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Comments Posted By mahatma

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Balancing The Roles Of The Gbc And The Disciple In Guru Selection

We have seen many gurus fall from their service and thus many are weary about the diksa guru, especially about expanding their numbers. There is also hope that there is a way we can better make sure few future diksa gurus fall down. This can’t be prevented, neither is there reason to believe that GBC authorizing as opposed to a disciple choosing is going to better prevent this. Just as the GBC cannot guarantee that your spouse won’t leave Krsna consciousness, they cannot guarantee a guru will not fall down. But when they authorize persons to initiate within Iskcon, they become implicated. However, when the choice is left to the disciple (who certainly can take guidance from leaders) the disciple assumes full responsibility for his or her choice – and the GBC assumes no liability.

There are many disciples of Prabhupada qualified to give diksa who will not accept this position under the current system of being approved (or not being objected to). We have 65 diksa gurus in Iskcon but there are many more devotees qualified to do the job who are currently acting as siksa gurus for the many disciples who have little contact with their diksa gurus as well as for uninitiated devotees. Although they are gurus, in the current system they are not recognized as such capable of being diksa gurus without going through an approval process. We need more gurus. They are already out there. The no vetting process is getting in the way of many taking up this service.

Prospective disciples will understand they have more than 65 options if the no vetting process is not in place and this will naturally increase the number of diksa gurus in a natural way. At the very least, temple leaders should acknowledge Prabhupada disciples in their temples who are already acting as (or qualified to act) gurus and give them the green light.

Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On May 13, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

A request for help in starting a new website “For Struggling Devotees”

I think there may be some misunderstanding here. There are plenty of “good” devotees who practice Krsna consciousness daily, who know the solution to any sexual problems they have is hearing and chanting, yet they are addicted to pornography and/or other sexual misconduct. Such devotees need special care and attention, a support system that they can go to in order to help them break this cycle. It is not that the solution is something outside of Krsna consciousness, but when the problem is severe, a strong focused support system is ideal. Such a support system is simply a focused form of sanga aimed at solving problems, in this case the focus being sexual problems.

Those who are in the normal stuggle to control sex desire are in a different league than those with sexual addictions.

Hare Krsna,
Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Jun 15, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

Amend Yourself

1. Who gets to decide what is fault finding, and what is calling spade a spade?

I think we need to be objective enough to do that. The nature of a real devotee is that he doesn’t like to fault find. Rather he likes to glorify and appreciate. And sometimes it may serve no purpose to call a spade a spade.

2. After it is properly decided, that one is actually practising fault finding, is it ok to find faults in such fault-finder, demonising him by calling him fault-finder?

Bhaktisiddhanta advises that we should apply the tendency we have to find faults to ourselves and in this way we can improve outselves and at the same time avoid the possibility of committing vaisnava aparadha.

3. If we recognize fault finders and call them fault finders, is this also fault finding? So how can we be sure, that other person is really fault-finder, if we are finding fault in him?

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta went so far as to say we shouldn’t criticize even when there is just reason to do so. Of course, there are obviously circumstances where criticism may be necessary, so we can take this instruction as a general principle.

4. How to see someone as fault finder, without finding fault in him, and thus oneself becoming fault-finder?

If you are in a position to help someone, then it may be necessary to find out their faults or to help them understand how their tendency to fault find hurts them.

It is a well known fact, that seeing faults in others is projection of ones own faults. BUT!…, is this really bad? If it is projection, is it really just a projection, or can it also be projection triggered by something the other person is doing wrong? Like, I may be chanting inatentively. And I may be aware of it. But seeing somebody else doing same mistake, is it just projection? Or is it maybe that we are both spaced out? So, if we are both mistaken, then some ego-bruising by pointing at fault may be most welcome.

It’s not bad if we see other’s fautls and recognize we are seeing our own faults in someone else. It’s good that we see this way. Then we can work on ourselves and not be concerned that the other person has faults. Bhaktisiddhanta said no one can hurt you unless you allow them. We often allow others faults to hurt us.

If someone’s is humble enough, they will appreciate being told how to improve themselves, what they are doing wrong, etc. So Bhaktisiddhanta calls one who points out our faults our friend. But unless it’s done in the mood of service, and done with respect, most of us won’t find it appealing. If we find it enjoyable telling someone what’s wrong with them, that’s something we need to work on.

Your servant,
Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Nov 28, 2007 @ 3:46 am

My doubt, though, is: If I do not see faults in others, won’t I be easily taken in or misled by everyone?

Akruranatha Prabhu,

In my own heart I see a difference between finding faults due to a lack of Krsna consciousness and seeing faults in order to better do my work.

You ask: How can we temper our determination not to indulge in faultfinding with the real, practical need to discriminate between good and bad actors?

If you enjoy finding fault, if you go out of your way to look for faults, if it becomes a kind of recreation for you, then obviously that’s a problem. Sometimes we need to evaluate the pros and cons of people or situations and thus see their faults. But as long as that’s not a source of pleasure for us, I wouldn’t say we are fault finders.

Your servant,
Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Nov 28, 2007 @ 3:30 am

Confessions of a Japa Retreat Junkie

Divyadrsti,

I didn’t mention the early morning japa, but the idea of making japa a priority certainly entails chanting at a time and in a place most conducive to the best possible rounds we can chant. Also, if we make our intention to improve, Krsna will reveal to us the necessary changes we need to make to help us achieve those goals – and that includes the best situation and the best time to chant. I call this creating a Sacred Space for chanting. Part of my Sacred Space entails chanting early in the morning. But if I can’t finish all my rounds then, I still create my Sacred Space (undisturbed place and time) at another time so I can still chant good rounds later in the day.

But getting up early is not all that is required. I often see devotees at the morning temple wasting a fair amount of their japa time talking. So chanting good japa, as I said, must be preceeded by intention to chant well – and then doing everything possible to put our best effort into chanting. Krsna is so kind that he always reciprocates with these efforts. And He also reciprocates by disappearing when our chanting is apathetic.

Chanting is our life and soul, our heartbeat. Krsna consciousness is fully revealed in the holy name. If we neglect to chant well, in a sense we are throwing the most valuable possession we have, nama chintamani, away.

Your servant,

Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Oct 8, 2007 @ 9:16 pm

Dvarakadhisa das,

We are planning to have many levels of japa retreats. Also, in the not to distance future we intend to have distance learning courses on japa with both live and self paced interaction.

We also plan to have a regular japa newsletter. Only time is separating.

Chanting is our life and to the degree we neglect our chanting we are killing ourselves.

Your servant,
Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Oct 5, 2007 @ 9:46 pm

How Your Beliefs Affect Your Commitments

Since we are interested in the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, why not evaluate our beliefs based on their truth value?

Yes, my point was that we should look at our beliefs to determine if they are congruent with what guru, sadhu and sastra inform us to be true. Just like Rupa Gosvami says I have hope against hope because He is confident in the wonderful mercy of Krsna to uplift the most fallen. So if we are not optimistic about becoming Krsna conscious, we likely have beliefs that minimize the potency of the mercy of guru and Krsna.

» Posted By mahatma On Jun 27, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

My Dear Mahatma das: I agree with your approach, but the soul is not made of faith–I dont know where you get such an idea !Faith is changeable, and is developed by contact with the three modes–the soul is not changeable–it is a spark of spirit as described elaborately in Gita 2.

sraddha-mayo ‘yam puruso liteally means the living entity is full of faith and can also mean, according to some Sanskrit scholars, made of faith. As you say, faith is effected by the modes we contact, but the point I was making is that although it changes it doesn’t disappear.

Your servant,
Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Jun 27, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

Love Yourself!!!

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

» Posted By mahatma On Jun 27, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

Exploring Your Word of Honor

The best Prabhupada quote I could come up with on this issue is this one:

Srila Prabhupada’s class on S.B. 6.1.13-14]

I write:

Thanks for that.

You write:

You speak of integrity as the primary cause of keeping one’s word. Prabhupada says here that such keeping of vows comes from knowledge.

I write:

I said this because on three occasions when Prabhupada was asked how to keep our vows he replied by saying “you promised.” After reading this quote it seems to me that he is also focusing on this point as much as he is focusing on the importance of knowledge and he is defining knowledge here in terms of right and wrong. Of course, we need knowledge in order to do tapasya, which is what Prabhupada says here. However, from my reading on the subject of vows, the commitment to honor one’s word is in many ways fundamental because even a man of knowledge may not control himself (so many verses describe this – he knows what is right but doesn’t do it), but if one honors his word at all costs, then he will use his knowledge to strengthen that resolve.

GAndhi said, “Your capacity to keep your vow will depend on the purity of your life.” So I think ultimately we are saying the same thing but coming at if from different points of view. KC is a wholistic process. We need self honor, we need knowledge, we need tapasya (which Prabhupada defines as keeping your vows).

The reason I chose to emphasize this point is because of seeing so many devotees with a lot of knowledge and not much self respect and self honor, fall down.

Prabhuapda was once asked how we get determination to follow our vows and he said, “That is not your business, that is Krsna’s business.” I took this to mean that you shouldn’t even be asking that question, you already promised. Determination comes from following. That would be like me asking you how do I get the determination to pay back the money I borrowed from you when I am having difficulty taking the money I owe you and giving it to you because I like to spend it on myself. Wouldn’t you say, You promised, where is the question of spending it on yourself.

Of course, you could say, Prabhu, you need to read books on financial responsibility, on honesty, etc. and that might help. But isnt’ the real issue that I am going against my word and I need to be true to my word, true to my promise? And if read all the books on financial responsibility and then decided to pay you back, I still might have done nothing to improve myself in regards to keeping commitments.

The reason I focused on “word of honor” is because vows are relational and Prabhupada said one who is thick and thin with the guru will follow his vows. So personally, whenever I have slipped, I find it more purifying to look at the fall in relation to my lack of commitment to Prabhupada as opposed to my lack of knowledge (or regular study time) or lack of faith. which all can become excuses for me. I found that this has given me more strength than the approach of just trying to be a better devotee. I think for many of us, being a better devotee isn’t the problem, but being a better person is the problem. And devotees have told me that after years of dealing with a “spiritual” problem they were only able to solve, when they accepted it was a character defect rather than a spiritual weakness. In other words, sometimes I have seen that we are trying to solve a “spiritual” problem with spiritual solutions when fundamentally the problem isn’t spiritual. That is why we sometimes see someone get better at sadhana but not solve a “spiritual problem.” I mean, maybe sometimes they just need a 12 step program so they stop looking at porn.

So I consciously chose to approach it this way. It’s kind of like when you see a beautiful women you are attracted to and you want to control yourself. You know you could think,”Oh she is just a bag of stool and those breasts that you are lusting after are just muscle and blood. But we know that doesn’t always do the trick. When I think, “I have vowed to Prabhupada no illicit sex,” that thought is way more powerful in helping me become immediately sober – and then the lust seems to instantly evaporate. And the more I am fixed in committing to my vows, the less the lustful thoughts are even an issue in the first place. So what I wrote was also based on personal experience – and I wanted to share that.

Of course, I certainly wouldn’t argue that knowledge and faith are the basis of spiritual advancement. I have just seen too many devotee take their vows lightly even though they have faith and knowledge – and that concerns me. It’s like they have given into their conditioning and write it off that “I am too fallen to follow.” Then at that point, the knowledge doesn’t help them that much. It’s like they have a governor on their spiritual life. Therefore I felt that if they were somehow able to deal with the personal issue of their promise, their word of honor, their commitment to what their life is all about (integrity meaning acting according to your principles) that might help them get back to following. Then their faith and knowledge will be much more effective.

So I don’t disagree with you philosophically, but practically I have seen that sometimes this issue needs to be approached differently.

You write:
I said that in this case following the wows comes from having faith in the process, and such faith really comes from knowledge: you know the shastra, you know the process, you see it working on you and on other people – your faith grows and you have no problem keeping your vows. When you dont understand the process, when you have developed false expectations about its results, when you dont see it work on you or others – you lose faith and you see no point in maintaining the vows.

I write:
After I wrote you last time I was thinking also that faith as you presented it seems to relate more to those who are very fallen, who have really lost their faith, or who are coming to Krsna consciousness and have little faith. The people that Prabhupada was talking to about keeping their vows were faithful devotees having trouble following the four regs.

Integrity is usually defined as moral soundness, honesty, freedom from corrupting influence or motive. It is definitely something we all need. Often it is something common people emulate by watching their leaders (Whatever a great man does, common people follow).

Here’s another definition, the one I was using, although this may not be a standard dictionary definition.
One is said to have integrity to the extent that everything he does and believes is based on the same core set of values. This means aligning our lives with our faith.

Your servant,

Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On May 17, 2007 @ 6:25 pm

The Chaita Guru is always kavi – He knows our past, present and future. He completely understands our heart and all of our desires. It will not be possible for us to enter the spiritual world, what to speak of Krishna-loka, unless we are completely pure and completely trustworthy. Therefore the scenario laid out in this article can not be factual.

Yes this is true. I presented that story to have a dramatic effect on the point I was making. So that is not the central issue here. The central issue here is can Krsna trust us. We could also ask, if Krsna appeared before you would He say I am not sure I can trust you? And you could say well He wouldn’t appear before you if you are not trustworthy, and that’s true. But the idea was simply to ask ourselves that question as a means of self purification and strengthening our intention to become someone who guru and Krsna can trust to remain true to our promises to them.

I sometimes also ask myself, If Krsna came to me and offered me that I could go BTG immediately, and gave me one minute to decide but said I couldn’t tell anyone or see anyone, what would be going through my mind. I found this to be a very helpful meditation for me. Of course, it’s likely that will never happen, but thinking about this definitely helped me.

» Posted By mahatma On May 17, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

kULAPAVANA
First of all, word of honor is primarily a matter of kshatriya and brahmana conduct, expected and required of them by the shastras. Vaishyas have some leniency when it comes to such matters in the execution of their trade, thus perhaps your business example is not entirely appropriate.

MAHATMA DAS:
Yes, there is truth to that statement, although there are certainly many people who have gotten wealthy without being dishonest. I think my business example would have illustrated my point better if the person who took the loan actually had the money to pay back but decided not to.

Aside from that issue, which is a whole other discussion. the point I was making in the article was that if someone promises us something and doesn’t follow up on it, it usually harms the relationship we have with them. Similarly, our relationship with guru and Krsna is harmed by not following through on the comittments we make to them.

KUVALPAVANA
Second, in the matter of spiritual development, promises made with the word of honor are secondary to much more general requirements of having faith in the process and the desire to follow it’s requirements. Devotees stop maintaining their standards not because they have no honor, but because they lose faith in the process and therefore lose faith in their sadhana. Thus by concentrating on the secondary symptoms we can miss the real cause of the problem.

MAHATMA DAS
This is true, but may not be true for everyone. I know devotees who have faith but who are giving into weakness and are allowing themselves to be overcome by the mode of ignorance. Sometimes they want to follow, they know they should follow, but feel at a loss to find the strength. Of course, I guess you could always argue that faith is at the root of the problem, but the reason I sited not following one’s word as the fundamental cause of the problem is because that is how Prabhupada responded whenever he was asked how to do we get determination to follow. He never said you need more faith. He never said things like you need to chant more, or do this or that. He just said, more or less, where is the question of not following if you made a promise. You are not even a gentleman, you are an animal if you don’t keep your promise. He also said said if you don’t follow your vows, your initiation has no value.

The understanding I got from this is that he was appealing to our sense of integrity, our sense of self respect, that if we say something and we respect ourselves, and we respect the person to whom we promised, we will keep our promise.

There are so many examples in sastra of great souls keeping their commitments because they were true to their word. The sense I got from Prabhupada’s discussion on this subject is that a person with a high degree of integrity will keep his word even if he becomes weak or loses faith. You can do a search on the database for vows, commitments and promises and see if you come to another conclusion. If so, I’d like to hear from you.

Your servant

Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On May 16, 2007 @ 4:01 am

Sorry that I have not been able to respond to this blog until now.

Your servant,
Mahatma das

The first question was “is there any sastric support for such an approach? It does not seems to be based on sastras as we have heard them from Srila Prabhupada, is it?
How can one have saksad darsan with Krishna if one is not free from such an understanding?

Of course, this was a fictitious story and was written to bring up the question of our trustworthiness. Krsna won’t give pure bhakti to anyone, as exemplified when he appeared to Narada muni and then disappeared. He told Narada you are not ready so I will not longer give you my darsan. IN that sense you can say He didn’t trust that Narada was ready for pure bhakti.

Prabhupada said Krsna could give you the whole world, but if He did you would simply sleep. If Krsna gave every devotee 10 billion dollars tomorrow, many would fall away from Krsna consciousness. So in that sense you can say that Krsna cannot yet trust us with prema or with the world, and cannot yet trust many of us with large amounts of wealth, or for that matter large amounts of followers. If we are in situations which make it difficult to follow our vows, we have to ask ourselves, “Can Krsna trust me to not fall down in those situations and pray that we can be trustworthy.”

I think the issue of trust is similar to the issue of forgiveness. We know that Krsna is unlimitedly compassionate and forgives us for all of our past sins, yet when Prabhupada was asked if Krsna will forgive those who take initiation when they fall, he said once, twice, not more. So although He is unlimitedly merciful, He can choose when to forgive and when not to. And because He is a person, why should we assume he is bound to always trust us. He can decide when and if he trusts us based on our past actions.

But my the main point I was making is that it’s good for us to individually question how trustworthy we are to the vows we make to Krsna. So in that sense I think it’s not only safe to ask can Krsna trust me, but extremely helpful to think in those terms. We certainly want to be trustworthy to Krsna. We want Him to trust that we can use this world properly in his service, that we will not be deviated by women, wealth and followers.

So if this meditation can help you – and it has helped me alot- I suggest you apply it.

» Posted By mahatma On May 16, 2007 @ 3:32 am

Choosing To Forgive

Atmanivedana Prabhu,

Thank you for your encouragement. I am doing a bi-weekly newsletter which discusses these kinds of topics. If you go to http://www.tstrain.com the past newsletters are there and you can also subscribe.

At the moment the site is down as the devotee hosting the site just moved and his servers are down. They should be back up any day now.

I have thought of writing a book on forgiveness. I have gone deeply into the subject, and continue to do so as I am regularly doing seminars on forgiveness. I have also thought of compiling all the newsletters into a book some time in the future (there is not enough yet to do so).

Your servant,
Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Jul 9, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

108 Mistakes I Have Made or I Have Seen Made by Other Leaders

Dayananda,

Certainly we should take calcuated risks. And yes, I stopped at 108 but certainly there are other mistakes that have been made and are yet to be made. I feel it is important that we learn from our past mistakes.

Your servant,
Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Jul 2, 2006 @ 12:53 pm

Suresh,

Any ideas of how to publish and market the book? If so, real life examples of those mistakes would be in order.

Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Jun 30, 2006 @ 6:58 pm

Tamohara,

My point of having a legal background check is for the safety and sanity of the devotees and temple. It wasn´t intended to limit the mercy of Lord Caitanya. It would be rare that a sincere soul would be denied the opportunity to live in a temple because of the results of the background check. There are very few dangerous persons trying to move into our temples, but it does occasionaly happen.

Mahatma das

» Posted By mahatma On Jun 30, 2006 @ 6:57 pm

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