Real ISKCON

ISKCON appears differently to different observers. Somehow I just got an earful that I think this post would address – ISKCON also has discussions like this. It’s just a regular, off the mill Zoom meeting with Bhakti Vijnana Goswami organized by one of his “bridge preaching” disciples. I can’t be even bothered to find his initiated name. There are 1,737 views on Youtube at the moment, plus people who were watching on different platforms. It’s not a lot but not a little either – the “Number One Hare Krishna podcast in the world” doesn’t get as much as this, and that’s in English for the worldwide audience. Here is a talk in Russian, without translation. I have downloaded auto subs, tried to make them readable, and Google translated them in English. It takes a lot of time and I didn’t read through the result, I’ll just post it as it is below. I’m not lazy, but correcting the whole thing sentence by sentence would take a full day of work. I also can’t be bothered to put in paragraphs and left one sentence per line. I hope it’s readable.

Adrian:

Hello, we are live.
First of all, I salute Bhakti Vigyan Goswami Maharaja and all who watch us.
Today we have an amazing opportunity to ask questions to a person whose advice and instructions most of us listen to, use, but do not always work for us.
That is why now we will not ask about what to do, but about why we don’t get much from what we do.
Look, we are doing this broadcast for students of our projects: a large Vedic workshop, a journey to ourselves, a school of bhakti, and in general, in all these projects, despite the fact that they are a little bit about different things, but in general, we, like all the right people, we talk about happiness and how to become happy, and we talk about the fact that there are some changes in our lives, changes in the worldview.
And everything seems to be cool, we say everything seems to be correct, but in fact – our understanding of how it should be is changing, but happiness can also become more, but not as much as we would like.
Therefore, I wanted to ask the first question, directly, as you know, such an immediate attack.
Here you tell me from your experience – what is the most important thing that prevents people who are trying to do something. They just want to, they even start on Monday, they do something ..
What is the main thing stopping us?

BVG:

I will answer this question a little philosophically, I think that no one will strongly object, because, in practice, we have probably heard the answers to this question more than once.
In my opinion, if you look at the root, because when we talk about such a complex phenomenon as our life, we can talk about many different reasons.
This reason interferes or this reason interferes – a wife, a dream, a lack of money interfere, and bad weather interferes, the situation in North Korea interferes.
You can find many different reasons and explain what specifically prevents us from becoming happy, but if we look a little wider at the matter, then the absence of the widest possible vision and understanding of what is happening to us prevents us from becoming happy.
Because in order to practice something correctly, you must first understand why we practice, what we practice, why we practice it.
There is a very important principle that I wanted to formulate from the very beginning.
This principle is that meaning can only be understood by context.
The meaning in Sanskrit is abzideya or practice, the context is sambandha.
The meaning of a word can only be understood if we know the sentence, because the same word can mean completely different things in different contexts of different sentences.
The meaning of a sentence can only be understood by knowing the context in which this sentence is in a paragraph.
The meaning of a paragraph can only be understood if we know the context of the paragraph i.e. the chapter.
The meaning of a chapter can only be understood if we understand the entire book.
The meaning of a book can only be understood if we understand the context of the time in which it was written.
Why is it that even very good books written many centuries ago cease to be understandable to us?
Because we have dropped out of the context of this time.
That is, we can practice something only if we understand as widely as possible, understand the context as correctly as possible.
And actually what happens to us, if this slightly abstract philosophical position is deciphered in application to our practice – we get a certain philosophical context – there is a god, there is this world that he created.
He created this world in order to teach us, so that we evolve, so that we become better, kinder and happier.
Ultimately, he created these laws..
We understand this – the theory.
And when we understand the theory, we become a little happy, everything falls into place, everything becomes clear – yes, it’s clear.
Yes – like this, like this, like this.
The problem happens when we take this very theory, or rather, when we take some specifics in our lives, we immediately, at the same moment, as soon as we move on to specifics, we forget the broad context.
Everything is wrong, everything is wrong.

Adrian:

Because our personal context appears.

BVG:

Yes yes yes yes – our personal context with which we interpret everything that is.
Therefore, accordingly, we do not understand the meaning and our practice is translated into this our scanty miserable context formed by our limiting ego.

Adrian:

This short context is our life, by the way.

BVG:

Yes, well, what to do.
We are constantly taking things out of context.
We have achieved great perfection in taking everything out of context – individual events and what is happening to us, what is happening in historical periods of time, and so on.
We constantly forget about the context, we constantly forget that God is behind everything, that everything is k.
Better that we evolve.
And accordingly, therefore, we do not become happy because we have a resistance to reality.
Resistance to reality is called stress.
When we try to remake reality, when it does not suit us, when we are trying our best to say that something is wrong here, naturally we are not happy.
As soon as we accept everything, when we accept everything theoretically, we stand for a while.
Happy, but when it comes down to it, everyone unfortunately goes down the drain.

Adrian:

Guru Maharaj, I feel where you are dragging us to, and on the field where you are dragging us, we cannot defeat you with this logic, and therefore I would like to cling to the last opportunity to justify myself now.
Well, look – yes, it’s cool, there is this wide, as wide as possible context that you are talking about, but it is just as wide, it is also as far as possible from us in material terms, right?
That is, you are talking about some such philosophical abstractions, let’s say – for a simple Soviet person, Russian.
It would be desirable to understand, and how to us here this wide context?.
Your shirt is still closer to the body.
Here’s how we make that shirt closer ?.
Here is the question.

BVG:

It’s not entirely abstract.
That is, if it was just about some really very abstract categories, one could throw this accusation, but in fact the context of the same Bhagavad Gita …
The Bhagavad Gita is a kind of sambandha primer, or context primer, and a primer is sufficient.
It brings us very close to our practical life.
The same three gunas.
The three gunas are a powerful tool for understanding cause and effect.
The trouble is that we are just because our shirt is closer to the body, we understand these three gunas very well – how they act on the example of others, but on the example of ourselves, we do not understand that in general we we reap what we ourselves sow.
The fact that if we act in a certain guna, then the result will come in the same guna – that guna will increase.
If we are driven by passion, we will be unhappy accordingly.
If we are driven by ignorance we will sink further into ignorance.
That is precisely why I do not accept this accusation that this is an abstract thing.
It’s more of a concrete thing, and a very practical thing.
Therefore, I do not know the ball in your half of the field.

Adrian:

OK thank you very much.
And now you voiced an interesting point, I wanted to dwell on it.
Now, in principle, people want quick recipes for some specific one.
Increasing happiness and so on, and you just said an interesting thing.
You just said that, in fact, these ways to increase happiness, they do not work because they are out of context, and you say that if we do not start in earnest.
To study the philosophy behind all these methods, even some local ones.
Specific methods won’t work.
Did I understand correctly?

BVG:

Yes, absolutely true, and one small addition to this – when a person wants quick happiness, then, again in accordance with the Bhagavad Gita, quick happiness – you can get it, it belongs to the category of the guna of passion.
It comes quickly and happiness is available.
The trouble is that this quick happiness turns into the same quick misfortune, and in itself this desire for quick happiness, it is already dictated by a certain guna.
Therefore, before wishing, you must first learn to wish correctly.

Adrian:

Yes, as a good statement – before punching a wall with your head, you should try to find out what is still on the other side.

BVG:

What are you going to do next cell.

Adrian:

Da, yes, yes.
It’s good and great, and this is very clear to me, because at the same large Vedic workshop, for the first six months, we actually don’t talk about application, we don’t talk about some practical things, but we try to create this context.
And so we begin our first four classes, that is, for more than a month, we are not even talking about this at all, but we are talking about how to study.
And we are based here on your lecture with which you once started – the first, generally the first, the first zero lesson of a large Vedic workshop – from information to transformation.
Tell me about the ability to learn.
What is the ability to learn?

BVG:

The ability to learn is, first of all, a doubt in one’s own rightness.
Because a person who is sure that he is right, by this very fact, deprives himself of the ability to understand something new.
The ability to learn arises when a person is a little disappointed in his own recipes for happiness, in his own ability to become happy, and this encourages him to learn.
Learning means changing.
The ability to learn means the willingness to change.
Willingness to change arises only when a person… One second…

Adrian:

I will now repeat this important point that I really liked now – that in order to learn, we need to admit that we are wrong.
That is, here is an interesting interesting point that the search for truth does not always seem to be, or rather, it is rarely based only on the fact that here I have some kind of set of knowledge, my understanding, my common sense, my life experience, and now I am starting to seek the truth based on all this, and now Goswami Maharaj said an interesting thing about the ability to learn.
It implies doubt in the first place that all my accumulated experience, common sense and so on, they will lead me to this happiness.
Yes thanks a lot.
In fact, I just repeated this important point for our listeners.
Now I sometimes collect puzzles and here are puzzles, there is such a thing that at some point you need to question your own constructions.
You start to build a big piece of the puzzle, built it, and, you know, one small one doesn’t fit in, and you’re like this and that and everything is already there, but without questioning it very much.
A beautifully built piece of the puzzle, you won’t be able to go any further.

Please continue.

BVG:

Well, yes, this doubt in one’s rightness is called, in fact, humility.
Humility is an integral part of a person, or a quality of a person who is able to learn.
A proud man, he froze.
He remains equal to himself.
He may have achieved something, but it’s just that everything he does it only replicates him.
Himself and his own problems and his.
own achievements.
Nothing new will happen in his life.
That is, the ability to learn is the ability to change, which is based on some kind of disappointment.
Humility is a natural result of disappointment in some recipes for happiness that we have come up with, or overheard by us from someone, peeped.

Adrian:

Yes, thank you very much, Guru Maharaj.
I have always been worried about such a story, I went through it myself, I definitely understand this.
Look, we are faced with Vedic knowledge and they, well, as it was at least in my case, they are completely, well, stunning.
They build, they become, as it were, extremely obvious.
That is, at some point this knowledge is perceived as – well, yes, as if it could not be otherwise, and naturally a strong enthusiasm arises.
I listened to lectures there, and at some point I knew all the basics.
As if it seemed to me – I ran them.
That is, don’t ask me anything, I’ve heard everything about it, but at the same time, I understand that the level of my consciousness, my guna, the ability to correctly understand the meaning of the terms that I am.
Heard – he was quite low.
As a result, what state am I in – we also have a course of the bhakti school where you also teach, and on this course, for example, when applying, we have people who say – I looked at your program, I basically listened to it.
And my pain, it is that I know about myself that at that moment, when I also listened to all this, I heard little.
How to deal with this?
That is, if a person really listened to lectures on all topics, what should he do?
Should I go further or should I make some revision?.
Your experience?

BVG:

One Ayurvedic doctor once told me an interesting thing.
He says that this Ayurveda is a very strange thing.
In the first college lecture on Ayurveda, when studying this subject, we learned about the three doshas.
About vata dosha, pita dosha and kappa dosha.
And then we studied for five years and in the last year we went through the same doshas that we learned about at the first lecture, introductory to Ayurveda.
So it seems as if we have not moved anywhere in these five years, that at the first lecture we talked about three doshas, ​​that at the last lectures, graduation, we are talking about the same three doshas.
But the fact is that all these concepts, in general, all this conceptual apparatus of Vedic culture, it is very deep and, most importantly, it differs very sharply from what we are used to, so some superficial understanding of this apparatus does not help much.
On the contrary, it interferes, because a person has a false feeling that he, as it were, knows everything.
Surely many have heard about the same three doshas or someone knows about yoga, asanas.
Now each asana, in order to understand just one asana, what the asana does, you need to do-do-do-do-do-do this asana and in the end you will understand why it is needed at all and what it does.
It takes a lifetime to understand such categories as god or soul or conditioned soul or liberation or happiness, and there is no harm in hearing about the same thing again and again, because hearing every time, as it were, a round, it gives a deeper understanding.
Just like, for example, if you take music.
People walk and listen to the same piece of music many times.
Although they have already heard it, maybe even played it somewhere somehow, but every time something new is revealed to them and any living thing is absolutely endless, it is impossible to exhaust it.

Adrian:

I would like to ask, I know that you once recommended that I listen to the Kazinik, Mikhail, about a deeper reading of classical music.
For me, it was actually a very interesting, very good experience, and then we talked about what could help.
I would like to understand – you say “listen”, and I have two questions at once.
First – what can help us improve this listening?.
Let’s just start with this.
That is, you say “you need to listen, you need to read again”, and what can help us do this.
Listening and reading more efficient.

BVG:

Well, first of all, of course, the main problem with listening is that we are all learning.
Little by little, somehow.
Pushkin has already said this for a long time.
Some again, dictated by the mode of passion, the desire to pick up as much as possible – to listen here and here and here and here and here.
This is a thing that plays a very bad service.
You need to listen gradually, systematically, slowly moving from category to category, mastering it, trying to put it all into practice.
It is better if we listen in a group with a mentor, because this is an amazing thing – several people listened to the same thing, but each heard something different, and listening to how others heard, we enrich our listening, our understanding, because we are free or we involuntarily listen through the prism of our experience, and this prism does not let everything pass from what we are told.
I recently talked to a person who wants to become a student and he told me, shared his experience, he said – “when I listened to your first lecture, I sweated.”
I was a little intrigued by such a physiological reaction to my lecture.
I think probably in some kind of ecstasy or delight.
He says – “I was sweating because I did not understand anything at all.
I tried so hard to understand at least something – I did not understand anything.
“Now,” he says, “I understand everything, I don’t sweat anymore.”
And so once again – it is necessary to listen systematically.
We must listen at the same time trying to put it all into practice.
We must listen trying to open up to what we are listening to as much as possible, without putting any filters or any pre-set settings – this cannot be because it can never be.
Because I don’t have that experience.
Therefore Srila Prabhupada says an interesting thing in Srimad Bhagavatam.
He says that there is a spiritual art of humble listening.
When I really open up to what is being said, these words begin to change something in me, they enrich my experience.
In fact, hearing is the most painless, easiest and fastest way to change your experience.
Listening leaves a certain trace of samskara, if we allow these words to imprint, to impress us, that samskara becomes our own experience.
When we hear something in the right state of consciousness, we really change.
What changes us? what is change?
We are changed by the lived experience, the experience that was deposited and which becomes, well, this prism through which we look at the world.
So listening is the easiest way to gain experience.
A person can gain experience simply by listening if he does it in the right state of consciousness.
It means, I said, systematically, in the company of others, trying to think about what we have heard, sort of putting what we have heard into the context of what we already know, because any thing taken out of context it dies, it not viable.
Like, for example, anyone who has learned languages ​​- often people make mistakes, they try to learn words.
These words are taken out of context and cannot be remembered, they die, they do not live in our memory.
To listen correctly means, among other things, to discuss, to ponder.
And by discussing, pondering, we put what we have heard into context, into our personal context, and thus expand it.

Adrian:

Yes, thank you very much, and just wanted to ask this question.
I think that many have come across this, but at least I can say for myself that at some point I realized that I have resistance inside, and this resistance is of a very interesting property.
It can be formulated as follows – if all of a sudden I accept it all absolutely without unconditional.
Honestly, if I accept all this, then my whole life, all my joys, all my pleasures will have to leave this life.
That is, at some point I had, sometimes this fear arises.
You know it, as it were, at the reptilian level, that is, it is, as it were, fear.
I don’t know at what level, that is, it’s specifically the fear of losing what I now have.
Therefore, people so often talk about balance, about the need for this, but to be honest, this is what you are saying, if we accept this broad context as the truth in its entirety, then our life cannot be like this.
Fearfully.

BVG:

Fear is a natural reaction.
Any honest person who follows the spiritual path admits to himself that from time to time this fear covers him.
People try to cope with this fear in different ways.
Someone is trying to convert everyone else to the true faith, and this is the same way to get rid of fear, well, they say it’s not so scary together – everyone will also have to do the same.
“how dare they, why do they enjoy when I don’t enjoy?” etc.
Religious fanaticism is one of those natural, albeit very unpleasant reactions to fear, unconscious fear.
But at some point I understood very well, firstly, I felt in myself this fear or unwillingness not the desire to surrender, the unwillingness to go this way, to accept all this, but at the same time I also very well understood that this fear is absolutely irrational , because I am trying to project myself as I am now onto some other situation, and this situation will arise in my life when I will be completely different.
In other words, when I try to try on some very lofty ideals – the ideal of renunciation of the world and something else – it naturally becomes scary, simply because I’m not ready, but for those people who we follow these ideals, they are not at all scary because they are different, for them it is something natural.
It’s the same as if we say to a first grader they told him that he would need to draw drawings at the institute, and showed him whatman paper with these drawings.
Well, either they told a first-grader, or some person who had just entered a music school, they would tell him that you will need to play some virtuoso works, something that is completely impossible to do.
It is clear that it will be scary and you will want to run away and play football instead.
To pore over this drawing board or sit at the piano, but the bottom line is that for those people who play when it becomes relevant, it’s not scary at all.
On the contrary, it’s really fun.
Those people who play it, they do it very easily, playfully, and you just need to understand that this is how I am now and there is no need to try on all these things too much.
When the time comes, all this will also come into our lives easily and naturally.
And we don’t really have to give up anything.
Spiritual life is highly natural and that is why it is so slow.
This is her good, her advantages, and this is her misfortune.
People want to adjust it as soon as possible, but at the same time, only some can be adjusted as soon as possible.
artificial things.
All those high things that the scriptures say, high demands, they’re into.
At some point it becomes very natural for us, and now they are all too high, but they need to be addressed that way.
Therefore, there is a very important principle which is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam about what is virtue and what is vice.
I have not seen in any other spiritual system such a striking definition of virtue and vice.
In Srimad Bhagavatam it is said, Krishna Himself says in Srimad Bhagavatam, virtue is action according to one’s qualifications.
Vice is any action that does not correspond to our qualifications.
That is, even some very remarkable things from the point of view of someone there can be a vice because they do not correspond to our level.
If we live in accordance with this principle, then gradually, gradually, our qualifications will improve.
This is not a statement of our level, but a dynamic principle – in order for our qualifications to improve, we must live and act as we can now.
Do as honestly as possible according to your level and our level will grow.

Adrian:

Thank you very much, I remembered an interesting definition of one academician who spoke about the essence of science and the scientific approach.
He’s amazingly articulated, he says.
“from the point of view of science, truth is everything that helps the development of science now, and lies are everything that hinders” and he finished this phrase.
“Here, in fact, we have determined what truth and falsehood are from the point of view of science, and if you think otherwise, then you are mistaken.”
That is, in principle, you just said a similar thing, and he says.
“It’s just that science cannot develop in a different way, because at some point there were some ideas, Newtonian mechanics at some point, it completely helped there and it was completely true.
Later, when some clarifications went on, but at the same time, look, I noticed and I really liked your reasoning – that is, it turns out that the same philosophical maxim for me, who is at a low level, and for a person who is for more.
High in practical application means different things.
This is how I understand you now.
But at the same time, the maxim itself, which is important, does not change.
That is, we cannot say that for me now the goal is like this, but for you, for example, it is.
Another.
The goal is the same for us, but in practical terms it means this to me, and this to you.

BVG:

Yes, when it is said, for example, about renunciation of the world, then for someone more renounced from the world it means giving up smoking cigarettes.
If he can do this, it is already a great feat of renunciation of the world.
But if a person who has been practicing there for 40 years is still proud that he quit smoking cigarettes 40 years ago and thinks that all his renunciation of the world should come down to this, then it is obvious that he is slightly mistaken.

Adrian:

Yes, thank you very much, but at the same time, look, it might be interesting, by the way, I just remembered that in one of the books on habit formation, perfectionism is declared one of the important enemies of habit formation.
That is, the idea that it is better to do it never, but ideally, than somehow, but now.
That is, “never, but ideally” – this is such a defense, a defense that helps the mind.
Look to the mind, one more thing helps, which, well, you can also see, this is when we start.
To build a balance in your spiritual and material life.
And in the BVP, we conducted several such cycles of lectures on balance, in which we, actually following you, said that the real balance of material and spiritual life is spiritual life.
Everything else is not a balance, but some temporary compromises.
But want…
Or are we not following you in this?
You are looking so carefully now, maybe we said something.
That is, the idea is that the balance in the ideal scheme is spiritual life, but at the same time, living in material life, we just go through these steps in each of which we find this balance.
And here is the question – And how to find this balance correctly so that it does not turn out that we have been proud of the fact that we once quit smoking for 40 years.

BVG:

Well, firstly, you need to understand very well that balance is, by definition, a dynamic thing, because if a person who is walking a tightrope suddenly decides that he has found the perfect balance now and decides to stop, then it will be very difficult for him to maintain this balance.
Just like a person who rides a bicycle, he maintains his balance only because he rides.
The moment he slows down his ride, the slower he rides, the harder it is to keep his balance.
It is the same here – the balance of our life can be – the feeling of balance is a feeling of happiness, but only when I do not become attached to each state of balance I have achieved and do not try to shout after Faust “Stop a moment, you are beautiful.”
The moment will not stop anyway, and we will collapse at this very moment, respectively.
That is, the first thing to know is that balance is an ever-changing dynamic thing.
What was a balance for me yesterday is no longer a balance for me today, but something contrary to the balance, and yesterday’s state will not bring me satisfaction, let’s say so.
That is, in order for us to find the right balance, we need practice, and practice means constant dynamics.
Practice means that today I do something like this, tomorrow I do something a little better, after tomorrow I do the same thing a little more deeply, with a little more understanding of what I’m doing.
This is one thing – how to maintain this state of balance, and you need to be very sensitive to this, you need to understand – it seems that I have already outgrown this state of mine that used to bring me satisfaction.
We have a very good balance indicator inside.
This balance indicator, as soon as we break the balance, starts flashing like a light of some indicator on the car – that there is no oil, or gasoline runs out, or something else.
This indicator is a feeling of inner happiness, some kind of anticipation that tomorrow there will be something else like that.
This feeling of inner happiness means that we now have a good balance.
This is inner happiness, again, it is a very fluid state.
If we suddenly feel that something is not right, we feel some kind of stagnation in our lives, we feel that everything has stopped and I’m just trying to squeeze happiness out of something that I have done many many times, this means that I am in balance lost, I just rolled down somewhere again.
That is, we need to listen inside, we need to see the goal, and this striving for the goal will provide dynamics and provide the necessary speed of movement that will help us maintain this balance.
The very moment I lost my purpose, let’s take the same example with a bicycle, I no longer know where I am going, I just look around, at the same moment I will collapse somewhere.
My steering wheel will start to wag and that’s it.
That is, in order for us to maintain balance, we need to see the goal, we need to strive for this goal, we need to adapt our lives and adjust it to this desire for the goal.
And then the balance will naturally be found, it will be revealed.
Well, of course, and then you need to listen to yourself.
If we felt that everything was somehow too gloomy, there is a high probability that I broke the balance, do something wrong, overworked somewhere or something else.
I have lost some natural living happiness in life.
This is a sign of imbalance.

Adrian:

Thank you, that is, balance is a constant movement without losing sight of the goal and some honesty with yourself, but then the question arises.
Any religious movement, in fact, many philosophical movements, they say that a guru, a mentor, a confessor, and so on – a teacher – is very important.
And we also know that the guru in Sanskrit is heavy, in the sense that not always my inner feeling that you are talking about now, it will coincide with the instructions that I receive from the elders.
That is, how to understand at what moment I should listen to myself, and at what moment I should listen to the elders, and what to do if what the elders say does not bring me inner happiness ?.

BVG:

Well, first of all, seniors can make mistakes too.
Unfortunately, no one is immune from mistakes in this world, but as a rule, the elder should listen very sensitively to what the person says, and very often the person himself understands what his trouble is.
A very good example of this is given at the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita, when Arjuna says something, and speaks very convincingly, trying to convince himself and Krishna to convince, but Krishna is silent, does not say anything, and the more Krishna is silent, the more doubt Arjuna has.
Gradually, gradually, he begins to understand that I am not saying something.
That is, yes, it happens that I came up with something for myself and I try to prove it to myself and justify it, I come with this to someone.
But as a rule, the elder does not try to tell us something completely different.
He listens to us sometimes asks us some questions, sometimes says something that makes us think.
That is, didactics has its very big limitations.
It is very difficult for people to perceive didactics.
Some kind of straight-forward instructions usually do not work, so I don’t know how it is in other traditions, but in our tradition, the guru will definitely not, as a rule, impose something.
He will give a person the right to make a mistake, but in doing so, he will help him look at the deal with.
A different point of view and think somehow, see something from a different point of view.
Points of view, and often the instructions that we receive not directly, but let’s say we turn on a certain lecture and in this lecture we hear some instructions that are obviously not addressed to us specifically, we were not in this audience, they did not look at us intently trying to understand comes to us what we are told or not.
Such instructions are often more effective because it is easier for a person, as it were, to try it on himself.
The false ego does not resist, does not put up a barrier of some kind, therefore, very often in.
In the Vedic scriptures, especially in the Puranas, instructions are given through history.
“You know, about 200 thousand years ago, something happened that might help you understand the answer to your question.
That is, a spiritual teacher, a guru, someone else, they always leave freedom for us.
Like Krishna, after he has given instructions to Arjuna, says, “I have told you everything, now think over everything properly, and do as you know.”
We say something, but it is equally necessary for the person to choose.
In very rare cases, when you really see that a person is ready to commit some unforgivable stupidity, you need to say “Stop, stop!”.
That is, when a person is already standing on the edge of the abyss, ready to rush there, at that moment there is no time for allegories and stories.

Adrian:

Guru Maharaj, I really liked what you just said in the sense that listening to any lecture, any Vedic story that we often hear as anecdotes of days gone by.
That is, the student’s qualification is to always find herself in these stories, did I understand correctly?

BVG:

Я хотел предупредить что к сожалению мое время сейчас вот истекает…

Адриан:

Да, да, просто возьмем с вас обещание что мы еще раз встретимся.
Это легко делать при зрителях.
Дальше,.. у вас все да?.

БВГ:

Сейчас вот три минуты ещё есть.

Адриан:

Ну тогда спасибо, спасибо вам огромное за эти вещи.
То есть очень много таких очень практичных вещей вы сказали.
Осталось еще много вопросов, но на самом деле очень здорово.
Может быть вы что-то просто пожелаете людям которые вас сейчас слушают?.
И на этом мы закончим.

БВГ: в Катха упанишад говорится, что духовный путь, как говорят великие мудрецы, он остер как лезвие бритвы.
Насколько я понимаю русский фантаст Кфремов он как раз оттуда взял название для своего романа или сомерсет моэм у него тоже по-моему что такое есть с лезвием бритвы связано.
Все оттуда из этой Катха упанишад.
“Обрети счастье,” говорит Катха упанишад.
Проснись, обрети счастье, обрети драгоценность которая принадлежит тебя в человеческой жизни, но при этом помни что духовный путь остр как лезвия бритвы.
Нам на духовном пути нужна помощь, нам нужны какие-то наставники, проводники,.
Нам нужны люди которые желают нам добра, это действительно замечательная вещь, но.
При этом мы должны помнить, что это не такая простая вещь.
Я желаю вам счастливого духовного пути, который остр как лезвие бритвы.

Адриан: спасибо большое за ваше время, спасибо что согласились встретиться, спасибо, и до свидания.
Ну что, дорогие друзья, спасибо вам за то что вы слушали.
Надеюсь что какие-то ответы мы все получили.
Может быть если вы даже сейчас в чате на ютьюбе, где вы смотрите, если вы поделитесь, не будете разбегаться сразу, а поделитесь какими-то моментами которые особенно вам запомнились, то это будет той самой работой о которой сказал Госвами Махарадж.
Я поделюсь несколькими такими вещами которые мне лично очень, очень откликнулись из последнего того, что он говорил – это то, что баланс это движение, что мы не можем в какой-то момент успокоиться, в том что мы достигли баланса.
Баланс возможнен только если мы движемся и баланс возможен только если мы движемся к какой-то цели.
Так же мне очень понравилось то, как Госвами Махарадж сформулировал, что движение к этой цели и соответственно баланс для каждого из нас находящихся на разном уровне духовного развития будет разным, и что для человека давно практикующего будет легким и естественным, для человека встающего на духовный путь будет казаться чем-то совершенно невозможным, и это нормально, это естественная вещь.
Мы все смотрим на тот самый высокий идеал и, насколько я понимаю, ошибка как раз здесь будет думать, что у каждого из этих людей просто свой идеал и они к нему идут.
Нет, все идут к одному идеалу, но на разных ступенях движения к этому идеалу будет разный баланс, разное понимание даже каких-то философских терминов и так далее.
Это важная вещь, и также для меня было вот это очень важно – поскольку я сам, честно, иногда слушаешь какую-то лекцию, слушаешь какую-то историю, и слушаешь просто как интересную историю, но на самом деле, как сказал Госвами Махарадж, скорее всего в этой истории я тоже могу найти что-то для себя если я буду это искать.
И в конце да нам пообещали, пожелали точнее, счастливого духовного пути, и вот это счастье это то самое счастье баланса о котором сказал Госвами Махарадж.
Это счастье понимания что в данный момент ты делаешь то что можешь, двигаясь к этому пути, и что в следующие моменты будешь делать больше, и это принесет тебе внутреннее счастье.
Спасибо вам огромное, приходите к нам учиться если хотите углубить свое понимание.
Курс Большой Ведический Практикум для тех кто начинает знакомится с Ведами, он точно дает очень хорошое, очень фундаментальное понимание того, о чём мы в самом начале говорили – широкого контекста, умения учиться, понимание каких-то базовых вещей, дальше практика каким образом это применяется.
Также у нас есть курс путешествия к себе.
Это следующий курс который говорит уже о бхакти, об энергии бхакти.
Это то на чем заканчивается курс Большой Ведический Практикум.
Это курс по книге Радханатха Свами Путешествие к Себе, и дальше у нас есть Школа Бхакти.
Это уже конкретная практика для тех кто идет путем Гаудия Вайшнавизма.
Это как раз то самое, как сказал Госвами Махарадж – системное, длительное, практичное, и в сопровождении наставников обучение практике бхакти.
Так что спасибо, надеюсь мы увидимся с вами где-то на этих курсах или еще где-то.
Спасибо огромное, до свидания.

Society Looking Forward

On New Year’s eve Mahatma Prabhu had a zoom session with Bhakti Vijnana Goswami where they were answering questions about the problem of criticism in our society. That was the stated topic but in the beginning BVGS asked to start with something a bit more auspicious to discuss and they never got to “criticism” questions specifically. All in all they were both concerned with how to move our society forward, beyond the state of current split. They didn’t state so explicitly but this concern was punctuating all their answers, occasionally openly discussing the legacy of the current generation and what will happen in the future. So “society looking forward” is an appropriate title for this article, and it’s appropriate for another reason which I will discuss later. The video itself is at the bottom.

My conclusion, after carefully listening to this two hour talk – our society is not going anywhere nice anytime soon and conflicts will remain unresolved for the foreseeable future. Why so pessimistic? Do I disagree with all their arguments? No, not at all. Everything they said was reasonable and rational and I see nothing to object. I’m pessimistic because they are not addressing actual problems, not even acknowledging actual problems, and, consequently, go in a completely irrelevant way while trying to solve what they think is a problem.

First thing that should be noticed – they are both from the liberal camp and so do not have any disagreements with each other. This makes the discussion basically into an echo chamber where they don’t have to deal with the opposition but only with their perceived images of what the other side thinks. They got together and jointly defeated their own straw man. Real world, however, is filled with real people who act in many unpredictable ways and solving our differences with them is a categorically different kind of problem. In other words, the way this discussion was set up was not conducive to any productive outcome.

I will say that BVGS should not be easily labeled as “liberal” because, to his credit, he stays out of debates as a matter of principle. After FDG resolution, however, he did record a video where he called GBC presented quotes conclusive. That was not my impression at all, but I’d refer to Sivarama Swami’s more recent analysis where his conclusion was that GBC presented quotes do not support even their own position, what to speak of defeating the opponents. Sivarama Swami can be counted as conservative but his argument has nothing to do with this division – it points out bipartisan lapses in logic.

This is an interesting point – both speakers encouraged everyone to step outside of liberal-conservative designations but, as it happens everywhere over and over again, failed to see how they themselves are conditioned. Doctors should heal themselves first, or otherwise we slip into “do as I say, not as I do” territory. In the end, the entire discussion sounded like two liberals telling what is wrong with the conservatives, demonstrating how conservatives are uncultured and disrespectful. They didn’t say this outright, of course, but all the recognizable examples they used were of conservative faults. Again, even though all the points were totally legitimate, their underlying attitude was not that of respect for the opposition.

I would agree that conservatives are not the most cultured group in our society and their conversations are often seem as straightforward, unfiltered sadhu-ninda, but it absolutely doesn’t help when their entire set of grievances is dismissed just because someone somewhere said something unacceptable. Bhakti Vikasa Swami, who is a conservative, often gives examples of liberals using unacceptable language against himself and others of his persuasion, with examples and quotes, too, so, by the logic employed by the speakers here, conservatives also have the right to dismiss the entire liberal agenda on the strength of one or two examples of bad behavior. And so both groups end up dismissing each other which, naturally, does absolutely nothing for reconciliation.

Another thing that I noticed immediately was soft, soothing, and reassuring voices, especially that of Mahatma Prabhu. I don’t think he turned it on specifically for this occasion the way a cult leader takes a moment to prepare himself before addressing his flock, I think he genuinely believes he has all the answers and feels pretty confident in his position, a position where he thinks he knows how to solve or at least how to avoid running into problems, but here is the thing again – he is not part of a solution, he is part of the problem itself. His confidence rather signifies unwillingness to change, which means inability to become a part of the solution – because, and I can say it with a hundred percent confidence – our divisions will not be overcome by everybody coming to my point of view (or Mahatma’s for that matter). We all need to change something in ourselves, and change is frightening and doubtful, not soothing and reassuring.

Speaking of avoiding problems – one way to do it is to declare current chaos a new normal. That way nothing needs fixing. This technique was applied throughout the discussion. In the beginning they both talked about diversity and how it is an avoidable and even a desirable thing. They also talked about unity and cooperation as the new siddhanta trumping everything else. I would agree, but this description of the situation redefines the problem into the new normal. Lots of devotees feel very real pain in their relationships with the society but it’s dismissed as something totally expected and even desirable. That it’s THEIR problem for not accepting this new status quo and they would be better off if they just accepted it instead of standing firm and arguing. Why do they do so? Easy answer – because they feel sure and confident in their own position, too, and they are not going to give it up against their own logic and reason.

This “normalize the problem” technique completely avoids the possibility of real problems developing in our society, which means some things do need to be rejected and changed instead of embracing them in the name of “unity in diversity”. There was a very good opportunity presented when someone asked a question of how to reconcile Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s uncompromising behavior with the current situation but Mahatma Prabhu did not use it and rather avoided it by saying that most or many, I don’t remember exact wording, of today’s compromises are related to details, not the principles. That may be true, and it’s also true that details are always open to adjustment, but what about compromises in our principles? That’s what the opponents complain about all the time – today’s ISKCON has compromised on principles. The possibility of that happening was not discussed, but that is exactly what we, as a society, need to address and need to solve. This is one more reason for my pessimism – they avoid mentioning the problem, let alone try to tackle it.

To simplify it, this whole “unity in diversity” and “cooperation above everything else” preaching becomes “I’ll do whatever I want and you have to be cooperative”. The option of you telling me that I’m nonsense is not provided – you always have to cooperate with me. Because “Prabhupada said that…”

This is actually another reason I’m losing my hope – all throughout the discussion they relied on “Prabhupada once said…” arguments. We’ve been throwing them around for fifty years, they never solved anything, and there is no reason throwing a few more “Prabhupada saids” into the discussion will magically change anything for the better. Why? Because it’s not about what Srila Prabhupada said, it’s about what YOU think is more important right now, and so you are not channeling Prabhupada, you are using him as your own crutch. Quotes are a dime a dozen, there isn’t a single position that can’t be supported by a couple of “Prabhupada saids”.

Moreover, it’s not about what was actually said – we should move beyond words, because they are “details”, and get to the underlying principles. Something like “Srila Prabhupada always considered this to be … and on one occasion he said…” Then we can deal with ideas, not with quotes. This would elevate the discussion considerably, but, in my opinion, we, as a society, still require every idea to be firmly rooted in quotes – we don’t deal with ideas as reality. We still think ideas grow from quotes and therefore are secondary, when, in fact, it’s the other way around. Ideas are eternal, they existed before quotes and they will exist after quotes, and they are the same ideas that can be reflected in Srila Prabhupada’s and in our own consciousness. Our guru opens them up for our perception, but guru does not invent compassion or austerity or whatever it is being considered. So our relying on “Prabupada saids” displays lack of our actual realization, our blindness to any reality other than sensually perceptible. This is not a platform where rifts can be healed.

This gets me to one possible solution to our current conundrum, but I want to mention another first – if we talk about the house for the whole world to live in then the first thing we should understand about houses is that they have different rooms and each room has its own use, has its own mood, has its own set of rules, and has its owner, too. Similarly, in the house called “ISKCON” there should be many many different rooms, almost everybody should get his own room, and externally perceptible behavior in each room will be different. KW devotees can wear baseball caps, Indian “conservatives” can tie their dhotis in their conservative ways, in the western part of the house devotees can eat and do other things at the same time without feeling the need to wash their hands and mouths. In the Vedic part of the house they would drink water “Prabhupada’s way”, without glass touching the lips. What this means, and I would argue that it’s inevitable, is that there will be gay marriages in some rooms but not in others, there will female diksa gurus and female sannyasis in some rooms but they won’t be allowed into others.

When the idea of FDGs being allowed in some locales was first floated there was a collective gasp in our society. “Split in the sampradaya”, it is being argued. But it’s not a split if you really really talk about the house for the whole world. This “house” thing goes to the very root of our existence as ISKCON devotees, of what “ISKCON” is and why do we even need it, if we want to stuff the whole world into it. Why not just call it “world”? That’s a discussion for another day, however.

Second solution to how we should try to solve our differences relates to “looking forward” in the title. Looking forward means we imagine ourselves to be the seers and the world in front of us as our field – ksetra and ksetra-jna from Bhagavad Gita. Both the speakers thought of it this way – I’m here, ISKCON is in front of me, and I can solve problems by manipulating it. It’s totally natural for us to think this way, but, if we accept and realize that the universe is one giant tree, then this model of “looking forward” becomes absurd. If you noticed that you branched out, as it happens on the trees, then you cannot possibly solve the created difference with the trunk or with other branches by growing your branch further and further, which is what “looking forward” is as you develop your given ksetra.

To solve the problem, to find unity again, you need to move backward to the point BEFORE branching has occurred. It might mean going back in time to remember the moments of unity. That would be a valuable exercise but not always possible because memories fade. More important, however, is to trace the appearance of our differences on the universal tree itself, and this tree has a hierarchy which is currently present, though not easily accessible.

Early on in the discussion Mahatma Prabhu made an observation that we come to dislike people we disagree with and he repeated this point several times, as if our personal dislikes are related only to the trivial need to defend our pride. That may be so, but this is not the only root of our disagreements, and this is another example of avoiding the problem and not acknowledging it even exist. We dislike people, including our opponents, because they remind us of our own qualities which we are trying to reject. Sometimes we dislike things due to our conditioning, like cats dislike swimming, but dislike based on rejection of things unfavorable to devotional service plays the central role in our disputes. I would insist on that. We reject certain values in our lives as anarthas and we rebel when others come around and shove them in our faces again, especially in the early stages of separation when anarthas are not totally eradicated from our consciousness. We lash out at others because we still struggle within ourselves, like when we blame women for dressing provocatively because we still feel sexual attraction.

Ha, this is actually one of the popular arguments – instead of controlling how women dress male devotees should control their own sexual urges. A lot can be said in response, but I would remind the reader that even Lord Caitanya admitted to experiencing bodily changes when seeing women. It was in the chapter about glories of Ramananda Raya in the Antya lila.

Not to be distracted – dislikes are not related to other people, nor are they related to our wounded egos, but they have a very real foundation as unfavorable things that need to be rejected. When we say rejected it doesn’t mean they have no place to exist – in a house there should be a room for passing stool, too. There is another dimension to it, too – things become rejected as we move our consciousness up the hierarchy of the tree, leaving unfavorable things where they belong.

BVGS should know it very well as he often cites the advice given to four Kumaras in the 11th Canto – don’t try to disconnect the mind from sense objects but rather disconnect yourself from the mind. In our case it means we should not be “looking forward”, which on the tree means taking the focus or our consciousness from the heart and outwards to the intelligence, to the mind, and to sense objects, where our “forward” actually is. For us it means going “backward” or “upward” or “inward” – I can’t select one word because moving up the tree towards the heart and the Lord is not a spatial movement with directions. Once this is understood it becomes clear that our rifts can be solved by philosophical debates because philosophy is discussed by the minds but we need to move above that to intelligence, then above intelligence to moral values, which reflect the state of our ego, and then to the heart/self, which is the point of our connection to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. Unless philosophical debates serve as a method of yoga to elevate our consciousness from mundane reality to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna in our hearts they will be fruitless in the search for unity.

The speakers know this – they very clearly mentioned that the point of unity for us is acceptance of Krishna as God and Srila Prabhupada is His representative, but the problem is that we don’t want to stay there, at this point of unity, we want to move forward and create more things and put them all into one shared space, which is currently like a one room house. And then people start screaming that this cr*p doesn’t belong here, pardon my language. Of course they would say that. Get your own room to do your own KC Zumba, people are trying to meditate here.

Staying in this one point of unity is not easy, of course. We would need to keep our consciousness focused there and do not let our mind deviate to observe all other kinds of things. It would require us to be in samadhi, and, of course, it’s not something we propose as a practical solution. I mean what would be the reaction if somebody proposed that unity in our society is only possible when everyone will be in samadhi? Totally impractical – we can’t keep our minds on the holy name for one round, what to speak of samadhi. Fair enough, but this is what is necessary. Who said that we can solve our differences by remaining ourselves? Not me. We really really need to get into a samadhi and there is no other way. For one thing, once our consciousness if firmly fixed as Krishna’s feet (or on Prabhupada – same thing), we will actually see how everything every devotee has ever done is connected to this same point and therefore everything will become instantly respectable. It would also mean we will have an infinite variety of things to appreciate so samadhi will not be boring. It would also mean that, because our consciousness does not slide down into mundane reality, the variety of other people’s services, however imperfect individually, will not affect our concentration and will not throw us off balance. In other words, we will see differences but we will leave them where they belong without taking them personally.

Who has ever said that duality can be overcome by absorbing our minds in the Supreme? Oh yeah, Bhavagatam. We all know that, but we are trying all other different ways first. And that’s why I’m not hopeful at all. But at least I know what would work for me so I know what I have to work on myself.

PS. One other thing, not related to the topic itself – during the discussion it was said that bhakti is a synthesis of the best things taken from karma and from jnana. In the same way it is said that Gaudiya Vaishnavism took two of the best things from each of the four other sampradayas. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but I would point out that all the best qualities seen in this world are “divisions” of Krishna and in the same way karma and jnana TAKE their best qualities from bhakti. Neither bhakti nor Krishna are a synthesis of various things which are neither bhakti nor Krishna. They are not an emerging phenomena in the same way modern science says consciousness emerges from interaction of matter.