Vanity thought #165. Backdoor entrance.

Normally people approach Krishna after having undergone thousands and thousands of lifetimes of pious activities, feeding brahmanas and performing sacrifices, doing tapasya and meditating in the mountains.

Gradually they purify themselves enough to get noticed by Krishna’s devotees who introduce them to devotional service. Then they perform more tapasya, offer more sacrifices and eventually they get the chance to be born during Lord’s lilas on this planet.

That seems to be how it worked if you read Krishna Book or Bhagavatam.

We are lucky because we were born in this special Kali Yuga when Krishna descends again, as Lord Chaitanya, and, together with Lord Nityananda, they freely distribute love of God all over the world.

We have missed Their pastimes but still they sent us Srila Prabhupada who was probably equally potent in spreading Krishna consciousness.

Now it’s up to us to develop it, or is it?

Do we really have to perform all kinds of tapasya to achieve perfection? Or is there a backdoor somewhere?

Normally we assume that Prabhupada was our backdoor, we just grab his feet and sneak in. On a certain level it is certainly true, and there’s always such thing as kreepa siddhi – achieving perfection by the mercy.

Kreepa siddhi is not granted to everyone one, though. On the other hand we ALL rely on the mercy to succeed. It just doesn’t compute.

I suppose some of us need to actually work on it ourselves. Cleansing our own hearts, developing our own attraction, chanting our own rounds, preaching, distributing books, organizing festivals and so on. In the end we’d still need mercy but at least we could say we worked our socks off to earn it.

Or we could put on tilakas, honor prasadam and sing sweet kirtans and hope to float right into the spiritual world. Then things start going terribly wrong and we don’t know who to blame.

I looked into that patral pushpam phalam toyam verse I mentioned yesterday a bit more closely. Yes, Krishna promises to accept any little offering from His devotees but there are caveats, too.

First you have to offer only what he wants. Prabhupada was very clear on this point – you can’t do anything whimsically, we do only what Krishna likes, or we follow orders of spiritual masters and authorities. I’ve covered this point yesterday already.

Second, Krishna accepts these offerings only from His devotees. Specifically, He says prayata-ātmanah – from one in pure consciousness, He also mentions bhakti, twice. I bet very very few of us qualify and those who do won’t even know it. Also offering food with devotion is tricky – 99,9999% of the time we also want to enjoy it ourselves.

Basically, we can’t offer anything to Krishna, not ourselves. That’s why we need to go through guru first. Everybody knows that but in everyday live we still expect Krishna Himself to take care of us and our problems. We tell ourselves of all the great service we have done for Him so it’s natural to expect something in return. THERE! We haven’t offered any service, we were never qualified to offer any service, maybe it got counted by our guru’s grace but we did it for our own benefit, that is our fallen nature.

Krishna might reward us anyway but He sees us as spirit souls and so His help might be not what our false egos have expected, and thus we turn down His mercy in frustration.

So some work still must be done, our appearances and superficial thinking might not count for much.

Then we take it even further.

A while ago, when I was searching for recording of devotees chanting japa I also came across hundreds of various seminars, workshops and retreats on the subject. Apparently the process of chanting japa has been covered quite well, from all angles, and by almost all leading devotees. Great, isn’t it?

When I looked at it I was somewhat depressed, though. Sure there are things in there that I have missed in my own education but trying to listen to all those seminars and workshops seemed like a colossal waste of time. I’d rather be chanting that talking about it.

Each one of us went through some kind of japa seminar once, I believe, and that is enough. All we really need to know is that we should pick up our beads and start chanting, everything else can serve as a potential excuse to postpone and delay. Sure preparation is important but you can’t win the war without actual battle experience and that experience carries far more weight than any theory.

If you need any help it’s usually just one stroke of inspiration, some half thought that suddenly puts you back on track, Krishna has a million ways to deliver it, when and if you need it, wading through hours and hours of japa talk sounds like a cop out.

If people expect these endless seminars to turn their lives around – it doesn’t look like a real backdoor to me, either.

Then there are various courses to become a better devotee. Some of them are absolutely necessary for some people but there are also ways to misuse them.

Take a common suggestion, for example. One should make a list of various ways he can improve his devotional life, prioritize it, and start implementing changes starting from the top, or not in any particular order. Common things include reading more books, waking up earlier, completing all rounds in the morning and so on.

The idea is that if you wake up earlier it will make you a better devotee. I don’t buy it. Don’t buy it at all.

If you become a better devotee you will naturally wake up earlier, the reverse is not true. Sometimes it might work but not as a rule.

The proposal is to imitate qualities of a more advanced devotee, hoping that by imitating we can get the real thing. I don’t know. You can’t get cancer by imitating the symptoms, you can’t lose sight by pretending you are blind, you can’t fall in love by sending Valentine cards to yourself.

Having said that, all those self-help ideas still work. My understanding is that Krishna respond to the desire to become a better devotee. Whether His grace will manifest in people following their lists is not guaranteed. What if Krishna sees your desire and decides to give you better appreciation for our books, or for other devotees but still makes you sleep past mangala arati? Is it a fail? According to self-help check list it is, according to Krishna it isn’t, and the person himself might be bewildered and confused that he has done something wrong.

Similarly, none of the backdoors I talked about today are a fail, they might not work on the surface but it’s the desire to be closer to Krishna that counts. We are just trying to pass through the wall with our eyes blinded by our illusions. We don’t know where the real door is, we just try our luck in every each way we can.

One day Krishna is bound to have enough amusement and gently prod us in the right direction.

Bottom line – the only thing that really counts is remembering Krishna and listening to His name. This sound creates attraction in our hearts that will eventually overcome all obstacles and bring us to him. Studying the maps is not going to help much by itself.

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