Vanity thought #1194. Jailhouse blues

For the past couple of days I’ve been discussing effects of our old spiritual sins on our path back to Kṛṣṇa. They are obviously not helping. Hopefully Kṛṣṇa is a forward looking person who forgives and forgets but it’s possible that bad memories will always be somewhere in the back of His mind. We have to make a strong case to convince Him to give us a second chance.

But first we should overcome our own problems. I’m not any kind of authority on the subject but it seems natural that whatever we did to get sent down here needs to be owned up and rectified.

My personal fear is that those abominable desires have become a part of our true spiritual nature. They were not caused by the contact with the material modes, they are truly MINE, they are not product of the illusion.

Chanting can purify our hearts from material contamination but my “original sin” goes deeper than that. Cue Christians with their helpful suggestions about the nature of the original sin but theirs is one bite for the whole humanity for millenia to come, ours is ours alone, everybody must have done something unique and personal, like everything else in the spiritual world.

Another thing that keeps bothering me is the worrying amount of eternally conditioned souls down here. Usually we cheerfuly declare that material world is just one small part of Lord’s creation, that there are innumerable Vaikuṇṭha planets up there in the spiritual world, and Goloka Vṛndāvana is bigger than all of them together. Still material world takes a quarter of the creation, not a particularly small spot.

Look at it this way – one our of four souls in the spiritual world commits unpardonable offenses towards Kṛṣṇa and gets permanently incarcerated in the material universes. One out of four!

Highest incarceration rate in the world is in the US and it’s still less than 1% of the population, far short of 25% in Kṛṣṇa’s kingdom. There’s another interesting number to note on this topic – more than one in four adult Americans have some sort of a criminal record but they are not currently imprisoned, unlike us down here in the material world, so it’s not relevant here.

Kṛṣṇa must be running a really tight ship up there, tossing out a quarter of His servants into the ocean of material existence. Just think of it – out of four members of your family one must do something so bad as to send him away practically forever with little hope of return. Family! One out of four friends is easier to imagine, depending on your social circles, but family? People closest to you, your own blood, as they say. And I’m not talking about them breaking some laws, I’m talking about banning them from the family itself, voluntarily, because Kṛṣṇa makes this kind of decisions on His own, He doesn’t call 911 and wait for jury trial. Or maybe He does, maybe there’s some sort of group deliberation on our fate before we get chucked out.

Does it happen to same people over and over again? “Correctional” facilities do not correct people as mush as society hopes and for many a convict once they get into the system they never return to normal life again.

One could argue that our jails are imperfect because everything down here is, so rehabilitation rates for those who went through Kṛṣṇa’s jails must be higher. Well, for one thing this rehabilitation happens not in some spiritual prisons but right down here so the same faults apply.

Another counterargument would be that reasons for poor rehabilitation rates are essentially the same – bad association. People in jails get theirs from hardened criminals and we get ours from hardened materialists. Hardcore criminals have zero compliance with the law, they refuse to follow it as a matter of principle, and hardcore materialists have zero interest in renunciation, they refuse to consider any spiritual goals as valuable, sense gratification is all they know and all they ever want to know.

In either case, we get ourselves polluted by their association and their dedication to their values. It’s hard to break free as it is, but more importantly is that even when we are out our tastes remain and we are always in danger of returning to our old ways at every opportunity.

Just think how people treat ex-convicts, what kind of jobs they get, what kind of opportunities. Prison life is no fun but there are those who’d rather go back there than live as rejects among normal people. Once you get used to restrictions on your movements prison life becomes tolerable and in many ways easier than struggle for survival on the outside.

It is a fact that lots of homeless people intentionally get themselves in jails when winter comes – they would rather stay there than seek shelter from cold on their own.

There are those who try their best on the outside but can’t make it and kill themselves or commit crimes with the sole goal of coming back home, back to jail.

Are we going to be any different? Can we expect unicorns and rainbows in the spiritual world? We surely do, just like inmates think that once on the outside they can drink and have sex and enjoy life. And they can, theoretically, but the reality is always different from their dreams and hardly ever lives up to their expectations, however modest. Are we going to be any different?

Can we expect first class service (not to us, us serving to Kṛṣṇa) or are we going to be stuck with barely legal minimum wage jobs with no security or safety net? Who can answer than affirmatively?

I’m sure all those things our ācāryas told us about spiritual world are true, Kṛṣṇa does spend His time engaged in loving relationships with His devotees, they enjoy all kinds of rasas and ever improve on their happiness. We are not guaranteed getting that, however.

I mean first we will get into some sort of a halfway house – another birth in the material world but in Kṛṣṇa’s presence. We will also go through all kinds of training to restore our svarūpa, restore our old skills – what is called ekādaśī-bhāva. Then we’ll be gradually introduced to actual service, and we probably won’t get to enjoy real stuff like rasa dance or whatever equivalents are available to devotees in sakhyā or vātsalya relationships.

I’d guess we don’t get to bathe and feed Kṛṣṇa if we are on the level of His parents, or we don’t get to have lunches with Him if are His friends. Maybe we’ll only get a chance to hold bay Kṛṣṇa in our hands once or hear other boys tell stories about all the fun they had while we only get to say hello once in a while.

What if we realize that spiritual world is not what we expected? What if we slip into our old ways and get thrown down here again? What if we really are eternally conditioned? Not just because our local time scale but because we come down here again and again.

I don’t know the answer, our ācāryas keep coming for us so maybe not everything is lost, what other hope is there?

Once again – it all comes down to our ācāryas, they are our only hope to reform ourselves even if do make it out of here. There really is no other hope, and we also can’t afford to look at them from the perspective of fellow criminals, which will always be critical one way or another. We should look beyond petty complaints and focus on what really matters – the message of love and devotion that they pass down from the spiritual world, and nothing else.

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