at all. How’s that Krishna’s mercy? They are surely in maya, aren’t they?
Maybe they are, but it is also only temporary. First of all, we “forget” about Krishna all the time, some only for a few seconds, some for a few minutes, some for a few years or even lifetimes. What’s the principal difference? We are on the same platform of absolute ignorance because actually we, as conditioned souls, never ever remember anything about Krishna at all. Sometimes He manifests some of His images before our material minds and sometimes He doesn’t. It is completely our of our control, and by “us” I mean our original spiritual identities.
It’s a bit presumptuous to say “I remembered Krishna and then …” because I don’t mean I remembered Krishna as we were in our eternal spiritual relationships. More correct would be “A particular image of Krishna, as has been taught by my spiritual master and other devotees, has flashed in my mind”. I didn’t do anything, I’m not a doer, just an observer.
For practical purposes, however, we have to assume one identity or another and act accordingly, eventually it will purify us enough to see us as we really are.
At this point my duty under my given identity is to chant at least 108 rounds tomorrow and put all my energies into it. I’d much rather sit back and observe my body doing it by itself but I have not been purified enough yet.
For me, not knowing real self, the only reality is the sound of the Holy Names, everything else is silence, or white noise – doesn’t really matter which, it just fills the space between the sounds of the maha mantra.
That’s how I prepare myself for another day of chanting. This gives me confidence.
It also makes me a bit irresponsible and rebellious, like a son trying to test the limits of his father’s love and forgiveness – everything goes until the father gets serious.