H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Monday, 29 March 2010

Shri Vyasapuja Mahotsava, 26-27 February 2010

By Madhavipriya Dasi

Shrila Gurudeva introduces the first day dedicated to Vyasapuja with an unforgettable lecture.

The level of any of our thoughts, desires, actions and relationships is directly related to our interest in purifying our motivation because it is not the action per se that brings benefits or damages but the motivation that is implied. It is on this motivation that we must constantly work, throughout our entire life.

The holy doctrine can be found in many books.

It is not so difficult to own it and it is useful only at the level that it becomes the theoretical basis of our practical application of it. What is important is what we realize and this is the result of a continuous spiritual practice.

In Shrimad Bhagavatam it is explained that the real success in life is the achievement of a series of spiritual progressive realizations that come from the practice of the doctrine. We could store stacks of data, but the authentic value is on practice and holy knowledge and even more specifically on the purity used while practicing. The level of purity used while practicing produces a correspondent spiritual advancement. The intensity, continuity and purity that we dedicate to spiritual discipline are vital.

To understand our level of purity we must ask ourselves about the nature of the objective that we are pursuing and about the modalities that we plan on using to reach it. If we behave humbly, in spirit of servants of the Lord, we can realize our original identity. Spiritual service enables spiritual practice and gives it a special flavor. It makes us joyful, gives us vigor, power and capability to transfer knowledge and inspiration.

The writings on Bhakti from Shirla Rupa Gosvami, mainly on Bhaktirasamrita Sindhu and Upadeshamrita, indicate the rules to be followed to develop our Bhakti. By accepting these principles we voluntarily give up part of our pseudo-freedom to obtain the true immortal freedom. This is what the millennial practice of accepting vowels consists of. The strict respect of these vowels makes the practice of this doctrine very satisfying and a source of joy not only for ourselves but also for those that are around us.

In this conditioned world, we encounter countless obstacles to the development of pure love for God, this is why Bhaktivinoda Thakura prays: “Shrila Gurudeva, please make me more humble than a blade of grass with a drop of your mercy. Give me the strength to overcome any obstacle and free myself from desire of personal honor.”

Humbleness is a frequency of the soul, a modality of the human being, the only one in which we can learn and evolve. By becoming proud and haughty we lose the opportunity to improve ourselves, we become stagnant in our mental frames and our balance becomes static, thus causing great damages and dangers.

The celebration of Vyasapuja is to strengthen the importance of observing the regulatory principles, developing authentic humbleness (the hardest thing to do at all) and the sincere attitude to serve the Vaishnava. Nama ruci, the flavor of the Divine Name comes from Vaishnava seva. Love and spirit of service are our eternal qualities, the rest is upadhir, masks or illusory designations that we must learn to abandon if we want to have a successful spiritual life. Vyasapuja is an extraordinary opportunity to enforce our desire and commitment to pursue this life.

Shrila Rupa Gosvami explains the correct dispositions of one’s mind, the commitments and their completions, that enable us to overcome our conditioners and resist the attacks of Maya. Without these practices that enforce our spiritual taste, we would have a hard time absorbing the blows that life has for everyone. Whether saint or rascal everyone must deal with crisis. The saints must shield themselves from outside attacks, rascals endure blows from everywhere.

The celebration of Vyasapuja enables us to enforce our ties with the Spiritual Master and with the devotees that are on our same path and that have chosen a life of discipline and service to accelerate their evolution. It is an extraordinary opportunity to exchange spiritual sentiments, open our mind and look for inspiration and comfort. This is the most effective prophylaxis in spiritual life, especially in the Guru-disciple relationship, but also in the relationship with God-brothers and God-sisters, with Vaishnava in general and extended to everyone. Let’s always remember that the quality of the sentiments is their genuineness, at the same time the heart of an action is its motivation.

yasya deve para bhaktir

yatha deve tatha guroh

tasyate kathita hi arthah

prakashante mahatmanah

God is the great counterpart of ourselves and the purpose of life is reawake our love for Him. From our relationship with God we can extend our love to all creatures, but we must maintain our concentration on the central scope of existence, or we will exit our barycentre and lose balance.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare: this is the central practice of our spiritual life. Do you want to know how Shrila Prabhupada and the other Acharia before him have translated the Maha Mantra Hare Krishna?

Krishna, please teach me how to serve You. This is the only way that will enable me to know You and Love you. Oh Energy of Love, You who possesses the supreme fascination, source of eternal bliss, please engage me in Your service.”

The journey toward Krishna is wonderful, but certainly not easy. At the beginning of the path you see only obstacles, in the middle you can still see them, and also at the end. There is however a great difference. At the beginning, obstacles are created by us, in the middle they are created by us and by others, at the end they only come from outside. In this last position, the most elevated one, we only suffer because we see others suffering, however, in any moment of the journey there are trials and difficulties to overcome. In fact in the Shrimad Bhagavatam it is explained that even the most advance devotees sometimes fall down.

Falls are always caused by mistakes, lower impulses, disturbing thoughts, evil selfish calculations, etc. To avoid committing errors it is fundamental to nurture with devotion and humbleness our relationship with the Vaishnava by exchanging sentiments and realizations and by serving them. Each of us can serve from his/her own position. We can serve even from the position of king, by performing our role with sense of justice and duty for everyone’s wellbeing. We must deeply realize that life without spirit of service to God is craziness. It is like expecting to fly without wings. Serving is our ontological nature, as we are made to love and be loved and love does not exist without spirit of service. If we don’t serve God and His devotees, we will find ourselves serving someone anyhow, but it would be of very different nature such as Kripana and duajana, greedy and evil people. The basis of our spiritual advancement is the spirit of service to Shri Vaishnava, Guru and Krishna. Shri Guru teaches first of all to begin as servants. Without the spirit of service, knowledge doesn’t get through and it is not realized.

The Bhagavatam is filled with stories of souls that had reached high levels and then suddenly fell. We must remain conscious that in this world there are dangers at every corner, and that the association with the Vaishnava and celebration of Mahotsava such as Vyasapuja are fundamental to avoid such dangers.

We should constantly commit to clean our psyche, our heart, our thoughts, our desires and our sentiments to reach the necessary practice of the holy doctrine that clears our conscience. This will allow us to see in an ever clear way param gatih, the supreme purpose. We can perform many activities in the world, the most various ones, but the important thing is not to lose sight of the central purpose of our existence.

Each of us has difference nature and tendencies and will find his place in the area of varna and ashrama that he feels more congenial to his personality. However, no matter which position he will be in, he will achieve authentic success if he will carry on his responsibilities and duties to the service of Shri Vaishnava, Guru and Krishna. Being a devotee means serving the devotees.

In our lives we must learn to combine sky and hearth, to connect immanent with transcendent, because we cannot be happy living with only “bread” but not even by running abstractly from the world. We must work in this world leaning forward to the Absolute and gaining from the Absolute those resources and essential strength that allow us to act on earth with enlightened conscience. Down-here and up-there are not separate dimensions.

As long as we are inside a human body and in the kingdom of Maya devi, we are subject to many temptations, attacks and to the kaleidoscope of illusion which continuously fragments reality and reflects it distortedly. In this world we do not see reality but only appearance. To see reality it is necessary to follow a spiritual discipline and take shelter in a Spiritual Master. This is the message from the Acarya.

Let’s make this staying together the journey toward the Center.”

By listening to the letters offered to Shrila Gurudeva we clearly realize the nature of Bhakti! Nothing stops it, not even the worse illness. It lives in the heart, breaths Love and resides in the eternity. Together we understand ever more the greatness of serving. Only by giving always and without limitation we can be endlessly fulfilled.

The two Vyasapuja days are articulated by touching letters and reflection of great inspiration offered by Shrila Gurudeva.

In life sometimes there are difficult moments and dangerous curves. We can get bogged down in errors that we commit because of our weakness or because of our listening to bad advisors, however, if we avoid aparadha or offenses, the wounds can be cured, the bruises can be healed, you can catch your breath and restart.

When the Bhakti sentiment is sincere, even if there are difficulties or weakness we can always remediate our errors. However, if this sentiment becomes ambiguous, false and deceptive, the fall is disastrous. If we need to catch our breath and reposition our weights, with frankness and humbleness we can ask for a pause, find a more suitable position for our temporary situation and intensively desire to regain as soon as possible energy and inspiration to restart the Journey. Do not be ashamed to be weak. Be ashamed to be fake.

Those who fall in a short circuit of the senses, for sudden weakness, can raise and continue their journey if their desire for evolution is strong and sincere. However if the genuine spiritual sentiments are lacking, everything becomes harder. Protect and purify your sentiments, be transparent and sincere. If we are well centered, if the spiritual sentiment is well hardened and rules above everything else, even if sometimes there are certain difficulties to express it, soon or later coherent and harmonic actions of that sentiment will follow.

Bhakti is the pure sentiment of Love. If we realize this sentiment we discover that we do not need anything from outside ourselves. All we will need is a square meter to sit, some simple prasada, wonderful, constructive and evolutionary thoughts and sentiments that connect immanence to transcendence, the company of the Vaishnava and the presence of Shri Shri Guru and Krishna in our heart. The need of whatever is mundane will become almost null and we instead feel an ever more intense desire to serve the Lord and His devotees to express our spiritual sentiments and our Love. Through service we express our sentiment and realize ourselves.

Purity is strength, Shastra are the real basis of our knowledge/wisdom, not the subjective one, relative and historical, but the meta-historical and absolute one, which gives love in any circumstance. Love does not have an exclusive object. It is the modality of the soul. This is the modality that we must develop, toward human beings and animals, toward the planet, the sky, the stars, our parents, and the parents of others. Love does not distinguish. If it separates instead of connecting, it is not true love. Do not be identified as those who separate. Try to be known as those who unite. What hatred separates, Love unites.”

These teachings shake the consciences, enlighten, give light to darkness and make love perceivable above everything. A river of sentiments flow from the Guru toward his disciples and from the disciples toward their Guru. The strongest sentiment is gratefulness. In a letter, a disciple writes:

In my life I was protected only by your teachings. Now I want to protect your divine work. What else has any value?”

Shrila Gurudeva:

The Presence of the Divine in our heart has a different flavor every time and it is always stronger. This is the characteristic of infinite amounts of rasa, that follow one another like waves but none is similar to another. This is why we are fascinated by fire, ocean, the music of a stream, because in everything we can appreciate the endless rasa of the Divine, but this is only minimal in comparison to the indescribable Presence of God in His personal manifestation in our heart.

We experience that Presence of Love when we are in a humble attitude of service and we only desire other’s happiness. The only true project of one’s life is helping others. What can we do to make them feel happy, comfortable, welcomed to the best of our capability and inspired for a better life? The example of a coherent life, of our responsibilities carried with rigor and joy is our biggest patrimony to be shared with those who have an intense desire to share. It is important to show stability in any circumstance no matter what happens and show that anything that happens in the world is only apparent turbulence. At the end we will discover that those apparent turbulences are a good thing for all, the opportunity to discover new prospective, learn from our and other’s errors, understand what moves and what remains fixed, see what there really is and what is only a fleeting illusion.

What is the best welcoming that we can offer to people? It is not that of a five star hotel. It is the welcoming of that famous square meter where, if we have our mind a little serene, little prasada and spirit of service, we can find Krishna in our heart and share His Divine Presence with all.

Authentic love is immortal, the rest is sentimentalism. A little spark can become a great flame. Sometimes a little spark of Love can initiate a flame that will later become a fire that will transform us. That spark is the Spiritual Master, the dynamic principle of our spiritual evolution. If we remove that spark, everything becomes heavy and of little worth.

The greatest art consists of transforming anything that happens to us in an opportunity of growth and spiritual development, a disgrace for the benefit of all. On the spiritual level, there is no separation between friend and enemy. Someone’s failure cannot be my victory, no one can build on other’s debris. The Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya lila explains that the Vaishnava who has established an irreversible Bhakti sentiment in his heart does no longer see good from bad, he only sees good, and authentic good, is extended to everyone.

If we are conscious that the only truth is Krishna, God and His unconditioned Love, it will not be hard for us to transform everything that happens into benefit for all.

Let’s abstain from conflicts, partisanship and from anything that divides and doesn’t allow us to love. Whatever happens, whether it rains or the sun shines, whether the weather is flaming hot or there is a polar cold, whether we are alone or with company, any circumstance is a precious opportunity to grow as long as we do not become distracted from our vital function characterized by devotional service. Extremely warm weather teaches as much as extremely cold weather, even death offers us a great lesson because, in its absence, we would live an unproductive and meaningless life. Our death and the one of people dear to us and abandonment from people very dear to us, teach us that this is not our original home, we are only in transit.

Let’s walk then in this world on our tip-toes and let’s extend to every living being our desire for freedom, justice, peace, knowledge and love.”

The desire of improvement, gratitude and love that pervade the celebration of the Vyasapuja strengthen our will to serve for the joy of serving, to be open, humble, truthful, courageous like heroes, simple like children and wise like those who are enlightened and great at heart.

Balance is something that we cannot touch, cannot measure, cannot weight and cannot easily understand until we reach it. We can conceive only the level of balance that has already entered our experience, but we cannot understand a higher one until we have experienced.

Every embodied being is a paradox by definition. It has all and the contrary of all, it has functions that are in inner contraposition. It has enthusiasm and generosity but also egoism and resentment, strength and weakness. It is developed in one direction and regressed in another. The human being is ambivalent. If it doesn’t become ambiguous, we can successfully help him to work on himself. However, when he becomes ambiguous, the helping action becomes harder. Ambiguity has an underground and negative content. This is why sometimes we unconsciously touch dark and coarse parts of a person and we obtain unexpected reactions. Perhaps you have corrected that person countless times for his own good and that person had become grateful and inspired, but in a certain circumstance, a small correction, shatters him.

It is useless to fly high if we have not resolved our problems at a lower level. We must learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. While the wise men can learn even from the actions of the fouls, the fouls cannot learn even from the wise men. (Tacito).

To enhance our level of conscience and help others with their evolution we must resolve problems of lower level as well, those problems related to our earthly components. Sometimes we must leave the sweet symphony of the higher spheres and descend in the turbulent tormented life, in the bad smelling rumble of blocked experiences. This is the reason why, in my lectures, I also speak of psychology, history, art, sociology, economy and other sciences of this world, in a transcendent prospective.

If the purpose is spiritual, if the vision is clear and the compassion is strong, our words will be pervaded by a purified vibration similar to a wave. If we are in this frequency we can speak of any science and it is as we always pronounce uttams shloka, however, to achieve this we must have established in our conscience the firm contact with the over-world.

We must urgently engage in putting spiritual qualities in society. Society is not only suffering, it is agonizing and almost dead. Many things are at risk: health, everyone’s safety, civil rights and respect for life. If we only concentrated on the spiritual aspects and neglected to emphatically feel the needs of the people in this society, we would risk an inflation of spiritual values and as you know, in inflation we lose the intrinsic value of the what is Good. Instead of becoming more inspired, we would become more dispersed and confused. Our journey in the sky is the counterpart of the one undertaken on the worldly level by introducing spiritual principles at all levels, offering our care to those who need it because they suffer psychologically, emotionally and physically. We don’t always achieve the hoped results, but it is not success what pays us, but our sincere effort. Don’t look for success, because you would surely find a fiasco. Success comes on its own for the sweet will of God. It is the joy to operate at the service of other that we need to pursue with all of our might.

Do not speak abstractly about spirituality. The spirit must live here and now, among our relationships. We must let it live in a sister, a brother, a disciple, a friend, a travelling companion, on a train, in the dentist’s waiting room, everywhere.

Always ask yourselves: how do I implement this spiritual concept in my daily life? If you learn to observe and be sensitive to other’s problems, we will see that many precious opportunities will show up and these opportunities are our real patrimony. We should not measure the abstract concept, but how much we were able to practically implement it in our lives in relation to others.

Let’s commit to practice spiritual knowledge in every moment of our lives, by not looking for personal gratification but committing to help others. We are not the one to chose the beneficiary of our help, it is Krishna who chooses it for us and if we refuse it our failure begins. When we discriminate and want to choose who we want to care for, we are already on the wrong side. Whether a person is a relative of ours or someone else’s relative, what’s the difference? If we have some to give, let’s give it without reservation. It is by giving that we get richer. It is by holding on that we become poorer. What we give we have conquered forever. What we hold for ourselves, we lose inevitably.

We must show loyalty to everyone, not only to those that we like. Authentic loyalty is toward all, the same is for opening, transparency, generosity and goodness. When they are given selectively and exclusively they are not genuine sentiments, they are egoistical sentiments and they don’t open the way to Love. Whether our interlocutor is young or old, attractive or not, aggressive or passive, we must not limit our capability to love, but only modify our way to express that love. Obviously we cannot impose anything to anyone, not even affection or mercy. We can only make offers. Sometimes people perceive this, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they perceive for a short period of time, some other times for a medium or long period, but in any case we must always be thankful for what that person was able to give and for what he permitted us to offer. When we take or give we must never have expectations. Everyone is free to come and go, as long as they do it in a civilized manner. I pray to be able to give forever and continuously. Everyone must have their own prayer, the one felt in their hearts.

With devotional service, the bhakta enters into a dialog, listening at Shri Shri Guru and Krishna and he gets tuned with Them. Joy is a symptom of that syntony. When syntony exists, serving is not hard, however it is hard to interrupt our service. If we are connected to the spiritual level, we get up spontaneously in the morning and we are alive. Bhakti is the alarm clock. Indolence in performing our spiritual practices is the sign that we are not tuned. What to do then? We must re-center ourselves and ask the devotees and the Spiritual Master for help to live inspired and in balance.

There is a time to eat and a time to sleep, a time to operate in the world and a time to contemplate and meditate. Food makes us vigorous, but if we eat too much we fall ill and if we eat too little we get weak.

We must look for balance, by entering in syntony with the Supreme Soul and with the one of the people around us.

Look at people’s heart, not at their clothes or the color of their skin. Look at their soul and talk to their soul. If you know how to get in tune with their heart, every relationship will become special and every action will be connected to the spiritual dimension. Meditation can become every moment of our lives, like every action that we perform.”

We realize ever more, while we are united at the lotus feet of our Guru that Vyasapuja and generally all of the Mahotsava in the Vaishnava calendar are energetic injections to reinforce our spiritual vigor. If we don’t take advantage of these opportunities there will be a weakening of conscience which will lead to many other pathogen agents. Prevention is the best among medications.

An important point of our growing journey, Shrila Gurudeva explains, consists in learning the lesson of impermanence.

The lecture on impermanence is one of the first ones that one Guru should give to his disciple. In the journey of life we will not be able to always have as companions members of our original family, nor those of the family that we have created. We will not be able to be always together with our God-brothers or our Spiritual Master, however, thanks to God, there are other dimensions where we can live eternally together and no one can deny this to us. If we build an authentic spiritual relationship, based on loyalty, faithfulness and true deep respect and love, no one will ever be able to take it away, not even death. We will always live together, but in a different dimension from the physical one and much more reliable.”

Sweet melodies and spiritual chants vibe in and out of us, sealing inside our heart the realizations offered by Shirla Gurudeva. These realizations are direct of reflected in the words, the looks, the sentiments of our dear travel companions. The feeling is that of drinking at a pure water fountain.

We should live spiritual discipline with profound gratitude toward the great opportunity that is offered to us. Discipline allows us to sublimate the whims of our sense, achieve domination over our instincts and regain our center without being continuously thrown around like survivors by the waves.

By constantly practicing with faith vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti, which is the regulated by the injunctions of the Shastra and of the Spiritual Master, gradually we will see a miracle happening. We will begin to develop an intense and spontaneous taste while we live under those principles. From that moment on, the Guru is perceived as infinitely dear and essential to our life, no more because he tells us what to do, but because he made it impossible not to do it.

How long does it take to make this passage from sadhana-bhakti to? It depends on the intensity of our desire and on the consequent commitment. Do not waste time unproductive raves, practice seriously! You will discover that what you were looking for is inside you.

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