H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Purifying and Renewing our Motivations

Bhaktivedanta Ashrama, March 3, 2010

catur-vidha bhajante mam

janah sukrtino 'rjuna

arto jijnasur artharthi

jnani ca bharatarshabha

(Bhagavad-Gita VII.16)

In this shloka, Krishna explains that there are four categories of people that come to Him. They are all characterized by their sattvic nature. He defines those people that have done good deeds as sukitinam. In the previous shloka he had indicated four more categories of people that can’t reach Him and that He defines duskritinam (those that have an evil behavior). Since the nature of the jiva is thtasha shkti, the living being can become enlightened or darkened depending on his behavior and on the influences that he entertains. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad explains the same principle when it says: he who performs good deeds will have a good outcome, he who performs bad deeds, will have a bad outcome. The sukrinam have a common denominator: they desire to undertake the enlightened way upward, they have in their heart the wellbeing and the valuing of all, they are transparent and truthful and they set themselves to face every problem with constructive spirit. The duskritinam instead, are those who not have chosen the evolutional path, they tell lies and their actions are evil. In the sixteenth chapter of Bhagavad-Gita, sixth shloka, Krishna defines the darkened people as follows:

pravrittim ca nivrittim ca

jana na vidur asurah

na shaucam napi cacaro

na satyma teshu vidyate

(Bhagavad-Gita XVI.6)

They don’t do what they should do, instead they do what they shouldn’t do, they are not pure, do not have a correct behavior and they are twofold and deceptive.

Do not consider lies, envy and other conditioners as exceptions. They are distributed in the Kali atmosphere as we find iron, copper and many other elements in nature. We must have this sense of reality if we wish to overcome the anartha without underestimating their power and predisposing ourselves for the best by identifying them and transforming them. Every time an enlightened structure forms in our personality, we must be aware that a shadow of the same size and strength forms itself. At the same moment that Krishna created the Deva, the asura rises. When God creates ranks of the most beautiful angels, the most illuminated among them, Lucifer, is overcome by envy and becomes Satan. This happens at the cosmic level as well as the individual level. Every time you make a choice that elevates you and you have a significant spiritual experience, a wave of the same size, but opposed, arrives. This is the test that, if we overcome it, will allow us to reach a superior balance. We must however have the firm will to overcome our limits.

With the help of knowledge we can see if we are acting well or badly and people of elevated knowledge who observe us, can see it better and before we can. They can give us suggestions to stimulate us toward evolution, they can help us and correct us, but only if we have the desire to truly listen.

The Scriptures explain that the deviations from the rightful path are caused by mistakes repeated and a neglected attitude or stubbornness in performing them, as our evolution is the result of a systematic series of behaviors that are ethically elevated, noble and finalized to our and other’s wellbeing. An healthy self critical knowledge always alerted is indispensable to progress in the enlightened path of liberation. Help and support from others is fundamental as it is not always easy to observe ourselves and understand when we make mistakes because our worse conditioners are those that have subconscious origin.

When a sense of uneasiness, a doubt or a sense of heaviness arise, at the first warning we should be able to take immediate corrective measures, just as we would do when a warning light in our car alerts us that there is a problem. Ignoring this warning can be lethal. This is why Shrila Rupa Gosvami explains in the Upadeshamrita the importance of revealing our mind to people of elevate conscience. Why? Because if there is anything wrong with us, we would have the opportunity to recognize it and begin to resolve it, otherwise, if we build a wall around ourselves, in the darkness of our loneliness we get stuck ever more in the tunnels of our mind. The poison that we keep inside destroys us and then we end up spreading it around and infecting others with our disease.

In Bhagavad-Gita VII.16, Krishna individuated the following four categories of people that can reach Him; the ones that are suffering, those that are trying to reach their objective (the search for a spouse, a job, etc.), the curious ones and those that are looking for knowledge. What do people that suffer do when they have solved their problems by using the teachings received? What do those people that were looking for an objective after they have reached it do or those who have received the knowledge as soon as they get it? They leave the enlightened path if their objectives remained only those that they have obtained and if in the meantime they had not elevated their motivation that lead them to the spiritual path. I saw many people coming to Krishna Consciousness for different external purposes. Even the knowledge of the Veda is to be considered a marginal purpose if it is not conceived as an instrument to reach the only true objective that allows for the full evolution of the human being, which is the realization of the immortal love for God and for every Creature. Even knowledge, if it is not an instrument to develop Love, becomes a useless distraction and causes haughtiness instead of wisdom.

Therefore, in our evolutionary journey, to reach our goal, we must be able to enhance our motivations and always renew our consciousness of the true meaning of this journey. We must be able to distinguish the instrumental aspects from those finalized to this journey which are param gatih, or the supreme purpose. Caitanya Mahaprabhu defines Love as the supreme purpose. It is so fulfilling that it includes and transcends all other purposes, and once it is achieved, we need nothing else. If we don’t purify and elevate step by step our motivations that led us on the evolutionary path, we couldn’t gradually make progress, and we wouldn’t ever reach our final destination. This purpose is the quintessence of life, it is the pure Bhakti or Shudda Bhakti and it is not contaminated by desires of sensorial gratification, personal honor, power, etc....

Krishna explains in Bhagavad-Gita IX.2: the path of dharma allows us to know our authentic eternal nature and it is applied with joy. Even a single step on this path can free us from the biggest fear. The benefits that we achieve, as we evolve, before we reach our purpose should not however distract us from the real purpose to be pursued. Why stopping at mid trip? It means condemning ourselves to remain inside the prison of prakriti, articulated by continuous births and deaths. This happens whether we know or don’t know the Veda, even if we have reached 90% of our journey. The journey continues to the final destination only if we can substitute our initial motivations with others more purified and elevated. The first ones will result inadequate to reach the ultimate level from which we will never fall again, where in fact the guna will not grab the person that is now established in the irreversible Bhakti. This perfecting is made possible by the continuous renovation of our motivations.

When we clash with the tendencies of virtue and sin, the ones that we chose to nurture the most will win. We need faith, perseverance and determination in achieving pure Goodness. Even when we make choices to strengthen the angel within us, to overcome our conditioners and dependencies, our journey is not however free of obstacles. The greatest obstacles never come from outside, they come from coercion to repeat destructive activities that we have performed in the past. The evolutionary journey is not easy, but those who want to be serious, that have a genuine desire to free themselves from their conditioners can make it if they commit their best and in the meantime look for shelter in God surrounding themselves with faith. In Bhagavad-Gita VII.14. Krishna explains: the guna are my divine energy, they are very hard to overcome, however, if you surrender to me, you will easily pass their limits. It is the faithful and loving surrender that represents our hope for salvation; surrender ourselves to God like we would surrender to the dearest of our friends, to the sweetest of our lovers, to our Protector and Savior.

This surrender is not possible if we don’t practice purity, become humble and behave in a transparent fashion. Krishna is the Lord and Protector of those that are sattvic and pray to Him continuously without egoistical purposes. In their heart, Krishna destroys all the coercion to repeat actions generated by old tendencies. Therefore, to be able to practice surrender and welcome the Divine Mercy, we must first of all initiate our purification. This is why Sadhana cannot be an option. We should constantly continue to purify our desires, thoughts, words, sentiments and actions. Life has full value when it is dedicated to this purification that step by step, with the divine mercy allows us to fully realize immortal love. When we have realized true love and secured it in our hearts, we will never again be touched by what is external, it won’t make a difference where we will live, if we have a material body or one made of light, because the person in love with God draws the most complete satisfaction while serving in a pure devotional state.