Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fuel Efficiency

Today i would like to ask the assembled readers to contribute their thoughts and experiences on being efficient. Perhaps because i feel tired from moving my accumulated possessions from Cambridge, MA to Evanston, IL. Or because i am a bit exhausted from my recent rants. Or perhaps because i feel so inefficient and unproductive.

The natural world seems terribly efficient. Molecules work 24/7 metabolizing and doing whatever else they do. Time is killer efficient. Nobody gets a pass from it. Even animals seem pretty efficient in the wild. But human beings appear much less efficient. Due to their neurosis, fears or completely over the top pride, they seem to be out of sync with the rest of the natural universe when it comes to efficiency.

We know from observing the life of Srila Prabhupada how efficient and economical he was, with time, with money and with energy. He didn't waste anything. That is one of the 26 qualities of a pure devotee, is it not?

I get a lot of pleasure from being efficient, when i am. I really enjoy the rush. But mostly i'm not. Most of the time, i'm efficient at being inefficient.

It would be a nice gift to hear your realizations and your accomplishments in this area of efficiency. For the sake of making this exercise more efficient, here is what my dictionary says about it:
• achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.
• working in a well-organized and competent way.
• preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource, in this case, our most precious one, time.


Carlo Ananda said...

OK, here goes. I'll start with the astute Bengali saying, "ati bhakti curer lokhon" or, too much devotion is a sign of a thief. This takes care, in my mind, of mostly all non-Krsna connected activities in human endeavor. From sex life on down, self interest is a mighty powerful incentive for efficiency. In my experience efficiency in KC became inversely proportional to my understanding that advancement depended on me giving up the idea of sexual enjoyment, especially the subtle kind, not only in the present, but in the future as well. That realization brought about a semi-catatonic state which took mighty trauma and years of pain to accommodate. I’m sure this is not an unique experience among the more serious contributors to these comments.
When Krsna pulls the rug of sex enjoyment from under your feet you are left in limbo, a kind of purgatory of inactivity where the mind thinks you’re dammed if you do and you’re dammed if you don’t. So, what did I do? I did…. nothing. For years. Going through the motions. Treading water. Getting whatever more or less legit sense gratification I could and often going overboard with it. Fortunately Krsna did not forget the little bit of sincere service I had done and He did not let me go too far. The result is, of course, that you get tired doing nothing for Krsna and eventually you pick up the pieces. The difference is that your appreciation for Krsna is enormously enhanced just because He went the distance with you. With me that’s one way He operates. Does this resonate with any one of you?
Anything related to Krsna is good, transcendental, purifying, pointing to reality in knowledge and understanding. Even frustrating inactivity. As the scientist remarked to a friend that pointed to his hundreds of failed experiments, “These are not really failures. Rather, they are hundreds of ways I learned what does not work.” Positive thus. Seeing the bagel rather than the hole.
Mens sana in corpore sano is a Latin aphorism which recently infused in me a surge of new energy I hadn’t experienced for many years. What I did is I embarked on a 30 day lemon cleanse program, also known as the Master Cleanse (plenty of info on Google). This is a powerful detox program which eliminated loads of mucus and other toxins on a daily basis. I felt no hunger, discomfort or loss of energy. Rather, around the 25th day I experienced a powerful surge of enthusiasm to get things done. Chores that I had put off for years altogether became a pleasant activity. Boring routines shelved in the basement of both my mind and apartment were eagerly dusted off and attended to. Not to speak of clarity in chanting and reading. Highly recommended.
Now, lets have some feedback Prabhus!

jauvana said...


thanks for your courage in being the first (and therefore most efficient) among us to reveal your thoughts and personal experiences in this fascinating (at least for me) subject of efficiency.

I feel that this kind of sharing is real sat sang. Sat sang does not mean to physically associate, but to associate thru honest revealing of experiences and ideas. I think this is where so many devotees have gotten lost. Can't see the forest from the trees. The trees are the placeholders-- the ritual and etiquette of spiritual life. They play a role but that should minor in comparison to the forest-- the sharing of thoughts, feelings and experiences without fear of rejection or judgement.

A few godbrothers are responding to my appeal via email. My thinking is to present their thoughts in a series of posts on my blog so that all readers can see them. So if you don't mind, in the next few days, i would like to post your comments as a separate post here.

I do think there is great value in your comments, as well as other godbrothers and friends on this subject. And as an exercise in real sat sang, i think it is invaluable.

Atmavidya said...

"...The difference is that your appreciation for Krsna is enormously enhanced just because He went the distance with you...."
I just love this, it made my day - and much more. Ananda, this is a keeper and an instant classic!

Carlo Ananda said...

You can include anything you like from my comments. I will take that as a compliment to my writings. According to Rupa Gosvami, one of the 6 ways devotees relate is "guhyam akhyati" or to explain confidential topics or to reveal one’s mind in confidence. In my 1991 Vyasa Puja offering to Prabhupada (it’s in the Vedabase)I wrote the following:

“That there was a system through which we could help each other in the process of purification, "anartha-nivrtti", instead of empty offerings of reciprocal obeisances overlaid with diplomatic etiquette without something constructive being done about attachment to a process of purification which has become hackneyed and stereotyped and that obviously doesn’t deliver.”

17 years later I don’t see any reason to change my point of view. Does anyone?

Satya devi dasi said...

Just a little footnote. Was curious about "Mens sana in corpore san," and found this at Wikipedia:
"It is to be prayed that the mind be sound in a sound body./Ask for a brave soul that lacks the fear of death,/which places the length of life last among nature’s blessings,
which is able to bear whatever kind of sufferings,/does not know anger, lusts for nothing and believes/the hardships and savage labors of Hercules better than
the satisfactions, feasts, and feather bed of an Eastern king.
I will reveal what you are able to give yourself;/For certain, the one footpath of a tranquil life lies through virtue." ---Satire X of the Roman poet Juvena (200 CE).

It says that this is a paraphrase of Thales (620 BCE), who defines a happy man as one “Who is healthy in body, resourceful in soul and of a readily teachable nature.”

As far as efficiency or waste goes, I don't see it on the list of qualities of a pure devotee. But, I do think that efficiency is a byproduct of many of those qualities, especially knowing that everything belongs to Lord Krsna. I remember that we were very cautious about our use of water, electricity, and even paper when I lived in the temple, because all of these were Krsna's resources and they should never be wasted. The consciousness made us efficient.

Jaya Prabhupada!

Carlo Ananda said...

Satya Prabhu,
As we know from the Gita, the mind's condition is critical and can be our friend or enemy. It is the central clearinghouse of sense perception. Since the senses reflect to a great degree the condition of the body, if the body is healthy the mind has better data to work with. This was overwhelmingly brought home to me on my 30-day lemon cleanse.

I am aware of Satire X’s poem that you quote and it shows that intellectually many KC points can be appreciated by thinking people. Like lacking fear of death, bear all kinds of sufferings, freedom from anger and lust and a mode of goodness approach to life, i.e. some austerity now for greater benefit later (as opposed to the mode of passion’s program of enjoyment now and only for me and mine, and as far as others are concerned, well, let the devil take the hindmost). The problem with this is that such resolve is only on the intellectual or mental platform and that platform, being material, is subject to change at any time by circumstances beyond our control. Something like the upper class Indian politicians who preach equality for the sweepers but when one wants to marry their daughter then all hell breaks loose! Thus, the perfect KC point of view, “harau abhaktasya kuto mahad guna, mano rathenasati dhavato bhahih” unless one comes to the platform of Krsna consciousness all good intentions will ultimately fail.

I heard that in India Prabhupada would save envelopes and turn them inside out to use as notepaper. That’s efficiency. In the Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 18 , Character of One in Ecstatic Love, (page 135) is this point: “(1) He is always anxious to utilize his time in the devotional service of the Lord. He does not like to be idle. He wants service always, twenty-four hours a day, without deviation.”

I fully agree and compliment you on your nice point that efficiency is a byproduct of understanding that everything belongs to Krsna. Nothing is ours to waste like some “irresponsible prince”.