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Love Yourself!!!

Saturday, 16 June 2007 / Published in Articles, Bir Krishna Goswami / 7,156 views

By HH Bir Krishna das Goswami

That’s an interesting title for a Krishna conscious blog-”Love Yourself.”

Many devotees are under the impression that we should love Krishna and denigrate ourselves!

It is understandable that they think this way because there are many statements that one may misunderstand such as:
1. Thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street
2. The soul is one ten thousandth the tip of the hair in size
3. The individual soul is tiny
4. One should be selfless
5. Etc.

Also we may come in contact with people who in the name of Krishna consciousness authority denigrate us, telling us that we are useless, hopeless, fallen, degraded, in maya, sense gratifiers, bhogis, etc.

In addition we may be reminded about our past “wonderful” (vikarmic) activities in this world, and this remembrance will add to the negativity.

So, this negativity may culminate in a lack of self esteem and even self hate. This can lead to depression at worst and also deflate our enthusiasm to serve Krishna as we may be think that we are a “hopeless case.”

I am writing about this subject matter because many devotees have contacted or talked to me about this mental state. When I hear devotees talking like this it causes tears to come to my eyes because I know that all the devotees are very very dear to Krishna.

Even though ontologically we may be small-we are important to Krishna. We are not small in Krishna’s eyes.

Take the story of Gopa Kumar in the Brhad Bhagavatamrta for example. Krishna was feeling so much love for Gopa Kumar and so much hankering for his association in the spiritual world, that Krishna personally became Gopa Kumar’s spiritual master.

You may say that Gopa Kumar is a special devotee, and that is true. But, it is a fact that Krishna personally is the Caitya Guru of all of us residing in our hearts and personally takes the trouble to direct us to our spiritual master.

Even before we take to Krishna consciousness, Krishna is residing in the heart waiting for us to realize that our real happiness is in relating to Him rather than this external energy.

So, Krishna considers us significant, important, etc.

When Gopa Kumar finally goes back to Krishnaloka, Krishna faints in ecstacy upon receiving him. Even Krishna’s associates can not understand what is going on.

Krishna feels the same way about us.

There is an interesting statement in the Isopanisad (Mantra 6):

“He who sees systematically everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything never hates anything or any being.” So we are parts and parcels of Krishna. Therefore we should not hate ourselves. On the other hand since we are supposed to love Krishna we should love all his parts and parcels and that includes ourselves too!

What does that mean, to love oneself?

It means to picture or visualize or imagine how you want to be. Forget about all the negativity; whether the negativity comes from yourself or from others.

If you think negatively that is what you are meditating on and those thoughts will impede your spiritual life.

Here are some things you can think about:

1. Radha and Krishna love me and want me to be with Them in the spiritual world!
2. Taking care of my spiritual needs will not impede my spiritual progress
3. Taking care of my material needs will not impede my spiritual progress
4. I am an eternal soul, full of bliss and knowledge!
5. I have an eternal relationship with Radha and Krishna and will realize this relationship.

And don’t remain in a situation where others are denigrating you. You owe it to yourself and to Krishna to reject situations that are unfavorable for Krishna consciousness and accept favorable situations.

Have positive spiritual self-esteem!

13 comments

  1. 0
    Dhira Nitai das says:

    Hare Krishna!
    Thank you Maharaj for this wonderful and important posting with practical suggestions for resolution. Recently this saying comes often to my mind: “Humility is not the same as humiliation!” Humility is and should be our free conscious choice out of our own spiritual realization. Humiliation is a product of maya and karma. Which is often not a free and conscious choice, but it is a choice.

  2. 0
    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I love it!

    Devotees are more likely to be themselves with this new realism. Well not actually new; but to express themselves particularly in areas of forward thinking and innovation, need not be hindered by crippling shyness born of misplaced humility.

    In my travelling sankirtana days I was called a ‘turkey without a brain’ among other things, for commiting a mistake like miscounting the days collection etc. by over zealous leaders whose blinkered vision of – Maya versus reality – created an unforgiving atmosphere. Though it wrought discipline into me, the attempts to humiliate were everyday fare for most of us then. Many devotees suffered worst humiliation in the form of hefty slaps around the head for burning the halava.

    To hear this talk, as Maharaja explained above in those sankirtana days,could have earned a severe rebuke of some sort. How times have changed! Or, how more mature is the thinking of today.

    Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

  3. 0
    Amara_dasa ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hare Krsna! This was a wonderful article and so inspiring to read…exactly the kind of encouraging, positive preaching I like to see among our ISKCON leaders.

    How many times do we have to listen to “fire and brimstone” lectures or be called dogs, demons, “less-than-human,” unintelligent, etc., before the negative impact sets in? In another nice article recently posted by Mahatma dasa, he tells a story in which a group of friends called another friend a ghost so many times that the friend actually began to wonder whether or not he might actually be a ghost!

    Of course, we must always encourage humility and remember our minute position in relation to Krsna and His pure devotees–but let’s not overdue it. Devotees should first and foremost encourage, support and love one another; it is not our job to humiliate, beat upon or put each other down. When Chota Haridasa fell down and was neglected by the Lord, the Vaishnavas proved themselves even more merciful by continuing to support and encourage poor Haridasa. May same loving mood always be within us.

    Vaishnava das anudas,

    Amara dasa

  4. 0
    johnholesky ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Please accept my Humble Obeisences

    All glories to Srila Prabhupada

    This is the number one lesson I have learned from B. K. Goswami
    (pictures of us together in Asheville 2002 on bkgoswami.com)

    I love myself, and I love Krsna. I use my abilities to please the lord.
    I love chanting my rounds before Guru Puja. I love knowing that
    I will be able to once again swim in the extasy of Kirtan, and Hari-nama.

    There is always someone around who is like a crab, trying to attack the
    little fish. That used to really upset me, and my heart would break.
    I used to let that kind of behavior chase me away from Krsna thinking
    everybody was acting or thinking like a bunch of crabs. Now I know
    they are in so much pain, because of their seperation from Krsna that
    they do not know how to love themselves, what to say about others, or God.

    Thank you for Keeping it real B. K. Goswami

    I remain, Your Servant

    Bhakta John

  5. 0
    Suresh das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just the article I have been looking for. I keep telling myself that I need to surround myself with more positive, caring people. Maybe some of the good energy might just rub off on me. I need to focus on my health at this time. I have been sickly all my life. I always feel completely fried and stressed out. Long-term and continuous suffering has conditioned me to see virtually everything in a negative light.

    One tool I use, when I feel depressed, despair, and other negative emotions, is to ask myself what “mode of nature” am I in? If I am predominently in the mode of darkness – naturally I will feel depressed, mental and emotional suffering, and negative feelings and thoughts. By my own efforts I have to raise myself higher through the mode of passion, to the mode of goodness, or illumination and happiness. One way to do this, is to go out and take a long japa walk.

    The mode of goodness is very rarely achieved for me. I have only felt it for a few moments in life. Most of the time I live in passion and ignorance. For this reason I have been very interested to hear of how to reach higher modes of happiness and peace.

    I have been steadily chanting the Holy Name for many years. Often though, it seems like it has little effect on me. I often feel like I am just “washing coal”.

    Before I joined the Krishna Consciousness Movement, I would hear things like “love yourself”. I always considered it utter nonsense, because I have always hated myself through-and-through. How on earth am I ever going to be able to love myself when I am suffering all the time?

    I have found the only time I love myself is when I am singing and dancing in an ecstatic kirtan with all the devotees. That’s the only time I get any relief.

  6. 0
    srimanta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Whether in happiness or in hopelessness, in everything Lord’s mood is prevailed throughout this universe. Lord is supreme controller of happiness and joy. Again Lord is supreme source of hopelessness and despair. Thus without love of Lord, none can become loveable. Neither one can fill with love for one’s self nor can one enjoy within one self. Thus loving relationship to Lord is only source of happiness and joy. Despite all practices to control one’s happiness and joy within one’s self, in this material world every self goes through numerous sufferings and hopelessness. No one can remain full of joy and enjoyment all time within one’s self. Thus it is proved in this material world that no one can remain constantly within joy within self though one always tries to become. Unless the universal soul that is Hari filled with joy there is always shortage of hope and joy. Thus one becomes hopeless and despairs for love of Lord. How can one bird fly if there is no air? How can one swim if there is no water? How can it rain if there is no cloud? If there is no source of Rasas, how can one enjoy Rasas? Thus every source of happiness and enjoyment is only Lord Hari and His devotees. Only through association with Lord and His devotees, one can remain with full of joy and happiness. By making loving relationship with Lord and His devotees, one can love one’s self. Without that one can not get happiness or joy. That was only suggested by Mahaprabhu and all other elevated Vaisnava spiritual masters. Devotees must love Krsna and His devotees. Devotees must remain in association with other devotees and love them thinking Lord is always with them. Then only one can love one self otherwise not. All glory to Lord Krsna! All glory to Mahaprabhu! All glory to Pancha Tattva! All glory to Narahari Narashima Dev! All glory to Prabhupada! All glory to associates Vaisnavas! Hare Krsna! Haribol!

  7. 0
    Suresh das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The idea behind this article is a good one. One problem I see though – it is quite easy for someone who doesn’t ever have to work, and is supported instead by ISKCON’s donations or one’s own disciples, to be quite frankly very happy, and very satisfied in life. No matter how nice you sugarcoat things though, for anybody who has to work at a karmi-type job, the stress can become unbearable. No amount of positive messages will help much if you daily have to go work in hell.

    The ideas are kind of a “New Age” message. This style of message runs contrary though in many ways to the history and philosophy of ISKCON. There has been a long-term history of verbal, emotional and physical harshness and heaviness at every level. How soon and where will this new type of consciousness manifest?

    I am personally happy to see more positive messages coming from the ISKCON’s brass. I think it is a sincere attempt to be more inviting to the greater devotional community.

  8. 0
    gokulananda das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Of course this appeal for more positive encouragement towards oneself and others is very welcome. As in all such matters, we can again turn to our best role model Srila Prabhupada, whose pure heart and selfless love would always inspire so many others in their endeavors for self-improvement through Krishna consciousness. Often quoting the saying that “God helps those who help themselves”, he would also add that to truly help oneself is to seek the Lord’s (and guru’s) shelter and service. We want to direct our positive attitude towards that goal only, and not fall prey to the ego-flattering motto for self-empowerment which is the new ethos of too many New Age gurus. If we sincerely cultivate our surrender to get closer to Sri Krishna, then He will assuredly bring out the positive in every sincere aspiring soul. Such faith is our best method of self-esteem.

    Gokulananda das ACBSP

  9. 0
    mahatma says:

    From comment #7:

    No matter how nice you sugarcoat things though, for anybody who has to work at a karmi-type job, the stress can become unbearable. No amount of positive messages will help much if you daily have to go work in hell.

    Although it seems like we “have to do” so many things, ultimately we are the ones who choose. So why not do your best to find a means of employment that is more in line with your nature and also is more conducive to bhakti?

    Your servant,
    Mahatma das

  10. 0
    Suresh das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Sometimes you can’t easily get out of a commitments you’ve made. Long-term leases have been signed, payrolls must be met.

    I’ve been married to the same person for 31 years. Many times I wanted to run away, or quit – it would have been easier, but a long walk for a few hours usually cools things off, and helped me come to my senses and find ways to compromise.

    A good analogy is an ice-cold mountain stream. For one living entity it means death, for another life, for another misery, and for still another great pleasure. Everything is based on sense perception, or how one is able to tolerate stress and not get upset in upsetting circumstances.

    I have worked in the same business for 30 years. I am constantly being attacked by the demands of vendors, customers and employees. There is constant upheaval and stress. There isn’t a day which goes by where I don’t yell, scream,and pull my hair out – it’s constant.

    It’s like putting on a Rathyatra festival. Anyone who has organized a huge festival knows there is tremendous stress and hard work required to pull everything off and do it all on time, often short handed. That’s why I so much enjoy just going in the festivals now, and not working at them.

  11. 0
    Suresh das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have always wondered if I am personally interpreting the message of Krishna Consciousness in a negative way, because I am basically a negative, pessimistic person. I rarely accept the messages of Srila Prabhupada’s books happily and enthusiastically, because his books and teachings are filled with restrictions. I often wonder if there it is something I am missing, or failing to properly hear.

    At the same time, the instructions are calling a spade-a spade. There is no way to get around the instructions of Lord Rsabhadeva, from the Fifth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, for example. At the same time I can’t possibly live happily as a sannyasi or a celibate, as he is dictating. I am very fortunate, although most of the time I don’t feel that way, that Lord Krishna has never fulfilled any of my illicit desires. So I could say that for all practical purposes I am a celibate, but it isn’t what I actually desire, at least some of the time. I am in that place where I can’t fully surrender to the process of Krishna Consciousness, but can’t leave it, abandon it, or forget it either.

    I often wish there was a way that the Krishna Conscious message could be more inclusive for more types of persons. Not everyone can live as a sannyasi or a celibate. I often wonder where I fit in as a person in the Krishna Consciousness Movement, and if I will ever feel at peace.

  12. 0
    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is an important topic and it is great that Maharaja has raised the issue.

    I also saw a nice BTG article a few issues back about the difference between genuine Vainsnava humility and unhealthy lack of self esteem.

    When great Acaryas like Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami say things like, “I am lower than a worm in stool. Even pronouncing my name is sinful,” they are really exhibiting a kind of spiritual ecstasy that should not be misunderstood or foolishly imitated.

    On the other hand, for brahmacaris at least, if we had to tolerate a little verbal abuse or tyranical authority, it probably did us some good. It is not only in ISKCON that people have to tolerate such things.

    Not that we are excusing or condoning mistreatment of junior devotees, but tolerance of verbal aggression is a skill that devotees can find useful in many settings.

    Military “boot camp” training uses such techniques to an extent beyond anything that normally happened in ISKCON. The Victorian English public schools were known for mistreatment by older students of the younger students in their charge, like the bully Flashman in Arnold’s “Tom Brown’s School Days.” Hierarchies sometimes have a way of perpetuating abuse and cruelty.

    Even law professors have been known to publicly humiliate students in a more mild fashion while practicing the so-called “socratic method” of instruction. It is supposed to help in dealing with grumpy judges or irrascible opposing counsel, and it probably does.

    In ISKCON we sometimes have had a habit of overdoing it, to be sure. Srila Prabhupada could chastise his intimate disciples in a way that would devastate them, but spiritually uplift them too. Many of the interviews on Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhu’s “Memories” videos contain stories of devotees getting “the sauce” from Srila Prabhupada and discussing the positive impact it had on them.

    Sometimes senior devotees may have improperly “imitated” Srila Prabhupada in dealing with subordinates, though (and those who had military training may have also incorporated some “boot camp” attitudes). [Not to even mention the mistreatment of children in ISKCON schools and all of the problems that caused!]

    I hope we are learning from our mistakes and improving. It seems we are. I am glad Bir Krishna Maharaja is raising the point.

    It is not really part of our bhakti yoga process to make new bhaktas go through a “hazing” period where they are tortured and made to feel bad about themselves. It may be hard enough for them to get used to waking up early and going to the morning program, so we should not add insult to austerity.

    I think that was one of the reasons that Danavir Maharaja started the bhakta program in the 70s. When a new bhakta joined the temple, everyone had a “new fish” to pick on, someone lower in the hierarchy to criticize and boss around. Unless they had a kind and caring bhakta leader that was exclusively in charge of training them, they would be eaten alive like guppies by the general ashram population.

  13. 0
    Pandu das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I personally don’t have trouble with the scriptural statements that indicate that the world does not revolve around me. My limitation as an individual spirit soul are simply facts of life that I must tolerate. No sense getting upset over factors that I cannot change.

    The problem of low self-esteem arises for me when I consider how much I continue to control my tendency to seek sense gratification in spite of knowing quite well how important this is to my well-being. I have experienced times of intense attraction (maybe not by everyone’s standard) to devotional service, so I know I am capable, but most of the time I am engrossed in the hard struggle for existence motivated by the hope for sense gratification.

    So for me, the struggle is not to feel good about myself, but to control my mind in Krishna consciousness. I can’t change my constitutional position, but I can change my behavior. The question is, why don’t I do it then? Well, I try, but why not succeed more often?

    Attempting to answer my own question, the best I can come up with is that I do not understand Srila Prabhupada’s teachings deeply enough. They’re often in my mind, and they shape my intelligence, but my misfortune is that I have not been able to establish them firmly in my heart. When I know the goal of life, but still fail to situate myself properly in pursuit of that goal, then I feel cause for some depression. That’s a good thing, I think. I don’t like feeling depressed, and so it motivates me to change my behavior to fix it.

    I’ve been doing that lately, and feeling much better about myself. At the same time, my struggle with this has gradually awakened a little compassion for others. It’s a difficult battle, fighting maya, but I am not doing it alone. Srila Prabhupada assembled an army so that we can help each other in this fight. With the chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare on our lips, and the Lord’s devotees all around us, complete success is assured. 8^)

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