Inspired by the "Nectar of Devotion" lecture series given by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada from October 20-November 13, 1972 at the Radha-Damodara Temple in Vrndavana, India
All of these lectures are available for download at ISKCON Desire Tree.
Krsna Consciousness is the art of all work. On the most practical level, we learn how to act and how not to act, what to do and what not to do, in the context of a real, eternal culture.
We are able to rise above the constraints of our contemporary, morally relativistic society to live and love God in such a way that gives the tangible life, the authentic spiritual experience, free of hypocrisy and duplicity and duality if we take the charge of ridding ourselves of these things.
We no longer are caught up in our own "God project", in following the post-psychedelic mantra of "if it feels good, do it!". We learn the proper purports of positive and negative action, moving well beyond the "shades of grey" in our thoughts, feelings, and actions. We learn how to think properly. We learn how to feel real bliss. We learn how to act in such a dynamic way to please each other and the acaryas.
On this evening, Prabhupada clearly lays out the path to this most valuable of education, of knowing what to do and what not to do, and it is a path which lands squarely at the lotus feet of our spiritual master.
In the Nectar of Devotion, Prabhupada writes:
"Those who are cultivating spiritual life and executing devotional service are always engaged in activity. Such activity can be performed with the mind or with the, with the body or with the mind. Thinking, feeling and willing are all activities of the mind, and when we will do something, the activity comes to be manifest by the gross bodily senses. Thus, in our mental activities, we should always try to think of Krsna and try to plan how to please Him, following in the footsteps of the great äcäryas and the personal spiritual master.
There are activities of the body, activities of the different senses, and activities of speech. A Krsna conscious person engages his words in preaching the glories of the Lord. This is called kirtana. And by his mind a Krsna conscious person always thinks of the activities of the Lord as He is speaking on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra or engaging in His various pastimes at Vrndävana with His devotees. In this way, one can always think of the activities and pastimes of the Lord. This is the mental culture of Krsna consciousness."
This mental culture is a most valuable part of our sadhana. It is the source of our sincerity, and it takes our external activities off the mundane plan and makes them valid, real, and beyond going through the motions.
We must think of Krsna at the time of death. As Bob Dylan said "he's not busy being born/he's busy dying." Our meditation should be that we are rapidly approaching the time of death, that we are walking "the green mile" and we don't know how far the end is from us. It could be just around the corner.
Diving into the mental culture of Krsna Consciousness, diving into His pastimes, His qualities, His lovely personality, at least trains us for the pivotal change of bodies and gives us the chance to achieve the perfection of liberation. At most, it places our whole being back into its natural state, into a blissful life beyond our present imagination.
It is about a respiritualization of our whole existence. Spiritual life does not merely begin or end with certain rituals, initiations, or baptisms. These are the springboards to the real internal change, to the necessary, blissful, and glorious struggle to get back home.
We must give up the chains to the dictates of our own selfish will, our false ego, and give ourselves fully and without hesitation into the loving arms of Krsna, doing what pleases Him.
Prabhupada says in this regard:
"The thinking, feeling, and willing... This thinking, feeling, and willing now polluted on account of material coverings. Therefore we have to revert to the thinking, feeling, and willing by Krsna consciousness. As it is explained here, that we shall always think of Krsna's activities, we shall always feel for satisfying Krsna, and we shall always will to enact as He desires."
The formula is the intelligent use of yukta-vairagya, under the guidance of realizes, trustworthy, experiences souls. In this way, we can learn the most valuable art of transmuting the material energy into the spiritual, of not abandoning the world, but using its resources to reveal the divine reality of Krsna.
Prabhupada says in his lecture:
"Actually in pure Krsna consciousness there is nothing material. I have several times explained. Material activities means activities without Krsna consciousness. That is material activity. Just like we are speaking through this microphone. We do not reject it as material. We take it as spiritual. Because it is being used in spreading Krsna consciousness. Therefore if Krsna is spirit, then these so-called material elements, they are also spirit. But it is used as material because we do not remember the relationship of these material elements with Krsna.
Therefore the conclusion is when we are forgetful of Krsna, then it is material. Otherwise, there is nothing as material. Everything is spiritual. So if we think in that way, thinking, feeling, and willing, if we utilize our psychological activities in Krsna consciousness, then we keep steady in attached with Krsna. Yukta-vairägyam ucyate. Vairägya means renunciation. We do not require to renounce anything, provided we see everything dovetailed in Krsna consciousness."
It is so very important that we do not manufacture our own ways and speculative realizations in this regard. The principle of yukta-vairagya is a slippery slope that can be easily taken advantage of by the immature sadhaka, who uses the improper application of this principle in such a way to justify their continued attachment to various kinds of sense gratifications that do nothing to actually serve the Lord and His devotees.
This unfortunate bond can be broken by making the order of our spiritual master our life and soul. In the Nectar of Devotion, Prabhupada writes:
"Similarly, we can offer many services with our bodily activities, but all such activities must be in relationship with Krsna. This relationship is established by connecting oneself with the bona fide spiritual master who is the direct representative of Krsna in disciplic succession. Therefore the execution of Krsna consciousness activities with the body should be directed by the spiritual master and then performed with faith."
The essence of this mood is expressed in verse 80 from the 13th chapter of the Madhya-Lila:
"'I am not a brāhmaṇa, I am not a kṣatriya, I am not a vaiśya or a śūdra. Nor am I a brahmacārī, a householder, a vānaprastha or a sannyāsī. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the maintainer of the gopīs. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.'"
When we actually feel this mood, and dovetail our living, loving activities in this way, then we can understand that the spiritual energy is actually interacting with and influencing our lives. We become absorbed in the order of the acaryas and there is no danger of becoming mistaken in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
It is this shelter, this actual productive and positive comfort and protection, which is the aspiration of our devotional creeper. Our creeper must cling to the order and protection of the guru in order to survive and thrive. Prabhupada says in this connection in his lecture:
"Bhakti-latä seed. Bhakti's compared just like a creeper. The creeper does not stand alone. It embraces another tree and then it grows. Similarly, bhakti-latä, bhakti always embraces the lotus feet of Krsna, and then grows. Therefore it is called bhakti-latä. So bhakti-latä-bija. If one is fortunate, by accumulating this imperceptible good activities, by association with devotees, then he gets this bhakti-latä-bija, the seed of bhakti-latä.
Just like you get some nice seed of rose flower. So if you sow it on the ground, just becoming a nice gardener, and pour water, then it gradually grows. So we have to take the bhakti-latä-bija from the bona fide spiritual master, and sow it within the heart. And pour water. Just like simply sowing the seed is not your business is finished. You have to sow, you have to pour water."
Through this connection, we get the strength of the spiritual energy from our guru, and the knowledge of how to use it. We learn, in a very scientific and practical sense, how to use our energy and who to use it for. It becomes inspired by Krsna, for Krsna. Prabhupada concludes:
"This is spiritual energy. Just like Arjuna is fighting. That energy is inspired by Krsna. So Arjuna took it, "I must fight. Krsna wants it. I must satisfy Krsna." This is spiritual energy. Just see. The other party, they are also fighting in the same energy, but they have no Krsna consciousness. So to act in Krsna consciousness is nothing wonderful. Simply you have to divert the energy for Krsna. This is Krsna consciousness. Everyone has got energy, but when it is enacted for one's sense gratification, that is material. And when it is enacted for the satisfaction of Krsna, that is spiritual."