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.

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Dharma: Prescribed Duty

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. Today I have a very interesting topic to share with you all, and I hope it sheds some light on very crucial matters.

The word Dharma is a Sanskrit word which when translated into English the closest word we can get is Duty. Due to the limited nature of expression in the English Language it is sometimes difficult to convey the real meanings of words from ancient languages such as Sanskrit. To the uninitiated, Sanskrit is an ancient languages used in the Vedas; a scriptural text dating over 5000 years. Some define Dharma as codes and conduct according to scriptural injunction however if seen solely from this light, we risk having a situation where the word becomes like a “weight” on people. However when seen from the perspective of duty, then it brings out a natural sense of responsibility in people.

So the big question is what is our real Dharma or duty? We have a duty to perform as living entities, humans to be precise and we also have duties to perform according to our various socio-spiritual status. As Human Beings our first duty is to understand that we are part and parcel of a Supreme whole and our duty is to serve the Supreme whole. This Supreme Whole is referred to many as God, Jehovah, Allah, Krishna etc. Irrespective of the name the objective is the same; service. When we fail to realize that our original duty is that of service to God, we find it difficult to even make reasonable headway in other duties that we have. When I speak of making “headway” I mean having an all round success; materially, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, etc in our various duties. When we realize that we are spiritual sparks who are part and parcel of a spiritual world beyond this realm then we also begin to appreciate our original Dharma or duty.

The duty of an Ambassador is to maintain diplomatic relations between his home country and his residence country. He must always remember from whence he came and as such act accordingly. His dealing with the people in the country where he serves is cordial and must never jeopardize his relationship with his home country. Similarly we as spiritual beings must realize that whatever dealing we have here must be subservient to our original relationship with the Lord and our original home; the spiritual world. The second type of duty comes from our socio-spiritual circle and they differ according to people. The social circle consists of mainly four divisions; Administrators, Teachers, Merchants and Labourers. The duty of an administrator is different from that of a Teacher and from that of a merchant and likewise that of a labourer. In the spiritual circle we have the Celibate student, the Householder or family Men, the Retiree and the Ascetic; all four with various and distinct Dharma or duty.

When there is unrest and disorganization in the society we can easily see that there is an imbalance in the system that defines the duty of people. For example, if soldiers were to suddenly abandon their guns and take to the pulpit to preach, we won’t be sure what to expect. Likewise if we were to send businessmen in warplanes armed with guns, the security of the nation will be jeopardized. The system mentioned above thus in no way creates any disparity or tries to minimize the importance of anyone; rather it helps people to serve the society better. In a student-teacher relationship, the teacher instructs and the students follow, in a husband and wife relationship the man is to protect while the woman is to nurture, etc thus when people know their respective duties there is balance and tranquility in the society. The way to know one’s duty is to access and evaluate what socio-spiritual circle one belongs to. This is done by proper understanding of quality and action, or better put one’s nature and one’s activities.

Nowadays, people who want to choose a career often speak with experts and counselors who give advice based on what they deduce are one’s inclination and one’s abilities. People who have a flair for the arts and have the required talents for it are advised to venture into the world or Arts. This way their natural inclinations and abilities are put to use in the best way possible. Often times I say imagine if Bill Gates had gone into real estate instead of Computers and Programming? It would have been a case of lost talent and improper orientation.

Similarly if we fail to understand what our original Dharma or duty is then we are prone to be misled. Knowledge of our original duty is the key to understanding our second dharma or duty that stems from our socio-religious status. One interesting point about our original dharma is that it shouldn’t be done just due to obligation but out of love. The key factor in our original duty as part and parcel servants of the Supreme Lord is Love. When love is removed from the equation, then we have people who see the entire process as a disturbance rather than an opportunity to re-connect with the Lord. There is a deeper understanding of the subject of our original duty and this is nicely described by Gaudiya Vaisnava’s. However there is also a gradual way to access this knowledge for those who may find it all “new”, and that is to follow one’s duty in his socio-spiritual circle.

The simultaneous execution of our original duty and our second duty will bring about a gradual and sure rise to the platform of realized knowledge and understanding of the nature of the Supreme Lord. The spiritual practitioner then has a chance to access a relationship with the Supreme which he has long forgotten and thus rekindle this through service.

I hope this helps us get a little insight into the topic of Dharma or duty, those who are interested in knowing more can leave me a message and I will reply as soon as possible. Till then read, internalize and share. Follow for more

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Descent contd.

Dear readers,

It’s a pleasure to be able to share with you all once again. last week I had given a brief of what we were going to explore this week. So without further ado, let’s continue with “God’s descent intro.”

In the Introduction to this blog I had mention three basic reasons why God descends, and I also clarified that His appearance on Earth included these three reasons but were not limited to them in any way. That is to say, these are principal. Usually many people have a hard time trying to digest the fact or concept that God in His granduer and full majesty could come “down” here below. It beats their thinking and reasoning. This doesn’t come as a surprise at all, for in the Bhagavad gita the Supreme Lord Himself says; “Those who understand the nature of my appearance are pangs of these material cycle of life and death”. This is to stress the importance of the Lord’s appearance on this planet.

The Lord’s appearance or descent on this material plane is not like that of every other living being. We as conditioned living entities,(and when I say conditioned I mean subject to Birth, growth, disease, old age and death) need to have parents and other physical parameters in place for us to be able to be here. The Supreme Lord however is Unborn, He is without a beginning nor an end. Thus He doesn’t need any of the physical parameters we need to appear. In this light we proceed to the next point, which is what form does the Lord take when he manifest here on Earth. Due to the fact that this concept of the Lord descending is alien to many people, it is worth to note that the Lord has a form which is totally full of Knowledge, totally eternal and full of Bliss. Thus even though externally in appearance like ours, it is free from the defects that ours possess. At this point I feel it is necessary to say many religions across the planet taking at least Christianity for example which is wide spread, accepts that we as Humans were created in the image and likeness of the Supreme Lord. We have a similar form, or appearance thus we are qualitatively like the Lord but quantitatively different.

The first point or reason for the descent of the Lord is to establish religious principles. In the Bhagavad gita, the Supreme Lord mentions that whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious principles, the Lord descends in Person. Through different ages, from millennium after millennium, the Lord either sends His representative or descends in person to re-establish religious principles which have been lost over time. These principles have been lost either due to been watered down, misinterpreted or just blatantly ignored. Since these principles were originally given by the Supreme Lord, He himself comes to re-establish them, as they should be. That is without the slightest adulteration. At this point one might ask; why would God in His supreme splendour come down here to give some principles? Why doesn’t he just send someone? The answer is simple. He does send His prophets from time to time, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, etc. However the reason for coming personally is to give principles which are free from any form of human imperfection or defect.

With all due respects to all religious bodies, today we can see there is a myriad of translations of many Holy books, according to the understanding of many, or less still just by the simple acquisition of a PhD, one becomes eligible to write his own commentary on a holy book. Spiritual Knowledge spoken by the Supreme Lord is passed down through a disciplic succession which is still been respected to this present day. This way no one can change or adulterate the Lord’s teaching. when however by the influence of time this chain is broken, the Lord comes to re-establish this chain.

The second reason is to annihilate miscreants. One might wonder why would God himself come down just to smite some few mortals. The answer is He doesn’t have to, because His energies can do away with any demon or miscreant no matter how big. Time alone, can take care of anything, and Time is but one of His many energies. However because the Lord has many pastimes while on the planet, He decides to sometimes engage in the annihilation of these miscreant just to give pleasure to His devotees. This naturally brings us to the third point which is to give pleasure to the devotees. When irreligiousity takes a staggering toll, the devotees of the Lord are afflicted by such changes in time. Their affliction is not that of the gross materialist who suffer due to ignorance but born of compassion seeing the plight of the living beings who are been misled. the Lord in His kindness, decides to come personally to reassure them by giving them His personal audience, something rarely achieved even by great ascetics and demigods.

By granting His devotees audience, the Lord also uses the opportunity to sport with them, receive their worship and adoration in person, and above all give them the absolute gift of all which is eternal Love to Him. This is actually the main reason for His descent and every other reason is but an excuse to see His devotees. The Lord cherishes His devotees and holds them very dear to His heart. Those who are constantly engaged in propagating the glories of the Lord are His devotees, those who derive joy and satisfaction when they speak about the Lord are also His devotees, and the Lord says they are very dear to Him.

The beauty of the Veda is that as a revealed scripture, it contains details about the activities of the Lord, not found in any other scripture. ( This is not to offend anyone from any other religious background, but a fact in itself which is easily verifiable.) Thus by consciously studying the veda’s under the guide of a genuine spiritual guide    ( please see blog on spiritual guide) one can begin to unravel the mysteries behind such esoteric pastimes of the Lord.

Hoping to share with you soon. Please feel free to share with family and friends.

Have a blissful week ahead.

Sastric Praman and Common Sense: The meeting point.

In the midst of an irregular snowing day at the end of April, I have decided to pen some more thoughts on paper,or should we say on e-paper. Now before I commence, I’ll like to dispel all ambiguity the heading might raise. This article in no way claims that common sense is superior to or better than sastric praman. This is more of a methodological approach to sastric praman from a common sense approach. That been said let’s get started.
It is clearly mentioned in the scriptures and repeated by many acarya’s; saintly teachers, that one should see through the eyes of the scriptures i.e sastra caksusa. I totally accept this fact and do advocate the same, however there seems to be a blurry gap between identifying a situation requiring sastric approach and a situation requiring common sense approach. In other to look at this deeply we shall examine a couple of real life situations and then try to see what fits best. Every situation we face is usually spread across three divisions namely; physical, subtle and spiritual. Usually many people confuse the subtle for spiritual but there is a difference.
Just as we have physical bodies, subtle bodies and our spiritual bodies, different situations affect these different aspects too. Trying to administer a physical solution to a subtle problem not only compounds the problem but doesn’t yield any tangible result. In the same vein trying to solve a spiritual situation using material solutions is just as counter productive as the former. Without getting too much into logic let’s quickly look at this example. A devotee walks up to you and says “hey, I have a little problem that whenever I am chanting I fall asleep.” Now the typical scenario that occurs is this, the listener immediately starts quoting sastric reference to prove that your mind is not focused and that you are not attentive and then summarizes the whole talk by saying it’s a spiritual defect. In as much as I accept that all of these could be “possibly true”, I’ll suggest a different step by step approach.
First and foremost, ask the devotee involved “how many hours of sleep do you get a day?” If he says two hours for instance, common sense tells you that a Man sleeping two hours a day is definitely prone to fall asleep at 5:00am if he is praying. Second question that would be logical to ask is how much of physical activities do you engage in during the day? Do you eat heavy at night before bed and hence wake up feeling drowsy even though you get enough sleep?
These and many more, are physical questions one can ask first in order to see if the physical aspects are all clear. Now in a case where the devotee has about 8 hours of sleep daily, doesn’t physically exert himself, has a good diet and everything seems okay, then we can take it a little step forward and suggest doing parikrama around Tulsi while doing Japa meditation. Most people find sitting down a natural sleep inducer, and prefer to walk to keep sleep at bay. If however all physical conditions are perfect as mentioned above, and the devotee tries walking but still sleeps even while walking then now you know this is clearly beyond the physical. At this point a subtle approach could be administered.
Finding someone else who doesn’t sleep during japa, who chants audibly enough to keep one awake as a chanting partner could be a nice step to help the devotee in concern on a subtle level. Now one might ask how is this subtle? Having a friend who sits besides you, whom you know will gently tap you to wake you up whenever you dose off, is a nice reassuring manner to adress such a situation thereby giving the devotee not only physical support of keeping him awake but the subtle need for companionship and mental support, making him/her know that this problem is not peculiar to you alone and I’m here to help you provided we both agree to go through this process together.
Now if the physical approach is all clear, and the subtle remedy also isn’t providing much help then we can thus see that the problem might be more deep rooted than we envision. At this point, we might want to see how this person performs in other activities in their lives. Do they also sleep at work? Are they lackadaisical to important activities? Do they exhibit tendencies of someone in gross ignorance, like sleep, inertia, madness? If all these are checked as positive then we can at this point administer some spiritual remedy backed by sastra.
At this point some of my readers might say but why go through all these if I can see it immediately that it is a spiritual problem? Well the answer is a multiple choice one. Owning to the fact that we don’t have perfect judgement due to our imperfect senses, one can not be totally “too sure”, except if you are a Nitya siddha jiva, an eternally liberated soul, who sees beyond time, place and circumstances. If you however do not fall in this category, it is safer to try to administer “help or treatment” after proper diagnosis of the situation in depth. A good example is visiting a doctor, you might have all the symptoms of fever and the doctor could clearly see these symptoms just by looking at your eyes, mouth and asking a few questions. However a good Doctor would for the benefit of doubt and for double clarity, run a few tests either by blood or other body fluids. The reason for doing so is not only to confirm if you have fever but to see if there is more to your ailments than just the fever itself.
Why do we think that the process is any different for spiritual diagnosis? Why do we feel the need to sermonize every problem? One would agree without a doubt that His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupad was very successful in the management of “issues” while physically on the planet because He had an all round vision of everything. He could analyse things from a Father perspective, from a Family Man perspective, from a Business perspective, from a Spiritual perspective, from a Subtle perspective, and over and above all from the perspective of an eternally liberated soul. This gave his answers and decisions a very wholesome approach that defy time and space.
In conclusion, let us try to step back and double check whenever we have to administer “help”, there is always more to somethings than meets the eyes. Hope to get your feedbacks on this line of thought. Till our next read, have a blissful day ahead.