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Dharma and vairagya - With a touch of Marx.

Jagat - Mon, 30 Aug 2004 18:28:27 +0530
QUOTE (babu)
and i left on the question of "how does one find one's dharma?"

and i left not accepting jagat's answer as what could be the final statements...

one will not know Krishna unless one knows Goddess

and this is true of dharma...dharma is of the Goddess

dharma may be your loves and passions or for the non-bi polars, what interests you and so one studies if one needs training and gets a job in this field... or if your just a simple laborer, your cool at whatever construction job comes along

one may have a dharmic practice but to know and be of one's dharma, this goes to the root of your soul.., dharma is not a simple digging a hole with a shovel and i am dharma of the construction worker... dharma implies the quest to awaken

dharma is when you are this construction worker and you dig holes and carry heavy rocks and you are rooted in this experience and you draw from it as who you are as a person and from that you create your life experience... you might happen to notice an immense beauty within and without that others don't see and so on the job, you might do things a little different to bug people... maybe people might get a little bugged but an opportunity for conditioning-suspended communication takes place between you and your other workers... and then they might in their own way see beauty within and without... and then, after work or before work or even on your lunch napkin during work, these words appear on the surface of your feelings of your life experience and so you put them to paper... and you read them at a open mic poetry reading and someone says you write really nice poetry and you are poet and you tell them "no, i am a construction worker and i never want to stop busting my gut every day"

I was reminded of Marx's famous quote: "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

What babu is discussing above seems to be alienation, which was a big concern for Marx, perhaps his philosophical starting point. Marx assumes that happiness in this world is possible; the religious person says, along with the Buddhist, "Get over it." The first noble truth is "Suffering."

The very nature of life in this world is alienation, because we are alienated from our identity as servants of Krishna. Therefore we suffer through repeated births and deaths in this world. Our svarupa-dharma is service to Krishna. So in one sense, you could say that everyone in this world is an actor in Manhattan serving tables, or a poet doing construction work. We have to eat, put a roof over our heads, survive.

In our conversation, I talked about "seeing Krishna in the direction of our work/service/dharma" (quoting Prabhupada) as the beginning point of our spiritual journey. But there is a natural sifting process as the material nature in its inimitable fashion weeds out the weak and permits only the strong to survive.

[Aside: This is one of the reasons why I find even failures admirable. I was just reading Bhagavata 10.14.35--sad-veSAd iva pUtanApi sakulA tvAm eva devApita--"You gave yourself even to Putana, because she came in the dress of a devotee." A devotee's insides may have been hollowed out by offense, sin, doubt and the desire for sense gratification, but the vestiges of his original aspiration remain on the outside in the dress of a sannyasi or bhakta. All glories to that original aspiration!]

So, I hope you see where I am going with this, babu. Man proposes and God disposes. We say, "I want to be a Hollywood movie star," but "only a few are chosen." Why was William Hung such a phenomenon? Because he was just such a caricature of our unrealistic desires for stardom.

So, bhakti is the "soul of soulless" conditions. Our sva-dharma is a necessary part of our condition and we must use it as far as possible to push forward our true inner aspirations. And we must accept it fatalistically--inasmuch as Fate (or Krishna) inevitably steps in at some point and tells us either, "Sorry, Mr. Hung, you are no Harry Belafonte," or, "This is where you can make a difference, however small it be."

In other words, this: Yes, indeed, in feudal society or varnashram society, one's sva-dharma was more or less fixed from birth. In modern society, we have so much more freedom to find a "vocation" or a real sva-dharma that fits our own unique nature and aspirations. But this is always a negotiation between ourselves and Nature. The desire for security, material pleasure, comfort, leads us to compromise constantly with what we could call our "pure inner calling." But wherever the cards fall, we have to make do with that particular situation and find God in it. That is to say, God has put me here, he must want me to make a difference here. Never forget that bhakti and service are synonymous.

I think I may have missed part of your point, but that's how conversations work. Jai Radhe!
Jagat - Mon, 30 Aug 2004 18:41:59 +0530
In the above post, I had the sva-dharma and the "touch of Marx" in the thread title, but I forgot to say something about vairagya, which has come under discussion in another thread, but has a relation to this topic.

Vairagya means sacrifice, and though these are dirty words to some, they are absolutely crucial to all religious life.

Though religion should be natural, the Gita tells us that there is some advantage to seeking happiness in the mode of goodness--i.e.

"Good pleasure is the pleasure that endures
Banishing pain for aye; bitter at first
As poison to the soul, but afterward
Sweet as the taste of Amrit. Drink of that.
It springeth in the Spirit's deep content."

We sometimes hear people say that the lover gladly suffers pain, that such pain is not endured but welcomed, but this is a romantic way of approaching the matter. The fact is that it is still pain, and it is still sacrifice, even if one accepts it out of love. The Dark Night of the Soul is not some romantic lark, but real pain, real doubt, real darkness.

To persist in one's spiritual quest in spite of this darkness is called vairagya, which I shall here define as the use of the intelligence to resist what is apparently attractive--even liberation--but is in fact an obstacle to the true function of the soul.

This is a necessary part of spiritual life, no matter where you are situated, but it is especially important for young and energetic practitioners, who need to channel their energies effectively.

That is why I would never eliminate vairagya or renunciation from the spiritual equation. But false renunciation is most likely to be of only indirect value--like parent-imposed piano or ballet lessons in childhood. Actually, "discipline" does have an independent value, because, like money or talent, it can be used in Krishna's service.

Maybe I should call this "a touch of Freud," because one of his big ideas was sublmation (very yogic): psychic energy is fundamentally wild and unrefined--it would immediately be flushed down the toilet of unrestricted sense indulgence unless controlled and given direction, i.e., drawn upwards. (uddhared AtmanAtmAnaM nAtmAnam avasAdayet).

Modern society's most liberal wing beginning with Rousseau repudiates this idea in favor of a more naturalistic concept--based on the belief that one evolves naturally toward the good. And yet, we still admire those who say, "Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Talent must be combined with effort. Praktana-samskara must be combined with Adhunika-samskara (sadhana).

This is where this post ties in with the previous one: That 99% perspiration is not always going to look very natural, and it may even give the appearance of hard-heartedness when one does not allow any obstacle to stand in the way of one's goal. But you have to recognize the essential role of discipline in nearly all human achievement, including or even especially bhakti.

babu - Wed, 01 Sep 2004 19:28:38 +0530
Marx was quite a poet but did he know it?

And yes, there was an element of alienation in my discussion but more so there was a discovery of innocence. Yes, it doesn't take long to figure out there is suffering in this world. Kudos to Buddha and all the religionists! But is that suffering in this world God's intent or is it our creation?

Gaudiya Vaishnavas treat this world as if its not our real home as this is a place of suffering and the point of life is to become pure Krishna bhakta and then at the time of death, to go to this other place that is our real home and of our real nature as Krishna's servant is our real nature. And yet Radha and Krishna amongst many others had these wonderful pastimes here in this world (a more refined understanding is that Gokula Brindaban are not of this world) which suggests to some degree that the idea is not so much to leave this world but to not be of this world...hate, greed...etc. Godliness is a question of heart and consciousness and not of place. This idea of other worldliness is mirrored in western Christian understanding where the idea is to go to heaven. But too, it is very much suggested in Biblical understanding that all of this suffering was very unnecessary if we stayed the course of innocence and didn't taste of the fruit of knowledge that led us astray. And it wasn't that knowledge was such a bad thing in itself but it was not a purposeful toy for these youngsters in the garden. Knowledge in its ability to create potent weapons of mass destruction that threaten our very existence is the most ominous sign of this event. But too, the full story innocences's loss is a tale that only the poets can tell. And we are all poets even if we don't know it. And so Jesus came and shed his blood to righten the ship of humanity that had gone astray. To return to humanity that which it had lost, innocence. To mirror innocence so we could see it in ourselves.

So when I spoke of this construction worker... I actually had in mind Andy Clausen from the night before as the film festival was about the relationship between Allan Ginsburg and Andy Clausen. Andy Clausen was a construction worker, longshoreman, oil rig worker who came across and read Jack Kerouac's book, "On the Road" and thought I can do that as in hit the road and live the life of a beat. He hit the road, and wrote of his experiences and as well continued to work as heavy laborer. Allan Ginsburg came across his poetry and loved it...I will find some of his quotes on it when I get a chance but the fascinating aspect of the relationship is this Allan Ginsburg intellectual poet and this earthy laborer poet Andy Clausen who just had a blast as well as a deep love in each other's company. But Andy was not this construction worker wanting to be a poet as perhaps you misunderstood but a poet who understood and felt his roots into the human experience was fed through this position of having a strong back and moving and lifting things in industrial culture that people with strong backs do. Something he was not so fast to give up until his back finally did weaken. Today, Andy Clausen teaches poetry and writing in prisons and n.y.c. public schools. Andy Clausen teaches poetry walking down the street breathing the air.

One of the funny episodes discussed at the film festival was when Ginsburg had to take some time off from his teaching position at Naropa University to go to Amsterdam for a short term poetry workshop or something and he asked Andy Clausen to take off from his construction gigs and teach these folks about poetry. And while Andy had no classroom experience and told such to Allan, Allan knew that there was no one better to learn of poetry than Andy Clausen, the consturction worker.

And so I have a problem with what to me seems to be limited finite definitions of of what is Krishna Bhakta. You mentioned how at times you became teary eyed at what perhaps sounds like "chick flicks". I actually watch quite a bit of them myself. Last night I saw one that probably with you having a tendency to get misty eyed would have gotten as such. The movie was "Love Actually." The point being that that which is love, exists outside of one defining oneself as Krishna's servant. Heck, even Yashoda would never define herself as Krishna's servant. Just this total love and absorbtion in Krishna through the eyes of a mother...where is he?... what is he doing? he safe? always entranced in his beauty on the deepest and highest soulful levels. One can feel the grand movement of the ocean of love beyond that which mapped on the surface with language.

Love is the string that ties everything...all together.

Yes, man proposes and God does dispose. And besides William Hung that you cite, there is Ed Wood. The best movie he had anything to do with was the movie that was made about his attempts to make movies. On an inner level, there is his total commitment to choose to paint his soul the colors of his own choosing. And that is the significance of everyone, this choice if we so choose, to paint our souls the colors.

And this is one's dharma, the baby that is kept and not tossed with the bathwater.

Dharma is the painting of one's soul and to be awakenly involved in that is to be living a spiritual life

(have to be off about some things to get done... will post some more later as some more thoughts on what Jagat has posted)
babu - Thu, 02 Sep 2004 18:30:07 +0530
Often when a Krishna bhakta does not see something labeled as of Krishna, they fail to see its relation to Krishna or how it has the same inner qualities of rasa and love that one experiences in relation to Krishna. We often hear of the darkness and despair in the world, not that the world can be dark and have some despair but this darkness takes on more the air of a condemnation and judgement and this is not my culture and my world and I am not a part of it.

God was there in our lives before we began the active conscious process or recognizing God as God.

For the young infant I saw a few days ago sitting on a water's edge of a mountain stream tossing little pebbles in the air in the adorable uncoodinated way they do and then the infant watching in pure delight and amazement the splashes and ripples go forth, such experience was no less than total God intoxication. Experiencing life purely without the encumbrances of language and excessive images that fragment experience. Such is a glimpse of the Brijabhasis love and experience of Krishna.

There is only darkness here in the west or anywhere for a Krishna bhakta when one doesn't see its relation to Krishna. In our efforts to be whatever we are, in the infants amazement at the interaction between pebbles and water... bubbles arise from the deep in their liberation into God's love. It is unavoidable.

And this is why too I see failures as admirable. So many institutions have failed us or at least our partial understandings of them. There is for instance the brahmana as the head of varna ashrama dharma as they are at the top. Is the north pole at the top of the earth? This is only a relative declension of one's position of viewing. One could just as well say in observation from space that the south pole is the top of the earth or Montreal or the Black Hills of South Dakota. Top and bottom are relative. John Lennon sang that "women are the niggers of the world" and "a working class hero is something to be" where he very much smashes this top/bottom myth of patriarchalism that wreaks so much havoc in the world.

Top and bottom, masculine and feminine, are better understood in terms of polarity, in terms of yin and yang... a seamless, vital and active relationship.

There is this vedic mapping of reality of where we are told where we should go and what things should be like but does one see as well that we, we all are approaching a waterfall and all our presuppositions have a degree of meaningless in this unavoidable leap into the unknown where we innocently experience the All in All?