Yesterday I wrote about a little blooper with one Mayapur video and today another bad soundtrack example popped up in the news feed (youtube). Not going to embed it in this post for the same reasons. Do these things travel in pairs or in threes? Cannot be a coincidence.
Devotee starring in this one is instantly recognizable and I’m going to get myself in real trouble with his followers, or with Kṛṣṇa if I’m disrespectful, so it’s a tough one. Should I let it slide? I don’t think so, there’s something in it that really worries me.
This is obviously from a class given in some temple, maybe on Bhāgavatam, maybe on Gītā but even if it was an informal gathering there are still some expectations from speeches like this. They were not met, in my mind.
First problem with the video is added sound effects and if you look at the comments on youtube page people have noticed them and didn’t like them very much. They are from some public internet library, I guess, to illustrate building tension and drama. Looks totally out of place but, unlike yesterday’s example, they are just sound effects, they are not musical expression of someone’s sense enjoyment.
Sound effects like this are meant to elicit common emotional responses and have nothing to do with spirituality but at least they are stock ones, common across the entire humanity, not a specific “listen and appreciate how I skillfully express my desire to enjoy” that is what composed music is, so they are not nearly as bad and contaminating. At most they are in bad taste but accusing people of having bad taste is not a spiritual judgment either so I’ll leave it to hardcore critics to pontificate on this, and they have (Sampradaya Sun).
What I, personally, find far more disturbing is that throughout this twelve minute video Kṛṣṇa wasn’t mentioned even once. There was Bhagavad Gītā verse quoted towards the end but even that wasn’t given any connection with Kṛṣṇa. If not for the temple room environment you wouldn’t know it has anything to do with Hare Kṛṣṇas.
It starts with “I was sitting and meditating” and an illustration of how exactly this meditation was carried out and it’s nothing like what Śrila Prabhupāda taught us. Nothing. If it was a story about some Vedic sage it would have been okay, they meditate for thousands of years in caves, forrests, and even underwater, but for all of us saved by Prabhupāda’s mercy meditation means japa.
Maybe this devotee was talking about his meditation before he met Prabhupāda, it’s quite possible that the whole story is from pre-Prabhupāda’s days, but then a disciple is not supposed to give any value to anything he learned before he met his guru and was given Kṛṣṇa.
We all have out stories and we all have done something to bring us in contact with devotees and so each step leading to this point was important but still it is nothing, absolutely nothing comparing with the gift of the Holy Name. We are not supposed to meditate on our pre-ISKCON days and if we choose to share stories from that time they should have a clear connection with Kṛṣṇa or devotees. This story has nothing like that.
As I was listening to it I thought this was a waste of my time. I waste time like that all the time so it’s not a big deal but when I see devotees telling stories I expect something quite different. Only at the very end there was a connection made to spiritual matters – fear of death, in this case, but devotees should deal with this fear differently – by relying on Kṛṣṇa and chanting constantly, two activities totally missing from this lesson.
Death is a special event in our lives, this particular lesson would have been great for ordinary materialists but for us death is not just changing our bodies but “once in a lifetime” opportunity to reach Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. We should be preparing our whole life for this one moment and when it comes it’s not the fear of dying that should worry us but the fear of missing Kṛṣṇa.
We’ve been living here long enough to realize that our material bodies are unsuitable for pure devotion, if we get born again we are guaranteed to have more of the same and less of Krṣṇa’s service and association. We might make a conscious choice to be born here again but this choice should be done from platform of pure devotion, with full knowledge of who Kṛṣṇa is, full experience of our relationships with Him, and full knowledge why we would accept separation from Him.
Highly advanced jñānīs who have achieved liberation might agree on a birth in material world out of some sort of compassion but we should know better than that. Everywhere in our books this kind of birth is cited as a failure and as an example of why any other path but bhakti-yoga is imperfect.
Back to the point – death for us will certainly be full of fear but we should spend our live in such a way that the only fear we have is missing our meeting with the Lord. If we worry about changing bodies instead there’s something lacking in our knowledge as devotees.
Once again – what is a normal change of clothes for every embodied living entity, as Kṛṣṇa said in Bhagavad Gītā, is the climax of our entire existence as devotees, the ultimate test of our devotion as we know it. We might have had some spiritual practices before and we might have some spiritual practices in future births, too, and ultimately we ARE going to be re-united with the Lord, but as far as this particular life is concerned – death is our ultimate exam. We cannot fail, we cannot afford to fail.
Failure here doesn’t mean eternal damnation as in Christianity but we have a real, best in thousands and millions of years chance at returning back home, if we miss it there is something seriously seriously wrong with us as devotees. If Holy Name and mercy of Lord Caitanya can’t save us – what hope for us is there?
This isn’t some kind of super advanced stuff, it’s what Śrila Prabhupāda taught us right from the beginning and I think we can legitimately expect to hear these things in our classes.
I hope I wasn’t disrespectful towards anyone here