I’ve had a couple of episodes demonstrating the truths spoken in Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s article in the eighty year old issue of the Harmonist. Nothing special, I just want to look at them from the perspective offered there.
First, an unrelated case – about a week ago I dreamt about Vṛndāvana. Seriously. I didn’t see much, all I remember is going down the slide which felt like one of those old playground slides made of metal, except this one was decorated with lots of flowers. Lots. It was more like sliding through a tunnel of flowers, that’s how many were there. I have no idea what they were called but they are big and bright. I don’t remember any smells, though.
As far as I remember, I was testing this slide for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, just checking how it works. They were not present themselves, in fact no one else was present there at all, I was all alone and that worried me – what’s the point of being in Vṛndāvana without association with devotees there? It didn’t feel special in any way at all, save for those astonishing flowers.
I don’t believe I had a glimpse of actual Vṛndāvana in any sense, just a mental concoction, and I didn’t even like it very much. I remember I was upset that I was doing the testing myself and it was like I was actually enjoying the dhāma, not serving it.
The reason I mention it at all is that I was fairly pleased with my attitude – no enjoying the facilities, and lack of association as a big bummer. It was all in the dream, I wasn’t consciously directing it, maybe my mind finally learning something useful.
The dream I woke up from this morning, however, was directly related to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s article. I had some altercation with a couple of Muslim guys, there were those big, curved Muslim sabers waved and a lot of stabbing that somehow wasn’t fatal. The Muslims had finally had it with me and tried a new tactic – they converted me to Islam right on the spot and then called on their friends to kill me for rejecting the conversion.
I don’t remember what the ritual was, but, apparently, my consent wasn’t necessary, they just recited some hymns and I was a Muslim. When I protested they called for help in enforcing no denouncing rule. Now I had a whole mob on me and I had no time to explain anything, not that anyone was going to listen. Death was all that was on their mind. I didn’t feel any kind of animosity towards them but I ran for my life as fast as I could.
That’s what Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta called “latent partiality for untruth”. Being protective of one’s life is an all-pervading instinct that is bound to manifest in all kinds of dangerous situations. I was really scared in this dream. Petrified. And I hadn’t had a single thought about Kṛṣṇa or not being this body or about anything, just primal fear. I ran and ran and was about to get away when alarm rang.
I have it on sneeze, however, so I postponed it and went back into the same dream. Situation changed somewhat. I was watching a football match with players and spectators from the same Muslim mob. It wasn’t played in a stadium, just a field among the trees, and it was televised. Then I saw myself as a sneaky figure dressed in all black, from head to toe, hiding in a hollow of a large tree.
I was caught on camera, everyone watching TV saw me, and I wondered how long before the mob was informed of my whereabouts. Somehow I was watching it on TV, too, while absolutely sure that I was also inside that hollow. I really felt for myself while watching from outside. Then the alarm rang again and I had to get up.
The point is that unless we relinquish this animalistic attachment and false self-identification we won’t be able to perceive spiritual reality of any kind. This horrifying dream reminded me how much work is still ahead.
The last episode was more positive. I think I got some kind of food poisoning, probably bad oil or something. My stomach has been battling with it whole day and there’s no end in sight yet. My body temperature shot up to 100 Fahrenheit or 37.7 degree Celsius. It stabilized now but when it was going up I was out of commission, cuddled under a blanket and wanting to fall asleep.
Chanting in this condition is never good, mind was absolutely out of bounds, and I had no willpower to control it.
On one hand it showed again how difficult it is to overcome my “latent partiality for untruth” but I realized something else, too – sickness affects only my body and my mind but not the Holy Name.
My every thought was somehow colored by discomfort but the Name stayed pure. Nothing can touch it. Even if the sound coming from my mouth might be affected by pain, the Holy Name stays transcendental.
One way or another, I had moments when I was above the pain and there was nothing between me and the Holy Name. Nothing as in no love and no devotion, but that it still better than appealing to Kṛṣṇa from the bodily platform.
There were moments when I stopped being myself and just listened to the Name, and in these moments I realized that nothing can possibly affect our relationship, if I manage to eventually build any.
Material nature cannot come between the soul and Kṛṣṇa. She will always be on the outside, unable to touch the Lord. The Lord never gets covered by her illusion and we can see Him with all clarity if we stop looking at the material world.
We can forget the Lord ONLY if we identify ourselves with matter, for it will be out of our hands – whatever is on TV would occupy our minds instead. Free from this false identification, however, the Lord is always there, pure and transcendental and completely unaffected by whatever seems to be troubling us in our material existence.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that the Lord will automatically reveal Himself, for that we need genuine devotion and all the help we can get form our ācāryas. Without it all we have is the sound of the Holy Name, which isn’t very different from what we hear in everyday life, we just have learn to treat it with a bit more respect and have full faith that eventually it will reveal more of its transcendental nature.