Vanity thought #1422. Awakening

When we think about out progress, or rather the lack thereof, we are mostly concerned with the transitions between different versions of reality, of which I think there are three. I said I think because our literature doesn’t classify the reality this way. Someone might offer a few more states of reality but nothing else has come to my mind so far.

To recap – I mean reality as total illusion, ie the world as seen by the conditioned souls, the full spiritual reality of Kṛṣṇaloka, and our current state somewhere in between where we have some perception of the Lord but nothing direct yet.

Normally, we oscillate between the lower two, completely forgetting Kṛṣṇa for spells of time and then remembering Him and seeing Him appear in the form of the Holy Name. That’s not exactly right, though – we can hear a mundane audible sound but it doesn’t yet manifest itself as a full Name, at best it’s a nāmābhāsa. Kṛṣṇa can also reenter our consciousness as a form of a deity or as our spiritual master or as a narration in our books.

What we want instead is an oscillation between this state and full spiritual perception of Lord’s own spiritual form. Ideally we want to see only that form and nothing else but we are not greedy, we’d allow ourselves to perceive the material world as long as we are in our bodies, too. /sarcasm

Actually, there appears to be distinctions even on a spiritual level as we can see from a story of Dhruva Mahārāja. He saw Lord’s spiritual form in his meditation and it was cool, but then the Lord appeared between his otherwise material eyes and it was way cooler. We’d be perfectly content with the Lord appearing only in meditation, internally, on the seat of our hearts, we are not greedy, as I said.

We consider these transitions as real milestones on our path back to Godhead and so far we haven’t reached even one. Of course our engagement in service to our guru, our chanting, our association with devotees, our service to the deities is already tremendous progress but it’s clearly not enough.

Some of us, however, argue that it’s as good as it gets and because it feels pretty good already so we don’t really need anything better. Well, no one actually argues that way but they express this attitude when discussing our devotional life. I’ve been known to make similar comments myself, of “what more do you want” variety. This time, however, I mean someone else. A devotee resident of Māyāpura was canvassing people to come and live there and he talked about how his fridge was full of mangoes and how life was simple and yet sublime and so on. It was totally understandable in the context but it still sounded like a life of sense enjoyment, albeit at Lord Caitanya’s expense, and it was devoid of even a hint at spiritual realizations. I say so because spiritual realizations would blow “mango” argument away, who remembers mangoes when one can see the Lord in his heart?

This kind of attachment and content could probably be classified as anartha arising from devotional service itself and it needs to go. No matter how good it feels and how legitimate it is, no matter that it might be based on real relationship with Mahāprabhu where we serve Him and He places us in comfortable conditions in exchange, there’s no comparison between this life and real vision of the Lord. I can cite Dhruva Mahārāja here again.

The first words coming out of Dhruva’s mouth were (SB 4.9.6):

    My dear Lord, You are all-powerful. After entering within me, You have enlivened all my sleeping senses — my hands, legs, ears, touch sensation, life force and especially my power of speech. Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto You.

It was a real awakening, and this what Prabhupada started his purport from: “Dhruva Mahārāja could understand very easily the difference between his condition before and after attaining spiritual realization and seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face. He could understand that his life force and activities had been sleeping. Unless one comes to the spiritual platform, his bodily limbs, mind and other facilities within the body are understood to be sleeping. Unless one is spiritually situated, all his activities are taken as a dead man’s activities or ghostly activities.”

We want that, too, we must want it if we want to become pure devotees. Content in our present situation should only be accepted as gratitude to the Lord and not as settling for inferior kind of “bliss”. Mangoes just don’t cut it.

This transition can also be seen as coming under the influence of the Lord’s internal potency. Right now we are in the hands of māyā, it is she who engages our bodies in Lord’s service, places Lord’s name on our lips and thoughts about Him in our minds. Perhaps in her domain this is as good as it gets, we can’t extract any more pleasure from our bodies. We can squeeze a few tears and maybe occasional goosebumps but these should ideally be symptoms of internal vision of the Lord, and for us they never last anyway, which is proof that they are material experiences. Perhaps it’s not correct to address this external energy of the Lord as māyā when she engages us in Lord’s service but you know who I mean.

Our Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, however, starts with “Hare”, an appeal to the internal potency of the Lord, so desire to come under influence of yogamāyā is totally natural, it’s what we chant our rounds for everyday and then murmur to ourselves as much as possible, too. We are not asking the Lord to keep us in the material world even though it could be considered a noble sacrifice. Kṛṣṇa doesn’t want us to be here, we are not that special, He keeps us here for the time being because we aren’t ready to move on yet, not because we are on some secret mission.

Some interpret this desire to mean that we need to read up on Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes and gradually enter Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes by meditating on them. I’m very skeptical about this approach, I’d rather stick to behaving in such a way that Kṛṣṇa wants to see us and sends us an invitation. We achieve this by humble service to our spiritual master instead of role-playing. I’m not aware of any of our ISKCON gurus asking their disciples to meditate on pastimes instead of helping them to preach, and so that’s what we should do. Consequently, our very first spiritual realization must be seeing our guru as non-different from the Lord. He is not a stepping stone to be used and forgotten, he is our eternal master and our eternal service to Kṛṣṇa goes only through him. Granted, sometimes Kṛṣṇa might interact with us directly, but real followers of Rūpa Gosvāmī would rather serve Lord’s servants, meaning our guru.

Our real awakening should be appreciating the role our guru plays in our lives. That’s when our senses become awakened. Maybe not as fully spiritual senses capable of perceiving the Lord directly but at least awakened from dull existence of sense-gratification. That would be quite an achievement already.

Vanity thought #1421. irReality

I believe that even in a sincere pursuit of Kṛṣṇa consciousness the border between reality and imagination is hard to determine. We also have another often used term, speculation, and we use it mostly negatively because it means lack of knowledge. What is the reality then, as opposed to speculations about reality? And what if our speculations are true? Would it make any practical difference?

“Reality” is hard to define in itself, even in the strictly material sense of things. We can count things, for example, things are real and so we can say that numbers that we count must also be real. And yet there are negative numbers, too, and you can’t count negative number of things. This means that our definition of what is real need to be expanded. Are negative numbers unreal just because we can’t represent a negative number with real objects?

Well, no, they are not unreal if we redefine what a number is. If, instead of a result of a count, we talk about difference between two counts, negative numbers become real. We can say that 2 is bigger than 3 by -1. Of course we can also say that 2 is smaller than 3 by 1 but the point is that if we accept the concepts of bigger and smaller and introduce them into our number system we’ll get negative numbers very quickly.

So, imagine we start with the sequence of “real” numbers, 1,2,3.. etc. “Negative numbers” means that now the sequence looks like ..,-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,.. The left side of this sequence does not really exists but it’s a helpful concept when dealing with the right side of the sequence in a real, tangible world.

When we represent this sequence geometrically, as an infinite line stretching both left and right from 0 we discover the need for fractions – points on the line between 1 and 2, for example. We can say fractions are real because we know what half a pizza is even though you can’t pick up more than 1 and less than 2 pebbles on the beach. Negative fractions are also easy as they complement positive fractions, even though no one can eat a minus half pizza.

Is minus half pizza real? You can’t touch it, you can’t eat it, but it’s a helpful concept nevertheless in cases where you count how many pizzas you need to order if you know how many people will eat how many slices, and then you discover that three pizzas won’t be enough, you will be half pizza short, or you’ll have a negative half pizza balance. That’s how people and countries count debt, too, and I just wrote three posts about Greece. These things are pretty real.

Then there’s a little diversion with irrational numbers, which might not be a very apt name. Irrational people are those with crazy, unjustifiable ideas, irrational numbers are not. They are just points on that same line that can’t be expressed as ratios, or fractions. π is one of such points. Ironically, we know it as a ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter but, in order to be “rational”, the number must be a ratio of two integers (integers are “real” numbers and their negative counterparts). Turns out it’s impossible to have both the circumference and the diameter to be either integers or their fractions at the same time.

That’s another class of numbers that we know must exist because they are points on the same line somewhere between every “real” numbers we know. Of course we can question existence of the line itself. 1,2,3 is not a line, and 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 is not a line either, they are separate points. They might get so close as to look like a line but to actually complete the line we need to fill the space between them with ink, and it’s this space that represents irrational numbers. Do they really exists or are they just a helpful concept? π is a very helpful number in a real life because it helps us approximate things like the size of a rope needed to tie up the Earth, for example. It doesn’t matter that we can never say exactly how big a circumference of a coin is, or that of a car tire, we just accept approximate values for convenience. We can’t measure the tire’s diameter or radius exactly either. 17″ is good enough for most practical uses. Not to mention that circumference of a circle is a real thing, the rope that goes around it exists in real life and has a real length, we just can’t say what it is using our “rational” numbers.

Are these numbers still “real”? Hard to say with certainty. Is “good enough approximation” a valid definition of reality.

Then we can look at our line stretching left and right, having all the rational and irrational numbers on it, and say – who does it have be one-dimensional? Why can’t we add a Y dimension to it and so describe every point on the same paper we drew our line on as a pair of X and Y coordinates? All the numbers on our existing line will tell us X and all the numbers on the perpendicular axis will tell us Y. God has given us a two dimensional surfaces to draw on, why don’t we use them fully?

Theoretically, it’s a very simple concept, we use two-dimensional diagrams or drawings of functions all the time. Will these new, two-dimensional numbers be “real”, though? In a sense that 1,2 and 3 were real they most certainly won’t but, since we’ve already added non-existing -1,-2,-3 and then π, we might just as well give up on this original idea of what “real” means and accept these new numbers into our family.

In mathematics these new numbers are called complex because they are “pairs”. Our original 1 becomes (1,0) pair, -2 become (-2,0), π become (π,0) and so on. What would the second coordinate signify in “real” world, though? Units of what? The way history happened was that it was called “imaginary” first and then the name stuck and this name is even less apt than “irrational”. The truth is, we can’t find a “real” equivalent of this unit but mathematically it’s simple – it’s a square root of minus 1. i=√(-1), can’t type any better symbol than this √ for square roots, sorry. Anyway, we can only imagine if it existed and that’s where the name came from.

In reality, though, all we did was to expand our definition of what “number” is. First from actual counts of things to relationships between counts, then to fractions, then to numbers between fractions, now we just added a second, God given dimension, that’s all.

How do we know that they are still “numbers”? Mathematicians found some common properties, like the definition of what it means to be equal, rules for addition and multiplication that come with their own properties and formulas, and so if these rules and properties still hold, and they do, then these imaginary things must be “numbers”. They can easily rewrite the entire math which started with 1,2,3 into a math with (1,0), (2,0),(3,0) and it would still work even for (1,1),(2,1),(3,1) and so on. They ARE numbers in a mathematical sense of the world.

Do they describe “reality” in any sense? Rarely, but they still can be very helpful. In engineering they describe certain functions that take “real” input and produce “real” output but are impossible to calculate without using “imaginary” numbers. In this sense our real world can’t exist or can’t work without these imaginary numbers.

Perhaps we’d be better of redefining what reality is instead and accept that what we can count is just a small subset of reality with a much larger part forever hidden from our view. This is where we come to atheism and Kṛṣṇa consciousness but, unfortunately, I’ve run out of space and time. Continue tomorrow.

Vanity thought #1377. Creating reality

Yesterday I talked about how choosing events from our past determines our future. Stated like this it doesn’t sound controversial at all but I also propose snapping out of our illusion that future is important. Then focusing solely on the past starts to look differently.

The argument against the value of the future is that it’s unknown and immutable at the same time. There’s nothing we can do to actually change it and so thinking about it is useless, it will happen anyway and on its own terms, not ours.

I can add that thinking about the future keeps us anchored in karma-kanda mentality – we do something and expect certain results. Karma kanda is not bhakti, at best it can be a karma-miśra bhakti, but neither karma nor miśra part of that term are of any interest to the Lord, they are anarthas we should eventually give up, not foster. Giving up karma mentality means giving up thinking about the future.

We can also think of Kṛṣṇa’s promise to protect His devotees, ma śucaḥ, He says, don’t worry. It means that once we surrender to the Lord we should stop caring about what happens to us, meaning that we should stop worrying about the future.

Sannyāsī, for example, should not worry about where his food is coming from. If a person makes preparations for tomorrow – keeps salt in a jar, for example, or makes ghee, or gets a cow, or buys a refrigerator – he is not a renunciate and should return to the status of gṛhastha, a householder.

Renunciation means giving up thinking about tomorrow’s food, tomorrow’s shelter, tomorrow’s source of income – giving up thinking about future.

It is true that renunciation is not for everyone and in this day and age it is not encouraged, considering that only very few people are capable of living such a life, but it doesn’t mean renunciation is not valuable. It is, and partly because it frees one from slavery to his future.

It is also true that many of the followers of Lord Caitanya were householders, and so was Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, but they weren’t householders like us, they weren’t attached to their material positions, meaning they didn’t worry about the future, they simply acted according to their nature without any claims to things they “deserved”.

The argument can be made that in devotional service we must ensure that the outcomes are pleasing to the Lord, we must take responsibility, and so we must worry about the future. Not for ourselves but for Kṛṣṇa. Okay, but Kṛṣṇa is not pleased by the outcomes, He is pleased by attitudes in our hearts. If we think that outcomes matter – collected donations, sold books etc then we are slipping back into the karma-miśra-bhakti mode.

The argument can also be made that while Kṛṣṇa might be indifferent to our external achievements our guru clearly isn’t. Śrīla Prabhupāda clearly loved the results. True, but not if they were achieved without proper devotion. He loved the outcomes because they were results of his disciples’ devotion. We can’t try to cheat our guru or the Lord here – claim that because we have results we must also have bhakti. No, the guru sees devotion in his disciples and waits until this devotion fructifies. Buying these fruits elsewhere does not please him. If they are not results of bhakti they are worthless.

But enough of that.

If we realize that future doesn’t matter and concerns about it fade away from our consciousness, what is left? Only our past. It’s hard to explain how it feels, and it’s hard to maintain this attitude, but once the burden of worrying about the future falls off our shoulders one will never forget the feeling. We are so used to being under this stress we can’t imagine life without it. It exists, however, and it’s very very pleasant even without bhakti – it’s life in the mode of goodness, free of passion to achieve things in the future.

Life in goodness supposed to exist in the present, however, not the past. Past is for the mode of ignorance. That’s not how I mean to treat our past, however. I proposed to choose only what is related to Kṛṣṇa and forget everything else. A person under the mode of ignorance would dwell on the opposite set of memories.

On the spiritual plane a devotee feels the Lord’s presence all the time, it comes to him naturally. We, however, must force ourselves to remember about Kṛṣṇa. We don’t get to see His pastimes in real time, we have to refer to what we have read in Kṛṣṇa book or what we have heard from other devotees, and all these things come from our past.

I have a feeling that once we get actual spiritual realizations and actual appreciation for the Lord we’ll stop “remembering” stories, stop putting them in organized fashion, but rather focus on certain aspects of Lord’s nature, like Kṛṣṇa’s playfulness or His care about His devotees. I mean we won’t have to explain to ourselves all the events preceding the situation and so won’t need to remember how the story was told, we’ll only care about that particular moment.

We are not there yet, however, and so, instead of dreaming about the future, I propose to concentrate on our past while waiting for the past to fade away, too.

The central point of yesterday’s argument was that things we select from our past determine our reality. It will be subjective, but so what?

It was exactly a year ago that I wrote a few good words about Donald Rumsfeld. However unusual his conclusions were, his arguments made a lot of sense, too. Today it’s the turn of another Bush era strategist – Karl Rove, who is believed to be the aide in this quote (NY Times):

    The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.

The quote continues but it’s these words that interest me here. The common reaction is that Rove is a right wing neo-con lunatic and dismiss it out of hand but actually this position makes a lot of sense. When we act we create our own reality.

The problem with accepting this view is that people expect the same results as from their “objective” reality. Perhaps Rove expected the same results, too. Perhaps he thought that they could do whatever they want, create their own reality, and still come on top. It’s not how it works, however – their administration created their own reality alright but the results were unexpected.

We, however, know what the results of thinking about Kṛṣṇa are, and we are totally fine with them. Outsiders might measure them by their own yardstick and talk about us ruining our lives but we shouldn’t care. Let them have their “objective” reality and study and dissect it all they want, however judiciously. We WILL create our own reality, develop devotion to the Lord, and then skeptics can study that, too.

We should remember that solutions in Kṛṣṇa consciousness do not come from studying and weighing choices but from acting. Life is short, we can’t spent all of it on arguing why saṇkīrtana is theoretically better, that’s not very intelligent – we should take a chance, see that it works, and dedicate the rest of our lives to practicing.

Bottom line – we should create our own reality regardless of what the world thinks, and we can do it by meditating on Kṛṣṇa related memories.

Vanity thought #1042. Reality

What is real? What is not real? What is an illusion? Is there such thing as a “good” illusion in the material world?

Two days ago I wrote about clarifying our current situation and the conclusion was easy to accept – we are not as advanced as it might seem. It took a little time for this realization to sink in, however, there are implications there that I wasn’t expecting.

Let me start with an unrelated topic, though – ekādaśī. Last time it was nirjala, completely dry fast, and I didn’t like it very much, it gave me a headache. It’s acceptable a couple of times per year but living through it twice a month is a bit much for me.

We don’t have to abstain from drinking water, of course, but that is the purpose behind fasting on ekādaśī, there are not two ways about it. We can abstain only form taking grains but that is a concession, total fast is still preferable.

When this next ekādaśī came along I didn’t know what to do. There are several options here – do the usual ekādaśī, eat only fruit, ie uncooked food, it’s still filling, drink fruit juice to replenish the energy, there are plenty of calories there to survive through the day, drink only water, and observe a totally dry fast. I settled on water.

Hunger isn’t a problem, thirst isn’t a problem, but the headache still is. What should I do about it? Live through it? Why? What benefit of pushing myself through pain is there? What good does it do to anyone, Kṛṣṇa included?

While voluntary austerities are welcome in our sādhana, inflicting pain isn’t. Next time I should take fruit if not full meals.

Far more important question, however – are these ekādaśīs even necessary? Yes, Lord Caitanya demanded devotees to follow them but things have changed since then.

Śrila Prabhupāda didn’t see much value in fasting. He, of course, insisted on no grains but any other ekādaśī rule was considered as subservient to preaching. If we have books to distribute then we should not let fasting disturb our saṅkīrtana in any way. It’s just not that important.

Abstaining from grains maintains our purity and that seems to be the only thing that matters about ekādaśīs, whatever benefits they supposed to bring cannot be compared to the benefits from engaging in saṅkīrtana. Headaches or detoxing are obviously not part of our plan.

Going back to my original topic – is any of it even real?

Are things like long life, health and wealth that should come from observing ekādaśīs real? We don’t see any evidence of that. Maybe these results will manifest in the next life but that doesn’t make them “real” in our present. And if they are “real” even if we don’t perceive them then what about saṅkīrtana. Is it as real as ekādaśīs? Or is it similarly a long term investment in our next life that should be taken solely on faith?

One can object to defining “real” as something that can be perceived by material senses but I would argue that it’s the only kind of perception that is available to us in this life and, therefore, it forms the sole basis of our “reality”. Everything else is faith.

We take it on faith that Kṛṣṇa is there and that we might eventually reunite with Him. We have no evidence that any of this “Kṛṣṇa consciousness” is real. I would gladly welcome non-empirical evidence as well but there isn’t any, there’s only faith.

But what about “realized” knowledge that is supposed to distinguish our, genuine spiritual process from inferior faith-based religions? Don’t we feel Kṛṣṇa’s presence in our lives? Aren’t we persevering in our practice precisely because we feel that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is real?

I have my doubts.

Take following the regulative principles, for example. Practically anyone who sincerely takes to our process, especially to chanting, will quickly lose interest in meat-eating, drinking, gambling or sex. This is a fact, everyone can observe it, it’s reproducible, it’s scientific. It proves that our method works.

Does it, though?

Initial surge of enthusiasm usually subsides and old habits refuse to die. Defeating sex is nearly impossible in the long term for the vast majority of practitioners. Isn’t it proof that Kṛṣṇa consciousness doesn’t work?

The initial loss of taste in material matters can be explained differently, too. One doesn’t have to become a spiritualist to live a clean life. When people get excited about something they tend to lose taste in everything else. There are plenty of vegans, for example, and there are plenty of people who stay clear of gambling, and there are plenty of people who forget about sex, too. Not for long, of course, but neither do we.

Initial bliss can also be explained away. We aren’t the only ones who ignite people’s hopes and imagination and make them feel extremely happy. We aren’t the ones who invented the word ecstasy either.

Changes in our lives, even our growing attraction to topics about Kṛṣṇa, are not unusual. In the material world everybody eventually comes to like his surroundings. If we talk about Kṛṣṇa 24/7 we WILL come to like stories about Him, there’s nothing spiritual about it. In fact, it’s precisely why we must attend daily classes and read books – to make us like Kṛṣṇa artificially, to make it into a habit. It’s not a sign of actual spiritual awakening.

Once again, nothing in our lives proves reality of Kṛṣṇa. Placebo effect, self indoctrination, and similar psychological explanations are as good as our own. All we have is faith.

The purpose behind this argument is not to discourage anyone but to present another proof that we are only at the very first stages of bhakti, total kaniṣṭhas. At this stage we shouldn’t have anything else but faith and whatever else we might imagine will not be real.

Is faith real, though? Obviously it is, but the problem with faith is that it’s not based in reality and so it might change when reality changes. I accept illusion as reality here, too – material world exists, we just have wrong ideas about it.

Our contact with devotees, availability of our books, temples, and classes – all these things are outside of our control. Somehow it has been arranged so that we can support our growing faith in Kṛṣṇa but our karma might change its mind at any moment. In fact, at the moment of our death none of these facilities will be available anymore. We will be forced to perceive a different kind of reality and it might not be conducive to our faith. Will we remain devotees then? Probably not.

Truth is, we are not devotees even now. We will become devotees only when we get to serve Kṛṣṇa, only when we will get to perceive Him and relate to Him, only when He becomes “real” for us. We can’t force this on ourselves, it happens only by His own sweet will.

Only then our knowledge of Him will become realized, only then we can talk about Kṛṣṇa consciousness as being a “scientific” process rather then as a set of beliefs. This means that we have to fight the urge to declare so now, both to ourselves and to other people.

It doesn’t mean that preaching should stop but we should remember what forms the basis of our preaching – our faith in achievements of others. We succeed in preaching because Śrila Prabhupāda and our gurus carry Kṛṣṇa’s power, not because we are so self-realized ourselves. Surely, we have experiences to share, too, and they can be beneficial to others, but we should remember that they are not spiritual. These are not our experiences anyway, they are the works of material energy, time, and karma, hopefully acting under Kṛṣṇa’s direct control. We don’t contribute anything there, only our illusions.

Finally – what’s the benefit of understanding and accepting all of the above? Will it make anyone into a better devotee? Not necessarily. Understanding stuff does not automagically lead to spiritual realizations. Perhaps the best lesson to learn here is that we are not in control and are totally dependent on Kṛṣṇa. We do not make progress – Kṛṣṇa drags us along. Therefore, if He tells us to chant then that’s what we should do. Thinking and understanding things are secondary, and wasting time on trying to figure out one’s position on the spiritual ladder is just that – wasting time.

Vanity thought #370. Light hypnosis

I got interested in the topic of hypnosis about a month ago and I still haven’t done the necessary share of research but a few things already stand out.

Light hypnosis is one of them. Apparently people get into a state of light hypnosis all the time. It doesn’t produce spectacular effects for the amused audience and so no one really notices it, but it’s still, technically, an altered state of mind.

I don’t know what “altered state of mind” means exactly, one of the reasons hypnosis research is going very slow for me is that the language they use does not easily translate into the language we use when describing Krishna consciousness. Some of the features of the light hypnosis, however, are fairly easy to understand.

First of all, it all happens voluntarily and to enter into a light state of hypnosis a person just needs to agree to follow suggestions and go along. It’s more or less like a roleplay we take a bit more seriously.

We might become hypnotized by simply listening to a comedian with a sincere desire to laugh at his jokes. When taking these jokes apart in a sober state of mind they might not seem funny at all, but we know that if we let our mind to open up to the humor it will work.

Same thing happens with watching movies and even reading books – we know that we have to consciously step into the imaginary world in order to experience it in full. Once we are “in” we think and feel as if we were physically part of the stories. We cry, we laugh, we might even see the real world through the lens we put between our minds and the reality. We might even alter our behavior in line with what is suggested by the movies or TV shows, in fact it’s even expected to.

A hypnotherapist would do exactly the same thing – catch our attention and suggest new models of behavior. They treat smoking addiction and alcoholism and pretty much anything that can be controlled through one’s mind.

One of the common words to describe hypnosis is daydreaming. You are aware of where you are and what you are doing but you still let your imagination go and you follow it wherever it takes you. You can also snap out of it any time you want. It produces the same feelings and emotions and internal experiences as the real world and you are always conscious about it but decide to play along.

In the end your “real” persona undergoes some subtle changes, too, even when not in a hypnotized state. Step by step, little by little, your daydreams become a reality and make you a better (or worse) person.

When presented this way it sounds remarkably like developing our Krishna consciousness. We replace our “real” experience of the world with “suggestions” provided by guru and shastra and we walk around trying to see Krishna in everything. We, indeed, daydream about becoming devotees.

We sincerely hope that by following vaidhi bhakti, following rules and regulations, we eventually become real devotees, just like in our “dreams”, loving Krishna with all our hearts and without any ulterior motives.

We try to escape the reality, the world we perceive with our senses, and replace it with make believe world of Krishna consciousness. Without direct experience of Krishna both worlds are actually illusory but we know that if we don’t get hypnotized by Krishna we’ll get hypnotized by something else – that’s how we get our next bodies.

So the real choice not whether or not be hypnotized at all, the choice is who are we going to by hypnotized by and if we choose to be hypnotized by guru and Krishna we should remember that we can destroy it at any point, snap out of it and become gross materialists again.

Once again – there’s no “objective reality” for us, we are not the subjects experiencing the world in our own ways, we are objects for Krishna’s enjoyment. He will enjoys us either via His internal or external potencies.

Our smart choice is to go “internal” and never leave the state of hypnosis.