CONFESSIONS OF BEING A HABITUAL “SLUMP,” TRANSFORMED BY FULLING MY MISSION TO GIVE

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Author: 
Karnamrita Das

CONFESSIONS OF BEING A HABITUAL “SLUMP,” TRANSFORMED BY FULLING MY MISSION TO GIVE: Generally, I’m not in favor of self-deprecation, especially as a habitual go-to attitude of who we are as persons, which I see as an ill-informed, bad affirmation that can keep us stuck in behavior that needs to be overcome or changed into something positive. We aren't our past sad story, or who we "think" we are, which we only are if we resign ourselves to our limiting beliefs about what is possible.

The more we dwell on something the more power it has in our lives, either positive or negative. Our habitual thoughts and words become who we are, and to begin to change, we must begin changing our self-concept revealed what we focus on and affirm, within, by self-talk, and without, by our actions.

SELF-CRITICISM

Our self-criticism may be true to some extent but such introspection is only useful if it inspires us to change and improve ourselves. Otherwise, what’s the point? A successful life, materially or spiritually, is about change for the better. The purpose of introspection is for personal growth and transformation, though too often we may berate ourselves by thinking our bad qualities or habits are really who we are. In other words, we think our perceived bad qualities or past is our identity, depressing us and leaving us stuck in the same old, same old, feeling we are cursed by fate. Why even try, right?

Today, I am by nature a positive and happy person, though this wasn’t true in my youth (though that led me to my spiritual search), and I have my dark moments when I lament my conditioned nature, and even feel angry about it. In the early days of my self-development or focus on personal growth, in my 30’s, I thought my indifference toward life and even my spirituality, was the result of a defense mechanism to survive my father’s erratic temper and resulting violence in our family. That’s why I thought I couldn’t “live with passion,” as Tony Robbins encourages his listeners.

MY OLD CONDITIONING

Admittedly, I emotionally withdrew from life and relationships to avoid being hurt, yet I have learned that this strategy (which truly saved me from being much more damaged) was more my nature than something completely abnormal. Much of my personal growth work has been to become more present and emotionally available. Never the less, I am still a very reserved and a neutral type of person. It is difficult for me to become excited about anything—at least to the extent that I think I should. As difficult as this has been for me to accept, there are advantages to my nature, and I no longer fight against it. I also have to leave my comfort zone of conditioning to realize my potential and mission.

Still, sometimes, like this morning, I call out to Krishna, with some anger, “Why do I have to be such a slump?” What can I say? I feel “slumpy” sometimes, and lack luster, half-baked, and wanting so much to feel intense emotion in relationship to the holy name and all the devotional practices, desiring to help others as my lifeblood. Then I offer my usual prayers for enthusiasm and special empowerment to be of meaningful, helpful, inspiring service to the greatest number of devotees, and people in general, as possible. I come face to face with my dual nature of wanting material enjoyment and facilities, and wanting to be emptied out of all but pure desires for loving service and in helping others. Agh!!

We all have different moods, and I go through times of thinking how it is such a drag, after so many years of being a devotee to be so limited by my old conditioning. However, I must reiterate that most of my years in bhakti have been as a casual, “religious” devotee or a super-slumper, doing the minimum, an official “haribol” devotee, just hanging out in the background of familiar mediocrity, etc,etc. Thus, what can I expect?

WHAT ABOUT YOU, THE POWER OF PRAYER AND INTENTION?

What about you, which is one point of my sharing about myself--how can you be more in the fire of spiritual practice? Personally I have high expectations and intentions, that someday--which must begin today (the road to someday, leads to a place called nowhere!), my intense daily prayers will bear fruit—since for years I never prayed for spiritual advancement—and I will truly be able to help devotees and seekers in the best way I am blessed to. At the same time, we must begin where we are, as there is never a perfect time. Today is all we have!

That is my ardent desire, even with my lessor, slumpy material conditioning and desires for enjoying the flesh. Even though my prayers for perfection may be slumpy in my estimation, I still pray to overcome that, and be the example I aspire for to represent my gurus and our line coming from Gauranga and Nitai--which means to give mercy as I breathe!

This is one reason I travel to give my talks on facing death to live more fully today. Then I feel I am using my life for its true purpose of service to others. If I can be spiritually connected and give hope and encouragement to my audience, then I consider my life a success, though loving Krishna is ultimate success. To speak at my best, I have to put myself on the line, and leave any slumpiness behind! This is a useful challenge for me!

CONCLUSION AND MY CHALLENGE FOR YOU:

Would you permit me to challenge you? What is your habitual self-talk, and what are you focused on? What is it in your conditioning that holds you back, and how can you improve? We must all ask empowering questions of ourselves, believe in the possible, and not give into lethargy or indifference.

VERSES AND QUOTES: "Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight." [Bg 3.30]

Devotees quote this statement by Prabhupada, though it isn't in his books or lectures in exactly this form, however, it sounds like him: "An easy-going life and Krishna consciousness go ill together."

I know this is getting long, but one more quote from a lecture Prabhupada gave on a Gita verse. Very insightful: "So our duty, persons who are [in] Krsna consciousness, engaged in Krsna consciousness, they should always know that everything is to be done by Krsna. We cannot do anything without Krsna's sanction. But still, we have to do our own duty. Not that, "Oh, Krsna will do everything. Therefore we shall not try for a storefront or we shall not go to see this man or... Krsna..." No! That is lethargy.

"You have to do your own duty. But result, depend on Krsna. This is Krsna conscious. You don't be sorry if there is failure, you don't be unhappy if there is success, uh, you don't be too much, I mean to say, jubilant if there is success. Everything is done by Krsna. This is the attitude of Krsna consciousness. They have to do their own duty. Never mind whether it is suffering or happiness. It doesn't matter." [Prabhupada lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.13-17 -- November 29, 1968, Los Angeles]

Thus it is essential to find your duty or personal mission!