Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Compassionate Reflections #5

LinkInspired by my reading of "Vaisnava Compassion" by HH Satsvarupa Maharaja

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."-Jesus Christ, The Gospel of Thomas

We carry within us the most divine of possibilities, and by the process of Krsna Consciousness, we come into full bloom, into the full potentialities of ourselves and what we are capable of doing in service to the servants of the servants.

The great catch is that also within us is Krsna Himself, and as He has said, He will preserve what we have and carry to us what we lack, so in actuality our abilities to serve and to love in our divine nature and connection with Krsna is unlimited.

We know that unless we bring these divine potentialities forth from within us, we will be stuck on the wheel of samsara, forever witnessing the snake of the material nature eat its own tail.

In relating to compassion, we must learn and strive and struggle to open our hearts to the living inhabitants of this world, big and small. If we do not cultivate this sweet flower, then we've barely begun on the golden path of devotion to Krsna.


In his article "Attracting Krsna's Compassion", Maharaja states it plain: We must come before Krsna in a state of complete poverty, in a state of complete dependence at His lotus feet, and in this way we will actually receive His mercy.

This is heavy. I've had close associates in my life get on my case for showing overt dependence to those I love and need. The values of our contemporary society force us to stand independent, without the emotional connections we survived on as a child.

The problem is that trying to stand on our own leads always to tears, fears, and failure. It is truly an act of the greatest surrender to live and give our life in such a way that we give up all independent aspirations and become fully dependent on Krsna.

Maharaja writes:

"Spiritual poverty refers to the awareness and admittance that we have no spiritual qualities. The scriptures are full of lists of devotional qualities-devotees are completely attached to Krsna, completely honest, meek, humble, clean, surrendered, nonenvious, well versed in the scripture, and simple. We must face that we don't actually possess these qualities. When we face that fact, we can before God as we truly are: without anything."

It takes a hell of a lot of courage to explore and even experience our own deficiencies. In my own life, it's become pretty clear that I have only the slightest idea and realization of these key devotional qualities.

My only hope is to somehow put myself into an environment where I can be constantly humbled, in both pleasant and unpleasant fashions. This is my only worth.

This spiritual poverty is actually so glorious, if we can actually accept it with open arms and with diminishing returns from our false ego.

It may be a sign of weakness in material estimations to show over-dependence to those who have the ability to protect and/or exploit us, but it can give us the greatest strength to actually develop the qualities of a Vaisnava if our relationship with Krsna becomes a desperate state of reliance, confidence, and trust.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Big Apple

The sojourn of this spirit soul has made the most essential stop: camping down with the devotional all-stars at the Bhaktivedanta Ashram in the hippest spot on the planet, The East Village on the island of Manhattan in New York City.

Slinging books in the subway, curd subji for lunch, jokes and slokes, doing a little jig or two at the crack of dawn, screeching fire engines, faces of all colors, a little already feels like home.

Following in the literal footsteps of Srila Prabhupada, we share and shape the cultural fabric of this fantastic urban wonderland.

Here's our website, and stay tuned for much more.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Compassionate Reflections #4

Inspired by my reading of "Vaisnava Compassion" by HH Satsvarupa Maharaja

Spiritual life, from beginning to end, is an opening of our hearts in divine, dramatic, and dynamic selfless acts and ways. Your neighbor, your dearest friend, and the nearest stranger are all spirit souls trapped in bodies and minds full of nonsense, and we have to drop our doors and walls that keep us trapped in our own heads and help each other!

The basic principles of compassion, tolerance, and nonviolence are essential to any sadhu, whether neophyte or enlightened. Maharaja focuses on the nonviolent principle, ahimsa, in the 2nd section of the book, stating quite clearly that unless one learns to honor all life as being part and parcel of God, limiting the harm done to them, then one remains hopelessly stuck on the material platform.

Ahimsa means much more than not frying the insignificant ants with a magnifying glass. It is the expression of our duty in helping others free themselves from the shackles of lifeless matter. Prabhupada writes in the purport to SB 11.3.24:

"Ahimsam indicates that one should not committ violence against any living entity...Ultimately the material world is full of violence, and the laws of nature, which impose old age, disease and death upon every living creature, are themselves filled with violence. Therefore, if somehow or other one can convince others to surrender to Krsna and thus release themselves from the violent laws of material nature, that is the perfection of ahimsa."

Walking the walk-we can't convince the fickle others if we don't show, beyond just faith and ideas, that we are practically alleviating the suffering of all of the living and breathing.

This is why it's so important we remain in open communication and collaboration with progressive-minded peoples in the fields of environmentalism and consciousness expansion.

We all share the problems of our specfic planetary situation. What we offer as devotees of Krsna is specific answers to the questions we all have. But we must apply this gift of the Absolute Truth in ways and hows that link us up with the nonviolent movements of our time.

We must share and even lead, and this is the defining objective of the next generation of devotees who push forwards Prabhupada's movement.