Egoism and Lethargy
Lecture by HH Radhanath Swami
Srila Prabhupada has told us that the culmination of all of our preaching in Krsna Consciousness is to induce people to wholeheartedly chant the holy names of Krsna. The chanting of the Holy names must continue. Srila Prabhupada said we can do without temples, we can do without everything. We don’t need money. If we can get it, we will use it. We don’t need property. If we get it we will use it. We don’t need vehicles. If we get it we will use it. We don’t need good PR, Public relations. If we get it we will use it.
But one thing at all times, we always need for our spiritual survival and that is the association of the devotees and the regular chanting of the holy names. If we lose either of these two principles which are actually one in essence, then we lose our connection to Krsna.
In this age of Kali, there are two deadly enemies that are always about to devour all the sanctity of our spiritual lives: egoism and lethargy.
Krsna tells us in Bhagavad Gita that we must give up egoism and lethargy. Wherever the false ego becomes prominent, we start thinking in terms of I and mine. Then there is no service attitude. We want to be master. We want to be enjoyer. We even see other Vaishnavas, even our old godbrothers and godsisters as competitors rather than worshipable Lords. We should see every Vaishnava with veneration. They should be objects of our worship. But where there is egoism, we start to see Vaishnavas as ordinary people. When the desire for our own prestige and enjoyment comes too much into our mind, then even great Vaishnavas appear to be insignificant. However, where there is a humble attitude of service, even the most ordinary, new beginning devotee, we see as someone very glorious and worthy of our respect. This is one of the barometers by which we can understand how we are progressing.
Due to egoism, everyone thinks “I can judge others. I am right. You are wrong. If you stand between me and my aspirations of profit, adoration and distinction then you become my enemy.” Where there is disunity amongst devotees there cannot be proper sankirtan. We cannot chant together in the proper spirit to please Krsna, we cannot serve together.
When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur saw his own devotees fighting amongst themselves, he was willing to sacrifice everything and anything he had, to bring about unity. Because he knew that unity alone would empower his movement to please Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and thus fulfill His mission. For Srila Prabhupada also, that was the great worry. “Show your love for me by how you cooperate.” This cooperation is not an ordinary material formula. You cannot cooperate unless you are really trying to follow the essence of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings. Without wearing this shloka around our necks, strung by the holy name: trinad api sunicena, taror api sahishnuna, amanina manadena, kirtaniya sada Hari, there can be no real cooperation, unless we are striving to be really humble devotees, putting aside this egoism. Trample it down!
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur said that the desire for enjoyment, prestige, we must take the broom of the holy name, the broom of Vaishnava etiquette, we must sweep it out of our hearts hundreds and thousands of times every day because it keeps coming back in. He said, “You are delivered by Krsna the very day you are free from the desire for prestige. That is the day you will go back to Godhead, not until then”.
So this egoism is very prominent in Kali Yuga. Kali is trying to destroy everything sacred from inside out. We must be on guard at all times, to not be judgemental or make offenses, to be cooperative and eager to serve, eager to uplift, eager to encourage, eager to sacrifice for the benefit of other devotees.
Lethargy means laziness. We don’t want to chant, we don’t want to read and even if we chant, we chant lazily. We let our minds just slope along its own natural patterns for thoughts. Recently we were in the ocean near Udupi and it is easy to just float on the water of the ocean and the waves just take you wherever you go. It is very relaxing, so relaxing! There is nothing more relaxing than floating in the ocean. Except in Jagannath Puri, you cannot float. If you try to float you get crushed. But in Udipi, you can float.
And similarly it is very relaxing to chant our japa and let our minds just coast along upon the waves of maya and illusion, thinking of this, thinking of that and everything else. And meanwhile our mouths are moving and everyone in the temple is thinking, “Oh, a very strict devotee!” But we cannot deceive Krsna, we cannot be lazy. We have to keep bringing our minds back to Harinam. We have to come to satsangs. We may not like it, it may be inconvenient, but we need to hear and chant in the association of devotees. It is easy to talk different types of village talks when we have free time. But we should pick up the books and read or discuss Hari katha. We have to be awake and on guard. The chanting of the holy names and serving Vaishnavas is our basis.
Egoism and laziness is our downfall. Where there is egoism and laziness, there is also lust, anger, envy, pride, greed and illusion and so much envy. In Kali yuga, either you fill your mind with Krsna or your mind gets filled with maya. There is no in between. But somehow or other, we are here at this time, but there is one benediction. If we just remain united and keep up this principle of sincerely chanting Harinam, and hearing Hari katha in a spirit of servitude, Krsna will empower us to overvcome all the impediments of Kali. But we cannot do it only by ourselves. We should see that we need each other.
Srila Prabhupada was so gracious. He saw every disciple as the representative of his spiritual master. He would say that “My Guru Maharaj has sent all of you to help me to fulfill his mission.” And he was so grateful. Therefore even if one of his disciples fell into abominable activities, although he understood what is what, still that love and gratitude was always there, prominent in his heart. Not condemning, but praying to Krsna, “Please bring him back. He has done so much.” So if that is the way Srila Prabhupada saw each of his devotees, how much we should appreciate!
These days, there is so much confusion, conflict, rivalry, deviation right within every religious institution including ISKCON but that should not discourage us because we are not concerned with the deviation. We are concerned with the essence, with the real thing. As long as we have the holy names, as long as we have Srila Prabhupada’s books, as long as we have simple, sincere, humble devotees who want to serve, who want to chant, who want to dance, then we have Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy. So please be strong! Guard against egoism, guard against offenses to devotees, guard against laziness in the basic principles of sadhana. If you do, by Mahaprabhu’s and Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy, you are guaranteed to go back to Godhead.
Their mercy is causeless. If we are simply sincere, they can make up for all of our deficiencies, and they will. So please take this very seriously every day for the rest of your lives. Never give up the mercy of Guru and Gauranga. It is the greatest loss. Know your real wealth to be the humility and sincerity with which you serve and chant the holy names. One of our great acharyas explained that one speck of dust of Srila Prabhupada has the power to deliver the entire universe. One single speck of dust from Sri Gurudev has the strength to deliver tens and crores of people and all the knowledge in all the Universities and all the reasonings of all the philosophers and all the wealth of the industrialists and all the politics of the politicians, all multiplied together, does not equal even a fraction of the weight of one speck of dust from the lotus feet of the previous acharyas. This is the statement that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati made about Gaur Kishore das Babaji. We can make the same about Srila Prabhupada.
Therefore it is my most honoured duty in life to sprinkle those particles of dust wherever we go, by our behaviour and by the sincerity and wish, we pray for the benefit of others and chant the Holy names Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
On behalf of Srila Prabhupada, I thank you very much.