H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Protecting the Creeper of Devotion

Excerpt from a talk by Shriman Matsya Avatara Prabhu - September 9, 2008

The achievement of success often entails a psychological phenomenon which on other occasions I have defined as the “next day crisis ".

This dynamic sets in also following spiritual success when, very often, dark opposing forces erupt from within and outside of ourselves.  These forces try our connection to stability, our maturity and our increased level of consciousness.  Shrila Prabhupada explains this phenomena by saying that Maya is rebelling and does anything in its power to challenge our evolutionary achievements.  On these occasions, as in every other hard event or crisis in life, if our inner strength is sufficiently solid, nothing on the outside can hamper or damage our development and our consolidated certainties.  

Envy, possession, craving for power, will to abuse, egoism, lust, greed and other conditionings of the embodied existence are ordinary things of the world under the rule of the Gunas.  When we try to free ourselves from these chains, we undertake a superhuman endeavour, just like heroes who try to conquer an order of superior nature, that ethical-cosmic order where the soul desires to live.

He who commits to this fascinating journey to that supreme Order and the divine origin which transcends it through the practice of Bhakti, must be very careful in maintaining control over his life.  He will certainly encounter weaves, tsunamis and storms, there will be stumbling blocks here and there that will hurt him and, if he is not vigilant and careful, he will easily drift away.

This teaching is particularly important for those among you who have just received the sacred Diksha, and also for all of those that have been initiated or that are undertaking an evolutionary journey. Maya attacks us when negative seeds are still hiding in our subconscious.  These seeds come from actions performed when we still didn't know the difference between order and disorder, sat and asat, reality and illusion.  Once you have re-conquered that divine order through the sacred Diksha, it is your duty to protect it with all your might, or else you will return to the position you came from.  Thieves do not attack us if we look like we’re not carrying any treasure. When we own something precious then we become an interesting target and we must move around cautiously, with attention and farsightedness.  The treasure that we must defend is the creeper of Bhakti (Bhakti-lata-bija), as explained by Shri Caitanya to Rupa Gosvami in the teachings at Prayag.  In the beginning the seed of the spiritual creeper is extremely fragile.  Lata means green shoot, young and tender.  Through the Diksha we receive the creeper of Bhakti; Shri Caitanya teaches that the devotee must become a master gardener, very careful to immediately eradicate the weeds that grow around the Bhakti-lata-bija because, if they take root, they dry it up and kill it.  The expert gardener must pull the weeds one at the time as soon as they arise.  Shri Caitanya explains to Rupa Gosvami that the monster of sin tends to show up continuously in our lives and it threatens and compromises our tendency to Bhakti.  In psychological terms, this happens in the sub- conscious when all the conditionings or seeds of "bad plants" have not been completely removed.

The Diksha is a powerful activator of this purifying inner process.  However, to reach its completion, it must be sustained and continuously fed by abhyasa, constant spiritual practice, and by vairagya, emotional detachment from anything worldly.  Meditation on the Holy Names (Harinama japa), worshiping of the Deities, devotional service, respect for the principles of Dharma and study of the Scriptures are some of the essential components of the spiritual discipline of Sadhana Bhakti.  This is necessary to eradicate poisonous plants still existing in our hearts and to de-structure the vicious samskaras lingering on in our subconscious.  It is vital to rigorously search for the company of elevated devotees that can inspire us to Bhakti through their teachings and their own behaviour and life example.

Become aware Vaishnavas, alert, responsible, loyal, honest, faithful and deeply dedicated to the practice of Bhakti.  Like expert gardeners you will be able to take care of your creeper of Devotion; this way, it will develop quickly and you will be able to reach the divine dimension of Goloka Vrindavana.  The fruits of your Bhakti-lata will be picked up by Krishna as ripen and sweets fruits, the spiritual sweetness of Bhakti.  Now that you have received the sacred Diksha do not think that you have arrived, indeed you have just departed.  Avoid sudden accidents which can destroy all that you have built up to now in a moment of absent-mindedness.  Become expert gardeners and do not allow the creeper of sin to cling to the tender Bhakti-lata, because it would suffocate it to death.  Purity is the strength and purity is possible when we cultivate loyalty, honesty, faithfulness and gratitude.  If we don't apply these principles to our daily life we cannot reach any kind of success, all the more in our spiritual life.  Now that you have received Shrila Prabhupada and the preceding Acarya's mercy through your Spiritual Master, it is up to you to make your effort to pursue the objective that you are aspiring for.  I will continue to be present, to sustain you and protect you; however you must play your part and remain fully engaged.

The work that we are accomplishing is miraculous; it is priceless and cannot be praised by material standards.  It consists in the transformation of human passions; it leads to the elevation of conscience through the alchemic process which transforms a vile into a noble and evolved person.  The dangers and challenges that we will find on our path will be many, but constant engagement and practice of Bhakti will take the worries away from upcoming difficulties.

Devotees confide in Hari, Guru and Vaishnavas, in their special divine protection.  The Scriptures explain how we must mould our own behaviour.  The Spiritual Master and the Vaishnavas help us and guide us with their example and they offer us all the necessary instruments to work on our rehabilitation, to defend ourselves from dangers and to avoid the wrong attitudes and actions our mind will keep proposing to us.  The subconscious hosts destructive and self-destructive samskaras that the Diksha can incinerate, however it represents the beginning of the process, not its completion.  It is therefore inevitable to engage with personal and continuous commitment and feed the fire of Love for God that can make any obstacle harmless and destroy any conditioning.  Do not fall under the illusion that the false conceptions that you have stored in the past will cease to exercise their influence the day after you receive the Diksha.  It is up to you to resist to them, to use 100% of your strength to defend yourselves and be assured that, where you cannot reach, Hari, Guru and Vaishnavas will help.

Walk very carefully on this razor blade called initiated life.  If you take the wrong step, you hurt yourselves.  With an error, or a wrong answer, you can open the door to a dangerous energy that will overcome you.  If you drink even one drop of arsenic, you are doomed.  You are responsible for this, choose your desires, thoughts, words and company very accurately and if you realize that you have made a mistake, immediately initiate the correction process before it is too late and you lose your Way for a small initial deviation.   

Finally a life of responsibility!  As Dante said in his Divine Comedy "you were not made to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge."  Animals live day by day, they perceive the world but they don't perceive themselves.  Only in the human form we have the opportunity to understand who we are, where we are and where we want to go and what is the purpose of our life.  We have instruments to evaluate and orient ourselves to create the scenario that we desire to place ourselves in.  Initiated life is wonderful, but it also means engagement and responsibility.  Be carefully conscious that in this world, failure and deviation from the right way is normal.  When one understands the sense of his existence, how can he fall?  It would be hell, laceration, schizophrenia.  Bhakti cures this devastating illness of the conscience, but we must seriously engage ourselves without ego-centred plans to reach the highest purpose, Love for God and for all living beings.  Gradually the soul will rediscover its world and become completely satisfied on itself.  It will not look for external things because it will have realized the purpose of life itself.

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