Not Taking Anything for Granted—Practicing Appreciation for Krishna's gifts
After returning from the Japa Retreat enthused and divinely touched by sharing such potent spiritual practices in uplifting company my wife and I also received another type of mercy: the flu that some devotee inadvertently gave us. Sickness, although never sought after, often teaches us about the dual nature of the material world (happiness and distress) and its temporary nature. If we are a “spiritual possibility thinker”, then every situation can be favorable, helpful, and instructive for our holy aspirations to make progress in “shuddha Bhakti” or pure devotion. What follows are some of my thoughts from being sick and having reduced capacities for living.
More and more I am coming to realize my absolute dependence on Krishna or God in all circumstances. All the Universes rest on and are supported by Krishna and his various divine energies as pearls are strung on the thread. [see Bhagavad-gita 7.7] Though we call the planets and suns ability to float in space “gravity” we don’t truly know and are only guessing how it is possible. If we give an object, living thing, or natural process a name, we imply we understand it. Honest people will admit that our “knowledge” of most things is very one dimensional and is only in relationship to how we can it for our purpose or theory. Science is about the “how” questions of life, telling us there are no “why” questions. To which we may ask, “why not?”
It is effortless for Krishna to maintain and support unlimited planets, suns and solar systems. He doesn’t worry about it, as it is just an extension of himself in a separated nature—simultaneously and inconceivably one and different from him. Unknown to most people there is a special purpose in the existence of the material world. Ultimately it is to give souls a chance to turn toward God, rather than trying to be false or imitation lords by trying to control, measure and use the resources of the world for our personal or extended selfishness.
The “stuff” that holds matter together in its various forms and sizes—from the subatomic to the heavenly bodies—are also Krishna’s energy. Our bodies are tiny universes with facilities offered by Krishna’s grace according to our work (karma) and pious or impious actions. These facilities can be withdrawn at any moment, with or without our notification. We can go through every function of our body and mind, such as our heartbeat, breath, digestion, nerves, skeletal structure, muscles, and the ability to think, reason, remember, speak, lift, bend, walk, and the energy to do all these things.
We are always dependent on Krishna for every aspect of our existence. In one sense there is only Krishna and his energies, although we, the soul, are conscious individual sparks of one of his energies, the jiva-tattva (marginal energy). Though we usually mindlessly go about our lives, any facility we depend on can be lost. Therefore, as a general observance, we can practice today being conscious of the many gifts we have just to function in our everyday life. Even a simple thing like getting out of bed, walking across a room or answering the call of nature is a gift from God, and not due to our own prowess.
“A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all. Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, or opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them.” [Bg 5.8-9]
Prabhupada has described that part of Krishna consciousness is becoming conscious, so we can begin this by thinking about our dependence on the facilities of our body and mind which are sustained by Krishna’s mercy. Then we can also think about the bigger picture that Krishna owns and controls everything and is meant to be offered our life’s energy (since we are a tiny part of him as our finger is part of the whole body). Although we are meant to please him, this is how we become pleased.
When we offer our life and resources to him, we are benefited. Since he already “owns” everything (or is everything through his energy), he doesn’t require anything from us. However, we become entangled by wanting to be independent of his Universal plan and claiming his possessions our own. Then we are responsible for our effect on the environment and other creatures we disturb or kill.
Krishna is after all the center, or the root that when watered gives life to the tree of existence; he is the cosmic stomach that when provided food nourishes everyone and everything. Truly Krishna is our dear-most friend and well-wisher, the soul of our soul, the heart of our heart, the love of our life, and the consciousness of our consciousness. Although he is the supreme master he is also the greatest servant of existence by maintaining all there is and working for everyone’s good. On the highest level he becomes subservient to the love of his devotees. He would prefer to be our friend or lover than worshiped as God!
The science of Krishna consciousness or suddha bhakti means to be educated about these truths and to realize them practically. Though our false egos are by nature very inflated with thoughts of our own importance and talents, our position is infinitesimal. Our significance lies not in how proficient we are at functioning in the body compared to others, or in how much we can accumulate, but is due to the fact that we are part of the Supreme Great, the Lord and Sustainer of the Universe.
When we understand and act as a tiny unit of dedicating conscious energy meant to cooperate with and fulfill the Supreme will, then we will have realized our significance. We don’t have to do anything materially to “be somebody” because we already are somebody spiritually—a lover and servant of Krishna. Such a person Krishna considers to be like his very self.
As much as we try, birth after birth, or body after body, we cannot compete with him, the infinitely Great. And if you can beat him, then join him! Aligned with his purpose, his greatness shines through us.
Some final summary thoughts:
* From the highest perspective there is only One power, One force, One presence, One love, and One God who expands into everything and everyone
* The variety of life is part of his Supreme Diversity and Unity.
* The world and all souls are inconceivably, simultaneously one and different from Krishna.
* Whatever power within me or any Divinity comes from him.
* Whatever credit is given to me is really for Krishna only.
* If healing or good manifests it’s from him alone.
* For a devotee of Krishna everything furthers their highest spiritual good.
* On the mystical level beyond dogma or fanaticism there is only Unity.
* There is no need to convert, or defeat others for personal reasons; we only share our love and reasoning for Krishna and the devotional path.
* I invite the Divine Couple, Radha Krishna into my heart through the maha-mantra (Hare Krishna)
* All praise, glory, credit, and honor goes to them and their pure devotees.
* I aspire to be but an instrument for Krishna to play his divine life affirming music.