Making Time to Remember Who We Are
I am speaking to you—who are reading these words—I hope “to” you, and not “at” you. (In other words, I am doing my best to be relevant.)
Do I expect too much of what appears to be merely words on a screen, or can I somehow be embodied in these words, allowing us to have a meaningful conversation, and even a relationship? (My conviction is that there is life in these words as I share my experience, and more so to the degree that I am embodying the teachings.)
Can I speak to you as a human being, since we all want the same things if we dig deep enough: to be happy, fulfilled, avoid suffering and too much pain; to love, and be loved; to have family, community, meaningful work, and a sense of deeper purpose in life than just existing? (We are ultimately souls, yet we have to use who we are now, to realize our eternal nature--the way out is through!)
Many people and religions seek commonality on the human platform or as a living organism sharing the Earth—and this is very important, since sometimes spiritually interested people play this down, and are aloof physically, artificially, giving the slogan, “You’re not your body,” to somehow magically elevate everyone beyond material needs (which they may look down on) to the soul platform.(There is theory and realization, and much harm can come from immaturity in the guise of spirituality.)
So yes, there is value in connecting on the physical level (not denying it, but using it) as various kinds of bodies and minds, or through our material conceptions like race, nationality, body type or age—yet that isn’t enough to really satisfy our soul (at least that is the premise by which I live and write)—part of reality, yes, but how to live authentically and honestly while also making progress to really understand our eternal soul—that this is who we are behind our eyes, and our diverse bodily coverings as we travel through countless births and deaths in every body and species? Always the same basic agenda of being happy, but in the process we get caught up in the struggle for existence, getting snared by externals and forgetting ourselves and God. This is actually THE problem of life, and all our other perceived problems stem from this.
How to permanently wake up to our spiritual nature and the reality of God, or Krishna, as the source of all?
Is that heavenly babe in the swimsuit, or that muscular handsome man, more real than your soul, or more important than your loving relationship with Krishna?
Spiritual knowledge, which is intended to fuel introspection and thinking differently than just about animal propensities, is valuable and is meant to change our life, by changing our self-conceptions, our ultimate goal, and what we’re preoccupied with. Writing can facilitate our self-understanding. Here is a sample of mine:
“Examining my desires and yearnings, I make the premise that they ultimately come from my soul—or the real me. Out of all petty, or even important desires, the hankering of the heart for love, stands supreme in my mind—is this because I grew up emotionally shut down, and then gradually became aware of my conditioned dullness, of being starved for loving stimulation (or is this a primal need?)—to feel intensely, to exchange deep love, feelings, my light and darkness with another who perfectly matches my desires (or can only God satisfy this?)—feeling I am like a blazing fire covered by what seems, at times, to be impenetrable layers of coverings that make me feel empty and devoid of feeling? How can I understand that the root of my desires, their proper object of fulfillment is my soul in a pure loving relationship with Krishna?”
The benefit of such written introspection is to dive more deeply into the spiritual truths we study in such books as Bhagavad Gita, or we could say this is one laboratory to apply spiritual theory. In order to do this, we have to make time for such introspection so we can look within while remembering our divinity—that we are consciousness plugged in to the material world virtual reality based on our physical birth and body—all those parts of opposites or dualities by which we generally define ourselves. We think we are a son or daughter, father or mother, black or white, rich or poor, smart of dumb, young or old, American, Indian, Chinese, etc.—we have all heard these things before, but the Vedic scriptures aren’t meant to be just entertainment. Yeah, it sounds good, at least at times, and for a while, when we are not distracted by pressing needs that seem more important than our soul, which is seemly abstract when our baby cries, or we have to study for the final exam, or we lose our job, and worry about money. We have created so many duties which keep us too busy and disturbed for spiritual cultivation, and we are impatient to finish reading these words. A hurried society with too many options, and now we have the Internet which can be an additional universe to become lost in.
I have found that what we think is important, we will make time for. So the writings of Shrila Prabhupada, his translations of Vedic scriptures, or the writings of the great saints in our Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, and my tiny attempt at writing, are all meant to convince us about the importance of making time for our soul, and our quest for enlightenment, which for a devotee of Krishna means to understand ourselves as an eternal soul who is related to Krishna in loving service (as the part is related to the whole).
And for you older devotees, I write to remind you (and myself) what we already know, but may be distracted from. In counseling devotees, my wife and I often find, that in the face of busy responsibilities, spiritual practices are often the first thing to be sacrificed, since we forget that our life is based on, and sustained by our connection to Krishna. We are forced awake in the middle of the night to feed or clean our child, or to work late, but it takes voluntary effort to chant our prescribed rounds of Hare Krishna japa in the midst of pressing concerns or emergencies. To conclude, begin, or inquire about, your spiritual journey to Krishna, or revitalize or revisit it after putting it aside. We can spiritualize our life by spiritual practice (sadhana), constant remembrance of Krishna, and in praying to become better. This is what association of spiritual people is meant to foster since human life is meant to uncover our soul. Hare Krishna!