Vanity thought #1495. Heavy duty

Continuing with yesterday’s battery analogy, we all consider our application as heavy duty and mission critical. We cannot fail, we must be one hundred percent reliable and our service must be uninterrupted.

We leave space for our own leisure, though. Whenever we don’t feel like working we convince ourselves that we deserve a break, but if someone else comes along and tells us that our service is not needed anymore, for real, we find this unacceptable. We think we deserve breaks because of how important and valuable our service is, not because its worthless. If our lives are, indeed, worthless then we don’t deserve any pleasure whatsoever. Feeling unneeded is devastating and unbearable and free time must not be simply pleasant, it must be deserved, too. After all, we judge other people’s value and social standing by the quality of their leisure – by vacations they can afford, cars they drive, boats, and maybe even personal planes. Someone who can afford to live a life of luxury must be a very important person, we assume, without even knowing in what field.

I’m trying to resolve an apparent contradiction between people’s love of leisure with their commitment to their work and their estimate of their importance to the society. Work and service always, always come first, even for the laziest of us. Our really big attachment is to work, not to pleasure. Of course our tongues are attached to food and genitals are attached to sex but that’s not what I meant, those are simple animal urges, most people are able to restrain them for the sake of their work.

This should be obvious, btw – no one takes a day off or calls in and says he’d be late because he feels he needs to masturbate, or eat, for that matter. Our priorities here are self-evident. Work hard, then maybe play hard. “Work” here, btw, is a placeholder for any kind of duty or obligation we have. Could be taking care of the family, could be raising kids, could be helping someone in need, any situation when we are ready to put our obligations above our immediate concerns.

My point is, if someone comes along and tells us, for real, that we don’t have to do these things anymore, we won’t accept it. It won’t compute in our heads, it’s unthinkable. “What do you mean I don’t have to help children, old people, or puppies? What do you mean my mother does not need my Christmas cards? What do you mean my child doesn’t need care and attention? What do you mean my boss and my company do not require my services?” Sometimes it would appear absurd, sometimes unbelievable, sometimes possible but not applicable to us.

These things are somewhat fluid and not everyone’s life and responsibilities are the same. If at some point parents should learn to let their children go it means their duty is fulfilled, not that it was never necessary in the first place. I’m talking about OUR specific duties, they would very from person to person but I’m talking about duties applicable to each and everyone of us individually. They are sacred to us, but should they be from the perspective of Kṛṣṇa consciousness?

When one first declares himself a devotee and behaves as if he has accomplished his sarva-dharmān parityajya people do not take it very seriously. “You are too young to make such bold proclamations,” people think, “wait until you get children.” Most of the time they turn out to be right and we are unable to sustain our initial enthusiasm.

As we gradually mature in our service another realization comes along – we see our duties as given to us by guru and Kṛṣṇa, and so we justify their sanctity on the basis of our philosophy. Maybe we are right, maybe we aren’t, but everyone else around us also takes his duties very seriously, as I explained in the beginning, we are not unique here. In fact, lots of people take their duties far more seriously than us, whatever their justification is, so we won’t impress anyone at this point either. Some might say “Your Kṛṣṇa is probably not very important to you, considering how lightly you treat your service,” and they might be right.

If at this point Kṛṣṇa sent His messengers to take us back home, back to Godhead, we might suddenly realize that our commitments here are not Kṛṣṇa conscious at all and we’d give plenty of reasons why we are not ready to leave just yet and want to stay just to tie up some loose ends. It’s inconceivable to us that Kṛṣṇa might not care about all the things we consider as important and needing closure.

“I cannot die before my parents, my mother needs my help,” or “I cannot leave my children, they are dependent on me, they are not ready to be left without a parent,” or “but I’ve been working on this thing for months, how can I leave it half complete?” Excuse after excuse after excuse. Where is our Kṛṣṇa consciousness?

We could pretend not to care about all these things but whoever Kṛṣṇa sends for us will see it right through, and the worst part is lying to ourselves, so let’s try to avoid that.

Then, after many many years of practice, we should start to realize that all those things are unimportant indeed, that the world will go on without us just fine. It would partly be because of our growing spiritual knowledge, partly because of growing humility, partly because burden of our duties becomes lighter and lighter with each passing decade. Then we will start to seriously pay attention to the holy name. We’ll realize that our chanting before that was simply begging the Lord for help in our materialistic pursuits, our “sarva-dharmān”. That’s when we might seriously start to consider surrendering for real.

Ironically, as the material value of our duties starts to fade away we’d come to realize that doing these things out of duty for guru and Kṛṣṇa is actually pretty sweet. This time around we’d see it for real – we need to do these things for our own purification and enlightenment. Every little thing we do leads us to better and better service to Kṛṣṇa, and so our duties become sacrosanct again, but now legitimately so.

This will also be the time when we realize that if Kṛṣṇa doesn’t need us to do these things anymore then we can easily and happily give them up and do something else. If He wants to us to die we would die, no questions asked. Last time around we’d have declined the offer because we saw material value in our lives but now it would be gone and the only value left in our duties is the one assigned by Kṛṣṇa. If He says it’s not important then it isn’t, as simple as that, no personal attachments in play whatsoever.

And then, just to confuse us even further, Kṛṣṇa might ask us one last thing to do: “How do you feel about liberating some of those unfortunate souls, too? You don’t have to, but I’d really appreciate if you volunteered.” Assuming we still had our wits with us it would be impolite to decline, but fear not, only very few very rare souls take Kṛṣṇa up on it, statistically we should be safe, but I’m not sure how saying no would feel in this situation. Are we going to stand there hoping Kṛṣṇa won’t ask?

Bottom line, we have tons of obligations here for all kinds of reasons, some are legitimate, some are not, and, in fact, it’s only a question of our consciousness, our progress in devotional service. Whenever questions like “should I” or “do I have to” rise in our minds we should look at them from a bigger picture and not as a life and death situation. It never is, even though it usually feels like we absolutely must find the answer right this minute.

Vanity thought #279. Flooded.

Some folks in power screw up run off water management in this country and now it’s living through a flood of Biblical proportions, if they believed in God.

It’s been going on for over a month now and finally flood waters are approaching my house. They’ve actually been approaching for four days now, they surely take their time. Our house is a part of an estate build on a pretty high landfill so it’s now an island, beyond our walls there’s a sea of water and two days ago the road in front of it became impassable for small cars, there’s a large truck transporting people to and fro, though, life still goes on.

Most of the houses in the neighborhood had been boarded up, all cracks have been sealed, temporary walls have been built around the doors, cars have been taken out to the dry land and people have left for safer grounds. This was the first time I was sleeping at home alone – all my family members have moved out, too, they have jobs to go to and they don’t trust the ad-hoc transportation arrangments. The main road in our area had been flooded at both ends and there’s only one bridge left that connects us to the mainland and locals in the neighborhood blocked it in the protest against the closed sluice gate they blame for inundation in their neighborhood.

They say they’ve lived with water for three weeks now and it’s up to their chest level already. I live only a few kilometers away and my foot hasn’t touched flood waters yet.

Our problems are still incomparable to the devastation in other parts of the country. Our water is rising very slowly but in some places it went to the chest level in one hour and swept away cars as if they were rubber duckies.

So, despite living smack in the middle of the affected area I really have no idea what the actual flood is. I bored everybody with my google plus updates that show absolutely no progress. I restrict these updates to family members only, I’m too shy to go public with them, they do not qualify as flood news and I should keep my mouth shut.

So, what am I to do now? Why don’t I move out like everybody else? Our house will be safe, it can hold off water rising up to one meter, which should take about two months at the current rate. I swear water dries faster. Okay, there was a day when it went up fifty centimeters overnight and it might surge again but it’s unlikely. Family members think I’m stubborn and I should join them in their hideouts.

I refuse to go.

I have plenty of supplies to last me for weeks, I can still cook and there’s plenty of drinking water. Electricity is not going to be cut off until water goes up by another two meters, tap water is also flowing without problems. I set a condition – until there’s Internet I’m not going anywhere.

Initially I thought I’ll just get rid of all the distractions and happily chant day and night and read books, but this isn’t happening – I’m on a constant flood watch and I’m always in touch with people outside. More importantly, my mind is greatly disturbed by all the news. Occasionally I manage to snatch an hour or two and enjoy some quality chanting, most of the time, though, I’m running all kinds of scenarios in my head while mouthing the mantra. I don’t know if it will change.

Initially I thought I would use my solitude to meditate on Krishna, on Holy Names, on books, on recordings of kirtans and so on. This is not happening.

Why?

I see a lot of hypocrisy in my actions. Subconsciously I am trying to get people’s attention by playing a victim. I want them to bring me stuff, I want them to care about me, I want them to appreciate my sacrifice. They see right through my plan and don’t pay me any attention.

I tried to do the same thing with Krishna, artificially withdrawing myself from the outside world and thinking that it would attract His attention, that he would appreciate my sacrifice and show me some mercy. He sees right through me, too.

This is yet another lesson in how we won’t attract Krishna’s attention and win His heart. Not by abandoning our duties and taking to renunciation, that won’t work. How many times do I have to hear this from myself? Why does it never stick in my consciousness?

What I have to do is perform my duties given to me due to my material conditioning and try to think of Krishna. Sometimes I think that thinking of Krishna would be easier is I didn’t have any duties at all but this is not true. I can purify my senses only through engagement, not through withdrawal.

Most of the time I’m afraid to engage my senses, I don’t think my activities will be purifying enough. I guess the intention is admirable but the fear is unfounded. Just like Arjuna was at Kurukshetra, I’m afraid because I don’t know the science of Krishna Consciousness. I’m nothing like Arjuna but if he, for the sake of the lost souls, pretended to be conditioned for half an hour I guess it should be okay to compare myself to his presentation of weakness.

Srila Prabhupada had taught us the science of engaging in Krishna’s service but all I remember from it is that it only works for people living in ISKCON temples and serving ISKCON programs. Fair enough, I guess I have to settle on making very little progress by staying outside and doing what normal, non-Krishna conscious people do. I’ve heard it time and time again – this is not the way to make spiritual progress. Fine, but does it mean I have to abandon my duties and my job and move to the temple? I don’t have a job, okay, but getting life settled in a temple community is not like going to movies on a Saturday night.

Okay, but what about the duties themselves? Some things I have to do, like brush my teeth or lock the doors at night, but most of my duties is the stuff that I want to do – going out to take pictures and post them on google plus, read all the flood related tweets, dutifully download stuff that I’m not going to watch alone just yet. Do these things count as “performing my duties”? I honestly don’t know.

What I know is that I will do these things anyway, with or without Krishna consciousness. Sometimes I lose interest in them and I think of them as my duties, sometimes I am very excited about them and I can’t admit it to myself, hoping that if I were alone I would simply chant instead of watching that silly stuff.

I can’t count how many times I checked twitter while typing this, and that’s not counting the trip outside to take pictures before it gets dark. Actually it was because I enjoy getting out and seeing people gathering outside and chatting to each other about their flood problems. Does it count as performing my duties? Should I feel as if I betrayed Krishna?

Oh the life of a conditioned soul that can’t see the world as made of Lord’s energies, that sees danger on every step.

And then I heard yesterday that the only way to attain devotion is to absorb it from advanced vaishnavas. Yeah, sure, but what does it mean practically?

I see quite a few potential deviations in practical application of this principle. If I don’t lose my train of thought it might become the subject for tomorrow’s entry.

Vanity thought #213. Duty and service.

Still can’t shake it off – the lingering doubts about the value of performing your duty in service of a non-devotee husband.

Some new comments have been posted, and the one, by Mataji Phalini, stole the limelight from what I was going to post today but that is not going to stop me…

First, I think I have and issue with two passages from the books in support of leaving fallen husbands. In Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 15.264 Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya is pretty clear about it

When the husband falls down, it is the wife’s duty to relinquish the relationship.

Well, my initial doubt was about Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya himself – he earlier advised Lord Chaitanya to retake sannyasa initiation from a better guru, it seems he wasn’t particularly strict about about these things and other people and even devotees might have had different opinions.

Furthermore, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya was talking about his own daughter, if there was an impartial trial he would have been deemed as having a conflict of interest in the matter. Attachment to one’s children might cloud the judgment of anyone, especially when caught in an unfortunate moment.

What happened was that Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya just served lunch to Lord Chaitanya and it was a particularly difficult invitation to secure. He prepared a sumptuous feast to the best of his abilities and he was very glad the Lord has enjoyed it. Then his son-in-law, Amogha, walked in and criticized Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for eating too much. As Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya himself put it – I invited the Lord for lunch but instead He had to hear blasphemies. In Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya’s eyes it was all ruined and there was only one guilty party – his son-in-law.

Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya started his speech with discussing the sin of killing Amogha first but had enough presence of mind to refrain from it. Next step was telling his daughter to divorce her husband.

Maybe his reasoning was overall correct but his reaction was surely emotional and personal. Lord Chaitanya said He didn’t even see an offence because Amogha was right – a sannyasi shouldn’t eat so much. On the other hand, He also saw envy in Amogha’s heart and, when Amogha caught cholera the next day, Lord Chaitanya personally relieved him of the envy and the disease and he personally asked Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya not to take his offense seriously as Amogha was still only a boy.

So, is it right to treat Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya’s initial reaction as a scriptural injunction to abandon fallen husbands? I don’t think so. We should certainly weigh it in but it’s only one opinion, and somewhat compromised one at that, too.

Next argument is taken from Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.28

…a chaste woman should engage with affection in the service of a husband who is not fallen

In the purport Prabhupada is very clear – if a husband is addicted to four principles of sinful activity and is not a devotee than “a chaste woman is advised not to agree to serve such a husband.”

However clear it is, we should also consider the circumstances of how this situation came about in the first place. If a devotee woman decides to marry a non-devotee man then something was clearly wrong from the start. What are the chances that leaving such a husband would be any better?

In that same purport Prabhupada says that giving up association means living separately, not a divorce per se. I think that unless one is absolutely sure the woman would be able to simply live separately from her husband without any chance of falling for another man we shouldn’t be advising this course of action.

It is easier if the woman moves into a temple but, I think, the situation should be clear to all – she is still considered to be married and she restricts association with her husband only to protect her own purity. I’m in a completely foreign territory here, however.

What if a man realizes his bad ways and accepts his wive’s reasons but can’t do anything about it due to his fallen nature? What do you tell him? Some part of him wants to be a devotee but his habits keep him strangled. Never happened to any of us?

The line with four regulative principles is pretty clear but giving them up is a process that might take quite a long time. Alcoholism, for example, is a disease and it’s largely incurable. What if the efforts to contain it are clearly there?

Would you advise to give up such “fallen” man, thus depriving him of the very opportunity to purify himself?

I think any devotee, either male or female, would approach this situation as an opportunity to preach by personal example, to bring another spirit soul back into Krishna’s fold. If our efforts are not sufficient and the progress is very slow we would blame ourselves and our own lack of devotion and as long as the partner appreciates it there shouldn’t be even a thought about leaving.

You know what they say about families – they would love you no matter what your faults are and would never give up on you, pretty much like Krishna Himself. Of course we not quite at that level yet but we know we should strive to achieve it, giving up is not an option.

If a husband says that he likes halava and this is the only reason he keeps his wife around than it is a different case. I’m talking about being sincerely sorry for one’s faults and being grateful for not giving up on him. Just like we pray to Krishna.

Come to think of it – in many ways a wife in this situation should display exactly the same qualities we ourselves search for in Krishna, should behave exactly the way we want Krishna treat us. Funny that.

There’s another twist to the story – in Srimad Bhagavatam purport Srila Prabhupada talks about serving the husband but in the original article Mataji Sundari Radhika talked about serving the duty.

There’s a difference, I believe. We serve husbands of wives for their satisfaction, we serve our duties for the satisfaction of Vishnu. We perform our duties because they were given to us by the material nature under Krishna’s guidance, because Krishna Himself told us through Bhagavat Gita that we should do so. It doesn’t really matter if the husband appreciates our service or not. There are plenty of men out there who don’t appreciate anything but it doesn’t mean all service is in vain.

This is how Mataji Sundari Radhika approaches the problem of a non-devotee husband (she is married to a nice vaishnava herself, btw). She advises to clean the house not in service of a man but in service of Vishnu, with complete detachment, just as advised in the Gita.

For example, when a woman wakes up she cleans the house and prepares breakfast, her husband should be performing some spiritual duties in the meantime but what if the slob is still in bed? He is certainly screwing up his karma, but what about the woman? Wouldn’t she screw up hers if she decides not to clean and cook? How would anyone feel about abandoning his or her duties this way?

Throughout human history there have been millions if not billions of mistreated women and many of them didn’t even think about abandoning their posts. In a karmi world they deserve recognition and they often get it but here come we, Hare Krishnas, and tell people that it’s all worth nothing and women are free to leave any time.

If a husband can’t give her the liberation he is not worth staying with, we say. I wonder how that works. Who in his right mind can guarantee liberation to anyone? A guru can, but not on his own strength, on the strength of the mercy of the previous acharyas. Does a husband have to have a parampara to rely on, too? How many husbands in the history of the universe have qualified by this criteria? Is it reasonable to expect every female devotee gets one like this, capable of giving liberation?

And wouldn’t part of this guarantee be a condition that a woman should never ever leave him not matter what his faults are?

Tricky, tricky world we live in. What can I say, I’m glad I’m not in marriage counselling business.

Vanity thought #212. Mocking Duty.

I mean my duty is mocking me.

After yesterday’s to and fro arguments about the importance of performing your duty against the importance of protecting the growing seeds of devotion my duty has come out and made big fun of me. I guess now she knows that I can’t say no to her and will dutifully take all the shit she is going to throw at me.

Well, let her mock me all she wants, I got something out of it, too – doing your duty even if it doesn’t come out right feel satisfactory. I wish I got better results but maybe getting satisfaction from screwing things up is an important lesson for me. God knows I have more of them coming, round one wasn’t too bad at all.

Okay, so what happened was that I have to go and visit this government office on the other side of town. It’s not particularly urgent and, personally, I don’t believe anything will come out of it, but I owe it to everyone I know to go and make my case. As an unemployed person I don’t have any excuses anymore, beggars are not choosers, if I refuse to take care of myself I might impress Krishna but as long as I live in a society I have to keep people’s minds at ease, too.

Anyway, I tried to go last Friday, I was hoping to get there just after lunch and combine my trip with some other errands. When I checked opening hours, however, I found out that they are open only until 12, and so I had to rush to make it on time. Whole morning I was chanting my rounds, carefree, and then I had to run.

It was a long trip and I was ten minutes late.

On Monday I invented some excuse and it didn’t go down well, people were starting to lose faith in my sanity and/or sense of basic self-preservation.

On Tuesday I got a reminder message exactly at 9AM to get out of the house. I took it seriously. I had plenty of time when I eventually left and people were following my progress through the city on Latitude in their phones. Everything was going fine.

Then I realized that I was going to pass my old place of work and everyone in that neighborhood knew my car so I decided not to risk it and change my route. I took a “shortcut” through a dense residential area that looks like a bowl of spaghetti on the map. I haven’t driven through there in five years but I knew the general direction and it was going fine, until eventually I got the sucking feeling in my soul, the suspicion that I got lost.

Twenty minutes later and with absolutely no idea which narrow street to take to get to the main road I turned to the help of GPS. I was going in opposite direction, GPS told me. I dutifully turned around and made a few more laps and ended in exactly the same spot, still with no clue where to go.

I had no choice but to admit defeat and send the message out – “I’m lost, I can’t make it on time.” I got sooo much scorn back – “Up to you, it’s your life!”

To elicit a little bit of sympathy I also sent out a message that I didn’t know how to get home either but no sympathy was forthcoming. I was widely condemned and faced with disbelief and derision. If I had a tail it would have been between my legs, or between my rear wheels. The fact that I found the way home in less than a minute didn’t help either.

Three times I tried to get to some damn office and three times I failed. What are my prospects in life now?

Yes, my duty was mocking me, full time.

On the other hand, it wasn’t the first time it was doing so and all I could think about was that this unfortunate series of events must be leading me to some very welcome alternatives.

The first time something like this has happened to me was many many years ago, just a few days before I bought my first books.

At that time I used to hang out at a walking street and listen to all kinds of buskers, and especially Beatles fans. It was a popular area and it was a magnet for all kinds of missionaries. I guess I’ve seen Hare Krishnas doing their kirtans, too, but for the life of me I can’t remember. I do remember lots of Christians, though. They were very keen on talking to people about God and religion and they didn’t have anything to sell, just talk. It was challenging and attractive and I got a name card from one of them.

Eventually I decided to attend their meeting, I was living in the suburbs and relied on mass transport then and so the trip took me half a day. Funny thing happened just as I started off – I got a serious stomach problem. By the time I got within a walking distance from the church I couldn’t hold it anymore, I needed a toilet. The only one open for the public was closed for cleaning so I jumped on the subway and got off at the next stop.

I couldn’t find a toilet anywhere, I ran and ran and ran and there was nothing. I then got on the subway again and went to the previous station, there was one paid toilet I dismissed at first but now I had absolutely no other choice.

Relieved, I set out to find the church. It was in a neighborhood that was very similar to the one I got lost this morning and I just couldn’t find it. I thought I knew the streets but I just kept making wrong turns.

By the time I found it the service was over and people were leaving and there was no one to talk to. I had to return home. In two days time I bought Srimad Bhagavatam and never thought of going to that church again.

My whole life since that episode I believed that Krishna intentionally confused me and my intelligence and also gave me the runs. He didn’t think catholics were suitable for me and I’m eternally thankful to Him for that.

There were a couple of other “unfortunate” events that led me to buying that Bhagavatam. I can easily count at least three crucial junctions that could have set me on the completely wrong tracks, hold on, just remembered the fourth one.

Anyway, my point today is that when I see something messing with my plans in such a persistent way I tend to think of Krishna’s intervention, mockery or not.

For nearly three months now I’ve been waiting for Him to make His move. Actually, it’s probably only my karma and there’s nothing good waiting for me in the foreseeable future but I’ll take any sign of abnormality as Krishna’s intervention.

What will happen this time? Will He send me a devotee? Will He send me TO devotees? Will He facilitate my move to holy places? Will He engage me in service of sankirtana? Whatever it is, I’m patiently waiting.

It is my duty to sit tight, chant my rounds, and pray.

I could probably turn to some ISKCON Ministry or other and beg for help but I don’t feel that would be the right thing to do. I have my life and I’m pretty clear what my duties are, according to my current position, and that’s what I’m going to do. Performing these duties doesn’t present any serious obstacles to my sadhana, not even close to the obstacles I put up myself with my inattentive chanting and my material attachments.

I have no one to blame and I have no reason to ask for any special treatment, in fact, I think all my personal requests will be for my own personal gratification no matter how may excuses and reasons I dress them in.

My external circumstances are perfectly conducive to my spiritual progress at the moment and if it ain’t broken I shouldn’t try to fix it. Trying to improve one’s material situation to, allegedly, serve Krishna better, is a treacherous path that has no end and I will try not to take it if I can.

I welcome all my duties with a doubtful mind but my heart is not heavy at all. I know deep within that I just have to stick through it and everything will be okay in the end.

Vanity thought #211. Duty vs. Devotion.

Rather belatedly but I finally read the “karmi husband” article on iskcon.com and the heated discussion around it. It can be found here. There’s also a response by Grihastha Vision Team but I’ll get to it later.

The original article was calling on women to serve their husbands, even non-devotee ones, to the best of one’s ability and without any complaints. Serve even meat and alcohol if required.

The reasoning went along these lines – women should act according to their stri-dharma, treating their husbands as manifestation of Krishna in the same way brahmacharies treat their gurus. As brahmacharies receive their initiations and become dvija, twice born, so women become dvija on the day of their wedding. Husbands, like gurus, according to the article, are sent by Krishna Himself so abandoning them is equal to abandoning one’s service to the spiritual master.

It doesn’t really matter whether husbands commit mistakes or not – their faults should be dealt with by their peers and superiors, not by wives, it’s not woman’s place to correct her master, her job is to serve and that’s it. Rebelling against even a wayward husband is a gravest offence.

In support of this position the author mentioned Bhagavat Gita, verses 3.8, 3.9, and 18.47.

Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one’s physical body without work.

Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu has to be performed, otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kuntī, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage.

It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.

There were verses from Bhagavatam, too, but they were definitions of stri-dharma itself, not arguments in its favor.

There is also an example of Prahlada Maharaj who has never ever abandoned his super demoniac father and never ever showed him any disrespect, even after his father tried to kill him in every possible way.

We are relieved of our given duties by Krishna, we can’t go AWOL, the argument goes.

There is also an example of Srila Prabhupada’s sister, Pisima, who had a drunk, philandering meat-eater as a husband but she never gave up serving him the best she could. When she asked Prabhupada for advice he recommended that she prayed to their old family deities, Sri Sri Radha Govinda, who will arrange everything. In the meantime, he said, she should do what her mother taught her about serving a man.

I think it’s a very strong, sound position to take. Then other devotees tore it to shreds.

They gave other quotes from Prabhupada that were clear as day – fallen husbands should be abandoned. There were quotes from the purport to Srimad Bhagavatam, 7.11.28

It is recommended, therefore, that a chaste wife not associate with a fallen husband. A fallen husband is one who is addicted to the four principles of sinful activity — namely illicit sex, meat-eating, gambling and intoxication. Specifically, if one is not a soul surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is understood to be contaminated. Thus a chaste woman is advised not to agree to serve such a husband.

There was also a quote from Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 15.264

Inform my daughter Ṣāṭhī to abandon her relationship with her husband because he has fallen down. When the husband falls down, it is the wife’s duty to relinquish the relationship.

On the face of, the arguments against serving a non-devotee husband are stronger because they were given specifically to address our situation as followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and ISKCON.

With strong arguments came strong words, from both sides. The author somehow managed to mention ISKCON ministries dealing with women in less than favorable way, and also those who turn to these ministries for help instead of sticking it out.

In turn she was called naive and immature and ignorant of the shastras and dangers of living a sinful life and values of devotion.

Still, there are many holes in both lines of attack. Some started talking about husbands, for example, but their responsibilities and failures are clearly irrelevant to the discussion, they just lead the debate astray. And attacking feminism in ISKCON is also counterproductive – some women really suffer in their marriages and they deserve all the help they can get, from feminists or not.

There are so many aspects to this issue that it’s impossible to lay down a clear cut solution for each and every case out there. There was a ray of hope, however, and it came from a devotee attacking the article:

Pisima was not in danger of falling down due to her husband’s bad association; she was trained from earliest childhood in both the principles of stri-dharma, and Vaisnavism. A weaker woman would almost certainly succumb to her husband’s bad influence. If we have Pisima’s devotion and spiritual strength, maybe then we can imitate her chastity. Otherwise, it’s risky. The first principle is to save yourself.
The issue is not whether a husband is a devotee, it’s whether one’s husband or wife is an impediment to one’s Krishna consciousness.

I think the nail has had his head hit here – it’s our devotion that really matters. It’s not the question whether husbands are pure or fallen, it’s the effect of serving them on women’s consciousness that is important.

Some female devotees are so strong in their faith and determination that even cooking meat for their husbands doesn’t affect them. Some are not so strong and might suffer from bad association.

That answers it – we should pray to Krishna and we should firmly believe that our fate is only in His hands and nothing could happen to us without His sanction and everything that happens to us is for our ultimate benefit.

Someone reminded in this connection:

Whatever happened to:

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.

Indeed.

Maybe Krishna will arrange a Women Protection Ministry or whatever they are called to find and save an unfortunate devotee from her predicament, maybe husband will be so impressed by his wife’s humility and devotion that he will abandon his evil ways and become a devotee, too. That’s what happened to Pisima’s husband, apparently.

Having said that, not everybody is strong enough and devotees with less faith should not be abandoned. For them Krishna provides the chance to escape themselves. Maybe they will live with the guilt of abandoning their post for the rest of their lives, maybe not. At the end of the day even this guilt is beneficial, it gives strength and intelligence for the next test.

Running away from one’s duties is not recommended but not if one clearly lacks spiritual strength to perform them in full Krishna consciousness, and we can’t stop women from leaving their husbands anyway but I don’t think we should encourage this behavior either.

There’s one very important point in Prabhupada’s advice from Srimad Bhagavatam – the woman should not remarry! If she leaves her husband that’s it, no more family life for her, it’s like taking sannyasa.

Of course if one doesn’t have strength to stay with her husband then it’s natural to expect there will be no strength to resist marrying someone else either.

Urghhh, I think it’s impossible to stop people from making big mistakes in Kali Yuga, I think we should focus on what we can instead of what we can’t. I’m also very impressed with Krishna for being able to keep track of all this crap and perfectly arrange everyone’s path in life according to what he or she deserves and what is best for their devotional progress.

Finally, the response by Grihastha Vision Team was a bit disappointing to me. It was vague and elusive and contained an unhealthy doze of self-promotion. It reminded me of a pest control websites I’ve seen recently where the worst thing that could possibly happen in life is if one tries to catch a mouse himself – it is a job solely for the highly trained professionals with decades of experience and latest and most expensive equipment.

Still, I don’t think this kind of decisions were taken without any consultation with seniors even in Vedic times, we surely need someone to serve in this role now and if they are organized into some sort of a ministry than it’s great, and maybe there’s benefit in slowing things down and talking about everything and nothing at the same time if it diffuses the situation and allows people to think clearly and prevents them from making any haste decisions.

Following our duties is nice, no doubt about that, but developing one’s devotion is even higher. We can fail in performing our duties and go up and down through all the planets in universe but devotion only accumulates, we should remember that, too.

At the end of the day, devotion is the only thing we should really count, the rest is temporary, illusory, and immaterial.

Vanity thought #122. Defensive mechanism.

Another day has passed as if everything is still normal and I am coping pretty well, though sometimes I feel like burying the issue and avoiding the solution. A shrink might say that, too.

Anyway, when I woke up this morning I still didn’t know whether I would go to work and lose the job I had for twelve years, or maybe not, I was still waiting for the sign. It’s not very scientific but I was listening to my conscience, or to the Supersoul, whoever would talk to me. As it happened I got more encouragement to go than to stay, in fact the “stay” feeling was very unwelcome as far as my conscience was concerned, so off I went.

As it also happened, I stood next to my boss for a couple of minutes, patiently waiting for the final conversation but it never came. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

What I have learned from today’s experience is the power of illusion – despite being a dead man walking I was courteous to everybody, very helpful, I made jokes and comforted people, I had mock fights etc etc. I can’t help but sit helplessly and watch this illusion of normalcy overtake me and silence my internal alarm – my life, as I know it, is about to end and I sit here and think about lunch?!?

I saw this man whose wife dies of cancer two weeks ago, his daughter is too small to realize what has just happened, and he played with her and gave her food and, I swear to God, they both look very very normal. This is not how I was taught to behave in the face of adversity. I expect deep sorrow, I expect extreme sadness, I expect unstoppable anxiety, yet I don’t see it, I don’t feel it myself. The only explanation I know is that Lord’s illusory potency is very very powerful.

Or maybe it’s our defensive mechanisms that overpower our nature. Maybe we are capable of lying to ourself to such a degree that we believe our own lies? We pretend that nothing has happened and we actually make ourselves feel that way, too.

Maybe I go one chanting my rounds because otherwise I would have gone crazy thinking of possible solutions? I don’t know.

There’s a story of Srivasa Pandit, one day Lord Chaitanya was dancing in his house in complete ecstasy and it so happened that at the same time Srivasa’s son died in the back room. His family called him out and told him that his son had just died. Srivasa Pandit shushed them: “Do you realize that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is dancing in our house right now? There’s nothing in this world important enough to interrupt His dance, everybody, be quiet!”

Eventually Lord Chaitanya realized what was going on and He went to see the boy’s body. To everyone’s amusement the body started to talk, and it started to beg for Lord’s mercy to be born again in the service to Lord’s lotus feet. All sorrow immediately left from everybody’s faces and the Lord Himself observed boy’s funeral rites.

Well, should I imitate Srivasa? Should I shush my anxieties? Should I tell myself that there’s nothing more important than chanting Lord’s Holy Names, and even if I don’t have any realization of Their potency, They are still present on my tongue so I must not interrupt Them?

That story of Srivasa Pandit is a very powerful example of how a devotee should deal with adversities.

What’s more, I was looking at a slide show of recent images from Vrindavana, hundreds of pictures, and I realized that this is the only moment when I’m actually alive – when I’m doing something connected to the Lord, be it chanting or thinking or looking at His form or reading books about Him. Everything else is just a time filler. One minute I’m anxious, another minute I’m hungry, next I’m peaceful – something else is always going on and is not worth remembering.

Seeing Radha Syamasundara’s everlasting beauty stops the time in its tracks – it’s the only moment that is not going to pass in vain like everything else, it’s the only moment that would stay with me, and, God willing, there will be more moments like this accumulating in my heart and, eventually, I would hate returning to awareness of the material world.

I might be trying to escape the reality but something just feels right about becoming “myself” only to wait for the next moment my mind turns to Krishna. I know I can’t stare at His face forever but I also know that after a short break I would want to see Him again, or chant His names. Eventually the breaks would appear shorter and periods of concentration would appear longer, and what more can I want?

Whatever is happening with my material body is not worth diverting attention from Krishna. I already have enough diversions, I don’t need justification to seek more. Even the thought of what is better – lose my job or fight to preserve it, is a diversion. Unfortunately I have to do it, just as I have to eat and go to the toilet afterwards, but, please, Krishna, please, don’t make me lose more time away from you than really necessary.

Then I came across this verse from Bhagavat Gita, 3.35

It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.

Suddenly I knew that if my duty is to do my job than this is what I have to do, I should not even consider giving it up voluntarily, like Arjuna thought he should have done before the battle. Then, in the purport, Prabhupada writes:

… for a kṣatriya it is better to be vanquished following the rules of violence than to imitate a brāhmaṇa who follows the principles of nonviolence. Everyone has to cleanse his heart by a gradual process, not abruptly.

Two things are here – first, even if I become completely destroyed, I shouldn’t expect a sudden twist that would make me into something I am not. I’m not going to become and investment banker or a pujari. Krishna might open a new door for me but it will still be more of the same old same old.

Second thing – gradual cleansing of the heart. Gradual, nothing that happens to me would suddenly make me into a devotee, I just have to be patient and wait it out, day by day, collecting tokens like those Alcoholics Anonymous.

I wish I could type all night, unfortunately I have to go back to “real” life and continue thinking about my fate and my pride and my money. It doesn’t even make me pray more, what’s the purpose behind this calamity?

Vanity thought #112. Devilish plan.

Just hours after I cleared up my schedule and resolved to chant 108 rounds on this coming Monday the whole thing went south.

The decision to scalper my plan was made even before I wrote about it here, I just didn’t know about it at the time. I forgot to mention that actually there are lots of people who can lay claim to my time, it’s not all Krishna’s. All Krishna gives me is a couple of hours for my daily quota, not much more than that. Nothing less, too, but if someone else wants to use my time Krishna doesn’t seem to interfere.

My soul belongs to Him, my body belongs to the material world, and no matter how hard I try it seems He just doesn’t need this blob of fat and lust, it’s got to take of itself and there’s only a thin connection between the two – no more than an hour and a half to chant my rounds for my soul, the rest belongs to the body.

I can’t chant my 108 rounds anymore – devilish plan, but who’s the devil here?

Is it me? Demoniacally seeking some extra time I can dedicate to chanting the Holy Names? Yesterday I was wondering if it’s worth the time and effort, today the answer from higher powers is clear – it’s not, or at least they are not going to support me in this endeavor.

Or is it someone trying to insert himself between me and the Lord? I don’t think so, who would dare? And even if they did they couldn’t do anything without Krishna’s permission, so it’s all His fault anyway.

Maybe it’s me, as if I got some magic powers to control the material nature, including the behavior of  other conditioned souls. Hmm, I don’t think so.

No matter how many fingers I got in this life form they all point to one and only doer of all things past and present – Krishna.

It could still be all me, of course, but consider this – what power have I got over the material energy? None whatsoever. Whatever it does, however it presents itself to me and anyone reading this, too, it’s all sanctioned by Krishna.

Okay, you can say Krishna lets it do whatever I desire. Fine, but is there any difference between Krishna letting me use material or spiritual nature?

In this world I desire to use His energies for my gratification, in spiritual world I supposed to desire to use His energies for His gratification – that is clear, but is it really? I can cite quite a few cross purport uses. Don’t we learn that the only differentiation between material and spiritual energies is in what we use them for? If I want to use my body for Krishna it becomes spiritual, doesn’t it?

So why can’t I use my body to chant 108 rounds of japa on Monday? And it’s not this one particular day either. Originally I planned at least three-four days of at least 64 rounds each. It all went down the drain. All of it, not a single day left.

It is some transcendental plan I can’t make any sense of.

All I know is that as long as I am doing something for Krishna I am happy. I got to chant 16 rounds a day because of a promise I made a long time ago, even Krishna can’t break that one, we, the devotees, can control Him this way, he has to oblige and give me enough time everyday to chant by daily quota, but everything else is a fair game.

So He won’t let me chant extra rounds, I wonder why. What is He afraid of? Me falling in love with Him? I can see that, who in his right spiritual mind would want me?

I know one person who can’t refuse, too  – Krishna.

Maybe He is so sick of me that He doesn’t want my company anymore and feels it’s easier to keep me down here instead. Wise choice, as long as He keeps the juice coming. I can be a stalker, fine, just give me enough attention to keep me busy dreaming about Him.

One day I will claim my victory and stalk my territory and force the Lord to surrender to my irrational love. It will be ugly but I am just doing my part, and don’t tell me it’s not exciting.

Krishna can win, too, and have His temporary celebration for a while.

In the end, though, I’ve got to do what I was created for, can’t help it, sorry.

Vanity thought #97. Under the spell.

I keep wandering about Lord Chaitanya’s associates in Navadvipa and what standards they set for the rest of us.

Sure, they were the luckiest people in the universe to gain Mahaprabhu’s direct association and incredible mercy and participate in His sankirtana movement but it’s only half of the story.

The first half was their deep frustration and angst that nobody in Navadvipa appreciated devotional service. If we take Krishna’s words literally that He comes when the religion is in decline and it’s time to protect the devotees and punish the atheists, then sufferings of vaishnavas of Navadvipa’s should be put in the same line as those of Prahlada Maharaja or the reign of Ravana.

It must have been tough even though a lot less dramatic. Vaishnavas were ridiculed along with their practice of loud singing and dancing. They did everything right yet no one appreciated it and brahmanas of Navadvipa chastised them for perverting the scriptures.

They surely had a lot of faith to carry on under these circumstances as they had nothing else to support them – no ISKCON, no memory of Prabhupada, no mercy of Lord Chaitanya – there was absolutely nothing and nobody for them to turn to for spiritual strength. It was only their small group and Srimad Bhagavatam, actually their own interpretation of Srimad Bhagavatam as the rest of the scholarly community of Navadvipa had different views and conclusions.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like. Nowadays we take so many things for granted, transcendental things that give us a firm footing in this material world. We have Prabhupada’s personal example, he really existed, he really was with us, he really was Krishna’s messenger and he is undeniably perfect example of unflinching faith. We have his books, we have an entire disciplic succession coming down from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s time, we have gosvamis of Vrindavana who were personally participating in Krishna’s pastimes. We have a lot, and our lot comes from actual, tangible things we can see and feel and perceive even with our material senses.

Comparing to us devotees of Navadvipa had nothing but faith and each other. Not much different from some Startrekkers gathering together to talk in Klingon – no one ever took them seriously and thought they were just imagining things.

They didn’t care, though. They were absolutely convinced that Lord Krishna was the supreme source and master of all material and spiritual worlds and the supreme object of devotion.

So, how did they live with this faith in their hearts? Under the spell.

They did all the things that every brahmana of that age did. They worshiped the Deities, they worshiped the Ganges, they worshiped Tulasi – actually we are doing exactly the same things now.  Some of us complain of the lack of spiritual progress and fulfillment, some of us think we need something more, we need to move to Vrindavana to progress further, we need to listen to rasika vaishnavas, we need to find the best, absolutely perfect gurus from the dwindling pool of older devotees. We have no time to appreciate what we already have and we live in dreams instead.

It might not be bad, actually, it might be motivating, pushing us to commit more, exert more energy on service, make extra efforts. On the other hand, these sound a lot like efforts in the mode of passion – for the sake of future results.

Devotees of Navadvipa didn’t think like that. They didn’t have vague dreams about super advancement, about reaching the stage of bhava or prema in the next couple of years. They didn’t complain that they have been chanting for twenty-thirty years and achieved nothing.

As far as their own spiritual practice was concerned, they were happy and content. Maybe we should take a leaf from their book in this regard.

Even when Lord Chaitanya appeared among them they didn’t care much and continued with their worship and their kirtanas. They were surely under the spell of Lord’s yogamaya not to recognize him, and even when the Lord took to devotional service Himself after meeting Sri Ishvara Puri in Gaya they still didn’t recognize Him. They recognized his unmatched devotion and they were extremely happy in Lord Chaitanya’s presence but they still didn’t know that He was their worshipable Lord Himself.

I think this can be cited as proof that devotional service itself is the highest, most satisfying reward one can ever receive. When they were engaged in devotional service and glorifying Lord’s Names they had everything they needed, and even Lord Chaitanya personal presence didn’t distract them.

Of course when Lord Chaitanya revealed Himself everything changed but until then they didn’t know how good they had it.

Maybe same can be applied to us – we don’t know how good we have it here. We don’t fully appreciate what we are given and by desiring something else we diminish the value of the service we already have.

In a way we are living under the spell, too, except it’s mostly mahamaya spell, but I believe for some of the most fortunate among us it is Lord’s internal potency that keeps them going here, worshiping the Deities, distributing books, preaching, praying etc. If that energy were to withdraw itself these devotees would go as crazy as Lord Chaitanya, crying “Krishna, Krishna, were are you?” and rolling on the ground in agony. We can’t have it here, and, more importantly, are these external manifestations principally better than worshiping the Deities or distributing books? Are they? Are they more pleasing to the Lord?

I’m not sure. As long as we are engaged in preaching mission this restraint is absolutely necessary.

Or maybe I’m simply justifying my own lack of progress. That is also possible.

On the other hand – what have I got to lose? What misfortune can paying more attention to my daily duties can possibly bring to me? Nothing, it’s a win-win deal, the only losing part is my passionate desire to become the best devotee ever as fast as possible.

That must be sacrificed anyway and I should develop proper motivation instead.

Vanity thought #87. Taking it easy.

One turn of Prabhupada’s phrase caught my attention recently. He said something along the line “sahajiyas are the so-called devotees who take their service lightly.” The exact quote escapes me at the moment.

People who take their service lightly. That’s a succinct way of putting it, and the application covers a lot wider base than what we are used to. It’s not only strange folks dressing up as Krishna or gopis, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them for real, it’s anyone taking their service “lightly”.  That’s just one step away from “taking it easy”, and, I believe, that’s how Prabhupada meant it, too. Not just showing little interest in your service, it’s taking the results lightly, ie you don’t have to work too hard, spiritual bliss is easy to come by, just chillax and kick back and enjoy the mellows.

I’m sure there’s more to it but this aspect looks familiar to me. Spiritual bliss is just around the corner, I can practically taste it already – how many times I fooled myself like that? Perhaps I should not only watch for the traces of impersonalism in my heart and mind but for traces of sahajiya attitudes, too. Those need to be weeded out, and they are pretty fat traces, too, I just never had such a strong name for them. Now I have – sahajiya, a so called devotee.

Today, incidentally, I did thirty two rounds, by Krishna’s mercy. I didn’t want to but He apparently had other plans. See, I think Krishna personally and lovingly overrode my desires and engaged me in His service – sahajiya! Anyway, the Internet suddenly went down and I had no choice but to I reach for my japa bag and start chanting. The reason was I thought that by the time I finish Internet would be back up.

I didn’t want to chant, my mind was prepared for lots of other things and had no interest in chanting whatsoever, I was simply not in the mood. For the first hour or so I carefully went through every detail of whatever it was I was going to think about if the Internet was up. Makes me wonder – does the mind follow its own rules of karma where it has to think through the fruits of his previous thoughts and plans?

Is it possible that the mind has to think through all the fascinating ideas it is presented with? After all it’s a material organ following material stimuli. If you give him a mouth watering problem to solve with potentially great pay off he would just race forward role playing all the different scenarios how that particular sense enjoyment can be achieved.

Some things don’t interest it that much so it can be easily diverted, other things are very addictive and it depends entirely on previous experiences and previously acquired tastes. Imagine, if you go to the gym in the morning you can’t stop yourself from getting very hungry by lunch, shouldn’t it work the same way with the mind – if you let it play on he X-Box, for example, you can’t stop it from replaying the same game over and over again, it’s just a karmic reaction.

Is the ability to stop your mind and divert it to Krishna is the same mercy that frees a devotee from his “papebhyo”? Somehow Krishna frees up our schedules and let us chant our rounds, read our books and visit our temples instead of toiling away at our jobs. Is it possible that Krishna does the same thing to our minds, too?

Of course one might argue that reading books and singing kirtans is nothing but a karmic reaction and so can be read from one’s astrological chart or the palm of one’s hand. That is an interesting argument. It would lead to all kids of puzzling conclusions and deep and penetrating thoughts about the nature of the free will and God’s actual interferences in devotees’ lives so let’s leave it for a moment.

One implication would be that it is impossible to change the course of one’s mind, as a part of material energy it is carried by the modes of material nature and so if one has to think through three hundred and sixty eight hours of alternative shots in Angry Birds than it can’t be stopped, it has to live through it just like one has to live through raising children or unavoidable sicknesses.

It is possible to refill the mind with Krishna conscious stimuli instead, feed it our books, our food, our Internet blogs and hope that it would chase after those, but all those things are so tightly integrated with the rest of the world that it is impossible to say where Krishna’s intervention starts and where it ends. I mean temples do not appear by magic, they need a lot or resources to come together, resources that should have been prepared over long periods of time without any visible connection to Krishna  – the land, the materials, country’s laws etc etc. Without those temples, or printing and publishing industries, or Internet itself, we’d have very little to keep our minds busy with.

It  seems the mind has a mind of its own, and that’s what I experienced today.

I tried to do some chanting but the mind seemed to follow his own destiny instead. No matter how much I tried I couldn’t stop it. It lasted for about an hour altogether, then he suddenly shut up. Maybe it was its karmic reactions reaching their ends but there were external factors to speed up the process, too.

Two things helped – trying to chant faster, as it requires more effort and concentration and less leeway for it to think of something else, and the second helpful thing was shouting at it at the top of my lungs. Not really, but there was a point where I was just trying to chant louder than it thinks. It was like “whatever you want to think about, I’m going to drown your pesky little voice anyway”.  Eventually it worked and I found some heart to put into the remaining rounds.

Suddenly I felt like this is what I really want to do with my life, suddenly I felt like I’m going to surrender myself to the Holy Names, suddenly some taste entered my tongue. Bam! Sahajiya again.

It seems like a curse – becoming proud of my achievements, but it is a very common thing that happens to everyone. I mean even gopis felt proud during the rasa dance and so Krishna disappeared. Even Srimati Radharani was left alone in the forest “because” of her “pride”. I’m not sure I can use this kind of language describing their feelings and relations with Krishna but this is the language Prabhupada used in Krishna Book so it must be okay.

There might have been more complicated explanations considering the differences  in spiritual levels of gopis – some were nitya siddhas, others were devotees who met the Lord after many many lifetimes of service as I mentioned yesterday. They might have different things happening to them.

Trying to imagine exactly how they felt is another kind of sahajiya. What is a principal difference between imitating the rasa dance itself and gopis feelings during it? We can’t empathize with their feelings without getting dangerously close to “taking them lightly”.

Urghh, it’s just everywhere. Nothing, absolutely nothing can be taken lightly in Krishna Consciousness, as Prabhupada said – it is simple but it is not easy.

Vanity thought #85. Surrender.

The rebellion didn’t last very long and I’m prepared to surrender. Not surrender to the Lord, surrender to my conditional existence and lack of devotion.

I can’t chant 24/7 and piss everybody off by doing that instead of performing my other duties. Maybe I could, theoretically, but it’s just not happening, I don’t have enough faith and I have too many attachments instead. I tried doing it last night but everybody was already sleeping and so no one noticed, and this morning I forgot about it and it was too late to start when I remembered.

The whole episode made me think of who is actually responsible for all of this. There’s me, the conditioned spirit soul, there’s Paramatma, Hari, there’s Lord’s external energy, maya, there’s Lord’s internal energy, yoga maya, there’s Krishna, there’s Lord Chaitanya, there is the guru parampara, there’s Rama, which probably refers to Balarama, the supplier of all Krishna’s parafernalia – too many cooks, I’d say.

Could it be that at some point they are all pointing fingers at each other, passing the blame and tossing the hot potato? Who exactly is supposed to fix things when I go rogue? What is this “I” anyway? Which part of my rants is enacted by maya, which part is advised by Paramatma and which part is merely sanctioned by Him? Is there a possibility that yogamaya pools her own wool over my eyes from time to time?

Ultimately the buck stops with Krishna but He has so many management layers for a reason and each of His agents here is perfectly capable of dealing with me on their own.

Besides, what’s with being a part of Krishna, qualitatively the same but quantitatively different? Does it mean I have my own powers I can exercise in some way, too? Say, if I want to sacrifice some of the resources provided by maya, or Ananta Shesha, in the service of the Lord, does it mean I’m exercising my own powers? I do have a spiritual body perfectly capable of serving Krishna and that body has all the relevant powers required for the service, is it possible that I can project some of them in this world, too? I sure don’t realize it but the powers are still there, even if dormant.

Say, if I get angry at Krishna, which everyone probably does every now and then, even Mother Yashoda and Srimati Radharani, would it be a legitimate spiritual feeling as long as it’s directed towards the Lord? I don’t imagine I am some sort of demoniac creature like Kamsa but anger towards the Lord is a common enough emotion even if there are no demons in Goloka Vrindavana.

Well, enough with the excuses, I better shape up and humbly accept that I can’t perform any supernatural devotional service right now.

So I surrender.

[insert “Quietly plotting my revenge in the meantime”]