Do We Complain Too Much?
By Kesava Krsna dasa – GRS
Here we are, entombed within these bodies as animated walking talking transformations of food, shaped and destined according to our will, getting whipped by our own past deviations by natural justice, yet feel raw injustice enough to complain about our own undoing. SB.1.7.5 – Due to this eternal energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks of himself as a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries.
Many of us may have thought that to come to Krsna consciousness would be an effortless cruise along a river of pomegranate juice, and whose every step of the way be sprinkled with flower petals, and to recline on the laurels of a cozy bed of roses, surrounded by charming, angelic like-minded fellow devotees, who lovingly urge us on in our stumbling quest to reach the ocean of Bhakti. The reality however, slashes this perception, because as in a hospital ward full of patients recovering from illness, trying to regain normal health, our endeavors to transform into vaisnavas are met with exposure to Krsna’s methodology of rectifying our of anarthas, often in unexpected and shocking ways. Our vision dictates homely comfort, whereas the Lord, unseen by our expectations, decides otherwise, and we sometimes blame someone or other for our troubles. SB.1.2.15 – With sword in hand, intelligent men cut through the knots of reactionary work [karma] by remembering the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, who will not pay attention to his message?
At first, the Lord’s messages seem abstract and alien, but the lessons we learn from all around are clearly stark reminders of reality, good or bad. We may see institutional challenges, see ‘stalwarts’ leave, see compromising of the ideals and so on, all of which serve to test our resolve in Krsna consciousness. If we make our practice of spiritual life dependent on whether conditions suit us or not, we make these external events a more powerful agent than Sri Bhakti-devi. For instance, Srila Prabhupada as Abhay Charan was allied to the Gandhi cause when he first met his Guru Maharaja. He conjectured that the British should first leave India so that her spiritual glories can bask in independence. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta reasoned however, that Krsna consciousness was so urgent as not to wait at all for any external precedence. The secret is, to depend on the independence of Bhakti-devi while performing our service. The good and the bad will continue nonetheless. Lord Chaitanya says, CC.4.176 – In this material world, conceptions of good and bad are all mental speculations. Therefore, saying “This is good, and this is bad,” is all a mistake.
Even if Iskcon has the most agreeable policies that suits every frame of mind, and becomes an ever burgeoning spiritual force as befitting the 10,000 year golden age span, still, we are to expect the consequences of the perennial clash between proverbial good and evil from demoniac forces. And we still have to contend with our own individual challenges, and if they are a cause for complaints we befool ourselves by not understanding the mercy of the Lord, leading us to question the validity of His inconceivable ways, making us most ungrateful. Why? A grateful person remembers and acknowledges all the chastisements and generosity of a parent, mentor or spiritual master. Our Supreme friend – Bhakta-Vatsala – is certainly doing this – always. SB.1.8.29 – O Lord, no one can understand Your transcendental pastimes, which appear to be human and are so misleading. You have no specific object of favor, nor do you have any object of envy. People only imagine that you are partial.
While performing our services according to ability and inclination, mistakes will be expected. The tendency to highlight those as faults can be habitual, which has the effect of being caught up in a cobweb. If we persist in complaining about faults, thinking we are still advancing in spiritual life, without any ill effects to our health or well-being, will solidify to become steel cables. The fact that the mind is attracted to flying towards the sores of others’ mistakes is evident the Lord is displeased. Such behavior is really a selfish activity. How so? More often than not, if we are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but due to our own estimation of it, and we have the power to revoke it by becoming more Krsna conscious. If we are more happily situated, we will be more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends more on the way we meet the events of life, courtesy of Krsna, than on the nature of the events themselves. For example, one person, a Henry Ward Boucher wrote:”I have never known an early-rising, hard working, prudent man, careful of his earnings and strictly honest, who complained of bad luck.” If this is so of a materialist, how much more it must be for a happy devotee? We hardly hear any complaints from a happy devotee. Such contentment subdues the difficulties which may slow our progress. How so true when Srila Prabhupada says we should all be ‘happily situated.’
Are there legitimate grounds for complaints? Considering how self-centered our complaints may be, when pitted against those pure vaisnavas who complain about being separated from the Lord of their hearts, and His dear devotees, will seem rather miniscule in comparison. Lord Chaitanya laments – patitam mam visame bhavambudhau – “I have fallen into this horrible ocean of birth and death.” This should be our real complaint. Even an impending departure of the Lord from Hastinapura to Dvaraka causes extreme emotional upheavals for those bound to Him. In a purport describing this pitiful scene, Srila Prabhupada broadens the scope: “Lord Sri Krsna is so attractive for the living beings, especially for the devotees, that it is impossible for them to tolerate separation. The conditioned soul under the spell of illusory energy forgets the lord, otherwise he cannot. The feeling of such separation cannot be described, but it can simply be imagined by devotees only. After His separation from Vrndavana and the innocent rural cowherd boys, girls, ladies and others, they all felt shock throughout there lives, and the separation of Radharani, the most beloved cowherd girl, is beyond expression. Once they met at Kuruksetra during a solar eclipse, and the feeling which was expressed by them is heartrending.”
The fact that we have fallen from grace and are lost from paradise, having not shed tears even after seeming nitya-baddha ages of duration away from the Lord, should be our reality check. Are our complaints really worthy of an elevated state of mind? Our spoilt attitude in wishing to emulate the All-Powerful Lord should freshen when we discover if our conditional or unconditional surrender can withstand the test of time in devotional service to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.
Your servant, Kesava Krsna dasa – GRS.