Vanity thought #1762. VC – ether, air, fire, water and earth

Link: “Mystic Universe: An Introduction to Vedic Cosmology”.

We got to a chapter I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I’m exaggerating, of course, but I bet when we all heard that even in Kṛṣṇa consciousness physical matter is made up of these five elements we thought to ourselves that this needs an explanation. For westerners Bhagavad Gītā is not the first place to hear this “chemistry” and we’ve never taken it seriously before. Not when it appeared in the Bible nor in any other ancient religion of philosophy. The author says that this understanding of ether, air, fire, water, and earth comes from Greeks and they thought that these were the substances making up the world. Greeks also gave these substances forms but never explained how they interact with each other and how the combinations of forms and substances occurred. Perhaps some scholar of Greek philosophy would disagree here but it doesn’t matter. One way or another, we now treat this “science” as extremely naive because we figured out molecules, atoms, electrons and even small quantum particles. Water is H2O, not some primary substance, idiots.

When I heard that Bhagavad Gītā insisted on the same classification I put it aside as something to resolve in the future and, as I learned more about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as something not important at all. Then I heard a simple explanation and I put my mind at ease and never thought of it again, until now. The explanations was, and I think I’ve typed it up here once already, that even an atom has all these material elements present in it. It occupies space – ether, it has moving electrons – air, it contains energy – fire, it has the force that glues it together – water, and it is made up of particles – earth.

The solution to this ancient dilemma is that Gītā and, I suppose, Bible, too, classify matter differently. It’s a different description of the same thing and based on this description it’s possible to do yoga while “scientific” description gives us processed food and lasers. And now we’ve got to the chapter that offers a more rigorous description of material elements taken from Sāṅkhya. Hooray!

Instead of Greek “substances” material elements in Sāṅkhya are objectifications of sensual properties, which makes them more of a “form” rather than “substance” – if we think of a form as a description of an object. When we describe sensual properties in Sāṅkhya we also create “forms” and they become gross elements.

Just like everything on the semantic tree of the universe these elements are produces by adding details to preceding concepts. Elements are produced from sensual perceptions – sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. This properties of perception are, in turn, are produced from senses – eye, ear, tongue, skin, and nose. These senses should not be confused with bodily organs in modern science. Senses are produced from the mind, mind comes from intellect and so on. In other words, intellect dispassionately observes all available distinctions but to observe only one selected object mind is born. When more details are added and mind alone becomes not enough to observe the object senses are born. Senses are a wonderful thing but with more details we get sensations, and what are sensations without sense objects? Each material element, subtle or gross, is created by exploring and expanding on the previous one.

We can also describe this process as objectification of meanings. The author here uses an idea of an apple, which is a meaning, and we can comprehend it by the mind. For this meaning to become perceivable, however, it needs a property of being seen, smelled, touched, and tasted. To become seen the apple must have form, color, and size. For the color to be perceivable it must have hue, saturation etc. For hue to be perceivable it needs to be a combination of primary colors such as greed, red, and blue. This is an example of the hierarchical process of objectifying meanings step by step that can be observed even in modern framework.

In Sāṅkhya there’s a different hierarchy, however, which I’ve never heard before even if the words are familiar. The property of being seen, touched or smelled etc is called the “sense” and it has three parts: subjective (ādiatmika), objective (ādibhautika) and their connection (ādidaivika). Subjective part is the ability to sense, the objective part is a corresponding property in objects, and their connection is enacted by karma and time. Together these three produce sensations experienced by the observer.

What we heard is that these words – ādiatmika, ādibhautika, and ādidaivika – describe three-fold material miseries. The transliteration, however, is different – miseries have adhi- in the beginning rather that ādi- as given here. I thought I should mention that to avoid the confusion. The miseries pertain to the same sources – our own bodies, other beings, and demigods/”forces out of our control”.

Further division of the senses produces properties which subdivide each type of sensation. Sight, for example, is divided into hue, brightness, saturation etc. When these properties are further objectified they produce values, like red, blue, and green for color, and at the last step of this subdivision we get gross elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth. This isn’t very clear but the author mentions tanmātra here, which literally means “form only”, and it includes all the above mentioned subdivisions for all the senses. I understand that abstract concepts like hue or pitch or temperature are part of tanmātra and when tanmātra is given values we get actual matter like ether, air etc. This needs to be contemplated further.

If this is not confusing enough yet, there’s another division of the elements in Sāṅkhya into manas, prāṇa, and vak. Everything described so far falls under vak and it’s the vak that has subjective, objective, and connecting division, which means the property of being seen is different from the ability to see, or that the property of being visible is different from property to perceive the sight. Other senses are divided into ādiatmika, ādibhautika, and ādidaivika, too.

All these properties lie dormant unless activated by prāṇa and senses, therefore, are not the cause of vision but rather prāṇa is. Prāṇa, in turn, is subordinate to manas, or desire for vision without which sight does not become activated. This sequence has already been discussed in the previous post on Vedic cosmology – mind makes choices and prāṇa enacts them, but in this context it’s important to note that our senses perceive not what IS but what WE WANT. There’s no objective physical world out there, as we usually assume. Physical matter – sense objects – are a product of OUR desires instead. And, of course, they are restricted by what we deserved – karma.

The chapter is nowhere near the end and I’ll continue with it next time.


Vanity thought #1206. Hrisikena hrisikesa sevanam

This is the very definition of bhakti as Lord Caitanya taught Rūpa Gosvāmī. Originally from Nārada-pañcarātra, it appeared in Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Bhakti-Rasāmṛita-Sindhu and then Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī included it in Caitanya Caritāmṛta (CC Madhya.19.170):

tat-paratvena nirmalam
hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-
sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate

‘Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. One is freed from all material designations, and one’s senses are purified simply by being employed in the service of the Lord.’

It’s the first part that interests me today – engaging senses in the service of the master of the senses, Kṛṣṇa. How do we go about it?

For so many years I didn’t give it a second thought. Take your senses and engage them in service. Want to dance? Dance in front of the Lord. Want to sing? Sing Hare Kṛṣṇa. Hungry? Eat prasādam. Want to hear something interesting? Sit in Bhāgavatam classes. Want to control people? Go out and preach. Want to make tons of money? Go and do it for Kṛṣṇa. Want to raise family? Marry a devotee.

Or reflect on the śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ verse (SB 7.5.23-24), it lists nine ways we should engage our bodies in service of the Lord. Or dive into sixty four limbs of devotional service from Bhakti-Rasāmṛta-Sindhu. Easy, right?

Take it one step further – do all those things even if you don’t want to. Force the senses into Lord’s service, slowly and steadily they’ll develop the taste and it will become easier.

So, what’s there to think about?

The basics, actually.

When I think of doing these things I approach them as if I was a master of my senses. I have a tongue and I want to voluntarily engage it in Lord’s service. The problem is that it’s not my tongue to begin with, it belongs to the Lord, always had, always will. It’s not mine to sacrifice.

This is not my body and these are not my senses why am I laying claim to Lord’s property? How gracious of me to offer it back to Him! Like a thief who wants to sell you things he stole from you. What nerve!

I don’t think I will stop identifying with my body and my senses any time soon so this exercise is largely theoretical but all our Kṛṣṇa consciousness starts from theory, starts from faith. I might just as well start contemplating what to do with Lord’s senses once I see them as such, and I can start small, no problem.

When I chant, how to make it pleasing to the Lord? How to make sounds produced by “my” body appealing to Him? How can I see lungs, voice cords, tongue, and lips as His? How can I see them acting under His control for His pleasure? What is my contribution there?

I am not a doer, I am not the one who makes “my” heart pump blood, my lungs pump air, and my voice cords move. Usually I “control” my tongue and lips, I can also turn my voice on and off, maybe stop breathing, but generally these actions are done subconsciously, and I have zero control over my heart and other vital organs without which chanting would be impossible.

If we think about it we should clearly see that we are not in control of our bodies, it’s only an illusion. At first we see senses following mind and intelligence, we don’t identify ourselves with our mouths or hands. It takes a little more intelligence to understand that mind doesn’t act on its own, and yet a little more to realize that intelligence also depends on memory and instructions, and eventually we should see that we are not our mind and intelligence, so that’s gross and subtle bodies out, save for the little problem of the false ego that we can’t even see.

We still feel that we make choices and act on them but if we consider it carefully, all our choices are dictated externally and all our actions are carried out by external agents. It only FEELS that we are in charge.

So, can we engage our senses in Kṛṣṇa’s service? What is this “we” I’m talking about? Mind? Intelligence? False ego? Spirit soul itself?

When we develop material taste for things like kīrtana and prasāda there are no negative reactions in our minds and everything feels smooth but that’s only OUR perception, not Kṛṣṇa’s. If we learn to tolerate urges of our minds we won’t pay attention to how it feels anyway and we’ll understand that service is beneficial whether we like it or not. That would be satisfying to our intelligence but it would still be OUR intelligence, not Kṛṣṇa’s. How to please Kṛṣṇa?

Perhaps we should learn to look at our senses as external, as if we were decorating a Deity – take this flower and put it there, take this crown and put on Deity’s head and so on. We would see how Lord’s paraphernalia is being engaged in His service, except instead of dresses and garlands it would be tongues and minds.

Hopefully, we don’t try Lord’s ornaments on ourselves, this is what we should stop doing with “our” senses, too. It’s a lot more difficult but we should remember it in rare moments when we are aware of the situation – these are not our senses, they are Kṛṣṇa’s, they are meant for His pleasure, not ours.

There’s still a question of doing things, though. Seeing senses as Lord’s paraphernalia still assumes that we are free to do with them whatever we want. The next step should be admitting that we are not doing anything at all, we are just observers. By Lord’s mercy this tiny area of material creation is somehow engaged in chanting and dancing, we can only appreciate this engagement, not claim it as our own achievement.

Then there’s a question of our senses doing stupid things. When we chant it’s easy to be grateful but what about sleeping, when we are quiet, or arguing with our wives? Why would the Lord make us do all the things that do not bring Him any pleasure? Karma, we say, but karma works only for us, conditioned living beings, it doesn’t do anything for the Lord. We can tolerate it, fine, but what’s the value of it from Kṛṣṇa’s POV? What does it do for Him?

Perhaps the answer is that on paramahaṃsa level everything looks as perpetually connected to the Lord. Due to immaturity we make distinctions between service and non-service, distinctions which do not exist for pure devotees. They literally see Govinda Himself everywhere they look. We see heretics and infidels, demons disguised as vaiṣṇavas and what not but they see only the Lord and His various energies. Everything is perfectly engaged every second of the day.

We can’t imitate this vision and so we should start somewhere closer to us. Everyone is different, there’s no single prescription suitable for all cases, so we should be honest and sincere and try to do what we can.

Actually, there are instructions suitable for all people at all times – śravaṇaṃ kīrtanam Viṣṇoḥ! Can’t go wrong with that. The difference I’m talking about is in local application, in developing better attitudes when we do exactly same things as every other devotee. Right now for me it’s about trying to see “my” chanting as Lord’s energies doing all the actual work. I’m not very successful at it and I don’t understand why “my” mind needs to wander all over the universe while “I” am chanting but I’ll keep trying, maybe the Lord will give me enough intelligence to understand His plan here. Next week it might be something else.

Vanity thought #1187. Lord of the gap – where is He?

Yesterday I talked about “God of the gaps” concept which is materialistic in origin. Even if it was first mentioned by Christians they meant ever diminishing space for God and rejected the idea. “God of the gaps” has become a name of the logical fallacy, nothing to do with God per se.

And yet recently I thought that having the Lord of the Gap reveal Himself would not be such a bad idea. Of course it’s not the kind of gap that is meant by scientists.

I mean the gap between Kṛṣṇa up there and us down here. We can’t reach Him, He doesn’t listen to us, and yet we pray to Him all day long. Normally we say that Kṛṣṇa certainly hears our prayers and He is fully present in His name but I mean the kind of personal relationships with have with individuals here.

We call someone and that person turns to us, sometimes we can mention the name of our powerful benefactor and it would open doors for us as his dependents or representatives. Here we use the name to communicate with that person directly but it’s not the same with Kṛṣṇa.

We know what Kṛṣṇa does whole day, we know who His friends are, we know His interests, we know where He spends His day and we know where He spends His nights, too. And it’s not here and not with us.

Imagine that He really listens and takes interest – should we call Him in the middle of the night, interrupt His rāsa dance, and ask Him to attend to our toothache? Is it what we expect Him to do with His life? On our materialistic level of consciousness there could not be a relationship with Him, so there’s a gap.

One could argue that Kṛṣṇa already bridges this gap with His puruṣa incarnations. There’s Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu to monitor the well being of the universe and He also enters into the heart of every living being. Isn’t it enough? There’s also the Deity form of the Lord and there’s the Holy Name. Isn’t it enough?

Umm, not really, to be totally honest.

Only Lord Brahmā can address Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu directly, all the demigods can only accompany him. Only most advanced yogīs can the Lord within their hearts, it’s not for us, and the Holy Name still remains just a sound.

I don’t think we can expect the Supersoul to show Himself to us as He is, and we don’t even know what the Holy Name would look like if we ever achieve success in chanting it. Would it be Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma, and Hari? Would there be Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī? We never even picture all three of them together, in whatever combination.

Afaik, none of our ācāryas described what our mahamantra looks like on the transcendental level, if they’ve ever seen the Lord in the Holy Name they didn’t describe it in detail, or when they did they described Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, far away from our lives here.

So the gap still remains and it’s not filled by the Lord yet.

Sometimes the Lord appears personally – that could be called filling the gap. There are no scheduled avatāras any time soon, however.

We can also meditate on the universal form of the Lord, see Him in the taste of water or fire in our stomachs but I don’t think it would really help. On that note – the Lord is also the ability in men (BG 7.8). We don’t normally give any value to people’s prowess in whatever materialistic field they succeed but here Kṛṣṇa says that this ability is Him, too.

Maybe we should consider it carefully next time we meet with materialists. They are all successful in one field or another, for most of them the level of success is relatively low but it’s always there, and it’s Kṛṣṇa. We think it’s just karma or manifestation of their materialistic desire to rule the world but it’s also Kṛṣṇa.

Kṛṣṇa is the one who makes potheads into responsible fathers, Kṛṣṇa is the one makes presidents out of otherwise unremarkable men, Kṛṣṇa is the one who makes losers into breadwinners. Whatever we happen to achieve in our lives – it’s Kṛṣṇa, not us. Same is true for everybody else so, perhaps, we should learn to see everyone as carrier of Kṛṣṇa’s power, not as successful individuals in their own right.

They claim it for themselves, of course, as we claim our success as our own, too, but it’s Kṛṣṇa. He is the one who lends some of His power to the material bodies we identify ourselves with.

Well, that’s one way to feel the gap, and a good one, too, but it’s not enough. It would be nice if we could look at everyone and see Kṛṣṇa’s power behind them but that’s just a tiny part of Him, we need more.

We need Him to fill our lives with His presence, in whatever form, Deity, guru, devotees, books, chanting, whatever works. And we need to learn to see all those things as Kṛṣṇa, not as separate phenomena.

Will there be a day when we see Him everywhere, really see Him, in whatever form He choses to relate to us? When that day comes the gap will disappear.

So far, Kṛṣṇa has been conspicuous by His absence, which is fine, too, but sometimes having Him in our lives would be great. I guess it’s okay to realize that all we see around us is the material nature and wish to see Kṛṣṇa instead but, in a way, it would be imitation of Lord Caitanya. His feelings of separation from the Lord were real, I’m not sure about ours.

So, when I wake up in the morning and come downstairs – Kṛṣṇa isn’t there. I might murmur the mantra under my breath but I can’t feel Him in the sound either. Where is He? As I go about my day I see tons of stuff that is unrelated to Him. Sometimes I sigh, most of the time I embrace my life enthusiastically even if Kṛṣṇa isn’t there. What else can I do? I forget to restrain myself and I don’t think it’s even possible.

We say the answer is that we should engage our senses in the service of the master of the senses but if we don’t see our master then it will remain just empty words, it doesn’t feel like we are engaged correctly.

We can’t expect Kṛṣṇa or our guru to micromanage our lives either. They are not going to be there every time we do something with our senses. Well, Kṛṣṇa takes prasādam personally but that is also not how it feels most of the time.

We do all these things mostly on faith that one some level they work, and they do, but wouldn’t it be so much better if we actually saw the Lord engaging with us? Doesn’t have to be Kṛṣṇa Himself with a flute and a peacock feather, whatever form is more convenient for Him is fine, but I wish the Lord filled this gap one way or another. I hope it’s a legitimate plea to make.

Vanity thought #888. Gift of life

Generally, we understand our duties and responsibilities in our sadhana as conditioned beings, meaning we see ourselves as our bodies and it’s as these bodies that we try to engage ourselves in Lord’s service.

We think *I* have to get up for mangala arati, *I* have to read books, *I* have to go on sankirtana, *I* have to honor prasadam, it’s *me* who has to become a servant, it’s *me* who has to think about Krishna, it’s *me* who is failing in his service and it’s *me* who is getting rewards.

We accept the difference between ourselves and our bodies only nominally, which is to be expected because we are, indeed, conditioned beings, but eventually this has to change.

Let’s try to look at the situation in a different way.

As of now our understanding is that there’s us as spirit souls and us as material bodies and we are bound together, and then there’s the Lord who has to become the object of our worship. In this model *I*, the soul, has make *my* body into an instrument of service. The Lord and His service become desirable but still external to the unity of me and my body.

There’s nothing wrong with this per se and this is exactly what is recommended and prescribed to us by our acharyas but this understanding does not fully reflect the reality, I’m afraid it’s only a temporary arrangement suitable for our conditional nature but it’s not absolute. It’s like “well, if you think yourself as your body you might just as well assume that you are Krishna’s servant, it’s better for you this way” advice.

The reality is that Krishna is not external to our soul-body pairing but that we first and foremost connected to Him, and then, by His grace, we are connected to our bodies.

Instead of “me – my body – Krishna” the arrangement should be “me – Krishna – my body”. This could then be extended to “me – Krishna – my body – Krishna” but it’s the first two links in this chain that we have to get understand thoroughly. In fact it’s only the first one – soul to Krishna, that is really needed but since we insist on being these bodies the second link will also be present and in need of proper understanding.

When we investigate our bondage to this world we are told of this chain: soul – false ego – intelligence – mind – senses – sense objects. This is correct in its own way but it excludes Krishna completely and this might be the reason we think that the Lord is external to our bond with our body.

Another way to understand our bondage is to realize that without Krishna there’d be no false ego, there’d be no material energy at all, there’d be nothing for us to misidentify with and there’d be no illusion to take shelter of.

When we imagine the Lord being situated in our hearts we don’t visualize His presence in relation to our false ego. We understand that our subtle body roughly corresponds to our gross material body and so the Supersoul naturally is “inside” it but I don’t think we see Him as being “inside” of our false ego covering, too.

The common metaphor, about two birds sitting on the same branch, shows the first bird, us, as being separated from the second bird, the Supersoul, already. We don’t see the second bird and don’t pay attention to it because we are separated by our false ego, thinking ourselves to be enjoyers of the fruit. In this visualization there’s us, there’s our false identity as a bird, and only then there’s Krishna.

I don’t think this is the correct way to extend the metaphor, though.

We should remember that we can enjoy the fruits of the tree, ie our karmic work, only by the grace of the Lord and through the arrangement by demigods, so the Lord is not external.

We think of demigods as shiny powerful beings in far away places and that might be correct, but their presence is extended all through our bodies. We can’t breath without them, we can’t eat without them, we can’t see without them. They have complete control of both our sense organs and sense objects we connect with.

Sights and sounds might exist independently from us but without demigods providing power of sight and power of aural reception we will not see or hear anything at all. It is them who give “life” to our bodies, make them interact with the world and keep us in resulting illusion.

Demigods, of course, are Krishna’s agents and we are told not to bother with addressing them directly but go straight to the source. There’s one very edifying verse with even better purport in Srimad Bhagavatam in this regard (SB 2.4.11)

When Śukadeva Gosvāmī was thus requested by the King to describe the creative energy of the Personality of Godhead, he then systematically remembered the master of the senses [Śrī Kṛṣṇa], and to reply properly he spoke thus.

The purport is full of explanations of why and how it was done, describing the internal thought process of pure devotees who:

  • not think that they can do anything independently.
  • ..think that they can speak only what they are induced to speak by the Supreme Lord,..
  • The senses are instruments, and elements are ingredients, all endowed by the Lord
  • No one is free to act freely and independently, and as such, one should always seek the permission of the Lord to act or eat or speak..

Sukadeva Goswami is as perfect devotee and as fully liberated soul as they come. He does not have false ego, he does not see the Lord as external to his soul-body connection, and, consequently, he does not think “I will engage my body” but prays to the Lord to enable his body to act instead.

Srila Prabhupada perfectly captures this mindset here: “ should always seek the permission of the Lord to act or eat or speak..”

This means every time we want to observe interactions between our sense organs and their sense objects, even in “ideal” situations when we see the Lord as the ultimate enjoyer of such interaction, we should try and move Him from the end of the chain to its very beginning. We should remember Him and seek His permission for the said interactions to take place.

We should think of Him before we put each morsel of food into our mouths, we should think of Him before we open our mouths to say something, and we should think of Him before we decide to think, too. This might sound perplexing but our ability to remember Krishna does not depend on our minds so it is possible to “think” of Krishna without having what we call “thoughts” in our brains.

This attitude will make us go a long way towards self-realization and I’m sure it will make us appreciate the “gift of life” as something granted to us by the Lord rather than something we possess intrinsically. We might be eternal spirit souls inside but what we see as life here is not us and is not manifestation of our true, spiritual nature. It’s a gift, an illusion provided to us by Krishna for our enjoyment, and so we should treat it as privilege, not as right, and certainly not extend our ownership over it.

Vanity thought #595. Not to despair

My yesterday’s post ended on a somewhat discouraging note. Not to despair – the solution is rather simple.

Five hundred years ago the path to spiritual perfection was only through renunciation of worldly pleasures, no one even thought that he would achieve liberation while being attached to and fully engaged in his material life. That was just ridiculous.

Lord Chaitanya changed all that through introduction of harinama sankirtana, his followers and Six Goswamis exposed the cheating phalgu vairagya and taught us that there’s no link between pure devotion and material affairs, ie a pure devotee is not affected by whatever it is he is doing externally.

This is also a “realization” of many of the present day devotees who, in their “maturity”, are skeptical of brahmachari enthusiasm and reject it as only an initial stage of progress that has to be superseded by purifying our sex desire through family life.

On the surface it would appear that Lord Chaitanya completely revolutionized spiritual practices but that’s only one way to look at it. His revolutionary introduction of sankirtana does not allow for blind rejection of everything else that is taught in Srimad Bhagavatam.

Pure devotees are very very rare and for most of us the old rules still apply – you cannot make any progress while remaining attached to sex life. In fact it was devotees who tried to combine the two who were rejected by the Lord.

Oh, Lord Chaitanya is so mercifyl, we say, but go ask Chota Haridasa who had to drown himself in Ganges. There’s no mercy for those who want sex.

Likewise, we have grown to believe that we can do whatever is it we are doing, add some chanting to our lives, and that would be enough. No, that would be only the beginning. To actually succeed in our chanting we have to completely give up all material aspirations – career, income, families – everything. We can’t want that and be devotees at the same time.

So, if the dilemma is that we can’t live in a society and not be exposed to contamination and therefore we can’t follow our principles the answer is that it’s true. We can’t live in a society and not be contaminated. We have to live only among devotees in places where the Lord is worshiped by everyone every minute of the day. Lord Chaitanya hasn’t changed that.

The only way we can remain among non-devotees and maintain our purity is if we are one hundred percent engaged in preaching. If we are preaching we can go to shopping malls, pass through airports, fly first class – whatever. If we are not preaching then all the same things will completely screw up our devotional lives.

A devotee who is concerned only with the spreading of Krishna consciousness does not think about his job even though he might have one, he does not think about his financial situation even though he spends money everyday, he does not think about enjoying his wife even he sees her everyday and makes sure she has a happy and protected life. He has no interest in those things, he lets them sort themselves out by the laws of karma and with full trust in Krishna’s protection.

So, the short answer – if we want to live a “normal” life and make devotional progress, it’s not possible. The only way we can appear to have a normal life is if we are fully engaged in preaching, in sankirtana, but in that situation we will not have a desire to live a normal life anyway, it would be happening on its own and we would think of it as a curse.

Given that there aren’t enough places populated solely by devotees, and first class devotees at that, and that vast majority of us have to live within the society, the real question is how to completely engage ourselves in sankirtana and preaching.

Chanting our rounds is a good start but it still takes only ten percent of our lives, we need to do more, and sankirtana is always expanding so in our search for service there will never be any rest. So, if you don’t have a service now you can at least busy yourself with looking for one, thinking about something to do for Krishna. It’s not as good as actual service but it’s a step.

Actually, it would appear that it’s not even a first step, it’s a step we must take every day, every minute of our lives – what more can I do for Krishna? I’m not doing enough to expand the mission of Lord Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada, I’m not qualified to be entrusted with the service but I want to do something anyway.

So, there’s no room for despair, we should rather see our situation in terms of progress, not in terms of achievements. The only caution we should take is that our progress doesn’t lead to a dead end, an impossible situation like a “sense-enjoyer devotee”.

That’s why protecting our siddhanta from impurities is very important, I guess even if we ourselves don’t live up to it we should still know what the proper standards are.

Vanity thought #484. Goldilocks snare

There was always something wrong with that Goldilocks girl. At first she seemed like a proper heroine of the story – young, attractive, adventurous, we all cheer for her right up to the end but when the story is over we are left to wonder – why did she eat someone else’s food? Why did she make a mess of someone else’s house? And if we talk about lessons learned about not taking what does not belong to you – where’s the lesson? She gets away!?!

As aspiring spiritualists we take rather different lessons from it, as actually many professionals do – getting things “just right”.

For us it’s about controlling our senses – not giving too much, not giving too little. One might say that we should just engage them in Krishna’s service but that doesn’t solve our immediate problems, like how much prasadam we should honor.

On one hand taking prasadam is a service, there can’t too much of it. On the other hand there’s also the obvious service to our own senses, too. Maybe in the beginning no one restricts our prasadam intake but as we mature we start to hear about proper diet, proper schedule, proper balance, proper amount of food and lots of other rules and regulations regarding eating.

Same thing happens with the amount of sleep, amount of clothes and practically anything else. That is the beauty of sadhana bhakti – you can always improve on something, always find new ways to engage your senses in the “just right” amount.

Buddhists that I mentioned a couple of times earlier have also perfected control of their mind and senses. Not just for practicing monks but for the general population as well, especially followers of Theravada school. They have their “middle path” principle – not going into any extremes, not letting either renunciation or gluttony to take over, giving the senses just enough to stay satisfied and not bothering their meditation.

It seems this “just right” approach of Goldilocks is the right way to maintain one’s body in the material world.

And yet I still think it’s a snare. Why?

Because by taking control over how much sensual enjoyment/engagement we can afford we first of all become controllers. We do not become devotees by trying to control our bodies and the world around us. Just look at any devotee who is perfecting his sensual control thing, pretty soon you’ll notice that it’s not only about his own senses but it’s also about controlling the environment, at first avoiding unfavorable situations and then about building favorable surroundings himself.

Usually the excuse is about developing mode of goodness, that once you are established in the mode of goodness it’s easier to maker progress. Then it becomes: “You cannot make spiritual progress unless you establish yourself in the mode of goodness first”.

That might have an element of truth in it but the core symptom of devotion is relinquishing control and surrendering to Krishna.

It is also true, and it’s said so in Bhagavat Gita (BG 18.54), that devotional service begins AFTER reaching the brahma-bhuta stage, but I still think the life is too short to waste it on trying to control the material energy, even with the best intentions.

I mean if you really really want to control something – do it for Krishna, specifically for advancing the mission of Lord Chaitanya. If we manage to bring a smile to Mahaprabu’s lips our life would become unrivaled success. Life is short, why should we spend it on pruning and preening ourselves?

Moreover, this is Kali yuga, we will never succeed in elevating ourselves to brahma bhuta level. We might find some limited success while our bodies are strong but sooner or later this power to control will slip out of our hands. Look closer at all the techniques for staying in the mode goodness – they are all about prolonging our ability to control our senses, trying to extend our lives and experience the happiness of sattvic existence indefinitely.

What has it got to do with Lord Chaitanya? He told us to chant and to spread the glory of the Holy Name, nothing else.

Once there was a brahmachari in Gaudiya Math who maintained the highest possible level of personal hygiene, washing his hands and feet over and over again. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati told him that ours is not a bathing movement, we should use all the time we could spare on Hari-katha, not on anything else.

My point is that trying to control our senses is a treacherous path, first, because we are not controllers, it’s a very wrong attitude to develop, and second, because it takes away the valuable time that should be spend on chanting and thinking about Krishna, if we’ve got no other service to do.

So, Goldilocks’ “just right” principle is an attractive proposition and it can be utilized in spiritual practice but it is also a snare to deceive us into thinking that we can actually control our lives and that we should use the same methods as spiritualists of yesteryear who didn’t have lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya and His genuine Rupanuga followers.

Our only method is serving the Holy Name. Nothing else works, this is our core difference from yogis described in vedic literature. We can’t imitate them, we are followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, we achieve success only by His mercy, and His alone, not by any other method, however legitimate.

Oh, and original Goldilocks was an ugly old woman. She was transformed into a blond girl by a different author at a later time.

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.


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 #219. Born again.

This subject gave me considerable grief in the past couple of days – what happens when one dies and gets born again. What does the soul carry from one life to the next.

Actually, I don’t care that much, it’s not something we, as devotees, should be overly concerned about – we should be preparing ourselves NOT to be born again, ever, and we shouldn’t be making plan B in case that doesn’t work out. All these things are better left to Krishna, man proposes, God disposes, there’s no practical application in knowing the exact procedure of reincarnation.

There’s a matter of pride, however, I staked mine on saying that the soul goes alone, it turns out I’m most probably wrong and I want to make it right. Not by accepting the correct version, proving that I didn’t make a mistake. Such a fool.

I’ve learned quite a few things along the way, however, so there was some benefit from my stubbornness in the end.

My understanding always has been that the soul leaves one body and goes to the next. All that we accumulated in our lives becomes lost, all our possessions, all our family ties, all our expertise, experience – everything. Surely our present situation affects our next appearance but, basically, when you die you leave everything behind.

Turns out there’s an alternative version – that we take our subtle body with us, too. Outrageous, was my first reaction.

It all started with competition for the best answers to a common question – if there’s reincarnation then how come I don’t remember anything from my previous lives? A common answer is that these memories stay hidden so as not to overwhelm our gentle psyche. Basically the same reason we don’t know our future that is predetermined by the laws of karma – too much to bear.

I always thought it was a lame argument. Some people can deal perfectly well with predictions of their future, some people should be able to deal well with memories of the past lives, too. Maybe not at each and every moment of their lives but occasionally, when they’ve been told they have only a few months left to live or when they go through some allegedly traumatic experiences and need a real eye-opener to put their trivial problems in perspective.

Instead, the memories of our past lives are shut out for us forever regardless of the state of our minds. There are people who remember something from their previous incarnations and they don’t go crazy, too.

There must be another reason, I always thought. Recently I found one – when we die and get born again we do not carry any physical connections from one life to another, no receptacles for the memories. Even if there was no restriction on remembering our past lives we still have no means to carry the data from one life to the next. Sounds plausible to me but, as I said, some people say that we indeed carry something – our subtle bodies.

I didn’t remember ever reading anything like that so I set out to scout all relevant pages in Bhagavat Gita and finally found some – verse 15.8:

The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas. Thus he takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another…

In the purport Prabhupada says “It is stated here that the subtle body, which carries the conception of the next body, develops another body in the next life.”

The commentaries by acharyas in other vaishnava sampradayas are unequivocal, Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara sampradaya being a but more direct than others:

The purport is that wherever the jiva departs from a body and whenever it is compeled to accept another body the atma or immortal soul migrating from one body to another, arrives with the subtle forms of the mind and senses in tact to perform their functions through the physical body which has been allotted due to karma or reactions to previous actions.

This looks like a total defeat for my little theory, or does it?

I’ll leave the acharyas out of it for the moment and concentrate on Prabhupada. He said that the soul carries “different conceptions of life”, nothing about mind and senses at all. Different conceptions of life could be impressions the mind leaves on the soul’s consciousness at the time of death.

That’s how I always thought it worked – the mind affect the consciousness, consciousness can’t be separated from the soul, however polluted it is, it’s inseparable part of the soul itself. In the next life a new body develops according to this particularly polluted consciousness, and it develops from the scratch, no need to carry anything physical, gross or subtle. In fact, the new mind develops according to the present material conditions – DNA, parenting, education, at least the mind as we know it. The living entity has been put into these conditions according to his consciousness and karma but I don’t see why the old mind should be present, too.

The reference to mind and senses come from the previous verse, Krishna doesn’t mention them here at all, he just says etani – all these, referring to the content of the previous sloka, 15.7:

The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.

Krishna talks about several things here – living entities are His fragmentary parts, living entities are conditioned, living entities are eternal, living entities struggle with six senses including mind.

When He says “all these” – what exactly does He mean? It’s not very clear. Prabhupada didn’t translate it as “six senses including mind” at all. He just said “different conceptions of life” as that follows logical progression of the thought. Logical in the sense that Krishna wasn’t concentrating on a particular composition of the material bodies, it was just one little aspect of what He was saying – my fragmentary parts, eternal, conditioned, and suffering. Six senses including mind was only one example of what our sufferings here are.

If Krishna was really enumerating all the reasons we suffer here He could have mentioned suffering caused by our bodies, other beings and the nature, or sufferings due to birth, death, old age and disease, sufferings due to the modes of passion and ignorance – there are so many reasons to be unhappy here.

If Krishna was preparing to describe what a living entity carries over to the next life he would have described our bodies in greater details – what senses, jnanendriyas or karmendriyas, and what of intelligence and false ego? It just doesn’t sound like it was His intention at all, not the subject of His concern at that particular point.

Following that logic I agree with Prabhupada not mentioning any details specifically, just “different conceptions of life”. Or maybe Krishna referred to eternal struggles in conditional life – in English they could also be covered by saying “all those”. Prabhupada didn’t want to commit one way or another – the point Krishna was making was about the way to reach His abode, not about specifics of reincarnation.

Other acharyas chose to focus on mind and senses, good for them.

This calls for some kind of reconciliation. Reconciliation between commentaries and reconciliation between current interpretations, too, but, most importantly, reconciliation between my pride and the truth…

Maybe the soul does take something with him when he travels from one body to another, however I don’t think we should take OUR literal meaning of what the senses and the mind are in this context. Literally speaking, taking senses with you does not make any sense at all.

Does taking the mind mean taking all the memories, all the skills, all the experience? No one is born with a mind of a grown man, no one is born with the memories of an old man either, and it’s not just because the new body is too small for all these things – when it grows up it doesn’t display them either, it collects new memories and skills.

Material science has largely proved that memories are stored in the brain – they might not be able to manipulate them yet but they can do crude things like enabling and disabling access to the memory areas via surgical or chemical interventions. Brain is not carried over, that much is clear.

Personally, I think that having consciousness is enough – all new body elements, gross and subtle, are supplied by the material nature according to the laws of karma and these new elements enable the consciousness to develop the new body.

Gosh, but then Prabhupada said that it’s the subtle body that develops the next body! Something must be carried over.

What about ghosts and going to hell? Ghosts, as far as we know, exist outside their bodies and they have memories of their lives. People having near death out of body experiences also don’t need brains to know what’s going on. Subtle bodies must have some kind of storage, too.

When people go to hell they, I presume, remember what they are being punished for. I’ve been told that Yamadutas torture people in their subtle bodies there and they get gross bodies only upon new birth.

Fine, but isn’t it also the common theme about the “point of no return” in all ghost stories? Wouldn’t it mean the point after which people lose their identities? The point where they are stripped of their subtle bodies and eventually get reborn?

At this point I’m leaning towards the theory that memories do not get carried over. I don’t see the need, I don’t see the evidence, and I see only a weak reference in the Gita that could mean a lot of things, the whole bank of memories from thousands and millions of lives is the last possibility, in my opinion.

The living entity itself who lived through all these lives must have the memories in its own, spiritual form anyway. Normally we don’t have access to this “spiritual” storage but that is not surprising – in the conditioned state we don’t know who we are, after all, and all remembrance and forgetfulness is controlled by the Supersoul. Sometimes these memories might come to the surface and manifest through our material bodies, like when people remember their past lives or start speaking in ancient languages.

On a related topic – when Krishna talked about being the cause of forgetting things He probably didn’t mean the functions of our material minds. Our minds can be trained to remember and they can be trained to forget. They can be trained to recollect things faster and they can be distracted to slow them down. That kind of manipulation doesn’t have any direct connection to Krishna, remembering something stored in our spiritual memory is another thing altogether – no one but Krishna has a control over that facility.

I guess He can easily remind us where we dropped our keys even if our minds resign in desperation, who can claim that such little miracles never happened to them? There are other cases that could be explained by the Supersoul unlocking some of our memories and forcing us to make some surprising connections and discoveries. To scientists it happens all the time – the solutions just appear our of the blue, or they dream them up.

Anyway, the definite resolution of this matter requires more references from the scriptures. Either answer to the question of not remembering our past lives is fine, I guess. I’m not comfortable with “You don’t remember because your weak mind wouldn’t be able to deal with it” explanation but it’s me, I don’t use it very often, if ever, maybe people who give this answer themselves find that it works just fine, I don’t know, I’m not in the position to tell them how to preach anyway.

If only I could subdue my pride and admit I had no clue what is really going on with reincarnation, the spiritual ABC. That’s my real problem, not the correct answer per se.

Vanity thought #133. Sweet sixteen.

I think I’be been blessed today.

Did my rounds early in the morning. First thing I woke up was to chant the mantra in my head, then recite Siksashtaka prayers while doing my daily ablutions, then immediately start chanting the rounds.

For the fist fifteen minutes or so it was pure bliss. My mind hasn’t woken up yet and there was nothing between the sound of the Holy Names and my heart. Then the mind started making is own remarks about how well I was doing but it was easy to push it back and ignore.

Eventually it found its way into my head but still it was the best sixteen rounds I chanted in ages. The contamination the mind brings to japa was so clearly visible and I hope to keep this impression in my mind forever. Hold on, that doesn’t make sense, but anyway, I think I’ve learned quite a lot about mind’s work and the difference it makes.

I’ve clearly seen how I succumb to its proposals, how I get led away by its reasoning and promises, I’ve tried to shut it up and ignore completely and I’ve seen the aftereffects of my betrayals – it was really like the dirt on the mirror of my heart, I just couldn’t hear the Names as clearly as I did before, I practically felt the film of pollution, the scum and the flotsam the mind leaves on my “clear” consciousness, damping down the sound of the Names.

Now I know my enemy a lot better and I know what makes it stronger – sense objects and sense gratification. Simply conjuring the images of sense objects sets off a chain reaction in my mind that is impossible to stop. I think I can state if with confidence – it’s impossible to stop the mind in pursuit of sense gratification. It’s an inanimate object, like water flowing down a decline on a surface or metal things attracted to a magnet. It’s just the law of nature, unbendable and unavoidable.

What’s the way out then?

Textbook answer is to engage the mind and senses in service of Krishna, that way it is not pursing my sense gratification anymore, it’s pursuing Krishna’s sense gratification.

For that reason we are served with prasadam and we have Deities and everything. In the beginning stages we are still engaged in our own sense gratification but association with Krishna eventually purifies our motives.

Well, that’s certainly true, eventually. Even for the purposes of chanting japa the mind eventually subsides. Today I caught it early on, while it was still sleeping. There are other cases when it’s not actively engaged in thinking up ways of sense enjoyment and nothing triggers the mind for a while.

That’s the perfect time to chant the Holy Names, perfect time to start and carefully guard myself from any intrusions. That needs a skill.

Remember the story of two monks crossing a stream? There was a woman there who needed help crossing, too. So one monk picked her up on his shoulders, carried her over, put her down and went his own way. Two hours later his partner finally couldn’t keep it anymore and berated his friend for touching a woman. “I’ve carried her on my shoulders for two minutes”, he replied, “but you carried her in your mind for two hours.”

Same happens when any sense object appears on the mind’s horizon. Out of a million things I see and sense every moment of my life something triggers a reaction in my mind, a need, a desperate desire to mull it over. What to do about that?

Try to suppress it and it might take all my energy for the next two hours, still concentrating on the same thing, thinking how to avoid it. That’s like difference between love and hate – both are equally absorbing in the same object, both are distractions.

Or should I try and solve the matter once and for all and hope my mind settles down again?

Say, I want to know the time. Once this need enters my mind it’s difficult to ignore – I can estimate what time it is, I can estimate how many rounds I chanted since last time I looked at the clock. I can estimate how fast I’m chanting each round, how fast I’m going to finish them and so on and so on. Lots of never ending calculations.

I could look at the clock right away and learn the time and satisfy the need in half a second tops. Problem solved. Or is it?

It actually depends on the initial motivation – what do I need the time for? Is it to calculate how fast I’m chanting, how many rounds I can finish during this session? How much time is left before I have to get up and do something else?

If I want to know the time because of any of these motives, chances are that looking at the clock is not going to stop my mind from thinking about it.

Perhaps the solution is to know the time frame exactly before starting chanting so that there’s no pressure of any kind. That means I have to arrange my life in such a way that there’s no time pressure on my japa at all.

Same goes for all other sense objects out there – arrange my life so that they don’t bother me. It’s impossible to avoid them all, that’s true, but there’s also a big difference between chanting in a quiet room and chanting on the sidewalk, watching life going by. The less distractions is obviously the better.

Pushing from the bottom level there’s an innate desire to act and enjoy. I can’t sit for a long time, for example. Somehow or other I must get up and pace up and down while chanting. Walking means coming into touch with more objects, it’s certainly more distractive than sitting with my eyes closed, but I can’t sit with my eyes closed forever either.

How to strike the balance? Meaning the optimum combination of hiding from sense objects and the burning need to walk around. Don’t walk around outside, for example, or stay in the same room as long as possible.

Another thing – when the mind thinks about something during japa it’s bad, but thinking about Deity worship is better than thinking about that thing she said about that guy and so on. If I must open my eyes and see something then looking at images of Krishna is better than stealing glances at magazines on a coffee table.

It all comes down to the same principle – engage the senses in some purifying activity, eventually the results will come.

The key word here is “eventually”. There’s no magic fix, both chanting and eating prasadam require a lot of time to achieve perfection, Krishna is out eternal Lord, I can’t think of my service to Him in terms of earthly time. Real service is eternal, when I get it I can wait forever, yugaitam nimishena* – time really flies when we think of Krishna.

That’s probably is as good test of progress as any – am I developing patience or not?

Speaking of today’s rounds, I can proudly say that time really did fly, it wasn’t an unending drag my chanting feels like on some other days.

As soon as I thought “proudly” the feeling has disappeared, of course, but that is also a valuable lesson.


* Actually the meaning is quite different, one second lasts like a yuga to a devotee, but you get my point, bhakti completely screws up the time scale.