H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Remembering Shrila Prabhupada

In the sacred occasion of the departure of Bhaktivedanta Swami Shrila Prabhupada, we pray Shri Krishna to empower us with strength so that we could carry in our hearts the example of His extraordinary life, character, deeds and works forever. Those who were able to witness His life and teachings, had the greatest luck to testify the changes in their lives and in the lives of so many people.
These transformations are the great events from which we can draw an inexhaustible inspiration: Shrila Prabhupada gave us the opportunity to live in the spiritual awareness. The path traced by Him is followed by hundreds of thousands of people, and the most favored are those who welcomed Him in the heart, dedicating their service to the realization of His dream, that is make available the love of God to as many people as possible regardless of race, creed, culture, social position, politics or religion.
36 years ago Shrila Prabhupada left His physical body and this material world to return to where He came from, the spiritual universe. We pray Bhagavan Shri Krishna to give us the purity to be able to celebrate His glories properly. By celebrating His glories we become aware of his greatness, and becoming aware of the greatness of a pure devotee of the Lord, we can experience the greatness of God. In this way, practicing the nine paths of Bhakti, we can realize our divine nature and become purified from the distortions of psychic structure and its conditionings.
We take this special opportunity to increase our sincere attachment to the lotus feet of Shrila Prabhupada, to humbly serve His teachings and His way of life so as to bring us closer to Him and to Shri Krishna through the nine paths of love mentioned before.
Shrila Prabhupada allowed hundreds of thousands of people to transform their lives by changing their vision, allowing them to get rid of the identification with the material structure that covers their eternal Self. Shrila Prabhupada gave the possibility to understand the difference between the spiritual Self, the body and the mind and to realize the divine potential of each person regardless of age, gender, social status and culture. The term Acarya means exemplary. Through His example and model of life, Shrila Prabhupada made the teachings of the Shastras feasible.
A person can take the Bhagavad-gita, read some sublime passages and reflect: "How nice it would be to live like that, but who is able to? I would not be capable of doing that for sure." We need a model, an example, there must be someone who lives the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita constantly, faithfully, coherently, and joyfully. The sacred work becomes a person, and the highest aspirations become applicable in our lives. It is exactly what happened to all of us. Why? Because Shrila Prabhupada experienced Bhakti so intensely and joyfully, no matter what life presented to Him in terms of ordeals, difficulties and obstacles to overcome. His relying on Krishna at all times without ever becoming fatalistic allowed this great Acarya to live in this world in pure spiritual consciousness. Faith is not a fatalism, it is an evolutionary creativity for searching the best solution for the existential problems; if we direct our efforts towards the spiritual evolution with commitment and faith, such solution will appear as Paramatma in the heart, as well as through the expert guidance of the Spiritual Master in the outer world.

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Real Success.

The  experiences of accomplishment that one can reach in her or his lifespan, sometimes can be conflicting with the self-image, possibly being the one of an unconfident person, a weak individual, too reliant on someone else’s opinions. If this self-image will not change, the outer accomplishment will be followed by inner troubles and unsteadiness. This is because the new higher equilibrium is such only when it is achieved with harmony and stability. To avoid this kind of situation one should conceive and support a self-image corresponding to what one would like to be and should be. If one will shape her or his personality in depth, then this person will be psychologically ready when an accomplishment or a better position will be achieved. Conversely, some individuals are afraid of their own success because they have not built yet an objective and positive self-image.
Powerful desires move things and alter reality. A person becomes what she or he craves to be. Egoistical ambitions do not lead to real accomplishment: the apparent success sooner or later will turn into calamity.
The immature management of resources and of desire's energy produces derangement and deep emotional troubles. Any waste and any improper use of the above is the cause of personal failure.
Anything we have: objects, affections, talents, must be employed to reconnect ourselves to the deep divine matrix, the raison d'être and foundation of our existence. If we do not do this, as explained by Shrila Rupa Gosvami, one of the greatest Vedic Tradition Master, anything gets contaminated and turns into poison. 
The perfection of existence (yukta vairagya) can be archived if we are closely connected to the Istha Devata and place all our resources to its service. Ambarisha Maharaja was the sovereign of the world, in spite of this he was not ruling it for his own egoistic enjoyment, but as a tool to serve God.  In order to run suitably that function maturity and awareness were needed, because who has so much energy can do great good things, but, if one is not cautious and do not have uncontaminated motivation in the way this energy is used, can cause great damages and bring harm to himself and everybody nearby. 
The most valuable resources, never to be neglected and never to be abused, are our fellow human beings, with their desires for advancement, their wishes for good, their projects, with their search for self-realization. We should not dare to waste even the smallest bit of their energy, we have to support instead their convergence, channeling, and sublimation toward elevated motivations of real good and real success. Sublimation will be possible if we encourage for taking a solid commitment for spiritual activities, with an active and energetic service offered with awareness and dedication to our spiritual Master and the Istha Devata. According to one of the most important and recurrent Shrila Prabhupada’s statements: "Bhakti Yoga is not just an idle meditation". Nor meditation means escaping from the world.
 Authentic meditation inspires and motivates actions in the world, and it is able to solve real problems, to disentangle knots that grew in the mind. Authentic meditation does not evade or remove practical problems: it resolves them. It is based on the consciousness of spiritual matrix of all things, and the understanding of the subtlest psychological phenomena: how minds get entangled or stuck, and how it is possible to jump-start them, reactivate them, and purify them.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Great Departure.

Dear devotees, please accept my obeisances;

All glories to Shrila Prabhupada and Shri Shri Radha Govinda Deva.

Jaya Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga!

Jaya Shri Jagannath, Shri Baladeva, Subhadra Maharani Shrimati!

I hope to find you in good health and spiritually inspired.

Some days ago my dear disciple - Omkrishna Mataji - left the body and this mortal world and headed for the supreme eternal abode of Shri Krishna.

The two sons, daughters in law and grandchildren attended to her all the time in high spiritual consciousness, lovingly and with devotion.

Besides being herself a sincere devotee, Omkrishna Mataji had the great blessing in this life to live in a family of special devotees, all of them very dear to me.

One of her sons was next to her at the very moment she passed away, and has accompanied and sustained her by chanting uninterruptedly the Holy Names.

My most fervent prayers go to this disciple so dear to me, who was always cheerful, playful and joyful, who was so moved every time we met, and I’m also asking you to pray for her too.

I pray she can soon play happily in the company of Lord Krishna and His eternal companions and friends.

With deep emotion,

Matsyavatara dasa

Friday, 6 September 2013

School of Life: How to Learn from Good and from Evil.

The Sacred Texts tell us that without receiving mercy from the Spiritual Master and from the Supreme God it's impossible to overcome for good the egoistic attachment toward mundane things. In order to succeed, not only we need to have received divine benevolence, we must have kept it too.
In which way we can receive mercy? Firstly by seeking it ardently, and behaving consequently, by dedicating ourselves with diligence and faith to spiritual practices and so awaken Love and Awareness.
And in which way we can keep it? By offering it to others. Then and only then, through constant and coherent efforts toward achieving Bhakti in our lifespan, we will be increasingly able to discriminate reality from illusion, the essence from appearance, the eternal from ephemeral.
Mice see the cheese but not the trap. In the same way conditioned souls see the promises of pleasure in this world's things, but hardly can understand that this pleasure hides a trap. A mortal trap.
How to be detached from the world and its overwhelming beauties? How can we resist when we see something appealing, pleasing, good smelling and shining? We should think about it in connection to God. It is difficult to deny this world; the more we deny it the more we are attracted to it, risking to become hypocrites who refuse the world's attractions outwardly while inwardly craving them (Bhagavad-gita III.6). Therefore we should not refuse this material world's beautiful things, but to use them to serve God with Love, correlating them to our spiritual origin, and living them in the vision of eternity. Accordingly, in any circumstance of our life we can connect to the Lord and to our deepest spirituality. Even bitter experiences, the biting words we received, the mistakes we made, at the end can turn into gifts, only if we can learn from the lessons they offer us. Gratitude and appreciation can permeate everybody and everything appear in this world, because we make use of every experience to get closer to God.
This gratitude can be felt and can be expressed both when we receive "good things", and when we get "bad things", being conscious that the light of the day cannot be appreciated without the night's darkness.
As you would expect, it is necessary that we learn how to discriminate between vice and virtue, between good and evil, so we can choose once far all righteousness and be firm in sattva-guna, but also we must be aware that Reality is beyond. It is that pure spiritual dimension in which mundane good and evil are transcended, and they merge in the "sommum bonum": the supreme goodness beyond duality. And supreme goodness is unconditioned pure Love that change and purify everything. Such dimension can be reached when any desire we have becomes an offering to the Lord and all our perceptions are dedicated to His service.
By living in this perspective we will find treasures around each corner, hidden in any occurrence of our life. And we will walk toward death full of gratitude because we understood that by practicing Bhakti even death leads us to life.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Pilgrimage: a Journey of Search and Discovery.

Part II
It is not by chance that Masters of Bhakti speak of an inseparable unity which is necessary for our evolution: Bhagavata sacred work and Bhagavata person, both of them are able to transfer the knowledge and the consciousness of  the Divine, Bhagavan.
If our visit to a sacred place is made with these predispositions, it may become an experience of great meaning that allows us to get in touch with timeless memories that bring us in other elevated dimensions of consciousness, and allow us to hear and accept the messages conveyed to mankind from another dimensions.
At times life faces us with very difficult situations so that we have to be ready and able to make our pilgrimage even in a hospital's room after the announcement of a terrible medical report, in front of the lifeless body of a dear person, suffering a devastating moral pain because of the betrayal of the person we most loved; or in a prison's cell where we had been locked in spite of our innocence, destroyed  by defamation. In these circumstances we need to start our journey even sooner, loading ourselves with inspiration and starting our inner journey to find a safe place, a shelter, an oasis in which to connect with our spiritual eternal self, which is unchangeable, together with God who is the giver of Knowledge, Love and Mercy. More than ever in these situations, in order to withstand sufferance, we have to fight against time in order to reach the space in the centre of our heart, where, the Upanishads say, time and space ultimately do not exist. That dimension is pure Transcendence. It is the place where all our desires are fulfilled. But the human being, deviated by the unreal world of vanishing impressions,  has lost the route to find it, because that dimension is invisible to the senses and to the physical eyes, the voice of that place speaks to the soul and the ears are not meant to hear it. For this reason Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita: “In order to see me the way I am, I give you spiritual senses”. Why does Krishna offer to Arjuna such a great opportunity? Because Arjuna asked Him with a humble manner, because he desired it with intensity, because he wanted to get in touch with Krishna in his original and intimate divine nature.
Only with a burning desire to perceive a spiritual dimension and connect with God, a person may receive the divine strength to achieve it, to make the journey that from the realm of death will take us to immortality, from darkness to light, from sufferance to beatitude. A pilgrimage is that journey, it is rejoining.
How long does that journey last? Patanjali in the Yoga-sutras explains that the distance depends mainly on two factors: continuity and intensity of desire, and the required effort. In order to reach our target soon, we need to keep our course steady, with constant determination, and to increase the speed of motion by rising the intensity of the desire. Dante in the Divine Comedy accomplishes that journey too. At one point he describes his emotion as “feeling a pull from the sky while being still alive”. Once we loosen our conditionings and get rid of  bad habits, ascending is fast.
A pilgrimage  is that  ascension, it is an upward shift, it means heading toward holiness, and the spirit we hold while facing the journey is crucial. If we have the right attitude, that feeling of serenity we  have been looking for, the one that we thought we would experiment only once we reached our destination - instead it arrives step by step during our pilgrimage: then we find it in the predetermined place we have chosen and elected as our home, the heart.
Life will become then, day after day, a wonderful journey of research and discovery.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Pilgrimage: a Journey of Search and Discovery.

Part I
A pilgrimage is a journey in search of the Divine inside and outside us.
It does not take place within a physical space, rather it occurs in one's mind and consciousness. Its most intimate purpose is a deep purification of the heart, of the intellect, of the memory, and of our being in its wholeness. If we live the Pilgrimage deeply and authentically, it may represent a turning point, a special experience, that, due to an extraordinary combination of elements, favouring the purification of consciousness, may allow us a sudden advancement, which possibly we would have not been able to achieve even through a number of  previous lives.
According to the Indovedic literature, the spiritual vitality of the pilgrimage location is related to the daily renovation of its sanctity by the holy people living there.
In the Shrimad Bhagavatam this concept is explained very clearly: they believe that holy people themselves are pilgrimage places. In the first canto of this wonderful masterpiece,  King Yudhisthira says to the great sage Vidura:

Noble soul, the devotee who have the qualities of Your Divine Grace are themselves regarded as pilgrimage places. As you bring God in your heart wherever you go, the places you visit become holy places” (I.13.10)

When we enter a sacred place, in Sanskrit called tirtha, we meet the Divine (murti) and awaken people, sadhu, and this way, if we incline ourselves  properly, we can be pervaded by a great spiritual power, the same energy that permeates those places, behaviours and gestures of ancient sacred value.  This spiritual energy, which, in holy places, is brilliant and vibrating, can strengthen us in order to improve our personality and our changes in life, that, otherwise, we would have  never accomplished for lack of will and courage. Like a magnet that energy and spiritual strength attracts our  deepest thoughts and feelings, our ideal aspirations,  and brings us along a path of wonderful search for rediscovering ourselves, the origins of our life, and our highest realization.
First of all the pilgrimage place is an instrument to acquire virtue and knowledge, not a “horizontal” knowledge, limited to the things of this world, but a “vertical” knowledge that rises up to the highest pinnacles of awareness. For this reason we consider a pilgrimage like a journey between the earth and the sky: from the earth it takes us to the sky and from the sky it brings us back to earth, transferring in our daily life the intuitions, the comprehensions, and the realizations that we have experienced, welcomed, and harboured during the Journey.
All the efforts and inconveniences connected to travelling are part of the path of elevation. They should not to be seen as obstacles, rather they are extraordinary opportunities to overcome our limits, to dispose of  illusions and attachments. When we travel, it is easier to understand that none of the things outside of us belong to us. Who can claim to own wealth? Can we have power over youth or health? For how long? Those resources are given to us for a brief length of time and their quality and evolving utility depends on how we use them. Who can say “I possess a body”?  In truth, we are not even the owners of our body, and if we want to keep it forever, we would not be able to do it: it would be impossible. Sooner o later it will be taken away from us regardless of our will. We do not own whatever is outside us, we can only take care of it temporarily. However the soul and its powers belong to us, and they are inalienable and immensely great: the knowledge of the truth, the joy of the self, the nature of eternity. The essence of  life is to regain awareness of those intrinsic qualities we have lost, choked by the conditionings, and the contaminations of our character. During the Journey each one of us has the rare opportunity to achieve the discovery of the soul’s treasures.
Furthermore the journey exhorts us for a continuous effort of discerning, to separate virtuosity from vice, reality from illusion, sacredness from profane, the inner world from the outside world, aimed to avoid the mistake of exchanging the pure from the impure and vice versa. Holy places are not meant to be seen with your own eyes, we need to predispose ourselves with an elevated consciousness and visit them with the company of people who live and search santity, otherwise we run the risk to limit our vision at the physical level, and to be confused by external appearances.
The sacred place is a state of mind, not a physical reality. It is the reality of the soul where there is genuine love, control over impulses, caring for each other, awareness of the presence of God. During our pilgrimage in sacred places we may come across holy scenes, moments of eternal sacredness, but also situations of degradation and low civilization, exactly like one person may harbour elevated expressions of geniality and kindness together with abysses of degradation. This is why it is fundamental to develop and keep a clear vision about brightness and darkness, without letting slip from memory what is holy just because we saw what is not holy, taking a distance from the degradation only because it is often placed next to what is sacred.
For this reason, in order to feel the spirit of a holy place with this high sense of discernment, it is fundamental to be in company of people motivated like us, sharing the same purposes, and even better - with people who are already able to perceive the essence separated from what is redundant and superficial, via the teachings of the sacred scriptures.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Why are we lonely?

The search of love usually starts with a feeling of  loneliness, it is not just a problem of physical company, rather of awareness and inner power. Loneliness originates from a fragmented psychological image which as a consequence produces a kind of separation of a person from other people, from all the creatures, from the world and its Creator.

The solution of the problem of loneliness  is not to be found in a partner, so as to compensate the fear of being alone, nor it can be found  through the greedy possession of luxury items, nor through holidays as an “escape from reality”, nor by diving into a crowd of people, nor by burning out through a job that does not bring any satisfaction, nor by following religious principles in a conservative and passive sort of way. It will work instead, by starting to love people around us sincerely, without any selfish interest, with an attitude to expand even more the circle of love – never secluded to a single exclusive species –  and in doing so gradually heal our feelings of loneliness, uncertainty and frustration.

The charming prince or the fairy with turquoise hair of the fairy tales, that will love and trust us, will unlikely appear unless we start to appreciate and love everybody else. After all  love is not something that lands on us accidentally: we experience and grow it with the attitude and the behavior of our daily life. By learning to relate with the persons around us with love, and making this mind-set a life practice - since to feel affection is a potential capability of all living beings - by practising love this quality develops and becomes an effective ability to love.

Paradoxically enough, if nowadays couple relationships do not last it is because love is not considered as a priority any more, but other aims are being focused on: useful and comfortable means like gratification of senses,  social and economical status. But love requires respect of the beloved as a spiritual essence, as a unique person; only in this way we may be able to help the others to realize their potential values, and find deep satisfaction by rediscovering and expressing the best version of themselves. For this reason love means knowing the other deeply.
Love and thus the solution of the problem of loneliness, is the ripe fruit of a conscious, active and dynamic effort towards reaching our deep self until we experience a real feeling of communion and reunion within diversity, by appreciating the peculiarities of each person, without falling in affectionate dependency or strong attachments. We can share something with the others only when we really possess it. 
Love relationship, when thoroughly experienced, reaches its height in the realization of our relationship with God, the unique source of the variety of human beings and all that exists, being the source of love itself.
Love is a universal and indispensable quid, an intrinsic  modality of the being, that must be neither denied nor repressed, rather oriented and gradually elevated towards constructive evolutionary levels. Within love, the female and male features try to unite in order to find again the fulfilment and deep satisfaction in order to integrate themselves. By reaching maturity such integration may be conceived on the individual level as well.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Shri Nityananda: The Everlasting Beatitude

In order to understand Shri Nityananda Prabhu’s image in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, we have to know the Avatara doctrine, which describes the way the Lord appears in this world in behalf of His spiritual energies. Shri Nityananda  Prabhu is a manifestation of compassion, of mercy and of divine love. He is the supreme Person, God himself who stepped into history and made His appearance in this world in the second half of the sixteenth century, according to the Western calendar. Like in the Shrimad Bhagavatam literature, which narrates Shri Krishna-Balarama’s adventures, in the Caitanya Caritamrita and the Caitanya Bhagavata, respectively written by Krishnadas Kaviraja Gosvami and Vrindavana das Thakur, they narrate Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s and Shri Nityananda Prabhu’s divine adventures.
Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna himself, who is manifested with a special rasa, that of Shrimati Radharani. Shrimati Radharani’s love for Krishna is experienced and manifested in full by Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who lives in Shrimati Radharani’s rasa and that ontologically  represents the divine union between Radha and Krishna. Shrimati Radharani is endlessly and for ever in love with Krishna, the same as Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s love is everlasting and infinite.
Like Shri Krishna, whose brother and inseparable friend is Shri Balarama, Shri Caitanya has an inseparable friend too, whose name is Shri Nityananda. They are inseparable in the feelings of love that join them together. Shri Nityananda Prabhu would have shared Shri Caitanya Deva’s company all time long, however he had to fulfill his mission in behalf of His beloved associate: to travel from city to city in order to spread the holy name of the Lord. Therefore Nityananda, together with one of his best friends, Shrila Haridas Thakur, engaged himself completely in the diffusion of the sacred science, practising Harinama Kirtana and Harinama Sankirtana. In this way, by sharing this responsibility with other dear devotees, in this supreme mission that is the diffusion of love for God, Shri Nityananda Prabhu became one of the most dear Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s spiritual associates.
Like Balarama, enterprising, strong, outgoing, generous, always compassionate towards the devotees, whose manifestation was considered as one of the original spiritual Master, the same Shri Nityananda Prabhu preached the sacred science and  spread his teachings to all the people of good will, in the practice of Bhakti. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How Can I Become a Peacemaker?

Part II

Every religious tradition, if  authentically lived, conveys a universal vision because it teaches, even though in different fashions and manners, that nothing is separated from the rest, that each part is connected to the whole and that the whole is connected to each part. The term “religion” comes from the Latin "religere" which means ‘gather, unite’, the same as the word yoga derives from the Sanskrit root yuj having the same meaning: ‘connect, unite’. Without Yoga, without the reconnection between the individual consciousness to the cosmic Consciousness, peace cannot be sustained because we can realize it only when the person has acquired a deep awareness of the marvellous subtle network we are part of, when we perceive the common Source that all is connected to the whole and that our well-being implies the well-being of the others. 
Love for God is the highest warrant of peace because loving God means to love all living beings too, by considering the common origin and the indissoluble reunion with Him. One of the fundamental texts of Indovedic spirituality, Bhagavad-gita (V.29) explains that peace is reached by those who, through the recognition of  God as the beneficiary of  all sacrifices and of all austerities and the Supreme friend of all human beings, offer their service and their pure devotion to Him. The essence of Bhagavad-gita is bhakti or love for God that includes love for the world and all the creatures, as expansions (and Epiphany) of the Absolute. In this tradition the value of ahimsa or “non-violence”  is not intended solely in the respect of human beings, rather in the respect of all living creatures because compassion, solidarity and mercy cannot be and must not be reserved to a sole race or a biological specie. The path that leads to peace follows inevitably the way of consciousness,  because its vision is not seen apart from a universal vision, indeed it is aware that there are indissoluble ties that unite mankind to wholeness.
The progressive understanding of this union and a conduct coherent to it, contribute to the diffusion of the harmony among all creatures. This exercise of comprehension should be developed in the respect and appreciation of every authentic path, on the laic and religious levels,  with the awareness that there are different modes and multiple ways to approach progressively the holy Reality that is the essence of all that exists, in all its infinite manifestations, that is revealed as the Divine as supreme source of life, superior principle of harmonization, unity and peace.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

How Can I Become a Peacemaker?

Part I 

Peace is the result of coordinated efforts and persevering attitude, but first of all it is the result of deep awareness of the concept of peace, in all its countless nuances and implications. The acquisition of this kind of awareness implies a broad-minded vision of all the dynamics implied that is in fact an indispensable way to start, in order to find in every circumstance the correct way of action, the one able to provide for a concrete development of peace at all levels (individual, familiar, social, political, economical).
Science and religious traditions of all times, agree by stating that there are universal laws which govern the universe (in Greek the word is cosmos, its meaning is either ‘order’ or ‘universe’). Such laws rule and support the whole creation and every manifestation of life, from mankind to the microscopic insect, and are the expression of an order that the modern quantum physics defines as “implicit order”, which is beyond mere appearance; a veiled, subtle reality from which derives “the explicit order” visible through natural phenomena.
In the Vedic Vaishnava tradition, this order is found by the reunion of life and the world and is known with the word dharma, from the Sanskrit root dhr which means ‘hold, support’, or else with the noun rtam, defined as "fixed or settled order, rule, divine law or truth” which derives from the Sanskrit root  ṛ- "to move, rise, tend upwards" that, in this case means  “regular flowing of things”.
By being really interested to build a world of peace we intend to be interested with knowledge and harmonization of these universal laws, which the religious tradition of all times consider the expression of a superior Intelligence, the cosmic Consciousness, God. Peace means to synchronize one’s own inner dynamics with the cosmos’ dynamics; by learning to move in harmony with that universal order which already exists (there is no need to make it up),  and whose infraction is the cause of unsteadiness, wounds, conflicts, within us and outside. Peace is not a need for a  moral order, it is an indispensable factor for man whose life, in order to live in harmony, is tightly connected to the whole universe and all the creatures in it. Without such awareness, the value of peace becomes a meaningless concept designed to remain ambiguous and prompt to be jeopardized by those who persevere in other purposes. In the name of such kind of peace, all the crimes committed in the present and the past, testify it as true.