Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Confronting Distractions on the Journey to Devotion

"The brhad visnu smrti clearly states....'...People jeer at Krisna...Perpetually, their real knowledge will remain under delusion, and gradually they will regress to the darkest region of creation.' "

~ Srila Prabhupada, Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Purport 9.12


As I read that this morning I was struck with the sheer gravity that defines one's spiritual journey. True understanding into the transcendental nature of things is certainly not a game or to be taken lightly but to be pursued earnestly and with a seeking heart that is genuine in its goal. The goal shouldn't only be to accumulate knowledge or to experience pleasant feelings but to acquire truth that will orient us into the clearest and most direct route back to Godhead. If we steep our hearts in love for Krishna, if to love and devote ourselves fully to Him is our only aim, then the understanding we seek will surely come to us in time as we gradually progress forward.

I certainly don't mock or jeer Krishna which is who the verse is directed at above.  At the same time, I've been associating with those who do not recognize him as the Supreme Personality and have engaged in entertaining myself in reading material that contradicts the message of the sastras. Why would I consider pursuing such material that can only cause me internal conflict and only distance me from making progress in Krishna consciousness? That only has the promise to have any real knowledge I've gained "remain under delusion"?

I'd say curiosity is one large factor. I have a natural propensity to feel restless if I don't look around every corner, even the ones that are in dim and dark places. Something within me draws me forward to exploring all that I can of the unknown even if I have to momentarily step off the sure and steady path I am on. Another factor would be my difficulty in submitting to authority and any prescribed route. I have the tendency of doing what my false ego urges me to do regardless of the consequence merely because I can. This is the trademark of an impulsive nature and certainly something I need to work on and not a trait which is a very becoming quality of one who strives to be a devotee of the Supreme Lord.

Is stepping off the path to pick up and overturn every fanciful stone that catches one's attention along the way really worth it in the long run? Certainly not.  For if that is our habit we will be continually getting off the path and never get closer in our destination nor fully surrender ourselves in devotion to Sri Krishna or Sri Guru. Our attention and devotion will always be divided and for the devotee his devotion should never be divided. Our perspective will always be looking out through the dim lens of delusion.

Srila Prabhupada had to say this regarding the pursuit of mundane academic knowledge versus the pursuit of transcendental knowledge:

"By transcendental knowledge one can remain steady in his convictions, but by mere academic knowledge one can be easily deluded and confused by apparent contradictions. It is the realized soul who is actually self-controlled, because he is surrendered to Krishna. He is transcendental because he has nothing to do with mundane scholarship. For him mundane scholarship and mental speculation, which may be as good as gold to others, are of no greater value than pebbles or stones."

~ Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Purport 6.8


I want to go back to Godhead. I don't want to be caught up in a perpetual cycle of death and rebirth. Above that even, I simply want to love Krishna who has captivated my heart. Who, through His mercy, continues to beckon me onwards. Who extends out His hand in compassion through Sri Guru to help guide me through confusion towards His Love. Spirituality is a serious thing as it determines our eternal fates. We never know how much time we have on earth to pursue and discover God. Philosophical speculation can be interesting, fascinating even, but it won't be what saves us from suffering. Only devotion to Krishna and Sri Guru can save us from suffering and lead us out of being reborn back into this material existence. What can be more important to read but the words of Sri Krishna? The words of bona fide spiritual masters like Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Goswami Maharaja? Their words bring true light.

The Bhagavad Gita As It Is teaches us that we should remain steadfast in our devotion to God regardless of the transient nature of life. Regardless of the distractions and trials that rise up for surely they, being impermanent, will also fall away. Sri Krishna is eternal and is there with us in both pleasure and pain. Even when we doubt or are confused He is there offering us shelter. We only need to learn to fix our devotion fully on Him to overcome all obstacles. Such devotees that do so, Krishna says, are very dear to Him.

One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contaminating association, always silent and satisfied with anything, who doesn't care for ay residence, who is fixed in knowledge and who is engaged in devotional service-such a person is very dear to Me.

~ Srila Prabhupada, Bhagavad Gita As It is, Purport 12.18-19

Srila Prabhupada says in the Bhagavad Gita As It is that "The cause of the distress of a living entity is forgetfulness of his relationship to God.". (Purport 6.32) I am learning more and more that when I divide my devotion and time elsewhere, anywhere other than on Sri Krishna, that my soul begins to lose its sense of orientation in regards to its constitutional position with the Supreme Lord. The cure for such a malady? We've been given a formula, a direct route back to Godhead and that is the path of devotion which is most easily followed by the practice of chanting His Holy names.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare

May God's holy names always be in our minds and hearts dispelling our illusions and drawing us ever closer to becoming fully devoted to Him.

Please consider sharing your reflections in the comments section. Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. This is all very interesting, but I know very little about Hare Krishna or the Bhagvad Gita which makes me feel like I'm missing a lot of the message. Either way, I admire your pursuit of God and your devotion to learning the truth. :)