Krishna consciousness: The Marriage of the Head and Heart

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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.

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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.

Combined comments from old site

Fri, 09/05/2008 - 12:48 — jivatattva
according to the level or degree

"We will only understand according to the level or degree of our interest and necessity."

I like this perspective.

Its like the Lord will supply his Grace accordingly, to the benifit of his devotee's

Its like walking down a path in the night with a lantern that is just bright enough to see the path you are on - but if the lantern were brighter than it had to be, then one would see all the landscape of the background, and maybe see another path - and say, wow that path looks better! Then they take their overly bright lantern and they cut across to the other path, and the next thing they know, their up to their neck in quicksand! -- They 'see' and they go only 'thinking' they know.

Haribol


*Reply*

Sat, 09/06/2008 - 21:38 — Karnamrita.das
Krishna reciprocates according to our necessity

In the Bhagavad-Gita 4.11, Krishna gives his formula:
ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
mama vartmanuvartante
manusyah partha sarvasah

"As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha."

We have to be interested in understanding, otherwise we will miss so much right before our eyes. Before becoming devotees, many of us were intensely searching for answers---it was practically, Let me see the truth or die. Die to live!! With that attitude our life changes. What is the price for KC?

Laulyam.

Here is a quote from the Nectar of Devotion, 9th Chapter Further Considerations of Devotional Principles; Submission:

In the same Narada-pancaratra, there is another expression of submission, wherein the devotee says, "My dear Lord, O lotus-eyed one, when will that day come, when on the bank of the Yamuna I shall become just like a madman and continue to chant Your holy name while incessant tears flow from my eyes?" This is another perfectional stage. Lord Chaitanya also desired that "a moment will appear unto me as twelve years of time, and the whole world will appear to me as vacant on account of not seeing You, my dear Lord." One should feelingly pray and become eager to render his particular type of service to the Lord. This is the teaching of all great devotees, especially Lord Chaitanya.

In other words, one should learn how to cry for the Lord. One should learn this small technique, and he should be very eager and actually cry to become engaged in some particular type of service. This is called laulyam, and such tears are the price for the highest perfection. If one develops this laulyam, or excessive eagerness for meeting and serving the Lord in a particular way, that is the price to enter into the kingdom of God. Otherwise, there is no material calculation for the value of the ticket by which one can enter the kingdom of God. The only price for such entrance is this laulyam lalasamayi, or desire and great eagerness.

Prabhupada speaks of the importance of our attitude in reading the Bhagavatam (in his pp to 1.1.2) which we can apply to any hearing of scripture or spiritual lecture:

The proper method for receiving this transcendental message is to hear it submissively. A challenging attitude cannot help one realize this transcendental message. One particular word is used herein for proper guidance. This word is susrusu. One must be anxious to hear this transcendental message. The desire to sincerely hear is the first qualification.

We can't cry out for Krishna with a heart full of material desires, so we have to pray for purification, so our urgent necessity will be to become Krishna conscious, and love Krishna.

Your friend in service,

Karnamrita


*Reply*

Sun, 09/07/2008 - 22:31 — Snehal
How to?

Hare Krishna!
Thank you very much for the wonderful blog and your reply about desire to serve and desire to be submissive.

In the above reply you are speaking about laulyam ie excessive egarness to meet and serve lord in a particular way. I am very much touched and inspired by this describtion.

I want to ask you, what if you have a strong desire to serve Lord, please Him and know Him but the material situation around you is not letting you to do that? Like for example, somebody would to desiring to go to temple and hear there but may be the temple is too far from his place or he doesnt have enough money to reach there or may be he is tied with other commitments and so cannot to go to temple. This is just an example. In our day to day life there are so many hurdles that that come across devotional path. How to handle such situations? I land up getting upset when caught up in such situations.

Haribol!

Snehal


*Reply*

Mon, 09/08/2008 - 15:22 — Karnamrita.das
Do or Don't

From one perspective, there are no material impediments for practicing Krishna consciousness. Regardless of our family, job, health, we can hear and chant about Krishna, and try to serve him by our actions. Granted there is much benefit with associating with advanced devotees and one should do that, at least whenever possible, even if only a few times a year. This brings to mind the saying, "Bloom where you are planted", or as Prabhupada would say regarding the body, "Make the best use of a bad bargain"---though we could also apply that to our material situation.

Look at Lord Chaitanya's instruction to Raghunatha dasa in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya Lila Ch.16 vs 235-242. I suggest you read Prabhupada's purports for more insights.

For seven days Raghunatha dasa associated with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Santipura. During those days and nights, he had the following thoughts:Raghunatha dasa thought, "How shall I be able to get free from the hands of the watchmen? How shall I be able to go with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Nilacala?"

Since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was omniscient, He could understand Raghunatha dasa's mind. The Lord therefore instructed him with the following reassuring words: "Be patient and return home. Don't be a crazy fellow. By and by you will be able to cross the ocean of material existence. "You should not make yourself a showbottle devotee and become a false renunciant. For the time being, enjoy the material world in a befitting way and do not become attached to it."

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued: "Within your heart, you should keep yourself very faithful, but externally you may behave like an ordinary man. Thus Krsna will soon be very pleased and deliver you from the clutches of maya. "You may see me at Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri, when I return after visiting Vrndavana. By that time you can think of some trick to escape. "What kind of means you will have to use at that time will be revealed by Krsna. If one has Krsna's mercy, no one can check him."

In this way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to Raghunatha dasa, who returned home and did exactly what the Lord told him.

You have to pray for guidance, and the strength to act on it. Timing is everything. If you have devotees you trust you can consult with them, but you have to make the decision. We all have to give it our best to do the right thing according to the time, place, circumstances, and the strength of our convictions.

Another thought is to make changes in your life to facilitate what you think and feel you need to be Krishna conscious, which could entail moving, giving up things that hinder your spiritual progress, even family members. That is only radical to the degree of your necessity. You have to be the judge of what you require for your spiritual life. Perhaps compromises can be made with family or your living situation. People will often respond to strong convictions reasonably presented with consideration for others.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

If you are set on really making a substantial commitment to Krishna, the only thing which prevents you is yourself. Outer circumstances are only to test your resolve. Still, you have to know yourself, and you have to be willing to live with your decisions. You have to think long term. Any course of action can be done for a short time, but long term commitment is serious, never whimsical.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


Sun, 09/07/2008 - 08:20 — jivatattva
Guru

Going back to the original post wherein your talking about the devotee relationship with Guru.

Its apparent that ones perception of Guru is and indicator of ones personal state of development, so explaining the different perceptions. And there is also the scriptural descriptions that are explained.

To me it seems there will always be the element of perception from personal relationship, as well as the scriptural, that supports more than one description of relationship.

All is fine thus far.

But what am I missing here? Why is it not said too ask Guru what he is FIRST? - (its more of an order thing that I'm talking about here, like the cart before the horse) - Than to compare personal relationship perceptions of devotee and Guru.

If a devotee asks Guru: Guru who are you? Guru what are you? Guru how can I serve you?

Wouldn't this be the base line for the further development of a proper relationship involving an understanding of the both parties??

How could there be such lack of communication on this important issue between Teacher and Student?

Haribol


*Reply*

Sun, 09/07/2008 - 14:31 — Karnamrita.das
"How may I serve you?"

I am not exactly sure what you are asking here. I will try to say what comes to me and see what develops. It may be a ride, though hopefully Krishna will inspire me to touch what you want to hear. If not, I am sorry to go on for so long, and please rephrase your question.

The only question Prabhupada asked of his guru, was, "How may I serve you?" Of course before he asked that he had some inner experience of who his guru was, or who he represented. For a brand new person, asking those questions wouldn't be fruitful unless he had faith in the person.

Someone asked Prabhupada some question, like, if he had seen Krishna, and Prabhupada first replied something like, "Are you willing to accept whatever I say as true?" This means if you are going to ask advise, you must be willing to accept and act on the answer. Otherwise talks wouldn't be helpful and could go on indefinitely with no resolution.....now this was a particular person, and Prabhupada likely saw some tendency in him that he was addressing. Still, we can learn from this. Look at the Gita, 2nd chapter, when Arjuna accepts Krishna as a guru---the relationship changed, from friend to disciple, and then Krishna chastised him to shake him out of bodily consciousness, so Arjuna could understand his duty at hand--to fight as an offering to Krishna.

If you are taking about the general philosophy of what is a guru, and if this person is one, that is certainly a question which could be answered---the philosophical understanding of KC is sambanda jnana. The guru may say no, I am not a guru, but a dasanudas, servant of the servant of my guru. Every guru has his guru(s), and feels their success is due to their guru's and Krishna's grace.

So Prabhupada was initially, and continually very impressed and inspired by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, and as he recalls it, he accepted him as his guru within, though not formally. Something in him changed by that hearing, and he kept hearing and learning, until he was ready to formally accept him.

I think it is clear to anyone who studies this path, that accepting a guru is a big part of seriously going forward toward the goal of Krishna Prema. So if that is accepted, then we have to ask our self, do I really believe in the ideals of Krishna consciousness enough to dedicate my life to it's attainment? If the answer is yes, that means that I have a big necessity.

Prabhupada told us that having a guru is not for everyone, like a fashion. It is for those how have understood to some extent that material life is temporary and miserable, and that the real solution to these problems is to revive their spiritual eternal relationship with Krishna. That means we will be willing to make changes in our life to facilitate that, having faith that Krishna in the heart will provide me a teacher who can guide me, and show by his or her example, how to be Krishna conscious. At the same time it is true that, "The Lord helps those who help themselves." That means you have to search out a guru.

I would recommend that anyone who feels the necessity to take up the path of Bhakti, or Krishna consciousness, should pray everyday to Lord Chaitanya (Krishna's incarnation for this age) to help him to find a proper teacher or guru. That is humility with faith that such persons exist. And before examining different gurus, one should study what it means to be a good disciple, such as Arjuna and others.

It is said that in the beginning both the guru and potential disciple are examining each other. On our part we want to find a qualified guru who we can surrender to and work with, and the guru wants to find a sincere soul to help him serve his guru (good disciples are not easy to find). Being a guru is a service, and not an easy one. It is not about getting praise or worship, but in serving the disciples, helping them to be steady and make spiritual progress.

Guru means "heavy" with knowledge, and a person who can destroy our doubts, so we should receive satisfactory answers from our sincere inquiries. Desiding on a spiritual master, is not just an intellectual analysis. We should feel the current of spirituality coming from him or her, which means that their spiritual standing has an effect on us. Many people can speak the KC philosophy, yet some talks have a more profound effect on uis due the realization of the speaker. This is my experience from Prabhupada and from my shiksa (instructing) gurus. I am charmed, inspired and uplifted by their words, and they capture my heart.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


*Reply*

Sun, 09/07/2008 - 23:34 — Navasi
Perfect

Dear Karnamrita,

All the things you've said here are so perfect and essential.

As we know, in Krishna consciousness, different devotees put an emphasis on different aspects (for various reasons). This happens in terms of what it means to have a guru, who that guru is, what we need to do in our relationship with our guru, etc. Which I realize is a lot of what you've been taking about in your recent blogs.

So many of the points you are making here are exactly the same things that I have been trying to say for a long time in the forums here on connect.

I never know if anyone has actually understood or been benefited by the things that I say, so it's really wonderful to see you saying the exact same things here.

These points are so essential for anyone, anywhere, who has any desire to seriously advance in spiritual life.

It starts even before you are ready to actually take initiation from a certain guru, with taking instruction from certain devotees that you feel you can learn from. That continues even after we have taken initiation, as you've said, we all need shiksa (instructing) gurus.

Thank you for writing all this, I wish you would re-post it as a blog. It's just so essential and I don't think it's really generally understood.

On of the concepts I was trying to address in the forums, was this one of "how may I serve you". Someone was saying they wanted to find a guru who they could "tell their problems to, and then get solutions".

I said, "we don't present our problems before our guru, we present ourselves, and take instruction".

I'm not saying you could never discuss personal issues, but just the general mood needs to start at this place of surrender. Not from the mood of telling the guru what "you need" and expecting "results".

Hare Krishna,
Navasi


*Reply*

Sun, 09/07/2008 - 16:17 — jivatattva
Thanks for the time. Haribol

Thanks for the time.

Haribol


*Reply*

Mon, 09/08/2008 - 02:05 — Karnamrita.das
Did I Miss the Mark?

I hope I answered your question and understood it properly. Sorry to go on about accepting a guru, but it just came out that way. Everyone is at different stages and has their own time frame. A person is only ready to accept a guru when they are. Even if they aren't, if they still understand that they should, they will still be guided.

Krishna is working in everyone's life who has some connection to the path of Bhakti. How much depends on their necessity, though he will turn up the heat to create it. At least for me and many of my Godbrothers and sisters, our life circumstances practically forced us to take up the path. Like in the 6th chapter of the Gita, Krishna says that the unsuccessful yogi takes birth in a family which fosters their spiritual growth, and it is like KC comes knocking on their door, even without our apparent invitation! The holy name is alive and has an agenda----and we are on it! Thank Krishna!

Thanks for you questions. I am here to be of service.

Karnamrita


*Reply*

Mon, 09/08/2008 - 10:43 — jivatattva
pray everyday to Lord Chaitanya

Praying to lord Chaitanya every day is right on the mark! This is great advice!

Prayer is our only hope.

Haribol