By Varsana Swami
The efforts, austerities, and practices involved with the acceptance as a disciple do not end with initiation. Rather they begin, in a formal sense, at that point. Whatever outer challenges or inner demons we have, will be overcome by Krishna’s grace for those who persevere in their vows. It is only those who quit who will suffer defeat.
Even as the connection and dependency between the words “disciple” and “discipline” are obvious, some devotees tend to be more attentive to the fruits than the root. Disconnected from her root, the bhakti-lata will wither. However much we may balk or resist the concept, it is discipline that forms the soul of vaidhi-bhakti and reveals the heart of raganuga-bhakti in due course of time.
Discipline applies to four levels of spiritual development, each successively deeper and subtler: body, mind, words, and emotions. Herein lies the comparison of the outcome of a disciple’s life in contrast to the undisciplined one.
|Character development||Controlled and enslaved by emotions|
|Choosing the right course, though it may be challenging||Going with the easy, convenient, and comfortable route|
|Setting priorities||Following moods|
|Practicing selflessness||Pursuing selfishness|
|Service attitude||Enjoying propensity|
|Seeking solutions||Making excuses|
|Driven from within||Influenced from without|
|Walking the talk||Lip service alone|
|Overcoming obstacles||Procrastinating or quitting|
|Satisfied with necessities||Addicted to niceties|
|Focused on the goal||Whining along the way|
|Yearning to hear the master say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”||Content with the approval of worldly souls|
|Approaching the dawn of suddha-nama||Lingering in the shadows of nama-abhasa|
|Honoring the rules and regulations which award and protect our freedom||Whimsical freedom which means spiritual bondage|
|Committed relationships||Uncommitted partners|
|Fixed on the long-term goal, graduating from the school of material life||Distracted by diplomas awarded by worldly institutions|
|Firm in commitment||Swayed by feelings|
|Awakening of spiritual sentiments||Lingering of mundane feelings|
|Fixed in the self||Drifting with circumstance|
|The hope which looks upward||Despair which turns downward|
|Faith which leads forward||Prevailing uncertainty due to circumstantial influences|
The humility worthy of a servant of Krishna, acknowledges that discipline alone is inadequate to elevate us substantially in spiritual life. Rather, discipline attracts grace and protects it in its tender growth as it reaches for the sky and blossoms into love of God.