The other day I had this realization while doing my rounds – to become devotees we need to become impersonalists first. Not text book impersonalists but purging all personal interests from our service.
This sounds most unusual as the whole basis of our practice is that we have real, personal relationships with the Lord in whatever we do, when we offer food, for example, yet on another level these personal interactions need to be weeded out. Let me explain.
As embodied souls we are conditioned by material nature and since we were not born as Lord’s eternal associates or even as devotees our bodies are not meant for Lord’s service. We’ve got tongues that like to enjoy material tastes, or gab about our own interests. We’ve got ears that like to hear our own praise, too. We’ve got skin that likes to feel soft, comfortable things and don’t even start on genitals. The point is that everything we do in our bodily consciousness is anti-devotional by definition.
So, what happens when we start to chant is that we simply seek another source for our pleasure – Krishna. In our present state whatever we approach him for is not for His service, it’s for our own self-interests.
We do have personalities and we have our own, distinct minds and emotions but being different from one another doesn’t mean that we use our personalities in service to the Lord, it means we want to engage Him in our service in our own, unique ways.
Now, let’s look at the solution – we engage in the service of our guru, ie we look out for his interests, now ours. We take on his mood and we try to see the world through his eyes. That means that on some level we purge ourselves of our personal traits.
It can be argued that our personality would never completely go away but to that I can say it’s because our conditioning is never going to end, too. Our real, eternal personalities are completely unknown to us at the moment and so on practical level they are as good as non-existent.
Practically speaking, we do not exist as persons up until the moment we discover our real spiritual form.
It’s a simple, three step process – we have fake, materially conditioned personas, we strip ourselves from this misidentification, then our real selves become revealed. It’s on the step two when we reject our present conditioning and don’t know our real identity yet – this is the kind of impersonalism I’m talking about today.
It’s easier to comprehend this while chanting. We can offer food with our personal touch, we can go out to preach with our personal touch, we dress the Deities with our personal touch, but none of that exist when we are alone with the Holy Name. It’s just the sound, nothing personal, as they say in the movies. We just sit and listen and wait for the Name to reveal itself.
If we have thoughts coming into our heads we banish them, if we have some feelings rise in our hearts we ignore them – according to trinad api sunichena principle we should never assume that we have real, spiritual feelings, we should see ourselves as way too fallen for that. We do not pay attention to our own feelings, we try to purge that kind of selfishness – as devotees we should be concerned only with feelings of our guru and Krishna.
It doesn’t mean that there will be no place for personalism in our lives but this personalism is reserved only for our masters and other devotees, it’s not our own personalism.
The more I think about it the more I convince myself so it’s probably a good time to stop and consider this idea from some other angle. For today, however, impersonalism in my chanting is my goal.