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Sincerely Appreciating "put Name Here" Thread -



Rasaraja dasa - Tue, 24 Feb 2004 04:44:21 +0530
Dandavats. All glories to the Vaisnavas.

I wanted to share some thoughts on inspiration. As inspiration is a very individual thing I know there will be many that may object to some of my thoughts. Still I must say that over the last 8-12 weeks I have started to feel more determined in my personal spiritual life and that inspiration is coming from some different sources. Some of these sources canít, or just donít, mix but they are sources of inspiration for me none the less. I starting thinking about this topic while writing to my friend Braja about our experiences at Guadiya Discussions.com and thought how much I appreciate reading about others experiences and inspirations in spiritual life. Thus I have started this topic which I hope that some of you can contribute towards.

Right now I have two main ingredients to my inspiration.

The first has been in my recent exposure and reading of Srila Ananta dasa Babajiís books. It has been an interesting change in reading books on our Vaisnava tradition and siddhanta that arenít heavily composed in comparing our philosophy in comparison to the modern world or other philosophies. This is a heavy ingredient to the books of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. As many of you probably gathered from my past posts I have always struggled in separating what they are presenting as philosophy and what is simply a medium. With Srila Ananta dasa Babaís books I have been able to read with less of a mental censor. I have always been very attracted to Narottama dasa Thakurís works so I have spent much of my time reading babís translations of his work and it really has softened my heart, albeit only a bit, as well as put my mind at ease. I find his presentation to be soft, sweet and demanding of my attention.

The second has been in thinking of my ISKCON Gurudeva. I work on his writings and I must say that I am always astonished about how honest, humble and determined he is. Regardless of anything else in my life he will always be someone I can look at and always be astonished at just how damn honest, humble and determined he is.

Now if I can muster his honesty, humility and determined and find a way to submerge myself in Sri Ananta dasa Babajiís books I will be set. Right?

I may need to work out some logistical problems with combining the two but I am excited that I feel a glimpse of hope that I havenít truly felt in over 10 years.

From a practical perspective I see the different Mathas and philosophical movements as the unique gift of Sri Radhika and Mahaprabhu in that they give us so many options to serve and develop our greed to serve them. I really believe and have faith that Sri Radhika and Mahaprabhu will take care of us regardless of our spiritual affiliation. One route may take longer than the other and as individuals we need to find where we are best nurtured and inspired so we can develop that service attitude and eagerness to surrender.

I know many will laugh at my take and critique it from a philosophical perspective but I really do have faith that Sri Guru will protect us in such a manner. For myself I am just trying to find that missing piece and the glimpse I have been seeing is encouraging to me even if it is a bit discombobulated.

Aspiring to be a servant of the Vaisnavas,
Rasaraja dasa
vamsidas - Tue, 24 Feb 2004 16:40:56 +0530
Dear Rasaraja,

Sripad Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, in his Prabhupada-lilamrita, quotes an exchange with his spiritual master, in which he describes some of his western "heroes" (writers, musicians?). Instead of being told "they are demons!" or "they are not Vaishnavas, so they are worthless!" he receives the comment:

"Their sincerity is their God consciousness."

In the preface to his My Search Through Books, Satsvarupa Maharaja says he understood this as his spiritual master's way of saying something helpful without hurting the feelings of a disciple who was still somewhat attached to these personalities and their literary/musical works.

Satsvarupa Maharaja then goes on, in the preface, to conclude: "The purpose of my book is therefore mostly a warning that there is nothing of enduring value in Western nondevotional literature."

I wonder whether Satsvarupa Maharaja misunderstood the import of his spiritual master's statement, and in the process may have overlooked a point that is vital to the spiritual life of all Vaishnavas?

How often have we met "devotees" who remain devotees less out of some inner conviction than out of convenience? "My family members are devotees, so I am, too." Or "All my friends are devotees, so I act like a devotee in order to retain their friendship." Or "I like the pace of life in the temple, and I don't want to get a karmi job, so I'll act like a devotee." Or even, "My guru is recognized as one of the topmost spiritual people on the planet, and even though I'm a mediocre devotee, I like how I can share in some of his reflected glory if I identify as his devotee, whether or not I work on improving myself."

All of the above would indicate some lack of sincerity. And as we examine ourselves honestly, we can certainly find plenty of lapses in our own lives, where we let some fault or laziness or ignorance or self-interest remain as an obstacle to our advancement in Krishna consciousness.

Over the years, I have come to appreciate that sincerity is more or less the foundation on which all other devotional advancement rests. If we are not honest with others, our spiritual life is on dangerous footing. And if we are not honest with ourselves, we are pretty much doomed from the start, and will not advance.

By that measure, we might observe that Thomas Merton may have been "more advanced" than a Gaudiya Vaishnava who is knowingly holding on to certain anarthas and making no attempt to diminish them. We might conclude that a devout Muslim cleric is closer to God, to the best of his present capacity, than a hereditary Goswami who is merely "going through the motions" in the family business because he couldn't earn a spot at IIT.

Yes, the hereditary Goswami and the Gaudiya Vaishnava with anarthas remain worthy of respect, as they are on the spiritual path, and may well be doing more good for others' spiritual lives than they are for their own. But there may also be something to honor in the "non-devotee" and his honest pursuit of God.

Satsvarupa Maharaja seemed to take his guru's comment as a gentle "put-down" of his worldly heroes. But in fact, isn't it a very HIGH compliment to credit someone with "sincerity"? Isn't that another way of saying that such a sincere person is "properly situated" for his level of realization, and needs to be respected for that?

As a corollary, I wonder whether Satsvarupa Maharaja learned the right lesson by rejecting non-devotee authors? Isn't the correct lesson, absent the fanaticism of a totalistic cult environment, that one should "put them in their place"?

What would Caitanya Vaishnavism have been if Mahaprabhu's followers had said, "Drama theory is just so much mundane nonsense presented by non-devotee writers! So there is no place for rasa theory in the life of a transcendentalist!"?

I would hope that as Krishna consciousness takes root in the West, its practitioners do not attempt a blanket rejection of their previous cultural traditions, dismissing them as "nothing of enduring value." Rather, I hope we can act as swans, extracting the worthwhile essence from the philosophy, literature and art that can edify sincere Western followers of Mahaprabhu and aid in the growth of individuals and communities.

Similarly, I hope we can remain respectful of those whose spiritual inspiration comes from Merton rather than Mahaprabhu, from Kabir rather than Krishnadas Kaviraj, from Buber rather than Bhaktivedanta Swami. We must always give special honor to the devotee attempting the Vaishnava path, but shouldn't we also honor the sincere follower of any respectable path? Sincerity is no cheap thing, and deserves deep respect wherever it is found. Not in some Mayavadi "it's all one" sense, but in the sense of appreciating it for what it is.

Rasaraj, please do not take the above as a criticism of Satsvarupa Maharaja. The fact that he seems willing to continue a loving relationship with you, even as your inner development takes you beyond the horizons of his world, speaks highly of him as a person and as a devotee. Even so, I was struck by his guru's comment about sincerity, and puzzled by his apparent interpretation. Perhaps you, as his disciple, could shed some light on this?
Rasaraja dasa - Tue, 24 Feb 2004 23:46:15 +0530
QUOTE(vamsidas @ Feb 24 2004, 03:10 AM)
Dear Rasaraja,

Sripad Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, in his Prabhupada-lilamrita, quotes an exchange with his spiritual master, in which he describes some of his western "heroes" (writers, musicians?).† Instead of being told "they are demons!" or "they are not Vaishnavas, so they are worthless!" he receives the comment:

"Their sincerity is their God consciousness."

In the preface to his My Search Through Books, Satsvarupa Maharaja says he understood this as his spiritual master's way of saying something helpful without hurting the feelings of a disciple who was still somewhat attached to these personalities and their literary/musical works.

Satsvarupa Maharaja then goes on, in the preface, to conclude:† "The purpose of my book is therefore mostly a warning that there is nothing of enduring value in Western nondevotional literature."

I wonder whether Satsvarupa Maharaja misunderstood the import of his spiritual master's statement, and in the process may have overlooked a point that is vital to the spiritual life of all Vaishnavas?

How often have we met "devotees" who remain devotees less out of some inner conviction than out of convenience?† "My family members are devotees, so I am, too." Or "All my friends are devotees, so I act like a devotee in order to retain their friendship."† Or "I like the pace of life in the temple, and I don't want to get a karmi job, so I'll act like a devotee."† Or even, "My guru is recognized as one of the topmost spiritual people on the planet, and even though I'm a mediocre devotee, I like how I can share in some of his reflected glory if I identify as his devotee, whether or not I work on improving myself."

All of the above would indicate some lack of sincerity. And as we examine ourselves honestly, we can certainly find plenty of lapses in our own lives, where we let some fault or laziness or ignorance or self-interest remain as an obstacle to our advancement in Krishna consciousness.

Over the years, I have come to appreciate that sincerity is more or less the foundation on which all other devotional advancement rests.† If we are not honest with others, our spiritual life is on dangerous footing.† And if we are not honest with ourselves, we are pretty much doomed from the start, and will not advance.

By that measure, we might observe that Thomas Merton may have been "more advanced" than a Gaudiya Vaishnava who is knowingly holding on to certain anarthas and making no attempt to diminish them.† We might conclude that a devout Muslim cleric is closer to God, to the best of his present capacity, than a hereditary Goswami who is merely "going through the motions" in the family business because he couldn't earn a spot at IIT.

Yes, the hereditary Goswami and the Gaudiya Vaishnava with anarthas remain worthy of respect, as they are on the spiritual path, and may well be doing more good for others' spiritual lives than they are for their own.† But there may also be something to honor in the "non-devotee" and his honest pursuit of God.

Satsvarupa Maharaja seemed to take his guru's comment as a gentle "put-down" of his worldly heroes.† But in fact, isn't it a very HIGH compliment to credit someone with "sincerity"?† Isn't that another way of saying that such a sincere person is "properly situated" for his level of realization, and needs to be respected for that?

As a corollary, I wonder whether Satsvarupa Maharaja learned the right lesson by rejecting non-devotee authors?† Isn't the correct lesson, absent the fanaticism of a totalistic cult environment, that one should "put them in their place"?

What would Caitanya Vaishnavism have been if Mahaprabhu's followers had said, "Drama theory is just so much mundane nonsense presented by non-devotee writers!† So there is no place for rasa theory in the life of a transcendentalist!"?

I would hope that as Krishna consciousness takes root in the West, its practitioners do not attempt a blanket rejection of their previous cultural traditions, dismissing them as "nothing of enduring value."† Rather, I hope we can act as swans, extracting the worthwhile essence from the philosophy, literature and art that can edify sincere Western followers of Mahaprabhu and aid in the growth of individuals and communities.

Similarly, I hope we can remain respectful of those whose spiritual inspiration comes from Merton rather than Mahaprabhu, from Kabir rather than Krishnadas Kaviraj, from Buber rather than Bhaktivedanta Swami.† We must always give special honor to the devotee attempting the Vaishnava path, but shouldn't we also honor the sincere follower of any respectable path?† Sincerity is no cheap thing, and deserves deep respect wherever it is found.† Not in some Mayavadi "it's all one" sense, but in the sense of appreciating it for what it is.

Rasaraj, please do not take the above as a criticism of Satsvarupa Maharaja.† The fact that he seems willing to continue a loving relationship with you, even as your inner development takes you beyond the horizons of his world, speaks highly of him as a person and as a devotee.† Even so, I was struck by his guru's comment about sincerity, and puzzled by his apparent interpretation.† Perhaps you, as his disciple, could shed some light on this?

Dandavats. All glories to the Vaisnavas.

I believe that Maharajaís viewpoint has evolved rather drastically since that time in regards to both Bhaktivedanta Swami's statement as well as his mood. As you know that book is rather old (15 years + I believe) and since then his literary works have changed dramatically in both content and personality. I would say, and of course this is my opinion, that Maharajaís point was in some respects meant to pacify the masses. What I mean by that is there is a certain heavy light placed on those in the Sanyassa order, and particularly who act as Guru, to fit a particular model or notion of what a Guru does or does not say as well as does or does not think. This is a general theme that is always involved in the argumant of the modernization of Vaisnavism. There are those that think that one should live their life in absolute line with the Goswami's which dictates that a sadhu or Guru not use a computer, fly in a plane, etc while others argue that a sadhika can use all at their disposal in order to glorify Sri Radhika.

Today I would say that he shares a very healthy respect for many authors and musicians for the devotion of their offerings and to some extent they serve to inspire him in his own devotional life, practices and aspirations.

His thoughts have evolved on this subject and the points made in your post probably fit rather closely with his mood and thought process. He has become a little more ďbraveĒ in sharing that context of his thoughts which earns him a fair amount of criticism.

I donít want to get into a public discourse on the merit of his works or spiritual life as I donít feel that you can have a clear picture of what that is unless you have a close relationship with any individual. As the old saying goes donít judge a book by its cover. As much as we want to appreciate and be inspired by someoneís expressions and efforts the level of sincerity is not measured by this expression rather by the mindset and devotional attitude/sentiment behind it. Just as a young child, or in my case an adult, could never capture the beauty of Sri Radhika in a painting it is our devotion that is the essence of any offering.

I will say that knowing him as closely as I have over the last 10 years he is very aware of his limitations as a sadhika and the amount of thought, determination and discipline that he places on both his head and heart to improve as a disciple are something I aspire to one day share.

Aspiring to be a servant of the Vaisnavas,
Rasaraja dasa