There's a dedicated team of people working at the Krishna.com office and warehouse to share Lord Krishna’s teachings with more than 4000 visitors a day (1.46 million per year) from 228 countries, territories and islands. Fall is when Krishna.com’s annual bills are due, property tax ($5200), insurance ($3150), email newsletter service ($2145), and a new roof after the hurricane ($6000), totaling $16,495. We need your help to keep Krishna.com alive and vibrant. Please give a donation.

WHO IS THE PERSON YOU THINK YOU ARE, & DO YOU ASPIRE TO IMPROVE? and TALKING & PRAYING TO KRISHNA BY OURSELVES AND IN A GROUP

4
Author: 
Karnamrita Das

Who am I? photo Who am I_zpsbqbujpns.jpg
WHO IS THE PERSON YOU THINK YOU ARE, AND DO YOU ASPIRE TO IMPROVE?; NATURE VERSUS NURTURE, OR KARMA VERSUS FREE WILL?: At this point in my life I am doing my best to really understand what is true and what we can all do to be the best person possible, both on the human and spiritual level.

I know what it is like to either focus on the spiritual in theory while neglecting the material, as well as those whose total emphasis is on material progress, often at the cost of the environment and any possibility of spiritual growth and factoring God into their lives—and everything in-between. I have personal experience and life is full of teachers who model that which is to be avoided, and a few who model the ideal in various arenas, to varying degrees.

Spiritual growth isn’t about denying our material needs, and material life can’t be perfected without a relationship to God. We have to become masters of ourselves and our attitude and in creating a positive self-image that is realistic and full of promise, and incorporate this in relationship to making spiritual progress.

Many people have a very low opinion of themselves—almost everyone who comes for counseling—or they can hide this fact by showing an inflated sense of whom they actually are. In my view our character is everything, or how we walk our talk, or live what we speak and profess as our ideal.

To call our progress on all levels we are required to be open to brutally honest introspection, yet with compassion, to extricate those attitudes and conditioning that keep us stuck in our disempowered states, with the faith that we are by spirit-nature valuable and lovable as souls, and that Krishna will help those who make the endeavor to improve themselves on the path of bhakti.
 photo Buddha at Ginko tree_zpsrjdn1g0b.jpg
We find that people grow up thinking they are damaged or bad people and live life in reaction to their upbringing and past experiences. While our miseries can bring us to Krishna if we have the past bhakti-sukriti, we still have to correct our faulty self-image and who we think we are. We aren’t our past, or the mistakes we have made, or our habitual tendencies that create problems in life and in relationships.

We have the power to change provided we are willing to do the work required and also have a strong spiritual practice through Krishna’s holy name and service, the most purifying agent. With purification comes awareness, as does living primarily in the mode of goodness. From goodness comes knowledge, and with knowledge we can understand our spiritual potential and how we must change.

In the lower modes we have almost no free will beyond the bodily needs, but the closer we come to the soul, the more freedom we have, and the material quality of goodness moves us in the right direction. If goodness is coupled with spiritual progress we have the key to gaining the wisdom and determination to change.

Change can be difficult work when we are attached to the trappings of the lower modes and the conditioning that goes with it. Thus part of our work is to have more faith in spiritual improvement and having a more ideal character than the power of our conditioning to keep us stuck.

We must pray for it every day and for the strength to do our spiritual work—out with the old conditioning, mentality and habits, and in with the spiritual positive perspective and changing for the better. This is why Krishna says in the 17th chapter that we are our faith.

Faith determines what we are willing to do, but doubt is immobilizing and keeps us on the fence of indecision. The stages of spiritual advancement outlined by Rupa Goswami, (adau sraddha tatah sadhu, etc) are described as a deepening of faith. Although in the modern world faith is considered the absence of reason, faith is actually the nature of the soul and is based on experience and realization. Our faith gives is the reason to support it! In a sense, this kind of faith is everything, and determines where we will go in our lives.

May we all improve in our faith and find shelter in bhakti, and in having the determination to act to improve our inner selves or mental culture, and thus our lives and spiritual progress.

 photo DSCN2276_zpscbpx2bju.jpg
TALKING AND PRAYING TO KRISHNA BY OURSELVES AND IN A GROUP: I found the file for my group prayer power booklet on an old floppy disk and am updating it to make it available for devotees so they can create their own prayer groups. Being in this small group for 3 years helped me in my prayer life and showed me the power and importance of such groups to help create deeper devotee relationships and mini communities.

One devotee, Rohini-suta, some years ago shared that a regular guest to the Soho Street temple in London once commented that, “You have an incredible philosophy, but no fellowship for members.” This confirmed my own thoughts about the need for structures for devotees to relate as persons and share their struggles, doubts, and also how they've been successful in dealing with adversities.

One could be emotionally dying during the morning services and no one would know. Or if someone did observe it, they might not have the time to reach out to that devotee, or even know how to help them. Prayers groups and various types of support groups can help fill the need of the temple devotees and the congregation.

Personally, my regular habit of praying and just talking to our Deities, and to Prabhupada or Shri Radha or Krishna and Gauranga and Nitai, etc. has really helped me enter the mood of personalism and to know that these forms of God and his energies are always with me and are able to help me increase my devotion and faith.

For me, talking to Krishna is the most natural thing I do, as one would talk to a confidential friend who knows me—in this case, he is the one who knows us much better than we know ourselves or even anyone who is dear and close to us. I know some may say, “Who are you to talk to God?” but remember, although we don’t see him directly, and he is the greatest and most important person in existence, he is dearer to us than our very life. He is family in the most original, primal sense of the word.

We are all children of God, and he, the super-most Father, or we could see him in a different way in the higher stages. I endeavor to see him as my best friend, though yes, as Father in the sense of being my source, but in a general sense as "family."
 photo DSCN1993_zpsth40keo4.jpg
As his dependent children, it is natural to speak our heart to him, because even more than a supreme father, he is our dear-most friend and well-wisher, our Source, the Soul of our soul, and the Life of our life. We have read in Prabhupada’s Raja-Vidya that “in the execution of devotional service one has to submit to Krishna whatever distress or confidential problem he has.”

In his purport to SB 3.9.24, where Lord Brahma prays, “I therefore pray that in the course of my material activities I may not be deviated from the vibration of the Vedic hymns.” Prabhupada instructs us that, “This is a warning for one and all in the spiritual advancement of life. Unless one is sufficiently protected by the Lord, he may fall down from his spiritual position; therefore one has to pray constantly to the Lord for protection and the blessing to carry out one's duty.”

In a room conversation, Mayapura, April 5, 1975 we find this discussion:

Prabhupada: The fools think that one cannot talk with God. But God says, janma karma ... the devotees come to Me. Then what will you do there? He'll talk or not talk?
Devotee: There He'll talk ... but we are so insignificant. Why should God waste His time talking to us?
Prabhupada: Yes. Because you are His sons. Although you are insignificant, you are God's sons. So He likes to talk with His sons. Just like a small child. Everyone knows that he cannot talk. Still father tries to make him talk, to enjoy. Mayapura-Candrodaya temple is teaching all these fools and rascals how to talk with God. That is our mission.”

My own experience is evidence enough for me that we should talk to Krishna, or our Deities, and share our lives, both successes and struggles, with them. Still the above quotes may be more convincing for you to at least try it out, if this isn't something you do. To me, it makes our philosophy so much more personal and real, and I just feel happy doing it.
Our home altar photo DSCN2145_zpshrdlohza.jpg