In visiting with my mom in her last days I revisited my very poor original dealings with her when I first took up the path of Bhakti or Krishna consciousness. In those days the devotees were almost all very young and inexperienced. We had no balanced elders to show us the way through their wisdom of having gone through many stages of life and various mistakes and blunders. Therefore our application of the philosophy was often very fanatical and short sighted. At least for many of us including myself, “tact” was not in our vocabulary, and we had no ability to think long term or to really understand that we can’t give people everything at once. We have to be sensitive to the receptivity of our audience, and not speak “at” them but to them based on our relationship and their nature. People will be more inclined to hear from a friend than an adversary.
This topic came to me when I was on hold on the phone. Dealing with customer service representatives or those who deal with people on behalf of companies can be very instructive. It is a testimony about how challenging it can be to deal with the stress of working with the public, or doing a difficult job. Although some manage to be reasonably kind, considerate and thoughtful, many seem like they don’t really care about you or their work.
Although Bhagavad-gita is one of our essential texts and is glorified as having what is necessary for us to make spiritual progress, it is also considered the ABC’s. Our founder/acharya or principle teacher’s— Shrila Prabhupada’s—purports add references from many relevant Gaudiya Vaishnava and Vedic texts which greatly increase its depth and accessibility. However, objectively, in our tradition, the Shrimad Bhagavatam would be considered a more developed scripture, since it begins where the Gita leaves off—with giving up all works or material dharmas except pure devotional service to Krishna.
A big part of life is learning to be curious about what its purpose is and how it works. Now scientists might agree with this statement, but they generally only accept a mechanistic, non-spiritual perspective. Those with a spiritual orientation to life study about and try to act on the fact that we are souls having a human experience. This view changes everything, as does our understanding about the dual purpose of the laws of the Universe. These two main purposes illustrate that we are given freedom from our Source (Shri Krishna for us Gaudiya Vaishnavas) to choose what is in our best spiritual interest, or to strive for temporary happiness based on the illusion that we are only physical bodies meant to struggle for existence.
In the U.S.A. we just observed “Father’s Day” and it’s celebrated in 55 other countries on various days. Although not a Vedic holiday per se, the day meshes well with the Vedic idea of honoring elders including our mother and father. (Austerity of the body consists in worship of the Supreme Lord, the brahmanas, the spiritual master, and superiors like the father and mother, and in cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy and nonviolence. Bhagavad-gita 17.14). Although the West is a very youth oriented and “has to be new” culture there is still an appreciation of the importance of both one’s father and mother. Thank God or Thank Krishna!
Our spiritual master Shrila Prabhupada often spoke of going back to home, back to Godhead. It is one of the mottos of the Krishna consciousness movement. I have thought often over the last 2 months about the concept we generally have of our “home” in this world and the idea that the soul has an origin, a place or real home where he belongs eternally, which never has to be—or is wanted to be—left. Although people like change and seek fulfillment through variety, we also seek permanence, and lasting, loving relationships.
Sitting in the living room
thinking of my 7 week visit
winding down while mountain gazing
the last legalities finalized
death certificate received
understanding the Will and adjusting.
The mountains are so prominent in the La Quinta area, and I am thinking of all the reasons they are so captivating to me. It is also typical that many people are oblivious to them, as much as they don’t take lessons from the sun-- that each new sunrise brings them closer to death. Regardless, I feel even the smaller ones close to the house are massive, ancient, and expressive of great wisdom. They appear like a huge pile of boulders and rocks that fell from the sky at the beginning of time, or like the mountains on the moon, or I say jokingly, like “dry cow dung”. Standing like eternal sentinels they witness the rise and fall of civilizations, laughing at the current attempt to turn the desert into “paradise”.
Perhaps most poignantly and important in this story
of a son and mother estranged, yet reconciled at the end
is the fact that one’s conditioning needs to be understood
and we can’t make much progress if we deny or repress
our pain or resentment, anger, or unresolved issues
hiding behind the banner of spiritual advancement.