Cleaning with a "Guest's eye"

Spiritual life is about change--and change for the better. Bhakti yoga in its nine main varieties headed by hearing and chanting about Krishna is meant to awaken our serving or dependent nature on the Lords of our hearts, Shri Radha Krishna. However, it takes time, effort and a whole lot of mercy. We have to keep on keeping on despite what appears to be a long time.

When we have guests for prasad (vegetarian food offered to Krishna) or some other reason, it is an opportunity to clean the house. I assure you that we do clean the house at other times, but for me, not as much as I should. Thus having guests is a happy occasion for more than one reason for my wife, who sometimes jokes that we should have guests every week--at least the house would get cleaned more and better.

While I was cleaning I was thinking of my mentality when I clean for guests rather than normally. Yes, I will happily tell you that we should consider our homes Krishna's house and clean accordingly, but I will embarrassingly (hesitantly) tell you that I am not always in this mood.

I guess there goes my pure devotee--always thinking of Krishna and acting for his pleasure--status, but if I don't speak about this I won't have what I thought is an interesting topic. I could always say that I am just making this up for your benefit and that I really do always ecstatically clean for Krishna--it might be tempting for my false ego, though fortunately my devotee nature won out--but then, I am sooooo humble to admit this! :-))

Back to my mentality during my cleaning--not a fascinating topic mind you, though I hope some lessons will be contained here. I look at the house from what I might think of as my guests perspective (a critical guest I guess)--if I don't clean this they might think we are slobs (hmmm, that sort of implies I am...eeeeekkkkk!!!!I don't think I am, but I could be cleaner for sure). And, as this is the first time these devotee have visited us, they might want "the tour". This means we had better clean upstairs just in case they go there. And this includes the other bathrooms up here as well (when it comes to answering the call of nature, we've got it together!).

Having an unmade bed or all sorts of stuff scattered on the floor, or my last weeks laundry, stacks of books, dusty shelves--you get the picture--it might not look very good. The idea is to have the house cleaned and prasad made ahead of time, so when the guests arrive we can be lounging around like this is the natural condition of the house.

This also reminds me of what it is like when we are selling a house. We generally try keep the house cleaner then usual, and at any time we might get a call that the Realtor is coming with clients in 30 minutes. Talk about a fast cleaning job! Now if I could combine my thoroughness with such speed that would be amazing. Our cleaning and time management problems would be solved!

So what is my point in revealing possible devotee tabloid material that I am not an ecstatic cleaner acting for Krishna with every breathe or broom stroke? Well my "guest's eye" is really how my "devotee eye" should work. You have seen pictures of our Deities. We certainly try to think that this is their house and we are their servants and caretakers. Yet we have the tendency to be forgetful, familiar and complacent--at least me anyway.

Of course to be fair, for busy devotees it can be hard to clean as much as we might like to. (Now isn't that a good excuse?) There are legitimate services that require to be done now, and so we may hurry in our cleaning or not get around to it until--well, we have guests or we can write our name in the dust or slip on harry dust balls on the floor. At the same time it is question of priorities which determine time management.

The house always "feels" better after a good cleaning. In spite of that if I have a choice to clean or write a blog which do you think is likely to get down (if no guests are coming)?. If I always cleaned instead of writing blogs I wouldn't have written as many as I have--perhaps that would be a good thing!

I am a detail person so when I clean I tend to be very exacting, moving furniture and moving things to dust etc, so when I sometimes think of cleaning I know it is at least two hours, and if I really get into it, three hours. Somehow growing up cleaning was considered a "chore" that had to be enforced and tied to an allowance to get me to do it. So part of my reluctance is old conditioning. Just think about our really deep conditioning--like feeling we are the enjoyer--and if it is hard to retire relatively simple conditioning like my gut level association with cleaning--i.e., ugh, work, giving up something enjoyable etc--imagine how difficult it is to get beyond the root causes of our embodiment.

Spiritual life is about change--and change for the better. Bhakti yoga in its nine main varieties headed by hearing and chanting about Krishna is meant to awaken our serving or dependent nature on the Lords of our hearts, Shri Radha Krishna. However, it takes time, effort and a whole lot of mercy. We have to keep on keeping on despite what appears to be a long time.

It will be helpful to have some perspective. Having been in the material world since "time immemorial"--basically forever by material understanding--how can we expect to change our nature overnight? Relatively it IS overnight, even if it takes hundreds of births (compared to eternity), and it could happen in this one birth!

Therefore we have to have good association of determined, faithful, serious, and joyful devotees while we stay the course of devotional service for our whole life. As Prabhupada taught us, "Just give this one life to Krishna." The older we get the easier it seems. For me being close to sixty giving my few remaining years doesn't seem so hard now. I can see my death approaching, and approaching old age is a time to reflect on thinking: "What have I done to have a spiritually meaningful life and to help others?".

For you who are young--you have to do whatever you can to solidly situate yourself on the path of Krishna consciousness. That will be relatively harder or easier depending on your past life stock of K.C. Sometimes we have to do something radical for our spiritual advancement, or risk a life of mediocrity. Everyone's situation is different, and at younger or older ages their may be different external strategies, whether to marry, remain in married life as a retired person (vanaprastha) or be a renunciate. In whatever order, status or Varna or Ashram we are in, we can practice remembering Krishna and serving him and his pure devotees with love. That is who we truly are.

Our story or "drama"--though we need to understand it--is not who we truly are. Isn't that liberating? Many people don't like themselves because of bodily identification. Because our physical life (story or drama) is bad we think we are bad. No! Our conditioning may be bad, but we are the pure and good soul. All good quantities are ours naturally. They are just uncovered through becoming purified, waking up and remembering who we really are: Pure soul, part of the Supreme good, Krishna. That is worth celebrating! And cleaning the house for! Maybe you can help me! I wouldn't want all the nectar for myself. Here's the vacuum! (Tom Sawyer comes in handy now and again)

Combined comments from old site

Fri, 03/27/2009 - 11:50 — Vickileigh

I want to thank you for your post. This is just what I needed to hear at just the right time. Lord Krishna does bless us and speaks to our hearts in many different ways.
Hare Krishna!
Your servant,