Recently I've read this prominent Vaisnava tantra of the Pancaratra canon spoken by Siva to Narada Muni in 716 verses, similar in length to BG. The reading of Sanskrit takes about 2 hours. I had a very good feeling after reading it.
(The first two chapters in English edition are in Harvard-Kyoto transliteration system. All other online versions of this edition seem to lack Sanskrit.)
MAKING MARRIED LIFE AN ASHRAM THROUGH THROUGH WORSHIP OF THE FORM OF KRISHNA, SAINTS, AND THE HOLY NAME: I devoted a previous blog to the power of Deity worship in general and some of my experiences being a temple pujari for so many years. Today, after I dressed our Gaura and Nitai, and beheld the other Deities, all recently worshiped and adorned with new dresses and ornaments, as I chanted, I felt both awe and inspiration that these forms of Krishna and his expansions and energies have allowed us to live with and serve them. I was appreciating how for a householder, regular worship of Deities and seeing them as the true owner and enjoyer of our home and lives, is one way we transform our home into an ashram.
We have a simple home standard where we offer them everything we eat two or three times a day, and dress and bathe them once a week, while the shilas are worshiped daily, though also simply. I have reasoned that our real worship is through our daily chanting of the holy name through japa and kirtan, offering our prayers, and ultimately our very life and soul, which is the point of everything we do.
Saranagati, or surrendering our body, mind, and soul and all that we possess for divine service, or bhakti, is the process of spiritual awakening. Surrender is a loaded word, and we naturally feel it means we have to give up so much, lose so much. However paradoxical it may seem materially, it is by surrender that we gain our soul and true spiritual nature.
To breathe out, one only has to breathe in,
but we can’t hold our breath forever;
so begin today while you are still breathing
because there are no tomorrows or could-bes.
Only a string of nows, do-days giving potential
at least one step of progress on the miles ahead
though even a step back can help us go forward
All of the material existence, the universes, outer space, galaxies, stars, planetary systems, planets, continents, countries, cities, and everyone’s body, are all on fire. In worldly consciousness, our illusory task is to deny this fire at every turn, or recognizing the fire partially, to create structures to protect us from being burned, keeping that fire “over there,” overseas, or in another neighborhood, and not in our view. However, as much as our societies, elders, and parents are trying to reassure us that there is nothing to worry about, we find clues everywhere about this all-consuming fire, if we can read the signs. We can’t combat what we deny.
Great devotees come to this world to warn everyone about the fire that is consuming all physical life and every aspect of the material world. Religions are begun around such saintly speakers of cutting truth to reveal the fire, but in course of time, religions also become deniers of the fire, or they teach people how to work with the fire so they can be happy with it until they die with the promise of going to heaven, which is just another type of fire--not giving the real solution.
We can fight this fire with a different type of fire. Though we can’t stop the material world from burning, since everything material is meant to change, transform, and eventually burn to ashes, we can fight the fever of material existence with the transcendent cooling firepower of life-giving divine wisdom and spiritual practice.
SELF-ABSORPTION isn’t thought of favorably and generally means to be excessively concerned with one’s own life and interests without taking into consideration other people. Some synonyms are egoism, self-centeredness, narcissism, self-importance, self-preoccupation, etc. However, in my thinking this morning while chanting, which is the attempt to “hear” God in his holy names, or become absorbed in the Supreme Self, we need to be self-absorbed in the sense of becoming aware of those parts of ourselves that need to be adjusted and purified. When we are chanting or praying we become aware of our highest ideals and our various types of material interests, or even our lowest worldly desires.
Prabhupada has compared chanting the holy name to making ghee. In ghee making, we boil butter, and must work to skim off the “impurities” or milk solids which rise to the surface. Then we will be able to create clarified butter, or ghee, which has so many medicinal properties and uses. This is an interesting analogy which can help us in our daily spiritual practice.
We can think of our spiritual practices, like chanting the holy name, as the cleansing fire, that is meant to burn up the impurities or material contaminations. If we expect to go anywhere spiritually we have to
svAyambhuvo dhurjatayaz ca sarve
prAdurbhave suSThu jaTA-ghaTAyAm
succhAyakAH sUrya-samAz ca vRkSA
AbAla-zobhAH sanakAdi-vac ca
From the branches and roots of the trees of Vraja all BrahmAs and Zivas
emanate. Although the trees of Vraja are as splendid as the sun, they still
are wonderful parasols to shade one from the sun's rays. They shine with the
luster of youth, just as the four KumAras. (VizvanAtha CakravartI ThAkura -
VrajarIticintAmaNi 2.21, trans. Kuzakratha dAsa)
praphullatAyai kusumAkaro 'yam
zrI-nArado yatra babhUva gopI
I am entering the mood of preparing for my talk a week from Friday, on the 20th. This means for me, hours of chanting, prayer, deep contemplation and writing, in order to be as prepared as possible to say what is most essential for the audience who might attend. I always keep high ideals! The presence of my listeners is a gift for me since they bring me to higher levels of being, knowing and loving in devotion. Though I am responsible for what I bring to any discussion, the audience is considered at least 50 % of the equation, as their mood affects the speaker, either expanding or contracting the possibilities.
We give who we are, so I have to prepare myself to be on the highest, most compassionate, and loving platform, to manifest vital, life-giving wisdom, practical and transcendent. Though I am always praying to be my most empowered spiritual self, speaking to others gives me more urgency to be all I can be to serve and uplift. This is beneficial for me, as well as whoever listens with an open heart. Meditating on this mood with the prayer to share is exciting, and I very rarely use that word!
I’m endeavoring and praying to be open to receive much more than ordinary materialistic, limited thinking might deem possible. Then I may reach high to be a spiritual possibility thinker, or spiritually and miraculously minded, by connecting to the higher spiritual realms, and be guided by my seen and unseen spiritual benefactors and teachers. As we shower with water to cleanse our body, I am meditating on being more deeply cleansed through the divine Light shower of the holy names, prayer, and the serving mood in bhakti, offered to our Deities, and ideally put into everything I do, with whoever I am with.
Examining my life and studying the endeavors of the young and old, I find this energy or push to find one’s calling, one’s “authentic” or real self, one of primary motivators in life. If we are thoughtful and blessed this should tell us something, as does the fact that our life goes through stages, is of short duration, and seems to be always threatened by non-existence. Behind everything is a message and lesson to learn. We can learn to listen or dull this urge through the endless distractions that are offered by modern society.
If we were a body we would be happy just to exist and live, yet we find that no one can just live without this search for identity, or someway to designate themselves. We can't just be zero. If we are simple minded we won’t spend too much time or energy on this. We’ll just identify with our body, village, culture, religion, and follow our parents’ or peer’s ideas. If we more sophisticated or have some spiritual bend of mind, we’ll make the time to stop and contemplate the existential questions of the ages and sages.
We may search out guidance from the world’s religious or spiritual literature and those who live it by them. Then we may discover that our search for worldly identity hints at the true quest of life, self-realization to uncover our soul, or animating principle of life, the real “I” or “me,” spiritual identity, who is part of something much greater, our Source. This could be seen as the all-pervading undifferentiated “Brahman” or “Clear (or White) Light,” or as the Supreme Being, God, the originator of all energies and spiritual aspects and conceptions, who we are part of and meant to serve. For some, matter seems all there is, and birth and death ends in nothingness.
tathatmaddha na samyati
It is true that by practicing restraint of the senses by the yoga system one
can get relief from the disturbances of desire and lust, but this is not
sufficient to give satisfaction to the soul, for this [satisfaction] is
derived from devotional service to the Personality of Godhead. (SB 1.6.35)
yogam nishevato nityam
kayas cet kalpatam iyat
tac chraddadhyan na matiman
yogam utsrijya mat-parah
Although the physical body may be improved by various processes of yoga, an
JOYFULLY BEING ALONE: This subject is an extension of a frequent topic of mine which I deal with on a daily basis: extolling the virtue of introspection and self-analysis as part of clearing out impediments to devotion in the stage of bhakti called anartha-nivritti (retiring unwanted habits of thought and action)--at least that is often the hint. We live in a time of busy-ness and addiction to innumerable distractions, where it isn't seen as cool to just be sitting down without a handheld device, something to do, or talkative friends.
I remember once on a busy street being taken by the beauty of a particular cloud, where the comments I heard from passersby were about my being on drugs or exhibiting unusual, curious behavior to be looking up at the sky, as if their personal business of walking somewhere, or hanging out with no real purpose, was the only important activity, and my looking at a cloud was deranged tomfoolery.
Though we are social creatures that need interaction with others, the importance of being alone with one's thoughts or taking the time to reflect on life is crucial. Some people aren't comfortable being alone or don't know what to do with themselves