Vanity thought #1109. What if I told you..?

A couple of months ago Louis CK had an episode on his show dedicated to God. A large part of his monologue was straight about God and the rest was even more about God than his direct words.

In his speech he didn’t say anything profoundly meaningful, just general banter about God and heaven and people’s expectations. I don’t know why people keep talking about this, the concept is so hopelessly outdated that Christians should issue a new vision of the future, the current legacy version with Saint Peter sitting at the gates checking credentials can’t be taken seriously anymore. There are so many jokes about it no one knows how to perceive it as a real thing.

Louie has made a few pertinent observations, though, like when he asked the audience who there hopes to go to heaven and picked on a young man:

    – You’re 28 and already you’re a lock for heaven. You’ve done enough good in your ten adult years
    that you couldn’t possibly make a mistake..

Aren’t we the same? Don’t we take reaching Kṛṣṇa for granted in our first years, no, days in Kṛṣṇa consciousness? It takes a while to realize that we actually never been in Kṛṣṇa consciousness yet, that real devotional service is still ahead of us, so far we have no idea when it’s going to start. Probably not in this lifetime.

I mean pure devotional service that starts only after liberation. Until then it’s just serving our false ego albeit by enlisting Kṛṣṇa’s help. If we look at ourselves honestly, it’s not even us trying to help Kṛṣṇa, we want Him to help us in whatever it is we decide to do.

And as time goes by we inevitably make embarrassing mistakes, too, which we forgive ourselves by citing api cet su durācāro verse (BG 9.30).

The possibility of Kṛṣṇa forgiving us shouldn’t even arise – our errors are not made in relationships with Him, it’s just us serving our material bodies. He doesn’t care enough about that to be offended. We do not have personal relationships with Him yet so there’s no possibility of offense and so no questions of forgiveness.

Of course we have relationships with the Holy Name and the Deities and our spiritual master and we can offend them easily but there’s a question of how big percentage of these relationships is actually with Kṛṣṇa rather than some other aspect of Absolute Truth. I’d say it’s zero, our realization is not advanced enough to be connected to Him directly. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Next Louie questions the existence of Heaven itself. He says that we expect too much of God – He created this whole amazing universe for us and then we want yet another, even more awesome place for the whole eternity? Is there an end to our greed?

Then Louie addressed people who claim that there’s no God – how can they be so sure? How can they argue with others’ beliefs? “I believe in God – No, you don’t – Yes, I do” What is the meaning of this argument? It’s senseless. Even when atheists claim that they don’t believe in God – how do they know? Their eyes can see only for a hundred yards while God might be standing right behind them all the time.

That argument is straight from our books – our senses are too limited to declare anything with any certainty, and God IS the closest person to us, standing right within our hearts, and we can’t see Him.

Louie also said he envied people who have faith. They wake up every morning and feel God in their lives while he feels nothing and it makes his life empty. Good point, too.

And then he went off a tangent – if God is our father and we are His children? Where is our mother? What has He done to her? There’s no good answer to that, forget Louie’s attempts at being funny about it. We ourselves would have to think twice before answering that question.

Kṛṣṇa is the seed giving father and we are His children but who is our mother? Material nature? That’s not a satisfying answer – we do not seek maternal relationships with material world, those who worship Durgā do. Are we, as devotees, supposed to be motherless?

Funny how “maternal” and “material” are so close as if talking about the same thing.

I think this whole “Kṛṣṇa is our father” analogy is made for the western audience, it doesn’t exist in our literature, afaik, Kṛṣṇa’s actual children in Dvārakā notwithstanding. We relate to Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu as our master and we see ourselves as His servants. Our actual father and mother are different devotees who have their own relationships with Him.

Anyway, what I found remarkable about that episode is not what Louie said about God but what he said about women.

When I was doing reviews of Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson I came to think of him as a worshiper of the Absolute Truth in the form of the universe. For him there’s no higher reality, no higher object, no higher substance, and no higher truth than the universe. Universe is his equivalent of God.

For Louie, God is women. He doesn’t know any higher aspect of the Absolute than women, the opposite sex. It might be not as exalted as seeing universe as God but it’s legitimate in its own right – Kṛṣṇa is the pure sex life. “According to regulative principles”, we always add, but I don’t think we actually add anything by saying this, only rob the concept of its beauty by diverting the discussion into arguments about rules.

Pure sex is Kṛṣṇa – it’s all attractive, after all, the most potent attractive force in the whole world. It’s definitely Kṛṣṇa, as far as we know. Its attraction is stronger than our interest in a blue boy we see in the pictures, we can’t give it up no matter what we try. That’s a different topic, though, let’s leave it for now.

Anyway, for Louie, pure, selfless, spontaneous attraction to women is the highest truth in this world. When he falls in love his entire life, entire being changes. He suddenly has purpose and energy and hopes. Love brings every best quality there is in his entire being – how can we say it’s not Kṛṣṇa?

In this episode he just got off a relationship and was heartbroken. Nothing went wrong, it’s just that his woman had to leave the country. Louie went to talk to a very strange shrink who happens to live in this building and they had the most interesting conversation ever.

    – So you took a chance on being happy, even though you knew that later on you would be sad.

    – Yeah.

    – And now… you’re sad.

    – Yeah.

    – So..? What, what, what’s the problem?

    – I’m too sad. Look, I liked the feeling of being in love with her, I liked it. But now she’s gone and I miss her and it sucks. And I didn’t think it was gonna be this bad, and I feel like, why even be happy, if it’s just gonna lead to this? It wasn’t worth it.

    – You know, I’m not entirely sure what your name is, but you are a classic idiot. You think spending time with her, kissing her, having fun with her, you think that’s what it was all about That was love?

    – Yeah.

    This is love, missing her. Because she’s gone, wanting to die, you’re… so lucky.

    – Don’t you see, this is the good part. This is what you’ve been digging for all this time. Now you finally have it in your hand, this sweet nugget of love, sweet, sad love and you wanna throw it away. You’ve got it all wrong.

    – I thought this was the bad part.

    – No! The bad part is when you forget her. When you don’t care about her. When you don’t
    care about anything. The bad part is coming so enjoy the heartbreak while you can, for God sakes.

I mean there’s so much in there that we can relate to. If we replace “her” with “Kṛṣṇa” it would appear as coming straight from our books, and not the introductory stuff but discussions on the highest rasa.

I’ve done this once already, two years ago – substituted women in Louie’s monologue with Kṛṣṇa and it came out embarrassingly private (here).

I’m not in the mood today to translate this dialogue into devotees’ feelings for Kṛṣṇa, you do it on your own, my words are not grave enough to discuss this subject.

What I want to say instead is that this highest rasa of love in separation can exist even with a lesser aspect of the Absolute than Kṛṣṇa Himself.

Now, think of our own lives – are we always as emotionally charged about our service as Louie was about that woman? No way, maybe it happens every now and then but it’s certainly not our normal state of mind.

The other possibility that opens here is even more mind-blowing – what if I told you that our understanding of the Absolute is similarly incomplete and so where Louie has relationships with women, devotees have relationships with Kṛṣna, Neil deGrasse Tyson has relationships with the universe, we have relationships with something else?

What is *our* highest realization of the Supreme? Obviously it’s not Kṛṣṇa Himself – that’s an ideal level, our goal, but not our current stage. Is it our guru? For some – probably, for many not.

I’m afraid I’m not ready to discuss the answers today, my mind needs settling into this idea and thinking it through. The complications and possibilities are are innumerable, and then it needs to be “realized” in one way or another. Certainly a job for another day.

Vanity thought #302. By hook or by crook

From the laymen point of view we already have a warped sense of morality, putting interests of the Lord and devotional service higher than our obligations towards fellow men. Just remember Krishna asking Yudhishthira to lie about death of Ashvaddhama, one of the reasons being that no one would believe Krishna Himself, and then punishing Yudhishthira for insubordination.

Everything goes if it’s meant for Krishna’s pleasure.

This is a tough sell when we present ourselves to the public and we have to be very diplomatic about it.

But what about cheating God Himself to obtain devotional service? Wouldn’t that be an ultimate deception where the end always, 100%, justifies the means? There’s no goal higher than acquiring love of God and that means that whatever else we’ve got to lose in exchange for it is well worth the trouble.

This is what I saw with my eyes tinged with the love of fault finding in this curious episode from Chaitanya Charitamrita, beginning from Madhya.1.199.

This is the first meeting between Lord Chaitanya and brothers Rupa and Sanatana and they asked the Lord for His mercy, presenting themselves as the lowest of all, lower than Jagai and Madhai, on the level with Muslim meat-eaters.

In this case it was the reason they presented for their deliverance that caught my fault finding eye – they tried to con Lord Chaitanya into saving them for His own selfish reasons, trying to play on Lord’s own desire for fame and glory. They practically challenged the Lord to save them to prove that He indeed is the most merciful avatar and that worked!

An ordinary person in this situation would have tried to prove his power and uphold his reputation by giving Rupa and Sanatana what they wanted. It’s pretty much how Lord Vishnu tricked the demon Vrikasura to prove his power to kill whoever he touched. Well, we don’t see that Lord Chaitanya responded to this con, He simply said that they were His eternal associates already so the matter of deliverance was just a formality.

Trying to trick the Lord was not the only “off” thing in that conversation, Rupa and Sanatana also went out of the way to prove their exclusivity as the most fallen souls. In this connection I always remember the episode when one devotee started talking to Prabhupada how he was the most fallen, too, only to be cut down in the most decisive way – “You are not most anything”, and that’s the reality of our situation – we are not “most” anything, we are just average and we don’t deserve Lord’s attention any more than the next guy.

It’s actually the mathematics of infinite numbers – in a world of an infinite number of spirit souls we can’t be “most” anything by definition, there’s always an infinite number of souls better and an infinite number of souls worse than us. In this crowd we are always average and unremarkable.

Why would Rupa and Sanatana say these things? One explanation could be that they weren’t Rupa and Sanatana at that moment yet, they were Dahir Khas and Sakkar Mallik, politicians by profession, and so their behavior was just a reflection of their old habits.

Another explanation could be that it is perfectly acceptable to lie and cheat if it could lead one to obtaining devotional service. We already accept cheating karmis, if necessary, so why stop there? Why not cheat fellow devotees and the Lord Himself? What have we got to lose? If we don’t get love of God, what’s the value of our integrity, and if we do get it, what’s the value of our integrity?

Normally it would be impossible to obtain love of God without cleansing our hearts, hence lying won’t work, but with Lord Chaitanya the state of one’s heart is irrelevant, one always has a chance at totally unconditional and undeserved mercy.

Normally it’s impossible to cheat the Lord and the Lord might get upset with us for this but if the result is that we obtain devotional service then we will have unlimited patience of waiting until Lord’s anger blows over and we will win His acceptance in the end. He WILL be pleased, eventually, but it’s so much harder to wait for it when one doesn’t have love of God in his heart so why not take a shortcut?

Another explanation could be that even though one can’t possibly cheat the Lord, if the Lord enters into personal relationships with us He will have to follow some set of rules and thus He might allow Himself to appear cheated, just like Krishna allowed to be bound by mother Yashoda.

All of these are interesting possibilities, especially trying to obtain devotional service at all costs, but, personally, I’m inclined to think that it was only the effect of engaging in politics for too long, nothing really serious.