Vanity thought #529. It’s all in the Name

From the very beginning we have learned that the Holy Name includes all the opulences of the Absolute Truth and grants all the wishes but I think that as time goes by we forget this simple fact and treat the Holy Name in a restricted and sectarian way.

First we lose faith that It delivers unlimited material wealth. Perhaps we accept the dictum that Krishna takes away all material prosperity from His devotees too literally. Many devotees therefore deliberately stop worshipping Krishna when they decide to give in to their material desires. It might actually be not a bad idea because this way they do not commit the offense of maintaining attachments while chanting the Holy Name.

Then we take Lord Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada’s unlimited mercy too literally, too. We assume that if we keep on chanting the unalloyed devotion would automatically rise in our hearts. We do not take the warning that chanting while keeping our anarthas would actually water them and not the creeper of devotion.

Practical implication of this is that we mistake a lot of things that happen to us as growth of the genuine bhakti. We also think that if our chanting does not lead to immediate suffering then we are on the right path. If we get some positive results we sink even deeper into this illusion.

Therefore some devotees think that moving up the ladder of recognition is a sign of progress on the path of devotion. Some devotees think that residing in Vrindavana is the pinnacle of progress, too. Some think that delving deep into Krishna’s pastimes is the only way to go. Some think that developing symptoms of ashta-sattvika-vikara is the perfection of our lives.

The trouble with this thinking is that to achieve any of these things we need to make sacrifices. Career in ISKCON demands engagement in politics. Moving to Vrindavana requires leaving their yatras and quite often leaving the shelter of Srila Prabhupada and getting re-initiated in Gaudiya Math or entering babaji circles. We almost always have to make unfavorable trades, unless all these things come to us without our asking.

What we forget is that none of it has anything to do with Krishna and His service and we still treat Him and the Holy Name as the source of our enjoyment. WE want to cry at the sound of the Holy Name, WE want to live in Vrindavana, WE want to become a sannyasi and train lots of disciples, and the Holy Name dutifully delivers. It keeps serving us and fulfilling all our desires. It keeps giving and giving and giving and we keep taking.

While we indeed become closer and closer to Krishna the essence of our hearts doesn’t change, we are still not devotees but leeches and we slowly convince ourselves that this is how it ought to be.

The Holy Name is so merciful that It allows us to make It into whatever we want It to be and thus we still misuse our independence.

It’s ALL in the Holy Name also means that It encompasses everything. We shouldn’t take it to mean that we have to experience Its every aspect, though.

Devotional service starts when we abandon ALL self interest, even spiritual one. Being free from material illusion does not automatically make us into devotees and even people of Vaikuntha do not necessarily possess the kind of devotion that we aspire to. This complete absence of self interest is what makes our acharyas to leave the comfort and safety of Krishna’s lotus feet and descend into this world.

Achieving this position is only possible if we become indifferent to what the Holy Name can do for us and start sensing the world through Krishna’s eyes. Regardless of how much happiness we can experience with our pure spiritual senses, Krishna’s capacity to enjoy would always surpass ours so sharing in Krishna’s pleasure makes sense even from the position of our self interest.

Unfortunately, this is also the hardest level to achieve but it should not stop us from trying.

So here’s another meaning of “It’s all in the Holy Name” – the secret lies in sharing all the treasures that exist in the Holy Name for Its own personal pleasure and ignoring anything that could be available for ours even if we deserve the right to kick back and enjoy.

Methinks Krishna is so clever that He would trick us into accepting His mercy even if we are not looking for it.

All in all it’s a win win solution and we ought to pursue it very vigorously not least because this is what Krishna’s service actually is.

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