Saturday, April 18, 2009

Association

We live in a world full of denial-- denial of death, denial of grief, denial of compassion, denial of sacrifice. We are part of a "you only live once" culture. Everyone is busy maintaining a mask of successful well-being, a pursuit of enjoyment and an artificial movie of being a well adjusted, happy personality. This bullshit culture that we have grown up with and surrounds us also filters its way into so-called vaisnava society. But that is hardly spiritual association.

The vaisnava acaryas are not afraid to write and sing about how morose they are without pure association. ami boro dukhi. "I am so miserable." kripa balo kana koro. "Give me the glance of your mercy." To acknowledge depression due to lack of association is something the great acaryas did.

My point in my last post was simply to address the enormous loss each of us experienced when we felt it necessary to give up the association of devotees. We each had good reasons for leaving, but we also have good reasons for grieving.

Grief is a natural part of the process of coming to terms with a traumatic loss. In her landmark book, On Death & Dying, published in 1969, Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross researched grief associated with the dying process. The 'grief cycle' is actually a model for helping to understand and deal with all major losses--the emotional, physical and yes, spiritual traumas in our lives.

These are the five stages:
1 Denial
Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality relating to the situation concerned. It's a defense mechanism.

2 Anger
Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves or project it on others who they blame for their situation.

3 Bargaining
Persons in this stage of grief bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise with what they have lost or with a higher power, usually with God. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution.

4 Depression
Depression is a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It's natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty at a great loss. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept reality.

5 Acceptance
This final stage of the grief process indicates emotional detachment and objectivity. It brings a kind of peace and allows the person to move on to a new space, letting go of the old and embracing a new paradigm.

The grieving process is natural and like other forces of nature, unavoidable. It is when we get stuck in one phase that our situation feels intolerable. For example, if someone remains angry at Iskcon for year after year, unable to move to the next phase, that means he or she is not just angry at Iskcon but at themselves. Chronic anger is self destructive. The same for the other stages of grief. The idea is not to get stuck but to tolerate and acknowledge the different phases of grief while moving thru them to finally reach a new consciousness and corresponding worldview.

The soul "is" the world, and when we are in harmony with the soul and with Supersoul, our actions and emotions will create peace and happiness.

If you can find good association, you are very fortunate. If you cannot find it, you need to create it. There is no alternative. Association to facilitate harmony of the soul is the greatest necessity of our time.

4 comments:

Babhru das said...

Nicely said. I especially appreciate the conclusion. Good sense from a good soul. Thanks.

Atmavidya Das said...

Not a comment, but a question.
..."If you cannot find it, you need to create it."...
This is where I am totally lost. How to create good association?
Atma

jauvana said...

Atma V,
Add 5 cups of milk, 1 cup of rice, half a cup of sugar and a pinch of saffron. Seriously, if i knew the recipe i would be creating good association today. I don't know it, i just know we gotta get it. My meaning is that if we can't join it, we need to make it. In other words, find like minded company somehow. That could be just 1 or 2 other souls....even a couple of bonzai trees.

Atmavidya Das said...

Got the point. Probably this is the time for sincere and heartfelt prayers. More than ever before.