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Discussions on the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Please place practical questions under the Miscellaneous forum and set this aside for the more theoretical side of it.

Spiritual Integrity - Why I rejected Vaishnavism

Leo - Sat, 21 Feb 2004 06:16:25 +0530
One of the thoughts that my mind keeps generating is
"Poetry is the music of ideas and music is the poetry of emotions."
I do not appreciate Poetry being reduced to or called "mental speculation."
"Spitituality is the music of the soul expressed through the poetry of living"

Spirituality is actually infinitely more beautiful than religion. Religion is usually conditional-- even when it claims otherwise (believe this and you will go to heaven or do this and you will end your suffering). Thus many followers of religion are not sincere, if even only at a subconscious level. Extreme followers are overwhelmingly dishonest. But spirituality transcends intellecual belief structures and philosophical predisposition. It even transcends athiesm.

I rejected Vaishnavism. It was very subtle, as if it was not even a conscious choice that I can pinpoint, but the will of my soul. Regardless of which reasons I give, it was overwhelmingly just a "feeling." It didn't feel right. The "intrinsic religion of the soul" did not feel intrinsic.

One reason is the theory of Karma. While there is still a way in which it can work, I am disillusioned by how many (who are supposed to be knowledgeable in this), espouse false ideas about karma, apparently devoid of thought, ideas that contradict. For example, in Stephen Knapp's book, "the secret teachings of the Vedas," he gives two examples of karma. One is a woman who is sexually abused as a child by seven differnt people and then he explains it as tht she sexyually abused children in a former life (thus she is reaping this). Furthermore, that in this former life, she abused 7 children, who are now the 7 adults abusing her. The other example he gives is a woman who has an abortion. He then explains that this woman, upon trying to incarnate again, will be aborted by her mother again and again, going from mother to mother and being aborted. These explanations are in fault. He has construed Karma as some "cosmic justic system," but has ignored (regarding the first example) whether the 7 offenders are generating their own bad karma in turn, to be molested in their next lives... probably by the same woman they molested (because she molested them because they molested her because she molested them, etc) If they are "exempt" from generating their own karma by abusing this girl (because they are merely carrying out the universe's order, right?), then why wasn't the woman also exempt when she molested the seven children (she must have also been carrying out the universe's order- or if she wasn't then what reason do we have to believe that people get molested due to bad karma?). Thus exemption from karma is not plausable. This only leaves a condition of no free-will, where everyone is desined in their every action. This state, in turn, would render the whole concept of justice, good and bad, meaningless. The concept of karma is like a knob that unties itself when both ends of the string are pulled.

Overwhelmingly, I feel that karma is just a simple idea people invented to explain apparent injustices in the world or maybe even justify wrongfulness that they create. Karma theorists believe that poor people are suffering from their own wrongdoings in past lifes, and that rich people are being rewarded. If this is true, then why is India (apparently the most spiritual country) poverty stricken? I do not see any evidence in poor people that they deserve what they are getting. Infact, I observe that poor people are usually more loving and more virtuous than wealthy people.

One reason I rejected Vaishnavism is because of the God Krishna's "6 oplulences"
All wealth, fame, knowledge, beauty (something), and renunciation. Apparently these define him as God, but none of these are qualities which I particularly find virtuous. The qualities "loving, innocent and dirt poor" are much more appealing to me. Perfection isn't even a very longed after quality, although hindus paint a broad picture of it. I prefer alittle imperfection.

Loving God and serving him are emphasized in Vaishnavim, even above loving your neighbors. Vaishnavism seems to go so far as to claim that you cannot love anything but God. Christianity is the same in this regard. (Remember Abrahman in the bible who's faith was "tested" by God?) In the ideal religion, God is not a narcissist. The traditional Indian marriage is not "for life." The transcendentalist version of love seems to eclipse the Indian notion of it. I'm origionally an impersonalist, which means I do not believe that God is a "person" although the indian definition of an impersonalist is that he thinks God is formless or void- philosophies wgich are looked upon with great animosity. But I merely deny that it is a person. As children need their parents, an immature society needs its Gods. The concept of God as an all-powerful person, like karma, suggests an idea invented by people to explain what they don't know. This, however, does not imply that there is no "God." In my theory, God is a force that is completely unselfish. Because it is completely unselfish, it does not coalesce into a single "self." If the personal God is completely unselfish, and loving, and has full renunciation, and all-powerful, then wouldn't he transcend the personal God image and be whatever a person needs or wants him to be in order to bring unselfishness, lovingness into people? If God can love more than us, then he must be inherantly selfish by not making himself into the love force available to everyone. If our power to love is equal to God's, what is the significance of God?
vamsidas - Sat, 21 Feb 2004 06:37:32 +0530
Dear Leo,

Honesty and personal integrity are vital foundations for spiritual growth. I am glad that you are coming to terms with your actual deep-seated beliefs, and not trying to "get by" with easy answers that you haven't internalized for yourself.

However, the overall tone and content of your post could be paraphrased/summarized by the statement:

"I had a terrible algebra teacher, so I have concluded that calculus is bogus."

For what it's worth, several of your assertions appear, to me, to be inaccurate depictions of Caitanyaite doctrine and practice. For example, I would not agree with Knapp's explanation of karma, at least as you presented it.

More tellingly, you write:

One reason I rejected Vaishnavism is because of the God Krishna's "6 oplulences"
All wealth, fame, knowledge, beauty (something), and renunciation.  Apparently these define him as God, but none of these are qualities which I particularly find virtuous.  The qualities "loving, innocent and dirt poor" are much more appealing to me.  Perfection isn't even a very longed after quality, although hindus paint a broad picture of it.  I prefer a little imperfection.

In one respect, you sound like a good Caitanyaite, though a poor Hindu. Caitanyaite theology doesn't have too much use for the "opulent" vision of God, just as you seem not to.

Perhaps you are not aware that the Vrajavasis DO NOT EVEN SEE that Krishna is "God." Not only do they not see him as a wealthy and famous and knowledgeable renunciate God, but they even see him as a scoundrel sometimes. But they love him utterly, nevertheless.

You seem fixed on the notion that Krishna is supposed to be "all-powerful." Let me suggest that the next time you read a Caitanyaite text, you instead think of Krishna as "all-attractive." It may change the way you look at the tradition you have rejected, and spur you on to whatever further growth is in store for you.

Whatever the case, thank you for sharing. I wish you well.
Leo - Sat, 21 Feb 2004 07:04:48 +0530
Hi. Actually, I emailed Knapp once with my version of karma and he agreed with it, yet in his book he contradicts himself.

Um, what is Caitanyaite literature? I have not read any.

Hmmm, here is my view on love
It is the reciprocation between the self and the unself. The self is the individual sense of being a complete individual even in the absence of everything else perceived. The unself is the reservoir of beingness from which the self origionates- it is like the sunlight from which plants grow- yet the two are just two aspects of the same. The relationship between them is always love, it cannot be anything else. The self, who cannot exist without the unself, contains unself as a glass holds water, has as a property of its unique form the ability to "love" according to its uniqueness. You do not love, you are love's insturment. Love is unself (beauty)
perceived and Beauty is that love embodied within all form.

The reason why we do not love everything is because our unique self acts as a filter. It blocks some of the unself radience. metaphysically, although we contain unself, as the glass contains water, we are not transparet against all of it. Thus, we radiate a portion of unself according to who we are and we also perceive it radiating from others accoring to who we are, and who they are. Plato theorized that we perceive beauty that reminds us of, or resembles "pure form." And he theorized that the place from where our knowledge of pure form comes from is from before our birth (spiritual reality). And to believe any of this you must believe that existence transcends birth and death. Plato was right.

it is very precious knowledge. As a leaf gathers sunlight for all parts of the tree, all emotions are variegated forms of the same longiong. The longing in its purest, most complete form is love. Even fear or hate are incomplete forms of love. I think you will see that this is true. Even the emotions which cause people to deny the existence of love, are made possible by love. That is beauty.
Jagat - Sat, 21 Feb 2004 08:00:46 +0530
Once again, it seems that your instincts are very close to the Vaishnava concepts. Beauty is probably one of the essential elements in the Vaishnava concept of spirituality. Vamsidas has already mentioned the all-attractiveness of Krishna. Krishna's six opulences are an attempt to explain this quality, because wherever there is wealth, power, strength, wisdom, renunciation and beauty, people are attracted, even against their will. God is the original source of all these opulences, or the archetype, if you will. He possesses all these qualities, He is their source, and wherever we see them in this world, they are reflections of Him and reminders of Him.

But Gaudiya Vaishnavas see a hierarchy even in these characteristics. Beauty being the most important of these. Our Krishna is a God in love with His femine counterpart, or as Siddhanta Saraswati liked to put it, His "Moiety." Here again we find a profound archetype, that of the Syzygy or Divine Couple, swirling in an eternal dance, in which they are forever competing with each other in love--who can serve more, who can give more, who can attract more--a battle which neither can win, but neither can they ever lose, because the unending concourse is the seat of joy.

We as devotees jump into this maelstrom and participate in it. Sometimes we look inside and sometimes we look outside, but wherever we look, this is what we see.


Karma is a great stumbling block. But we are obliged by theological requirements to explain the existence of evil. If God is love, then why does evil exist. This is one of the eternal questions.

So how does "karma" help? It helps by placing the responsibility for our lives on our own shoulders. We cannot blame our parents or the weather or chemical imbalances for our condition. So in a way it is like "original sin," so many of us heard the story of the big fish and the little fish when we first came to Krishna consciousness. Somewhere in the primordial beginnings of our existence we made the mistake, or we undertook to become the center of the universe, to compete with God, to attempt to usurp His position. Our actual identity is that we are eternally servants, extensions of His Moiety, Srimati Radharani.

The teaching of original sin is that there is no innocence, only the illusion of innocence. But on a higher level, there is nothing that is separate from God, so sin is also an illusion, a temporary aberration, an unnatural condition into which we find ourselves due to a mistaken conception of ourselves. We should see everyone else in that light, not using karma as a hammer to beat the suffering when they are down.

Karma is one of those things that we should reserve for ourselves and not apply to others. Even so, it can be a comfort for the suffering. All suffering is inevitable. We are born to grow old, suffer diseases and to die. We in the West lead comfortable lives and, like the young Buddha, rarely come face to face with these things. We even think that being sick is an aberration that we can blame on our government, even when our own karma--smoking, bad eating, remaining inactive--is at the root of our malaise.

Then what should we do about injustice? Though it is true that ultimately injustice is hardwired into the system, if we are driven to fight against it, that is our dharma and we should act according to our dharma, but without attachment to the results.

Alam. Jai Radhe,

dirty hari - Sat, 21 Feb 2004 09:57:26 +0530
Loving God and serving him are emphasized in Vaishnavim, even above loving your neighbors. Vaishnavism seems to go so far as to claim that you cannot love anything but God.

not true, loving your fellow man or those who are close to God is emphasized
over loving God,this is repeatedly instilled in Gaudiya doctrine,Sri Caitanya
( Krsna playing the role as the perfect lover of God )prayed to be allowed to be the
servant of the servant of God,this consciousness is stressed above loving
or serving god directly,even Krsna says He who claims
to be my lover or devotee is not my real devotee,those who claim to be the lover or devotee of my devotee is my real lover or devotee.

If the personal God is completely unselfish, and loving, and has full renunciation, and all-powerful, then wouldn't he transcend the personal God image and be whatever a person needs or wants him to be in order to bring unselfishness, lovingness into people?

if you have a disease and are asking for water in your delusional state
and the doctor knows better that water will make your condition worse,
is he being selfish or munificent by ignoring you and giving you what
He decides is best ?

One reason I rejected Vaishnavism is because of the God Krishna's "6 oplulences"
All wealth, fame, knowledge, beauty (something), and renunciation. Apparently these define him as God, but none of these are qualities which I particularly find virtuous. The qualities "loving, innocent and dirt poor" are much more appealing to me. Perfection isn't even a very longed after quality, although hindus paint a broad picture of it. I prefer alittle imperfection.

They don't define him as God,they are descriptive not defining,God is defined
by "Isvara parama Krsna...sarva karana karanam",which means that
Krsna is the Isvara parama or supreme controller or the ultimate deciding factor of existence "sarva karana karanam" the cause of all causes.

The fact of God being the actual controller and substance of reality is defining God,

vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate

“Great seers of the truth, who understand the nature of the Absolute Truth, describe that non-dual truth in three ways as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan.”

the vaisnava concept is that God is not simply Krsna in heaven,God is everything,
both the substance of reality ,the consciousness of reality or soul of the universe,
and the id or psyche or self awareness of that consciousness/field of existence,
what in the western idiom is called Panentheism,God as immanent and transcendent,God is the world and God is more then the world,what we call
bhedabheda,bheda is difference abheda is nondifference,the infinite reality called the universe or the cosmos is both God and God exists as more then the universe as well,just like you exist as your body but also you exist as more then your body,
god is like that everything we percieve is God and God is more then we percieve.

Just like your body has consciousness spread throughout and you can feel
your toes or your ears,also your body/consciousness has a mind,an id
or psyche,self awareness, God's body is infinite,God's` consciousness
is One with His body,and his psyche is controlling everything.

We take this world for granted sometimes,where did it come from ?
How has a perfect eco-system come to be ? with trees yielding sweet juicy fruits,
rivers and waterfalls, blue sky with pretty clouds,flowers with
delicious scent and beautiful forms and colors,the complexity
of this world of ours is stunning and beyond belief,the beauty
and perfection of life when seen for what it can be in it's
pure form is the ultimate proof of an intelligent God.

besides that your time will come,as mine did,when God reveals
Himself directly to you,then there will be no doubt,you see
the sun by it's own light,you don't need a light to see the sun.
Leo - Sat, 21 Feb 2004 18:45:40 +0530
Hmmm, at the final protion of your message, you act as if I deny the existence of God. Although I did say I am impersonalist, and I realize that in Gaudiya philosophy that is considered almost athiest, I am hardly athiestic or in doubt of supremacty. I merely deny that it is a "person." It is not a very difficult concept. We are not even "persons" as we normally believe. We have a great metaphor at hand. We we are dreaming, our "dream self" cannot usually comprehend that it exists apart from the dream, it cannot comprehend that there is another reality besides the dream. It is not fully us, yet it is an extension of our personality. When we die, similarly, we realize that this "self" is also a an extension. And we realize instantly that our existence has no beginning or end within time. So we are not at all a "person" as we believe. We just cannot grasp this.

In all the areas where you say "not true," I have encountered teachings or lectures in which it is implied that these things are ture. Mostly from Srila Prabhupada. I realize that this is a vindicative personality, but he has implied that: we can only love God, only have buisness loving God, and that a man who loves his son is a "rascal." I of course believe that God is not so severely limited and that by merely existing we are "loving him" By loving anything we are loving the root of that thing. Am, I realize that true gaudiya philosophy is the same but there are too many followers (of all religions) who just do not understand

The most important part of my message is the beginning where I talk about spirituality versus religion. Do I think that spirituality can be complemented by or coexist by religious beliefs and practices? Yes. But it is not necissary, and actually religion is meant to be like "training wheels." Some people need it to cultivate their spirituality but others are advanced enough that they are going to be spiritual regardless of religion. For example, I've already been practicing no meat eating, no gambling, celibacy and no intoxication since birth, without any religious reasons for doing so. Too many religious people are not sinccere, they secretly have the motive to "attain salvation" or "end suffering" their so called "love" is tainted from the beginning. I don't believe I ever "suffer." Even if I did, no argument that I can end it and here's how, is going to work on me. Such attempts are in vain. I would rather learn to enjoy suffering than behave in a non genuine manner.

Um, I do not believe in origional sin. The Christinas generally believe that merely existing its an act of Sin. It is vindicative and counter-productive. My impression was that evil does not exist in Hinduism, only "ignorance." Real "karma" is the zodiac sign you are born under, but that is so detached from the "cosmic justice" that almost everyone espouses, that it is better not to call it "karma." In my transcendental philosophy, as I've stated, "hate" is merely an incomplete form of love. The existence of incomplete, unrealized forms of love is not "bad," there is a purpose for them and that is for love to realize itself.
braja - Sat, 21 Feb 2004 19:23:11 +0530

At the risk of ruining the sage advice offered by Vamsidas and Jagat, I'll add a small revelation that came to me a while back, primarily as a result of reading several Upanisads and a book named Vaisnava Vedanta by Mahanambrata Brahmacari: the self is important, and something that has been neglected/disparaged in the "typical" presentation of Gaudiya Vaisnavism in the West. By only reading the self as the soul-beyond-matter, you're-not-your-body, etc., a gulf can open up between what you are, what you believe, what you love and what you are "supposed" to be. This gulf may fill, or appear to be filled, with religion, or fear, or a double life, or whatever. Perhaps some don't even notice. But I don't think it needs to be that way. The Lord--your Lord--is in your heart. He knows you and your struggles and your joys. One of my favorite passages is in Brhad Bhagavatamrta where Gopa Kumar finally arrives in Vraja and is greeted by Krsna, who comments "I know that you searched for me everywhere." That is what you are doing, Leo. Be true to that self. You don't need to understand or accept each and every of the myriad of words and concepts that come your way. And perhaps that is the test your indwelling guide has set for you--to not be the possessor or master of a sound philosophy, something that is presentable to world as the most comprehensive, as right and true and just. That innocent and dirt poor God might want to see the same from you, and he might ask it in the form of something that you hold most dear. But you can sort that out with him. smile.gif
Leo - Sat, 21 Feb 2004 20:03:36 +0530
I had a strong dream last night. I really only remember the emotional content. I remember as though my heart had opened up and I was just experienceing the the greatest spiritual ecstasy within my own being. Happiness, saddness, longing, love, that was all there. I cried alot. I had several other dreams but the feeling stayed with me. Then I woke up to a beautiful day. It is actuall completely overcast, aalittle cold outside and I can't locate the sun... but it was VERY surreal, quiet. I woke up at noon and the lighting, it was very surreal, it was orange. I have never seen the entire sky this color at midday. Then it became almost red.

Anothere thing I failed to mention is all the "rules" in Vaishnavism. Such as that you aren't supposed to sleep more than 6 hours. I usually sleep 10-12 hours. I doubt anything bad is going to happen to me, I don't think I'm going to be a bear or a tree in my next life. Most of my spiritual realizations have come through dreams, and I do not remember my dreams if I sleep less than 8 hours.

Then there is the rule that says you must not eat out of the cooking vessel, but must transport the food into containers. I've been eating out of the cooking vessel for two years, I don't even own a bowl or a plate. Am I offending God? It seems ridiculous to conform to these rules, like, you aren't supposed to talk to females too much. I talk to females more than males. I even had a dream where I kissed one. I've never had a first kiss in real life. I don't think not kissing is included in celibacy. One of the reasons I'm celibate is because I'm too emotional to use sex for pleasure. It must be completely out of love and if I ever had sex for pleasure it would prabably wreak emotional havok on me. Also, I like to eat Ben and Jerrie's ice-cream. And there are eggs in the ingredients. I don't see what's wrong with eating non-fertile eggs. The chickens are going to lay non-fertile eggs regardless of whether we eat them or now-- is is part of their menstral cycle. It would be a huge waste to not make use of that food. It could save lives. We are not supposed to waste God's energies.
nabadip - Mon, 23 Feb 2004 01:18:41 +0530
Hi Leoji
Forget the rules. First of all there is attraction and love, beauty, admiration, and the feeling of being held dear. Then there is wonder, astonishment, amazement. Imagine: God is a lover, a he-she, in continous development of ecstasy. Rules are for those who want to attain. Don't desire to attain, just be, relax into the miracle of the beauty of God. You can see him-her in a flower, in a raindrop, in a cloud, a skyscraper, a star cluster. All this is God. And you are part of his-hers.

There is a lot to say about the traditions into which God's revelations are clothed. But one thing always remains, the God who's watching around the corner at you is the most beautiful, exciting kind of God you can meet on earth. Have you ever met Jagannath? This little guy with the big eyes? Let him look at you, and you do not want any other kind of Samadhi than just to keep looking into those loving-smiling eyes for minutes and minutes that will seem like eternities to you.

That's all I can tell you: Just allow it to happen, and do not resist too much when you are about to fall in love...
Jai Nitai.
Madhava - Mon, 23 Feb 2004 01:43:17 +0530
Leo, the regulations you describe make it sound like you've had a lot to do with a particular branch of the Gaudiya tradition with strong presence in the West. You may have read it elsewhere in the forums, too, but I'll say it again, that the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition is not an ecclesiastic estalbishment with a single dogma which is enforced upon all of the tradition's followers, but rather Gaudiya Vaishnavism is is an aggregate term used for all of Caitanya's followers, among whom various bigger and smaller nuances in theology and practice exist. There are many flavors to it, and you may seek the one you relish most.
Madhava - Mon, 23 Feb 2004 01:46:49 +0530
Commenting on the subheading of this thread, "Why I rejected Vaishnavism," it sounds a bit drastic to me. Why do we have to either accept or reject? Can we not merely grasp the gist of it, and carry all that we saw as good in it in our hearts? If everything else but that exact philosophical formulation we agree cent percent on is to be rejected, we must certainly write our own doctrines and call us followers of ourselves. Otherwise, we merely seek the utopia.

Jagat once posted an excellent bit of commentary from a certain Indian professor on the Human Rights Declaration, about the freedom of religion and all of that. I wonder if someone could dig that up?
Leo - Mon, 23 Feb 2004 03:15:21 +0530
I sort of re did this saying:

For the spiritual person, religion is as useless as a well on an riverbank.

My friend says "For you to
choose the value system of avoiding unmarried sex due
solely to your own set of ethics, that openly shows
your spirit is evolved, expressing spirituality above
all religions. You are not 'following' any religion,
your are above religion.."

I do appreciate the helpful replies. In most other places, I think, I would have just confroted endlessly "you're wrong about this" and been banned.
adiyen - Mon, 23 Feb 2004 15:12:53 +0530
QUOTE(Madhava @ Feb 22 2004, 08:16 PM)
Jagat once posted an excellent bit of commentary from a certain Indian professor on the Human Rights Declaration, about the freedom of religion and all of that. I wonder if someone could dig that up?

Is this what you meant?

I think the following little gem from the above is what you are after:

"If one believes that one can only belong to one religion at a time, then it stands to reason that religious freedom would essentially consist of one's freedom to change such affiliation by the voluntary exercise of choice.

In parts of the East, however, one encounters a somewhat different notion of religion, as illustrated by the contemporary reality of Japan. According to the 1985 census, 95% of the population of Japan declared itself as followers of Shinto and 76% of the same population also declared itself as Buddhist."

Madhava - Mon, 23 Feb 2004 16:56:43 +0530
Leo - Tue, 24 Feb 2004 00:31:55 +0530
In my previous post I intended to say "In most other places, I think, I would have been confronted endlessly. In other words they would try to get me back "on the bandwagon."

I was raised in a Christian houshold and at age seven began asking my father philosophical questions regarding the authority of certain biblical facts. It prompted him to research Christianity and eventually sever our connection with it.

I have always considered myself a transcendentalist -- (transcendental) knowledge can be aquired without experience or the senses. So what initially turned me on to Eastern spiritual tradition was reading the Upanishads and encountering all the same truths I had already known, simply either through transcendental means of from former lives. But I have always disbelieved the necessity of any kind of scriptural authority or guru. When I first rejected Vaishnavism, about a year ago, this was a main reason-- the insistance upon a guru in disciplic sucession handing down knowledge. Intuitively, I disbelieve that it is truly "our" knowledge, understood, if we have not realized it without any help. The soul knows everything.
nabadip - Tue, 24 Feb 2004 19:14:46 +0530
QUOTE(Leo @ Feb 23 2004, 08:01 PM)

I have always considered myself a transcendentalist -- (transcendental) knowledge can be aquired without experience or the senses.

This is not correct. You need the ear to receive the mantra. You need the brain, the mind to store it, you need the body to work with it. The essence of the mantra is transcendental, but it is carried by audible sound. Also, without an understanding of the world, you, as a human being, cannot know of another world, of the beyond.

If senses and experience were not involved, transcendental realization would be spontaneous and complete. But in reality we meet with obstacles, those of our own making, which we can overcome only by experience, that is application of senses.

A vaishnava in addition needs the senses and experience to conceive of the nirguna qualities of his/her cherished subject of love. Without the experience of the beauty of this world we could not conceive of the absolute beauty of the transcendental world.

In as far as you, Leoji, do not rely on this comparative experiential basis of spiritual life, you are in denial of the here and now of your life. Therefore you choose a void concept of the transcendental. To speak in practical terms, I think you need to fall in love with someone, to allow for yourself the (relative) fullness of this life here, instead of denying and holding it distant from you as something endangering you and your integritiy.

It seems, you cannot "know" what love is without having tasted it yourself. After getting an understanding of human love, you might acquire an appreciation for divine love, the love-play of the divine couple, as well as the offer of participation in love to them. I think only then would you gain access to our type of transcendentalism, which the Gaudiya Vaishnavas cherish and desire to relish.
Leo - Wed, 25 Feb 2004 01:32:00 +0530
I will attempt to clear up any misunderstanding of what transcendentalist means.

The essence of everything is transcendental. Transcendentalists seek to expereince as much as possible. Transcendental merely implies that it transcends the physical brain, physical senses. If this philosophy is in so much discord with Vaishnavism, then why is Bhavaghad-Gita as it is advertized on the back cover with quotes from Ralph Waldom Emerson and Henry David Thoreau?
I do not know why you called it "void," what is void anyway? Isn't void a relative concept? If Krishna says that so many people do not know him in truth, then on what basis are you assuming I'm not as qualified or more so than you to speak on the subject? I could have described a very detailed explanation/ description of the soul long before I ever read about it.
Indeed, love is not "known" only felt. Aren't you contradicting? If love is only known through being felt, and the experience of love cannot be handed to anyone by a scripture or a guru... then shouldn't the same hold true for all forms of knowledge, including spirituality?
Hmmm, it is very disturbing that I have been accused of being in denial of the "here and now of my life," merely because my chosen course has a differnt flavor than yours. It seems you're confused as to what I "reject." I reject conforming to a pre-packeged spiritual path and authority, especially while being modivated by a desire to "end my suffering."
As I have said, I would rather learn to enjoy "suffering" than act and speak in a non-genuine manner. In the past months I have been lied to and played with by "vaishnavas," and it is my conclusion that merely conforming to a practice and uttering the right words, cannot make a person spiritual. I even know someone who almost got raped by a "Vaishnava" as she let him come to her home to teach her about Krishna. Infact, I have heard of many Vaishnavas who wanted to fall and commit to all sorts of unintegrious things. Can you tell me "what went wrong" with them? My answer is that they lacked spiritual integrity and honesty from the start. If anyone, it was they who were in some sort of denial, not me. Can you claim to have been following your reglulatory principles your whole life based merely on absolutely and solely your own ethics-- not ethics handed down from an authority. Well I have. How do you dismiss it that I might just as well be a pure
"vaishnava" in heart. Can you claim to be "pure?" Maybe when you are pure you'll behave like me?

The Indian notion of Love seems very shallow. Subject and object. Arranged marriages are traditional in India, the "ultimate blind date." Do indians value economics or family pride above love? Can you write a paragraph on love? In all my readings, I have encountered only a very whimsical mention of it, and a very heavy mention of "suffering." This does not taste right to my soul, therefore, on the basis of spiritual integrity I must deny it. That is all. The philosophy is too vindicative, too didactic. And to be accused on not feeling love. This does not reflect well on you. Don't worry, I'll keep it a secret that you said this.
betal_nut - Wed, 25 Feb 2004 02:37:43 +0530
Which books on Vaishnavism are you reading? Who is the author?
From the above it sounds like that author has a very Buddhistic leaning, with so much talk about "suffering" and all.
nabadip - Wed, 25 Feb 2004 10:44:29 +0530
First of all there was no accusation intended, just a brief analysis of a statement of yours from my perspective. Second, I think in your last posting you are addressing too many issues at once, on levels that I, and I suspect most of us here, do not resonate with. The abuse issues of misguided people in the guise of vaishnavas. Then you mention Bhagavad-gita, as though there is only one edition, and that is the big standard to everything. Let me tell you: it is not. It is a standard to some, and I respect them, as I respect Catholics with their Pope and encyclicas and whatever, but this has nothing to do with our world.

What my posting was about, intended to be about: the fullness of life versus speculation about it. You have a right to try to sort out all this, these thoughts, criticisms, demands. With saying that you have a right, I do not mean that you are correct, or wrong, in the contents of what you are saying, but am acknowledging the fact that you apply an earnest sincerity in searching and adjusting to realities you perceive. My suggestion, however, as someone probably quite a bit older (certainly not wise, just more experienced because of this), is: Live, allow life to take you on board, before you shut out your view on life with all kinds of judgements what is spiritual, transcendental, real... and in our context: what is vaishnavism, relation to Krishna, qualification to speak, who is a vaishnava and who not, who is a guru, what is the knowledge he gives etc.

I am not walking in your shoes. I cannot explain your experiences. Nobody can. One can address some aspects of judgements, conditions of "why" and "how", not much more. The experiences you refer to in your statements are regarding one particular organisation and its off-shoots which we here have next to nothing to do with, except that we were once in touch with it, but have long ago outgrown its perspective, its indoctrination, its language, its vices and its lures... and also the simplicity of reducing the complexity of life to a few catch-phrases, that sound like perfect answers.

But, of course, you continue to be entitled to all your thoughts and conclusions. My suggestion here is: Instead of drawing conclusions too fast, go into the experience. Have you been in India, for instance? You talk about Indian notion of love. It is fine - it is the Internet. But again, instead of talking about book covers, go to the old part of Vrindavan, live there for a few weeks, walk around Goverdhan hill, see for yourself, go to Nabadwip Dham, take a bath in the Ganga.

I wish you well. Jai Nitai.
Leo - Wed, 25 Feb 2004 23:47:56 +0530
Of course, All of the books I have read were authored by Srila Bhaktivedanta prabuhupad and one by his disciple. I can only address what I have been in contact with. And I am formost concerned with the many flaws I feel in Bhaktivedanta school of enlightenenment. I never try to speculate on such important things. A mother understands life better than a genetic engineer. To understand love or spirituality, we cannot take them and dissect them in a labratory. You are right, I should go to the place and "see for myself," although I am very adamant in remaining a transcendentalist, meaning in spirituality, love or ability to feel them, or mercy from God, is handed down or is contained in a book, just as the experience of being in Vrindavan cannot be "given." It is a simple thing. Who can deny that for one who is spiritual, religion is as useless as a well on a riverbank? We should not have to define religion execpt what is obviously is, a form of tradition handed down within a culture which is meant to cultivate spirituality or it is meant to foster the growth of spiritual awareness. But it frequently does not work. I bet 99% of all devoted religious people could even hint at what it all means. And the ones who can probably never needed religion to be able to do so.

I am currently engaged in a philosophy forum. Most of the members are just mental existenialists, evolutionists, reductionists and solipsists... I have been dealing whith this type for awhile. It is not a very suitable place for a transcendental topic-- most believe love is a "mere" evolutional survival mechanism, some desire to be emotionless (an emotion in itself).

At this moment I am feeling a surge of love. I am the type of person who falls very deeply in love, very haphazardly! At the age of 12 one night, I lay in bed and I listened to and felt the beating of my heart. And I felt profound love for all life at that time, tears streaming down my face. Oh I am convinced that the basis for love is a force that is not limited to our perception. And I am convinced that that force is actually alive and it is through it that we are alive. I can feel it in my heart chakra right now. If I could describe it, I would call it feverish. It is a sensation in the actual subtle body near the physical heart-- not the physical heart itself, and there is no lust. I do not rely on religious scriptures to define "soul" for me. I have experienced it myself through dreams. The soul is like an infinitessimal point or speck of consciousness. It is not even "alive" in the sense that it is not an organism. This is not my conjecture, but actually what I experienced through dreams and other expeiences like when I felt my heart beat. I felt that the actual substance of my soul was an intense longing. Consciousness is secondary perhaps, but first the longing. It is longing, simply for love. Now, odd, that that longing force itself IS love. The ancient mystic poet Rumi wrote that love longs for itself and in my experience that is true. So, I would not say that love is subjective or objective, niether external nor internal. It is all of those, paradox.


Anyways, right now I think I am falling in love with this friend of mine. is my Filipina pen-pal. She lives in Cebu, Philippines. I called her on the phone this weekend-- she has the most adorable voice I have every heard! she literally sounds like a child. I'm 21 and she just turned 20. In May I am going to go see her in the Philippines. Once I accidentally called her "katipan." she said "oops why are you calling me katipan?" and she explained that that word means girlfirned, but she forgave me for not knowing and said I may consider her my girlfriend anyway because she is a girl and she is my friend. I made a joke saying I should have called her kapitan (captain). Then I wrote her a sonnet called "you are the captain of our friendship"

".......Have a blessed natal day
Think joyous thoughts and laugh
you are loved beyond what words can say
I hope our friendhship lasts.........

I have a feeling, that she might fall for me too. . Recently she said to me "muna katipan not kapitan" Anyone read Tagalog? I think it means "first sweetheart/girlfriend not captain"