When Thought Awakens

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Jagabandhu das: “The Bhagavata teaches us that God gives us Truth as He gave it to Vyasa: when we earnestly seek for it. The soul receives a revelation when it is anxious for it. The souls of the great thinkers of the bygone ages, who now live spiritually, OFTEN approach our enquiring spirit and assist in it’s development. Thus Vyasa was assisted by Narada and Brahma. Our Shastras, or in other words, books of thought, do not contain all that we could get from the Infinite Father. NO BOOK is without it’s errors. God’s revelation is Absolute Truth, but it is scarcely received and preserved in it’s natural purity. We have been advised in the 14th Chapter of the 11th Skandha of the Bhagavata to believe that Truth when revealed is Absolute, but it gets the tincture of the nature of the receiver in course of time and is converted into error by continual exchange of hands from age to age. NEW REVELATIONS, therefore, are continually necessary to order to keep Truth in it’s original purity. We are thus warned to be careful in our study of old authors, however WISE they are reputed to be.

Here we have full liberty to reject the wrong idea, which is not sanctioned by the peace of conscience. Vyasa was not satisfied with what he collected in the Vedas, arranged in the Puranas, and composed in the Mahabharata. The peace of his conscience did not sanction his labors. It told him from within, ‘No, Vyasa! You can’t rest contented with the erroneous picture of Truth which was necessarily presented to you by the sages of bygone days. You must yourself knock at the door of the inexhaustable store of Truth from which the former sages drew their wealth. Go. Go up to the Fountainhead of Truth, where no pilgrim meets with disappointment of any kind.’

Vyasa did it and obtained what he wanted. WE HAVE ALL BEEN ADVISED TO DO SO. Liberty then is the principle which we must consider to be the most valuable gift of God. We must not allow ourselves to be led by those who lived and thought before us. WE MUST THINK FOR OURSELVES and try to get further Truths which are still undiscovered. In the Bhagavata we have been advised to take the spirit of the Shastras and not the words. The Bhagavata is therefore a religion of liberty, Unmixed Truth, and Absolute Love.

The other characteristic is progress. Liberty certainly is the father of all progress. Holy liberty is the cause of progress upwards and upwards in eternity and endless activity of Love. Liberty abused causes degradation, and the Vaishnava must always carefully use this high and beautiful gift of God.” (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, The Bhagavata Speech, 1869)

It would seem that we depend upon nearly exclusively and primarily prefer more the no doubt August, Exceptional and Flawlessly Perfect Guidance of the Scriptures and those other impossibly WISE souls who have lived before us. However, Sri Guru, the Saints and the Scriptures can only Emphasize, Demonstrate and Illuminate the Way. Hopefully, this will inspire me to Contemplate the pragmatic contemporary application of Their Beautiful Lessons. My Teachers cannot go the Way for me, or force me to do so against my personal recalcitrance. I must go the Way myself with the Benefit of Their advice. Or Not.

Within the confines of organized religion and institutionalized idealism it appears that it is often forgotten that the mind is the digestive organ with which I am hopefully fortunate enough to actually assimilate according to individual capacity the gist of the Infinite Essential Information which has Descended to offer Compassionate Assistance to myself and all others in our aspirant inner evolutionary journey towards Real Love. The real development of such genuine Unconditional Affection will become apparent by my manifest dealings with the countless souls with whom I might happen to have proximous confluence upon the Way. If my mind is unable to process the spiritual nutrition come to give me nourishment by Divine Grace, I will suffer from philosophical indigestion and the Ultimate Teachings of Divine Love will have little impact upon me and my subsequent dealings with others in the world. This will cause my consequential philosophical existential expressions to be a hollow pretense and my spiritual continuity to be a mere sham. The non-reflective mindlessness of my formal affiliations and ostensible spiritual associations will appear cultish and I will engage in endless hostile discussions, quarrels and battles under the thinly veiled guise of so-called spiritual priority, “religious” righteousness and ecclesiastical organizational privilege.

“When thought awakens, the thinker is no more ignorant and is capable of obtaining an Absolute Idea of religion. This is a Truth, and God has made it such in His infinite Goodness, Impartiality and Mercy. Labour has it’s wages and the idle must never be rewarded. ‘Higher is the work, greater is the reward’ is a useful truth. The thoughtless must be satisfied with superstition till he wakes and opens his eyes to the God of Love.” (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, The Bhagavata Speech,
1869)

Much has been said about the Superexcellent Teachings of the Saints and Scriptures and the Gorgeous Commentary of Sri Guru. “Gurudev said this… and… Gurudev said that…” But what did Gurudev mean? And where is the Absolute Love he primarily taught and emphasized with the sacrifice of his very existence? Must it again become hidden for future spiritual archeologists and devotional stalwarts like Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur to excavate from the ruins of misconception? Or can Real Krishna Consciousness rise like a phoenix from the ashes of associative apocalypse?

……………………..

She

Myself I’m just an upadharmist trying to learn how to avoid cruelty to other living beings, become humble and prideless, tolerant and respectful to all others regardless of their chosen path. Dharma is marginalized when merely phrased as Hindu dharma. From the extremely beautiful Introduction of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s Transcendentally Gorgeous Bhagavad-gita As It Is: we can know the true definition of real dharma which is about the intrinsic constitutional position of the eternal soul beyond changeable exoteric designations like Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or Hindu.

However, it’s also important to remember that the full bloom of Mahaprabhu’s Teachings eventually ontologically blossom to a level much higher and deeper even than mere Sanatan-dharma to the point of Sva-dharma. And then onwards and upwards throughout all eternity until at last the soul finds highest and deepest inner fulfillment in it’s profoundest degree of ultimate unconditional affection and absolute surrender as best exemplified by the intense devotional mood of She; the Dearmost Devotee of Lord Krishna who Sukadev Goswami wouldn’t mention in the Bhagavatam. Out of highest fervent regard for She Whose Holy Appearance Anniversary is celebrated tomorrow.

In Sanskrit single words with deeper intrinsic meaning often seem to fail being easily translated in single English word equivalents. Like how “prema” can’t really be translated as “love” because it means something more than our usual contextual reference. For that I use “profoundly unconditional affection.” For Sraddha, instead of “faith” or “trust,” I like “irrevocable sublime conviction” (and mostly contemplate what great transcendental emphasis automatically occurs when removing the “S” from the beginning of the word). Sadly, the same thing occurs when removing the first three letters from the word “aparadha.” As if an offense against others were somehow an offense against Her.

Re: avoiding offense to God and high souls. I find it best to try to avoid offense to all souls altogether—while respecting some more than others because of their true devotion to God and His saints. And apologize if I have offended you or any others.

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1 Akruranatha

I agree that we are enjoined to get direct realization ourselves and not to rely on our limited understanding of the words of sastra and guru and sadhu based on our own limited angle of vision.

However, I do not see why we cannot take both the spirit AND the words of sastras and of the great self-realized souls.

I agree that we should study and learn to understand the meaning of previous masters with the help and guidance of our contemporary masters. [As Umapati Swami recently pointed out, we should never try to jump over Prabhupada and feel that we prefer the supposedly “different” conclusion of some previous acarya.]

I agree that there are many matters for which verbal descriptions and analogies fall short and we ultimately have to taste what is inside the honey jar.

However, I still believe that when we really do have realization and taste that honey, we will see that there was nothing wrong with any of the words of Srimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-Gita or Srila Prabhupada. We may have previously misunderstood those words, but we will now understand and accept them.

I continue to think that the more I achieve perfection in submission and service to the pure spiritual master, the more I am enlightened from within by that Krishna consciousness which drives away all ignorance, illusion and misconception, the more my intelligence is purified by devotional service and true spiritual realization, the result will be that I will find absolutely nothing in the teachings of Srila Prabhupada that I disagree with. Rather, I might only find that my prior confusion was caused by some mistake in what I took him to mean, or (more likely) by some gross defect in my own prejudices and assumptions.

I think that is the real meaning of Narottama Das Thakur’s phrase “guru mukha padma vakya citete koriya aikya.” His prayer is that his consciousness shall become completely in line with the pure words coming from Sri Guru’s lotus mouth.

The words of the pure Vaisnava guru are not mere words and sentences to be scrutinized and parsed by analytic philosophers. They are kirtan, transcendental sound vibrations. And those sounds, like mantras, can lead the attentive disciple to the lotus feet of Krishna, from which perspective the real meaning of those sounds can be fully understood.

“Further Truths which are still undiscovered” (?) If you mean not yet discovered by ourselves, okay. But we should abandon the modern idea of discovering what was unknown to ancients.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 29th, 2009
2 pustakrishna

I usually take delight in conversing with Jagabandhu and Akruranath Prabhus in these pages. The element that may help resolve some of the issues raised is “Causeless Mercy.” Even though we are undeserving, still Sri Krishna is so merciful, an Ocean of Mercy. As Srila Prabhupad walked with Gurudas and myself on either side of His Divine Grace in New Delhi, Gurudas asked Srila Prabhupad, “what is kripa-siddhi?” Srila Prabhupad took his two hands and grasped them into the stomach area of Gurudas and he said, “Here! You take it!”
We are told in the Sri Brahma Samhita: If we search the Vedas, He may be very difficult to find, but He is easily obtained with bhakti (adurlabha atma-bhaktau). But, but, but…the Truth will be revealed to us by the Truth Himself, in His own time, by His own sweet and independent will. We are believers in the “descending method” of realization, not the ascending method (jnana which leads to impersonal conclusion generally). Faith is the foundation of all else in this process. And, Srila Rupa Goswami advises the triad of enthusiasm, determination, and patience.
We are fortunate in this Kali-yuga to have the guidance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The chanting of the Holy Names in both the means and the end…as simple as that. To associate with Sri Krishna in His fullness, we have only to chant the Holy Names and His revelation will come, perhaps and perhaps not. Mahaprabhu said that “even if you make me broken hearted by not being present before me, You are still my worshipable Lord, unconditionally.” He is not our order supplier, at least we do not want to consider Him as such. But, Mahaprabhu describes the ever-expanding ocean of bliss, anandam-budhi vardhanam. May we therefore be blessed to chant and glorify the Holy Names without offenses, and receive our measure of blessings progressively. Hare Krishna. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on August 30th, 2009
3 Akruranatha

All glories to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, whose divine appearance day is today!

If I seem like I am sometimes disputing with his words on these pages, I pray that he and all the Vaisnavas will forgive me. As he is calling us to think for ourselves and not be dogmatic followers, I hope he accepts my questioning in that spirit, and not as one who would challenge such a perfect preceptor.

I suppose dogmatism and hypocrisy will make their appearance in any community of spiritual aspirants who are called upon to exercise sense control and avoid sinful behavior. The Thakur calls us to rise above such pettiness to appreciate “the highest truth, which is understandable by the nirmatsaranam satam.”

Legal sociologists and anthropologists look beyond statutes and tribunals and see the vast array of social control mechanisms at work in society. Why people conform their behavior (and speech) to acceptable norms involves a lot more than fear of government-imposed confinement or corporal punishment. People are concerned about their social standing, how others think about them, how they may think about themselves, and our dogmas and faultfinding behavior are part of a natural mechanism for defining our community and its values. Communities share values of how a virtuous person acts, thinks and feels, and conversely about what behaviors, thoughts and feelings are unacceptable and rightly to be condemned.

A community with high ideals is likely to be one in which people often condemn others for things they themselves have done and may do in the future. A society that demands its members to be virtuous may, paradoxically, be expected to have a high degree of hypocrisy.

And so it is for the community of Srimad Bhagavatam readers. The Bhagavatam is fit for the paramahamsas who are completely free of envy, yet it was also designed to help those who are materially attached, “pravartamanasya gunair anatmanas”.

Srila Bhaktivinoda, in reaching out to people outside the community of faithful Vaisnavas (who were prejudiced against the Vaishnavas), appealed to their higher natures, that they should overlook the dogmatism of neophyte disciples of Bhagavatam, and should also rise above their own dogmas and hypocrisies.

His great-grand-disciple Srila Prabhupada simply blew the doors off the prejudices of non-Vaisnavas and created a truly international community of Bhagavatam hearers.

But we do still need to overcome our own dogmatism and hypocrisy.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on September 1st, 2009
4 pustakrishna

Yes, Jayate Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur!!! In his Jaiva-dharma, Bhaktivinode Thakur takes a very broad-minded and transcendental approach. All souls are situated where they should be. We can analyze this from the “outside”, but we find ourselves still suffering and enjoying our karmic position. If we are fortunate, by Krishna’s arrangement, we gain entrance to His and our ultimate reality via the grace of Sri Guru-Vaishnava. I have previously told how I encountered Krishna outside of the movement in 1968. I did not get entry then. I outlined all of this in my talk at Alachua in May, 2009, available through Dandavats.com back then. That talk related how I came to Krishna consciousness and how the Gainesville community began late in 1970.
It is only possible, in my own experience, to understand the real nature of things and Krishna through the grace of vaishnavas. Tad vidhi pranipatena.

So, awakening of thought, opening one’s spiritual vision (om ajnana timirandhasya…) is the product of that fortunate association. Mental gymnastics lead only to the impersonal conception, and not beyond. Adau sraddha sadhu sanga…if we have sufficient faith (even unknown to us!), then the association of bhaktas is provided to us by Krishna’s arrangement, perhaps even in the pages of Dandavats.com. We must consider ourselves fortunate to have such divine association, and if we value that, and take advantage of that opportunity, then we shall see our enthusiasm increase for Krishna consciousness. It is a kind of test in and of itself. Good association will increase enthusiasm, and offensive behavior will dampen enthusiasm.

Hare Krishna. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on September 2nd, 2009
5 pustakrishna

If permitted, I wish to expand this ideal. We hear about and are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of great souls. None can be greater or more fortunate than the Braja-gopis. We “know” that they are awakened fully in consciousness. They are mad after Krishna, because of their ecstatic love for Krishna. Their pure and sweet sentiments are so pleasing to Krishna, that the Lord Personally admits that He also has difficulty properly reciprocating with their love, saying that “please be satisfied with your loving sentiments as I cannot properly reciprocate with your love for Me…because your love astounds even Me.” Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu makes His earnest attempt to taste the love of His greatest bhakta (Sri Radha) and we can see only a portion of this eternal lila manifest during His appearance here 500 years ago.

The love of the gopis flows toward Krishna always, whether He is present or not present before them. Their love is the standard for our meditation. To live in Vrindaban is to meditate on the qualities of the Brajavasis of Krishna lila. We have our connection there as distant relations of Sri Rupa Manjari (Srila Rupa Goswami) through our connection with our Guru Parampara. Imitation no, contemplation yes.

Bhakti is the activity of the soul. When faith will deepen more and more, we shall find we are less and less concerned for ourselves. We see this in the examples of the gopis, the gopas, etc. Krishna consciousness comes to capture us in His network of rasa. That is what we are searching for in reality. And, I submit that sraddha is more than conviction. Living faith is a reality of being part of Krishna…perhaps initiated on the plane of thought and intelligence, but fully expressed by the soul’s natural integration with and dependence on Krishna. Love too may be like that…first practiced but then fully expressed on the spiritually pure plane.

I know that Jagabandhu Prabhu is trying to express what seems like a process that starts from lower and goes to higher. In fact the bhakti-creeper is ascending to the plane of Krishna prema. But, our mundane conception of lower to higher cannot touch the spiritual plane. In fact, we may find the analogy of ceto-darpana-marjanam helpful here. The consciousness is now cloudy, dusted over. When that dust is removed, the svadharma, Krishna consciousness is there. That is ontologically consistent with our identity as part and parcel of Krishna. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on September 5th, 2009

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