Weeds, weeds, weeds. Weeds deeply entrenched in the heart; weeds deeply entrenched in the garden. Do I tend to my heart first or do I tend to the garden first? I decided to do both; although yes, I do realise that it is not recommended. As I pulled each weed; I wanted to meditate how each Hare Krishna mantra uttered was having the same impact on my heart. Armed with my japa mala in one hand, I set out to do some weeding in our garden. My 2-year-old also joined me and my husband; however, she sat on her pink chair and pulled her feet up intently looking at her book. Undoubtedly giving us an ‘avant-gout’ of how much help she would be as she grows up…
The garden was in dire need of de-weeding. Some of the weeds were soft and tender and easy to pull out; some were more stubborn and had stronger roots and there were weeds which spread across like vines hampering the growth of the good grass. The same applies to our heart. As human beings we carry so much baggage in our hearts. Past hurts, frustration, anger, sadness, disappointments, feelings of helplessness, hurt egos or too much ego. All these block us from being receptive of Krishna’s love. All these hamper the growth of bhakti in our heart.
Unfortunately, our brain is wired towards negativity; based on a study by University of Chicago; it was found that the brain has ‘greater sensitivity’ to unpleasant news or events rather than positive events. These negative feelings/ events are endlessly replayed by our brains and they end up being nestled in our hearts. So how do we move forward?
(Srimad Bhagavatam 2.1.22)
Rajovaca Yatha sandharyate bhraman Dharana yatra sammata Yadrsi va hared asu Purusasya mano-malam
The fortunate King Pariksit, inquiring further, said: O brahmana, please describe in full detail how and where the mind has to be applied and how the conception can be fixed so that the dirty things in a person’s mind can be removed.
Srila Prabhupada links both the heart and the mind in this verse. He explains how ‘the dirty things in the heart of a conditioned soul are the root cause of all troubles for him. A conditioned soul is surrounded by the manifold miseries of material existence, but on account of his gross ignorance he is unable to remove the troubles due to dirty things in the heart, accumulated during the long prison life in the material world’. He goes on to explain how our hearts can only be cleansed by association with the Supreme Lord and by cultivating the service attitude.
Indeed, as devotees, we do seek association with the Supreme Lord by chanting the Holy names of the Lord, reading the Srimad Bhagavatam. As we age in our spiritual life; we proceed to tick off all the ‘spiritual activities’ checklist. Yes, we are chanting, eating prasad, reading regularly, serving devotees, attending temple programs in nice vaisnava attire but here comes the slight hitch. As much as our exterior is being transformed; our inner self is still the same…miserable. Why is that?
Faith and Gratitude
This is because we don’t have faith. We do not have faith in the power of the Holy name; in its power to uproot the negativity in our hearts. We do not have faith in the healing and cleansing powers of the Sanskrit verses of the Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita. These were spoken by Krishna; let us realise how fortunate we are. We forget that the purports of Srila Prabhupada represents his love and compassion for us and his deep desire to give us spiritual realization. Gratitude in our hearts will attract Krishna and the weeds in our hearts will be uprooted.
We must accept the inner demons and weaknesses of our hearts. Once we become devotees; we tend to suppress the bad within us and pretend that we are completely cleansed of all negative qualities. We are only human; weeds once uprooted grow back. Let’s take the example of Kubja, the hunchback woman whom Krishna transformed into a beautiful society girl. By supplying the sandalwood pulp to Krishna, Kubja had already satisfied His senses. However, Kubja was captivated by lust and she wanted Krishna to come to her place. Srila Prabhupada explains how Krishna’s mercy is never denied to anyone who has rendered service unto Him, whether through lust, anger, fear or pure love. Krishna is all-knowing and he knows what is afflicting our hearts; probably better than us. Despite our demons, Krishna will accept our service and he is the one who will purify us and give us the taste to be constantly engaged in His service. This is how he treated Kubja.
Let us accept ourselves; bare out our limitations to Krishna and have faith in the potency of the spiritual activities that we do daily.
Kisori Gopika Devi Dasi