Yesterday our house suffered a brownout – dim lights and not enough juice to run the computer, UPS fed it for a while but then it just died.
Even though I was chanting japa at the time I had a strange feeling of being cut off from the world, not just the world outside but the material world as a whole, beginning with my body. After looking at the dead computer and all the things that were waiting for me there I felt like I lost my body.
The body, of course, was still there, but I lost the ability to apply my senses which is the main point of having the body in the first place. The feeling was pretty much how I imagine people who just lost their limbs still feel their presence and it was just weird. Or maybe it was like ghosts who are consumed by desires but have no tools to satisfy them – there’s a longing but you can’t do absolutely nothing about it.
This realization made me think about how important our bodies are. Normally I would preach to myself that my body is a useless sack of meat that impedes my devotional progress. I was wrong.
As a living entity I do not perform any devotional service at all. My spiritual limbs and senses are as good as non-existent, all I have is my body, it’s all I really know about myself, it is, in fact, “myself”. Theoretically speaking I might be different from my body but I have no experience of that whatsoever. I think, feel, and act as if I was a body. What’s up with that?
What is “surrender”? Is it only a product of my imagination? How can I surrender myself if I don’t know who I am?
Maybe the secret lies in surrendering only the body, since it’s the only thing I know about. Dreams about surrendering my soul need to be postponed until I can actually see myself as such.
What about the developments that I observe and conclude that they are “devotional progress” Are they real? Or are they just as real as the rest of the material world?
What is the difference between being in Krishna Consciousness and being in maya? Reading Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s biography I don’t see that he was always fully aware of his spiritual identity, so seeing one’s true spiritual form is not a requirement. What is, then?
Luckily, I just stumbled on a Srimad Bhagavatam verse, 2.9.1, that sheds some light on the matter:
…unless one is influenced by the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no meaning to the relationship of the pure soul in pure consciousness with the material body…
This is not a direct answer, Sukadeva Goswami tells Maharaja Parikshit that this world is but a dream – “That relationship is just like a dreamer’s seeing his own body working.” It still mentions the possibility of being influenced by the energy of Krishna and that is supposed to dramatically alter the soul’s perception of the world (and the body) and its place within it.
This means that even if I don’t see myself as I am, if I manage to come under the influence of the Supreme Lord my life will never be the same. It means I will not be under the influence of maya anymore. I won’t be able to participate in Lord’s eternal pastimes in the spiritual world either but I would be more like the residents of Vrindavana during Krishna’s advent – they had no idea who he was and thought they must pray to demigods for their sustenance.
Two episodes come to mind in this regard – gopis praying to the Goddess Katyayani to obtain Krishna as their husband. Under the influence of Krishna’s energy they though Katyayani had some independent powers that could control Krishna Himself. They were convinced they were just ordinary mortal girls, they didn’t even suspect they appeared in their own, eternal forms.
The second episode is the infamous Indra Yajna that Krishna stopped in favor of Govardhana Puja. This as another demonstration that residents of Krishna’s eternal dhama had no idea how lucky they were, they thought they had to work hard and worship the demigods to provide for themselves and for Krishna.
Some of them must have made inquiries into their spiritual nature, studied the books, prayed to the gods, learned from the gurus. What do you think they’ve been told? I bet no one told them they were in their fully spiritual forms already and didn’t have to go through reincarnations and changing the bodies. They probably thought they had to meditate and perform sacrifices just like everybody else so that they could shake the illusion that they were gopis and gopas of Vrindavana. Imagine they succeeded!
What if I am in a similar situation? Of course I’m not in my original body, but I’m under the influence of the same energy, at least the same kind of energy. Maybe not the one that manifests Vrindavana and all different kinds of service devotees render their but under Lord’s energy anyway.
How else would all the devotional things in my life came into my view? Even the verse I quoted earlier appeared in my twitter feed as a blog by a devotee I’ve never heard about before. What about the Deities, the images, the sound of the Holy Name? How did they come before my senses? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t arranged by maya.
That means I’m a stubborn soul that resists Krishna’s influence and dreams about sex and sense gratification instead.
According to Shukadeva Goswami those dreams are just that – dreams, but attempts to maintain relationships with Krishna are as real as service rendered by Vrijabasis who didn’t know who Krishna was and prayed to demigods instead. Not nearly as perfect but of the same nature.
Does it matter then whether I see myself as a material body or as a spirit soul? I still have to render the same service. In a different, perverted way, but still service. Contaminated and insincere but still service, under the direction of Lord’s energy.
Unfortunately the brownout made me starve for material enjoyment, not for the service, so there’s still a long way to go but the principle has been established – body is not a burden, it’s a blessing, just have to engage it in a proper way.
There are more implications from this but they require separate post.