H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Friday, 15 April 2011

Being or becoming conscious of God. By Matsyavatara dasa (Marco Ferrini)

24th march 2011
Morning class at Bhaktivedanta ashrama,
Perignano (PI)

In the conditioned state it is a difficult undertaking to be Krishna conscious, due to the heavy and uninterrupted conditionings we are subject to. A thought which has helped me many times and which I offer you, hoping it will help you too, is the one which leads you to concentrate your attention non only on being, but on becoming Krishna conscious. The idea as well as the wish of “becoming” it, has an enormous power, extraordinarily greater and stronger than the one of “being”. Indeed, “becoming” points out a dynamic movement, it implies that you have to apply yourself to a task with devotion and clear orientation. While the idea of “being” is static, the one of “becoming” includes the awareness of the need of one’s application and engagement to reach what we know is the result of a daily achievement. To become Krishna conscious means thus uninterrupted devotion and engagement, considering that at the moment our consciousness is conditioned. We live neither inside a bell-glass which protects us from every contamination, nor in a state of definitely and irrevocably obtained bliss. In the most blissful moments we can taste states of happiness which follow one another, but each of these is the result of an uninterrupted work on ourselves to renew in every moment our connection to God. Unfortunately we are not Krishna conscious, but thanks to His unconditioned mercy, we are trying to become it. I think that the following image could be of some inspiration: let’s think about ourselves as on the way, marching towards perfection, towards spiritual realization, liberation and, beyond that, towards bhakti. As we live states of consciousness which are still subject to conditioning, we should always keep a good watch on ourselves, pointing straight towards the goal. We haven’t yet reached our destination, so anything but resting or taking our attention off: it can take just a moment to be heavily off road. For us it’s essential to have a constant sadhana, an uninterrupted discipline, abhyasa. The mood we have when we know we have to conquer something is much more stimulating and productive than the thought that we already achieved a goal and just have to maintain it. To tell the truth, to maintain an achievement is very difficult, because the idea of having already achieved the goal leads you to a condition of mental steadiness and makes the task even harder. As it is difficult to keep the balance on a stationary bike, similarly it is difficult to maintain personal balance or the achieved spiritual goal if our interior life is not dynamic. Only if you pedal you can win the trend of losing the balance, and even more: you can restore the balance by pedalling. This uninterrupted movement and acting in view of the goal is essential and exactly in this lies the sadhana carried on unceasingly, abhyasa. For the mentioned reasons, maintaining oneself Krishna conscious is much more difficult than becoming it. Becoming conscious of God doesn’t imply in this case greed for contaminating material objects. Having the wish of becoming God conscious means acting to escape from the snare of the gunas and it is the most beautiful and the biggest discovery we can make: it’s the discovery of our divine nature. In the ordinary state of embodied life our consciousness is dominated by two basic impulses: sexuality and aggressiveness, which are functional to the survival of the species. The reconquest of a divine consciousness, which exceeds the limits of the ordinary, conditioned one, is the result of an uninterrupted effort, undertaken deliberately thanks to an aware and strong will which, blessed by Divine Grace, can lead us where we always long to be and stay. I wished to offer you this reflection in an attitude of spiritual friendship; as during time, always with a renewed consciousness, it has been helpful to me, I hope it will be for you, too. All that is true, that concerns spiritual reality, blossoms again and again as in spring, bringing renewed vision, faith and enthusiasm and stimulating an always greater effort in order to reach the goal”.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Marriage and Family (Part 2/2). Lecture by Matsya Avatar dasa (Marco Ferrini), dated May 13th, 2008

Unfortunately it is proved by several clinic experiences that ideals and values are often neglected in pathological and psychopathic families. A bossy father, for example, may block the evolution of a child for decades because of a violent leadership, likewise an irresponsible parent who wastes time fooling around may induce such negative attitude in the children, producing ill effects, which require efforts, time and suffering to be eradicated.
A preliminary, accurate education is essential before even thinking of making a family. Nowadays marriage and divorce are easy targets, but this is not a reason to think it harmless. It shows instead the sign of a degrading society. Although we can appreciate the good sides of modern society, it is also important to see the wrong doings, the stains, the incongruities, the paradox, the abuses: like considering abortion a civil right which is not, as the child is not given the right to live.
A proper education is required to get married and live marriage as a real success, lasting through time and in harmony, favouring the evolution of our own and others’ personality. A woman should be given the right education to become a wife and a mother, the same as a man to become a responsible husband able to fulfil his role, giving shelter to his wife and children. Nowadays there are no schools to teach this job, or at least they are very rare. There is a lack of culture on this topic and there are no models or living examples to inspire a correct way of thinking, acting and caring for our affectionate relationships; again, such models are very rare to find.
Once again, marriage is not about choosing a man or a woman; it is the choice of a husband or wife in order to build a family. Marriage implies procreation and procreation implies education, being aware of the psycho-spiritual laws which rule the world and the life of each human being. Education means loving continuously, caring for the children, helping them to achieve positive and developing results, so that in the future they will also contribute to spread a message of Light and Love.
Parents should never act without love, without the wish to correct and lead towards perfection. A smack given in a state of passion is highly destructive and those who are abused violently will not be able to become good parents in the future.
Children are a vital part of marriage; getting married with no intention to have children is not recommended. Canakya Pandita explained that a marriage without children is like a desert. Children are of vital importance to strengthen the union of a couple for a noble cause, that is giving education and values to the children. In so doing, the need of love and to be loved is brought to a higher level than that of a mere sensual and passionate attraction. If it is not overcome and sublimated to reach a deeper feeling, it will become otherwise the cause of anxiety, contrasts and unbalance in the relationship. A mother who holds a baby to her breast, may completely satisfy her need for affection in a constructive and evolving way; this works also for a father who takes care of his children, trying to give protection, shelter and affection to the whole family.
The education to provide for the children ought to give them protection in life against dishonest tricks, and most of all favour their ethic and spiritual evolution. In any case the greatest way to teach is not by verbal speech but by personal example. It is not necessary for the children to know in theory their parents’ lessons, rather they need to see them applied in life. A real parent is not only the physical parent, but also the producer of his conscience: his duty is to inspire, educate, give shelter.
Rishabhadeva explains to his children: do not become a father, a mother or a spiritual master if you are not able to release your family from the suffering of conditioned life. We cannot force our will on others, but we can offer a model to be proud of. A family certainly requires an economic plan to satisfy its material needs: they are not the only, nor the most important ones, yet they cannot be ignored. If one is single, he or she may take care of oneself without any further obligation to society, but a person who has a family and children cannot follow the same logic. It is also important to consider that people who lived on their own for a long time, are not easily willing to accept a different kind of mentality.
In order to understand if we are really fit for one another it is suggested to verify it for a few years, not as a married couple, but within a period of time, long enough to make a test. There is a fundamental realization of the substantial difference between complementary and elective affinities.
The spouse is not just a shoulder to hang on to or a rescue remedy to loneliness, and of course it is neither a casual friend, one among a number of friendships. It is a person to share a life with, based on a serious and deep union consisting of noble values. Today society promotes an irresponsible way to create couples and family relationships, which kind of society will then be there for our children in the future? Which kind of world will it be? They praise the principle of sense gratification and meanwhile they paralyse true justice and freedom. Abuses and disruptive activities are made legal, but what is said to be legal is not necessarily right. If you meet someone who could become your possible partner, learn to study and observe that person accurately, and most of all try to imagine him or her as the father or mother of your children. Do you see this person: active, protective, responsible, able to give good lessons and teach well, most of all with good examples? Do you think that with the help of this person you could face life crisis, such as: economic difficulties or health problems, or you consider him or her not to be ready, not well aware, with the tendency to avoid responsibilities rather than handling them with courage and maturity? Learn to be well aware of the difficulties originating from an authoritative partner, a despotic father or a jealous spouse who sees competitors and danger everywhere. Younger couples are likely to face some dangers, but developing a certain level of maturity is required to divert dangerous situations without becoming paranoid. Women and men who live with uncertain moral principles or with a low level of responsibility have to modify such attitudes and personality features trying to improve ahead of time, not just once the decision of getting married is already made.
A family education program should include these considerations, and many more to be made with a more accurate analysis.
Family could become a good instrument for evolution, but it needs to be based on healthy principles, in relation to the deeper and more spiritual instances of the human being, beside ordinary daily necessities. If a person is not interested in evolution, has no transcendental aims, he or she may of course satisfy any private ambition, change partner every six months and fulfil personal goals in life which temporarily satisfy the ego, but do keep in mind that the number of people who commit suicide is increasing out of proportion, precisely among those who develop that type of mentality.
The battles we win for our and others’ real wellness give us strength, self-confidence, deep and long lasting satisfaction, we do not gain anything if we give them up for selfish purposes. We ought to trust high values and stick to them in order to overcome any difficulties. By surrendering to our own and others’ weaknesses, we give credit to an ill belief: “I cannot do it ….. I am worthless” and, following such bad forecast, disastrous prophesies will come true.
Making a family is not compulsory, to be a father or a mother is not a must for evolution; a person may have made such an experience in previous lives and may have reached a level of awareness so as to adjust life and grow up without the need to fulfil that kind of social duty. For those who decide to make a family, it is important to take onto themselves this responsibility and keep well in mind the purpose of a family, which actually is ending the need for a family.
The target is to release ourselves from attachments and exterior needs, to develop affectionate and spiritual autonomy, therefore husband and wife ought to help one another for the sake of their union, on the grounds of gratitude and mutual self-esteem, rather than on an emotional and psychological dependence.
The aim is not to repress love, rather to elevate our ability to love and be loved, stretching it progressively so as to become universal. In fact the necessity to exchange fulfilling affection and feelings is not granted by marriage, it will depend on our ability to transfer and live love on an even higher and more conscious level. A family is to be consumed and I say it with no lack of respect, nor with the intention to downgrade the institution of the family in itself; I mean that its function is to bring to full maturity and realization, as though it were a real sacrifice, developing wisdom, wellness and benefits to all family members.
Beware of the damages caused by betrayal and unfaithfulness: these light up the fire of passion and increase the attachment to new partners and fantasies, acting as an impediment to the spiritual and ethical ascent, and their influence is even worse on the children’s welfare.
The wish to make a family – with the right motivations – is a noble desire, it is a responsible choice, the same as the path of renunciation, whose practise also requires to take responsibilities, in order to mature and be able to give and receive affection and love. The path of renunciation does not mean giving up love, on the contrary: such choice implies learning to love everybody, being aware that each human being has a common spiritual root.
In conclusion, looking back on history: before the last two or three generations there was never a time without worthy models for humanity to aim at: the hero, the mystic, the gentleman, etc. On the contrary they now try to wipe away any noble, moral principle: we are living the era of the self-made man, the man who can make up for his own living and then becomes drug-addict, depressed, restless because of conflicts, lack of self-esteem and dissatisfactions, which can even lead to suicide. Who is the icon of the television media? The soccer player, the showgirl, the successful singer, the money-faced fashion designer who can no longer live without drinking or sexual perversions. Unfortunately young people are clutched by those false stereotypes whose lives seem easy, but how much suffering, self-commiseration and desperation is hidden behind those lives! The outlook is a cheater. True success is made of continuous and serious efforts for the achievement of positive and evolving purposes. Those who live this level of consciousness remain active, productive and creative even as years go by. In history there are outstanding examples of people such as Goethe, who wrote the Faust in his eighties, or Jung, who in his late years composed his biography “Remembrance, Dreams and Reflections”; or other wise men and Masters like Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who in the late years of their life accomplished wonderful projects for the benefit of humanity. To be young or old does not depend on the date of birth: it depends on our life-style, on our priorities, on the quality of our motivations and the dedication we apply to the pursuit of our targets. If we live to develop Wisdom and Love, we get younger with the time passing by.
Every one has to ponder on the nature and purpose of marriage and on their personal choice of social status, observing one’s own attitudes and tendencies, because what is good for one person may result ill or even damaging for another person. Both choices, either to get married or not, are worthy; it is up to us which path to follow, and live it with consistency.