I don’t think I was clear yesterday about the connection between Lord Caitanya and my indecisiveness but it’s actually very simple – when Lord Caitanya SAW Kṛṣṇa’s hand in everything, everything had become clear and fell into its place. When we don’t see Kṛṣṇa anywhere but only theoretically speculate how it might be connected to Him we can have doubts. Which connection is better? Are they all real? Are multiple connections even possible? Did Lord Caitanya saw everything connected to Kṛṣṇa in different ways simultaneously or was the variety only instances of the same connection? Does this alleged variety even register when one sees Kṛṣṇa?
All these questions can come only from someone who doesn’t know the Lord, someone who can only speculate what it means to be in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and my yesterday’s answer stands – don’t worry about it, it will somehow work itself out, our job is to remember Kṛṣṇa and never forget.
There’s another way to approach the dilemma and rule it out as inconsequential. Our understanding of spirituality is temporary. For some time it manifests in our brains and then it goes away. Our true spiritual position, however, is not. We see our progress as a journey through time but time doesn’t exist neither for Kṛṣṇa nor for us as spirit souls.
Think of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s life, for example. Was he dearer to Kṛṣṇa when he was five, twenty, fifty, or seventy years old? He himself said that he realized that Kṛṣṇa is God at the age of five, does it mean that when he was three Kṛṣṇa didn’t care much about him? From our conditioned POV it would appear that Kṛṣṇa was waiting for Prabhupāda to prove himself, pretty much like Prabhupāda’s godbrothers did.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was no one special for them, most probably didn’t even know he existed as he didn’t play a visible role in the Gauḍīya Maṭha as an institution. Then, after he went to America, he suddenly became the talk of the town. Did any of his godbrothers ever guessed his future success? I don’t think so, and I bet there were all very surprised when it happened. Then they probably started to rationalize and seek explanations. Some went to the West, too, but nothing big came out of it. For them it was a story of progress and if they were wise, they’d pick up some very important clues why it happened to Prabhupāda and not to any of the “ācāryas”.
We look at Prabhupāda’s life in the same way, except from the point in time where Prabhupāda’s success already happened, we don’t have memories of what he was before that. We can highlight faith in the words of a guru, dedication to carrying out his order, staying clean of institutional politics, preaching over comfort of renounced life and so on. If one does these things then other things would happen. It works.
Well, Kṛṣṇa doesn’t see it that way because He is not bound by time like we are. The sequence does not exist for Him, transformations of our bodies do not exist for Him. Prabhupāda is always Prabhupāda, His dearmost servant, no matter what shape or what place his body was at any given moment.
One could say that this might be true for our ācāryas who are Kṛṣṇa’s closest associates sent down to our material world but for the rest of us progress is clearly there, from one moment to another, from one lifetime to another, from lower species to humans, we are inching closer and closer, especially after we have met Kṛṣṇa’s devotees. Kṛṣṇa must appreciate our service more than He appreciated the time we were it total māyā.
I don’t know the answer to that yet but let’s look at our lives in zoomed out view.
According to Lord Kapila the living entity is conscious of the Lord when still in the womb and prays incessantly. When it comes out this consciousness somehow gets lost and, as a baby, he needs to learn all the basics again. I’m not sure if Lord Kapila was talking about ALL babies or just in general. Perhaps his description is not valid for the majority of Kali Yuga population at all but it doesn’t mean there’s no change in consciousness between fetus and newborn.
We don’t know how it happens and what facilities a fetus can use to pray to the Lord but consciousness does not depend on the body as much as science tells us. Being born forces the living entity to behave like a baby, so he needs to learn stuff like speaking and reading even if he did it in his previous life, no matter what he did or did not know while in the womb.
If he is lucky he’ll learn something about God, he might even become a devotee. With time he understands these things deeper and deeper, becomes wiser, gathers a lot of knowledge, learns ślokas, learns KC philosophy inside out, learns his occupational duties and so on. It’s a long way from the total ignorance of a child and so far it has been only up and up.
Then old age takes over and he becomes senile. Memory becomes weaker, intellect dwindles, ślokas get forgotten, his professional skills become outdated, and eventually he becomes a vegetable. Some people stay in good mental shape until the end but for most deterioration is inevitable. Then comes death and one loses all his acquired knowledge, if you ask him what 2+2 is and he probably won’t even understand the question, or that he is even being asked something. These last moments, minutes, days, sometimes weeks and years might be spent in total darkness. That’s when the oscillator of our “knowledge” swings down.
I hope for devotees it is replaced by spiritual realizations and they don’t need to command their brains in order to stay Kṛṣṇa conscious, but even if it happens, it’s a different kind of intelligence, it’s not the same intellect that we use to decide what to do next in our lives, as devotees or otherwise. It relies on different bank of memories and it juggles different kind of values. We might see spiritual beings or Viṣṇudūtas and have a conversation with them about our fate, our destination, perhaps about staying a while longer to complete some sort of a mission. We can be rest assured that whatever concerns us now will become completely irrelevant then.
So why worry? Just because, materially speaking, our intelligence now is at the crest of the oscillator’s wave it doesn’t mean it has any value in things that really matter, things that would make Kṛṣṇa decide whether to come and get us or to leave us here for another life.
Even Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī lost some of his mental capacities with age. Sometimes he couldn’t remember ślokas, for example, and he probably didn’t have mental energy to produce something like his earlier treatise on Surya Siddhānta. It doesn’t mean his preaching was any less effective, his conclusions became erroneous, or he forgot the import of the ślokas. It didn’t really matter.
What we really need to know is that Kṛṣṇa is God and we are His eternal servants. Everything else is extraneous, it comes and goes like ocean waves or ocean tides. And to “know” here means know with all capacities available at the moment. It must become a conclusion of all our arguments and reasoning regardless of how much ground they cover. What I mean is that we don’t need to explain a connection with Kṛṣṇa in situations we are not aware of or in situations we have long forgotten. Kṛṣṇa must become a center of our own mental universe, no matter how small.
Right now, as the universe of our knowledge is still expanding and we learn new stuff everyday, we might struggle with finding Kṛṣṇa in everything we learn, we might have doubts, like in the case with Moon landings – what if they go there again and conclusively prove according to all our empirical experiences that they really went there this time? What if they learn to stimulate certain areas of the brain and produce visions of the spiritual world? Will we be able to reconcile those developments with our śāstric knowledge? Who knows?
A dying person, however, is free from these troubles, he remembers very little and can process even less, and so in his shrinking universe there’s no space for doubts. If we live our lives right it could all be only about Kṛṣṇa in our last moments, and all the stuff that we worry about now would just fade away.
This means that our job is to separate really important things and concentrate on getting them right, expanding our horizons is not it and we can survive perfectly fine without getting confused by all this incoming “knowledge”. That’s why devotees are expected to be simple minded and are even asked not to read too many books.
The problem is that we are riding the wave and for the moment it feels good, it’s our perverted rasa we can’t deny. Hopefully it will go away on its own, we should not feed it just as we should no feed remaining vestiges of the sexual attraction. It won’t be a big loss and one day we’ll appreciate not polluting ourselves with all these doubts, arguments, and counterarguments. In the meantime we should make sure they are still connected to Kṛṣṇa one way or another.