Sacrifice Our Mundane Experience
Be disgusted with your known world of knowledge, of pleasureeverything. Die to live. Now it appears to be all risk, no gain. Then, when the destination is reached to a certain extent, it will be all gain, no risk. Actually, what we risk is all concoction, misunderstanding. We only need to throw our misconception into the fire to gain a proper conception of reality. When the unreal is put into the fire, we gain the real. This is what "die to live" means.
Here, in this world, we are habituated to think, "I am monarch of all I survey." We want to become a ruler. Whether we are sovereign or not, our tendency is to want to be a monarch. All of us want to be a monarch. There is also another reactionary group that says, "I do not want anything. I want nothing but dreamless sleep. Cessation is the most valuable thing in our experience, complete cessation of this life."
Both these aspects of enjoyment, exploitation and renunciation, must be eliminated, and we should find a third plane in which to live. That third plane is the noble life, the life of dedication; a life of duty to and for the whole, not any part: "I live for the whole, and that whole is a part of Lord Krsna." This is the meaning of becoming a lover of the beautiful. In that way we have to understand, and march onward.
I must scrutinize and analyze my own inner temple and brush aside any undesirable things. Gundica marjana: cleanse the temple just as Mahaprabhu showed us. Gundica marjana. There are many types of undesirable things that should be brushed aside. We should make progress, and come closer to our Lord for service. He will take me closer for the quality of my service. Service must be the pivot of everything, whether studying, collecting resources, or recruiting devotees. The serving spirit should be kept intact always.
Saranagati means self-dedication. The manner of activity of the dedicated self will become bhakti. Whatever one may do, one will do on behalf of Krsna. One must cite Krsna's interest as the sole motivation, not some separate interest, bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syad. Consciousness of separate interest has separated us from Krsna. And the common interest, the realization that all interests are harmonized in Him, that is bhakti. When the common interest is gone, everything is gone.
Sravana, kirtana, they are only mere forms, not life. In order to have a life of devotion, there must be saranagati. Saranagati means exclusive connection with Krsna, exclusive identification with the interest of Krsna. Because Krsna is not seen in this plane, the guru and the Vaisnava are to be served. In this way one will be benefited through extreme self-abnegation and surrender, according to one's disposition.
That surrender will have peculiar characteristics. Santa, dasya, sakhya, there are different rasas, or devotional dispositions. There are also subdivisions in the different rasas. In this way, each soul will be located in the plane of dedication. Without saranagati, all devotional practice is mere formality. One will lose the very life thereof, and it will be something other than bhakti. According to the nature and intensity of our sacrifice, in proportion to our dedication, we'll be allowed to enter the internal nectarine movement. When we disregard this principle, we become imitationists, sahajiya. We must be very careful, because the mundane is a perverted reflection.
On the other hand, the Mayavadi impersonalists may not have any aspiration for worldly enjoyment, and when they take the name of Hare, Krsna, and Rama, they may manifest some sentiment, shivering, and tears. They may manifest these apparent devotional symptoms, but that is also a type of perverted reflection. It is not real devotion because Mayavadis are committed to the creed that Narayana, Visnu, Vaikuntha, and everything other than the Brahman effulgence are within the jurisdiction of the mundane idea.
In Harinama-cintamani we find that Mayavadis may show some devotional symptoms in body and mind, but their impersonal creed bars their entrance into Vaikuntha proper. They erroneously believe that Vaikuntha is part of the material universe, lower than Brahmaloka. That is their creed. So sahajiya imitation may not be there, but their devotion is not pure. It may be in the jurisdiction of sattva-guna, material purity, at most. They do not have real substantial faith beyond the conception of Brahma: the higher, deeper vision of Vaikuntha, Goloka, and Vrndavana. They can't understand the real nature of self-dedication.
By dedication we enter a perfectly different world. Dedication is better than renunciation. Renunciation of the negative is good, but it is destructive. It will lead to the zero conception of everything. However, by accepting, searching and attaining our inner selves as units of the world of dedication we find a new world before us, a new land. The Mayavadis can't believe this. They cannot believe that if we are transformed, then our innermost selves become members of the plane of dedication.
Tangible Depth in Divinity
The real factor is sadhu-sanga, which has a connection with the higher power. Otherwise, nothing has any value. The stand must be taken on the real plane of sadhu and sastra. We must cultivate the real thing, protect the reality of the bhajana. For the weaker devotee, the sadhaka or aspirant, the greatest necessity is sadhu-sanga, even as the scriptures are necessary for knowledge. Sadhu-sastra-krpa. If we have the mercy of the saints and the sanction of the scriptures, then our kirtana will be best.
Our attention should always be towards the negative, submissive side. If we can practice in submission, our promotion cannot be checked. Without qualification, if we are very eager to go upward, there will be a tendency to fall down. Dasyaya te mama raso 'stu raso 'stu satyam: "May I have the aspiration for servitude." For bhajana or internal service, such a temperament should always be followed. Tad dasa-dasa-dasanam dasatvam dehi me prabho. "May I always be the servant of the servant of the servant."
Promotion is inevitable if we always try to adhere to the lower duty. Eagerness for promotion is the enemy; that is for pratistha (renown), and that will undermine everything. Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura said that imitation arises from the attraction for pratistha, the desire to hold the superior position and acquire a name for oneself. That is the great enemy. Don't fall prey to pratistha, the eagerness to hold the higher position. Rather, dainyam, humility, is the healthy sign of a devotee.
Vrndavana Dasa Thakura says that one who feeds thousands while obtaining his own nourishment is greater than he who only feeds himself. Kirtana means to cultivate oneself while helping many others at the same time. But when we have no capital of our own, if we go to preach we will meet much opposition, asat-sanga, and the ankura, the bud, will be nipped. If we are kanistha-adhikari, neophytes, we should not preach to others without vigorous backing. Kirtana means to preach, to approach others. We should not venture to do that as kanistha-adhikari, because we may be converted to atheism. Only after passing through the proper stages-sravana-dasa, varana-dasa, sadhana-dasa and prapana-dasa (the phases of hearing, acceptance, practice, and attainment)-can one preach independently (apana-dasa). Otherwise, we can only preach with the help of someone in prapana-dasa.
We should have an immovable connection with Reality, an absolute conception of Reality. Such a stable position is necessary. Become invulnerable; develop certainty, sambandha-jnana. Then we shall be able to understand and harmonize the differences that we find in the writings of the acaryas. We will know then what instruction to apply in each situation, and under what circumstances one or another particular process has been advised. This is practical knowledge.
To consider one Vaisnava over another is not a game; the distinctions are very subtle. They are devotees, and we must not venture to place one above the other according to our crude necessity. It is not an academic exercise; we should not amass some theoretical knowledge to impress our students. It should not be accepted in that line. We shall always be conscious of the practical side: "They are so great, and where am I? Who am I passing judgment over?" There should be some limit to our adventurous audacity. Only if the real necessity arises shall we venture to establish the superiority of Laksmi over Sukadeva or Ambarisa.
Approach Nityananda Prabhu
sarva-vaisnavera pa'ye kari namaskara,
When we deal with so many great things, such as trying to speak about great personalities of the highest order, we should beg Nityananda Prabhu to pardon us for our audacity. He is patita-pavana, savior of the fallen souls. He is adosa-darsigenerally He does not take any offense.
Humility, in other words, is surrender. Humility means to present no opposition to the command of the master from Vaikuntha, the upper section. Humility does not drag one into subordination to the serpent, tiger or jackal. Our real relationship is with the Vaisnava. That is the plane where devotees take their stand. We are concerned with the Vaisnava. And humility means that we do not resist our master's instruction. Without opposition, we carry out whatever order comes to us. We possess humility, sunicata; we are not prejudiced.
Generally we think of humility as pertaining to the outside world, but this is not correct. To the right-thinking person, the members of the external world are deluded; they are mad. Humility lies not in the standard of madness, or in catering to mad people. A madman has no standard of his own. Therefore, humility means to have a standard apart from the outside world.
Prabhupada has defined humility as 'that which is absent where there is a spirit of enjoyment.' The enjoying spirit, the spirit of exploitation, means aggression. There cannot be humility in aggression. Humility is cent-percent service. There is no humility in exploitation, or in renunciation either. These two are opposed to the normal nature of the world. They are totally misconceived; they are our enemies. They challenge the normal reality of the spirit.
The spirit of exploitation and the spirit of renunciation, both are a revolt against the proper working of the truth. They are totally misconceived. Real humility must be in relation to the fullest aspect of the truth, not to the misconceived world. The standard is not that of the madman.
In real devotional service whose objective is to please the center, a competitive spirit between two persons will not negate humility. The devotees feel inspiration and direction from the center, and cooperate accordingly. They are connected with the Absolute center, so Yogamaya may arrange competition. They are not responsible, because their necessity is only to please the center.
The Absolute is that way, but not out of necessity. Aher iva gatih premnah, svabhava-kutila bhavet. It seems to be crooked, but it is not; it is the very nature of Absolute dealings. It is necessary only for the variety and diversity of our service to Krsna. It is designed from the upper-quarter. The devotees are not responsible for that. There may be competition, but we should not infringe on the property of others.
On the battlefield, if the general asks a particular battalion to fight in the first battle, they may not say: "Why shouldn't the second battalion be commanded to go? Why should we go first? We shall die, and they will rejoice in the victory after the last battle. Why should we go first?" The military will shoot them then and there! It is the generals' prerogative; it is not left to the soldiers to determine which battalion will engage first. Only the highest authorities command. Complaining against that high command invites immediate death.
Angels Fear To Tread
They may be offended. We shall try to enter into that garden without disturbing any plant or person roaming in that sphere. We shall enter not with curiosity, but with all humility and respects for them. Otherwise our talks will be pure intellectualism, and not Hari-katha.
Do Your Duty in Your Plane
yatha yatha gaura-padaravinde
"As devotion unto the lotus feet of Sri Gaurasundara is attained by a greatly pious person, inevitably the ocean of nectar which is the service of the lotus feet of Sri Radha is accordingly born within his heart." (Sri Caitanya-candramrta 88)
Percolated by the mercy of Sri Gauranga, try to approach Srimati Radharani. Then there will be no possibility of any contamination entering our heart and disturbing us in that plane. Sri Gauranga will impede that contamination. If we have the shelter of Sri Gauranga we can be sure that we will very safely, smoothly, and intimately attain the service of Srimati Radharani. Otherwise it is very dangerous, and sometimes suicidal. If we do not approach through Sri Gauranga, the attempt will be reactionary.
It is very dangerous to approach Sri Vrndavana and Srimati Radharani directly. We must approach as commanded by Sri Gauranga. In other words, if we can appreciate the life of Sri Gauranga, the ideal of Sri Gauranga, then kama (mundane desire) will be exhaustively eliminated. We will be purified so that we can be accepted in that domain of the highest lila. We shall not approach intellectually, for that will fill us with misconceptions. We will have to expend much energy to do away with that layer of misunderstanding. Therefore, our Srila Prabhupada did not allow these things.
We must do our duty in our plane, according to what we deserve, and the result will come naturally. That is his instruction for all time, not only temporarily, but for all time. Don't approach directly, for then we will get maya instead of yogamaya.
Krsna knows it perfectly well; Radharani knows perfectly well when we are to be taken into the confidential area. That cannot be acquired other than by Their sweet will, the flow of Her sweet will, or His sweet will. Try to have the real thing, not any imitation or reflection. Reflection and shadow, these two kinds of misconception may appear. Of the two, reflection is more dangerous.
We are cautioned often: "Don't try; it will come automatically. Go on with the program given by the sastra and the guru and it will happen. If you have such a possibility of fortune then it will come to you. It is not a material experience that can be given to one and all. It is not to be tackled in such a way."
Yatha yatha gaura-padaravinde. Engage your full attention in Gaura-lila and your realization will come automatically. Indirectly it will come to you from the higher domain. When the higher realm is pleased, it will come down for some time to give you the experience, and you will simply be astonished. Then, even when it departs or is withdrawn, you will have nothing to lament. Realization is a living thing. We cannot make it our object. It is such a higher reality, such a higher thing!
It is difficult to participate in the intimacy between an ordinary man and his closest friends, and so it is with the lila of the Supreme Lord. How can we dare enter into those pastimes, and publicly it is more so! It is not possible. Externally we can try to give some description of the outer possibilities, but not the actual thing. We won't venture to enter there.
Not an Academic Endeavor
Defect of the Intellect
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. With this spirit, and not out of curiosity, we must approach the process. By the same token, by God's grace, we should not disbelieve everything unless and until we have the full experience and know every last detail.
The Finite Cannot Know the Infinite
Only follow the recommended path of sraddha, faith; that is our serving attitude, surrender. Then whenever and whatever little experience He'll kindly make us taste, we shall taste. We should understand that as the proper characteristic of a finite inquirer; otherwise we will be over-endeavoring. If we cannot understand the plain truth that we are finite, then it is impossible to understand the Infinite. We want to know the Infinite, but we cannot make Him the prisoner of our finite box. Only by our humble temperament can we attract Him. As much as He kindly wills us to taste Him, that should be enough for us.
One drop will inundate the whole of the world; this is His nature. Can we be so audacious as to draw the Infinite and force Him to enter into our fist? That is suicidal. We must always be conscious of our own position. With a sober consideration we shall try to understand the ways and means that are extended to us by the gracious, great personalities. Very patiently and very modestly, and only when He wants to make it known to us, can we know anything. And only as much as He wants, we will know; that much, and not more. That is our position. To know the whole thing is ludicrous; it is suicidal. That is the most foolish, reactionary conception.
Reject Your Knowledge
Knowledge is our enemy, because knowledge in this world is all misleading. Its very basis is misleading. However ample it may be, it is a negligible part of the Infinite. We have collected, gathered and pushed into our brain all misleading falsification. Our brains are full of deceptive maya, misunderstanding. That is our enemy. We have to clear these things out and put in fresh things that are received from the other world by pure sources. Theoretical knowledge is one thing, the practical another.
Relentlessly we must cast aside the old knowledge, udapasam. Namanta eva, we must learn submission, and in that way He will be propitiated and come to make something about Himself known to us. Whatever small thing we will come to know, that will inundate our entire being. One drop of the Infinite is sufficient to cover the whole universe; such is His character. The Infinite is not a small thing that we can tackle easily. With one drop of the Infinite the whole finite can be inundated, flooded.
The Infinite has full control over knowledge, science, happiness, everything. If we are to approach such a great, great, great thing, what should be the proper attitude? We must be conscious of our position. We are not masters, but servants of the servant of the servant of the servant. This is the proper way to approach.
In the same manner, we are to approach the scriptures with a submissive heart and attitude. "Please reveal within our heart what is contained herein." Sastra should be approached with a submissive attitude, not in a challenging mood. By dint of our power we cannot conquer what is described there. We cannot conquer all thoughts. That is not the proper attitude. Scriptural truth is a higher thing; it is cetana, independent. It has free will, this sastra in the form of so many letters. The Lord's associates also exercise His free will in the matter of our approach to the sastra. They can reveal the meaning to us or they can withhold it.
Approach the Guru
But there are those who are deceiving themselves, "O, my guru can cure so many diseases," and "O, my guru can make me prosper in the material life." That is self-deception. In the world there are many different types of gurus: there are those who give material prosperity and some tyagi gurus give us eternal sleep, saying that this is the real place of taking rest and achieving peace. There are so many classes of gurus.
Generally our sukrti guides us from underground. Sraddha is the real merit that can take us to a proper guru, and sraddha comes from our past acquired sukrti, or auspicious activities. That sukrti comes unconsciously from the agents of Krsna. In this way, the real progress of a jiva is traced, ultimately.
Become an Angel
The essence of verse 16 of Vilapa-kusamanjali is to let our respect flow towards the friendly devotional disposition, sakhya. We respect that friendly disposition, but pray to obtain the disposition of a servant, dasya. We should always move expressly towards the goal of having the temperament of a servant, while giving respect to the friendly disposition. We should not venture to tread on that plane. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Don't be a fool; become an angel. Try to follow the angels. We should always respect the higher plane and try to remain connected with the lower service.
When Maharaja Prataparudra began his service, which is that of a sweeper, Mahaprabhu came to embrace him. We should not forget that: it is the very backbone of devotion, to tend always towards the lower services. Then automatically from the other side the choice comes for us, from the higher plane. We should not try to impose on Him, but show our modest tendency to go to the lower level. And it is the duty of the higher to take us to the proper place.
Dasyaya me raso'stu, our sincere attraction should be towards lower service, toward cultivating the temperament of a servant. We must have the knowledge that we are not fit for anything higher. We will respect that. This should be our attitude: we are not fit for that high plane. Many Vaisnavas of higher character are there. We must engage in service at a lower level, then automatically from the higher level it will come to us. Yogamaya is not sitting idle there. Whomever will be fit for any particular plane, Yogamaya is there to adjust everything for them. Automatically, she will take us from a particular plane and put us in some higher plane. The residents of the higher plane are not inanimate objects; they are all conscious.
Die To Live
We should engage ourselves in the lowest form of service. Tad dasa-dasa-dasanam dasatvam dehi prabho. Our faith should be so firm and of such quality that the least prospect of His service, of divine service, will satisfy us. We may not get the chance there in the higher class, but with our lowest connection with divinity we may go on satisfied with our lives. Mahaprabhu says, "Just consider me a speck of dust at Your feet, Krsna."
ayi nanda tanuja kinkaram patitam mam visame bhavambudhau
That should be our aspiration: "Consider me to be one of the specks of dust at Your feet." That is too much! Our faith should come to such a grade in quality that we will be satisfied to become a speck of dust at His feet. Then by His sweet will, anything may happen. But our humble aim should be to have even the least connection with the real divinity instead of a concocted relation with Krsna.
Not an Ornamental Thing
naham vipro na ca nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
This is not merely an ornamental thing; it is reality. To feel our own actual inferiority is to become eligible for the higher service. This is reality. So much selflessness, so much self-abnegation is necessary for a servant of the lowest order to enter into that domain. So much self-abnegation is necessary to come into that plane. There is an undercurrent, and if we really want contact with that plane, we shall have to reach the finest of the fine within ourselves, without demands. In this meek way we are to transform ourselves, and then we can contact that plane.
If there is the least tinge of exploiting tendency, any speck of the ambitious life, we will not be taken there. That is another thing, pratistha. pratistha is self-assertion: to be stable, to be immortal, to be invincible. It is not self-giving, but rather self-asserting: "I must stay, I must live." No, we must die for the interest of Krsna if necessary. Marobi rakhobi-yo iccha tohara, nitya-dasa prati tuwa adhikara. "Slay me or protect me as You wish, for You are the Master of Your eternal servant."
A suicidal soldier! For the cause of the country, we must die if necessary. We must efface ourselves, or we may be effaced. If it is necessary, our very existence may be annihilated for the satisfaction of Krsna. To find that plane, such temperament, such selflessness in high degree is necessary, so much subtlety is required.
Systematic Knowledge is Knowledge Proper
This Maharaja had laid stress on only one particular point, one partial aspect of Prabhupada's teaching. He wanted to take that particular point and nothing beyond it. We must seek a systematic understanding of the goal. Systematic knowledge is knowledge proper.
There are many different types of disciples under the guidance of every guru, but not all are necessarily of equal character. Their natures may be quite different. One person will be able to understand some points, another will grasp something else, and yet another will understand even more. In this way there may be a gradation among the disciples. The main thing is faithfulness.
Simplicity means to be free from prejudice. That is what it means to be simple: to be empty, to be dispossessed, to be in the null position, to be clear. To be free of all possessions, that is simplicity.
Relative and Absolute Considerations
It is a difficult thing to adjust properly the relative and absolute positions, the absolute and relative considerations. Generally we accept the relative position, keeping in the background the consciousness of the absolute consideration. Absolute consideration is always superior, but that is risky. The relative position generally helps us not to go down. Sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah, para-dharmo bhayavahah, this is the type of relative position.
Wait and see. Don't go forward; don't go backward. Maintain your position. Keep your own position. But when you get the chance to make any progress you should not lose it. However, you must be sure. Otherwise, leaving the former position you are going to take a risk. Progress is necessary; it is indispensable that you must make progress. So you must take a risk, but you must take it in such a way that you don't lose your former position.
sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah para-dharmat svanus hitat
To maintain the former position for defensive necessity, that is helpful. But still we must have our tendency to make progress. Sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja, aham tvam sarva papebhyo; that is our goal. The absolute consideration is our goal. The relative position, that is for our safety. Progress is necessary, but very carefully we must go ahead, so that we may not lose our former position.