Monday, November 2, 2009

The Nectar Chronicles: Part 11

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.


We must have the constant meditation that we are stuck in a very unnatural state. The workings of the material body and mind do so much to convince us that we are shuffling along on the mortal coil, comfortable and content, following the society crowd to balls and bazaars selling only the flashiest kinds of "perfection."

But in our heart of hearts, we know something is drastically wrong. This inner imbalance creates in our flawed being of paranoia and fear, so deeply rooted into us that even when the best of our best friends-Krsna-arrives to bring us out of the ruts, we shun him and avoid his gaze and his loving embrace with all the muddled energy we can muster.

But for those of us who choose to face His gaze, we begin to rediscover our natural self-humble yet confident, dynamic yet simple, and understand of how to properly give and receive real love.

On this autumn Braja evening, Prabhupada, as always, has us start us from the ground up, by bringing the natural flavor of bhakti into our sensory engagements. He says:

"So Krsna consciousness movement means to purify our senses from the designation and engage the senses in the service of the Lord. Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. That is described here. That is wanted. It is called bhakti. "In our conditional state our senses are engaged in serving these bodily demands. When the same senses are engaged in executing the order of Krsna, it is called bhakti." This is bhakti."

What is our natural position? That we are the part and parcel of Krsna, the most intimate association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and this is eternally so. We've forgotten this intimate bond, and we yearn for it.

When we center our life in this way, taking spiritual pride in our oneness yet loving difference with Krsna, we see and feel and hear and experience our existence in its natural flow. Prabhupada says in this regard:

"We are part and parcel of Krsna; therefore our only duty is to serve Krsna. That is natural. There is no question about it. Part and parcel means helping the whole. As we have several times explained that this finger is the part and parcel of my body, so it is the duty of the finger always serve the body, whole body. It has no other occupation. As soon as I desire, "Finger, you come to this place," immediately it comes. "Finger, you come to this place," it immediately comes. So we can study. What is the meaning of part and parcel? Part and parcel means to serve the whole. Krsna is the Absolute Truth. We are relative truth. Therefore it is our duty to serve Krsna. That is our natural position."

It is the position of the pure devotee that he/she sees all living entities purely as spirit soul. In their consciousness, they are literally seeing through our material bodies and minds to our natural essence.

There are numerous accounts of devotees bearing the gaze of Prabhupada and having this distinct impression that he was seeing beyond and through all their nonsense, to who they really were and always are.

This, of course as we have mentioned again and again before, is one of the real revolutionary aspects of Prabhupada's mission. He says:

"This is the only platform, Krsna consciousness, where we can unite on spiritual platform. We cannot be united by resolutions. Just like the United Nations: they are trying for the last thirty years to become united -- simply resolution. On that platform we cannot be united. On political platform or social platform, that is not possible, because the designations are there. When we are free from designation, sarvopadhi-virnirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam, when we are purified, then we can unite in the service of the Lord, Krsna. That is real unity"
This leveling of the playing field, to the core of the spirit soul, is the natural equality that humanity will never find by artificial means. Indeed, it is Lord Caitanya's own mood:

"‘I am not a brahmana, I am not a ksatriya, I am not a vaisya or a sudra. Nor am I a brahmacari, a householder, a vanaprastha or a sannyasi. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krsna, the maintainer of the gopis. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.'" >>> Ref. VedaBase => Madhya 13.80
It is interesting to understand Prabhupada's direct context and application on this evening, as he had acutely taken notice that his young and sincere American disciples were not being accepted on various social and spiritual levels by the residents of Vrndavana.

Prabhupada is strong, unequivocal, and humble pleading and offering to the Brajbasis that they too should understand and realize their deep spiritual heritage, based on this platform of ultimate spiritual unity, and apply this vision to their dust-smeared eyes. He says:

"These are clear things. There is no hazy idea. Everything is clear. We have to become designationless, free from designation. We shall forget. Not that "Here are some foreigners. Pick up some quarrel with them and try to drive them away. Why they have come?" So many nonsense things are going on, for want of actual spiritual education. This is not good, at least, for Vrndavana. This is not good. People have not been educated properly with the Vrndavana spirit. Therefore things are happening like that. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam: [Cc. Madhya 19.170] how to engage the senses, being freed from designation, in the service of the Lord. That is Vrndavana life. That is Vrndavana atmosphere. If there is any other purpose than this, then it is very difficult to utilize the opportunity, the fortune of living in Vrndavana. One has to be designationless."

This equal vision purifies our purpose, and although it certainly seems abstract and distant to this neophyte, it is certainly attainable by a steady and certain test of our faith, a call to lay our roots down in the character building of the rules and regulations, strong association, and our sincere attempts to please the spiritual master.

Once again, by our effort, we come into the natural flow of bhakti, and we instinctively appreciate, honor, and deeply befriend all those on the same path. Prabhupada here again is speaking with a humble entreaty to his fellow Brajbasis when he says:

"Similarly, natural flow of Krsna consciousness is that as soon as one sees a person in Vaisnava symptoms, he should be eager to welcome him. He should be very much anxious to talk with him about Krsna, Krsna-katha. Bodhayantah parasparam tusyanti ca ramanti ca. Krsna conscious people should be so nice that as soon as they meet together, they talk about Krsna, they try to understand about Krsna, and they feel pleasure in that way. That is Krsna consciousness society. We are trying to make a Krsna consciousness society to give this opportunity to these people, how one should be engladdened by seeing one devotee and talk with them, one another, about Krsna, forgetting their designations. That is Krsna consciousness."
Krsna consciousness means this eagerness in three ways. Eagerness in our own personal effort and dedication, eagerness in our enthusiasm, confidence, and patience to pass this gift onto others, and our eagerness to share, love, and support our fellow Vaisnavas, creating the kind of community that sustains all of individually in this sometimes illogical and difficult task to be a spirit in the material world.

When we dive into this eagerness, we find that the material distresses that leave us stuck in the box of designations, illusions, and strife dissolve away, and we come to real love, to real happiness, as Prabhupada lovingly concludes on this evening:

"When actually one comes in the platform of devotional service, for him, there is no problem. The whole world is disturbed, agitated with so many problems, but for a devotee, there is no problem. Visvam purna-sukhayate. And they are trying, the whole world is trying to become very big man. Somebody's trying to be very big merchant or big industrialist, or minister, or this or that, and others, they are trying to occupy the post of Indra, Candra, devata. That is competition, going on. As soon as there is some competition, even persons, demigods, like Indra, Candra, they become disturbed, and they try to stop it. But a devotee has no such concern. He's not disturbed. Because he's engaged in the service of the Lord, he feels so much happy that he has no disturbance."