Monday, July 9, 2007

Denial & Maya

When we were young, in our 20's, we heard and read the reality of this material world from the writings and classes of our beloved spiritual master, om visnupada paramahamsa A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He kept reminding us that although we were then young, one day, "you will be an old man, like me." Of course, Prabhupada was never an "old man." He was a transcendental personality playing the role of an ordinary or extraordinary human being. But he was never in the bodily concept of life. Just to teach us the truth of this material world, as temporary and miserable, he repeated his message again and again, and often he humbly referred to himself as an "old man."

Now that i'm visiting with my father i'm seeing first hand how old age punishes the conditioned jiva soul. Now i can more deeply appreciate the trouble Prabhupada took to educate us when we were young and feeling almost invincible. I'm already deep into middle age, and i no longer feel invincible or immortal, but still in some ways the harsh realities remain theoretical. But visiting with my father, there is no denial of the misery and futility of material life when it reaches a certain age. Fruit is first unripe, then it becomes sweet for a short time and then it starts to rot. That's life here.

It appears that we go thru life in various stages of denial. We deny our mortality. We deny our helplessness. We deny our dependency on others, on nature herself and on God. In all stages of life: unripe, sweet and rotten, we are in denial.

"Denial" is one of the main themes of material life. We can change our consciousness and we can change our reality but only if we stop our denial. Denial is maya's weapon. As His potency, she is controlled by Krishna, and we are controlled by her. She keeps us in illusion by engaging us, partly with the tactic of denial.

The only sure way to cross over maya's control is to accept the shelter of the pure vaisnavas and Krishna. We can use fancy language and speculate
all day, but maya has weapons that we are helpless against. She uses her weapons to control us. No escape from her prison without the vaisnava's and Krishna's blessings.

Krishna is ready to use the weapon of his divine attractiveness to neutralize the weapons of maya that keep us under her control. But only when we become akincina, free from material attachments, including our attachment to denial.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Faith & Emotions

I'm still in Chicago, visiting my father who turned 94 today. Physically and mentally he is in excellent shape for someone who has been thru 94 years of kali yuga. But emotionally, he is a poor wreck because he is not a devotee and he is hopeless and helpless at this stage of his life.

We who aspire to be devotees put a lot of emphasis on knowledge, and rightly so. Without knowledge and discrimination we cannot make progress on the journey back to Godhead. This confidential knowledge is one of the matchless gifts of the mahajan great souls, including our own worshipable spiritual master, om visnupada paramahamsa A.C. Bhaktivedenta Swami Prabhupada.

But more than knowledge, more than logic, the greatest gift our spiritual preceptors have given us is the faith they showed us and the emotional strength that was the byproduct of their faith. At the end of the day, it's emotions that rule. And emotions are guided by faith. It is this unseen and unspoken power of faith that gives us the emotional strength to have hope and to feel inspiration, to aspire for a closer and more intimate connection with the saints, and for the determination to become a genuine devotee, not just an imitation or materialistic follower of the 3rd class.