Vanity thought #1337. Teachings of Haridasa Thakura 4

Yesterday I stopped on, perhaps, the most important lesson taught by Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura – everyone IS a servant of the Supreme Lord and therefore no one has the right to interrupt other people’s service. Everyone’s service, not just service of those who we see as ISKCON devotees.

The tricky part, of course, is to recognize what is service and what is not. It is possible that everything a living entity does IS a service to the Lord but I do not see it like that yet so I seek differentiation. I can sort of accept it theoretically but then I could also refute it or propose other explanations. For example, paramahaṁsas see the Lord everywhere but they might see the Lord providing everything for the living entities, not being worshiped by them with their every selfish breath. Perhaps they see living entities’ selfishness as a legitimate relationship with the Lord, even if in perverted rasas, but it’s not service as we mean it here. It’s not bhakti.

Well, if I put it this way it becomes kinda obvious that paramahaṁsa vision or not, souls in the material world do not possess bhakti. Except we can also say that bhakti is in every soul’s nature and so inseparable from it, just covered or displayed in minute qualities. This apparent controversy was my point – unless we see it for ourselves we can only speculate. Each version makes sense and yesterday’s explanation I got from reading Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s purport was as good as any other, probably better because it was direct words of our ācārya.

“Lord Janārdana … is served by everyone according to their respective moods.” Seems clear enough – we all serve Him. “Janārdana” is translated in various ways by Śrīla Prabhupāda, from “killer of the enemies” to “maintainer of all living entities”. It’s probably this last meaning that is more applicable here – he accepts service and reciprocates with everyone. Not potentially everyone but literally everyone. Also, when we say that the Lord is the only enjoyer it might literally mean that He is the ONLY enjoyer. Whatever we do, He enjoys it, and He is also the only one who does so.

We think we enjoy this world but it’s an illusion, not a real thing. What we actually do is serve Lord’s eternal energy. Who enjoys this service? The Lord, not us. Somehow or other, He arranges for every interaction we have with the world and takes pleasure from it.

This is controversial – does he enjoy rape or clubbing baby seals? I can understand that there’s pleasure, however, sick, in perpetrating these actions, otherwise people would never even thought about it, but in these cases there are also victims – does the Lord enjoy suffering of others?

Umm, the obvious answer is no, of course, but how can He be an enjoyer in these cases? What if it’s tsunami, an act of nature – there are no agents who’d enjoy it, no perpetrators, only suffering. How could the Lord derive pleasure from it?

More importantly, in general, if there is suffering in the world – who feels it? If we can understand this question it might give us a clue how the Lord could be an enjoyer in absolutely all circumstances, all interactions in the material world.

First of all, what we see as suffering is an illusion. There’s no real connection between us and our suffering bodies. Bodies are dead, the can’t feel anything. There is a medical condition that make people insensitive to pain and children afflicted by it can easily burn off their fingers and not feel anything at all. Pain exists only in our minds, medically speaking. There’s only PERCEPTION of suffering and it afflicts only us. The Lord does NOT feel it because suffering does not objectively exists and He is not under the same illusion as we are.

From His pov there is only us and the material nature that fulfills our desires. She doesn’t do anything else. The Lord creates it for His own reasons and He enjoys her because He is the puruṣa and she is the prakṛti, there’s no other relationship between them, no other feelings. Well, there’s probably a whole range of feelings but they are all spiritual and pleasing to the Lord.

What about us, then? We are also there, we should also be a part to the equation. We are, we are part of the Lord’s reason to create the world – He interacts with us through it. We want it and the Lord provides, it’s integral part of our relationship and He is happy that we have it.

Why are we not equally happy with our experiences? That’s the tricky part, or rather a trick question. We ARE happy with our experiences with material nature, we just don’t realize what they are. We think it’s the feelings of pain or pleasure but what the māyā actually provides is illusion, misidentification with our material bodies. This service never fails, never disappoints, we just take it for granted, don’t notice it and don’t appreciate it.

We want to be in illusion and by Lord’s mercy we always are – how’s that unfair on the part of the Lord? So, when we feel pain we ask – how could the Lord allow it and how He could possibly enjoy it but what the Lord actually likes about the situation is that we still think that we are material bodies. “Wow”, He might think to Himself, “this illusion works so well, it’s perfect”. He knows that as spirit souls we are never in any actual danger, there’s no possibility of us ever being hurt at all, so that does not concern Him. He is only impressed with the ability to keep us thinking that we are little gods ourselves. It’s the service He provides, we appreciate it and treasure it at all times, and that’s what brings Him perpetual enjoyment, too.

When time comes and we feel that this “I’m the enjoyer” thing is not worth the trouble and seek freedom from the illusion the Lord immediately provides necessary knowledge, too. He is not keeping us here against our will, never. If we turn to serving Him with love and devotion He arranges that, too.

These are three kinds of our relationships with the Lord in this world – we want to be in illusion, we don’t want to be in illusion and become liberated, and we want to serve Him. He provides for all three, He reciprocates with all three, and He enjoys all three.

Our preoccupation with pain and pleasure is part of the first one, part of the illusion that we so desperately want. And, once again, pain and pleasure exist only in the mind, the soul is not affected by them. The soul is affected only by illusion.

The Lord has zero interest in what happens within the illusion. He reacts only to “I don’t wanna see you” tantrum of the spirit soul. THAT he provides, personally, and feels good about having the job done.

Anyway, I just wanted to understand how the Lord could be the only enjoyer even when we feel nothing but pain. I think I get it even if can’t express it in a perfect manner.

Another part of it is that we are always, always in service to the illusion. She sets the rules and we try to follow them, and I don’t mean the rules from scriptures, I mean the laws of nature we use for our own enjoyment. We never give up our quest for eating, sleeping, mating and defending – this is service and we offer it voluntarily. This is how we interact with the Lord – via medium of māyā, and this is how He accepts our service and appreciates our mood. He sets out rules (via māyā) and we try to follow them. We don’t even need a human form of life for this level of service, even a one-cell organism can provide it to the Lord. Even if the only thing it does is swim towards the light it’s already service.

As humans we can perform infinitely more and that’s why Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura said “The Supreme Lord accepts devotion of everyone”, as they were speaking about religious duties at that point. If we object to other’s devotion, however imperfect by our standards, we interrupt relationship between the Lord and the spirit soul and we shouldn’t do that.

Hmm, that’s exactly where I left yesterday, so no progress today. Except, perhaps, a deeper understanding of the same point.

Vanity thought #514. Don’t touch this

brāhmaṇasyaiva pūjyo ’haṁ śucer apy aśucer api strī – śūdra-kara-saṁsparśo vajrād api suduḥ sahaḥ

Let’s not forget this verse from Hari Bhakti Vilasa (5.454) – “I am to be worshipped only by the brāhmaṇas, whether they are clean or unclean. The touch of the hands of a woman or śūdra is worse than a thunderbolt to me.

It’s a bit of an old chestnut because it doesn’t refer to vaishnavas and Sananta Goswami explains it very nicely that we have nothing to be afraid of. Still there’s something we don’t often remember about our Lord.

What we usually remember is that He is the Lord of the entire universe and is sitting in the heart of every living being, that He is the ultimate well-wisher of all. Here He says that He can’t stand even a touch of mortal men. In Kali Yuga there are no brahmanas who would qualify under this verse so it covers all of us, except vaishnavas, of course.

Why is it so? What is His opinion of the conditioned souls? Is He really a well-wisher or He pays to the ungrateful jivas, who turned away from Him, in kind? I mean that would easily explain gang rapes and other puzzling incidents that make people blame God for not taking care of them.

In these situations we start talking about karma, about how we ourselves to blame for whatever happens to us and that Krishna would love to but He can’t help, He lets the laws of nature to run their course and so on. What if in reality He can’t stand us and our touch for Him is like a thunderbolt? Far from being a well-wisher He hates our guts and would have nothing to do with us if possible.

That isn’t very contradictory – He loves us as spirit souls but can’t stand the degraded projections of our consciousness – the selfish, revolting, self-absorbing way we behave in this world and which we enjoy. He doesn’t want to be touched by that, and who would?

Now we say we are vaishnavas and from us Krishna would accept any offering no matter what. That might be true of vaishnavas but if we look at ourselves we hardly qualify. In the best case, on our best behavior, under the direction of our authorities, we are to be treated as vaishnavas. On our own, in privacy of our homes, consumed by greed and enslaved by our desires – we aren’t.

Fact is, most of our offerings are made for our own enjoyment, we just seek Krishna’s blessings, thinking that cleared of bad karma our offerings would be even more pleasurable to us. That’s an attitude we can’t avoid as long as we see ourselves as material bodies driven by material senses.

Because it’s unavoidable we can’t stop it, and we better offer whatever it is we are about to consume anyway, the only real difference we can make is if we remember that our current mode of action is not okay, it’s only a temporary solution, a display of weakness that needs to be overcome if we are ever to approach the Lord.

Maybe it’s my age but I see lots of devotees take solace in setting a nice little place going, getting all mellow and wise. Life is pretty good, service to Krishna is finally paying off, sattva is all around, and we even start thinking about changing the world.

Well, maybe it’s not the time to sit back and relax just yet. A little number we got for ourselves means nothing to Krishna and our attitude of having a good, ostensibly Krishna conscious life could actually be revolting to him.

I think when Krishna talked about women and shudras he actually meant enjoyers, and that makes most of us most of the time, vaishnavas or not.

Perhaps Jiv Jago! Jiv Jago! wasn’t a call to only materialists but to all of us who got pretty comfortable without bothering to fully give up the attitude of enjoyment in this material world.

Maybe it’s a call against our complacency.

And what is this VAD thing we try to propagate in the wider society? We use it to justify our own lack of surrender and clinginess to material comfort, and instead of curing ourselves from it we wish to inflict it on the rest of the world?

It’s a big topic and I’m not ready to discuss it yet, let’s leave it at this today.

Vanity thought #292. Predominator complex.

I’ve always wondered how our acharyas address the Lord as Supreme Predominator and us, the jivas, as predominated, or something to that effect.

I can’t wrap my head around this.

I think I understand the concept of Krishna being the Supreme Enjoyer and us as being enjoyed, but the predominating principle adds a wider perspective and some aspects of it scare me off.

Being dominated is not even the same as being enjoyed, and, once I consider the state of being dominated, even being enjoyed doesn’t sound that attractive. I guess I object to the part where being dominated or enjoyed might not be enjoyable to me and that is worrisome.

When I think of connotations and synonyms of “being dominated” I come up with abused, oppressed, raped, subjugated, trampled and so on. Nothing positive comes to mind at all.

Moreover, “being dominated” is unfortunate reality of life of all embodied souls. We might put up a fight asserting out independence for a while but in the end we die being dominated the Lord’s potency of time. Or we get killed by our fellow conditioned beings. Some of us, like chickens, have no other purpose in life but to get killed and eaten.

So we know a lot about “being dominated” from our experience of the world around us and it isn’t pretty. Why would it be pretty when we meet Krishna?

Should we embrace the “dominated” mentality to prepare our consciousness for meeting the Lord? That would be kind of sahajiya, wouldn’t it? Still, if I have my consciousness and I can project it this way and that, shouldn’t I try to understand the ultimate attraction of “being dominated” state?

I don’t know, as I said, I can’t wrap my head around this.

And what to do about our minute independence?  I understand that independence is the basis off all our relationships in this world, even when we offer service to other people. We do it because it’s our choice, voluntarily, and everyone knows it feels good. How does that work in relationships on the spiritual platform, especially with the Lord Himself?

I mean we are being enjoyed regardless, often against our will, what happens in the spiritual world? Do we offer our service after making an independent choice, or does the Lord simply enjoys us without asking? What kind of enjoyment he prefers there, offered or taken at will? Here, in the material world, He doesn’t ask, just kills our bodies and swallows our lives with His universal form, as was shown to Ardjuna. Is He any different in the spiritual world?

Does Krishna “deal” with other living entities in the spiritual world, or does He simply enjoy them? I’m sure He is capable of both, but is there a danger of not making it to Krishna’s world without accepting that He has the right to enjoy us anywhere, at any time, without asking us for our consent? Is it what “surrender” ultimately means? Is it the price of admission?

If that’s necessary for entering His pastimes, how come we don’t see any examples of this in His relationships with His intimate devotees in Vrindavan?

Beats me. Need more time to think about it and need some sort of revelation on this topic.

PS In the material world we have to submit to being dominated by Lord’s potencies and representatives, sometimes in the form of governments, or dictators, or bosses, or kidnappers, or muggers or all kinds of unpleasant characters who all derive their power ultimately from the Lord. Is it going to continue in the spiritual world, too?