Spitting Upwards

Dear readers,

Thank you for joining in once again this week. I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting topic.

Today I’ll like to share with you a short story from a collection of stories by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakur. This story, just like other stories by Maharaja comes with a moral lesson at the end. Those of you familiar with cultures from the Orient will know that it is a common practice to teach people ideals and moral values by telling stories. This is still very much in practices in some countries in Asia and Africa as well. In fact the Mahabharata and Ramayana are great epics that teach us a lot of lessons through wonderful stories.

I’ll begin by telling this short story and giving a little explanation in addition to what His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakur Gosvami has given.

Once there was a kid who was rather spoilt and was always demanding things from his parents. In his usual tantrums, one day he asked his parents to give him the Moon. The Parents knew this was impossible, however to try to please him, they took him up a high rise building to give him a feel of being “closer to the moon”. Seeing that the Moon was still far away from his reach, the young boy began to cry, shout and curse at the Moon and Sky. He said “O foolish sky, why are you holding the Moon up there, don’t you see that I want to play with it? You should immediately let it go. If you do not let go off the Moon so that I can play with it, I shall immediately make you feel the evil consequences of disobeying me”.

As he was swearing and cursing thus, he started spitting upwards at the sky in great disgust, but obviously every drop of his spit fell back to his face.

In his commentary, Srila Bhaktisidhanta explains that “those who prefer to blaspheme the highest order of the spiritual maser and the Vaishnava’s are simply attracting utter disgrace upon themselves”. The key words here are spiritual master, Vaishnava’s and blasphemy. Just before I add to this short commentary I’ll like to remind us of the story of Hanuman who as a baby wanted to eat the Sun, thinking it to be a fruit. In his case, at least he had the power to fly to the Sun and had he not been stopped by Indra, it was certain that he would have achieved his desire. On the other hand the spoilt kid in this story has no power like Hanuman but has deluded himself into thinking he has some ability.

This is the position of those who criticize Vaishnava’s and disobey Guru’s instructions. When one disregards other Vaishnava’s he is said to commit what is known as the mad elephant’s offense. This offense is so dangerous that it destroys his devotional creeper and leaves him bereft of any devotion to the Lord. Yadi vaisnava aparadha ute hati mata/ uparie va chinde tara shukhi jaya pata// (If the maddened elephant of Vaisnava aparadha enters into the devotional garden, the creeper of bhakti will be uprooted and all its leaves will dry up) – Caitanya Caritamrta 2.19.156

To make this worse, if such a devotee disregards the instruction of the Spiritual master; which could range from general like following the regulative principles to specifics like personal orders, then his spiritual life is in jeopardy, his well-being is at stake, and if he doesn’t desist he is sure to meet with utter disgrace like the kid described in the story above. Criticizing Vaishnava’s is bad enough in itself, however worse than that is doing so in order to satisfy one’s selfish materialistic desires, and even worse than this is, to do both of these while simultaneously neglecting the order of the spiritual master.  Another short story to illustrate the negative effect of criticizing Vaishnavas is the story of Ramacandra Puri, who was disowned by his own Guru; Madhavendra Puri when he also criticized him. Ramacandra Puri was the god-brother of Isvara Puri, Lord Caitanya’s guru, however he had one bad quality, he would criticize people and even went as far as criticizing the Lord for overeating and the Lord had to cut his food ration visibly. This was of great disturbance to the assembly of Vaishnava’s so much so that they also reduced their food rations.

One thing we can note here before going too far, is that once your actions become a source of disturbance to Vaishnava’s and you add criticism to that, it is not long before your devotional creeper dies out. The effects are seen visibly on such a person, as they have no taste for spiritual activities and whenever they are around, all they do is criticize other Vaishnavas, despite been with so much faults themselves. When one disobeys the order of the spiritual master, the result is that one begins to criticize and find faults with Vaishnavas, and this offence is said to eventually get to the Lotus feet of Lord Vishnu. How can one who spends his entire time criticizing others have any taste for spiritual practice? How can the pure name of the Lord appear in their Japa?

One may wonder does this mean if we see a misdemeanor we shouldn’t point it out. Of course, we should not hide under the fact that we shouldn’t criticize Vaisnavas and then begin to act capriciously. We can correct and point out misdemeanors in other Vaishnavas; if that is our duty, if we are their authority in some capacity, if they have solicited our advice, if we are senior to them and if they take instructions from us. If we do not fit into any of these categories we should be careful lest we go trying to correct someone more advanced than us and risk the pitfall of aparadha. May the lord grant us the intelligence to avoid acting like the spoilt kid or like Ramacandra Puri.

May we be so focused on improving ourselves that we have no time to see the faults in others.

Till next week, do share and follow for more.

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Birthdays

Dear readers,

Happy belated New Year, for those of you who missed my first blog of the year. I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be here with you all today.

Today I’ll like to harp on a subject we are all familiar with and one that we all have; birthdays. Mine was a few days ago and I must say I appreciate all those who took out time to wish me well, those who made preparations and cake, and those who bought me gifts. I am forever grateful. Whether we celebrate it or not, each and every one of us has a birthday, or a day we took birth in this material world.  Of course, the setting is different for everyone. Some of us are born into rich families and others into not so rich families, some of us are born as the only child and some are born alongside others or into a family with other children. Irrespective of the way, place, country or time we were born, there is a common denominator in taking birth in this material world; and that is we all came in naked, helpless and crying.

In fact, it is a thing of worry for the Doctors who help deliver us and for our parents when we show up into this world and we do not cry. The Doctors give us a heavy pat on the back, as a shock just in case we are unconscious or have fluids blocking our air ways. Pause for a minute, before we run into what happens after we leave the hospital. How did we get to this point in the first place? By what means did we get the parents that we have at the moment of our birth? Was it by some natural selection? The truth and answer might be difficult for many to grasp nonetheless I shall try to explain it in the simplest way I know how. First and foremost, there is no question of chance when it comes to taking birth and having a new material body. Our current body is a sum total of the activities and desires form our previous body. To get a better grip on this subject matter please kindly read Reincarnation. It will do you a lot of good to click on the link and read that first before continuing if you are new to the concept of reincarnation.

So having a new body in brief is as a result of choices, activities and desires form our previous life time and as such we have been granted a new body to fulfil all our unfulfilled desires and given another chance to try to put an end to the repeated circle of birth and death. In other words, our birthday is but another chance to get it right, especially in the human form of life. In the human body, we have intelligence and we can discriminate between good and bad, and as such we are accountable for everything that we do. Animals on the other hand act out of instinct on four major propensities; eating, sleeping, mating and defending. If we as human beings do not rise above this four tendencies and center our lives on them, then our human form of life which is a very valuable gift is considered no better than that of an animal.

At the time of birth, we are given a name, a country, a race, a religion, an address, etc. we have no say in these things, at least not until we are 18. Some of us never even bother to change them but we spend our entire lives defending them, like we had a say in getting them. We base our entire identification on these false designations, so much so that it becomes the center for division among us all. One may think “I am a white, male who is Christian, or I am a coloured female who is Muslim” , based on what we have been told and labeled. Truth be told we are none of these designations and the earlier we realize and break free from these false identifications the better for us all. Every year that passes, takes us one more year closer to our graves, and whether we like it or not, Death is a universal truth waiting to happen to us all.  If we understand this, or at least try to understand this, then what can we do to salvage the very limited time we have on this planet? We begin by asking questions. Who am I? Where did I come from? Am I this body, or my mind or my ego? Where do I go to after death? At the time of death, what happens to me? These questions would be the basis for a life changing journey for most of us and they will give us a new sense of direction and purpose in our lives. We wonder why our current civilization is so shallow despite our recorded rise in scientific inventions, we wonder why people are so empty on the inside despite having so much externally, we wonder why those who have so little material possessions are usually those with the biggest hearts and not vice versa.

We can put an end to all these wondering and dilemma if we know the answers to these aforementioned questions. So the next time it is your birthday, I am not saying do not celebrate, however in the midst of that “celebration” ask yourself these questions and if the answers do not come, then it is probably time to start making the right enquires in the right direction. Sometimes people feel we spend too much time talking about death and say maybe we should focus more on life and “enjoy it”. What they fail to realise is that we are dying every day, every second, every minute, every hour and on every “birthday”. The final part of us leaving the body is just a culmination of our slow daily death, thus when we are aware of that fact, that the present living state is but a hidden dying reality then the best way to “enjoy life” would be to “live life fully conscious of the fact that today might be the last”.

Till next week, do share and follow my website for more blogs weekly.

Death 2 (After Death)

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. Last week I had begun a very interesting series on Death, please be sure to check on the part one in order to have a build up to where we are now.

Last week I tried to shed some light on living every day as if it were our last and how this thought process can greatly influence our lives and daily choices. As a progression from there, it is also worthy to say that the only way to have decent thoughts at the time of death is to cultivate decent thoughts while living. As it is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita that whatever state of consciousness one remembers at the time of death, that state he is sure to attain. (BG 8.7)

We cannot spend our lives thinking of all sorts of things and think that at the time of death we can magically cheat nature and suddenly turn out thoughts to God. It doesn’t work that way. A student who spends his time reading books on English cannot walk into an exam for Chemistry and hope to remember his elements, how to balance chemical equations, laws of thermodynamics, etc. This is because he has not given these subject his attention and as such it does not become his experience. Without dwelling on this too much, what actually happens after death, is a big mystery for many of us. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, there is a detailed description of how the soul journeys till he gets another body. I’ll save us that detail here but encourage my readers to read further or request a blog dedicated to that. What I’ll like to focus on, is the question of eternal damnation or eternal bliss.

I write for a vast majority of readers across different religions and as such I know many of you subscribe to many different ideologies of where the soul goes to after it leaves the body. I do not intend to bash anyone’s faith or belief or try to place mine above others, I just wish to say things as they are.  Whether or not you believe in hell or heaven or paradise, one fact is clear across many religions that there is a life after death. The Bible gives countless examples (reincarnation), and so does other scriptures like the Gita. However the Gita gives us a lot more by making us understand that our next body is determined by the sum total of our activities in this body. We get to either progress or regress as the case may be. If we have been able to acquire a lot of pious credits by performing good deeds, we get to enjoy those credits in heaven and when they are exhausted we again come back to this material world. If we have been very nefarious and have so much impious credit from wrong doings, we get to suffer them, then again return. Many people find it difficult to grasp the concept of having to return here, the Bible says “…heaven and Earth shall pass away…” the Gita mentions that  … from the highest planet down to the lowest, are all places of miseries…” Only those who go to the Supreme abode of the Lord do not return here.

Why am I going into all of these? We have to understand that we are responsible for our life here and also after. It is a big misconception to think and believe “You only live once”. If for some reason, you even subscribe to this idea, then why not make the better of this one, what is the loss. However if this doctrine is false, which it can be proven to be scientifically, then we are at a big loss. I have taken the liberty to pull up a few references from the Srimad Bhagavatam of some things that happen to those who lived a life full of misdeeds.

While living one may be proud of one’s body, thinking oneself a very big man, minister, president or even demigod, but whatever one may be, after death this body will turn either into worms, into stool or into ashes. If one kills poor animals to satisfy the temporary whims of this body, one does not know that he will suffer in his next birth, for such a sinful miscreant must go to hell and suffer the results of his actions.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 10:10:10 translation).

Apparently a devotee may grow old, but he is not subjected to the symptoms of defeat experienced by a common man in old age. Consequently, old age does not make a devotee fearful of death, as a common man is fearful of death. When jarā, or old age, takes shelter of a devotee, Kālakanyā diminishes the devotee’s fear. A devotee knows that after death he is going back home, back to Godhead; therefore he has no fear of death. Thus instead of depressing a devotee, advanced age helps him become fearless and thus happy.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 4:27:24purport).

In due course of time, when a pure devotee is completely prepared, all of a sudden the change of body occurs which is commonly called death. And for the pure devotee such a change takes place exactly like lightning, and illumination follows simultaneously. That is to say a devotee simultaneously changes his material body and develops a spiritual body by the will of the Supreme. Even before death, a pure devotee has no material affection, due to his body’s being spiritualized like a red-hot iron in contact with fire.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1:6:27 purport).

 

If while here on Earth we spend our very limited time gathering enemies, fault finding, committing all kinds of sinful activities, then we are sure to suffer for all of these.

I usually tell devotees who know me personally that when death comes, we cannot choose who comes to see us or not. Now imagine you are on your death bed and all those around you are people you have treated badly, do you think you can have the mental peace to even focus on God in that physical state of being with guilt lashing out at you? My spiritual Mentor would say, treat everyone around you as if you were going to live and die with them, because we most likely will. In my next blog I shall try to bring to light the matter of appreciating people who have passed versus appreciating people who are living.

Do follow for more.

PS. Photo credit not mine.

Death 1 ( The Moment)

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all today yet another blog. I hope you all are faring well. Today’s topic as many of you can see already is one we all avoid and have created a taboo around its discussion, however the last three days I have been a firsthand witness to a devotee who left his body and barely a day after got news of another young lady who also passed on.

In this light I felt it is only naturally that I speak about the most dreaded topic; death and dying. Before I commence my dissertation on this matter at hand, I’ll like to say maybe just maybe once in a while we should all get to witness someone leave their body. Why? It puts everything in your life in perspective. I happened to be in the room where a senior devotee passed away recently and often times we get to read certain descriptions from the Bhagavatam about what happens at the time of death and sometimes some people brush it aside as exaggeration or just stuff that may not happen to us. I can tell you that many might be in for a shock when their time arrives.

In 2005, about 12 years ago, I lost my Spiritual Mentor to some terminal illness and I saw how his body transformed in the last few months, but I also saw how what was in his heart became more magnified.  I need to say I have a lot of thoughts right now flying through my head so please bear with me if they do not seem to align or flow. I think right now, better than passing across some congruent thought pattern is my intense desire to pass across some real talk about life and death. One thing sure and certain is: we are all going to die, no one is making it out of here alive. I am sorry if this is too blunt but the earlier we know that it is sure to happen the better. The most striking part is that we have no clue when, where or how it will happen. Yet most of us live as if we have a contract signed with God as to how long we shall live, and go about life as if we were immortals.

So what is death? I guess you all already know. It is the physical termination of the physical body and the transmigration of the life force, soul or consciousness in that body to another (Bhagavad Gita 2:13). Now whether you believe in reincarnation or not that is another topic. (To know more about reincarnation, please click on the link). So what exactly happens at the time of death? At the time of death, one is enveloped by the sum total of his life’s thought process (Srimad Bhagavatam 3:30:18 purport). That is whatever we have given the most attention to in our lives becomes our primary thought at the time of death. If your life was spent chasing money, affluence, God, etc., at the time of death these thought become your primary thought. Why? Whatever we study for is what we recollect in an examination, and death is life’s final exam.

In life we all worry about many things which in real perspective are not worth worrying about. My spiritual mentor in his final days gives a two hour lecture on the subject; “Die before dying”, the summary of that lecture was to live every day truly as if it were our last. We hear this every time, some of us practice it maybe for a week or two then done. Truth be told everyday on this planet is actually our last, because we have no clue when that day is. Die before dying is putting first things first and seeing how these thigs affect us. An example of putting first things first is as follows; suppose today was your last day and all your family members were gathered around you, what would be the priority in your thoughts? Would it matter what dress you wore? Would it matter what someone else was wearing? Would it matter what race those who came to see you were? Would it matter what your bank statement was? Would it matter what car your friend’s drove in to come see you? Of course none of that would matter. The only thing that would matter would be to share as much love as possible, ask for forgiveness and focus our minds on the Lord’s pastimes as we prepare to make the transition. So if this right here is a simulation of what our last day could look like, now take a look at your current daily activities and ask yourself, am I truly living with the consciousness of one conscious of death or am I just going through life as if I were immortal? I have divided this topic into parts in other to be able to get everything I intend to say out properly. This is because if I cramp everything into one blog, so many things will just fly over our heads. I do not wish that for any one of you.

Usually when people hear those who are spiritual practitioners speak about death and the ephemeral nature of life, they often think we are fatalists and do not know how to “enjoy” life. They ask “Why worry so much about death? Why not worry about life and living now?” Well we do think about life and because we think about life we know is it temporary. We know that life is meant to prepare us for that transition, and that true living is having a life that reflects this mentality on a daily basis. We enjoy life with the consciousness of being the servant of God and as such we accept everything knowing fully well to whom they belong. To the degree something helps us remember that we are eternal souls in a temporary world, to that degree do we accept it.

Till next week, please do watch out for the part two of this series. Follow for more.

Ps. Photo credit not mine.

Karma Yoga

I am delighted to be able to share with you all yet another interesting topic this week. Last week I released my book in eBook format across various eBook platforms. Below is a link with which you can access and purchase it. I’ll love to get feedbacks, suggestions for a possible future revised edition. Happy reading!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/753002

Today I’ll like to harp on a subject which I find interesting and very informative as well; Karma Yoga. Before elaborating on this subject I’ll like to give a brief introduction to the word Yoga. Yoga means to connect with the absolute, and as such there are various forms of Yoga. Different forms of Yoga have different requirements and practices. We have Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, etc. What is popularly referred to Yoga today, is but a branch of Yoga called Astanga yoga or The Yoga of Postures and breathing techniques.

In other words, Astanga yoga would mean the yoga which helps us connect with the Absolute through the process of postures and breathing techniques. Our focus today however is on Karma Yoga. So what Is Karma? We must have heard of the word so many times and people are quick to quote this word when someone gets a repercussion for an action they performed.  We have three types of Karma; karma, Akarma and Vikarma viz action, inaction and prohibited action. These three types or forms of karma basically show us how intricate karma is. This is to also clarify the popular misconception that Karma only means repercussion. Of course Karma means the principle of cause and effect or like Newton’s Law which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

There is more to Karma though, than just cause and effect. This basic principle however shall be used here to explain or give some insight into what Karma yoga is all about. So if Karma is the principle of cause and effect, and Yoga means to connect with the absolute, so Karma Yoga should mean in simple words; connecting with the absolute through the principle of cause and effect. How can this be done? If every action we take or engage in is sure to bring us a reaction then how can we act in such a way that our actions bring us closer to the Supreme destination? By engaging in Karma Yoga. When we perform any type of action we are sure to be bound by the reactions of that action, whether positive or negative. The positive results bring us pious credits which we can enjoy this life time or in another life time, while the negative results bring us impious credits which we have to suffer this life time or another.

Either way we are bound by the fruits of our actions. Now many people may wonder what is wrong in enjoying the positive or pious credits from good deeds that I do. The simple answer is, in as much as positive actions are advocated, if they are done separately from the Supreme i.e. not in Yoga, then we are sure to be tied to the results of such good deeds. Good deeds tie us to the circle or repeated birth and death because in as much as we have some credit to enjoy or suffer we have to always take birth in the material world to experience these results. It is like a criminal who gets parole for good behavior then goes out to commit crime and he is sent back to prison to again suffer his punishment. So what does Karma Yoga offer? Karma yoga offers a means or a process by which we can engage in our daily activities and even in activities which may bind us to positive results and yet be free from those results.

This is achieved by offering the activity we engage in to the Supreme Lord or surrendering the results for the Lord’s enjoyment. A typical example would be working for the Lord. In the unavoidable discharge of one’s daily activities, we will see that we have to work to maintain the body.  The process of working can be very binding if one is not careful, because we encounter a lot of things in the process. Those who are merchants have to lie in order to make a profit, people have to scheme and plan much to the loss of others in order to make gains, innocent living organisms are killed knowingly or unknowingly as we commute to our places of work every day, etc.

If the goal of our work is to give pleasure to our senses and to enjoy the results then we are sure to face the reactions for all the things we do, such as the examples given above, because we are responsible. However if we simply work with the understanding that we are doing our work for the satisfaction of the Lord and show this by actively dovetailing our work with the Lord as the center, through donations of the fruits of our actions, then the Lord is sure to protect us from the intricacies and results of our actions or Karma. In as much as this is a good means to gradually rise to the platform of total absorption in the Lord’s service, one should not think that this is a viable means to engage in various sorts of negative activities and think that by giving the fruits to the Lord in sacrifice or donation that one is immediately free from the results of that activity. That is to say, Karma yoga is not a consensus for capricious activities. This naturally brings us one of the types of Karma which is prohibited action. We should not engage in prohibited activities and expect the lord to protect us.

When one knows what is real action or Karma, when one knows what is inaction and what actions are to be avoided then he is the real knower of things. Till next week do read share and follow for more. Hopefully I will develop this subject further next week.

You have False Ego! 1

Dear readers,

It is great to be here once again sharing with you all interesting insights on various esoteric subjects. In roughly two weeks my book will be available on various eBook platforms and I look forward to sharing my work with you all. In all of this I am excited yet humbled at the grace of God in my life. I’ll put up links to various platforms where my book can be purchased as soon as it is released, if you haven’t gotten a pre-order, do so now to take advantage of the special discount.

Without further ado, today let’s talk about something most of us must have heard at some point in time, either from a friend or someone who feels the need to “instruct us”. To begin with, what is the Ego? The basic definition is “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. Psychoanalysis takes the meaning a step further by saying ego is the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious, and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. In Metaphysics ego is described as a conscious thinking subject.

Since we are looking things from a metaphysical perspective we will be working more with the third description, as what we have to discuss is beyond the scope of the first two. In spiritual circles we usually talk more about the real ego, which is the self or the soul. We make allusions to the real ego as the real self because it is distinct from the gross body and connection to this ego awakens our real identity. Often times there is a mix between the two ego’s; the real and the false ego. People who are very much on the bodily platform take the false ego; the body and its designations to be the real ego; the soul. They make plans and arrangements in life based on what they perceive from the false ego and thus fall time without number into a pool of distress and disappointment. Those who identify the false ego as the real ego, usually define ego from the physical perspective of the first definition.

To them, ego is that which supports their self-esteem or self-importance. Anything that goes against this is seen as a detriment to their ego and the response could be defensive whenever people see their ego threatened. However to tie our very core value or importance to things that relate to our physical bodies is to limit the true meaning of the real ego. When we feel our ego needs a car, house, money etc. to survive we are actually operating on the level of the first definition which is totally physical. The second definition says it (the ego) mediates between the conscious and the unconscious… Here we see an attempt to ascribe something more to the ego. Somehow or the other, people must have seen through practical experience that you can still maintain a good level of self-esteem without depending on external appraisal. This means that the ego is beyond the external. The only confusion here is that we can see that Psychoanalysis doesn’t have the name for the real ego and doesn’t really know where to place it and thus says it is between the conscious and unconscious. They know it is more than the physical but are not entirely sure if it is spiritual.

Metaphysics tries to solve this dilemma by saying it is the conscious thinking subject. What does this mean? For the body to exist or be alive there has to be consciousness, a very important factor. The present of consciousness in a body is what determines if it is dead or alive. Beyond consciousness there is the subject (the real self) that is responsible for this “thinking or thoughts”. Automatically Metaphysics separates the mind from the ego by saying it is the “thinking subject”. The Mind is the playground for our thoughts and as such it cannot be the ego. So if the mind is the playground for our thoughts and the ego is consciousness, this means it is more and superior to the mind. More so, because the ego is described as the thinking subject naturally we can see where the “I and Me” concept truly lies.  The thinking is done by a subject (the ego), and our thoughts are filled with objects of the senses which are also the object of the subjects thinking. Simply put, the ego (subject) is responsible for our thought process (object) to the degree that it sees itself as real or false.

So how do we differentiate real from false ego? Real ego means understanding the soul or the self to be higher than the mind and body. It means understanding that we are infinitesimal spiritual sparks fully cognizant, blissful and eternal. False ego on the other hand is based on the bodily identifications, which is taking the body to be the self. It is built on the premise that whatever we are is based on the external identifications of the body that we can see. It says there is nothing higher than the self and as such gratification of the senses of the body is the highest goal of life. Not only is this thinking erroneous it is also detrimental to the awakening of our real self. Living by such philosophy deprives the spiritual practitioner the chance to connect to something deeper; the soul or real ego.

There is a more practical approach to this delineation here and due to space I’ll present that in a sequel to this, next week. In that sequel I’ll try to help you see the application and also misapplication of the real and false ego. I’ll also help us identify situations whereby people can misconstrue the real meaning of the word ego so as to be politically correct or just to make others feel less important. I’ll also help us see how we can tune in to our real ego without becoming naïve or losing self-esteem.

Till then do read, share and follow for more.

PS: Photo credit, not mine.

You are not ready for this!

Dear readers,

It is yet another week and I am indeed happy to share with you all yet another interesting discussion today.

As spiritual practitioners we are always sure to be caught up in the never ending internal war of ideal or real. In as much as we strive to achieve this perfect stage of idealness or even near perfection, I must say that the rise should be one of gradual ascent than one of artificial meandering. I would like to share a few thoughts that may bug the minds of a practitioner or maybe simple thoughts that we may face every day as we try to make good use of our time in spirituality.

  1. In an ideal situation, we are supposed to be God conscious 24 hours of the day, fixing our mind, intelligence and senses on his name, form, quality and pastimes. Reality; we find it difficult to even go through one round of Japa meditation (soft chanting of the holy names of God), without having the mind wonder off like a stray dog. Do we give up, whine about it or become sad? Absolutely not, we forge ahead with patience, consistency and determination.
  2. In an ideal situation, those who are householders are supposed to support those who are renunciates and give charity to all. Reality; many householders find it difficult to even make ends meet let alone support someone else. Does this however justify not giving charity? No, it doesn’t. We start from whatever small we have and if really are bereft of things to give, then we can always give love, compassion and appreciation to those around us.
  3. In an ideal situation, one should understand that this material world is a temporary place and that whatever we do here is not eternal and thus we should focus more on those things that are eternal. Reality; many of us live like we have a contract with God to be here eternally. We don’t care about life after death, we think we are invisible, and that everything is meant for our enjoyment, especially if we have our material lives somewhat successful. Does this negate the fact that we still live in a temporary world? No, so why not be in this world, but not of this world. Stand like a lotus flower in the water but do not get touched by the water.
  4. In an ideal situation, marriage should be holy sanctified and considered sacred. It should be meant for raising God conscious kids. Reality; the marriage institution has gone through a lot these days. It seems like most people just marry for the wrong reasons and the few that do for the right reasons cannot even live theirs happily without constant criticism from the so-called advanced modern day society. Sex in marriage isn’t for kids anymore, and many people marry and for whatever reason see kids as an inconvenience. Does this mean we should no longer get married? No, we should rather try to fix this from the base, from the family unit. If our families lack solid spiritual foundations built on sacred values, chances are that they will fail for sure.
  5. In an ideal situation, Spiritual mentors are supposed to look after our spiritual life and help us realize our true self and get back to our original home; the spiritual world. Reality; we have pseudo-spiritual leaders who take advantage of their followers and try to make a show of renunciation while living double lives. We have pseudo – spiritual leaders who have no sense of self control and who preach detachment. Do we now lump together all spiritual leaders as cheats? Absolutely not, one must know the signs of a genuine spiritual master and thus be able to make the right decision when seeking to surrender to one.
  6. In an ideal situation, there should be abundance on this planet with enough resources for everyone. Also in a community there should be abundant resources for all those who live in it to share. Our planet should not face hunger, or starvation. Reality; despite been so blessed with a lot of natural resources from Mother Earth, we are still suffering so much. Why? Abuse, greed and lack of knowledge as to whom these resources belong to. If we however take what we need and not what we want and also think about the feelings of other people, who may very well need to use the resources we have over-accumulated then there will be no issue of hunger or world starvation.
  7. In an ideal situation, after we have come to the spiritual path, we should all become holy and sanctified. We should understand the trivial nature of this world and focus on higher spiritual values. Reality; we seem to find people with the most bizarre natures and behaviors in a spiritual setting with a lot more prejudice and material conditioning than we may get in the secular world. This is because just like a hospital holds a lot more sick people at once in one space, than we may find randomly, the spiritual community holds a lot more people who need cleansing in one space than we may find in the secular world at one given time. Naturally we may expect more, but we should know everyone gets well at their own pace and time. The point is to get well and leave the hospital, take your medication and stop worrying about how the next patient is taking theirs, especially if you are not the Doctor.
  8. In an ideal situation, after reading these points we should reflect and make positive changes in our lives, be it material spiritual, or otherwise. Reality: many people will see this as just another post or blog, many will read their own meanings into it without asking questions, many will see it as just another guy blowing his “self- righteous horn”, many will not even understand. Does that mean I should stop putting out great content to sensitizer people? Absolutely not, I will continue because I understand that I am part of the change I need to see and I am just as accountable as anyone who reads this.

Share this post with others, read it, internalize it. Till next week follow this blog for more.

By-Products of Spirituality

Dear readers,

Welcome to another interesting week of insightful topics and discussions. It is great to be able to share with you all once again.

The last weekend has been festive and intense for those of us who are Gaudiya Vaisnavas and during this very auspicious period of reflection on the appearance of the Supreme Lord on this planet over 500 years ago, I took in some realizations which I shall share. During the course of our spiritual journey many of us will encounter different test, trials, setbacks, be they internal, external or objects of our own creation. Our response to these factors usually go a long way to shape or mold our subsequent path in spirituality.

However adversity is not the only stumbling block on the path of devotional service to the Lord, as opulence, and even material success could very well impede our progress. It is on this matter we shall deliberate today. Many people take on spirituality for a diverse number of reasons and with time these reasons manifest or take form due to the practitioners intense desire to have them or just due to the fact that they have developed some good spiritual credit that gives them the spiritual eligibility to attract and manifest these subtle desires. In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krsna mentions that four kinds of Men surrender unto Him, the distressed, the one who desires wealth, the inquisitive and he who is searching the knowledge of the Absolute truth. Now very few people fall in the last category and Lord Krsna Himself mentions this again in the Bhagavad Gita that of many Men who seek Him hardly does one know Him in truth.

Today these four classes of men still seek Krsna and they are not to be condemned of Judged, however our discussion today is centered on what happens to a practitioner who fall in the category of those who harbor desires and seek to fulfill it in the process of devotional service. It is said that the Maha Mantra is a wish fulfilling mantra and as such those who chant this mantra naturally have their desires fulfilled.  Second point is that on the level of chanting the semblance name (nama-abhasa) one gets his material desires fulfilled. This is one of the qualities of such improper chanting. Having one’s material desires fulfilled is not a flaw in itself if the objective is to use those desires to further service the Lord properly, however when these material desires are used to acquire fame, worship and adoration, or presented as a pseudo-advancement yard stick, then the practitioner gets into a difficult position in his/her spiritual life. Of course one may cite the verse that says “akarma sarva karmo va, moksa karma udaradi…” that is even if one has no desires, to many desires or desires liberation still one should worship the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna, as a reference to justify our having desires different from giving satisfaction to the Supreme. Fair enough, the idea is that with time and practice, the practitioner can either dove tail those desires or even rise above them and totally focus his time and energy on the Lord’s service.

If a practitioner who while chanting harbors material desires in his mind or heart, soon they will manifest and come to reality either by the potency of the semblance name or by virtue of his spiritual practice. This in itself is doesn’t mar his progress as much as the fault of beginning to assume that these material desires that are manifesting are as a result of his spiritual growth and his progress on the path of devotion. This thought or misconception is where the real problem lies and if not tackled immediately, could very well spell out his downward swirl. When a practitioner or persons on the path of devotional service begin to equate spiritual progress with the level of one’s material success then the growth of our devotional creeper is stunted. So what should be the mindset of a practitioner who has material desires or has them being fulfilled while engaging in devotional service?

The sincere practitioner should pray to the Lord for guidance and help to be able to curb his material desires. He should try to reduce the association of persons or things that increase these desires. He should take his devotional practice seriously while accepting whatever material embellishment he gets as just a means to serve better. He should not use or even harbor the desire to use these material embellishment to attract fame, honour or adoration. The practitioner should dearly pray to the lord to help him surmount the temptations that come with material progress and he should pray to those practitioners who are advanced to help him steer clear of distractions that come with material advancement.

I know some of my readers may wonder and even begin to think that I am saying material advancement is bad or not something to acquire. The truth is when something powerful is placed in the hands of someone who cannot manage it, then it becomes dangerous. However when placed in the right hands it is desirable. So it is not much the item but the person who has the item. On a lighter note, as living beings in the material world it is natural that at some point in time we will have material desires either due to past karmic impressions or due to our current actions and choices. This should not be a cause for despair or lamentation, the mere fact that we can identify which desire is not favorable or which advancement may be an impediment is a step in the right direction. The only thing we have to do in addition is to be careful of our choices, and our actions.  There is no one to police our thought or our desires or to see how we use our material embellishments. The only person who can really check us is; ourselves.

I hope this blog sheds good light on this matter, do read, share and follow for more. Do have a splendid week ahead.

God; form or formless

Dear readers,

It’s a pleasure to be able to share with you all once again yet another interesting topic. Last week we had the chance to deliberate on a thought-provoking matter and needless to say we were able to gain a lot more insight on tests in our spiritual journey.

Today however topic of deliberation is different and beyond the regular, before we delve into it, allow me to give a brief preamble. If you are new to this blog space and would like to have a background information on what I’ll be discussing today then please do read this blog >God’s descent<. Having said that, today we shall be discussing about the form or formlessness of God. It might sound somewhat bold to try to “depict or describe” God, however there is no cause for alarm or panic as whatever I present here today will be backed by references from scriptural texts and in this way we can appease the minds of my readers who are from various religious backgrounds.

The reason why I have chosen to deliberate on this topic today is because; tomorrow the world over many Gaudiya Vaishnava will be celebrating the advent of the Supreme Lord on this planet over 5000 years ago.

So first question is why would God want to come here to this planet in the first place?

In the Bhagavad Gita Chap 4 text 7 and 8, the Lord gives the reason why he descends. He says whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious principles he descends, and when he does he comes with the objective of re-establishing religious principles, protecting his devotees and annihilating the miscreants. Sometimes the Lord doesn’t descend himself but sends his emissary to do his bidding. This emissary could be the Lord himself in the form of an incarnation or of a being invested with spiritual potency to carry out his mission. The Bible confirms this in John 3.16 where it says for God so loved the world that he sent his Son, that whomsoever believed in Him would not perish but have ever lasting life. So by accepting the Lord or his incarnations when they descend puts us under their protection. When we are protected by the Lord we definitely will have ever lasting life.

Does God really have a form?

Many people ascribe various attributes to God, and in this light describe Him as the great Light, the Great sound, the great energy etc. In as much as He is all these, He is also more. He is the great light but also the source of that light, he is the great sound but also the source of that sound. He is described in an ancient text known as the Brahma Samhita, or hymns by Brahma; one of the demigods working under the Lord’s direction. In this text it is mentioned that “the lord has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all, and has no other origin. He is the prime cause of all causes. This means that despite the fact that He has a body his body is not subject to the laws of material nature like ours. We have a body that grows, falls sick, gets diseased, grow old and eventually dies off. These attributes do not occur in the body of the Lord, thus his body is eternal, blissful and spiritual. His body doesn’t deteriorate in any way form or manner. He never gets old and there is no question of death for him, as he is death personified himself.

In the Bible in Genesis 1:26, God says “let us make Man in our image and likeness” which means we have a form similar to his.  In the Hadith, it is mentioned that on the day of resurrection, Allah will come to those who worship Him and He’ll say I am your Lord”, they reply: we’ll stay here till our Lord comes to us and when he comes to us we will recognize him, then Allah will appear in such a shape that they can recognize.

If God has a form why is that form not spoken about, or why is He treated as formless by many religions?

In all sincerity, many people are hesitant to speak about the form of the Lord due to inadequate information on this subject matter. This is because not many scriptures have a detailed description, and thus there is hesitation to discuss that which is not properly explained. However those who have access to revealed scriptures like the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures known to Mankind, have no difficulty in getting the right information.  Second is they find it difficult to actually discuss the subject because they are limited in understanding and feel the Lord’s form is like theirs; which is full of limitation. The human mind finds it difficult to discuss about the absolute or anything absolute because it is finite in nature. Naturally whenever there is a discussion in that direction and there is inadequate guidance then the immediate response is to try to negate the concept so as to remain “safe” in their limited conception.

More so, one cannot speak about what one has no information on. In order to speak about the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord, one needs to have access to the information and the right attitude to get it. Also, because this concept has been abused by many people who claim to be “god”, because they know it is valid and exists, many religious do not even teach it ( for those of them who know).

The form of the Lord is definitely not one we can cover in one dissertation, however this is just a sneak peek into the concept of the nature of the form of God. When we make a genuine effort to try to serve the Lord in truth and surrender to a bona fide representative or spiritual guide, then we can hope that the necessary information needed is revealed to us. By the mercy of the spiritual master one gets the benediction of the Supreme lord, and without his mercy one cannot make advancement.

I hope this dissertation helps shed light on this matter. Till next week, do share, read and internalize. Follow for more.

The Gold and Diamond Test

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be here to share with you all once again yet another interesting topic. I hope you all had a productive week, mine has been great and I am particularly looking forward to a festival today, which is celebrated by Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

My topic of consideration today is one which many spiritual practitioners find difficult to wrap their minds around, because of the delicate nature of the subject. This subject is one that has made many people become atheist and has also strengthened the faith of those who are believers. It can be summarized in a single phrase; “why does God allow his devotees to go through tough times”. However before we begin to deliberate on the subject matter let’s look back in time and cite a few examples.

Lord Jesus Christ in the Bible was of a simple disposition, he helped the poor, fed the hungry, healed the sick, but in the end he was betrayed by his own disciple for 30 silver coins (is a man’s life not worth more than that? How cheap). In the last meeting with his disciples when he was about to be arrested by the soldiers and one of his disciples drew a sword to fight back, Jesus did the opposite and turned himself in. Bear in mind that this is a person who is a sakti-avesa avatar (one who is imbued with divine potency to do God’s work), he is described as the Son of God in John 3.16 and we all know he had divine powers and abilities. He didn’t try for once to use that power, when brought before the people and the Pontius Pilate asked the crowd to choose between him and the criminals, they chose the criminals over him, still he didn’t complain. Today he is celebrated the world over, and almost everyone knows that name, Jesus.

Haridas Thakur who is the manifestation of Suddha nama, and who is known as nama acarya was flogged in 22 market places, lied on etc. He had the potency to descend wrath on those who did these things yet he didn’t, and the lord intervened. Today his glories shine even brighter than ever.

The Pandavas, knew Lord Krishna on a one on one basis, imagine having the Supreme Lord as a relative and friend. Yet despite this privilege they went through such terrible situations that one can hardly even imagine the extent to which they must have been damaged.  They were poisoned, attacked, set up, had their house burnt down, had their property usurped by dubious means, had their wife stripped in front of an assembly of men, My goodness, this one is tough. However in the end they were victorious and today their glories are sung even more. I can go on to list more examples but I’ll just stop here.

Now let’s draw a few lessons; sometimes in the course of our spiritual life we are thrown into some situation which may seem absurd, however if we fail to learn the lesson, we fail the Gold and Diamond test.  What is the Gold and Diamond test? To purify gold and make it pure, it is subjected to heat, diamonds are just carbons subjected to a lot of pressure over many years. Similarly for a devotee’s qualities to shine, he has to be subjected to heat and pressure, after that one can see the Gold and diamond in him/her. A pseudo devotee will melt under heat (trials) or break under pressure (tribulations).  Lesson two, when a devotee is going through the Gold and Diamond test, in matter of time, if he/she passes the test, we may not see the transformation or elevation physically, but internally there is a great milestone covered, and they are given more access to divine strength and protection.

Lesson three is often times people want to know but these people who pose as disturbances to devotees what is their fate? Usually not very good, Judas committed suicide and couldn’t even spend the money he got from betraying Jesus, the entire Kauravas lost their lives and none of them was spared in the war, etc. The devotee doesn’t wish anyone bad, however Krsna never lets his devotees perish, “Na me bhakta pranasyati”. It’s a promise. I once had an interesting experience once while travelling by road in a public bus.  A private car, double crossed our vehicle forcing us to come to a complete abrupt halt and he jumped out of his vehicle yelling at the driver of the bus I was in. That day was Pandava Nirjala ekadasi, I was travelling with another devotee, and we were observing the fast in total. We were chanting the entire time of the journey, when this incidence began. The driver who had forced us to stop began hitting the windshield and went on to hack off the side mirror on our vehicle.

Our driver became furious and wanted to retaliate, I told him “wind up your side mirror and stay put”. When the devotee who was me tried to speak calmly to the enraged driver who was trying to damage our bus, the driver moved over to our side of the bus as we were seated in front and started to rain abuse on him, the devotee in question wanted to step out to and probably engage with the driver, again I told him, “ignore it, remember you are fasting”. Now this is where it gets scary, from nowhere in a split second a van carrying military officers, suddenly pulled over, and in a few seconds the man terrorizing our vehicle was in cuffs. It was unbelievable, it happened so fast that many people didn’t even understand what was happening. While the officers were whisking him away, for causing nuisance and destroying our car, he started to apologize. A few minutes ago this was the same person who had vowed to beat us up if we dared step out.

The devotee with me looked and me and said this must be instant karma. I said “you see why it was pointless go out to meet him”. The devotee in no way wishes that those who prosecute him should suffer, rather he prays for them, Jesus said on the cross “father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Haridas thakur was constantly praying in his mind for those who were flogging him and that inhibited the lord from acting, even Arjun who saw his wife stripped in front of him, turned down retaliating when he had the chance at the battel field. However the Lord, in his own sweet time, solves everything.

I don’t intend to make this too lengthy, I hope you all learn a thing or two from this. Till next week do share, read, internalize and follow for more.