Thursday, March 12, 2009

What are you looking for?

Truth is always painful at first. The truth to see yourself. To see how fallen you are. To see how far away from Krishna you have gone. To see how helpless you are. To see the naked truth of the material world.

But truth also sets you free. Free to be yourself, not to play a role. Free to stop trying to control others or be controlled by them. Free to be independent of family and society. Free to be a sadhu.

Freedom leads us to Krishna. Krishna gives us bliss when we meet him and even when we feel separation from him. Bliss is not cheap. Bliss is the one thing Krishna gives only to his devotees. His pure devotees.

Money, power, fame, heaven, even liberation from the material world is easy to get compared to bliss.

And devotees of Krishna do not easily accept bliss, vowing to serve him instead. Do you think that Srila Prabhupada, who agreed to receive so many headaches from his disciples and from his preaching, was always in bliss? He was in anxiety for his service. In anxiety to deliver the truth to unqualified souls. Anxiety to do everything he could to create a spiritual revolution in a short time without qualified helpers.

What about the less advanced "simulated" gurus (no names necessary)? Their bliss appears to be a show, an impression, a caricature of devotional ecstasy. They are devotees no doubt, and many of them have sacrificed much on behalf of their service. But unfortunately, most are far better actors than devotees.

Actors are looking for applause. Devotees are searching after Krishna.

What are you looking for?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gaurabda 523

Today i read that B.V. Puri Maharaj, the 96 year old sadhu and Gaudiya vaisnava guru of his own mission, passed away last week at Visakapatnam, India. He was one of the very last of his generation who took initiation from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and who faithfully carried on his teachings. That generation of devotees contained many great souls who were real sadhus. They may not have been exceptional managers from the material perspective, but just to see such sadhus in Vrindavan or in Mayapur was purifying and satisfying. I remember seeing Puri Maharaj there many times. I am more and more feeling the absence of such personalities in our world. Their absence is our loss.

In a world deprived of genuine sadhus, imitation sadhus prevail. In an insane world, a rational person is unwelcome.

The diaspora of devotees, those who became disgusted by or who were chased away from Iskcon, are now scattered around the world by their karma. Everyone is suffering. Most are silent, some are talking, others have made new alliances. But there is no magic bullet, no solution, no redemption for anyone who is competing or placing their hopes in the material world. Maya is in charge here, and she creates endless problems for the jivas in this world. Even if someone is charismatic and empowered to influence others towards good or evil, he cannot liberate others or even himself. daivi hy esa gunamayi.

Srila Prabhupada confirms this when he explains that "a man bound by the hands and feet cannot free himself-- he must be helped by a person who is unbound. Because the bound cannot help the bound, the rescuer must be liberated." This is the problem. Unless sadhus are real, they cannot liberate anyone, even themselves. Those who merely pretend to be sadhus still want to control others. They create more problems than they solve.

Prabhupada then quotes Lord Siva: mukti-pradata sarvesam visnur eva na samsayah. "There is no doubt that Visnu is the deliverer of liberation for everyone."

Friend and enemy, lover and hater, member of this institution or that-- all positions are relative in this world. Even my own body and mind are very often uncooperative and unenthusiastic for my spiritual life. Passion pushes me in the wrong direction. Inertia is a powerful force that keeps me down. Nothing seems to move me towards Krishna. Yet, the wonderful thing is that sraddha--transcendental faith-- is not dependent on any of this. No external or internal obstacle, no actor in this world, not even the powerful mind, can check faith. Bhakti is independent like Krishna. This is the secret gift we have received by divine mercy. And it is within the garden of this faith that we must cultivate our hopes and prayers so that one day they will bear fruit.

We cannot expect an easy path. Things may get worse before getting better. "Those favored by God find their paths set by thorns." This quote is attributed to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and should give us hope. When we see thorns or when we step on them, we should think that the roses of God are not too far away. We should learn to search out the roses rather than curse at the thorns. Perhaps even see the thorns as our guides....siksa gurus, friends of ours who have come to lead us to the soft rose petals of ruci and bhava.

In any case, the thorns are on our path and this path is our way home. Whether we are walking in loneliness or in the company of many, we must each walk this path with our own faith. There is no alternative for us.

I wish you success today, Gaura Purnima, and on your journey during this new year of Gaurabda 523.

Gaura Hari...Gauracandra...Gaurasundar ki jaya!