Hope and Change
Posted by krishnasmercy on July 13, 2010
“A conditioned soul cannot deliver another conditioned soul. Only Krishna or His bona fide representative can deliver him.” (King Prithu, The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 9)
Most of us are familiar with the term “the blind leading the blind.” This refers to a person who has no vision directing others on where to go. The people that are lost are considered blind in the sense that they cannot see the light, the true path in life. When they ask for help, directions to the supreme destination, they are led astray by someone who is also blind. In order to find the proper path, we must seek out someone who has eyes, a vision which allows them to see things as they are. The Vedas tell us that only God possesses this vision and that He is kind enough to grant these spiritual eyes to His faithful adherents, the bona fide spiritual masters.
What are the prescriptions given by the liberated souls? In this age, the primary recommendation is that we should constantly engage in Krishna’s service. This discipline is known as bhakti-yoga, and its primary component is the regular chanting of God’s names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. We shouldn’t mistakenly take bhakti-yoga to be a passing fad or a part-time activity. The liberated souls are free from conditioned life because they spend all their time working for Krishna. Obviously this is a very high level of devotion which can’t be achieved overnight, but the desire to reach this end must be there. The reason that chanting is the foremost spiritual practice is that it can be performed anywhere and at any time of the day. Moreover, there is no time limit to this chanting. We can take up the various gymnastics exercises that are part of hatha-yoga, but after half an hour we’ll get tired and move on to something else.
Bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, is meant to take up all of our time. The key is to always be conscious of God, no matter what we are doing. This is the difference between bhoga/tyaga and bhakti. Bhakti also brings about enjoyment and involves things that we like to do, but the difference is in the area of consciousness. With bhoga, we think of ourselves as the lord and master, and the same with tyaga. Many people take great pride in their renunciation capabilities. “I can go without eating anything for days; I only sleep four hours a day; I don’t eat meat”, etc. These things are certainly very nice, but our renunciation must have a purpose, otherwise the false ego kicks in and we start taking ourselves to be the masters of everything.
Bhakti-yoga involves service. We can’t see God in our conditioned state, so we are advised to consult with those who can. Our first business is to serve the eternally liberated soul, the spiritual master. How do we tell who is a bona fide spiritual master? Aside from being liberated, the spiritual master is a pure devotee of Krishna. What does it mean to be a pure devotee? This is actually quite easy to figure out. To gauge whether or not someone is a devotee, simply ask yourself what their aim in life is. What is the driving force behind that person’s activities? If the answer to these questions is love for Krishna, then you know the person is a devotee. A spiritual master may rub us the wrong way from time to time, saying things that offend us, but if their intention is to make Krishna happy, then we must take them to be liberated.
The liberated souls are so kind that they don’t want to hog the glory for themselves. Their business is to make other people liberated as well. In this way, they are the greatest freedom fighters, helping the distraught living entities out of the ditch. A spiritual master that all of us can approach is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He lives forever through His countless books and recorded lectures. We should all make good use of these resources and fix ourselves up to the highest position.