Vanity thought #350. Making money is hard

unless you do it for Krishna. We often miss this point – Krishna owns our entire universe and everything inside it, and there are riches here that are beyond our imagination. When He needs something He can summon it instantaneously.

Actually it’s a bit more complicated than that because Krishna Himself doesn’t normally touch anything in this world, He’s got His trusted servants to fetch anything He might desire.

We, on the other hand, often think that money is the problem. It isn’t, it becomes a problem only in relation to resources allotted to us by karma and our immediate desires. We don’t always get what we want, as they sing. The amount of funds is sufficient or not only in relation to how much we want, not to how much is needed for Krishna’s service.

Krishna will take anything we offer, and His trusted servants will provide the exact required amount – we will always get what He needs, as they sing in the next line. There’s nothing for us to worry, though worrying about things like that could be pleasing to Krishna, too. If we do it right we will know it worked regardless of how much funds were eventually raised.

That part, about funds needed for serving Krishna, is more or less easy to understand, but the reality is that most of the time we worry about our own situation. What to do when we feel that money is tight? Naturally we start worrying and, perhaps, even praying, maybe reminding Krishna about “Surrender to Me, I’ll take care of everything” promise.

I propose a different approach to solving this problem – we should try and see our maintenance as service, too. That way we can start seeing that our bodies and our families will be provided to the amount needed for Krishna’s service, no more no less. We won’t get what we want but we’ll surely get what we need to engage our bodies and our families in service and to guarantee everyone’s spiritual progress.

Surely we’ll be tempted to slide back and start daydreaming about new cars or develop some other attachments but the only working method to drive those away is to remind ourselves that our souls and our desires are separate things and our bodies and minds are meant for Krishna’s pleasure. We should stop seeing them as separate.

On some level we shouldn’t mix our service with our day jobs – to keep our priorities in order, but eventually we should start treating our jobs as our service, too, not less important than reading Prabhupada’s books, for example – we should have time in our lives for both.

The only way to stop worrying about money is to start worrying about Krishna.

To finish off I just want to mention one important lesson about money – it’s great to get a rich person to donate a million dollars to Krishna but it’s far far better to get a million people to donate a dollar each. Or rupees and paisas, works either way. We are not in the business of collecting money, we are in the business of collecting souls.

It’s from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati.

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Vanity thought #349. Preeminent Gaudiya program

In Bhagavad Gita Krishna described several ways of achieving self-realization. Srimad Bhagavatam describes even more methods of achieving perfection, starting with shravanam (Maharaja Parikshit), kirtanam (Shukadeva Goswami) and so on.

Nothing, however, compares with what is offered in Gaydiya vaishnavism by followers of Lord Chaitanya and we need to remind ourselves of our immense good fortune.

As Mahaprabhu’s followers we should not even worry about achieving perfection, we should only concern ourselves with satisfaction of guru and Krishna. If Krishna is satisfied we do not need anything else. If He so desires He can grant us all perfections in the world or He can keep us under the spell of His external energy, we do not have time to worry about our own position.

Even more than that, as followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism we do not actually aspire for Krishna’s pleasure – we consider ourselves unqualified to serve Him directly. Instead we dedicate our entire lives to delivering even tiny drops of happiness to Krishna’s devotees. If Krishna’s devotees are satisfied, we do not need all the other treasures of spiritual perfections.

This is a very tall order and most of us will never live to this standard of humility and devotion but the method and the examples are already there for us to aspire to.

In our daily lives we naturally become preoccupied with worries about service and abilities and progress, not to mention food, shelter and so on. That is okay, we just don’t have enough faith in guru and Krishna but if we ever get a glimpse of our real duties and our real purpose all these concerns will fade away.

If necessary, Krishna will provide, if not – it’s His own sweet will, our perfection is in trying, in desiring His satisfaction. The apparent success or failure as manifested in this world through His external energy do not interest Him, I doubt He even has the capacity to react to our ups and downs the way we, the conditioned souls, do. This is not the reality and it shouldn’t serve as our motivation. The ups and downs should not affect our determination either.

Our bodies are destined to be crushed by the wheel of time, perhaps even in the most humiliating manner. We should not expect a warm welcome in this world, living souls here will die for a chance to squash aspirations of a devotee and Krishna grants them all their wishes. So what if they hate us and ridicule our efforts? Getting their recognition is not our goal and, equally, failure in their eyes is not our failure.

Our only failure is if we forget the supreme benediction of Gaudiya vaishnavism. Our greatest misfortune is if we refuse the mercy of Sri Chaitanya and His devotees, if we turn down His offer of unalloyed devotional service.

We won’t find better perfection anywhere and we won’t achieve it in any other way.

Vanity thought #348. It’s time to think. NOT!

It’s been about two weeks since I thought about excluding my mind from my japa and it’s time to assess the progress or the lack thereof.

The first few days were really great, as expected, but eventually I slipped into the familiar pattern and hardly ever remembered to seek the sound of the Holy Name outside the purview of my mind. Still some of it stuck and now if I catch myself thinking during japa I try to completely shut my mind down and ignore its very existence. I haven’t been very successful with maintaining this attitude for longer than a few seconds but at least I’ve established a new bottom line.

This has spread in other aspects of my life, too. Sometimes I realize, even if for a second, that it’s not only that I have to try and do something for Krishna but that what I consider “I” is already Krishna’s property, not mine. Trying to engage *my* body is like using stolen goods for charitable purposes.

Sometimes I think that Krishna is the enjoyer of my senses. I think the attitude is correct but implementation is a downright scary thought, I don’t know when I will be ready to give up sense of proprietorship over my body. Well, at least I’m aware of this goal.

There’s one more thing I have become a bit more aware of – my desire to think. It’s not only eating and sleeping anymore, I also need to think, my mind needs to be doing something and it likes being very very busy. I particularly noticed that my mind likes to postpone thinking about lots of things until I have time for japa.

Sometimes it creates an agenda list ready to go and think about as soon as I pick up my beads. Sometimes when I am busy with something and I have a great idea I tell to myself – don’t get distracted now, mull if over when you chant. Sometimes I let out a sigh of relief when I decide to chant a few rounds – finally I have time to be with myself and think.

The worst part is that I’m not sure I can stop this entirely, not unless I’m ready to completely give up thinking, which should be just a tad easier than giving up eating, sleeping and breathing.

I hope there’s a better solution for my time, japa, and mind management issues.

I’m planning on japa marathon sometime in the second half of this coming week. I’m clearing my schedule and I think I will be able to complete it without any major problems physically but I’m feel really apprehensive about the state of my mind. There’s simply no way I will be able to either ignore it or force it to listen to the Holy Name for a long period of time.

I think I’m ready to sacrifice my time and my tongue but I’m not sure if I should do it without sacrificing my mind, too. I still have a few days to think about it and gather strength and determination.

I’ll think about it tomorrow morning when I chant…. Oh, no…

Vanity thought 347. Mordor Olympics

Last night, like a good global citizen, I watched London Olympics opening ceremony. It was a showcase event for the country that despite its tiny size was probably the most influential in shaping the modern civilization as we know it and so the show was aptly named “Isles of Wonder”.

What I saw was truly wondrous indeed but not in the way most critics reviewed it. The show started with images of pastoral England where happy peasants were doing maypole dancing and playing football and cricket. It was a general merriment all around. Not the most spectacular scene ever but the image was truly idyllic, like Shire from Lord of the Rings series.

Then “progress” started with the advent of the industrial revolution. To show that peasants and yeomen were uprooted the giant tree on top of the Glastonbury Hill was lifted in the air and hordes of robotic moving workers emerged from the hole. Like dutiful Tolkien’s orks they then proceeded to occupy all the land, in the process stripping it of all the grass and green. Soon there was nothing left and the landscape came to be dominated by huge smoke chimneys of would be factories. When I saw the first one slowly raising into the sky I though it was a perfect reference to the Eye of Mordor.

No one was smiling anymore, people were toiling away at factories, doing some heavy lifting and pushing and robotic dance routines in unison amidst dark grey chimneys. “How is that a progress!” I wondered to myself. Pretty soon they were trying to forge five Olympic rings that to me looked like those Tolkiens rings of power and sure enough, the magic rings rose into the sky.

What was the next step on that path of “progress”? A choir of deaf children singing the national item. At first I thought it was just a politically correct insertion but after the zombies of industrial revolution they filled the entire field with sick children on hospital beds. Officially it was called a tribute to their National Health Service but how could one not see it as a direct consequence of slaving away at ghastly, ugra-karmic factories?

Nest step was the tribute to British children’s literature, with references to Peter Pan et al, and caring nurses flipping books together with sick kids but in less than a minute it turned into nightmares with Lord Voldemort rising into the sky and tortured people twisting around on harnesses and all kinds of ghosts crawling over the grounds. A band of Mary Poppinses clearing them out didn’t quite erase the impression.

How anyone could call that “progress”?

There were a couple of numbers with Mr Bean and James Bond and Queen’s appearance but when the narration resumed it showed us a society completely consumed in electronic devices, starting with a kid who never once lifted his head from his Gameboy. Romance story culminating in a tribute to the inventor of www summed it up nicely.

All their achievements of the past half a century were played through kaleidoscope of scenes from popular movies and TV shows, they raced through popular music, too, and finally ended up with a rave. The traditional end of a rave with fistfights and half naked women vomiting in the streets wasn’t shown, I guess it wasn’t really in the spirit of the Olympics but no one needs a reminder of that either.

Judging by the reaction of the press no one batted a lid. Surely it was an unusual Olympic opening performance but celebrity cameos distracted attention of the viewing public from seeing what was actually shown – a degradation of the society from its idyllic roots to a depraved pit of humanity.

I still suspect that it was director’s noir idea from the start, considering he made himself a name by a clever portrayal heroin addicts of Edinburgh and solidified it by exposing Bombay slums to the world.

Personally I’m thankful for lifting the veil of the illusion for a bit to demonstrate anyone who looks where the world is actually heading and whether it’s worth a celebration or a mourning.

There are many other legitimate complaints about this whole Olympic business that I won’t touch here and I hope people who already noticed that instead of celebration of sporting spirit it created an atmosphere of “1984” will also notice the incongruence of the opening night’s narration, too.

Or maybe they won’t. Maybe the illusion won’t let them see her as she is.

For me it was an important lesson, as I’m preparing for an Olympic japa marathon next Friday. I’m all ready to go if not for the fear that I can’t dedicate my day to chanting because I like the rest of the world so much. Well, not quite so much after today, it was a sobering revelation. Olympics aren’t completely useless after all.

Vanity thought #346. Welfare

It seems another discussion looming on whether we need hospitals and food distribution in ISKCON – there’s a very long article on Dandavats with lots of Prabhupada quotes in it and very little wiggle room for the proponents.

Perhaps it will change my mind but before it gets a chance I’m recording my pre-debate opinion for posterity – it’s all a giant waste of time.

Why does ISKCON need to open hospitals? Why do people need to open hospitals? Well, that’s what they do in the material world – try to fix things. We are not here to fix things, these things are unfixable. We are here to claim souls back to Godhead, making their material lives more comfortable is exactly the opposite of that.

It’s not like we can avoid engaging ourselves in the material activities altogether – we need to have families and go to work, if done with the proper attitude these activities are supposed to purify our interests. That’s what God has given us as a test to succeed in our lives. Fine, but why do we need to add ourselves even more tests than already are there?

Besides, we don’t claim that our jobs are there for Krishna’s pleasure, they are for our purification and that is important, too, but they are not for Krishna per se. It’s okay to turn our places of work into little reminders of Krishna with pictures on the desks and perhaps a poster on the wall but we are fully aware that those are still places of material engagements.

I guess it would be fine if we get to play Prabhupada recordings in hospitals but you don’t need to actually build a hospital for that, that’s just a poor excuse to hide our desires to build and manage things.

If we were to run hospitals we should admit only devotees with general population being accepted only in emergencies. Serving devotees and fixing them up so they can go out and preach is the greatest service of all. Doing kidney transplants for people who want to enjoy in this world for a little while longer is a completely different thing.

Distributing food is a great thing. We say we are distributing prasadam and so even people who don’t know anything about Krishna will get some spiritual benefit, not to mention an enormous amount of good will and publicity. Well, if we want good will and favorable publicity maybe we should not be fooling ourselves that we want to serve Krishna and not our egos.

As far as prasadam goes – I’m not sure it really works that way. Only if food was cooked for Krishna with love and devotion it becomes prasadam. Most of the stuff made for “food for life” is not suitable to devotees own consumption due to general lack of spiritual purity during preparation. It remains to be proven it was ever offered and accepted by Krishna and the ratio of service to Krishna vs simply feeding people is probably getting tinier and tinier with every passing decade.

In some places, I heard, they just hire catering companies and simply manage the whole thing, no cooking required at all.

On the other hand, as our society grows wider and wider and more and more people come in our spiritual standards will inevitably slide. That’s okay. Krishna created this whole world to slowly purify the fallen spirit souls. I’m not sure we need to wait for it, though. If we can’t convert their hearts right away we shouldn’t be here at all.

The whole point of Lord Chaitanya’s mercy is spreading love of God to everyone unconditionally, if we can’t do that and go with slow purification process instead we are not serving that mission, are we?

Perhaps we should admit that have lost our potency to change people’s hearts right away, it’s far better than to pretend that Lord Chaitanya is still with us. I mean we are not abandoned or anything but we are clearly failing. Maybe someone else will come along, maybe our job here is done, maybe we just have to wait for the rest of our lives to play out, maybe we should just pray for Lord Chaitanya not to judge our failings too harshly, but we shouldn’t be hypocritical and claim something we are not.

Vanity thought #345. What’s a Name?

I was reminded of an important thing today – unless one is fully liberated he can’t serve Krishna directly, he must serve the orders of the spiritual master instead. This makes sense – as long as we see ourselves in the form made of external energy we must serve external manifestations of the Lord, too.

That raises an equally important concern, though – what is the Holy Name? We don’t see or hear it as fully spiritual so what makes it Holy? I think it’s only the words of the spiritual master that fill material sounds “Hare Krishna” that we hear so often with spiritual energy. Of course they are not material, one could say, but I am talking about our perception – we don’t see them as spiritual and they sound just like any other word coming out of our mouths.

Same thing happens with Deities – they are not material but we, due to our imperfection, see them as such. In fact Deities and the Holy Name are non-different. That leads to my today’s question – what is a Name? Is it a sound? Is it a form of the Deity? A form of Srimad Bhagavatam?

The sound coming from our lips doesn’t make it a name, we can repeat it over and over again and it won’t become a Name. With our impure hearts we can also look at the Deity all day long and see only a brass figure, nothing else.

Maybe the only thing that makes the sound or a form truly spiritual for us is the blessing of the guru, and the Name can manifest Himself through any material form, not necessarily through sound. Even washing the dishes could bring us in contact with the Name if it’s done under the directions of the spiritual master.

If the guru tells us to chant Krishna might notice our efforts but if the guru tells us to mop the floors and we ignore the order and start chanting – Krishna won’t be there.

The possibilities are unlimited – our entire lives can be easily connected to guru’s orders. He tells us to read books and follow instructions – and there it says we should perform our duties. So we can’t ignore our jobs and chant instead. It is also our responsibility to maintain our bodies healthy so that they could be used in Krishna’s service. Means we can’t let our bodies rot or develop high blood pressure and get high levels of cholesterol, that would be against the orders of the spiritual master.

With an attitude like this it doesn’t really matter whether we are chanting or not – every action done in accordance with the desires of the guru is as spiritual as chanting Hare Krishna mantra, and conversely, chanting done against the orders of the guru is as useless as scratching our bellies.

The danger is that we can use this as an excuse to do anything we want and claim it’s all for Krishna, but we can’t do anything WE want – the attitude of service to the guru won’t be there and there will be nothing spiritual in our actions.

So, we have to chant sixteen rounds a day and more if we have time but not while neglecting any other of our duties, and no, we don’t come in direct contact with Krishna by simply saying His name, only if we say His name under the direction of the guru, only then it becomes the Name.

Also, there are no spiritually more important things to do and spiritually less important – only our material consciousness makes them so, and if we think that any particular service is less important we are really damaging our spiritual progress at the expense of our bloated material ego.

I haven’s said anything new today but I need to remind myself of these things from time to time, I tend to forget. Easy to remember when you are living in a temple with all kinds of managers always on your tail, not so easy when you are out on your own, in the wild.

Vanity thought #344. Reasons for a change – past and present

Continuing about inevitability of change – I think I see some emerging signs for it already. I think there are three major catalysts of change currently at work – complacency, untapped markets, and the general degradation.

Seventy-eighty years ago Gaudiya Math was unstoppable juggernaut rolling over the society. It was lead by an illustrious acharya, it was growing at tremendous speed and it was all over the place. They got complacent, they couldn’t imagine that eventually someone else would have to take over. I’m not saying they were proud, they simply couldn’t think about deterioration, in Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s time it was unthinkable, he wouldn’t have let it happen.

Then there was a period of turmoil following his departure and we generally explain it by their failing to appoint a GBC but seemingly stalwart, highly dedicated, highly educated, highly experienced devotees showed signs of weakness, too. At the height of Gaudia Math glory they didn’t see it yet, in that sense they got complacent.

Are we in the same position? On one hand ISKCON managed to survive the years following Prabhupada’s departure, put that period behind us and move forward. Even without Prabhupada our society has grown in leaps and bounds, especially in India and former Soviet block countries.

We don’t face any serious challenges anymore, ISKCON downfall is simply unthinkable, and that’s what makes us complacent, too.

Maybe our Temple of Vedic Planetarium won’t become our Bag-Bazaar, let’s hope so, but there’s no rule that it couldn’t happen, either.

I’m not preaching doom and gloom, by change I mean someone else will come along and do things better than us – how’s that a bad thing?

Back in the last century Gaudiya Maths conquered India, more or less, there were probably pockets of resistance here and there but it was a matter of mopping up, simply applying the already proven model.

The West, by contrast, remained an enigma. First attempts at preaching there weren’t as successful and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was busy with other things so it basically fell off the map. It’s not like there were looking at this new, exciting market and had no idea what to do, they simply forgot about it. From pocket of resistance it turned into a blind spot.

Srila Prabhupada changed all that, of course.

Coming back to our time – do we have such blind spots ourselves? Well, if we could see them they wouldn’t be called blind spots, would they? There are areas where we haven’t made much progress and there are entire generations of people who don’t really know who we are anymore.

Many would probably disagree but here’s an interesting tool – a chart showing occurrences of word “Krishna” in books indexed by Google. There’s a sharp drop in the past twenty years and we are already below pre-Prabhupada levels.

Try it for yourself here

This is another example of our growing complacency. We clearly have millions and billions of people to preach to or at least to remind of our existence but somehow it doesn’t work. Why?

I think it’s because of the third reason – general degradation. Every generation refuses to admit it but the further Krishna Consciousness spreads, the worse the quality of its new converts. I refuse to agree that it’s worse in absolute terms, but from the previous generation point of view it’s clearly going downhill.

Two-three hundred years ago it was not unusual for devotees to directly enter Krishna’s pastimes. A hundred years ago Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati sill gave a few siddha-pranali initiations but that didn’t go anywhere. In ISKCON it’s simply unthinkable – see the trend?

A hundred years ago traditional brahmanas didn’t consider Gaudiya Math initiations as genuine and wouldn’t allow Gaudiyas anywhere near their own deities. At least they let them to enter the temples, but not us, westerners – see the trend?

Reading some of the comments and articles on ISKCON forums there’s a whole new slice of the population that is unacceptable by our standards and they shouldn’t be allowed in until they purify their existence. We think if we manage to follow our regulative principles we are already purified, but that’s by our standards, previous generations are still occasionally appalled at our behavior.

Similarly, when we look at the outsiders we can’t accept the possibility that they would become genuine devotees without giving up their bad habits, and that’s another sign that someone else would probably come and engage them in the mission of Lord Chaitanya and they will be as dear to Krishna as any of us or any of our predecessors.

To sum it up – the change is looming, and it’s going to be for the better, to bring Krishna Consciousness to even more people than at the present moment. We might get bypassed but it’s okay, we shouldn’t hoard all the glory to ourselves like pigs, we better be ready to help and to serve, and pray for the mercy of the new devotees so that we get a chance to help in spreading Lord Chaitanya’s mission, too.

He accepts anybody giving his life for him, pure or impure, perfect or imperfect, He is the most munificent avatar.

It would also be entirely Gaudiya, rupanuga spirit to step back and let Krishna enjoy accepting service from new devotees.

Vanity thought #343. The importance of staying in debt

Normally Srila Prabhupada taught us that being indebted is a really bad thing but that was meant for the monetary dealings in the material world. When we are in service of Krishna, however, being indebted is a good thing, at least the way Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati explained it. He actually recommended it, for our won benefit.

His reasoning was like this – take all the money you can get and spend even more for Krishna’s service. If you don’t have enough you have to go out and collect. You have to go out, tell people about Krishna and beg them to donate something for His pleasure. This will make them feel superior to you (even though it’s you who are giving them the greatest opportunity of their lives) and you will be forced to feel lower than the blade of grass. You will also be forced to offer them respect, manada, that way you will fulfill all the requirements for kirtaniya sada harih, AND you will be talking about Krishna all the time.

There’s no other way to clear your heart from anarthas. If you feel inconvenienced by behaving like an insignificant beggar while talking about Krishna, if you don’t like when people tell you to get lost or even kick you out, if your pride hurts too much from all of that – you are not qualified for doing nirjana bhajana anyway and so shouldn’t be wasting you time, pretending to progress in the comfort of you own ashram (that was meant of matha vasis).

This is a powerful message. I wish it got permanently etched at the back of my mind.

Vanity thought #342. Inevitability

Reflecting on some internet discussions in the past couple of days made me think about inevitability of change. Not simply because things deteriorate but because things can’t stay the same, it’s not in their nature.

Buddhist understanding of the world is that nothing really exists, we don’t pay much attention to what they think but the reason they say nothing exists is that nothing is permanent. I start typing this sentence on the keyboard and by the end of it the keyboard is not the same anymore.

We are not Buddhists but we also accept the inescapable influence of time. Things change and so should our attachment to them – the attachment should go.

ISKCON as we see it now will not be eternal and Srila Prabhupada will not stay as the best up-to-date acharya forever. Our connection to both ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada is eternal because it’s spiritual but we ourselves are not going to be eternal. There will be people who come after us and they will be lead by new acharyas.

It seems unthinkable and even smells of treason but we should not be attached to our material forms in this world. We should also not be selfish and possessive, we should rather welcome the next acharya who, by definition, will attract great number of new souls to Krishna Consciousness, the souls that we currently are unable to reach for one reason or another.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur was a great revolutionary acharya but he wanted his son(s) to do even better and preach even further. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was unrivaled preacher, he was so great that no one thought anyone could improve on his achievements but then came Srila Prabhupada and took Krishna Consciousness to previously unthinkable heights.

That’s three great acharyas in little over a hundred years, with thirty five years since Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. Mathematically we are due for the next revolution. Not “we” as members of ISCKON, we are more or less secure, but the rest of the Kali yuga souls.

Srila Prabhupada was able to reach and appeal to the Western people and their values but the West has changed so much since then. It has gone through TV revolution where the evil box had become a center of everyone’s life, then we had the computers, then the Internet, then Facebook and now we gone totally mobile. Life of a the current generation is so much different from the life of people who Prabhupada was preaching to that we with our books seem archaic now.

We tried to co-opt the TV and the Internet in our preaching but without much success. We haven’t been able to penetrate the virtual lives people have been building for about a decade now. We need a breakthrough.

I’m not going to speculate on how exactly it would happen and whether the new acharya would be welcome or met with suspicions. I hope we are better than that, we’ve had a history of not being much appreciated at times, we shouldn’t be the ones dishing it out to the next wave of devotees. I’ve just getting myself ready to the inevitability of change.

Vanity thought #341. Hypnosys

I don’t know how I was reminded of the existence of this subject, somehow it never pops up in our Krishna conscious discourse, it’s not in our books and I can’t seem to find any useful info about it form our perspective. Vaniquotes are not particularly helpful here either.

When I was growing up we had a professional hypnotists for a neighbor and so I attended several private and public sessions. Only one of my close friends was susceptible to hypnosis but in a larger group of people there were always quite a few persons who displayed some amazing things. Then I forgot all about it until now.

I think there are two ways to approach this area, one is translating hypnosis into our own terms – mind, intelligence, etc, and the other is hypnotherapy itself.

A few years ago a devotee offered a CD containing hypnotherapy recordings to help people progress in their Krishna Consciousness. His main line of reasoning was that hypnosis can help people follow regulative principles which should make lives of many of us a lot easier. He didn’t get a lot of support in public internet discussions.

Mostly people said that since it wasn’t recommended by Prabhupada than it is not necessary, and also that following four regs is the result of attachment to Krishna, it can’t be done artificially. I think there’s a lot of truth in these arguments.

Our desires for enjoyment, especially illicit enjoyment, are rooted in our hearts, not in our subconscious minds where hypnotists operate. A proper session might reprogram us to stop registering these desires in our minds and so we won’t act on our urges but this will only deal with the symptoms, not with the disease itself. Makes sense, right?

To those objections that devotee answered that he helped quite a few people to kick their bad habits, smoking, for example, and take to practicing Krishna consciousness more seriously. Hard to argue with this either.

Conquering the illicit desires, even if temporary, earns one a permission to approach our spiritual authorities and get actively engaged in service to our mission, perhaps even earn the acceptance and initiation by a guru. Normally we treat those steps as being of utmost importance on our journey back to Godhead. It doesn’t matter much if the hypnotherapy effect will eventually wear off, you can’t undo the mercy of the spiritual master, by hook or by crook – you are already “in”, Krishna won’t abandon you, you are saved.

I guess there could be counterarguments that initiation performed on a hypnotized person is not a real thing and that is probably very true, but the mercy of the guru is real independently of that.

Another argument against using hypnosis could be constructed this way – you can suppress your sinful desires and get admission to ISKCON spiritual family but the desires themselves won’t go away. The real danger is not that they will come back but that you are missing your opportunity to purify yourself via legitimate methods – by chanting the Holy Name and associating with the devotees. With these desires still present in your heart you have a very good chance of taking a birth again.

Krishna will satisfy what you want in your heart at the moment of your death, if it’s still filled with material desires and thus devoid of devotion – how can you expect to become His servant in the spiritual world? Normally devotees are expecting death in anticipation of meeting Krishna at the end of their journey, but that implies reaching the end of the journey, it means we have done our work, passed our tests, and can offer prayers just like ones in Isopanishad.

If all the work we have to do on ourselves between taking to Krishna consciousness and our deaths was not important at all we wouldn’t have needed hypnosis to wait it out, we could commit mass suicides or plunge ourselves into induced coma. I mean if the goal is not to break our regulative principles until our death – coma or suicide is a lot more effective than hypnosis that doesn’t even work on most people.

This kind of arguing can go on and on without ever reaching a conclusion, which makes me suspect that searching for an answer here is futile, which makes me suspect that it’s the question that is wrong.

It divides us into “trust our method and Krishna” vs “use hypnosis” camps but that distinction is false. Our hearts are purified from within, by Krishna’s spiritual potency, but the external manifestation, following principles, is carried out by His external energy. Externally there’s always a reason why we give up smoking or drinking or gambling – external energy always follows the chain of cause and effects. There might be some spiritual nudging here and there but there’s also plenty of down to earth, perfectly reasonable arguments against meat eating or intoxication or illicit sex, too. We use the whole arsenal – better food, engagement in active service, lots of scary stories in our daily classes, positive reinforcement and so on.

Hypnotherapy could be one of the tools that helps us to stay in shape. It could also be a tool specifically prepared by Krishna to help us get through, just as he sends us food and water to sustain our lives or sends appropriate news clippings to our lecturers to remind us of the dangers of illicit activities.

We worry about the value of hypnotherapy for the same reason we worry about free will – we are living on a material platform. We should practice our service not to find answers to those questions, we should practice so that the worries themselves would go away.

Acquiring knowledge about pros and cons of each particular issue is useful only as long as it helps us concentrate on the essence of the service itself and ignore the arguments as distracting. It’s a mental exercise to purify the mind, and I think I’m done enough analyzing for today on the subject of hypnosis.