Someone who is a reader of this blog recently sent me an interesting email. I thought it would be relevant to share it here.
My friend wrote:
"I am wondering ,...do you know any vaisnava who is really worthy of our attention and from whom it is favorable to take blessings...or for you that is only Prabhupad?
"I am noticing that you are quite critical (for sure that's your right) but still i believe there must be some souls around who are carrying more bhakti in their hearts than we have and who can invoke more of these feelings in our hearts.... Have you meet them?"
"I've met thousands of devotees, because i've been around a long time in this circle. I consider many to be more advanced in their faith than me, either by their austerities or by their service. Some i consider my friends. But on the heart plane, where we need to focus, no, i have not met anyone since Srila Prabhupada, who inspires me to place my head at his feet. I did meet Srila Sridhar Maharaj several times in Navadwip, which was a very wonderful experience. But it was not until much later that i realized he was a truly great soul.
"What i think you're talking about is someone whom when you meet him, he sits down in the middle of your heart and you feel that he knows who you are and cares about you on the deepest levels. And you are embarrassed but you say, 'Thank you for coming here to this dirty place. Please stay here and take a little water because i have nothing else to offer you.' That feeling i have only experienced with Prabhupada.
"I wish i could direct you to someone like that. But in all honesty all i can say is to follow the guidance you get from within your heart. Your ista deva (lord of your heart) is always ready to help you. We cannot expect the external environment to be favorable, but that can never prevent us from progress if we are connected with our inner heart.
"As for my sounding critical of others, Isopanisad tells us to understand side-by-side, the difference between ignorance and knowledge. Being critical of something false is an expression against ignorance. Higher knowledge is not just theory-- it's also practical-- to evaluate people and events in real life. Practical knowledge may not sound sweet to the ear or palatable to the mind. But it is progressive-- not destructive-- if it helps us to separate duplicity from devotion.
"I am writing for my own purification, not for popular approval. If this process helps me to clarify and understand my real priorities, even if my voice is sometimes shrill, why should that be a problem? If there is a fire in the kitchen, would anyone complain if someone screams?
"Of course, speaking sweetly about the Lord and always acting on the platform of love and encouragement is the nicest and highest thing we can do. But even then, let's remember: Krishna spoke the Gita--the highest wisdom-- not on a cloud or under a desire tree, but on the battlefield. It was a place where millions of warriors were about to die in a horrendous battle. He told Arjuna to fight --not to run away out of false compassion.
"Krishna also told him that to actually love God, the prerequisite is to understand Him and act for Him. So what is the value of putting on a pretense of love as a vaisnava if one doesn't know how to act like one? What is the value of a society based on love of God when there is no love and trust between godbrothers? What is the meaning of a spiritual society where 'dollars, diplomacy and duplicity' are the prominent features? When power and prestige is a surrogate for sex life? When saintly means showy?
"So for now, my motto is: 'Better to be a failed critic of bullshit than a successful bullshiter!' It makes sense to me."