Vanity thought #1600. We got spunk

For a couple of days I’ve been writing not so flattering things about other religious traditions and if any of that was said in a public forum we’d immediately be challenged to provide proof of our superiority. If we look into our our hearts we might find that we want to see this proof as well, that all the accusations that Hare Kṛṣṇas got annoyingly loud mouths and that’s all there’s to us might be true. Today I want to address these doubts.

First of all, we should remove all doubts from our own consciousness. If we are not sure about what we say then others will pick up on this hesitation, too. They might sense it directly or they might pick up on braver than usual arguments – it’s a known psychological phenomenon to conceal one’s doubts by speaking louder. We can object that Śrīla Prabhupāda was even heavier but people know the difference between speaking from conviction and speaking from self-doubt, they do it all the time. You know how they say that it takes a thief to know the thief – they all have dabbled and they all have first hand knowledge of what BS smells like. Someone somewhere will notice and we will be finished, end of conversation.

There’s another reason why we should defeat our own doubts first – Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a personal experience, it deals with transcendental reality that is inaccessible to people’s senses. We can’t “prove” it because it’s beyond the purview of eyes, ears, or even logic. It can be demonstrated only by opening people’s hearts to Kṛṣṇa and that happens only in association with devotees. Who are these devotees? We are! There’s usually no one else around, we have to do it ourselves. If we fail then we’d be considered as boastful empty-talkers, end of conversation again. There’s still a chance that people get their Kṛṣṇa consciousness elsewhere, like the books, but if they dismiss us they might not even read them or take them seriously enough.

We also should not expect to remain neophytes forever. Our personal perception of our progress is one thing, it should become lower and lower, but it’s not an excuse to preclude Kṛṣṇa from using us as His preaching tool. We can’t say that because we are neophytes Kṛṣṇa cannot do something. We are not special and denying Kṛṣṇa’s mercy would be a misuse of our humility. Our progress is not up to us, Kṛṣṇa is the most hardworking one in our relationships, and so we can’t say that He failed to make us into devotees just because we are so fallen and so “humble”. However fallen, no one is below Lord Caitanya’s mercy, we are not going to limit it by our “special” condition.

The fact of the matter is that Kṛṣṇa is real and advaya-jñāna is real and we are not in a position to restrain its flow. If we surrender ourselves and chant the holy name it WILL work, it WILL become our direct experience, and it can’t be resisted. We’d read books, we’d seek association, we’d become inspired, we’d try to preach, one thing would lead to another and advaya-jñana would reveal itself without a fail. It probably won’t become a permanent fixture in our lives but it will become undeniable and it would disappear only to make us strive for it with higher intensity.

It might take some time but one of the first qualities we develop with practice is patience, and patience also comes with age, so waiting is not a problem. One of the signs to progress is not worrying about time, as soon as the mode of passion subsides time ceases to be an issue. It happens naturally and automatically as part of anartha nivṛtti, we don’t have to worry about it, just be sincere in our efforts, which in itself is a function of chanting.

There are millions of ways to screw our progress towards advaya-jñāna and we should avoid them as best as we can but they are also the same ways that prevent others accessing it, too, and so knowing our own faults makes it easier to explain theirs to them. If we make continuous, conscious efforts to avoid offenses then Kṛṣṇa will cooperate and provide us with necessary intelligence as He promised in Bhagavad Gītā, and then it snowballs from there. Less offenses lead more direct perception of the advaya-jñāna, which lead to less material attachments, which lead to more nectar, which lead to stronger convictions and more determination to avoid further offenses – it becomes unstoppable and feeds on itself. It’s a still long way to go to experience Kṛṣṇa directly but should quickly become more than enough to stand our ground in conversations with ordinary people.

The thing about modern society is that no one even tries anymore, their “new normal” absolutely precludes them from making any spiritual progress and it makes them lose all faith in transcendental reality. Sex, for example, is an absolute must for them and it immediately blinds one to his spiritual nature, it ties them to their material bodies and they can’t perceive neither themselves nor the others as anything else but sex objects. They might listen to us talking about the soul but when they look around all they see is bodies so they don’t believe us and they don’t believe we might see the same world differently.

Meat eating is another insurmountable problem, and alcohol, too. I would also add the internet as a modern form of gambling. They might not place any bets on it but it’s just as addictive. I don’t want to discuss the similarities and differences between gambling and drinking addictions at this time, suffice it to say that it blinds people to reality and fills them with illusion, and I would insist that internet is just as dangerous.

Our process is very simple – stay clean, chant, and it WILL work, but people don’t believe us, they can’t imagine someone staying away from sex or bacon. For some reason those of them who are vegan are not so receptive to our message either. I think I can try to explain it but not today. Otherwise, the direct experience of one’s spiritual nature is open to all.

Sometimes we ourselves lose it and we seek some complicated explanations. We might make the path of our progress unusually long and troublesome, we might talk up our obstacles, move the goalposts, do whatever it takes to justify our lack of realization but the answer is usually very simple – maintaining our attachments. I assume we’ve learned to avoid offenses already, otherwise it would be the first item on a checklist.

Ex-ISKCON devotees often don’t get the offenses part, and also the part where they reject their gurus or even Śrīla Prabhupāda. They take the position where advaya-jñāna becomes impossible and when then don’t see it in their own lives they conclude that it couldn’t exist in ISKCON either, because they are so much better than us, it unimaginable that we would make progress when they don’t.

For ISKCON devtoees it’s the attachment part that wrecks our spiritual lives. It might not wreck our lives in general or even our lives within ISKCON itself but we can’t attain advaya-jñāna while keeping our attachments. Those of us who left temples for sex with husbands or wives are doomed to lose the perception of the Absolute even if we manage to stay nominally within ISKCON. There are great many of us to form our own club and it’s easier to sin in company but it won’t take us closer to Kṛṣṇa, it just won’t.

Also, there are legitimate ways for advaya-jñāna to be perceived and there are manufactured ones, but it’s a topic for another day, I’m done for now.

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