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Could You Know Your Soul, and, In Pursuit of God, Joyfully Embrace Problems? Part 2

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One of the original and great motivational speakers in the United States, and the father of “positive thinking,” was Rev. Norman Vincent Peale. He tells many interesting and instructive stories concerning his responses to people who approached him for help and spiritual counseling. One person in particular he recalled so poured his heart out complaining about the countless problems he seemed to always encounter, that Norman considered he needed a profound teaching example. The man expressed that if only he would be free of his nasty problems, then surely he would be happy. At a certain point, Rev. Peale told him that he knew a place where the people had no more problems, and he enquired if the man would like to visit there. The man replied with an enthusiastic “yes.”

They drove silently for 15 minutes, and pulled into a long driveway. “Here my friend,” said Norman, “is a place where the people have no more problems.” It was a graveyard! In other words, without problem or difficulties, we are like dead people. Rev. Peale told the main that if he had no problems in his life, then he felt the Lord didn’t trust him with the sources of his personal, spiritual growth—and so he prayed for a “man-sized” problem! Queen Kunti speaks in a similar way in the Shrimad Bhagavatam when she prays for continued calamities, if the Lord would continue to be with them. She preferred this to a quiet, peaceful life in Krishna’s absence! She is teaching us what is important and what is spiritual happiness—Krishna consciousness—and what is actual distress—separation from the Lord and his devotees. This is irrespective of whether our circumstances could be labeled on the surface, as good or bad, happy or sad.
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By spiritual practice and knowledge, we are meant to gain a new relationship with the material world, and what we might be conditioned to think are those damn problems and disappointments. Many people have correctly said that problems are opportunities. This isn’t just a cliché, but is a fact for all, and especially for those in the loving hands of Krishna. Are we “fair-weather” friends with Krishna, who will serve Him only when things go our way, and are ready to jump ship when we are smacked by calamities or problems? Life’s reverses or tribulations give us the opportunity to demonstrate our realization in depending on Krishna and always remembering Him. You don’t have to pray for them, since they are inevitable, but we have to come to the stage of actually welcoming them when they come, and seeing the hand of Krishna in all events in our life.
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For a devotee, the universe is friendly, which is a paraphrase of the important verse in the Tenth Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam where Lord Brahma prays: "One who seeks Your compassion and thus tolerates all kinds of adverse conditions due to the karma of his past deeds, who engages always in Your devotional service with his mind, words and body, and who always offers obeisances unto You is certainly a bona fide candidate for becoming Your unalloyed devotee.” In the commentary to this verse we read that “although a devotee has surrendered to the Lord's devotional service, until he is completely perfect in Krishna consciousness he may maintain a slight inclination to enjoy the false happiness of this world. The Lord therefore creates a particular situation to eradicate this remaining enjoying spirit. This unhappiness suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic reaction; it is rather the Lord's special mercy for inducing His devotee to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead.”

To conclude, by studying the scriptures, engaging in devotional service, chanting the holy name, and hearing from saintly persons, we can realize our spiritual joyful nature and loving relationship with Krishna. To remain fixed on the path we have to continually recommit to our basic spiritual practices, being aware of, and becoming free from, those thoughts or activities which deviate or distract us, or weaken our faithful resolve to make devotional progress. As we increase our affection for serving Krishna and His devotees, our relationship to life and other people change. Rather than being self-centered and looking for ways to please our senses and material self, we will find our happiness in service. We will gradually see whatever happens to us, or the results of the choices we make as either good or bad, not by the activities themselves but to the extent that they do, or don’t, foster our dependence, remembrance and love of Krishna. [if you missed part 1 you can read it by clicking here, as it sets the scene for what you just read: http://www.krishna.com/blog/2012/03/1/could-you-know-your-soul-and-pursu... ]
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Problems, difficulties,

Problems, difficulties, struggles... These really are unavoidable in the material world. Thank you very much for sharing this, Prabhu. Your words have made me more determined to deal with my problems by remembering Krsna, as well as acknowledging the fact that whether we are faced with something favourable or unfavourable, they are both given to us by Krsna's Grace. Reflecting on a few of my own struggles in life, I can now say that they weren't actually struggles, even though they were so difficult to deal with at the time. That's because I experienced tolerance, humility and detachment by dealing with them. Through those difficult times I realised that my attachment should only be for Krsna, since He is the only one with whom we can, and do, have an everlasting, loving and happy relationship. If such experiences help me develop my love for Krsna and determination to attain Him, then I pray that Krsna helps me fall flat on my face; being such a foolish being, I deserve it anyway.
Thanks a lot, Prabhu, for that reminder and for helping me walk the road to Krsna.

Your insignificant servant,
Roma

Faith in Krsna, hope and

Faith in Krsna, hope and positiveness being put in His Holy Name, those are so powerful... His Grace Srila Prabhupada is a great example of that.

I ironically laugh at myself, how I tend to moan over my CURRENT problems, times passes by, and look, the old one is changed with new one, and so on... But the point is that there's isn't a problem in this universe that'll stay with you forever. One way or another, we just get out of it somehow- karma isn't eternal. And for a devotee, it's a great chance to see Him playing behind the scene, pulling the strings for us. There is always Light in the end of the tunel, and one is bound to find that Light, Krsna, by living here. Thank you, Prabhu, for sharing your year tested experience and ever-wise words, never stop inspiring us! Hare Krsna!

Material and spiritual problem solving

Thanks for sharing. If I can help a few people and devotees, I am happy. I am here for this purpose and it is enlivening to have conversations with thoughtful devotees like yourself. Everything moves in cycles.

Making merely material adjustments to solve our ultimate problems is like carrying a heavy weigh, and moving it from shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand, or like the relief we might experience after being held underwater, and then gaining a moment's breathe, only to be dunked again, as was done in some forms of medieval punishment or torture. The mode of goodness brings material happiness, and is better than passion or ignorance, but without spiritual practice, it will not last, or in any case, one has to take birth again, and sometimes go under water.

Some of us came to the conclusion in our youth that nothing material could bring us happiness, and our distress fueled our existential search for the meaning of life, along with our last life's unfinished spirituality. We found spiritual reasons for our unhappiness in the Krishna conscious philosophy and a lasting sense of purpose and joy. At the same time, as we matured some of us realized the importance of creating a strategy for remaining a devotee our whole life, so we married, went back to college, created a profession, and sorted out our past to make our psychology as favorable as possible for relationships and having a peaceful mind for hearing and chanting about Krishna.

Then in our older years and retirement we will be ready to more fully embrace the bhakti path, since we didn't forget Krishna or give up our practice throughout our married life. That is my story at least, though I can't say I am completely able to be the kind of devotee I pray to be. But I can see that intensity of practice not only helps, but is indispensable--lauyam or spiritual greed for prema is our spiritual ticket. Aches and pains, wrinkles and gray, diminishing capacities, as well as dying parents and friends give me a constant reminder of what is really important, and that my days are numbered. Everything and everyone must be left behind, save our devotion and affection for Krishna, and the service we have done. Hare Krishna!

Thank You Krsna!

And I, Prabhu, am very glad to see the sincerity of a devotee like yourself. Little I understand about this Holy Path or the hearty devotion of a mature devotee - I'm a mere sprout both in my current material life and Krishna Consciousness, so being gifted the chance to read the thoughts and experience of devotees, to be shown a great example for service is very enlivening too! May Krishna Prema spring from within you!
Radhe Radhe!

Problems, difficulti

Problems, difficulties, struggles... These really are unavoidable in the material world. Thank you very much for sharing this, Prabhu. Your words have made me more determined to deal with my problems by remembering Krsna, as well as acknowledging the fact that whether we are faced with something favourable or unfavourable, they are both given to us by Krsna's Grace. Reflecting on a few of my own struggles in life, I can now say that they weren't actually struggles, even though they were so difficult to deal with at the time. That's because I experienced tolerance, humility and detachment by dealing with them. Through those difficult times I realised that my attachment should only be for Krsna, since He is the only one with whom we can, and do, have an everlasting, loving and happy relationship. If such experiences help me develop my love for Krsna and determination to attain Him, then I pray that Krsna helps me fall flat on my face; being such a foolish being, I deserve it anyway.
Thanks a lot, Prabhu, for that reminder and for helping me walk the road to Krsna.
Your insignificant servant,
Roma