Today I had a driving day, spending almost eight hours behind a wheel and while I wouldn’t say it was the worst in terms of remembering Krishna, it still led to one painful realization.
It’s impossible to drive over a speed limit AND think of Krishna at the same time. The bodily consciousness demands total attention, it’s either the road or …, well, actually, there’s no choice.
Srimad Bhagavatam describes a lot of devotees who are totally absorbed in Krishna consciousness but all I can remember is that they were either like Maharaja Ambarisha, constantly engaged in Lord’s service, or they were like Jada Bharata – totally oblivious to the world around them. Sukadeva Goswami himself was an avadhuta, as well as examples described by Krishna in Uddhava Gita.
To become like Maharaja Ambarisha I must be fully engaged in preaching or in any other active service in ISKCON, but that is not how my life shaped out to be. If I remind myself of “Whatever you do, do it as an offering to me” verse from Bhagavad Gita (BG 9.27) I can’t help but answer it with Lord Chaitanya’s famous eho bahya, it’s external (CC Madhya 8.59).
There’s also an example of gopis and other residents of Vridnavana who spent their entire lives in separation from Krishna, performing their external duties on autopilot, but who am I kidding? I’m actually quite enjoying whatever little crumbs the material nature throws my way. If I was a gopi I would have been happily married to someone else.
That leaves me with a split personality solution. One moment I’m a gross enjoyer and next minute I pray to Krishna to save me from this ocean of nescience.
This doesn’t work as well as it sounds because every moment spent enjoying this life is a moment of betrayal that makes all my subsequent prayers very shallow. I don’t think it will get any better any time soon either. Maybe later in life I will have the opportunity to be engaged in constant service but that would be when I become totally old and useless.
Not just generally useless, but useless for the mission of Lord Chaitanya. There’s only one Srila Prabhupada in the universe and that position is already taken, the rest of us are going to wither and die in relative ignominy, rotting away as a burden to society.
One could say – okay, maybe not Srila Prabhupada like, maybe we could follow footsteps of Bhaktivinoda Thakura who didn’t die in ignominy but as a respected vaishnava saint and everyone was seeking his blessings and wisdom. To that I can answer that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura spent many many years completely devoted to the preaching mission of Lord Chaitanya, even when he was still in government service. He didn’t drive around the country at neck-breaking speed and having fun doing it.
So, split personality it is.
I should have listened to our preachers back when I had a chance to go out and distribute books every day and be otherwise fully engaged in serving the orders of my spiritual master. That’s what our acharyas established Gaudiya Math and ISKCON for, to give people a place to be constantly connected with Krishna. It’s people like me who turned it into some sort of a hobby instead.
And now we are paying the price, probably for the rest of our lives. It’s even worse when we blame someone else of our own choices – GBC, temple presidents, ISKCON leaders. It’s as if we have absolutely no understanding of how the law of karma works. We make our own beds, everybody does.
It is also hypocritical to try and present this situation as a viable way of life, to present that mixing our families and careers with attempts at devotional service is an acceptable solution. It should actually pain us beyond measure every time we get up for work rather than for mangala arati.
Well, I guess we all deal with pain in our own ways but let’s not pretend that the pain is not there and everything is in a tip-top shape. Unfortunately, I don’t see an easy way out, I guess this is one of those taror iva sahishnuna cases – be more patient than a tree – when the life itself comes to cut us down we should tolerate it and offer our best service regardless.