THE POWER OF OUR LOVE TO REVEAL WHO WE ARE NOW, AND IN THE FUTURE, and a short essay on what our love reveals and teaches us
WE SHOW WHAT WE LOVE BY WHAT WE GIVE OUR ATTENTION TO and WHAT WE LOVE IS WHO WE BECOME: Truth is simple, yet profound. Please join me in thinking about and unpacking these truths in a practical way. I find a number of applications both in a negative and positive sense. The idea that we demonstrate what we love by what we give attention to is another way of explaining the law of attraction, of which the ultimate purpose and expression of, is the principle behind meditation and the goals of bhakti. Another way of saying this is that what we focus on increases in power, or as Emerson taught, “We become what we think about all day long.”
If you feel that what you’re giving your main attention to isn’t what you really love, then you need to make some adjustments in your life so you CAN give attention to what you truly love. Just like some people say they love God, or their spouse, children, or family, but don’t give them any time or energy. As it is said, “Love is as love does.” We only have so much energy or power of focus, so we have to use it judiciously with the knowledge that we become what we are absorbed in and giving most of our energy to. Is our outer life congruent with our inner one? For many of us, our work is in this kind of honest introspection, for it holds the key to being all we are capable of, and reveals what we are here to do.
Discontent, depression, disconnection,
or dissatisfaction, are our friends
if we take them as messengers
to help us to change course
pushing us to leave our comfort
zone and get off the couch,
to be uncomfortable to strive
more than merely survive.
This is such a common theme,
(for me) but sharing's still important
as many on a spiritual path,
or those who strive for excellence
confront obstacles to realizing
their goals and life mission
so please don’t mind my repetition,
only think if it can help you rise up.
FEAST OR FAMINE FOR MANY FACILITIES OR PREFERRED ACTIONS: These days I am in somewhat of a famine, or at least some restriction, in terms of writing, which I consider so central to my life lived in the pursuit of being a giver. This makes me sad, but also brings introspection on the way my life works--a very recommended and helpful practice!
Our lives have their demands which require our attention to properly deal with them. This seems to be just the nature of material reality even for spiritual practitioners in bhakti. Though the ideal of followers of Shri Chaitanya is to be fully absorbed in seva (loving devotional actions), still, we can't completely escape material necessities that require payment and thus bring certain ebbs and flows in our life aspirations. We could also describe these ebbs and flows, or ups and downs, as cycles of life.
This is certainly no big revelation, but for me, at certain times, it is more painfully evident (during the ebbs) then during those inspiring flow states when everything seems divinely ordered and empowered. As always, in addition to just sharing, my intention is for you to think over your own life and how this might apply to you. We can ask ourselves when reading or listening to a talk, "How can I use this," and try to find at least one good point to put into practice. Such openness will help us notice the useful and practical in what others miss due to focusing on the faults of the presentation. This is the meaning of the saying that we get more of, or notice, what we focus on, and how so much of a successful life comes from our attitude and faith. The Gita teaches us that we are our faith, for without faith, we can't do anything, remaining on the doubting fence of the intellect!
I originally published this blog on February 15, 2011. Since I don't have time this evening to prepare a blog about Lord Nityananda, I thought I would post it again now. Wednesday, February 8th will be the observance of Lord Nityananda’s holy appearance day. I was blessed in 2011 to be able to give class to the devotees on that day. I am sharing with you part of what I spoke about then. On the one hand, I appreciate the special mercy that comes to one who is able to speak to the devotees about Krishna and the philosophy of devotion, while on the other, I also find it very humbling to realize that I really don’t know much about the philosophy. It is like an ocean, and I can only share a few drops. However, I speak for my own purification, with the prayer and intention to inspire and inform the devotees. Besides this, Krishna appreciates our taking risks in his service, assuring us in the Gita, that he carries what we lack and preserves what we have.
It is interesting how Spring is associated with Shri Chaitanya and his associations. First Shri Advaita Acharya, who prayed for the Lord’s appearance, then Shri Nityananda Prabhu, the expansion of Lord Chaitanya and his most merciful aspect, and finally the crescendo, next month, on the full moon day, Lord Chaitanya’s appearance. Although Shri Chaitanya is widely known as the “most munificent” avatar, freely giving Krishna prema (ecstatic love for Krishna), Shri Nityananda is considered even more merciful, since he gives prema to the most unqualified persons.
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
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.