Don't worry; stop and pray. . .
“When you get to the place where you would worry, stop and pray.” (from Edgar Cayce, compliments of my daily calendar)
That’s what I did regarding the Srimad-Bhagavatam class I gave this morning; it was the first time I’d been asked to give class since I moved to Alachua (except when Akuti asked me to stand in for her once); and the verse was quite challenging. All about what the gopis and Krishna may have said to one another during the pastime where the Lord steals the young gopis’ clothing off the riverbank while the girls are bathing. A hot topic, to say the least! How easily misunderstood. And so I prayed to be able to give a class that was pleasing to my spiritual master, scripturally sound, and from the heart.
Among the things I’d intended to say but didn’t was something that happened when I was a fairly new devotee, in Hawaii. I was going door to door with Back to Godhead magazines, and a very nice elderly lady from Portugal invited me in. As we talked, one thing I explained to her, as we looked at a picture of Krishna with the gopis, was that some souls love God with a love so intense that it manifests as a romantic relationship. She thoughtfully mused, “Yes, we have something like that in my religion too (she was a Catholic), but you don’t hear about it very much anymore.” I’ve also heard that there are similarities within the Jewish faith, particularly among the mystics (interestingly, they also practice vegetarianism).
One point I did make was to quote Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur, a great saint in our line from the 16th century, whose commentaries on the scriptures are themselves held as venerable reference points. He’d said “. . . the impersonalist philosophers have given indirect impetus to the abominable mundane sex life because they have overstressed the impersonality of the ultimate truth. Consequently, man without information of the actual spiritual form of sex has accepted perverted material sex life as the all in all. There is a distinction between sex life in the diseased material condition and spiritual sex life.”(Srimad-Bhagavatam1.1.1, purport)
I also brought a couple of ordinary books with me and read from them to illustrate that point; one was fiction, one non-fiction, but both specifically expressed a concept of God that denies Him involvement in sexuality or intimacy, such as we know in this world. Actually, everything that exists here, including romantic love, is only a reflection of something in the spiritual world. What so enchants us with its intensity is a mere shadow of the deep loving exchanges between the purest souls and God. But it is so very difficult to grasp this point while we ourselves are grasped, or bound, by the bodily concept of life, thinking ourselves to be products of material nature only, forgetting the immortal soul.
That’s why Hare Krishna people like to start newcomers off with Bhagavad-gita, which teaches ‘we’re not these bodies’ and engage them in acts of devotion. We stress the importance of hearing from authorities who come in disciplic succession from Krishna, and also engage people in sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy names of Krishna, as much as possible. These activities are simple but powerful ways to purify the heart, and gradually, as one goes on hearing, understanding of our real spiritual position in relation to the Lord dawns.
There was quite a lively discussion after the morning’s talk, so at least people were listening. And as far as worrying what others, listening online or hearing it recorded later, might think, Krishna saved me by arranging that some small machine part was missing from the broadcasting/recording device. Thank heavens for small favors!