Monday, April 16, 2007

Srimad-Bhagavatam Meditation: 1.7.5

It is once again time for our weekly/bi-weekly meditation on the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge, the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

I humbly ask you to read first the translation and Bhaktivedanta purport to today's verse, from the 1st Canto, Seventh Chapter, Fifth Verse.

yayā sammohito jīva
paro 'pi manute 'narthaḿ
tat-kṛtaḿ cābhipadyate

Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks of himself as a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries.

When I first encountered spirituality originating from the Eastern part of the world, in the form of Tibetan Buddhism, I was admittedly a bit turned off by being told that suffering was the first tenet of my current existence. I wanted candy canes and light shows, and instead I was being told that I was surrounded by an ocean of misery that was largely there because I chose it to be there.

As I have slowly matured in my spiritual life in this body, and have mercifully been provided the chance to practice in the Vaisnava tradition, I still flinch in disgust at this offering, no longer because of any philosophical misunderstanding, but because it is the truth. Simple, harsh, and universal.

In his purport, Prabhupada takes the outside-the-box approach when he writes that "The Lord does not interfere with the task of the illusory energy because such performances of the illusory energy are also necessary for reformation of the conditioned soul." We suffer as materially-oriented people because we are surrendered to the dictates of the illusory energy, being thrown here and there by our desires, pride, envy, lust, and hatred.

We are situated in this ocean of misery because we choose to be, because we want to be God ourself, instead of being in our natural position of lovingly serving Him by serving His pure devotees, which is where all actual bliss, knowledge, and eternity resides. So, this desire to lord everything ourselves is fulfilled as we are provided with a material body in a material world to try and shape things as we see fit.

The ever-present catch is that the illusory energy, or maya, is also given all facility to do with us as she sees fit. This is actually God's desire, for because we are of the same quality as Him, we have been given full independence to choose if we will serve Him or not. When we choose not to, God lets His great devotee maya go to work on us in an attempt to make us realize what we have truly chosen to do.

What Prabhupada is saying here is that while God actually facilitates this process of allowing us to lord over our actions, and subsequently suffer the reactions, in this material body, he allows maya to beat and kick us, and even kill us, in order for us to realize the incredible foolishness of our ignorance and forgetfulness.

As devotees, we, or we try, to be fully surrendered to the dictates of the Supreme Lord, Krsna. Often, the will of the Lord is for us to undergo very serious and painful situations, in order for us to quickly realize the futility of our material propensities. It is actually His strongest mercy, for at these times of crisis and conflict, the door opens much wider for us to truly jump through and get back home, to His lotus feet.

If we are comfortable, simply gliding along, not being challenged, we won't find the urgency we truly need to personally break out of this prison cycle of repeated birth-and-death. We will continue to think, in many gross and subtle ways, that this material condition is our natural condition, and we will continue to wander lost.

I'll continue with Part 2 of this meditation sometime in the next week, so please stay tuned. Hare Bol!

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