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Staying with Krishna for the Long Haul by Finding Our Personal Mission and Potential Power—Part 1

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Author: 
Karnamrita Das

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In my last blog I spoke of illness or difficulties that can be used to rekindle our spiritual practice. In this blog I am sharing a sample of what of what some friends and I have been discussing about regarding the difficulty in finding one’s personal power and life mission. In a general sense all Gaudiya Vaishnavas, or devotees of Shri Krishna Chaitanya, share the same ultimate mission of prema, or loving service to Krishna and the spiritual practices to obtain it, or sadhana. However, the details concerning how one lives their life to obtain this ultimate mission, whether as a renunciate or married person with countless occupational possibilities, is as varied as are the types of people who come to Krishna. We could think of a personal unique mission, and a general spiritual one. They may look the same or seem very different. Many years ago I discovered I had issues with my personal power—or my lack of it. Reading the comments of devotees on this subject, I realized that I’m not alone, and so the topic of personal mission and personal power is essential to discuss for our long term standing as devotees.

Reflecting on how I grew up in a family situation where I had to turn off my personal power in order in to survive in a negative, violent atmosphere, it is easy to see that using my personal power is a major life lesson. My withdrawal of energy, or not being very conscious of it, continued to cast a shadow over my life when I came to Krishna. At first it helped me focus on my spiritual practices, but later I was practically forced to become a more balanced and integrated devotee. I have always been a late bloomer and so it isn't surprising to me that it is only now, toward the later years of my life, that I have found the gift in this personal deficiency. Of course, we all have our own time to blossom and become aware of what we need to do in our life. I'm endeavoring and praying to manifest my personal mission in the world—or my corner of it—as my offering for my gurus and Krishna, and to encourage others to do the same.

For the spiritually minded, life is really about managing our human energy in relationship to our spiritual path, and giving it shape according to our personal mission. Some intuitives call our personal mission our "sacred contract," and I have called it our "karmic mission." Regardless of what we call it, it is part of the reason we are in the world, materially speaking—what our natural gifts, skills, and contribution are—and can be a major challenge for devotees, or anyone, to realize. We may be our own worst enemy (http://www.krishna.com/blog/2014/08/26/our-own-worst-enemy)
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In my experience, if we don't go in our natural life direction, even doing all the externals of sadhana, we will feel incomplete and unsatisfied. While we should have spiritual practice as our daily endeavor, and keep our spiritual goal always in mind and heart, we have to do that in relationship to our calling. Sometimes our calling or mission may be way out of our comfort zone, and yet we have to do it. For example, one friend who is introverted by nature, found she was called to be a preacher of what she has learned, and thus has become a public figure. At some point she may find that she needs to be more internal. If that were the case, if she had not followed her inner guidance by pursuing the active public life of a preacher she might not feel as settled in her more secluded spiritual practices. Life is a series of steps best taken at the appropriate time.

In a perfect world our mission will dovetail, or mesh, externally with our spiritual practice as in the above example, yet that is often a challenge to do, especially for younger devotees. In other words, our mission may not be recognizable externally as spiritual, and we have to internally offer it to Guru and Krishna. For example, being an architect creating ecologically sound though esthetically stunning buildings, or a doctor helping the impoverished, or a lawyer representing good causes, etc., may appear to have nothing to do with Krishna, and so it is up to us to make that connection and devotional offering.
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Therefore, what makes the difference is our internal culture and intention. This is all-important and we may have to go beyond stereotypes or pressure from our peers. An example would be how Prabhupada encouraged George Harrison to do his music for Krishna, or encouraged a now famous person tennis teacher to do his tennis for Krishna, while the devotees had at first said that music and tennis was "maya," or illusory, and not spiritual. Externals may be deceiving regarding what is Krishna conscious, or spiritually based.

Life is often a balancing act between our nature, spiritual practice, and our mission, or calling. This is why this subject is so important to think about. To me, a spiritual vision for our long term standing in bhakti is to determine what is required to stay the course, regardless of externals, or how our life may appear to those who don't know our internal culture, or how we have arrived at our current life's direction. "Giving our lives to Krishna," is easy to speak about, yet more difficult to practice when we have to factor in our personal mission or calling--which could also be partially referred to as "sva-dharma," but this is more than occupational identity. We can have a specific sense of purpose and mission within our occupation, or our mission may be totally different.

Most of us have to interact with family, occupation, mixed desires, and the world. Our challenge is to do this in a way that complements our nature, helps us be satisfied by using our talents and abilities, and keeps us fixed in our spiritual practices. In today's information age many spiritually inclined people would agree with this concept. Thus to them, and perhaps to you, this idea sounds easy enough. Unfortunately, some of us are at war within ourselves with so many competing voices, and we consequentially feel confused and powerless to sort them all out.
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My wife and I have found that most people have a sense of what they should do in life, but either they don't trust themselves, or they don't want to face the changes that would entail in following their inner guidance. For most of us it takes courage to do the right thing, practice to follow our guidance, and confidence to progress in the direction our life is meant to go in. To me, following our guidance within or wherever we find it, or in general, learning to read the signs for change or staying the course, is the essence of using our personal power and can be a major life lesson.

I know there is much divine help in using our personal power for its intended purpose—we get many promptings within and without. So at this time in my life—I'll be 65 this year—so better late than never—I am doing my best to fulfill my personal mission as my service to my gurus, Krishna, the devotees, and the ordinary people. My general advice is for all of us to give this topic some serious time and prayer in our life. To a large extent, whether we discover and follow our mission, or not, will determine our happiness or distress now, or if we do, or do not, have resentments later in life—and even if we can remain a devotee for the long haul. Lessons keep coming until learned, so better to do them now, which is all we have! This topic is a work progress so your comments are welcome. My writing is meant to provide us all food for thought and reflection.

Here is the link to part 2: http://www.krishna.com/blog/2015/01/30/finding-our-personal-mission-and-...
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