By Praghosa dasa
Something that every embodied soul has in common is their search for love and affection but how many of us know where to find that love, affection, shelter, security and bliss of real loving reciprocation?
It is generally understood that when a child cries or a husband gets moody, a wife becomes demanding or a teenager becomes rebellious, it is often a hidden plea for some attention.
This desire for attention manifests in many odd ways in today’s world. In the last few years there has been the phenomena of reality TV wherein people will literally do the most absolutely bizarre things to get some attention. Attention via this medium is of course the poor, impoverished relation of real love, a genuine pauper, and in the case of reality TV often those seeking such attention become little more than freaks in a freak show. While reality TV is not the only culprit offering false imitations of love, it does somehow encapsulate the obvious desperation of the lost souls need for being loved. It should also be mentioned that we do not have to focus exclusively on the non devotee community to observe this phenomena, I am sure that we all have experience of this dynamic in our devotee communities, indeed it is likely that most of us have also cried out for such attention ourselves. As devotees we know that this love that is being sought cannot be found in any endeavour that does include discussion about the supreme Personality of Godhead;
âKrsna is our most intimate master, friend, father or son and object of conjugal love. Forgetting Krsna, we have created so many objects of questions and answers, but none of them are able to give us complete satisfaction. All things–but Krsna–give temporary satisfaction only, so if we are to have complete satisfaction we must take to the questions and answers about Krsna.
SB 1.2.5 purport.
Srila Prabhupada also mentions that whether we are an insignificant ant or Lord Brahma we can never be happy seeking love in this material world as no matter what plans and arrangements we make they will all be fully thwarted by the relentless march of time.
Devotees of Krsna are so fortunate, not least because of their awareness of this relentless march of time, so naturally (even though still prone to material allurements) they know that real happiness cannot be found in this temporary world. How unfortunate though are those souls who are not even aware of this reality? What to speak of actually trying to addressing it as they relentlessly engage in the futile pursuit of trying to become happy by endeavouring to become the centre of the universe, the centre of all attention.
While we know that when the senses are engaged in this way they are effectively out of control;
Under the spell of illusion, living entities are trying to be lords of all they survey, but actually they are dominated by the material energy of the Lord. The Lord is the master of material nature, and the conditioned souls are under the stringent rules of material nature. Unless one understands these bare facts, it is not possible to achieve peace in the world either individually or collectively.
SB 5.29 purport
Still many times Srila Prabhupada stresses how the vast majority of people are more or less innocent and are lacking direction. So what a sad and paradoxical scenario we have, wherein unlimited numbers of living entities are all searching for that which we are all looking for, that which can only satisfy our real needs and interests yet due to a lack of direction are instead making rapid progress toward achieving the exact opposite of what they need and crave.
In that sense the material world is the mother of all frauds and unless we have the good fortune and insight to accept the help of one who knows the science of self realisation we will end up attracted to that which will simply result in further suffering.
The moth is captivated by the glaring beauty of the fire, and when he comes to enjoy it, the blazing fire consumes him.
SB 2.2.17 purport
Even as practising devotees we have to remain vigilant and always be eager to deal with our anarthas. The essence is to always remain fixed in servant as opposed to master conciousness, otherwise even as we advance pitfalls remain. We understand that there are four main anarthas of which weakness of the heart is the first and a few manifestations of weakness of the heart are - attachment to objects which have no relationship to Krsna and the desire for recognition. So we can see that while desiring recognition maybe a plea for wanting real love, in and of itself it is not enough, we have to eventually turn it from a selfish desire to a selfless one. This of course is a bona fide part of the Krsna conscious process â facing such anarthas head on and not trying to avoid them or convincing ourselves that they are something negative in our spiritual journey.
So all of us are in need of direction, whether we are taking the first and even unknown steps in spiritual life or whether we have been endeavouring on the bhakti-marg for many years. And what better direction or instruction for all of us than the following definition of love (what we are all searching for) as given by Rupa Goswami;
âto give everything and expect nothing in returnâ
Srila Prabhupada tells us that the closest we’ll find to real love (spiritual love) in this material world is the love shown by a mother to her child, which generally means she gives everything and expects nothing in return. Such selfless service as evidenced by a mothers love for her child is also often - ahaituky apratihata â unmotivated and uninterrupted, which when transferred to our service to Krsna results in us being completely satisfied.
When there is not a single hint of any personal motivation or selfish agenda in our service to Krsna, everyone is ever-increasingly blissful and satiated. The whole philosophy of sambhoga (meeting) and vipralambha (separation) between Krsna and His pure devotees is such an amazing science of how the interaction between these two elements can result in unlimited and unimaginable ecstasy. The emotions evoked by the agony of separation are the very reason why the bliss of meeting is ever intensified and vice versa.
We understand that this material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world and we can see how perverse the search for love in the material world is when compared to what is available to us in the spiritual world.
So whether it be reality TV, a house by the sea, a career in DC or a bomb mission in Govi (indas) all are painful substitutes for the genuine article. Let me elaborate on the ‘bomb mission’ in Govindas.
Recently in one of our Govinda’s restaurants, shortly before closing time, a staff member (Pancajanya) came across a bag in one of the bathrooms. They thought it looked suspicious so they phoned me (I was out of the country at the time) and explained how they could see wires and metal tubes inside the bag and while they were no experts, they thought it was either a bomb or something passing off as a bomb. Being the good boss that I am :) I told Panca to get everyone out of the building and I would call the police. Panca responded by saying âOh don’t call the police, it is probably nothing and they will either laugh at me or worse get on my case for wasting their time, maybe I should just go and have a closer look at it myself?â To which I replied âWell why didn’t you have a closer look at it when you first saw it?â To which Panca answered âBecause I thought it was a bombâ âWell [I said] so you now want me to agree that you go back up and have a closer look at something you thought was a bomb? I don’t think so………â
With that I called the police and within minutes two uniformed officers arrived and went upstairs to look at the suspicious object and they concluded (the same as Panca had) yep that looks suspicious â we’re not touching it! So they called in some plain clothes detectives (not sure what difference a change of dress makes) who also went up and had a look and they then concluded - yep that looks suspicious â we’re not touching it! Next the army bomb disposal unit were called in and they sent two of their members up to have a look at the dubious package and surprise surprise they also concluded that - yep that looks suspicious â we’re not touching it! At this point they evacuated the whole street and all the buildings on it. Now we had a full-scale alert on our hands. The next step was they put on their special suits and sent one of their robots up to check the bag and yes you guessed it the robot came out and said - yep that looks suspicious â I’m not touching it :)
At this point I was getting a little worried because either it was a bomb and the whole building would be history or it was a hoax but they might decide to do a ‘controlled explosion’ which would still result in significant damage. In my mind I was rehearsing the phone call to the insurance company the next day and all I was hearing back was âUnfortunately your policy does not cover you for acts of terrorismâ……..
As I was out of town while all this was going on, my only means of influence was via the phone with one of the detectives at the scene. I was pleading with him to avoid the controlled explosion scenario at all costs. As it happened the robot concerned was able to x-ray the bag and the conclusion was that there were no explosives inside, therefore they removed the bag without any damage whatsoever. They then sealed off the bathrooms and did a full ‘forensic sweep’.
Below you can see fotos from the restaurant of Dublin where it all happened. There are also fotos of the new one (which is now the 3rd Govindas restaurant in Dublin). Click on the thumbs to see the pictures enlarged
Like me you may be wondering why I’ve narrated this story and what its relevance to this article is :)
Well it turned out that the hoax was (what they describe as) ‘a very elaborate one’ and that whoever put it together ‘knew what they were doing’. It also included (as well as the wires and metal tubes) transformers, shrapnel and a timing device. The officer heading the investigation then asked me if I had any idea of who might be behind this hoax. His question took me a little by surprise and I almost retorted âah sure there are too many for me to know where to beginâ, instead I managed to control my sarcasm and simply said âI have absolutely no ideaâ.
He then went onto to outline 4 possible categories of person/s who might be behind it. The first category and the one that he seemed to rule out before he had finished describing them, was a one-off whacko out to create headlines and gain notoriety. The second category he mentioned were disgruntled staff or disgruntled members and he asked me did we have any, I said I’m sure we have many but surely none that would either have the expertise, or go as far as doing something like this?! The third category he suggested was an extremist group that was either specifically targeting us or was just generally trying to cause disruption and mayhem. The last category that he brought to my attention (and arguably the most worrying) was the suggestion that we might get a visit further down the road from someone offering ‘protection’ and if we inform them that we don’t need their services they might respond by saying âare you certain, I’m sure you wouldn’t want a repeat of what happened last month, only this time it being the real thing……â
In the days that followed I thought more about the categories that he outlined and how they all are ultimately lost souls who are in need of the loving affection we have been discussing. The detective himself indicated that the motive of any one-off whacko would simply be to gain recognition or attention. He didn’t go as far as to say it was a cry for love but we can fill in the blanks. Next on his list were disgruntled staff, well the very word disgruntled means dissatisfied or discontented, again love or the lack of it would seem to be a big factor. As for the possibility of it being some terror group, we often hear how the members of these groups are promised untold rewards if they do the needful for the cause. Although misguided their motive (in their own minds at least) again appears to be based on a search for love or happiness. Finally the category that was the most disturbing and also the most difficult to connect to a desire for love was the extortionist one, but I suppose they also feel that they will be get some security or love by maintaining their macho imagine and making lots of money, thus attracting a certain kind of appreciative follower or subordinate. The extortionist of course fits into the classic category of ‘lording it over’ again a desire to be the centre of attention â the main man.
Regardless of which category above was responsible for the incident the fact is that they all are based on a selfish principle and as such the nett result is suffering all round.
On the other hand, as the well known saying goes, âgiving is better than receivingâ this selfless principle is a genuine reflection of the mood of the spiritual world and is the only satisfying way of finding love both for oneself as well as all others. It is also more or less the mood expressed above by Rupa Goswami âgive everything and expect nothing in returnâ.
Somehow we need to be able to get through to all those who are desperately seeking real love but due to the method of their search are receiving the exact opposite result. It can often be perplexing as to why it is not easier for us to achieve this preaching goal. Maybe we can say that because people cannot control their senses no amount of common sense (particularly if it is based on the principle of sreyas) will hit home, allowing the penny to drop. On the other hand it has more or less worked for all of us and there is little comparison or competition between hearing the blissful loving pastimes of Krsna and the preaching of most, if not all, other religious traditions.
Growing up in a Christian country it always fascinated me as to what the attraction was to a God depicted as either a thunderbolt thrower or as the person responsible for the horrific descriptions of what went on in hell. The icing on the cake being that if you found yourself there (a destination as a youngster I was convinced I was going to), there would be no way out!
Yet this preaching still goes on and is very effective in many parts of the world. We of course don’t need to be found wanting when it comes to fire and brimstone preaching, the 5th Canto can beat anything else hands down but we can also elaborately present Gods ultimate nature, a nature that is full of every increasing ecstasy;
By chanting Krsna’s holy name, one cleanses all the dust from the mirror of one’s consciousness. The blazing fire of material existence is then extinguished. This fire is especially severe in the present materialistic civilization, which is full of conflict, the hallmark of Kali-yuga. But extinguishing the fire of material existence is far from the final result of chanting. Indeed, it is only a preliminary consequence. Gradually, the knowledge that love of Godhead is the absolute necessity of life becomes clearer, the dark veil of ignorance is lifted, and one gets a glimpse of absolute knowledge. As the devotee realizes this transcendental knowledge, he feels ever-increasing spiritual ecstasy overwhelming his heart. This spiritual joy expands at every moment. Let the all-auspicious chanting of the holy name of Krsna be ever victorious!
RTW 5.1 purport
Or simply put - anandambudhi-vardhanam
For sure we can say that a lack of realisation on our part hinders the conveyance of this message to others but again that lack of realisation does not prevent us from continuing the process, so it shouldn’t really prevent others from taking it up. Another argument is that the concept of eternal damnation tends to focus the mind but when presented with the loophole of no eternal hell, and as many chances as we need to get it right, via reincarnation, some focus is perhaps lost. But that argument is easily dismantled when viewed in the context of the suffering that we all currently experience right now, what to speak of sporadic visits to andha-tamisra for a couple of million lifetimes on each occasion :)
As with most strategies having a twin-pronged approach is often most effective, therefore if we emphasise the glories of a loving relationship with Krsna and every once in a while remind ourselves of the downside of not having such a relationship, surely the results will come both for us and everyone else we come in contact with.