Monday, October 12, 2009
The Nectar Chronicles: Part 9
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.
Good fortune often seems to be nothing more than an accident. Sure, according to material calculations, we can place ourselves, by working hard and with due diligence, into a situation where this fortune may be more available, but what is the ultimate benefit? What is the ultimate result?
The fortune we seek in stock markets, lottery tickets, slot machines, and random luck does nothing to satisfy the desires of our spiritual nature-the desires for real, permanent happiness and love that permeate through our material coverings. On this Vrndavana evening, Prabhupada defines for us who is the real fortunate person.
It is that person who comes in contact with the bonafide spiritual master. And how is he bonafide? He is the sold-out representative of Krsna, without deviation or adulteration, whose only mission is to canvass expertly for his sweet Lord. Prabhupada explains:
"So that is bona fide guru. Where is the difficulty to find out a bona fide guru? Just like Caitanya Mahäprabhu. Caitanya Mahäprabhu said, yäre dekha täre kara krsna upadesa [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. Caitanya Mahäprabhu says that "You preach the words of Krsna." Therefore He's bona fide. Similarly, anyone who is representing Krsna and canvassing for Krsna, he's bona fide guru. Where is the difficulty? Is there any difficulty? Anyone can understand that if Krsna is the original guru, and if somebody's canvassing for Krsna, he's bona fide guru. If somebody canvassing for himself, he's not bona fide guru."
We must be ready to accept Krsna in our heart, guiding us by His will, and by this readiness and sincerity we can understand who is the bonafide teacher who can guide us. In his purport to S.B 2.1.10, Prabhupada explains our qualification or lack thereof:
"For advancement of material knowledge there is a need for personal ability and researching aptitude, but in the case of spiritual knowledge, all progress depends more or less on the mercy of the spiritual master. The spiritual master must be satisfied with the disciple; only then is knowledge automatically manifest before the student of spiritual science. The process should not, however, be misunderstood to be something like magical feats whereby the spiritual master acts like a magician and injects spiritual knowledge into his disciple, as if surcharging him with an electrical current.
The bona fide spiritual master reasonably explains everything to the disciple on the authorities of Vedic wisdom. The disciple can receive such teachings not exactly intellectually, but by submissive inquiries and a service attitude. The idea is that both the spiritual master and the disciple must be bona fide."
Krsna knows our heart. He knows and sees the sincere desire for His love and His service which is like bright, stark sunlight somehow covered over by the clouds of our material desires and conditioning. As soon as we show Krsna we want Him in a serious way, He is duty bound to deliver to us the bonafide teacher who will open the door for us. Prabhupada explains:
"So Krsna can understand. We cannot hide anything from Krsna. That is not possible. Because Krsna is sitting side by side, just like two birds, sitting side by side. One bird is eating the fruit of the tree. Another bird is the witness. That is the Vedic version. So as soon as I become serious to know about Krsna, Krsna can understand, "Now My friend is very serious." So He will find out a bona fide guru for him."
Krsna's personal direction, through the via medium of the spiritual master, is the most intimate and loving guidance we can ever have. It gives us our real intelligence, unstained by the mental machinations and imaginations that can only lead us further down the rabbit hole.
The matter is surrender to Krsna: sarva-dharman parityaja. It is a matter we should consider and strive for with our utmost sincerity and effort. As Prabhupada describes in the purport to this verse:
"As soon as one seriously engages himself in devotional service to the Lord in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, at once he becomes freed from all contamination of material nature. There are different processes of religion and purificatory processes by cultivation of knowledge, meditation in the mystic yoga system, etc., but one who surrenders unto Kṛṣṇa does not have to execute so many methods. That simple surrender unto Kṛṣṇa will save him from unnecessarily wasting time. One can thus make all progress at once and be freed from all sinful reactions."
It is a simplicity which includes everything. For myself, having what you might call an "activist" history and tendencies, or a deep-rooted but not always well-expressed desire to change our collective human situation for the better in a moral and just sense, I begin to understand that the umbrella of Krsna's mercy, the "house the whole world can live in" that Prabhupada built, is the shelter that can satisfy anyone's desires for peace, equality, and happiness without fail.
So it is also for the spiritual seekers. One-pointed focus and surrender to the loving will of Krsna quicky, simply, and sublimely brings us to the goal, back to our natural condition. It's all-inclusive and the summit of all spiritual benefits, as Prabhupada speaks this evening:
"If one understands Krsna, then Paramätmä and Brahman becomes automatically known. Just like if you have got 100,000 dollars, ten dollar is within it, fifty dollar is within it, five hundred dollars is within it. So in the Bhagavad-gitä everything is discussed there, jnäna-yoga, karma-yoga, dhyäna-yoga, buddhi-yoga, so many yogas. But Krsna says, sarva-dharmän parityajya mäm ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66], ultimately. That means, "If you surrender unto Me, all these yogas are included." All these yogas, karma- yoga, jnäna-yoga, dhyäna-yoga, all yogas are included. Yoginäm api sarvesah [Bg. 6.47]. That we have to understand. We have to become fortunate to understand this philosophy."
It is our great good fortune to have Krsna in our life. He is the loving father, the head of the family of devotees who keep us close and make us whole. It's a wholeness that comes not from impersonal oneness, but from oneness of purpose, oneness of determination, a purity and clarity that unites and brings real peace. Prabhupada says:
"Oneness does not mean that all these individuals become one, homogeneous. No. They keep their individuality, but they become one in the service of Krsna. That is oneness. Now everyone is working for his sense gratification, personal. When everyone becomes agreed that "We shall satisfy Krsna," that is oneness. That is oneness. One nation. We can understand: one family. One family means they're individual persons, but they're working for the interest of the family—all of them combinedly, conjointly, working."
Or as Prabhupada continues to plead with us: "Your love for me will be shown by how much you cooperate with us." One thing I personally realize as I grow up and out in the Krsna Consciousness movement is that differences of opinion are ever-present, so we must embrace the dynamic opportunities within this dichotomy to fully embrace what Prabhupada has given us.
Working together brings about success or failure, and success only comes when Krsna remains at the center of our deliberations. Krsna, as the best friend of each and every one of us, should be the center of all we do, think, and feel. This is a natural feeling of absorption that we can experience in a limited way with loved ones in our own life.
Our unity of purpose, in Prabhupada's mood, is to gives Krsna's sublime friendship to everyone we can. Prabhupada says in this regard:
"If one preaches Krsna consciousness and teaches everyone that Krsna is your best friend... He does not say, "I am your best friend." "I am your best friend in this sense that I am giving you this information." Actually, Krsna is your best friend. What can I do? I am a teeny living entity. What can I do for you? I be..., may become your friend, but when you are in danger, I cannot give you any protection. Krsna can give you protection. This is real friendship. He does not take himself. He always carries the message only."
The spiritual fortune is rare to have and hold, but it is the liberal mercy of our mission that its rare nature does not preclude its full accessibility to every living entity, everywhere, and at all times. We must try to understand simply how to be a humble, empowered instrument of this mercy and fortune.