Connection with Divinity
We must connect with such a center and only then will we attain bhakti. Otherwise it may be imitation bhakti, not devotion. So many fleeting desires may make it impure: our attraction for knowledge, to satisfy our inner curiosity about bhakti before accepting the process; or the desire for fame when delivering a lecture. We must surrender and receive the agent's order. We have to admit that we do not know what is good and bad, that we must have a direct order from above.
When the guru is living far away and there is no time to ask him, but we must take some immediate decision, then we should try to think how he would direct us in such a position and act accordingly. We must understand what our Gurudeva would ask us to do in this situation. We should try to get some sort of order from him. He might have said something in a similar situation, and as far as we can understand, we should follow that.
The criterion of bhakti is that whatever we do, the starting idea must come from above, irrespective of the action. Whether we are to go to the temple or do anything else, it does not matter. Our action must have the upper connection. That is bhakti. It is independent of the three gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas. Ahimsa, non-injury-sattva-guna; himsa, violence-raja-guna; sleeping and idlenesstama-guna.
The scriptures and mahajanas come to our help. At present we may think that independence will give us proper satisfaction, but really it is incorrect. That thought is our enemy. We want to get out of any circumstantial constraint, and if we become free, we'll be happy. This is wrong. Rather, the opposite is true: we should try to live in a joint family. We must be accommodating; we must correct our nature. Our independence is our enemy.
The Deity is subjective existence. We are the object of His sight. He is all-seeing, all-feeling, all-knowing. The Bhagavatam says that is the proper view. Then we are in a position to view the Reality; we have to come in touch with Reality. It is all super-subjective. Then we come to live in the dhama, the holy abode.
That is the dhama, the divine area, where one can feel that the whole environment is superior, made of subjective existence. All should be revered; none are there to serve us, there for our enjoyment. Everything is to be approached with veneration and regard. We are their servants. The Lord and His kingdom are venerable, super-subjective. Then we come into contact with Vaikuntha, the higher entity.
The objective entity is all maya, all bhoga. What we see as the object of our enjoyment is illusion and concoction, maya. When everything is revered, worshiped, and treated with respect, then we are in Vaikuntha, in Vrndavana. It is mentioned in Caitanya Caritamrta, vaikunthera prthivy-adi sakala cinmaya (C.c. Adi-lila 5.53): everything is made of spiritual stuff and superior to us. Below there is Maya and above there is Yogamaya, the land of the Lord. We want to get out of this entanglement, this separate interest. What is superior, we imagine that to be inferior to ourselves and want to use it for our own purpose and enjoyment. The world of enjoyment is a concocted one.
We should learn to see that everything must be treated with reverence and with serving attitude, everything. Then we can come in contact with the dhama, the land of the Lord, where every particle is to be worshiped. Everything holds a superior position. What is really supernatural, we are treating it as though it is naturally part of the sense experience. No. Just try, bhidyate hrdaya-granthis cidyante sarva-samsayah, ksiyante casya karmani mayi drs e 'khilatmani (Bhag. 11.20.30). Disassociate the ego of separate existence totally from enjoyment. Abolish the tendency to enjoy, to utilize whatever we find to satisfy our senses. This angle of vision, this maya, this ego, the center of such experience should be totally abolished. Dissolved. And all doubts will be cleared when we find ourselves in that plane.
When we are free from the clutches of separate interest, then all suspicion and doubt will be cleared. We shall feel this through direct soul experience, the experience of the inner senses that we possess. Then there will be no need for all our attempts and efforts; they'll stop. No special endeavor must be undertaken for our purpose because we have no separate existence. We are particles in the Infinite and that which is feeding the Infinite will feed us also.
We shall find the general interest everywhere. We are not separate, so there is no necessity of acting for our special interest. We shall see the divine arrangement for everyone, including every grain of sand. We are one in the whole and the main current is doing everything, so no karma, no action is necessary on our own behalf.
Then it will become very clear that we have our duty in that universal flow, and we are one of them. We are particles there. Automatically the universal force handles us in such a way. That is Yogamaya, the Lord's internal potency, not Mahamaya, the controller of the material universe. That plane is not acted upon by separate interest, but influenced by the general interest of the whole. We have our movement there, and that is service, not enjoyment.
Deep Engagement in Responsible Service
Mental engagement can be attained only by responsibility. Some responsible service is given to the disciple. We feel the weight and it occupies our thoughts; we cannot but think about it. The mind is engaged there, surely. Thus, the mind gets no chance to dwell on lower things. This is the beauty of deep engagement in responsible service. In the practical sense, that helps us a great deal. Then association and scriptures will really be of substantial benefit to us: as service (pariprasna, sevaya).
As much as we are able to engage in deep, responsible service, the effect of our impure tendencies will be minimized. They will come and peep, and will step back when they discover that we are deeply engaged. We have no time to give attention to lust and anger; we cannot be enticed. In this way, they will have to retreat. Then if they return once, twice, thrice or more, we may not spare any attention for them. We will be very deeply engaged in seva.
Seva, service, should not be merely physical; there is mental seva, and only responsibility can capture the mind. In responsibility, the mind is compelled to think on the matter; otherwise, the mind may be free to wander hither and thither even while the body is apparently engaged. So engage the mind in deep service, responsible service.
What is necessary is the dissolution of the separate interest activity. Then one will emerge into the all venerable, all respectful worldno connection with the lower things. We are servants of the servant of the servant. We are the lowest; all others are higher. We shall come into contact with all higher substance, and the lower substance of concoction will vanish for all time. It is sat-cit-anandam. Sat, eternal existence; cit, all consciousness, all soul, all subjective; and anandam, no anxiety. The general flow is irresistible and automatic, so there is no possibility of any suffering or pain. That is the spontaneous flow of blissfulness, and we shall come to live in that plane. Rather, Yogamaya, a higher, superior and affectionate power, maintains us. She will capture us and utilize us in the service of the mysterious Lord Krsna.
Under Our Affectionate Guardian's Hand
Jnana-sunya-bhakti. There is no calculation, no self-interest, but we are so given to the central cause that it is as in a dream. Automatically we are working like an instrument, and we are happy. We are manipulated and handled by faith, by affection, by goodness, by love, by mercy. There is no necessity of any individual selfish calculation. The very soil is thinking of our interest. Everyone there, at the cost of their own interest, is seeking the interest of others.
There is no dearth of anandam, rasam, that for which we are searching. No dearth of that there. Profusely, everything is there. Affection, sympathy, mercy, and love are overflowing in the land of opulence. In any way we can, we must enter that plane; they will take care of us. The soil will take care of us! The soil is so high, so elevated, so good, bhumis cintamani, vrksa kalpa taru, gamanam natyam katha ganam. Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, everything is sweet in the land of sweetness.
Distributing Their Inner Wealth
It is necessary that we should become free from those that are subservient to us. Our tendency in the baddha-jiva conditioned position, is that all should serve us and please us, but we must become free of that attitude. Not only must we be indifferent to them, but also we must have some positive service engagement.
All that is around us is higher-every particle is of a higher, superior substance. That is what is necessary, cid-vilasa. On the whole our progress means that we shall not come in contact with any lower substances. We are the smallest of the small, the lowest of the low. We are encouraged to accept the mentality of a servant, the servant of the servant of the servant. It is not hyperbolic; it is reality. We have to understand real life, in service. All is good around us, superior to us. Necessarily we shall always invite some improvement in ourselves through association with the higher agents. Every second we can imbibe something positive.
Cast Ourselves to the Infinite's Whim
We are taking a very courageous step now. Throwing ourselves at the whim of the Infinite, from the tangible to the Infinite, we are going to take a very courageous step. How will the Infinite deal with us? Will He adore us, or will He ignore us totally, or will He make some negligent arrangement for us? There is no surety.
Aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam. We may be lost in the wave of the infinite power, va pada-ratam pinastu mam adarsanam marma hatam karotu va. We may not even have any chance of coming into contact with Him, yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato. He's whimsical in our understanding. He's the adoring One and He is ignoring us. No explanation can be called for, mat prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah. But we have no other alternative than to surrender to His whimsical activity. This attitude we must adopt.
To cast ourselves into the Infinite whim, this is a very, very uncertain and extremely courageous act, and we are going to do it willingly. We do not know what will be our fate. Still we want that promotion to a connection with the superior power. It seems to be a risk, but still it may be a substantial gain. We have come to the right place for shelter. We are being connected with the real plane. It is not a sham; that will be our consolation.
The favor of so many lower agents, that is flickering, and there is no stability. We may be ignored by the central power, but if at any moment we can draw their notice, our position will be very safe and high. So we are taking a great risk for our greatest prospect in life, though it may not be easily obtained. It is a risky act, sarva-dharman-parityajya.
Otherwise, to remain in our own present position and progress in a slow way, that is also recommended, sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah, para-dharmo bhayavahah. "Do not be too ambitious. Keep your position firm and try to advance slowly." That is the ordinary recommendation.
But for those who have courage, there is sarva-dharman-parityajya. "Give up everything and try to come to Me. I am there and I shall save you." From His side this kind of consolation is there. "I am not blind, I can see anything and everything. If you really come to My shelter, I am ready. I shall embrace you." From His side the statement is such.
From the perspective of the devotees who are swimming in the ocean, and pressed by the current, undercurrent and overflow, it is very difficult! Still they cannot leave that campaign, that revolutionary effort. The constitutional path and the revolutionary way, both are there. But the constitutional way makes for very slow progress. It is not certain when we shall reach the goal, and sometimes there are setbacks.
Better to Serve in Heaven
We are laboring under so much suspicion; so engrossed in and oppressed by maya, the misrepresented part of the world, that we cannot even think of the conception of truth and goodness. We are so far from the standard of goodness and truth; we cannot understand what should be the real symptom of higher existence. We are so fallen.
Satan says, "It is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven." That is generally the outcome of our life experience here. We want to reign in hell rather than serve in heaven. But just the opposite will be really helpful to us. Die to live. Leaving this realm, we want to pass through to the highest. Crossing beyond the association of the all-accommodating Brahman, beyond the Paramatma conception, beyond even the source of all sources and Master of all energy, Narayana, there is Krsna in Vrndavana, satisfying the whole existence with the fulfillment of love. There it is apparent that Infinity's approach to the finite is in its fullest sense, as if He is one of us. He is so close to us, and His love and affection are so much extended there.
Power of Affection
Submission to the master is so intense that the master becomes subservient to the servant through affection: "At My beck and call he can give his life. So how should I deal with him?" Automatically, the master's heart goes to the servant. That is love, prema. Such wonderful potency is in that love and affection. The Absolute is controlled by His potency.
Generally the owner of the potency guides the potency, but sometimes the potency guides the owner. That is love. It is not the physical capacity but the fine capacity of the very subtlest force, aham bhakta paradhino. "I feel as if I am interdependent, not Absolute. I feel that I am controlled by them only by devotion; I am not master of My own Self." The Absolute says like that. What wonderful thing is bhagavata-prema? It is present in the highest sense in the case of Krsna in Vrndavana. Aham iha nandam vande yasyalinde param brahma, "I have no attraction for Mahabharata, Veda, Upanisad and all these things," nandah kim akarod brahman, sreya evam mahodayam, "but my only attraction is for Nanda, because I found that the Supreme Powerful Absolute is crawling in his compound as a baby boy." In the Bhagavatam this is a very valuable situation. What is this? The Parabrahman is in such an ordinary position. Is He Parabrahman, or is He something else?
Yasoda, Krsna's Mother, is punishing Him, but when trying to bind Him, at every attempt the rope is two fingers short. The rope is only two fingers shorter than necessary to bind Him around the waist, but whenever one more foot is added, it is the same two fingers short. She is punishing Him and He is crying, but still the difference is there. Against His will she is trying to bind Him around the belly, but the rope is two fingers short. More rope is added, but it is always two fingers short, again and again. He is sucking her breast and when she is punishing Him, He cries, "Oh, don't beat Me, My mother, I won't do any more of these things." At another time, when He was yawning, Yasoda found the whole brahmanda, the entire creation, within the boy's mouth. Then she was afraid, but the next moment a cat meowed and the boy climbed on her lap, out of fear. "Oh, He is my child, my son. He is not all-accommodating Brahman, no! He is my child!" He is playing in this way, like hide and seek.
Infinite Touches the Finite
The most miraculous things are coming to a simple level. Most playfully and in a simple way He is doing great deeds, which take so much time, so much power, so much valor, and all is finished in only a second in a very peculiar way. Great things are done with a very small attempt. The Infinite's approach to the finite in the closest form is controlled by a special tendency, and that is love, prema.
Bhakti is such a thing. We shall try to understand what is this devotion that can control the Absolute. Mahaprabhu has come to suggest that we follow this path only, and it is in Vrndavana. Try to have a position, a place in Vrndavana, in that level, in that plane of life. With this general conception we shall have to approach Vrndavana. And what is Vrndavana? It is not the sum total of some appearance. A mere imitation of a particular group of appearances cannot give such a result. The very life is such, so valuable-the life transaction must be there.
Die to live. Sacrifice. We must invite that sort of death that will kill death itself. If we want to live in that high plane, we shall have to give ourselves completely-this is the price of that valuable goal. What is that subtle power? How do we acquire it? What should be the price? How deep should be the transaction?
Easy Grant to Your Appeal
When we are going to have a touch of the Super-subjective, we must know that He is all-seeing, all-feeling, all-hearing. The very basis of spiritual life is like this. Then we shall come in contact with the higher reality; otherwise we shall go on plodding in the mud of imagination. The attitude should be to want to be utilized by Him, and try for any chance of serving Him: "I have come here to serve, and not to enjoy the scenery."
He is Infinite and He likes the finite. The finite is His friend. But when the finite wants to show a sham tendency to become big, He dislikes it. When one takes the minutest position, then He comes to embrace him, trnad api sunicena, taror api sahisnuna, amanina manadena, kirtaniyah sada harih. Do not aspire after anything, and whatever comes to attack us, try to know the futility of the attempt. All is under one hand. The Supreme hand is behind everything, so resolve to tolerate all. We must exhibit tolerance, until the upper hand comes to control. We don't have to hinder or oppose anythingtrnad api sunicena.
Do not disturb the environment, and if the environment comes to oppress us, then take the course of tolerance. Do not return tit for tat. Try to find the Supreme will there. We should feel, "I have done something wrong, so this is coming to control me and to exact the reaction for my offenses. Tat te 'nukampam susamiksamano. In the perfect vision, we are not to quarrel with the environment. Not even a straw can move without the Supreme will, without the order of the Supreme will. So, whatever is coming to attack me is my necessity. It is necessary for me, to correct me."
When the mother is punishing the child, she does so only with the good intention to correct the child. Similarly, the Absolute has no vindictive nature to punish us, but His dealings are only for our correction. We shall have to see and approach in that way.
Tat te 'nukampam susamiksamano bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam: "Whatever undesirable things we find here are the result of our previous karma, and by the good will of the Supreme, that previous karma is going to be finished. We will be relieved. We will be made fit for higher service to Him, so this has come." That is the advice in Bhagavatam. Don't quarrel with the environment. Try to be adjusted with it, correct ourselves. Everything is all right.
Then amanina, do not hanker after any position, manadena, but give respect to one and all. With this attitude take the Name, and our appeal to the Supreme will very easily be granted. We will have an easy and quick grant for our application if we approach Him with this attitude. This is the key to our success, our way to be happy. Do not waste energy in every direction, but command the whole thing in one direction, drawing it in from all sides. Do not waste energy to fight with the environment for anything, but the whole effort should be directed towards the Absolute. Then in no time, success will come to crown our attempt.
Highest Criterion of Lila
Submission to Krsna's request, whatever satisfies Him, that is truth. The satisfaction of Krsna is the final test, not whether it is good or bad, measured by the standards of this world. Only the satisfaction of Krsna; the highest criterion of lila is there.
In the pastimes of Ramacandra we don't find all these things. There niti, or respect for the rules and regulations, has the upper hand. But with Krsna-lila we find the inner importance, eliminating the external rigidity of morality.
Karna insulted Yudhisthira on the battlefield. Yudhisthira left the battle and Arjuna followed. Krsna also came for a rest in the midst of the war, for some refreshment. At that time Yudhisthira rebuked Arjuna, "You have taken me and entangled me in this war. I was not in favor of war. I depended on you and you do not care to fight sincerely for me. You were there and Karna insulted me. I curse your Gandiva!"
Arjuna had made an oath that he would behead whoever would offend his Gandiva bow, or he would die himself. Yudhisthira cursed the Gandiva, and Arjuna was about to take out his sword. Krsna said, "What are you doing, you fool? Are you going to behead your elder brother, to fulfill your promise? What is the value of that promise? Did you not promise thousands of times that you would make Yudhisthira, your elder brother, the king, the Emperor? But what are those promises, when you are ready to carry out one bogus promise to behead your elder brother? So many promises are made on the battlefield. The war is continuing in full rage, and you are going to behead your elder brother?
"Do you think that this is the purport of the law? Do you think that moral law has been created for such a triviality? Eliminating the substance, you are taking only a part of the form and making much of a mole-hill. Yes, there are eight kinds of death. To praise one's own self, that is also a kind of death. So you praise yourself, you're so big, so big, so big. And that is a kind of death." Then Arjuna put away his sword.
The purpose is the satisfaction of Krsna-the Center, the Absolute good Who is all-conscious and all-knowing, omniscient. His satisfaction, that is the highest criterion of every action, and all other laws are subsidiary to that law. There are so many laws, and so many grades, but the highest point is that all are leading to the satisfaction of Krsna. That should be the highest criterion of everything. Krsna sukhatah. He is an autocrat, Absolute, but He is Absolute good. That is the justification. Absolute good is autocratic, and we all are like members of a military camp in relation to the general. There is no other consideration. All law is concentrated in the order of the general, for He knows better than all the soldiers.
We must have our aim fixed towards the higher realm. All must come from there. We cannot waste our energy in any engagement that is considered good or bad from our perspective. This judgement will spring up only from the relativity of this mayic world. We must be very careful that when we catch a wave, the wave is coming from the finest plane, not the gross plane. The thought that motivates us, that excites us to act, from which plane does it come? Is it from the higher, finest plane? Can we catch the news of that wave? If we can read the waves of that higher plane, it is all right.
We should always catch the wave coming from that higher plane. That helps us to begin our activity from there and our services will return there, to be recorded in that plane. That will help us qualitatively in a very extraordinary manner. For qualitative improvement we shall disown our present environment, even including the mental sphere. Try to get information from the highest possible plane and then bow down to that, and not to the external environment in consideration of any good or bad.
Guru Is Servant of His Disciples
This is how Prabhupada began his address. How very beautifully, skillfully and harmoniously he presented the philosophy, the ontological aspect, the conclusion. What is the position of guru? The guru is a servant of the disciple. Externally, the disciples are seen to be servants, but internally we consider the guru to be the servant of all his disciples. He tries to make them fit for the service of Krsna. The guru is serving so many persons so that they may become fit to serve Krsna, just as when we go to the temple to clean and arrange things so that it will be acceptable to Krsna.
The guru goes even further. He says, "I am in danger. You have all come to give me some engagement. You are forcing me to engage in His service by talking about Him. You are helping me engage in the culture of the soul. You are coming to save me.
The knowledge of Krsna has no limits; it is infinite. The search for Krsna can never be finished, so you cannot rest. You cannot say that you have come so far and now only a few more miles are left before you will finally get Krsna once and for all. No, it is not like that! Our search for Krsna is like swimming in an unlimited ocean, and you have come to encourage me in my movement toward Krsna. You are so many friends who have come to rescue me in this ocean of Krsna-love and Krsna-knowledge. We are joined together in our search for Him."
Approach Guru through Sraddha
Sraddha, reverential faith, must be there in either case-physical closeness or distance is not the question. In the lower stage, physical nearness has more efficacy. By the gurus' movements, his talks, and from his instructions we learn spiritual etiquette. And many spiritual ideals may also become clear in his company. So physical vicinity will be useful in the lower stage, but sraddha must be there, otherwise we may commit offenses.
Physical nearness devoid of faith may be the cause of offenses against Gurudeva. Sometimes the senior godbrothers may be very helpful in our dealings with Gurudeva when we are beginners. Sri Gurudeva's conduct may not always be very clear or helpful for us, so in that case some senior godbrother may come to help us and explain his movements and do away with any difference we may see in him.
isvaranam vacah satyam tathaivacaritam kvacit
"The instructions of the great personages are always true, but their conduct and their practices may not always be useful to the beginners. So the sober person will accept those practices that are backed by his words, understanding that in his higher stage he may do something which may not be useful to those of a lower stage. He has such spiritual power that what may be seen as a defect in the beginner, cannot harm him in any way. Therefore the fair minded beginners will accept those practices which are in consonance with his instructions, as being useful to their progress." (Bhag: 10.33.31)
We should not imitate but rather we should follow. Not anukarana (imitation) but anusarana (to follow in the footsteps). We must understand the difference. Faith or sraddha is the first thing that is necessary for us; then we can have our spiritual guide's connection, whether we are near or far from him. It is vital that the connection be in the proper line, independent of gross or subtle influence. The energizing plane that stimulates our enquiry about our own inner welfare, that is part and parcel of the quest.
Brahma-jijnasa is the quest for the plane of understanding. This has been given in Vedanta, and when it comes to Sriman Mahaprabhu in the line of Srimad Bhagavatam, it is developed to krsnanusandhana, the search for Sri Krsna. Vedanta is the flower, and Srimad Bhagavatam is the ripe fruit of spiritual knowledge. That which is somewhat mixed with activity, ritual, and knowledge in this plane, is found in the Veda. When that flowers in Vedanta it becomes purely "Where am I, what am I?" When the fruit is ripe it develops into utility; that is krsnanusandhana.
Search for Our Heart's Fulfillment
We are searching everywhere for rasa, for satisfaction. We may undertake many different works, but the common factor in all is the quest for satisfaction. Sriman Mahaprabhu has given us the plane of Bhagavatam, which asks, "Who can satisfy all the thirst within me? Where is my Lord, the fulfillment of my heart?" Real enquiry must be for this only; otherwise inquiry will never stop. When inquiry comes to this stage and we have proper guidance, then gradually we will be taken to Him, our Master.
Who are we searching for, that rasa, that happiness, that pleasure? That is our Master, our Guardian, and not our servant. We must not think He has come to satisfy us, with us as masters. He is everything to us, everything for which we are moving this way and that, the goal of our inquiry, or whatever we are doing; He is the center. We are searching for fulfillment, and fulfillment in the highest stage means this: Krsna.
Our real search begins only when we come across the sat-guru, the Krsna-bhakta. Earnest enquiry begins there. Pranipat, pariprasna, sevayawe must be conscious that we are to be utilized by Him for Whom we are searching. Only by seva, service, can we be admitted into that higher world. From the very beginning stage onwards, it is sraddha that can lead us to the great plane, the noble plain.