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— { LOVING SEARCH FOR THE LOST SERVANT } —


3 | PLANETS OF FAITH

 

Faith is the only means through which we can see, hear, or feel the higher world; otherwise it is all meaningless to us. To understand that plane, an inner awakenment is necessary. We can connect with the upper world only through a higher source. Therefore divyam jnanam, knowledge of the higher plane, is not ordinary knowledge; it is transcendental, supramental feeling and sense.

But to realize this, surrender is compulsory. After that, we may go on hearing and chanting, remembering and worshiping and praising the Lord, or rendering so many other kinds of service, but the first thing—the foundation of devotion—must be self-surrender. Otherwise nothing will be effected; our show of devotion will all be imitation.

We must sincerely feel, "I shall be faithful in my service to the Supreme Lord. I am meant for Him. I am ready to die to live. I want to live for Him only and not for fulfilling any separate interest. I want nothing less than the absolute. I want to be His completely." This sort of intensity is an indispensable necessity for a devotee. A devotee has to conceive, to feel, that he is meant for Krsna. He is not an independent entity; He is dependent on Krsna—the highest absolute center—and nothing else.

To identify with the interests of our family, society, or country is extended selfishness, but all false identification must be eliminated. We must be neither selfish nor entangled in extended selfishness. Rather, all sorts of foreign contamination must be eliminated from our conception of self. All outside demands must be canceled. Then we shall feel in our innermost hearts that we are connected with the whole of the infinite, the absolute.

And nothing external is required for our success. The only thing required of us is that we dismantle the ego's cover. The ego is collecting some foreign elements, but that foreign collection box must be dissolved—finished—and then, in our innermost hearts, we shall find our connection with the fundamental plane of loving service to the organic whole.

Both enjoyment and renunciation are abnormal. They are two kinds of demons: enjoyment or exploitation, and eternal rest or renunciation. These two tendencies are our enemies. A higher, positive life is possible only when we become fully independent of both exploitation and renunciation.

Everything will help us if we can see it in connection with the center. On the other hand, the kind of exclusive renunciation practiced by the Sankarites and Buddhists is not recommended by our line. We are concerned to harmonize things so that everything will remind us of our duty towards the absolute, and encourage us to dedicate ourselves to Him.

prapancikataya buddhya
hari-sambandhi-vastunah
mumuksubhih parityago
vairagyam phalgu kathyate

anasaktasya visayan
yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe
yuktam vairagyam ucyate

(Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu)

To neglect the environment, thinking that it is filled with undesirable material things, won't help us. That is not correct. Everything within the environment should remind us of the absolute. In that spirit we should move, thinking: "Accept me and connect me with the service of our Lord." When the environment is seen with the correct vision, everything will help encourage and excite us in our service to the center. We are living in an organic whole, a system. And that system is composed of the owner and the owned, the possessor of the potency and the different types of potencies (sakti-saktiman).

 

EMPORIUM OF RASA


The Lord's potency is dynamic, and that dynamicism is always producing rasa or the flavor of ecstasy. The whole lila is producing ecstasy (anandam, rasam). Krsna Himself is the emporium of rasa (akhila rasamrta murtih...anandamaya vilasa). Dynamic movement is a necessity in His lila; it cannot be eliminated. And that movement is always producing a novel ecstasy which feeds every atom of the spiritual world. In that transcendental abode, Krsna is the center who attracts everything and enthuses rasa and anandam, ecstasy and joy within everything. This is the nature of the movement of the absolute. It is not static, but dynamic—filled with movement. And that movement is prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam: at every point, every step, it produces a new type of joy which is infinite. It is not the stale and sterile joy we find here.

This is the proper conception of the absolute. The organic whole, which is always working and moving, is full, and its fullness is ever-new. It is not standing or static. It moves in such a way that at every second, every minute, it is always producing new, unknown, infinite joy. And we can purchase that joy only by paying the highest price: self-sacrifice. That ticket is very valuable which can give us admission into the plane of automatic moving joy which is ever-new at every second. And the ticket is wholesale self-sacrifice.

That sacrifice is joyful, and one may taste that wonderful joy even here in this world, where at every moment everything is dying. It is give and take. If we want to gain something noble, we must also give. We must be generous in our dedication, and then we shall receive amply from that side. Wholesale self-dedication is the price, and in return, we shall be filled up with ecstasy: anandam budhi-vardhanam. We shall feel that we are in the midst of an ocean of joy. At present, we are searching after a joyous feeling—like one who searches for a glass of water in the midst of the desert. But by dedication, we shall find that we are in an ocean of joy whose soothing sweetness is increasing at every moment.

The quality of joy has variety, and it comes to help us in our serving attitude, so that at every moment we may feel new encouragement. So we have to inquire from a proper agent, follow his advice, and try to understand how to improve our condition. At the same time, we should be conscious that the chance we have to render devotional service is rarely found. It is not very cheap. Therefore, we must utilize every minute, every second, every moment. We should be very much alert that a moment not be lost, that our attempt to dedicate ourselves may continue constantly without being interrupted. That stage of dedication is called nistha, and when we attain that stage, our taste is further improved and we will be more and more encouraged to go forward and make progress towards ultimate fulfillment.

 

SEVEN DAYS TO LIVE


Sukadeva Goswami told Pariksit Maharaja that seven days of longevity is enough to achieve perfection. He said, "You have only seven days left to live; do you think it is a short time? It is enough time. What is all-important is the proper use of every second." What time we have in our hands is uncertain, but we must try our best to properly use every second. This must not be neglected. We should not think, "The future is before me; any time I like, I can engage in the profitable affair of spiritual life." Not one second should be lost. Longfellow wrote:

Trust no Future howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act, in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

The present is at our hand. We don't know about our future. We must try to use the time at hand to its best advantage. And how will our time be best used? In the association of saints and scriptures.

Purity is to be measured by the unit of sacrifice. And not sacrifice to any partial interest, but sacrifice to the whole. The absolute whole has been shown to us as the emporium of rasa (akhila rasamrta murtih)—the absolute good, the autocrat, the designer and destiner of everything we see. Our ideal of sacrifice should be so high that we can give up even the corresponding results of sacrifice. Self-abnegation, or self-surrender, is generally known as atma-nivedanam. However, atmaniksepa is a stronger word for surrender. It means "to throw oneself desperately towards the infinite." One must be desperate in self-sacrifice. In self-sacrifice we must be very careful not to aspire for any greater or extended selfishness, but to surrender only to the center. Sacrifice is meant for the center—Krsna—the all-attractor.

In realizing that position, we are concerned about two things—transcendental knowledge (sambandha), and the means for reaching the goal (abhidheya). If we realize these correctly, then the fulfillment of the ultimate goal (prayojana) will come automatically. We shall be very conscious about the center to whom we are dedicating everything. The object of our fulfillment (sambandha), and our dedication or purity of purpose (abhidheya)—these two things are most important. This can be understood from the scriptures and the saints. And if we concern ourselves with the purest end and highest sacrifice, the end will come of itself. We are not to bother for any remuneration. We have only to do our dutv and the remuneration will come. To whom we will dedicate ourselves and what we shall receive—these things should be discussed, thought out, meditated upon, and put into practice. In this way, we must try to live in the infinite. We must always stay engaged in the cultivation of infinite love and infinite beauty as recommended by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

 

OCEAN OF FAITH


Although the object of our heart's faith is infinite, still, some conceptions of Him have been given by the men of experience in the ocean of faith. In the ocean of faith, many have had their special experience, and that has been recorded in the scriptures. Through that we can approach the saints who stand like lighthouses to help us cross the ocean of nescience. But that must be bona fide and not merely a concoction or an imitation. It may also be possible to imitate the real thing by taking our mundane experience and thrusting it into the world of faith. So we must approach that plane very carefully through the line of reliable saints.

We must be careful to know the qualifications of a real saint. Their symptoms are given in the scriptures. And who is a disciple and what should be his attitude? All these things are given in the scriptures.

And faith is required in order to work in that substantial conscious world which is subjective. This is the most important thing that we have to remember: the infinite is subjective. It can guide us and be affectionate to us. All these things are to be reckoned with. He can guide us. The revealed truth stands on this foundation: We cannot approach Krsna by the ascending method, but He can descend to our level to make Himself known. We must understand this very fundamental and substantial point: He can come to us, and only through faith can we come to Him.

Sraddha—faith—is more important than calculative truth. The example of great souls is more valuable to us than our human calculation. The external, material, physical truth does not have much value. Rather, it is a false attitude of mind which is very strong. That physical truth should not be given greater respect than the intuitive practices of pure devotees; rather, the intuition of a pure devotee should be given preference to the calculations of truth made by ordinary men.

Faith has no connection with the so-called reality of this world. It is completely independent. There is a world which is guided only by faith (sraddha-mayam-lokan). Faith is everything there, and it is infinite and all-accommodating. In the world of faith, everything may be true by the sweet will of the Lord. And here, in the land of death, calculation is inconclusive and destructive in its ultimate goal; it has no ultimate value. It should be rejected. The knowledge that materialists come under, the fallible calculation of exploiting souls, has no value whatsoever. But in the world of the infinite, faith is the only standard by which everything moves.

svayam samuttirya sudustaram dyuman
bhavarnavam bhimam adabhra-sauhrdah
bhavat padambhoruha-navam atra te
nidhaya yatah sad-anugraho bhavan

Srimad Bhagavatam (10.2.31)

Here, Srimad-Bhagavatam says that just as in the vast ocean, when nothing else can be seen, the compass is the only guide, so in the world of the infinite, our only guide is the footsteps of those great souls who have traveled on the path of faith. The way has been marked by the holy footsteps of those who have gone to the highest quarter. That is our only hope. Yudhisthira Maharaja also says that the real secret is concealed in the hearts of saints, as treasure is hidden in a mysterious cave (dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam). The broad line towards the truth is chalked out by those who are going to the divine world. And that is our surest guide. All other methods of guidance may be eliminated because calculation is fallible.

Guidance comes from the absolute infinite. And His guidance can come in any form, anywhere, any time. With this broad view, we should realize the meaning of Vaikuntha. Vaikuntha means "without limitation." It is as if we are in a boat floating on the infinite ocean. Many things may come to help or hinder us. But only our optimistic good faith may be our guide, our gurudeva. The guide is Sri Guru.

nr-deham adyam sulabham sudurlabham
plavam sukalpam guru-karnadharam
mayanukulena nabhasvateritam
puman bhavabdhim na taret sa atma ha

Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.20.17)

In the infinite ocean we have boarded our small boat, the human form of life, and our destination is uncertain and inconceivable. But it is conceivable to our gurudeva (guru karnadharam). Our guru is our guide—the captain of the boat. And we must progress with sincere faith. We are trying to cross a horrible ocean with huge waves and dangerous sharks and whale-swallowing whales. It is full of danger. The guidance of saints is our only hope. We must depend on them. They stand like lighthouses in the infinite ocean to guide us to the land of faith.

Faith means "hope in the infinite." Vaikuntha means "infinite." And sraddha means "good faith." Just as there is a place called the Cape of Good Hope, sraddha means surcharged with good hope in the infinite. Vaikuntha is infinite, and if we wish to draw the attention of the infinite, the only way open to us is sraddha.

By sraddha alone, we can attract the infinite. And when sraddha develops a definite form, after progressing through bhava, ecstatic emotion, sraddha becomes prema—divine love. Columbus set sail, and after a long voyage, finally arrived in America; he reached the land of good hope. In the same way, with hope, sraddha, faith, we may, after crossing Vaikuntha, arrive in the highest plane of the spiritual cosmos. Sraddha is our light in the darkness.

Only sraddha can guide us when we are travelers in the infinite. "I have heard that this is the way to that place"—that spirit will keep our hearts enlivened. The definition of sraddha is given in the Caitanya-caritamrta: "Faith is the firm conviction that by serving Krsna, all other purposes are automatically served." No risk, no gain. Greatest risk, greatest gain. Krsna reassures us, "I am everywhere—there is no need to be afraid at all. Just realize that I am your friend. I am all in all, and you are Mine. To believe this is your only fare for the journey to the land of faith."

The Absolute Truth, the transcendental substance who is the object of our inquiry through faith, is endowed with all power and all consciousness. He is kind, benevolent, and sweet. His power is infinitely higher than ours, and we are infinitely smaller than Him. Our attitude should be that compared to Him, we are insignificant.

What, then, will be the real symptom of a disciple? Who is a real seeker of truth? What is the qualification of one who is searching after the truth—what is his attitude, his nature? And what will be the symptom of the guru, the guide?

In Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna says:

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprastiena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah

"One can learn the truth only by submissively approaching and inquiring from those who have seen and experienced the truth. And by rendering service to them, one becomes initiated into transcendental knowledge."

What is required? Pranipat, submission, and seva, service. Then the inquiry will be bona fide; otherwise it is a false transaction: it may have no value. It may all be a waste of energy. Genuine faith does not allow us to think ourselves at liberty to do anything and everything. If it is a real transaction, there must be some guidance from above. So sraddha, faith, is the most important thing for a devotee.

When one develops faith, he will do anything to approach the higher subjective realm. One who has faith wants to connect with that higher substance which is composed of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. Faith moves in consideration of existence, knowledge, and love. And when these three main points are realized, our existence is fully satisfied. Faith asks us to approach .the higher world, not the lower. And to think,"In every way Krsna is superior. He is our guardian and well-wisher," is the basis of faith.

The rationalists are always searching with their scientific brains for different ways to utilize and command the things they have discovered in their research. But faith is concerned with a substance far higher in all respects than even the searcher himself. One who is an inquirer about a higher substance must inquire with what is generally known as faith. Proper guidance in faith is also necessary, and that guidance is given by the higher plane. That must be the attitude of our inquiry or search if we are to be successful. So Bhagavad-gita advises: pranipat, pariprasna, sevaya—"Surrender, inquire, and serve." In the Upanisads it is said:

tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit panih srotriyam brahma-nistham

"To understand the Absolute Truth, one must approach a guru who is fixed in spiritual knowledge and well-versed in the scriptures. And he must approach the guru being prepared for sacrifice." This is the general instruction of the Upanisads.

Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.21) similarly advises:

tasmad gurum prapadyeta
jijnasuh sreyah uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam
brahmany upasamasrayam

"One seriously inquisitive to search for his highest prospect should take complete shelter of a guru who has deep realizations of the Supreme Lord and the inner meaning of the scriptures. Such spiritual masters have left aside all relative considerations in favor of the supreme absolute consideration."

We should be very attentive to these things. We should try to understand through self-searching whether we are really approaching divinity through faith. We must also see to it that our faith is real. Proper faith and credulity are not the same. Whether one is a bona fide searcher with real faith or one whose faith is adulterated must be considered. And there are symptoms of real faith. We have to consult higher authorities to guide us, because faith is a most important thing.

If we are searching for truth, we are dissatisfied with our present acquisition. We are taking a risk to jump into a higher prospect. We must therefore take guidance carefully. We must be attentive as far as possible. We are told that our present reason is not sufficient to help us; that more than reason, sraddha is needed, and sraddha also has its symptoms. Still, as far as possible we shall apply our reason.

When I first came to the mission, I thought, "The transcendental truths that I hear from these devotees do not come within the clutches of worldly intelligence, but still, when I want to throw myself into that association, I shall use my reason and intellect as far as possible, understanding that I am going to jump into something which will be beyond my control, beyond my calculation." So we must carefully understand what sraddha is, with guidance from saints, scriptures, and gurus.

Of course, even if we are going the right way, it is never certain that the path will be free from obstacles. Even if we are making progress, unexpected hindrances may trouble us and delay our advancement. Though we see many around us falling or retreating, we must go forward. We should have the conviction to think that although many began with us on the path and are now going back, we shall have to go on. We shall have to strengthen our energy and go forward—alone if necessary. Our faith should be so strong that we have the conviction to go on alone if necessary and by the grace of our Lord cross whatever difficulties we find on our way. In this way we must make ourselves fit. We must develop exclusive devotion. Of course, we shall always try to find good association. Yet sometimes it may seem that there is no association, that we are alone. Still, we must go on and search out the beacon light of the truth.

Progress means eliminating one thing and accepting another. Yet we should be able to see that there are so many others who can help us in our progress in the line of dedication; we must go forward with our eyes open. And the scriptures describe many levels that we shall have to cross beyond in our progress. By elimination, the path of progress is shown from Brahma to Siva to Laksmi. At last Uddhava is shown to be superior to all. But it is his opinion that the gopis are the highest devotees. This is confirmed by Rupa Goswami:

karmibhyah parito hareh priyataya vyaktim yayur jnaninas
tebhyo jnana-vimukta-bhakti-paramah premaika-nisthas tatah
tebhyas tah pasu-pala-pankaja-drsas tabhyo 'pi sa radhika
prestha tadvad iyam tadiya-sarasi tam nasrayet kah krti

—Sri Upadesamrta (10)

"There are those in the world who regulate their tendency for exploitation in accordance with the scriptural rules and thereby seek gradual elevation to the spiritual domain. However, superior to them are those wise men who, having given up the tendency to lord over others, attempt to dive deep into the realm of consciousness. But far superior to them are the pure devotees who are free from any mundane ambitions and are liberated from knowledge, not by knowledge, having achieved divine love. They have gained entrance into the land of dedication and are engaged there spontaneously in the Lord's loving service. Among all devotees, however, the gopis are the highest, for they have forsaken everyone, including their families, and everything, including the strictures of the Vedas, and have taken complete shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna, accepting Him as their only protection. But among all the gopis, Srimati Radharani reigns supreme. For Krsna left the company of millions of gopis during the rasa dance to search for Her alone. She is so dear to Sri Krsna that the pond in which She bathes is His very favorite place. Who but a madman would not aspire to render service, under the shelter of superior devotees, in that most exalted of all holy places?"

 

GO DEEPER, GO HIGHER


In His talks with Ramananda Raya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu repeatedly says, eho bahya, age kaha ara. Go further, go deeper, go higher! There are so many who consider their position to be the highest, who, achieving a particular stage, stop there. But we find in Sanatana Goswami's Brhad-Bhagavatamrtam how Gopa-kumara, beginning from the lowest stage of devotion, gradually makes progress through different levels, and at last comes to the Krsna conception in the mellow of friendship—sakhya rasa. There it is described how he gradually eliminates one stage and makes further progress to the highest stages of devotion.

As he progresses from one level to the next, everyone seems to be very helpful to him, but gradually, their company seems to him to be stale. At that time, a higher chance is given to him through an agent of divinity, and, leaving that plane behind, he goes to a new and higher plane. In this way, the progress of dedication is shown in Brhad-Bhagavatamrtam.

 

HIGHER LIGHT


Just as in the tangible world there is the sun, the moon, and so many other planets, in the world of faith there is a gradation of planetary systems. We have to scrutinize the scriptures, take advantage of the guidance given by saints, and understand how the progress of faith to the highest plane is achieved by eliminating the lower planes. And whenever there is any doubt, we should consult with some higher agent in order to make progress.

Spiritual reality is eternal existence, complete consciousness, and ecstasy. Mere existence cannot fulfill us. Even our inner hankering and feeling, consciousness, is not sufficient. We require rasa and ananda, ecstasy, to give us fulfillment.

Spiritual realization is also of different types. We have to distinguish between different spiritual conceptions, and our choices improve as we dive deeper and deeper into reality. We must die to live. And the consideration of death is also deep, deeper, and deepest. The gradation of higher and lower is always there. If we are to progress, there must be elimination and new acceptance. The duties that we find ourselves in the midst of may be left for higher duties.

In this way we must progress, while always consulting the saints and scriptures. They will guide us in the ocean of faith. Otherwise the spiritual world is unknown and unknowable. The Absolute Truth is known and knowable to a particular section, and they have given us direction. If we take advantage of that, then by the guidance of saints and scriptures we shall gradually eliminate our faults.

First we must eliminate this mortal existence. Then, we must satisfy our reason, our consciousness. And finally, we must satisfy our heart. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that the heart is the most important thing within us. We should follow the direction of the heart. The highest fulfillment is fulfillment of the heart, not the fulfillment of consciousness, or the attainment of eternal existence. Eternal existence has no meaning if it is not conscious, and consciousness has no meaning if it does not give any fulfillment. So sat, eternal existence, cit, consciousness, and ananda, fulfillment, ecstasy, are the three principles of our ultimate destination. And considering these as our goal, we shall progress further and further in our spiritual life.

In the Manu-samhita it is stated:

vidvadbhih sevitah sadbhir
nityam advesa-ragibhih
hrdayenabhyanujnato
yo dharmas tam nibhodhata

We can feel within our heart whether we are gainers or losers. That tasting machine is within us. As we progress in Krsna consciousness, our karma, our connection with this material world, will evaporate in no time, and spacious knowledge will come to satisfy us. At that time, we shall feel the object of our life everywhere (mayi drste 'khilatmani). When we can see that the fulfillment of life has embraced us, we shall see that everything within the environment is helping us, everything is sympathetic to us from all sides. In that spiritual domain, everyone shall take interest in loving us. We may be careless about our own interest, but the environment there is more favorable and affectionate to us than we can even estimate, just as a child cannot estimate the extent of his mother's affection. In this way, friends and home comforts will surround us, and with this realization we shall go back to God, back to home.

 

 

⇐ INTRODUCTION

THE ENVIRONMENT ⇒

CONTENTS:

Invocation
Introduction
Planets of Faith
The Environment
Beneath the Loving Eye of God
Lord of the Cows
Brahma's Illusion
Sonhood of God
Knowledge-Free Devotion
The Holy Name
The Service of Sri Radha

Sometimes, as a manager, you will have to chastise others, but not everyone is
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