Saturday, April 19, 2008

Brighter Than Millions of Suns

Today i was feeling an extreme sense of loneliness. Being here in Cambridge, without knowing a single soul, it seems like a kind of torture sometimes. It's not worse than being in bad company, or being under someone's control, but being alone can make one feel mad at times. Living in the holy dhams, i never felt this kind of feeling, because Krishna's presence can be perceived even by an ordinary person. But being here in this material culture, especially in the West, is another story. There is a great poverty of soul here. A feast for the senses, fast for the soul. An almost maddening fever.

Looking out my window on the 3rd floor of the loft where i'm staying, i stared at the sun which was in the western sky. It was a beautiful clear, spring day, and this was just a half hour or so before sunset. Looking at the sun, a thought came to me: Krishna is brighter than millions of these intense shining balls of light and heat. These are his energy, his creation, his heat and his light. But unlike the sun, he is always with us. Always. In all circumstances, all conditions of life. That thought somehow gave me great comfort and strength. And the understanding, that this feeling of loneliness is just another illusion that we experience in our sojourn thru this world. Sometimes burdened with family, sometimes bound with affection for sons or daughters, husbands or wives, and sometimes, just feeling terribly alone. It's all part of our dream. Because in truth, we are accompanied always by that One who is more effulgent, brighter than millions of suns.

Nitya nityanam centanas cetenanam....the Eternal amongst all eternals,
the Conscious Source amongst conscious beings....
Eko bahunam.... eko means that One, Krishna....
yo vidadhati kaman.... who shines like the sun and is the One who supplies everyone with all our needs, all our desires.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ravana & Sita

This morning for some reason i was thinking about Ravana. About how he kidnapped Sita, despite having everything he could possibly want. He was king of the most opulent country in the world at the time. He had technology beyond our current advanced science. He was able to create a passage thru the core of the earth (some say to Brazil) to collect the gold that covered Lanka's buildings. He also had the technology to create a staircase to the heavenly planets (long before Led Zeppelin wrote the song). His harem included the most beautiful women in the world, and his fighters were the best military persons. Many of them had mystic powers. Even his advisors were top-notch. In fact, he was a brahman who had vast knowledge of politics and diplomacy. Lord Rama told Laksman to ask Ravana for advice when Ravana was dying on the battlefield. Ravana said that if there is some auspicious work to do, do it immediately, and if there is something inauspicious, one should procrastinate. He cited how he did the opposite: by kidnapping Sita, he had put off his plans to build a passage to heaven. Instead of enjoying in those higher planets, he was now dying from a fatal wound inflicted by Rama.

Ravana's achilles heel, of course, was his lust. He could not shake off the illicit desire he felt in his heart to enjoy the goddess of fortune. Despite the good advice he received within his own circle, he relentlessly pursued her. Similarly, in spite of so many good instructions from various spiritual traditions and teachers, it is very difficult for us to control our senses and become real yogis in this world.

When we look at spiritual institutions like Iskcon we also see how another form of lust, known as pratishta, the desire for prestige, dominates its thinking. Rather than create a model of transparency and individual empowerment as Prabhupada wanted, the powers that be have created a sticky, ugly mess that excludes most of the direct disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Even when a disciple develops the maturity to want to take sannyas, the renounced order, he has to pledge allegiance not to his spiritual master and Krishna, but to the GBC! What a farce.

But returning to the main point, how is is possible to practice spiritual qualities in a world that is so polluted in its consciousness? One needs to listen to the words of saintly persons who have no motivation other than service to guru and God. Even if one is deaf, due to madness, intoxication or illusion, by repeatedly listening to the words and songs of holy persons, it will act on one's heart and gradually it will clear the heart of all muddy things. The lotus of good fortune will grow from that spot.