THE IMPORTANCE OF OPPOSITION AND LIFE REVERSES: In the lives of great persons there is always opposition and apparent road blocks in accomplishing their goals or mission in life. Whether through another person, an accident, their own body or mind, or some natural disturbance, what appears on the surface to be an impediment is passed through and the glory of the person is revealed.
Practically we can see that great success in any undertaking or field is not accomplished without passing through many setbacks and even failure. In the personal growth or success literature such perseverance and determination in the face of what seem insurmountable odds are part of any great person’s story.
In Christianity we have Judas who betrayed Christ but was actually a facilitator of his mission to sacrifice his life to benefit others. Haridas Thakur being whipped in 21 market places, or being tempted by a prostitute sent by a envious person, only added to his glory as the great teacher of the holy name.
Without the atrocities of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlad’s glories would not have been revealed, and we would have never heard of him. Dhurva Maharaja’s step mother forbidding him to be favored by his father helped him realize the strength of his determination and his eventual favor by the Lord. What would have happened if Krishnadas Kaviraja, the author of Chaitanya Charitamrita, had not left his brother's home? Without the devastating rains sent be Indra, Krishna would have had no necessity to lift Govardhan Hill.
Imagine Prabhupada easily receiving his first visa and other papers for travel, or if instead of sailing on the Jaladuta he would have just hopped on a plane and was met with instant success in America. We glorify great persons not for the ease of their lives but because of the great odds they overcame. Without Arjuna's dilemma there would be no Bhagavad Gita to light our path out of darkness. Had Emperor Pariksit not been cursed to die, we would have no Shrimad Bhagavatam to lead us on the path of bhakti...and on and on, as the examples are many in scriptures and life....
We’ve finished renovating the smaller of our two buildings – it was the easiest one, and also the most urgent to move into because the Krishna.com web department needed the much-better internet connection offered at the site. The space also is home to several of our local Bhaktivedanta Book Trust staff.
PRAYING FOR BETTER RELATIONSHIPS AND HEALING OUR HEART: Yesterday we celebrated the disappearance of Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Gadadhara Pandita and honored our relationship with them, and as we contemplated our independence (July 4th) from the material modes of nature, we contemplated the subject of relationships in general, since life is about relationships. There is nothing like relationships to severely test our ideals and demonstrate the spiritual work we have to do with ourselves.
We hunger for those who love and understand us, who nurture us, bringing out our best qualities, but also allow us to be ourselves, imperfections and all. However, if we are to have good relationships with others, we are required to have a good relationship with ourselves. For those of us who are theists, self-acceptance is greatly helped by our acceptance and positive relationship with our Source, or God, to me, Krishna. Self-acceptance and positive self-esteem are intertwined with our loving relationship with God, who we are part of.
Relationships open a door to reveal who are and what we are made of, being compared in the past to a threshing floor for separating the wheat from the chaff. Love and acceptance have been compared to the wheat, whereas our self-centered fears and criticism are like the chaff. By our endeavor aided by prayer we can crack the protective husk of our fears and release the delicious, nourishing essence. We could also think of relationships to be like a laboratory which can produce both useful and harmful chemicals.
Yesterday I had another PET or full body scan. I rose around my usual time but had to be especially focused on finishing my morning duties before I had to leave at 7: 15 AM. Thus I chanted my japa, or my morning meditation on the names of God, first thing, read for a few minutes, and jumped into the shower. Donning devotional attire and tilak I went downstairs to wake the Deities with official prayers, and then offering my prayers for the day and my life—to offer it for the best service possible and to benefit as many people as possible.
I began my morning worship of my shilas and all our Deities. Preparing their breakfast and then offering my Lords their bath, arotik, and food offering, I removed the worship paraphernalia and offering trays from the altar and washed everything. I packed up what was now Prasad, or sanctified food, since I had to fast from food and drink. Then I packed all the herbal remedies, potions and pills, and changed into my regular dress. I packed my computer, iPod for listening to lectures, and books to read and distribute. Saying goodbye to my wife and making my last prayers to our Deities that they may accompany and guide me, I was out the door and on the road, on time.
Driving can be a time for listening to lectures and contemplate what I hear, and also a time for deep thought about my life, and life and death in general. We are bombarded with reminders of the four fold miseries (re-birth, old age, disease, and death) on the Net and throughout our day. I am supposed to be happy that the US Air-force killed 250 ISIS fighters, and sad with the unfortunate death of 50 persons at a night club in Florida.
What about all the bugs my car kills on my windshield or grill, or the many animals or “roadkill” splattered on the side or in the middle of the road? Down the road GMO corn is grown, while the bee, song bird and frog populations are diminishing as Roundup poisons go into the groundwater and forests are made into paper. Problems are everywhere.
Part 1 FINDING OUR MATERIAL SELVES TO HELP US FIND OUR SPIRITUAL SELF and Part 2 FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
Part 1 FINDING OUR MATERIAL SELVES TO HELP US FIND OUR SPIRITUAL SELF: I have thought and written much about what it takes to stay the course in bhakti for our whole life, as well as to how not to settle into a comfortable religious life not intensely focused on making spiritual advancement. They are related subjects though usually spoken of separately. I am thinking mostly about what kind of unique guidance should be provided devotees of different ages, needs, and personality types.
Everyone is best served by tailor-made guidance which takes into consideration a person’s age, years of spiritual practice, material necessity and nature, and all-around maturity. I bring up the topic because most of us didn’t receive this type of guidance and suffered accordingly. I am challenged to succinctly present this in the bite size form of a blog, as there are so many aspects to consider, so please take this as food for thought to be expanded upon.
When I and those of my generation lived in ashrams during our young and inexperienced years some of us just plugged into the bhakti process without really understanding our nature and if we could live primarily spiritually focused for the long haul. To learn how to center our lives totally on active seva is valuable, though it’s often unsustainable due to our surfacing desires and conditioning. This should be made clear to every new devotee, so they don’t feel guilty if they have to leave the ashram, or need to address some pressing concern in their marriage.
THE SEARCH FOR POWER AND DISCOVERING ITS REAL SOURCE and AFFIRMING AND GIVING THANKS FOR OUR HEALING
THE SEARCH FOR POWER AND DISCOVERING ITS REAL SOURCE: In addition to the ultimate life lesson that we are incompatible with matter and need to be in a spiritual environment to realize our true fulfillment and source of power, we also have to deal with our relative life issues. They need to be sorted out so we won’t be distracted and drained by them. From my perspective and experience, this work is favorable for bhakti, and is part of being a balanced human being with the ability to give our whole heart to bhakti. I realize that many of my recent blogs have a similar theme, the reason being that these topics are so important to understand. I see the great need for this inner work to be accomplished for all, and I am also engaged in it. I consider helping those involved in bhakti or interested in spiritual life part of my life's mission. I pray that you seriously think about what I write about here. So please bear with the repetition as I bring up new points each time.
Otherwise, our failure to uncover and work through our life lessons and unhealthy conditioning keeps us spiritually stuck. We see too many examples of this, I think because there has not been enough emphasis on exactly how to do this work. Such endeavors are really “anartha-nivritti,” since unhealthy, reactionary, unexamined habits, cause us to not hear our inner guidance or deal properly with others with the tendency for aparadha and offensive chanting--the root of all offenses is inattentive or distracted chanting. The great Gaudiya Vaishnava teacher or acharya, Shrila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur outlines stages of spiritual advancement as well as obstacles we must face in his book Madhuya Kadambini. There and throughout Prabhupada's writings the main recommendation for spiritual advancement is pure chanting of the holy name and having advanced Vaishnava association, or sadhu sanga. Whatever endeavors at self-improvement we make are to better facilitate these practices. Add to this our regular prayers for spiritual progress. We have to begin where we are, as in praying for the desire, to have the desire, to make progress on the road to Krishna prema, or pure love of God.
Many of our karmic issues are highlighted by our family of origin. It’s worthwhile to reflect on this, especially when we become aware of dysfunctional and troubling patterns in our life that bring us distress in relationships, complicate making our particular contribution, and in feeling satisfied with the direction of our lives. The excuse that sometimes comes up in therapy that “this is just the way I am,” is a very poor justification for bad judgment and unkind or aggressive behavior. While we all have particular personality types, certain learned survival behavior is not helpful for our progressive life, or in being kind, loving, and compassion persons, and realizing our full potential. Sometimes a major crisis or illness is required to help us examine our lives and how we are required to change--one of which I am currently in the midst of.
gatir gauDIyAnAm api sakala-varNAzrama-juSAM
tathA cauDIyAnAm ati-sarala-dainyAzrita-hRdam
punaH pAzcAtyAnAM sadaya-manasAM tattva-sudhiyAM
zacIsUnuH zazvat smaraNa-padavIM gacchatu sa me