(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
[Republished from December 14th, 2012]
I began this blog with the first part of the title before I contacted an “industrial strength” flu, which then gave me illness eyes to emote through. Practically our entire community received this illness gift from a visiting sadhu, and many of us have been under the weather for 12 days or more. In any case, I have combined the two blog ideas since they are related. In other blogs (included in my book Give to Live) I have spoken about the positive and negative impetus for practicing bhakti. While today’s title emphasizes the negative, it is within the context of a positive, spiritual, worldview and an understanding of the blissful nature of the soul engaged in loving service to Krishna. Until we are self-realized devotees of Krishna, we have to continually be reminded about the shortcomings of the material world and the fallacy of trying to enjoy our senses. Why? Since we are all addicted to pleasuring our senses and material conceptions, we often have a difficult time breaking these bad habits. However, we can apply the adage, “Repetition is the mother of skill,” and gradually find our spiritual footing.
In this spirit, the statement, “and then you die,” can be added to any ordinary material activity or accomplishment in order to put life into a spiritual context. In other words, from the perspective of the eternality of the soul, how much value does a particular action or achievement have? Reading the obituary column is interesting from this perspective, since often the authors of the “accomplishments” of the so-called deceased, make quite a stretch in their praise, like looking for straws--at least it seems this way to me. If we were merely a temporary conglomeration of chemicals, then yeah, such narratives would be important, since that would be all there was to a person’s existence. One life and then you die—end of story! And even if, from a worldly or religious perspective, they are significant milestones, or extraordinary achievements, how much difference do they make spiritually? To me, that is the fundamental question to be asked in thinking of a person's, or our own, life. We all have things we feel compelled to do, and yet, as aspiring devotees, the art is to connect them to Krishna. As souls with a spiritual purpose to wake up from our conditioned dream, the only thing that truly matters is our real lasting enlightened self in a relationship of loving service to our Source, God, or Krishna.
[Originally published on September 1st ,2009] We are all unique yet also very similar to others of a certain background. I see the world as a Gaudiya Vaishnava which distinguishes me from many people by my habits, desires, spiritual and religious practices, and in general my lifestyle. However, by introspection I must admit to sharing much in common with human beings termed in America as "Boomers" or those born around 1950 or so. Sometimes people pride themselves for their particular group, ignoring how each human being shares the same basic needs to maintain their body, mind, and emotions in often only slightly different ways and varying personalities and tastes. The nature of our material ego is to try to convince us that we are very special in a positive or negative sense (specially gifted or flawed), and that the big world (or our small circle) should revolve around our needs, desires and mental constructs.
The more knowledgeable and humble we are the more we realize how similar we are to others, and how small and insignificant we are in relationship to our community, city, state, country, planet and the infinite Universe. We are a tiny soul, thinking we are very big and important. And we want to hear stories, read books, or watch movies that inflate our sense of self importance and greatness. This is why so many books are written and movies made.