H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Turning Point

Thirty-eight years ago, on 30 August 1976, for the first time  I met Shrila Prabhupada in a personal darshana... it was a turning point of my life, a wonderful inner journey!
I was in an ashram in Rishikesh, at the foot of the Himalayas, studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In Italy I had been a successful designer, the manager of six companies. Upon returning from the trip I was supposed to get married, but at the time, in that place, I was seriously thinking of leaving everything and settle in India. That pseudo worldly success made me feel like prison, as not only it was no longer a source of satisfaction, but it became clear to me that it was the biggest obstacle to achieving happiness that I have been aspiring.
The recurring thought was to start a new life dedicating myself to the search of God and my spiritual essence. When I became aware of the voice of my soul I felt a strong appeal - it was an urgent need to revise my life, to think over my motivations and purposes. I understood that it was a turning point.
On that trip I was with a friend who has been always sick. Feverish, he remained for most of the time in our ashrama right on the banks of the Ganges. There was no furniture in the room, only two mats on the floor, his huge suitcase, my smaller one, a small window with a grate and a door with a latch. Each time we left the room, through the grates of the window the monkeys came in; they were having a lot of fun, especially with the bottles of medicines that the doctor had given to my friend.
It was in that ashrama that I met a sadhu, the person who has changed my life. Instead of attending the lectures on Patanjali, we walked together on the banks of Mother Ganga.
One day he said: “If you do not discover Bhakti, nothing will satisfy you.” Bhakti, Bhakti ... I asked to explain the meaning of this word.
"If I explain its meaning to you, you won't understand me.”
This sadhu spoke English with difficulty, but there was no need in too much words, it was a kind of telepathic communication.
"Bhakti is difficult to explain, only your heart can define it." And he began to chant this mantra:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

We would spend hours chanting along with this mantra, then we would immerse in the waters of Mother Ganga: a rushing stream that takes away everything.
"You have to meet Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: he will make you know Krishna. Go to Vrindavan to meet him."
Hearing that voice deep inside me, without pondering too much, I left for Delhi along with my sick friend. From Delhi we took a train to Mathura and then in Mathura we took a cart for Vrindavan. Having arrived to Vrindavan in two days, I began to look for Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Spiritual Values to Win the Shadow.

Many people look for tangible and concrete things in life, but it is important to know that the so-called "abstract values" are even more substantial than those perceived through the senses – the true values which we should refer to in our life, such as compassion, freedom, happiness and Love.
The empiricists are prone to "measure and touch" happiness, to grasp all the things in the world. Such attitude is not an evil in itself, it becomes such when a man ignore his spiritual essence, sometimes even denying it completely. As far as, according to the positivist criterion, happiness is not tangible, in its absence a person falls into the dark malaise and depression.
Thus, lacking the feelings of compassion, charity, devotion to God and affection towards all His creatures, without solidarity with the creation, the experience of love cannot be realized. As a result, one's life turns to be boring and meaningless due to the lack of spiritual awareness.
Why do we make mistakes and suffer
so much?
The reason is that we do not cultivate spiritual values sufficiently. Slowly forgetting these real values ​​that substantiate the human life, one tries to compensate such values by attachments to the worldly projects and goods, as illusory as ephemeral. Thus, while creating one's false identity, a man lives in a sort of a perpetual alienation.
In such a state of alienation, oblivious of his spiritual nature and ultimate destination, an individual lose the sense of life. Joy and sorrow, health and disease, birth and death follow each other as impermanent manifestations of existance.
Therefore a spiritual being,
incarnated in the material world, despite an overwhelming aspiration for eternity, wisdom and happiness, experiences a considerable frustration, helplessness and fear because of an inability to access the bliss of its ontological nature, while struggling in the duality of the material world.
A wise man does not dream of becoming happy due to the impermanet things of this world. In all the traditions, albeit with different words, it was stated that "man cannot live on bread alone."
If we learn what to desire and how to value our life, we will become happy enjoying every moment of it, in spite of any psychophysical limit. By the grace of God, living in the prospect of immortality and love for God, a man can overcome loneliness and suffering so to experience fulfillment and spiritual satisfaction, always and everywhere.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

True Freedom

A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind's demands, the flashes of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is really qualified to educate the disciples all over the world”
The Nectar of Instruction” (Upadeshamrita) Verse 1

The Vedic Rishis (the wise’ seers’ of the Vedas) were not only mystic poets, they were experts of the deep knowledge of the mind; these sages widely observed and experimented all the psychic functions of the human being. The rishis could clearly see that the so-called spontaneousness of the human being with the ordinary level of consciousness is just a satisfaction of the conditionings, imposed by one's mind; therefore, in an ultimate analysis, it is the exact opposite of a free, healthy and spontaneous attitude. In order to make free decisions without being affected by conditionings and attachments, a person has to conquer the six urges mentioned above.
Only then a progressive realization of the Self will take place, so that the individual will be able to reach the pure feeling of Love for God. In order to overcome obstacles and to achieve high levels of awareness, one should proceed with a harmonious transformation of personality, along with well pondered choices. Such choices are the result of wisely coordinated and constant efforts, so as to allow the passage from human understanding of things to the spiritual awareness and protection, until a complete development of the most elevated qualities of the Soul.
If we learn to re-direct passionate egoistic feelings and emotions towards spiritual goals, they will enhance a propensity to inner evolution and will lead to a supreme bliss of Bhakti and Love in freedom.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

How to build good relationships

The loss of awareness of our original essence results in a deep dissatisfaction and inner deterioration. People do not behave in a bad manner because they just wish so, rather because they are dissatisfied within.
How can we help people to feel satisfied?
Sensitiveness is not enough to empathize with the others so knowledge and discipline are required.
What about those people who do not even show sensitiveness?
We may learn to acquire, develop, find sensitiveness, which in Latin is called pietas. Sensitiveness can be found in atman, our spiritual matrix. We cannot trust the mind because when external circumstances change, our mental frame modifies consequently. For this reason we have to help people to start an inner search, to rediscover their real self. In this way, by developing such awareness, we can face the situations that otherwise could have become our limits, according to the changeable circumstances of life.
Our relations should not depend on external circumstances, we ought to learn to overcome them.
A great daily effort within needs to be done if we want to achieve this target. By conquering the inner enemies one after another, we lead ourselves to steadiness, tolerance, peacefulness. By practicing such attitude we learn not to react automatically to events, provocations, offences, abuses.
A person needs to modify one’s point of view. One may wear a heavy shield to protect oneself, but it will not be strong enough because it is only by switching and elevating our point of view that we reach a steady and broad inner confidence.
We miss a great deal of life which cannot be reproduced in the present span of time, if we carry on to identify as real what real is not. By modifying our point of view, our efforts, our dedication towards such an elevated mission will unveil to us the meaning of living.
It is not easy to succeed because we were born with a superficial mental attitude, with prejudices and tendencies acquired through behaviors we have brought back from previous lives. Performance of actions are pressing from our subconscious and lead us to repeat the same old mistakes. Therefore we need great care and attention to avoid circumstances that may put us at risk.
A person does not learn by punishment, rather by improving through education on an ethical and spiritual level, so that one may distinguish and filter between experience and its interpretation and between experience and reaction to events.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

How to Build Good Relationships

Every our action implies a feedback from others (as a rule, the response we get is very much the same as our approach, whether it has just happened in the present or it happened in the past), this is the meaning of relationship.
A:B = C:D
The relation between A and B, affects the relation between C and D too. We are all connected in the big game of life.
It is just through the relationships that we have the possibility to express our divine nature, that is developing and experiencing our best original spiritual qualities. However we can experience a lot of sufferance as well.
Our inner well-being greatly depends on the way we trust people in the relationships and the way others respond to us. A sensible, caring person usually realizes within a short time, whether his or her words, actions and even thoughts has a positive or destructive effect on the others.
When a person suffers and seeks relief, compassion and trust, turning to somebody who can help, how can one find the cause of sufferance? Where do disbelief, depression, pain or negative feelings come from, what is missing? The deep cause is often rooted in the relationships.
Everything in the universe is ruled by the divine laws and this order is based on a dialogue, as Galileo’s quote recites: “Dialogue between Two Chief World Systems". Dialogue re-establishes an order, and such order should govern our relations too, so in any dialogue the first priority is to meet the needs of other person through attentive listening and sincere interest.
The more virtuous relations are, the higher is their quality and greater the standard quality of listening and speech skills.
Sattva is order, virtue, harmony. It is the condition that most of all favors our evolution. It is a conditioning state, it is not complete freedom, therefore even sattva guna is to be transcended. The conditioning that arises from sattva guna is the feeling of attachment to a kind of freedom that is always anchored to a mundane layer, in spite of a prevalent virtuous nature. Someone may think: sattva guna is good enough for me, because I am satisfied with one kind of pleasure and one kind of mundane virtues. However a person cannot be satisfied with this vision because there are negative sides and sorrows that cannot be avoid with sattva guna alone, unless one ascends to a spiritual awareness.
Among such sorrows, which cause a great deal of sufferance, is old age. Aging is a heavy humiliation because the person is not able to take care of one’s own basic personal needs, and sattva guna itself cannot free us from such great pain. Sattva is the condition we can easily obtain in our embodied life, although we ought to make another step forward to approach transcendence, in order to reach the abode and original nature of our spiritual eternal Self.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Remembering Shrila Prabhupada

Due to God's mercy, Shrila Prabhupada was able to undertake the adventurous and difficult missions to satisfy the desire of his Guru Maharaja. He knew how to deal with risks, dangers, loneliness, sickness and temptations... Krishna blessed Shrila Prabhupada with such a success that, while originally owning nothing, his movement gradually reached a huge development, comparable to that of the richest and most envied companies, but even so Shrila Prabhupada remained always the person of the great inner qualities: no pride, no arrogance, no material ambitions or futile interests. He was exactly the same person when He went, with only 40 rupees in his pocket, to America, always dedicated to love for Krishna and for all creatures. Shrila Prabhupada had many talents, he was versatile, with great skills, but He was first and foremost a pure Devotee of the Lord.
He loved everyone, because in Shrila Prabhupada's opinion everyone was a potential devotee. He had always the same mood and the same tone of voice, sometimes He got vibrant, speaking with strong words, sometimes He reprimanded, sometimes He praised, sometimes He was moved, but His interest was always to improve the understanding of the devotees, their health, the image of the Movement. We must unmask the so fashionable artificial way to see an Acarya as detached from everyone and everything. Prabhupada was very interested in the success of the various services, he cared about everything working and running the best way, thus satisfying Krishna and encouraging the spiritual elevation of so many people.
Spiritual life does not mean a cold, detached attitude towards the world, we cannot live without relations, without affection, without empathy, without love. We just have to be careful to those we direct these feelings to. We should not
prioritize what calls on the material level, but strive to fulfill our spiritual desires that represent our true essence. Prabhupada had Krishna in His heart and He was always thinking of what he could say or do to bring people closer to God. Krishna had a special relationship with Shrila Prabhupada who had a special relationship with Krishna: this was visible in every activity He had undertaken, either in those particular moments when, for example, He took the initiative to modify a service that maybe was stagnating, or when in the last days of life in this world He was brought in front of the Divinities on a palanquin because He was in a condition of extreme physical weakness and He could no longer walk. In every circumstance Shrila Prabhupada has proved to be a pure devotee of Krishna.
When I read the Bhagavad-gita, chapter twelve, shloka 13 to 20, I see Shrila Prabhupada. I have known many lovely devotees, but Prabhupada is the model for me.
Prabhupada was always connected to Krishna and helped everyone to offer their talents and
energies to the service of the Lord.
The most beautiful part of Shrila Prabhupada is his being so devoted!
He was good at many things: a very good cook, a grammarian, a great preacher, a prominent philosopher and scholar; He was expert in playing music and in offering praise to the Lord, but His main feature was the pure and ardent devotion to God and His constant commitment to the spiritual education, in order to help others to become pure devotees of the Lord. Great it was, and surely still is, the satisfaction of Shrila Prabhupada to see people take seriously the path of Bhakti. And this satisfaction is the source of strength to all those devotees who carry Shrila Prabhupada in their heart.
Despite the apparent departure the Acarya lives forever with us, if we live with Him. As Satsvarupa Maharaja says in his book: "He lives forever ..."