Friday, October 24, 2008
The Springs of Spiritual Life
The need for a rich inner life is one of the essential lessons given us to by our dear acaryas. The Goswamis were so absorbed in their heart-filled meditation upon Radha and Krsna that they often forgot to eat and sleep.
Srila Prabhupada would sacrifice the good night's sleep we take for granted in order to translate Srimad-Bhagavatam and Caitanya-Caritamrta in the early morning hours, deeply absorbed in what he called his "personal ecstasies."
In our own individual lives, and in the whole of our society of devotees, there is an acute need, as HH Sacinandana Swami says, to focus upon our vertical relationship with Krsna, to revive the loving relationship within our heart to the Supreme Person, the very source of the most intimate feelings of pleasure and belonging.
This is not to recommend cheap dramatics, like the sahajiyas, but we need to cultivate the tender, tiny devotional creeper in our heart by constant personal meditation upon Krsna's name, fame, pastimes, and qualities.
Thomas Merton, Trappist monk and one of the most influential Catholic writers of the 20th Century, specialized in the contemplative life of inner meditation upon God.
In an article on his various moods of hermeticism, we can ponder some of his statements on the inner life and how it relates universally to our devotional lives.
"Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally. ... For he cannot go on happily for long, unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of this own true soul."
The "springs of spiritual life" are the very source of the strength we need in carrying on Prabhupada's mission.
No matter the quality and quantity of our external duties and services, we must find time to bathe in these streams of nectar. If we don't, we succumb to the waves of material nature in the forms of politics, duplicity, lust, anger, and greed.
You will never find interior solitude unless you make some conscious effort to deliver yourself from the desires and the cares and the attachments of an existence in time and in the world.
This sounds pretty familiar, right? The less we attach to the external factors in our lives, the more time and focus we'll have on our real business, which is to revive our dormant love and affection for Krsna, the very love and affection which is the only way to disentangle ourselves from the false banyan tree of the material world, to return to the real tree of the eternal spiritual world.
Note that the word 'alienation' is used by non-existentialists to support the fictions of collective life. For them the 'alienated' man is the one who is not at peace in the general myth. He is the non-conformist; the oddball who does not agree with everybody else and who disturbs the pleasant sense of collective rightness. For the existentialist, the alienated man is the one who, though 'adjusted' to society, is alienated from himself. The inner life of the mass man, alienated and leveled in the existential sense, is a dull collective routine of popular fantasies maintained in existence by the collective dreams that goes on , without interruption, in the mass media.
In relation to the deep compassionate practice of the spreading of the Holy Name, it is our duty as devotees to alleviate the inner void of the "mass man", by filling it with the real truth, the deep, boundless bliss of Krsna consciousness.
We live in a "fast food" culture, so we can dovetail this propensity by giving as many souls as we can the quickest and easiest way to self-realization: the sacred sound of the Holy Name.
Merton and other examples like Francis of Assisi showed by their living example the proper mix of deep internal prayer and realization with active and bold preaching of God's living word and glory. Of course, there is also our Prabhupada.
The purely hermetic life is not for us as devotees, at least not until we have reached advanced stages of age and advancement. Without our inspired outreach of the Holy Name, we are not pleasing Prabhupada, but without developing our own inner attachment to the Holy Name, we will not have the strength and ability to please Prabhupada by this outreach.
All the deep contemplation we require in our spiritual existence is condensed in the sound of the Holy Name. There's no need to remove ourselves from society. All our heart and souls craves is there if we can just listen deeply to the sound of the Holy Name.