Vanity thought #595. Not to despair

My yesterday’s post ended on a somewhat discouraging note. Not to despair – the solution is rather simple.

Five hundred years ago the path to spiritual perfection was only through renunciation of worldly pleasures, no one even thought that he would achieve liberation while being attached to and fully engaged in his material life. That was just ridiculous.

Lord Chaitanya changed all that through introduction of harinama sankirtana, his followers and Six Goswamis exposed the cheating phalgu vairagya and taught us that there’s no link between pure devotion and material affairs, ie a pure devotee is not affected by whatever it is he is doing externally.

This is also a “realization” of many of the present day devotees who, in their “maturity”, are skeptical of brahmachari enthusiasm and reject it as only an initial stage of progress that has to be superseded by purifying our sex desire through family life.

On the surface it would appear that Lord Chaitanya completely revolutionized spiritual practices but that’s only one way to look at it. His revolutionary introduction of sankirtana does not allow for blind rejection of everything else that is taught in Srimad Bhagavatam.

Pure devotees are very very rare and for most of us the old rules still apply – you cannot make any progress while remaining attached to sex life. In fact it was devotees who tried to combine the two who were rejected by the Lord.

Oh, Lord Chaitanya is so mercifyl, we say, but go ask Chota Haridasa who had to drown himself in Ganges. There’s no mercy for those who want sex.

Likewise, we have grown to believe that we can do whatever is it we are doing, add some chanting to our lives, and that would be enough. No, that would be only the beginning. To actually succeed in our chanting we have to completely give up all material aspirations – career, income, families – everything. We can’t want that and be devotees at the same time.

So, if the dilemma is that we can’t live in a society and not be exposed to contamination and therefore we can’t follow our principles the answer is that it’s true. We can’t live in a society and not be contaminated. We have to live only among devotees in places where the Lord is worshiped by everyone every minute of the day. Lord Chaitanya hasn’t changed that.

The only way we can remain among non-devotees and maintain our purity is if we are one hundred percent engaged in preaching. If we are preaching we can go to shopping malls, pass through airports, fly first class – whatever. If we are not preaching then all the same things will completely screw up our devotional lives.

A devotee who is concerned only with the spreading of Krishna consciousness does not think about his job even though he might have one, he does not think about his financial situation even though he spends money everyday, he does not think about enjoying his wife even he sees her everyday and makes sure she has a happy and protected life. He has no interest in those things, he lets them sort themselves out by the laws of karma and with full trust in Krishna’s protection.

So, the short answer – if we want to live a “normal” life and make devotional progress, it’s not possible. The only way we can appear to have a normal life is if we are fully engaged in preaching, in sankirtana, but in that situation we will not have a desire to live a normal life anyway, it would be happening on its own and we would think of it as a curse.

Given that there aren’t enough places populated solely by devotees, and first class devotees at that, and that vast majority of us have to live within the society, the real question is how to completely engage ourselves in sankirtana and preaching.

Chanting our rounds is a good start but it still takes only ten percent of our lives, we need to do more, and sankirtana is always expanding so in our search for service there will never be any rest. So, if you don’t have a service now you can at least busy yourself with looking for one, thinking about something to do for Krishna. It’s not as good as actual service but it’s a step.

Actually, it would appear that it’s not even a first step, it’s a step we must take every day, every minute of our lives – what more can I do for Krishna? I’m not doing enough to expand the mission of Lord Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada, I’m not qualified to be entrusted with the service but I want to do something anyway.

So, there’s no room for despair, we should rather see our situation in terms of progress, not in terms of achievements. The only caution we should take is that our progress doesn’t lead to a dead end, an impossible situation like a “sense-enjoyer devotee”.

That’s why protecting our siddhanta from impurities is very important, I guess even if we ourselves don’t live up to it we should still know what the proper standards are.

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