Should we give up control of our lives or not? I honestly don’t know. There are two schools of thought on this subject and I so far I haven’t resolved this dilemma. It came up at the end of my yesterday’s entry and I’m picking up from where I left.
From the very first reading of Bhagavad Gita we know that the spirit soul is not the doer and that our bodies act under the influence of the modes of nature. Bewildered by the illusion we, however, identify ourselves with our bodies and think that we are in control.
At the end of the Gita Krishna tells us to give up all our dharmas, meaning all our material designations that determine the way we act, and surrender onto Him, meaning ceding control. The more we read the clearer it becomes – we should give up desire to control the world and accept Krishna’s guidance, first in the form of the spiritual master, shastras and other authorities, then, hopefully, taking instructions from the Supersoul Himself.
The second school of thought generally goes like this – we make progress in our spiritual lives only by the grace of our guru. Our guru wants us to do certain things so we should do those things, please the guru, and thus become detached and surrendered. I don’t see anything wrong with this logic per se. It clashes with the first one, however.
This advice is intended for the beginners and, as beginners, in order to achieve anything in this world we should fully apply ourselves to the task. We should take control and responsibility, we should think, plan, and execute our plans perfectly. Books are not going to distribute themselves, temples are not going to rise overnight, bills are not going to pay themselves, not if we sit on our rear ends and only chant and eat prasadam.
Basically, we should fully invest our consciousness in our material activities, or maybe let’s call it external activities, as they are connected to Krishna so are not fully material. Either way – we should take control and we should strive for better control if we want to achieve wonderful things for the satisfaction of our spiritual masters.
This leads to aphorisms like “work now, samadhi later”. Some understand it as “perform whatever inferior service now and patiently wait for direct service to Krishna”, but it also means “forget about service and just apply yourself to work, and hard work will set you free”.
This argument appears as some kind of karma yoga at first – offering the fruits of your labor to the Lord, or to the spiritual master, then get purified, then rise to the level of what Krishna was talking about in Bhagavad Gita – you are not the doer etc.
I see this argument as the highest form of devotion to the Lord, too. We voluntarily assume consciousness of the bodies given to us by the material nature because these bodies are engaged in the service of the Lord, service of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission and service of our gurus. ATM. these are the best positions in the entire universe.
We are not shying away from spiritual consciousness and we are not accepting any material dharmas – we don’t see the service to the Lord as a material engagement. We accept the fact that the Lord wants us to be here, fulfilling His mission. What is the value of being where the Lord doesn’t want us to be, even if it’s Krishnaloka itself? We are not in this for our own interests, our own satisfaction, our own pleasure and happiness – we are doing this because it pleases our spiritual master and if he wants us to build temples and distribute books then so be it. Our personal liberation can wait.
This is the attitude of completely selfless devotion taught by Srila Rupa Goswami, not clumsy efforts of total neophytes as some outsiders want to label it.
I think this is also how various great personalities and demigods descend on this earth in forms of associates of the Lord – they see that some gross, inferior humans forms are going to be engaged in Lord’s service and they take them, it’s once in a lifetime opportunity even by demigods time. So what if these human bodies are smelly and full of abominable things and desires, and they actually walk on the ground – the chance to serve the Lord makes up for all of that.
So there’s a pretty solid case for trying to control our lives in service to guru and Krishna. On the other hand – who among us can claim being on such an elevated platform, the highest possible ever? Our acharyas who were living examples of nitya-siddhas coming to this world for the preaching purposes didn’t display this attitude, they didn’t think themselves as being in control or as doers of anything. Why should we?
What stops us from fully relying on Krishna’s mercy even when we want to do great things for our guru? Even if we substitute Krishna’s guidance with our own efforts and succeed – what is the value of this victory? We don’t have the grandest temples or the biggest festivals in the world, materialists will always be better than whatever we come up with. It’s the game we cannot win.
On the other hand we win even if we simply try, no matter the results. If the Lord wanted results He wouldn’t need even to snap His fingers, He wants to see us try.
I’m nowhere near the solution to this dilemma than I was nine hundred words ago. Perhaps it needs a third thought.