Blogging for Blogging's sake?
I wrote Friday's blog about motivations and qualifications for approaching or worshiping Krishna to encourage those of us who are not pure devotees and may have material desires that we want to fulfill. That is most of us---it is a question of degree, experience, maturity, and especially realization. It is important to realistically access where we are on the map---so to speak---and act with this in mind. This often takes time of course and we need to know that introspection isn't quick and may come gradually as we mature in levels of understanding as we need it. It is great to want to have pure love for Krishna and be off the bodily platform, but another matter to actually be there.
Though we may know the theory well, we still may not really practice what we know or believe completely, due to our other priorities. Though being complacent isn't helpful for our spiritual growth, neither is feeling guilty about our lack of spiritual standing. I do my best to emphasize the need for balance between our material and spiritual lives. Often when we are new to Krishna this idea isn't very appealing. Everything is new and exciting and we may be sick of the material world and we want it all spiritually---we are not just going to settle for being a mixed devotee--no!!, we are going to give everything up and move into a Temple. Of course that may be part of your path, though perhaps not.
I have shared my story of how my life unraveled and at 19 it seemed like the most natural and essential thing to renounce the world and move into the Krishna Temple. As a brand new devotee my mood was set and fixed (I thought) and I never imagined I would ever live as a married person in the "deep dark well" as materialistic married life is often called. Living in the Temple seemed the only plausible option. I was convinced I would be a pure devotee in a few years, that the world would soon be Krishna conscious and that a flower airplane from the spiritual world (Vaikuntha) would be coming for me in a short time.
It is good to have high aspirations, and it is also good to be able to be pragmatic. After my ups and downs as a Temple devotee nine years later, I had a much more realistic view of myself, my material needs, and my level of spiritual advancement. I came to understand and still appreciate the maxim to "Know thyself". Then rather then thinking of a few years, I was thinking of the phrase Prabhupada gave us, to "Give this one life to Krishna"---so I knew being Krishna conscious was not an overnight sensation or achievement but one of my whole life commitment and likely lifetimes of practice.
To protect ourself from laxity it may be necessary in the beginning to be a bit extreme or what could be seen as fanatical or black and white in our thinking about the world, Maya, and K.C. If that helps us dedicate our lives to Krishna and make a commitment to chant regularly and center our lives around him, then it is fine. Many of have been there. At the same time we should come to realize the enormity of the task ahead of us and not expect results in a only a few years. Our determination to serve Krishna needs to be tested and strengthened by the "fire of ordeal"---like steel being strengthened through being in fire. Though we do have to believe that with the help of our guru and Gauranga (Lord Chaitanya) that our highest ideal is possible, and also that everything comes in time. That is why we are advised to be patient, yet confident of ultimate success. Krishna will carry what we lack and preserve what we have!
Everyone who is an aspiring devotee should fine a way to be encouraged and to encourage others with compassion. I have encountered people here who have been discouraged by impatient overzealous new devotees. I know it is hard to hear people's doubts or lack of faith, yet these things are to be expected. That is another reason I wrote Friday's blog---there are many levels of motivation in directly approaching Krishna, and ways to approach God indirectly that can be offered to people unable to accept Krishna. One of the symptoms of new devotees or kanishtha bhaktas, is that they find it hard to accommodate differences and even feel threatened by them, making neat categories of friends and enemies. Some religionists never grow out of this stage.
So there you have it for what it is worth. I feel my last few blogs may have been way to wordy with too many quotes. I love the philosophy and like to show my readers where different subjects are covered in Prabhupada's and other Gaudiya books.
It is little hard to address my audience here since other then a few regular readers it seems we have a large number of people who come and go. So besides my more philosophical pieces I will try to have more conversational pieces that address everyday life and common issues in spiritual practice and which will be shorter and more hopefully more digestible.
We all have many faces!