I don’t feel I made a strong enough care for pursuing a genuine spiritual awakening yesterday but it’s already time to argue for another side. Maybe it’s māyā talking, she has a way to make us feel comfortable in whatever situation we find ourselves in and she has a way to strip our memories of close encounters with Kṛṣṇa. There are times, however, when it’s clearly not māyā.
Just recently I listened to a class and the speaker there said a few final words, heartfelt and inspirational. Do your service, he said, work hard for guru and Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure, avoid falldowns at any cost, and if you have any problem come to the deities and beg for their help. Then at the end of your life lie down on the floor, leave your body, and go back to Kṛṣṇa.
Hard to argue with this prospect, especially the part about deities. If you have a temple and deities to worship you are bound to your service and your position. If Their Lordships came to stay here with us we can’t just leave Them here and go look for better places. They WILL provide all the help we need, all the protection, all the facilities. We make a pact with them, we form a spiritual relationship even if it manifests through material energy, we can’t abandon Them and say “meh, not blissful enough for me”.
Seeking the kind of awakening I was talking about yesterday then looks out of place and against the wishes of guru and Kṛṣṇa.
However… This lecture was delivered to devotees in one of ISKCON’s most advanced communities, financially secure, very well managed, providing some very sophisticated services not available elsewhere. I, personally, wasn’t born to be a part of something like this even in my best days, just wasn’t gifted enough, it’s like a place for demigods who got born in Kali Yuga to take advantage of Lord Caitanya’s movement but didn’t really want to get themselves dirtied by association with lowly souls like me. It was one of those cases where I listened to “house for the whole world to live in” preaching with a grain of salt.
For people like me, and I wasn’t alone there, they had a dog house somewhere in the back, it’s just karma. Of course there are plenty of less restricted communities in ISKCON but these days I have a feeling that almost everywhere devotees are protective and possessive, and provide THEIR facilities to use, not shelter at Kṛṣṇa’s feet where there should be place for every soul in the universe. Outside your own temple you are always a guest, they shower you with hospitality but still politely wait until you leave. But I digress.
In a community like that being a member is a privilege one should never give up, the outside world would just swallow you in and you’ll get lost forever. I perfectly understand why they preach the value of staying where you are instead of seeking shelter of Kṛṣṇa’s internal energy. We aren’t strong enough to survive on our own and depend solely on the Holy Name, we aren’t ready to become parmahaṁsas.
Okay, perhaps this particular episode can be explained away, it could have been different if the speaker was addressing a different audience, but then there’s a case with Śrīla Prabhupāda himself. There’s one interview he gave to journalists and what everyone remembers is how he talked about difference between men and women and how women’s brains are smaller, but after that he answered a completely different question about the age in which he personally realized Kṛṣṇa.
The relevant bit starts at about 7 min but listening to the first part is not a time waste either.
It started like this:
Reporter: Have you realized the highest truth yourself?
Reporter: You have?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.
Reporter: At what age did you realize God?
Prabhupāda, however, does not answer this but says “I can deliver you also”, and then talks about God in general. The reporter doesn’t give up and eventually brings Prabhupāda back on topic. I don’t know what happened, maybe it’s all the noise that confused him at first, maybe his mind was somewhere else, maybe he avoided the question on purpose, but when he understood what was asked of him he simply said – at the age of four or five.
Prabhupāda: Of course, we were born in a very nice family. My father educated me in this way. So practically from the very beginning of our life we were educated in this way.
Reporter: Oh, no, I understand that. I mean at what time did you have your own personal realization, Swāmījī? At what age?
Prabhupāda: Well, that I can say from the age, say, four or five years.
Reporter: At the age of four or five years?
Prabhupāda: Yes. That’s a fact.
See how the reporter here meant some mind blowing personal vision of God but Prabhupada speaks of simply learning that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For Prabhupāda that was the same thing but we are more like that reporter, we need magic, we need hair standing on end, tears and goosebumps, we need voice from the sky, we, in short, need the experience of Dhruva or Nārada, but also gradually progressing to the experiences of Six Gosvāmīs.
Maybe we should take position of Prabhupāda on this – simply understand that Kṛṣṇa is God and our lives will be successful. How many times he reiterates in our books that a perfection of life is to die in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and go back home back to Godhead? Why shouldn’t it be enough?
Or take Nārada and Dhruva themselves – they’ve met the Lord only once and then had to live out the natural duration of their lives as ordinary souls, without any visions. In Dhruva’s case he had to stay for 36,000 years, more of a curse than a blessing. Even if the Lord were to show us such an extraordinary mercy, why should we expect to be treated better than Dhruva and Nārada?
Why do we think that we know better than the Supersoul how to arrange our lives in the best possible way. We aren’t held back here for no reason, we need to go through a process of purification and we need to cleanse our material consciousness, we can’t just insert ourselves into Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with our perverted minds. We can say that our minds are a product of material nature forced to work under the influence of the guṇas and that might be true but it doesn’t mean our own consciousness is already pure, we are given these minds because we want them. They suit our desires, not māyā’s, she would be happy if we didn’t need them but otherwise she simply serves what’s ordered.
Our continuing lives here are prescribed to us by the Supersoul as the quickest cure for our material disease, we’d be foolish to choose any other course or treatment.
I think I’ve convinced myself here already.
And yet nothing can purge soul’s desire for direct contact with internal potency of the Lord. It can’t be stopped, and the more we give in to it, the less we are interested in the external happenings, and this means Lord’s treatment is working. Our material mind and intelligence might be bound to this world until our death but our souls aren’t and so there’s nothing wrong with striving for awakening right now. Of course another sign of progress is increase in our patience so we shouldn’t mind to wait as long as it takes for the results, but there’s another aspect to it that I don’t want to start now. Maybe some other day.