Spiritual Health Requires Honesty
Posted March 12, 2007
Why is God presented in such poor way?
Sometimes certain sights, or smells, or sounds will bring you back to a previous time in your life in very vivid detail.
Today, I woke up with a very pleasant breeze blowing through my bedroom. As I opened my eyes, I saw my favorite picture of Krishna playing his flute near a stream in the forest of Vrindavan. This breeze, along with the beautiful painting of Krishna, and my consciousness still flirting with the world of dreams, triggered my memory of when I first began to absorb myself in Srila Prabhupada's books. This morning, in contrast to the depression, dull-headedness, empty hearted hopelessness and fatigue that I've been passing my time in, I was feeling great joy and contentment. I felt as though Krishna was in my house with me. It was the atmosphere I felt as I read Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam (with their incense flavored pages) for the first time more than thirty years ago.
The sweetness of Lord Krishna is unimaginable. He possesses unlimited lovable qualities. Loving Him is the most natural thing for every living being. Srila Prabhupada makes this obvious through his actions and his words. If we simply follow his example and his instructions, as he followed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's, we would be living in this wonderful refreshing atmosphere of love for Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada created a movement in the hearts of each of his devotees. The movement is the awakening of our true self and real self-interest to think and desire, to act and behave in a manner that pleases Lord Krishna. The sense of joy and fulfillment that accompanies this change of heart to loving Krishna inevitably motivates us to attempt to help others obtain the clear viewpoint of a life centered around pleasing Krishna. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada inspired not only an internal, personal movement, but also a cooperative outreach "Hare Krishna Movement."
When I first read Srila Prabhupada's books, I immediately felt connected to the Absolute Truth. I felt very excited to be making this new connection with God. I could observe that I was making spiritual progress as I attempted to apply the teachings of Krishna consciousness. Like a child learning, I wasn't afraid of failing, as many of my attempts to serve Krishna fell far short of the mark. The more I learned, I realized there was much more to learn than I had imagined.
Unfortunately, out of foolishness, my joyful pursuit of learning how to love Krishna more often than not erodes into an arduous struggle. Rather than relishing the nectar of bhakti-yoga and the Holy Names of Krishna, I fight for control of my situation and distractedly push to get my "rounds" done. Often, my internal presentation of Krishna consciousness is so confused and convoluted that it becomes unattractive and stressful, and my spiritual progress or personal movement of my heart toward Krishna is stifled.. Similarly, often when I attempt to participate in the cooperative Hare Krishna Movement, the same sort of foolishness leaves an unwelcome taste. Rather than a joyful fulfilling experience of Krishna and a loving exchange with Him, I get the many shortfalls of a semi-organized, semi-knowledgeable presentation of burdensome obligations.
I started with a joyful mood and have come down to this negative, pessimistic puddle. So, who wants this? Why is getting back with God such a tortuous task? Isn't loving Krishna the most natural joyful thing?
I can only return to a conclusion I've reached many times, which is that Krishna consciousness requires innocence, child-like innocence. Healthy children are not presumptuous, possessive, excessively analytical, afraid of failure, or above asking for help. Children enthusiastically engage themselves in the joyful, open-eyed pursuit of happiness. For me to return to this child-like enthusiasm for learning about and loving Krishna, requires one simple thing-I have to be honest.
To be honest, I am not a devotee of Lord Krishna, I am an aspiring devotee of Lord Krishna. This means I am not holding onto Krishna, I am reaching out for Him; I do not have all the answers, Krishna has all the answers; I cannot deliver Krishna, I can only offer some hint. This means that I can leave my windows open, so that every morning I can feel the movement of the air that reminds me of the loving cowherd boy Krishna that Srila Prabhupada so eloquently tells us about. This means I am free and encouraged to explore my relationship with Krishna. It means my expectations are optimistic and realistic-doing my best to serve Srila Prabhupada, rather than trying to pretend to be perfectly situated. It means I can again experience an attractive presentation of Krishna within my heart. And, when two aspiring devotees are honest they can truly help one another and truly serve the personal and social movements that Srila Prabhupada has started. If we can begin to please Srila Prabhupada, we will begin to please Lord Krishna.
I don't know who can claim that their devotional journey has been a clear
path along the mountain ridge, free of dark valleys and detours. I will
speak for myself, but I suspect all of us who are trying to please Srila
Prabhupada in some small way, must humbly admit we are unsteady aspiring
devotees, subject to the four defects of making mistakes, being illusioned,
sensing improperly, and cheating. I find it to be spiritually healthy to
be honest about this with myself, with other aspiring devotees, and with
those I am trying to encourage to inquire about the Absolute Truth.