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As some of you know I have mainly been recycling older blogs and slightly modifying them to represent some of my current struggles in my treatment protocols. With this offering I am writing afresh, having to discontinue my treatment due to the lockdown here in Vrindavana, though I present similar themes to what I teach as a result of facing possible death for the last 4 ½ years as well as intense headaches and other pains for the last year. I still consider personal or horizontal growth work important for those contemplating the shortness of their life which includes getting our inner (emotional/mental) and outer (physical) house in order.

Why? The simple reason, according to my understanding from personal experience, is that the trauma, disappointment, wounds, and pain from this life and previous lives negatively impacts our practice of bhakti by taking energy away from our focus on loving devotional service and tends to cause us to make offenses to others by our reacting to them based on our past emotional pain and trauma. Progressive spiritual life, and even a successful material life, requires changing unthinking patterns of behavior that don’t serve us or anyone else.

Part of progressive endeavor comes through intense, threadbare introspection, to let us understand our negative patterns or habits of thinking and acting. There are many processes that can assist us in such work and help us be more focused and present spiritually, which is the greatest necessity. We are advised to accept whatever is favorable for our bhakti and give up what isn’t, and that can open up possibilities we might not have considered before.

I was more or less forced to do this work when I first left the temple after 13 years of service due to my realization that my past issues from growing up in an abusive alcoholic family were screaming for attention. The work I did on myself has been instrumental in my progress as a human being and devotee, and I admit my bias as to the importance of such activity. Plus my wife, in addition to being a serious sadhaka or bhakti practitioner, is also a very gifted therapist whom I have worked with in helping couples.

We are advised to move out of the stage of anartha nivritti by pure chanting and getting the association of very advanced devotees, which for most of us, seems a very tall order. From my perspective in dealing with devotees, and my wife even more so, many devotees seem to be waylaid or stuck in the stage of anartha-nivritti and require help in moving beyond it to nistha and higher stages.

I would like to see temples and the communities that surround them not only giving the basics of bhakti but also helping devotees make peace from their often tumultuous past or keeping a certain comfort in staying the same or where they are now by practicing the basics of bhakti. We can learn from the past, but it isn't good to live there either consciously or unconsciously in reaction, and so we need to consciously unplug or cut the cords from that energy as much as we can and pray a great deal.

Unfortunately, there is a real resistance in accepting the necessity of this inner work of introspection and personal growth. While it is not the panacea for spiritual progress, such endeavor can greatly assist devotees become peaceful and not their own worst enemies as is sometimes the case, and thus help them be better equipped for the long haul of a life of progressive bhakti practices. It certainly has for me.

This requires that some devotees are trained in various healing and mental health modalities, since so many problems in communities come from unresolved emotional or psychological issues, and such devotees tend to be much more fanatical, having a one size fits all application of Krishna consciousness. Rather than discount the benefit of such inner work, they can talk to those devotees who work professionally with others to see their experiences in hearing the presenting problems, and how their client-devotees have been benefited.

Not everyone will be helped because it is difficult work to face our conditioned shortcomings, prejudices, and past traumas, and it can take a long time through many layers of anarthas. However, the endeavor is well worth our time and energy as the less we are pulled down by our past and thus the stronger we are spiritually in our desire to be of service, the less we will give in to the fear of death and disease, and the better equipped we will be to deal with it when they comes..

Call it purification or healing, the idea is similar in becoming the best version of our conditioned self in the service of developing our spiritual loving nature of unalloyed service to Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, Krishna and Balarama etc., through the mercy of our gurus, the Vaishnavas, past and present, who represent Sri Sri Gaura and Nitai, the mercy incarnations for this age giving us the holy name, inspiring the writing of the Vaishnava scriptures and giving us the association of devotees.

I realize this is already a bit long in Internet time, but I would like to end with a message I sent a devotee healer who is also dealing with her own life issues:

WITH GAURA AND NITAI'S MERCY ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. To do the maximum good for others this introspection and personal healing work is required. I also have to release and let go of whatever is holding me back from my highest potential in doing good for others. Thus, it is meant for much more than ourselves, as important as that is, but our healing is meant to benefit others by our freeing up the energy is now required to keep this pain, trauma, anger or resentment alive.

Our lives are meant for more than material happiness and balance. Yes, that balance and presence is also being asked of us, but not for itself, but for our service. What we recover and heal from will help many others because so many devotees and people in general are walking wounded, and we are called to be an example and give them tools of empowerment to rise above their past pain, trauma, and being defined by their sad stories, and sometimes, a “poor me,” attitude. Armed with bhakti-yoga, stand and fight the good fight within. What I write is meant for you and whoever it calls to, including myself. I teach by what I have done and am also called to do.