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Physical & Mental Health

Why do we have nightmares? They can be so painful. What does it mean if we see Krishna in our dreams?

by Laksmimoni dasi

When we put hellish sights and sounds into our head we experience nightmares. Unfortunately this material world is like a nightmare, and it's only by spiritual life that we can escape from it. The regular happenings of material life, however, such as birth, death, old age and disease, can cause us nightmares, but we suffer even more if we watch and hear heavy material information.

The best thing is to read scripture and chant Hare Krishna. When we do this, we get a clear perspective on what's happening in the material world and it doesn't affect us as much. Therefore we won't get so many nightmares.

Also it is said that sometimes we live out our ideas and fears through dreams and nightmares. Fear or attraction to a circumstance or person, anticipation or dread of an event, may cause us to have a nightmare or dreams. If we take the material world too seriously it can hurt very badly. Similarly, if we take nightmares as reality they can hurt us badly. But if we keep things in perspective it can help. If the nightmares are happening again and again and causing difficulty, it might be beneficial to get professional help to see what's the cause and try to eliminate it.

Sometimes devotees see Krishna in dreams. Certainly, the more we think of Him during our waking hours the more likely it will be that we'll meet Him in our dreams. And if we do, it is very fortunate.

How can a person control his/her senses?

Question: How can a person control his/her senses?
Answer: (by Laxmimoni dasi):

This question is answered in the Bhagavad Gita and also in other shastras (scriptures). In the Bhagavad Gita, third chapter, it is stated that although we know what is right, we do the wrong thing.

Arjuna asks why, and Lord Krishna explains that it is lust - which burns like fire and is never satisfied - that causes us to act as if pushed by some unknown force. Lust comes from contact between the indriyas, or senses, and sense objects. We develop attachment or aversion and then the mind and intelligence become involved in satisfying that lust...and thus they also become contaminated.

Since the senses are where lust begins, it is advised that they be controlled and your question is, "how to do that?" First, it is advised that they be engaged in better activity. Like a child, if we want to keep him/her from doing mischief we can tell the child to sit still but that will not last long. We have to keep the child busy in positive engagement. So Lord Krishna advises that we put the senses to work, doing our prescribed duty, but offering the results to the Lord. Second, engage the senses in worship. Keep them pure by avoiding sinful acts and association. Dedicate your mind and body in the Lord's service; remain fully engaged in your work, which has to be done, and make the results of that work an offering.

Another helpful thing for controlling the senses is to keep good association. If we want to give up drinking, it's best not to associate with drunkards. If we want to study, then best to associate with serious students. If we want to become devotional and control the senses, then we must associate with persons who have similar desires and avoid persons that have similar weaknesses. Association will give us strength and encouragement, ultimately helping to keep us on the right track.

Other practical suggestions are to read and study shastra, eat sattvic foods, and maintain a schedule which encourages early to bed and waking early for yoga, and meditation on the Hare Krishna Mantra. In the evening people are looking for sense gratification - usually through passionate or ignorant acts - and thus the senses become agitated. If we rise early, then it is easier to engage the senses properly and control them for spiritual purposes.

What should we do when we become angry?

by Laxmimoni dasi

Anger is generally generated from contact with the three modes of material nature - goodness, ignorance and especially the mode of passion. It is described in the Gita that anger comes from contemplating some desire for sense pleasure. After not having that desire fulfilled we become angry. Also we become angry, and/or frustrated when we try to control that which is beyond our control...like the behavior of another person, or some situation that we want to go one way, however it goes another way...then we become angry.

Rarely, although it happens, we become angry because we hear the Lord or His devotees blasphemed and this anger is not created by the modes of nature.

This anger is what Lord Nrsimhadeva felt when He saw that His devotee was being harassed and hurt. It caused the Lord to feel such great anger that He appeared as half lion and half man to kill the great atheist, Hiranyakasipu. Of course we cannot kill anyone but we can try to defend the truth and protect the devotees, if this type of righteous anger ever arises.

When we become angry as described in the first paragraph of this letter it is best not to say or do anything. Best thing is to go away, if possible, from the source of anger and just chant and contemplate what is the root cause of our feelings. So many times we become very angry and then when a small amount of time passes we can see that our perception of what we thought was a very great thing, actually changes with the passing of time and we can see that it was not very significant after all. This helps to reduce our anger and puts the reason for becoming angry in proper prospective.

When we act pushed by anger, krodha vegam, then we are bound to do something we will regret later. We will say or do something that will cause us to be sorry, or experience sadness and grief in the long run. So it is always best to avoid acting or speaking out of anger.

Looking deeply within the heart to see why we are being affected in this way is often helpful. Trying to find our own attachment and material desire that is causing this anger is helpful...and stops us from blaming someone else, even Krishna, or some other circumstance, for the anger which we are feeling.

I hope these tips are helpful. Ultimately if we can chant

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare

then that will help to purify the heart and give us relief from the pushing of passion and anger by bringing things into a more transcendental perspective.

I often have anxiety attacks, which I'm under medication for. Do I have to learn to live with fear, even if I worship Krishna?

By Laxmimoni dasi

You should be careful to take your medication on time and regularly. Also, see your doctor regularly to make sure the dosage is correct and doesn't need to be adjusted. If you chant your japa (private mantra meditation) regularly before leaving for work - trying, with great concentration to pray to Krishna for guidance and protection - this may stabilize you even more so that you're stronger when you go to work. Also, reading or listening to lectures before work or on your way to work might also help. The earlier in the day you can hear and chant and the more you can hear and chant before entering the fray of material life, the more likely it will be that you'll be able to overcome anxiety.

Ultimately you have to know that Krishna is in control. The more you accept that, and see both pain and pleasure of this material body as His arrangement for your learning, anxiety will go away more and more. Just as the child feels very safe holding the hand of a strong father, so the jiva (self) feels safe under the protection of Krishna. I would also suggest you learn some Nrsimha mantras (prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva, Krishna's form as half-man, half-lion)* and chant them regularly as they offer great protection.

Worship is good but surrender is required. Where the mind and heart are fixed that is where the soul goes. If they are fixed on Krishna then you will take shelter there in Him and feel peaceful knowing that Krishna is Bhakta Vatsala, the friend of His devotees. You can worship but your mind and heart may be distracted. The idea of yoga is to control the wandering mind and bring it under the control of the Lord. This is Krishna's instruction and He says that one who surrenders He frees from fear. However, if you worship but your mind and heart are elsewhere, then there may be still some anxiety and fear.

*Some mantras to Lord Nrsimhadeva may be found in the Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila 8.5-6, and in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.18.8

How is it possible to control the mind?

by Laxmimoni dasi

It is certainly worthwhile knowing how to control the mind. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that the mind can be controlled by constant "practice and detachment."(—Bhagavad-gita, 6.35). He says that wherever and whenever the mind wanders, due to its flickering and unsteady nature, we must bring it back under the control of the Self (—Bhagavad-gita, 6.26).

The mind is like a child; a child is attracted to everything. It wants everything but not all things are good for it. Some things are even harmful...so the parent must discipline...Sometimes the child becomes angry and cries but the parent is determined to give the best thing even if at first it seems uncomfortable to the child.

In a similar way the intelligence and the spiritual being that we are must control the mind. The mind is attracted to so many material things and everywhere we look, someone is telling us that if just have one material thing or another then we will be happy...but it always proves to be false.

No matter how much we get, still we're dissatisfied. So the mind must be disciplined and by practice we must learn to pull it away from those things that are not good for it. Detachment is helpful because if we can understand that real happiness comes not from material things, but rather from a loving relationship with Krishna, then we can become detached from all the pushings of material desires and we can control the mind.

Therefore, "constant practice and detachment." Ultimately, we must develop a higher taste. Lord Krishna says, "The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness." (— Bhagavad-gita 2:59).

That higher taste is engaging in devotional service, the easiest of which is chanting the Lord's holy Names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

I hope this is helpful.

More:

I'm not happy in my life. I feel like I just cause problems for everyone else and I don't know what to do.

by Laxmimoni dasi

It seems that you're mentioning two different things. One is that you yourself are not happy and the other is that, because of you, other people are having trouble, which might mean that they're also not happy.

I'll take the second statement first, " I feel like I just cause problems for everyone else and I don't know what to do." It's always helpful to pause and consider the vastness of the material world and the smallness of each of us. We're each just one of trillions and trillions of living entities in a giant cosmos - so it would be impossible for us to cause everyone problems.

Furthermore, each of us has our own free will. We can choose to either get upset by something, or not. The material energy sends different circumstances and we have the "right" to react as we choose...in other words we cause our own problems to a great extent...they are not caused by anyone else. However there is a possibility that, due to close ties, our behavior can impact the lives of others and therefore we have to consider carefully how we act so as not to hurt or disturb anyone by our actions.

Whenever we understand that a specific behavior is hurting someone else, then we have to consider carefully how to alter that situation so others are not negatively affected. But despite our best efforts, others also have the responsibility to choose whom to associate with, what problems of others to adopt as their own, and what situations they need to avoid. The final word is that everyone takes some responsibility in his or her own suffering or enjoyment, which leads us to your first statement: "I am not happy in life."

If you're searching for happiness in the material sphere, you'll never be truly happy. In the material world, all sources of enjoyment/happiness are temporary and ultimately cause suffering. Whatever material things we get pleasure from - even relationships with other people - are bound to end at some point and then cause some sadness or suffering. That's just the fact of material life.

However, there's another source of happiness that is not temporary and destined to cause us sadness: our relationship with Krishna! This is so because He is eternal and so vast that He has the ability to have eternal, loving, and satisfying relationships with each of us simultaneously. The question is, do we want to work on developing our relationship with Krishna?

If the answer is "Yes, that's my desire," then it becomes easy. We can read the Bhagavad-gita, chant Hare Krishna, go to see Krishna and pray to Him in the temple; we can always serve Him in some way, by offering our work, money, prayers, food, flowers, or whatever to Him before we try to get our quota of happiness out of these things. In this way Krishna becomes pleased and, since He is the ultimate source of happiness, we become happy and peaceful.

Generally, if we travel back to the source of our frustration or unhappiness, we find that it's because we're attempting to control some aspect of the material nature in order to get more and more of something — thinking that when I get a certain thing, or have a certain amount of something then I will suddenly feel "happy" and satisfied. Unfortunately, the more we have, the more we want, and we never quite seem to have enough of anyone or anything. So we're always hankering for that which we want/need more of or lamenting that we don't have enough.

It's a cycle, which we must break if we truly want to be happy. We have little or no control of this cycle. We have to look for our happiness in that situation which is eternal and always blissful and is easily available to each of us. Then we can be truly happy.

I hope that this is helpful.

More:

Sometimes I feel miserable, like no one loves me, not even God, and I wonder how it would be possible to bring a peaceful end to my life. I don't want to give trouble to anyone anymore.

by Laxmimoni dasi

It sounds to me like you should go for some sort of personal counseling. Perhaps from a devotee in your area.

Basically this material world is always a place of suffering and unhappiness. Anyone who considers that they will find peace and/or happiness here is going to feel unhappy and unloved at some point. On the other hand, Krishna is very loving and so are His devotees. He is the only source of true happiness and the only deep, eternal loving relationships that are possible.

You say you want to end your life but the only way to end material life forever is to develop a loving relationship with Krishna. If you try to end it any other way you will only prolong your misery in the material world because you will have to take birth again. If you take your life before your karmic time in this body is over you will have to take a very difficult and uncomfortable birth. So this is not the solution.

If you develop your love of God and chant His name, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, then you will find peace in this life and also end the cycle of rebirth forever. Then you will NEVER have to take birth again. This is a much better solution.

Please, for a month, try one experiment: Each morning when you wake up, or if that is not possible, before you go to sleep, take half an hour and chant the mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare Close your eyes and chant loudly enough so you can hear yourself clearly. Repeat the mantra again and again, for at least half an hour. If you can get some meditation beads then chant that mantra completely, once, on each bead. Chant in a quiet place, free from outside disturbances. Place a picture of Krishna, one that you find attractive, in front of you so if you open your eyes you will see Him.

Another suggestion is that you go to the nearest Hare Krishna temple. You can check on Krishna.com to find out where that is. On Krishna.com you can also listen to live classes from all over the world and that may also help you.

What's the Krishna conscious view on euthanasia?

by Laxmimoni dasi

In Krishna Consciousness we look at the process of suffering, disease, and ultimately death as intimately tied with karma. One gets a certain amount of happiness and distress along with this body. In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is said: "My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim." (10.14.8)

So to take one's life before they complete their allotted suffering will only mean that suffering will have to be accepted somewhere else, at another time. Furthermore, each living entity is meant to remain a certain amount of time in a particular body, and by altering that artificially, one will have to take birth again to complete their time within that body.

How to recover from depression?

Hare Krishna! Thanks for your question. If you have clinical depression you should see a medical professional. But there are many things you can do to help with depression. First of all you should understand that it is not abnormal to be depressed. The material world is a depressing place. Because we are spiritual and belong in an environment that is eternal and happy, we find it depressing to be in a world that is full of birth, death, disease and old age. Because we are meant to get our happiness from Krishna, we are disappointed when we try to get happiness from things which are temporary and which continuously leave us dissatisfied.

In order to keep from becoming depressed, it is best to get our pleasure from an eternal source as much as possible. That would mean chanting Hare Krishna, associating with devotees and the Deity, reading the Bhagavad-gita As It Is , eating only food cooked for and offered to Krishna!

If you do these things it will definitely help you become more peaceful and more aware of the unnatural situation you are in, in the material world. It will also help you to become more and more aware of your eternal loving relationship with Krishna as an eternal spirit soul. This will help you overcome depression.

Hope this is helpful.
Your servant,
Laxmimoni dasi

I'm diabetic - I have trouble controlling my blood sugar levels because of overeating. How can Krishna consciousness help me control my habits?

Through the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness we learn to control all our habits; eating is just one. The senses are like wild horses; if you don't "break" them, or tame them, they'll run wild and eventually you'll get hurt. In your case that's quite obvious. Overeating will cause great harm to your body and eventually severely limit your abilities.

The easiest way to control our senses is to engage them in Krishna's service. This is the foremost principle of bhakti-yoga. Somehow try to engage our restless senses in the service of Krishna! If you can get into the association of devotees and offer your time in service, or do something from your home, based on your abilities, you may be able to take on some work for the temple or for assisting the devotees somehow, that will keep you busy, keep your mind engaged, and then your senses will automatically come under control. This is important. Get good association with devotees as much as possible, study the shastra (scriptures) too. Perhaps, if you can, get into some type of Bhagavad-gita study group. However you can, engage your senses...especially the mind. Actually, your desire to eat comes from the mind, not the senses, so if you can get your mind engaged then you will think of other things besides eating.

I suggest you read Nectar of Instruction; if you haven't already read it, read especially the first 4 verses. When you try to apply them in your life, you'll begin to see how the senses are "pushing" us. When we're pushed, we're forced to go where we didn't intend to go. The result is that we're sorry in the end...but we feel forced. If we want to stop being pushed around by the senses then we have to take control and use them in the Lord's service.

I hope this is helpful.
Sincerely,
Laxmimoni dasi