The dream I was talking about for two days was awesome but without learning any lessons from it would be only self-indulgence. There’s also a bigger picture here about generic reactions and what they tell us about reality.
First, the follow up. I already said that when I woke up checked my dream world against the reality. It’s not that I was expecting to discover an ancient but still very vibrant Hindu temple in South America but I still had to check, if only to attach myself to “reality” once again.
In a wakeful state I reacted to this dream twice, first before going back to sleep, hoping to bring it back and clarify missing information, which was only partially successful, and second time when I woke up for good to make up for all the mistakes I made in the dream itself.
The most obvious thing is that there’s no mention of Kṛṣṇa in this dream whatsoever. The temple was Hindu and it was very impressive but I have absolutely no feeling about any of the deities there. I have no connection with neither Śiva nor Durgā and I’m not looking to establish any relationships with them, no more than is necessary in course of trying to become Kṛṣṇa’s devotee.
On that note, I never feel at home in Hindu temples or India itself. There was a time when I thought living in India would be great but even then I wasn’t attracted to any place outside our Gauḍiyā dhāmas – Māyāpura, Vṛndāvana and Purī. None of the other holy places I’ve been to meant anything to me and I don’t understand why Lord Balarāma or Lord Nityānanda spent so much time traveling. Lord Caitanya went on tour to preach, not to visit the tīrthas themselves.
So, while the temple was awesome at no point I felt at home there, it’s just not my scene. Kṛṣṇa was conspicuous there by His absence. Russian devotees I met afterwards weren’t welcoming either, nor did I really need shelter at the time, I just wanted a fulfillment of my desire to find my hotel. I’m not sure if I needed to find Kṛṣṇa I would have approached them for help either, they were not in the mood to channel His mercy and didn’t look like potential candidates for the Lord to force it through them either.
This is how the rest of my life goes, too. It’s just not important enough to get Kṛṣṇa involved at every step. It’s only karma, at worst it could make my life temporary inconvenient but it hardly ever presses the limits, in which case turning to Kṛṣṇa for help becomes justified. There’s another way to approach our life, too, but I’m probably not ready for it, it’s certainly a discussion for another time.
Having justified absence of guilt of not remembering Kṛṣṇa I also wanted to make something good out of it. That’s when it hit me – this story is a perfect example of how Kṛṣṇa can strip us of all our possessions and put us in a situation where we would have no choice but to become totally dependent on Him.
I mean, let’s say you’ve decided to become a sādhu. Sādhus have a legal status in India but to become recognized as one you must legally die first. If you are a foreigner with passport and visa you are not a sādhu, only a tourist. When push comes to shove it’s not Kṛṣṇa who would come to your help but your institution, your insurance, and, ultimately, your embassy. Likewise, there’s no such thing as “devotee visa”, we are all tourists there, “bhakti” is something we do as part of our tourist package.
You could say that you do not care for formalities and seek only devotion but owners of your body would still enforce their right to claim it. They will put it in a hospital if necessary or try to extract you from jail, or extradite you back to your home country. Even if you refuse help it means that you transfer ownership rights form your home government to the Indian jail officials.
In the dream, however, I was left without money and documents and with no one to go to for help. If I made it back to Kathmandu I could have gone to the consulate but up there on the mountain there were no authorities over me except karma, which told me in a loud and clear voice – you are not getting back to Kathmandu, you are stuck here.
This absence of any obligations and upādhis associated with them hit me only well after I woke up, which is a pity because it means it’s not the natural state of my consciousness but a forced one. If something like this happened to me in real life I would not have a chance of waking up and would continue panicking. Once the acceptance appeared, however, everything became simple and clear.
Kṛṣṇa wanted me to cut all ties with my present life and He put me in a new, presumably better situation for my spiritual progress. I had not prospects in this temple town, it wasn’t about settling down and getting a wife, I was brought there to practice renunciation. It was perfect for the purpose – big temple means there’s always rice and dahl with some vegetables, and the town had plenty of sheltered corners for sleep or to hide from rain. There should be plenty of discarded clothes, too, and plenty of people to approach for bhikṣā if it comes to that. Plenty of people to preach to, too – it was perfect in every respect.
I didn’t particularly like the place but that is not an important consideration, we rarely like what is truly good for our spiritual progress because liking is done by the mind, an element that stands in our way. This voluntary transgression of mind’s dictate and detached acceptance of whatever is given is an austerity at least in the mode of goodness. In fact, if we seek renunciation then it’s even better if we don’t like our surroundings because liking would naturally grow into an attachment – an opposite of what we are trying to develop.
All that was only a dream but the reality is that we aren’t ready for this kind of renunciation, we are children of Kali yuga, we are not meant to be renounced and we are told to practice yukta-vairāgya instead. This yukta-vairāgya, like chanting of the holy name, is an absolutely perfect activity effective in any age but it is nearly impossible to achieve. In Kali yuga we mostly mimic it and it still works better than any other method.
I don’t think I will ever get this dream chance in real life, our fate is struggling with mind and senses, falling and rising up again and again until our death, and I’m not special. If Kṛṣṇa offered such a way out for real it would mean He is taking me to the next level and therefore I would be extremely grateful, no matter what that level is, up or down, it just shows Lord’s interest in us and it would strengthen our determination.