H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Monday, 7 February 2011

Family Matters (Part Five - Last) - By Matsya Avatara Dasa (Marco Ferrini)

Rigid versus Rigorous

Many times, listening to his tapes and reading his books, I heard Srila Prabhupada say that illicit sex is illicit sex. Very true, but I have heard him thundering against extra-conjugal illicit sex and have heard him being understanding, compassionate―not approving, not accomplice―towards those who, out of weakness, break the principles in family life. Pay attention to this point: I don't approve the breaking of principles and I am not accomplice of those who break them, even within family life. But I am ready to be quite tolerant, ready to provide help to overcome these weaknesses―without an air of catastrophe, without excessive criminalization―because those instincts, if negated or brutally repressed, slide into the unconscious and create much more damage than when they are dissolved in the sunlight. One can't avoid taking them in consideration. Either accepting such instincts or rejecting them should be done consciously, with awareness. One should use all one's resources to sublimate these instincts to a higher level, the spiritual one. And even if one succeeds nine times out of ten but the tenth time bangs his head, he should try again till perfection.
There are spirit souls who are more reawakened and those who are less reawakened; those who have more success and those who have less success, but the important thing is not to embark in disasters. I believe that in the past many tragedies occurred due to interpreting things, although in good faith, in a rigid manner instead of in a rigorous manner. There is great difference between these two concepts. What is rigid is unfortunately also very fragile. What is rigorous is much better. Rigid has a negative connotation while rigorous has a positive one. A rigid, crude, hard, radical negation―which, I repeat, could be in good faith―means repression, but if these impulses don't act on the conscious level they act, and even more powerfully, on the unconscious level. In a moment of distraction or in a moment in which our perception of God is a little hazy, in a moment of tiredness or in a moment of disappointment, these impulses surge out like a torrent overflowing its ridges and flood our consciousness. And the apparently faultless person becomes abominable.
This is a school of life. We have to learn the art of living. We have to be comprehensive towards the needs of others. We should help all those who are sincere but conditioned and with weak willpower to canalize and orient their urges upwards―without brutally negating them. If one is addicted to tobacco, let him smoke a cigarette once in a while. If one is an alcoholic, let him drink a glass once in a while. If one is addicted to sex, let him have an intercourse once in while. In this way the mind organizes itself to do always better, to improve. If a devotee is helped, cared for and inspired spiritually, receiving guidance and mercy by the spiritual master and understanding by the vaishnava, and behaving sincerely, then this process will lead to a purification of one’s samskara and desires. Bhakti is especially meant for the correction and transformation of one’s deep, unconscious tendencies (vasana). Brutal negations are a terrible teaching and it's for this reason that great thinkers have classified also organized religion―or rather the Churches―as one of the neurosis-generating environments: family, work and religion. Religions, when interpreted rigidly, to the letter, are dangerous means of serious conditioning, of neurosis, but religion, when explained by the spiritual master, sadhu and realized persons, is an extraordinarily effective means of spiritual realization.
In the same 'tree' category there are hundreds and thousands of different trees, similarly there are many different human beings. We can't make one law for everyone and make it so rigid that it doesn't work for anyone. There must be general moral definitions, but they can’t be applied in the same way to every individual. We should have general definitions because man lives in community, is a social being and can't negate his social needs. General definitions drive the group to grow; comparison among peers generates the drive for improvement, also among spiritualists. But even in law, the general definitions are not applicable to all individuals in the same way. Therefore the legislator―in our case the spiritual master, the vaishnava―has to understand the peculiarities of each person. The law remains one for everyone, but there should be personal considerations in the application.
Question: I would like to verify if I understood properly: we should see our spouse as a person who is helping us dissolve that attachment that is not spiritual―and which causes damage―and therefore we see him or her as a friend, with a sentiment of reciprocal help. This relation is like one of the various camps established in climbing a mountain, right?
Yes, if you feel alone and incapable of reaching the summit you might be overcome by desolation and by anguish. You might lack the energy to even start the climb. But you do have the desire to reach the summit and therefore we are not talking of grihamedhi but of grihastha, whose aim is spiritual realization. Sometimes it's necessary to make this journey in two, because by oneself one doesn't have enough strength, even psychologically. It's crucial that the spouses remind each other of why they got together. When a spouse has a difficult moment, the other must remind him or her of the original motivation in a consistent way. Otherwise, if they both forget, they go somewhere else.
Question: It's about continence, abstinence from sex. Sometimes the couple fails to control the sexual urge and becomes so "confidential," so familiar that they reach a point where they don't value each other any more; they can't see each other's good qualities anymore.
This is a very interesting question. There is a confidentiality that doesn't diminish respect. That's confidentiality on a spiritual basis. When familiarity becomes excessive and it's reduced to the material plane, it inevitably creates disrespect and causes disappointment. Step by step this darkness envelops the zone of light until the relation is largely consumed, depleted. During the excitement, the enthusiasm of the moment one doesn't perceive that this is happening, but it does actually happen. One whose vision is sufficiently detached―but attentive, profound, discriminating―can understand when this happens. Therefore we should try to define what love is, because this helps a lot, it helps enormously in creating categories. Life needs categories; otherwise we don't understand what's happening.

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthau
prakashante mahatmanau

"Only unto one who has unflinching devotion to the Lord and to the spiritual master does transcendental knowledge become automatically revealed."(Svetashvatara Upanisad VI.23)
In the path of bhakti, love is defined as the sentiment for guru and Krishna. Just like food has to be inserted in the mouth; there are innumerable other ways of inserting food but they don't work. One could make little balls of rice and stick them in one’s ears, but it doesn't work. One could even try intravenously, and also in that case there would be nourishment, but it won't give pleasure and real strength. Shrila Prabhupada said: "We teach all men to love Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you learn how to love Krishna, which is very easy, then immediately you love every living being simultaneously." (Letter of 10th March 1970) Only the unflinching love for God gives the strength to love all other creatures. This is an essential point; the capacity to love all others is the result of loving God. Otherwise love undergoes devolution, degeneration; it becomes egoistic. Slowly, slowly it shrinks to the level of ahamkara, false ego, the reflected self, the atman reflecting on the mental field.
What is the ahamkara? It's the sum of all the psychic contents with which we identify. Love in this form shrinks to the minute field of the psychic contents, thus practically negating all the real needs of the living being. The effect of love for God, or love "in God"(yasya deve para bhaktir―deve is in the locative case) is not like falling inside a well and getting locked up. Love of God multiplies in love for the husband, for the wife, for the children, for the parents, for the neighbors, for the so-called enemies and for the so-called friends. Therefore through bhakti we can enter into respectful affection. There is morbid affection, which has no respect―think of the pedophiles and the rapists. Criminologists working on the psychological profiles of criminals, would assure that they always talk of affection, of an overflowing affection, but they often cause huge disasters. Love of God is that affection that bubbles over, overflows, and benefits everyone.

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