The topic of unsuccessful chanting of the Holy Name is a long one, we’ll never have enough of it. I guess it will go away only when we manage to develop love of Godhead and all such worries would dissipate like morning fog. This day surely must come, right? Wrong.
Consider this verse regarding offensive chanting (CC Adi 8.16):
If one is infested with the ten offenses in the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, despite his endeavor to chant the holy name for many births, he will not get the love of Godhead that is the ultimate goal of this chanting.
See – one will NOT get the love of Godhead if one keeps committing offenses while chanting. In the purport Śrila Prabhupāda cites Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura saying plainly that “there’s no possibility of attaining the platform of devotional service”.
Kṛṣṇa doesn’t owe us anything, He certainly doesn’t owe us our own love for Him, so if we simply keep chanting with offenses absolutely nothing will happen. It might go on for many many lifetimes, we’ve been told. At first such projections were probably meant to scare us but I think they have an opposite effect now. We chant for many years and decades, do not achieve any results, and tell ourselves that it’s normal, that this could take many lifetimes, so our years or even decades without any progress is nothing to worry about. Instead of whipping us into a shape we use it as an excuse to improve nothing.
Certainly, this attitude won’t be appreciated by the Lord. Therefore we should never forget the struggle for offenseless chanting. Never.
Sometimes I read what devotees say about each other and I can’t help but see total disregard for their own spiritual progress. Why do they do this to themselves? Targets of their criticism might very well deserve it, this is besides the point, but why do they go to such lengths to denigrate other people’s dedication and service?
I think that they have become so insensitive to their own chanting that it doesn’t make much difference for them anymore, so they see no problems. When asked, they say it’s for the good of everyone, from Kṛṣṇa to Śrila Prabhupāda to ISKCON to their targets and they certainly hope it will be beneficial for their own progress, too. Giant waste of time, methinks.
Also this attitude is contagious, it creeps up on you. I haven’t checked these questionable websites for a few weeks and now when I look at their headlines I really don’t want to open any of their “click me, I’m so controversial” links. It’s not stench per se but the offensive mood is so thick you can cut with a knife. If you visit them often, however, you fail to notice it, and that means you’ve become a victim yourself.
Never mind, this is not what I meant today’s post to be about.
Problem with offenses is that they are natural for us. Our very birth is an offense to the Lord, our very nature is offensive. Atheists might see parallels with Christian orthodoxy here – how we are all damned from birth and how nothing we do here deserves praise in the eyes of God, how sin is everywhere and devil penetrates all our thoughts and desires. Perhaps they are right, the difference is that Christians blame everything on Adam and Eve while we know we are personally responsible for our situation, no one else is.
I don’t think we can declare our innate corruption publicly anymore, no one will listen to us, they’d declare us dangerous lunatics full of hate and laugh us off, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the truth. More importantly, this should be our innate struggle, not something we should bring out in the open. We should accept our own deficiencies, not point them out in others.
Only the guru has the obligation to show his disciples how materialistic and fallen they are, no one else. A preacher is also a kind of a guru so it’s okay for them to say so but only if the audience is willing to hear it.
When we are on our own with the Holy Name, however, we can and should be brutally honest, there’s no point of hiding the truth anyway – the Supersoul sees everything.
If we consider our motives very closely we’ll inevitably come to a conclusion that all our actions on the material platform are selfish. We always do everything strictly for our own benefit, occasionally our actions please guru and Kṛṣṇa, too, but that is more like an afterthought or a side effect.
How do we transcend the material platform then? One way is to fully absorb ourselves in the service to our mission but that is very hard to achieve and it is beyond our control – we are engaged by guru and Kṛṣṇa, not on our own volition, and we have example of thousands and thousands of devotees who gradually slipped from ISKCON authorities radar and are not on active duty anymore. It just happens, we can hope it won’t happen to us but it most likely will, just like most of us are likely to succumb to sex desire, too.
What to do if we fall outside of full-on service? Is there any chance of us then? Of course there is but we have to fight for it very very hard.
We’ll need more sādhana, for example, the more time we leave for ourselves the more time we leave for committing offenses. We should always, at all times, have something to do and we should watch very carefully that we are not doing it for our gratification but for the sake of our duty. Sometimes we need some “me time”, too, but we should watch carefully that this idleness doesn’t degrade our consciousness.
Creative types need more of this idle time than others but even they can look at it as a necessity – they need to give their minds enough time to come up with ideas, and producing ideas is their duty, so they are not being lazy and idle per se, this is simply their dharma.
Bottom line, though – we cannot perform devotional service as long as we identify ourselves with our bodies, it is simply not possible. To become real devotees we need to see ourselves as spirit souls, we need to realize our spiritual identity.
This might sound like an invitation to esoteric practices of siddha praṇāli, introduction to one’s siddha svarūpa but that is not what I mean. It appears that we have only two choices – see ourselves as our material bodies or see ourselves as our spiritual forms but there’s a third option here, thanks of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Lord Caitanya introduced another kind of identity for us and gave us a siddha praṇāli mantra to achieve it:
tṛṇād api su-nīcena
taror iva sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
This should become our svarūpa while in the conditioned state, we should stop seeing ourselves as men, women, seniors, juniors, husbands, wives etc. All those designations must be cast away, we should accept this new identity instead – lower than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, always ready to offer respect to everyone and never demand any respect for ourselves.
This is not our spiritual form but this is not our material form either. We can accept this identity without giving up any of our external obligations either. How will it manifest externally then? That’s a good question that needs another long answer.
The point is that this Śikṣāṣtaka verse is even more important than we usually think. ike I said, it is our siddha praṇāli mantra. I didn’t make this up even though I don’t remember who said this first, I think it was Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī.
The point is that it is a brilliant idea.