The Science of Consciousness and Intention: Shrimad Bhagavatam class Part 2
We are continuing our discussion of Shrimad Bhagavatam Third Canto, Chapter 14, “Pregnancy of Diti in the Evening”, verse 13. At the end of part one of this discussion I was speaking of how the consciousness of the parents determines the type of child they will attract, and also how our own consciousness/desires/attachments will determine the type of parents we receive in order to facilitate our desires and hopefully growth. It is fascinating and of crucial importance to think how these two major events are related. From this perspective we really can’t complain too much about our parents, since they are instruments of our karma. We have to learn to love, forgive and be generous with a spiritual vision.
New Age people say we “choose” our parents, and indeed we do choose them by our consciousness, desires and karma. Generally Prabhupada says we are forced to take certain parents, though sometimes he does say we “choose” them. Saying we are “forced” to have certain parents is a higher spiritual perspective, since from the soul platform, having a physical body is unnecessary, temporary and miserable. And really the “choice” of the conditioned soul is folly since we don’t remember who we are. From another perspective we are here in learn our lessons, which could be summed up by saying that we have to learn that our real happiness is in serving and loving God, not serving the lust, anger, greed, or in general, selfishness of the physical plane.
In this part of the Bhagavatam, Diti, was overcome by lust and enticed her husband, the sage Kasyapa to have sex at an inappropriate time. Though he warned her about the possible evil consequences, he uncharacteristically obliged her. Diti was also from a great family and was spiritually educated, so her enticement of her husband must have had some special purpose. Indeed, they were instruments to bring about the birth of the cursed devotee doorkeepers of Vaikuntha, who were to play the part of demoniac persons, facilitating the Lord’s desire to fight and other purposes.
The Lord accomplishes many purposes with his arrangement and activities, and in fact so many instructions and lessons can be gleaned from these incidents recorded in the Bhagavatam. Although the purpose of Lord was being served by the uncharacteristic indiscretion of higher beings (or devas), we also learn the science of consciousness, or how a certain soul is attracted by the mental conditions and desires of the parents—and that there are favorable and unfavorable times and methods for procreating children. We also learn of how powerful a force sexual attraction is, even with the great devas of heaven. It represents our desire to be enjoyers and think we are the center of life and that real happiness can be found in matter.
After they had union together, Diti, realizing her mistake, was repentant and begged forgiveness from her husband. Kasyapa, being a brahmana, was naturally forgiving, and informed her that although she would give birth to two terrible persons who would torment the Universe, they would be killed by Lord Vishnu, and she would have a grandson (Shri Prahlad) who would be a great devotee. While being very sad that she was the cause of sons who would bring about so much suffering to others, she knew the value of being “killed” by the Lord (such a person attains liberation), and also the benefit of having a great devotee in one’s family. That gave her some consolation.
We learn from this the power of sincere repentance, as well as the benefit of receiving the forgiveness and blessings of great souls. Many of us are unable to always follow religious principles—we have our moments of indiscretion as did Diti. Yet failure is the pillar of success, and we have to sincerely repent and pray for the blessings of great souls and the Lord so we can come to a stage when we are fixed in our religious vows and spiritual goals.
Lord Krishna instructs Uddhava: “Having awakened faith in the narrations of My glories, being disgusted with all material activities, knowing that all sense gratification leads to misery, but still being unable to renounce all sense enjoyment, My devotee should remain happy and worship Me with great faith and conviction. Even though he is sometimes engaged in sense enjoyment, My devotee knows that all sense gratification leads to a miserable result, and he sincerely repents such activities.” SB 11.20.27-28
There is also the famous verse in Bhagavad-gita where Krishna declares: "Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination."[Bg. 9.30]
There are different opinions among Vaishnava commentaries about how generous to understand this verse--though they are all generous. We can agree that it does indicate how much Krishna loves his devotees, and the power of devotional service to purify one's heart, despite our fallen condition. The sun can purify even filthy places without losing its potency, so how much more can the Supreme “Sun” of Krishna purify us! We are transformed or awakened by devotional service since the root cause of our embodiment--the desire to overlord the material world--is eradicated. This isn't meant to condone immoral behavior but to encourage us as to the potency of devotion so we will continue with our spiritual practices.
Devotional service or bhakti-yoga is not simple atonement for sins but awakens our dormant serving tendency and love for Krishna or God. This is why if a devotee slips on account of conditioned tendencies the purification process in addition to repentance and prayer is full engagement in Krishna consciousness. The means and the end are the same—service to Krishna and his devotees.
There is always hope if we are sincere, faithful, thoughtful and do our best in our spiritual practices and in understanding the spiritual philosophy about the nature of life, our embodiment, and our ultimate shelter at the lotus feet of Krishna and his saintly devotees. Though we may be weak, we shouldn’t give up no matter what. And we have to pray for help, and sincerely take shelter of the Lord through calling out his name in helplessness—that he is our only hope.
While we aspire for mercy, we also have to do our part. We have to endeavor to increase our devotional or service attitude. Of course it takes time, and we have to also cultivate patience and gradual determination, especially when we are in those “dry periods” when our taste for Krishna consciousness wanes. Practice makes perfect. Shrila Bhaktivinode Thakur speaks of the zig-zag process of spiritual advancement, or the ups and downs we experience on the path.
We can remember the endeavor of the child to walk--they doesn't give up till they succeed! Our determination is facilitated by keeping company of those who have it…ideally in person, but in any way we can receive it—even online association. Someway—somehow! And we can read the scriptures and hear the lectures of great devotees. When we have enough reasons to be Krishna conscious, we will figure out a way to do so! Where there is a will, there is a way!
It is required to cultivate a positive spiritual attitude, where we see the Lord as our dear most friend and well-wisher. Our attitude or intention is everything. Though our actions are important, even more important is our motivation, inner purpose and state of mind while we act. Ideally our outer actions will correspond with our consciousness or intention.
While chanting or engaging in other services, we want our inner mood to be devotional, or praying to be so, not acting for show or any selfish benefit.
In any case we have to begin where we are with whatever our motivation is--we don't begin as pure devotees, though that will become our primary aim when we appreciate the value of pure devotion and prema (love of Krishna). We have to keep on keeping on by understanding the value of our spiritual practices on the one hand, as well as the problems with a life lived only for temporary material gains.
As the common saying goes, our road blocks can become stepping stones. Krishna will help us, if we don’t give up, and continue our Krishna conscious practice of hearing and chanting the holy name and the other activities of bhakti. Eventually our life’s endeavor will be crowned with success. Many persons in history and in recent times have been successful and we can as well, even with our apparent disqualifications or worse. Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda and their agents have come for us, the very fallen people of this age of Kali--as exemplified by this picture of the deliverance of Jagai and Madai .