Krishna consciousness: The Marriage of the Head and Heart
We have to really think about what we read, and ask, "what does that mean---to me". How can I apply what I have read in my life practically. We have to apply our intelligence to that, and inquire from others devotees what their understanding is. Sometimes devotees may disagree, but if the center is seva or service to Guru and Krishna, and trying to understand and apply their teachings, then we can live with that. An important observation in any religion or spiritual path is how its' members handle differences or disagreements.
In response to some inquiries I thought I would give a few words about my blogging: I usually sit before my laptop with an inspiration to communicate something philosophical or from my life in relationship to Krishna. They are topics I have already thought about and feel something for. However, for me this medium is rather spontaneous and unpolished. I do my best to make proper sentences and good spelling, but I don't spend days writing.
Some of my blogs take about an hour to write, though these days the norm is over two, and then I do editing for 20-30 minutes. Usually I am "spent" after two hours. I am not writing a book, and at my speed of composing and typing, I think 2 hours translates into a digestible read in a blog---somewhere about 2,000 words or less.
Of course, the "poetry" is less time, and is when I want to give brief word pictures, rather then deep heady stuff. Sometimes I want to write, but am not into thinking too much (after thinking too much already or reading etc), so I put what I am experiencing into verses, snapshots of feelings, moods, and experiences. What comes out is pretty much the finished product (which probably shows), though I sometimes do rearranging or adding. I like the discipline of trying to say more in less words, and the freedom of not having to write complete sentences. Although I don't want to be like some poets who no one really understands, but everyone tries to, I like the fact that the images and thoughts I use have different meanings to people.
At the Temple where I live, I did give the offering to Prabhupada I shared here, and it caused a little stir with some people. I sort of expected that and might have added to it, by stating that some people may not agree with what I said. I was anticipating the reactions of some very conservative devotees. My wife hadn't heard my offering until I gave it and didn't think anything I said was controversial. Of course we are philosophically on the same page, yet the reactions of some people could have been partially do to with what my expectations (fears?) were, and how those influenced my presentation. When I first said, "Not everyone will agree with me", my wife said she could feel the energy in the room change. That is definitely a way to make sure everyone will listen to what you are saying. :-))
One devotee in particular seemed to be incensed by my statement that our relationship with our guru is something like a love affair. To be fair, most devotees haven't heard that perspective before, and it could be taken many ways. My guess is that he thought I was saying it was mundane, though I did my best to explain what I meant: Our attraction for a guru and his teachings can't be explained entirely by reason. A love affair is all about feeling----there may be objective reasons for it, yet we are impelled to act by our heart.
There are two extremes in understanding a guru--that he is an ordinary person seen with mundane eyes, or that he is God, and we accept everything about him as absolute. Both are unacceptable according to shastra (Vedic scripture). I tried to explain from Visvanathas 7th stanza, that although the Guru is honored like the Lord because he represents him, he is also a devotee with a particular type of bhava or devotion. Thus he has an absolute and relative side, and we have to harmonize the two to deal with him appropriately.
In my analysis of our relationship to our guru, Shrila Prabhupada, it wasn't just what he said, but who he was, and HOW WE FELT ABOUT HIM. He captured our hearts beyond our reason. Or because we loved him, or had deep affection for him, we accepted whatever he said as gospel---we were charmed by him and his reasoning. Others heard the same words and weren't effected. They saw and heard him differently.
Who can take to bhakti? Only those who have some previous connection to it. We bring our affinity for bhakti from our previous life, and are born with a psychology which predisposes us to it---or not. Or we may fall somewhere in between. Some devotees struggle more then others. Jiva Goswami (I think) has told us that we make rapid progress until we reach the spiritual level of our previous life, and then the work begins.
Every religious or spiritual system has it's own reasoning, and only some people are attracted to that. As devotees we feel that the Krishna conscious philosophy is the superlative understanding of God and the Absolute Truth. In the beginning we think if we just present this superior philosophy and reasoning to others, they will naturally agree with us. Even with superlative devotees, although they can attract many people, not everyone will accept them. This brings us back to who will accept a particular guru. Is it only by logic?
The Shrimad Bhagavatam and other scriptures tell us that it is not just logic and reason by which one can understand God, or Krishna ( who is God beyond God [Vishnu])---or a particular manifestation of Divinity, like a guru or pure devotee. (Some of those verses say that the truth of the scripture is contained in the heart of a realized pure devotee.)If it was just logic and reason that enabled people to believe in God and accept a guru, then every logical person would. We don't see that.
So to be Krishna conscious we have to use our intelligence to understand the philosophy, while understanding its' limitations. By sadhana and prayer and a big dose of the mercy of our Guru and Krishna, we must become purified so our spiritual heart can come out, and we begin to feel for Krishna, his service and his devotees. We have more books then we could ever read, and an ocean of philosophy. Why? To convince us about the truth of the the misery and shortcomings of the world, the reality of Krishna as the person our soul yearns for, and why we should love him. Our spiritual practices like chanting the holy name are meant to soften our hearts. When we actually love Krishna, we will have the reasoning of love. When you love, you know what to do. We aspire to come to that level of understanding!
In the mean time, we have to really think about what we read, and ask, "what does that mean---to me"? How can I apply what I have read in my life practically. We have to apply our intelligence to that, and inquire from other devotees what their understanding is. Sometimes devotees may disagree, but if the center is seva or service to Guru and Krishna, and trying to understand and apply their teachings, then we can live with that. An important observation in any religion or spiritual path is how its' members handle differences or disagreements.
We have a system of understanding things: guru, sadhu (saintly persons) and shastra (scripture), and there is another thing in that verse, our own heart. sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya, cittete kariya aikya Although this last part could be misused, which is perhaps why Prabhupada didn't include it in his explanation, some senior devotees feel it's important to consider.
This part of the verse speaks about what the topic of this blog, or the marriage of the head and heart. We are only able to really accept and apply what our heart can resonate with. Yes we can go on by duty, but eventually we have to go deeper then that, and have experience. There are of course many things in our KC philosophy which are inconceivable, yet our ability to accept their truth depends on our faith and affection for our guru and the scripture, and our spiritual intelligence. We won't understand everything our guru or the scriptures say, but we have to be able to resonate/accept/understand enough things that we can accept the whole package. And gradually we will go deeper in our faith and realization. Though Krishna is infinite we can--by his grace--know enough about him to become conscious of him and make progress in loving him. Whatever is required we can know.
It is important that these subjects be discussed in an openhearted way so we can go deeper in our understanding. Due to the reaction of some devotees to my talk, my wife and I have been discussing guru-tattva (the truth of the position of guru) for days, and are really thinking about it and trying to understand. This is wanted. The philosophy needs to be alive and dynamic to be practiced. Not that we already know everything. I think the blogs and forums here provide for that as well. We will only understand according to the level or degree of our interest and necessity.