Consciousness, Higher or Lower

The quality of our consciousness can be chosen, either actively or passively. Where do you want to take your consciousness today?

Everything we think, say, or do, affects our consciousness. Everything we eat or drink affects our consciousness. Everything we hear or see affects our consciousness too. Our consciousness is shaped by our experiences. Does that sound hopeless or hopeful to you? You can choose your consciousness!

Recently I met one young aspiring spiritualist who had once imbibed some intoxicating substance to “reach a higher plane of consciousness”. I told him that if attaining to a higher plane of consciousness was so cheap that a mere substance could take us there, then all the drug addicts of the world would be sages, great saintly souls who can see the past, present and future, act with perfect equanimity, and help everyone they meet. But this is not the case.

A drunk man may be entertaining or irritating, but a drunk man is a drunk man, not a sober human even.

When we are intoxicated, we hallucinate. Hallucination is not a “higher plane of consciousness”, no matter what the drug peddler might tell you. Hallucination is a lower form of consciousness. Don’t hallucinate with substances, you can reach a higher plane of consciousness by proper meditation.

Substances like tea, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, cannabis, opioids, and drugs, they are all intoxicants. They don’t take our consciousness to a higher level, but to a lower level.

These are, at a high-level, states of consciousness:

  • Unconscious
  • Sub-conscious
  • Conscious
  • Super-Conscious

When most of us are asleep, we’re mostly unconscious, though there are certain things that happen at a sub-conscious level also.

When we’re awake, we’re generally conscious, but there are certain things that happen at a sub-conscious level too.

At the sub-conscious level, usually it is instincts, but also other complex phenomena, like for example suggestions and advertisements that are on a subtle level, always playing with our consciousness, inserting suggestions into our consciousness… making us feel that it is us who want those things or experiences…

यथा प्रकाशयत्येक: कृत्स्‍नं लोकमिमं रवि: ।
क्षेत्रं क्षेत्री तथा कृत्स्‍नं प्रकाशयति भारत ॥ ३४ ॥ yathā prakāśayaty ekaḥ
kṛtsnaṁ lokam imaṁ raviḥ
kṣetraṁ kṣetrī tathā kṛtsnaṁ
prakāśayati bhārata

O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/13/34/

Because consciousness is the symptom of the soul, a symptom of life itself, all living entities are conscious. The quality, the fidelity of consciousness varies though. A plant is aware of very little, and hence conscious at a very low level, insect at a higher level, animal at an even higher level, and so on. Both a drunk human and a sober human are conscious, just that the drunk human’s consciousness is said to be closer to the consciousness of an animal than the sober human’s, in most cases anyways.

A soul in a dog’s body, even though conscious, can’t do much about it’s level of consciousness except accept whatever consciousness was imposed upon it by nature, viz, act like a dog.

Humans, on the other hand, possess a rare gift, in it that they can actively choose a state of consciousness. Consequently, humans can, if they choose to, act like animals or like trees or fish or birds or insects. That is a freedom afforded in human life.

However, only humans can actively choose a higher form of consciousness, super-consciousness. To be aware of what is going on, inside us at a spiritual level, inside our bodies and minds… to be able to see what consciousness someone else is at, and as this gets further developed, know more than can be afforded by the limits of space and time.

Every single thought, word, and deed we engage in, or are part of, for example, reading a novel or a newspaper, watching a movie or television, hanging out with a friend who loves politics or sports… each such experience shapes our consciousness.

When someone practices a genuine form of meditation that is centered around the Supreme Absolute Truth, such as, for example, the chanting of the Maha Mantra “the great chant”:

हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे |
हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे ||

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare

When properly heard and chanted, this mantra lifts the consciousness of the chanter towards super-consciousness. Try it out. Just hear yourself saying this mantra, and let me know if I can help.

इदं ज्ञानमुपाश्रित्य मम साधर्म्यमागता: ।
सर्गेऽपि नोपजायन्ते प्रलये न व्यथन्ति च ॥ २ ॥ idaṁ jñānam upāśritya
mama sādharmyam āgatāḥ
sarge ’pi nopajāyante
pralaye na vyathanti ca

By becoming fixed in this knowledge, one can attain to the transcendental nature like My own. Thus established, one is not born at the time of creation or disturbed at the time of dissolution.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/14/2/

Where do you want to take your consciousness today?

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The Best Sacrifice / Yajna for this age

Deepak, 26th May 2015

Hare Krishna to all
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All Glories to GuruDev.
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

My question is :- which Yajnas should be perform in this Kaliyug and how to perform it

Hare Krishna

Rathin Mandal, 27th May 2015

Hare Krishna Deepak,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Gurudeva and Srimati Gurumataji,

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

For this age only Sankirtana Yajna is recommended. For doing the yajnas that were recommended in other ages, neither do we have that much of life span, nor physical strength and not enough resources. That is why other yajnas are not recommended.

your Servant
Rathin

Sridhar Das, 06th June 2015

Hare Krishna Deepak,

My humble obeisances to you,
All Glories to Srila Gurudeva and Srimati Gurumata!
All Glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada!

You have correctly read that Sankirtan Yajna is the recommended Yajna for this age as confirmed below:

kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇuṁ
 tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ
dvāpare paricaryāyāṁ
 kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt

“Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Viṣṇu, in Tretā-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvāpara-yuga by serving the Lord’s lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra.” (SB 12.3.52)

It can be performed by anyone irrespective of any past qualifications, irrespective of family backgrounds and can be chanted anytime and any place (we don’t carry beads in the bathroom though).

your servant
Sridhar Das

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Chanting Consciously or Attentively

Vandana Neeraye, 28th May 2015

Hare Krishna

Please accept my humble obeisance

All Glories to Shrila Prabupada

All Glories to Shrila Gurudev and Guru mataji

Hare Krishna

i know that when we chat it has to be without any offenses. But what does it mean to chant attentively or consciously.

Thank you

your servant,
Vandana

Sacinandana Das, 28th May 2015

Hare Krishna Vandana Mataji,
Please accept my humble obeisances!
All Glories to Srila Gurudeva and Srimati Gurumataji!
All Glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada!

If your question is whether there is a difference between chanting attentively and consciously, I had the same question months back. Ultimately, I preached to the mind to keep things simpler – Just hear the Holy Names attentively.

In other words, I find both as the same thing. Consciously hearing each syllable in Mahamantra – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare also means chanting attentively. And chanting attentively means consciously hearing each syllable in the mantra.

Offenceless chanting means chanting while avoiding all the 10 offences. If we chant without offences, i.e. avoid all the ten offences, we will then automatically be able to chant attentively. This was told to me by Srila Gurudeva personally. Also that, sometimes, the last thing in the list is the most important thing (as found here).

So we must keep striving to chant attentively despite success or failures, which happens by determination, enthusiasm, patience and causeless mercy of Guru and Krishna. Attentive chanting in brahma-muhrat is the ideal-most start of the day.

I seek prayers of all the readers that I may be able to do so.

your servant
Sacinandana Das

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 28th September 2015

Dear Mother Vandana,

Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Gurudeva.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for this question and Bhakta Shreyas’ nice answer which is complete.

I wanted to add a personal perspective.

As long as we remain alive in this body, it is impossible to chant “completely without consciousness”, because we know that dead bodies cannot chant Hare Krishna. However, it is possible for us to chant in a distracted or mechanical way, which is not fully effective, though any kind of chanting is always better than no chanting. The best thing to do is to notice when we are not paying attention to hearing our own chanting, and focus attention back to hearing the Mahamantra.

Srila Prabhupada once said, as recounted as “the shortest japa workshop” by one of his close disciples, when asked “what do with the distracted mind” that there is the mouth which chants, and the ears which hear, there is no question of the mind, in other words, chanting is as simple as chanting and hearing what one chants.

The example of mechanical chanting is Krishna has come to your door, knocking on your door, and you simply ignore Him. This is because the Hare Krishna Mahamantra is non-different from Sri Radha Krishna, as Krishna is non-different from His name “nama chintamani krishnas chaitanya rasa vigraha, purna shuddho nitya mukto abhinnatvam nama naminoh” – “abhinna’ = non-different, “nama” = name, and “naminoh” = owner of the name (Krishna).

When devotees say chant with attention, it means to recognize that Krishna is in His name and to pay attention to Hearing Him as He visits us out of His causeless mercy.

It is a daily and constant endeavor to anyone who is trying to chant.

Sincerely,
Mahabhagavat Das


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Chanting mainly because of anxiety- reducing effect?

Bhakta Sunil, 14th March 2013

Hare Krishna

Please accept my humble obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

I have experienced that chanting on japa mala helps quieten mind and reduce anxieties and negative thoughts

I would like to know  is it correct if one develops addiction to chanting mainly because of anxiety-reducing-effect of chanting

Regards,
Sunil

Rathin Mandal, 15th March 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada,
All glories to Srila Gurudeva.

I will agree with you that chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra reduces anxieties and help in keeping the negative thought away. That is also the power of the Holy Name. Even I experience it sometimes.
I heard it in one of the lecture, that this is the initial process of getting cleansed. The Holy Name first cleans the material covering around us that is in form of anxiety, anger, and envy. Anxiety arises from illusion and then the mind plays all kind of tricks upon us. So by chanting the material covering gets reduced and spiritual consciousness awakens, one experience the bliss of all merciful.
In another lecture, I have heard that in neophyte state whatever may be the reason, one should keep on chanting. By continuous chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra one is sure to get realization of Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality. Another reason is that by chanting one is associating with the Supreme Lord.

your Servant
Rathin

Bhakta Sunil, 15th March 2013

Wow! Very satisfying and nice answer Rathin prabhu

My repeated humble obeisances to you

Regards,
Sunil Vaswani
Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 15th March 2013

Dear Sunil, Why not? “yena kena prakaarena manah krishna niveshayet”, “some way or another, the mind should be invested in Krishna”. So by all means, be addicted to chanting Hare Krishna, but don’t neglect practical service to Guru, Krishna, family, community etc., we are in the business of serving others, we are transcendental paramedics in this battlefield of material nature. We need to maintain our own health, and then go go go out to serve those who need spiritual guidance in the darkness of material illusion.

Nikhil Mishra, 15th March 2013

Hare krsna devotees
My humble obeisances to all of you.
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

“Is it correct if one develops addiction to chanting mainly because of anxiety reducing effect of chanting “.
Sunil Prabhu this statement does not sound 100% convincing to me. I think it is OK to pray to God in a mood of complete surrender but this surrender is not anxiety but it comes after inquiring about the reality from a healthy mind .We can take the example of Srila Sanatan and Rupa Goswami who surrendered to Godhead after discussion with Mahaprabhu.So get my point. Just don’t take chanting as a means of overcoming anxiety. If you are habitually anxious then discuss things with senior devotees and Guru personally. May be you need some kind of counseling.   Kindly understand the intention behind the words of Mahabhagvat Prabhu “don’t neglect practical service to Guru, Krishna, family, community etc.”…. ……“We need to maintain our own health, and then go out to serve those who need spiritual guidance”.

Sincerely
Nikhil

Bhakta Sunil, 15th March 2013

Respected Mahabhagavat Prabhu

I understand!

with regards,
Sunil

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How to meditate Attentively?

Rathin Mandal, 14th December 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Your Lotus Feet and Srimati Gurumataji,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I will like to ask a question about chanting properly.
Sometimes it do happens that some personal, professional, family thought repetitively comes into the mind.
At times it become very difficult to get those thoughts out of mind.

In such condition, please tell me a way how to continue chanting.

your Servant
Rathin

Bhakta Sunil, 14th December 2013

Hare Krishna everyone

Please accept my humble obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

Rathin , during chanting on japa mala please make it a point that during the complete round mind has to be focussed to the transcendental sound vibrations of the holy names of the Lord.  Even if mind gets diverted to other thoughts please  try to bring mind gradually to the transcendental sound vibrations of the holy names of the Lord.  Mind is like a monkey which  jumping from one thought to another. But with proper and determined practice one can control and bring mind to the transcendental sound vibrations of the holy names of the Lord during chanting of the Mahamantra

Regards,
Sunil

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 17th December 2013

Dear Rathin Mandal,

Please keep chanting and don’t pay any attention to those thoughts – you are not the mind, so if you don’t give the mind fuel by giving attention to those thoughts, then the mind will eventually stop having a grip on you. Chanting while sincerely trying is the only way to better chanting.

Here are some strategies:

1. When you notice that you are inattentive, congratulate yourself on noticing, and bring yourself back to hearing the Mahamantra as you chant.

2. Keep a little diary – if some thought is really troubling you, then make a note of it, tell the mind see it will not be forgotten, and continue chanting.

3. Mind does not like big big projects, this 16 rounds seems like too much. So tell the mind – just three mahamantras, just three, and focus on them, when done, another three, like this 108, and like this 16 rounds.

4. Make sure that every syllable of the Mahamantra is being pronounced – strive to hear each syllable yourself and speed up when you are sure all syllables are there – if you want, you can record yourself while chanting and hear later to make sure.

5. Chant in the association of sincere and serious chanters.

6.Chant early in the morning.

7. Know that the chanting you are doing, if you can try to please Krishna, is benefiting the entire universe, including yourself.

Above all, please keep trying. To tell you the truth I need so many of these reminders myself, as I am weak little fool and Krishna’s Maya is very strong. Another thing to remember is that if you are thinking you are not chanting very well, there is a good chance you can improve, but if I think I can’t get any better than I am now, then I am a sure-fire candidate for falldown.

Sincerely,
Mahabhagavat Das

Rathin Mandal, 19th December 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Your Lotus Feet and Srimati Gurumataji,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you very much Sunil Prabhu and Mahabhagavat Prabhu for your kind reply and suggestions.

For last couple of days, I have been trying to follow your directions and feel little better than before.

Hope to follow in your footsteps to improve.

your Servant
Rathin

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How to Balance Spiritual Practice in Family Life

Advaitakrishna das, 6th May 2013

Hare Krsna

Please accept my humble Obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

WE all hear that chanting is the most important aspect of our spiritual life. We also hear that Srila Prabhupada mentioned that 99% of our spiritual advancement depends upon chanting and also that it took him some 28 or 30 years to bring it to perefction.

May I request to kindly advise on this and oblige.
Making an effort to be in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Your servant
Advaita KrsnaDas

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 6th May, 2013

Dear Advaita Krishna Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for reminding us! Yes, you are right, indeed, chanting Hare Krishna is our main activity. Why 99%, one an say that 100% of spiritual advancement depends on chanting Hare Krishna sincerely.

I haven’t heard that statement by Srila Prabhupada that it took him 28-30 years to perfect chanting Hare Krishna. But we can understand that Srila Prabhupada is very very humble and surrendered and doesn’t think himself to be a great devotee. But, we understand Srila Prabhupada to be a Nitya Siddha, so there was never a time when he was not perfect, even when he was a little child, or acting as a Grihastha.

However, in order for a person to chant effectively, there are so many important things, to take only Krishna Prasada, and to follow the instructions of the spiritual master, and to avoid the ten offenses against the holy name, and to follow the four regulative principles and serve the Vaishnavas carefully. A person who is chanting well is understood to be doing those things effectively also, and a person doing those things sincerely, can expect to advance in the matter of chanting nicely.

Group members, please let us share our feedback on this important point.

your servant,
Mahabhagavat Das

Sanil, 6th May 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Gurudeva

What I understood from the teachings of Srila Gurudeva is that we should totally avoid material activities and whatever spiritual activities done by us shall be as recommended by scriptures and shall be done as a service to Guru and Krishna and not for our enjoyment. Doing things for our enjoyment is miserliness. Srila Gurudeva always advice us to be selfless.

your servant,
Sanil kumar

Advaitakrishna das, 07th May 2013

HARE KRSNA
Please accept my humble Obeisances Prabhuji,

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

Sorry but my note was not intended at “reminding anyone”.
Please forgive me if it sounded like that. My apologies.

Just one question ,if you could kindly advise.
In Grahastha ashram there are so many distractions,could be social obligations,family responsibilities and other distracting issues of sense gratification.

How do we keep our sadhana standards strong enough so as to protect ourselves from not getting carried away and progress in Bhakti?

your servant
Advaita Krsna Das.

Sanil, 7th May 2013

Hare Krishna

I just want to add some more points to avoid any misunderstanding. All spiritual activities shall be done as a loving service to Guru and Krishna and not for our benefits or enjoyments. When Guru and Krishna are pleased not only us , but the entire world will be pleased. We can offer everything to Krishna except, meat, onions, coffine, intoxicants, etc. The most important requirement is bhava (the feeling). It shall be done as a loving service. Krishna had even ate the peelings of banana when accidentally offered but with love. The basic bhava required is love. We must do everything including our material duties as a loving service to Krishna and offer it to Him and the result (prasadam) thus obtained shall be used Krishna consciously for spiritual activities and not for our sense enjoyments

Thanks a lot to Srila Gurudeva and all glories to His noble mission of revolutionising the world with Krishna consciousness

your servant
Sanil kumar

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 07 May 2013

Dear Advaita Krishna Prabhuji,

Please kindly accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Well, you did not intend to remind, but due to your email I personally remembered that chanting Hare Krishna is our primary service, so I didn’t take it in a negative way but positive. I was thinking “Advaita Krishna Prabhu is thinking of this chanting Hare Krishna and he is revealing his mind in confidence to us, this is a good reminder to all of us to refocus back on chanting Hare Krishna”. So please kindly do not worry Prabhu. I am a Grihastha myself, so I see what you mean and I understand that.

Once I heard a class by His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaja in Toronto, Canada… someone asked a similar question. His exact answer I am not able to quote, but I will paraphrase it. He said that yes, in Brahmachari life, Vanaprastha life an Sannyas life, surely disturbances can be less, Grihastha Ashrama is like flying in a plane at low altitude, and therefore the turbulence is experienced more. But he went on to say that in Grihastha Ashram it is possible to be perfect pure devotee. If he says so, then it must be true. There are so many pure devotees, Arjuna, Maharaja Parikshit, Prahlada Maharaja, Dhruva Maharaja, Ambarisha Maharaja, even Srila Prabhupada, did you know he was in Grihastha Ashram for more than 36 years? And so many others all over the world even today, pure devotees in Grihastha Ashram.

Then I heard several lectures by my spiritual master Srila Sankarshan Das Adhikari, many persons ask this kind of question… and he says that the critical thing for Grihastha is to maintain the four regulative principles strictly. He said that if we prioritize chanting 16 rounds and strictly follow regulative principles, and maintain diet strictly ONLY on Krishna Prasadam, then 99% of the problems will be resolved by themselves, because the Grihasthas become strong and clear-headed. The main thing is to remain Brahmachari even in Grihastha life… He says that to supercharge spiritual life, one should try to be up for Mangal Arati every morning. I am personally yet to fully implement that instruction but I am sure that it will be possible soon.

Ultimately, the only way to do something is to actually do it, you know what I mean? Chanting minimum 16 rounds can be done only by actually chanting minimum 16 rounds somehow (yena kena prakaarena – somehow or other). Reading Srila Prabhupada’s books can only be done by actually reading Srila Prabhupada’s books… BTW, we have book clubs here, you can join our 2013 book club which now has 70+ members. There is another 2011 book club for which membership is already closed because “class full” 🙂 In this way we can organize such projects ourselves in our own small way, increase the spiritual vibration, and create a revolution in consciousness, and usher in the golden age within this age of kali.

Primarily, the thing to remember is that Grihastha Ashram is the best Ashram to spread Krishna consciousness. I can work in the corporate/business world, a Sannyasi cannot work in that kind of environment… so I get to serve with the money I earn, and I get to meet all these people, give them Krishna Prasadam, trick them into saying Krishna’s name, like I met one person at the water filter today, and I asked her what she was doing on the weekend, and she said she was going to her cottage, I said I had a seminar coming up at the Hare Krishna temple… she asked me where is the Hare Krishna temple, so she said Hare Krishna and heard Hare Krishna. People see my Tilak (it is fainter than at the temple, but it is there), and ask me about it… Grihasthas can go to all these social gatherings dressed in full Vaishnava attire and talk about Krishna, relate everything back to Krishna. I only eat fruits or s salad in such events and that too just namesake, I take full Prasadam from home just before entering the party so I am not hungry. Grihasthas can distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books personally and follow up in a way that a traveling preacher cannot do. Prabhu, we have to do our share and support the Sannyasis, Vanaprasthas, and Brahmacharis in their service also.

Read books, hear lectures, take on responsibilities, incorporate hearing and chanting into family time, do what it takes Prabhu… you have surely done it at some point, and you can look at your present situation and see where you can make some adjustments.

Prabhu, Grihasthas are the future of the Krishna consciousness movement because 99% of the population will be in that status of life, whether officially or not. Without active and strong spiritually surcharged Grihasthas, there will be no spreading of Krishna consciousness movement on this planet.

So Prabhu, please immediately without wasting another moment, get back to full enthusiastic mode, chant, read, let there be an overflow of spiritual vibrations in your heart, and without fear share this overflow of Krishna consciousness with one and all. You can surely do it. And with your blessing I can also do it.

your servant,
Mahabhagavat Das

Sanil, 07th May 2013

Hare Krishna Prabhuji
Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Gurudeva

If we read carefully, the answer to keep our sadhana strong is already mentioned by Mahabhagavat Das Prabhu :
Quote

” in order for a person to chant effectively, there are so many important things, to take only Krishna Prasada, and to follow the instructions of the spiritual master, and to avoid the ten offenses against the holy name, and to follow the four regulative principles and serve the Vaishnavas carefully. A person who is chanting well is understood to be doing those things effectively also, and a person doing those things sincerely, can expect to advance in the matter of chanting nicely.”
Unquote

Regarding sense gratification, it is a material activity. The pleasure obtained by sense gratification is not the real pleasure, it is temporary. The permanent and real pleasure is possible only in spiritual mode. We must offer all our activities in the Grihasta ashrama to Krishna and must carryout upto His satisfaction since He is the Supreme Enjoyer and we need to strictly follow the regulative principles to advance strongly in devotion as a loving service to guru and Krishna. The result thus obtained shall not be used for sense gratification. Anything we consume over and above our necessities incur sin (As confirmed by the Lord). Thus by taking only Krishna prasadam and fully involved in other Sadhanas we can be fully in spiritual mode and gradually elevate ourselves further.

your servant,
Sanil kumar

Ashok-Sahu, 08th May 2013

Hare Krishna Advaita Krishna Das Prabhu,

Please accept my humble Obeisances Prabhuji,
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

As a grihastha myself, I too have the similar feeling to share with you.
But what I have understood is, It is our own drive towards our own spiritual perfection and the drive or responsibility we own to bring others into pure Krishna Consciousness is the key for us. If we have the strong desire and drive to progress in spiritual life, we will definitely progress irrespective of in what situation we are in. It may happen that we will progress two steps forward and one step backward in certain situation, nevertheless we are progressing. However, If we are determined to maintain the standard of Krishna Consciousness gradually with our own determined effort and by the mercy of Guru, Krishna, Vaisnava we will definitely reach our goal sooner or later.

We just have to keep moving, feel suffocated if we are not in Krishna or devotees association in any of the form like Prasada, deity, books etc,

This Intense desire to reach spiritual perfection can take one towards perfection

Hare Krishna
Ashok

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Dealing with Doubt

Jessica M, 05th November 2012

What should one do when they begin to experience doubts while on the path to Krishna consciousness?
I have been chanting for five months now and reading the Gita As It Is as well. I don’t know any devotees in my area though and have a lot of curiosity and begin to find myself reading material that endorses a more impersonalistic viewpoint from which I first came from before learning about and accepting Krishna consciousness. I feel a bit torn…At first I felt so convicted, while chanting, and now I’m doubting things.
I would love to feel that sense of conviction, faith, again. Any advice?

Thank you. Hare Krishna!

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 05th November 2012

Jessica,

Hare Krishna!

Thank you so much for writing in!

We welcome encouragement and support for Jessica from the global community here! Please don’t let her think that she is all alone on this path of Bhakti. This community is especially for those who live far from association of devotees, but of course, anyone who is genuinely desirous of spiritual advancement can benefit from this.

What you are going through is natural. I also came from a phase in life where impersonalistic philosophy dominated. As long as we are not fixed up in devotional service, this comes back again and again. It is a very seductive philosophy, because it encourages the material mind to remain as it is today, the undisputed master of the soul.

Whenever we think about something, one pragmatic thing to do is to assess who is to gain from a course of action. For example politicians push projects where they or their close circle will gain… actors promote goods which increase their own wealth, and so on, the world is full of such examples.

Impersonalistic philosophy does not have any genuine element of surrender to God… so that means the mind remains the master – the mind chooses what to do and what not to do, the mind disguises actions and thoughts and words as “realizations from the impersonal oneness”, but if we see carefully it is just rantings of the mind.

You should ask your doubts, specific individual doubts, the questions should be asked submissively so that those who have the knowledge are inclined and encouraged and pleased to share with you. When you get the answers, do your best to act on them. If you don’t act on the answers received, then they will remain mere theories.

Bhakti Yoga is very very personal, and it is experiential… what is involved for an experience to occur? Some effort! 🙂

So, why don’t you wholeheartedly participate in the activities of this group – this question is surely a start!

Sincerely,
Mahabhagavat Das

Virendra Trivedi, 06th November 2012

Dear Jessica,

Hare Krsna.

I asked similar question many years back to a senior devotee in a public forum and he gravely replied: “If you have doubt then come out challenging; willing to be defeated by authoritative reference and ready to be convinced by logical reasoning. This doubting phase is a dangerous situation. Don’t you know what Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita? Samsayatma vinashyati: The doubting soul is ruined. So don’t delay it. Act fast.”

So that is all I can advice you.

But here is something more I can tell you from my personal experience: I acted on his advice and I was saved from being ruined. To be defeated or corrected by devotees is also a very very good fortune which most people in this world do not have.

Just expose your doubts in this transcendental e-association of devotees as HG Mahabhagavat prabhu has suggested and see them replaced with your previous sense of conviction and faith once again. Participate in the association of devotees more often and their love will not let you feel torn anymore. You will certainly keep going higher and higher in spiritual life 🙂

Sincerely,
Virendra

Rahul Mangla, 06th November 2012

Hare Krishna,

Welcome to this wonderful group of devotees Jessica mataji. Please share your doubts in this group and I am sure your lost conviction and faith will return.

your servant,
Rahul

Rupa Manjari devi dasi, 06th November 2012

Hare Krishna

Dear Jessica

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!
All glories to Srila Prahbupada!

Doubts are natural on this process of devotional service and are nothing to be ashamed of.  When we first come to Krsna consciousness there is some faith called Sraddha, due to the association of some devotees or the holy named that incites are to take up the process, then there is a long process before we get to
nistha (firm unflinching faith).  We first have to go through the stage of sadhu sanga (associating with the devotees) bajana kriya, (we start taking up the process, taking shelter of a bona fide spiritual master), and the long desert of anartha avritti, the clearing of the unwanted things within the heart).  So during this stage doubts are natural, and clearing these doubts by making humble inquiries are all about  the process.

This Krishna conciousness process does not require blind – faith, in fact blind fact is actually discouraged, that is why the faith you see in advanced devotees are strong, it is based on realization through pratical experience. But I assure you they also had to go through the stage which we all are going through, the doubting stage. Even my beloved Spiritual master his Grace Srimad Sankarshana das Adhikari often speaks of the time he first came to Krsna consciousness – he was also influenced by the impersonal Mayavadi philosophy, and was reluctant at first to surrender to his now beloved Spirtual master  His divine grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

But through association, he especially mentions the association Visnujana Swami his faith increased to the stage he had firm faith in Srila Prahbupada and now look at him now!  Complete faith, no doubts to the point his only desire is to serve Srila Praahbupada, by bringing and guiding everyone to Krsna consciousness.  Every minute, every second, he is engaged in answering e-mails,  because his only desire is to clear up the doubts of all those who inquire from him so they can too progess and experience the sublime existence of being pure Krsna conscious.

Thus my spiritual master is constantly encouraging me to bring all my doubts to him.  Sometimes I brings my doubts up with other devotees  other devotees, and other times to my spiritual master. My spiritual master has a wondeful way of eradicating my doubts immediately but  some times it takes time, and it comes down to “lets just continue this process and then wait for Krsna to revealed the answers because this process is so potent and real, and tangible, and though sometimes the mind may decieve you to think otherwise, once someone begins they develop a higher taste, and so once they begin they can never fully go back to there original mindset, in other words, they  can not actually fully enter material existence again.  Many times I felt like running back to my christian ways going back to church, because of some aspects I could not yet understand, but it would take me only one hour in the church to realize they were missing the missing link which Krsna Consciousness has.  I see proof of this all the time when I am distributing books or prasadam on the street.  I meet many people who
have taken up the process before me, and for some reason or other, they stop, but the faith doesn’t go. They are so convinced of the authenticisty of Krsna consciousness, they still read Bhagavad-gita, or at least revere it, and tell others about Krsna consciousness, in contrast to those who leave other systems of religious practice which is based on blind faith,  often become athiests.

Personally I dabled a little bit in the impersonal philosphy, and my first doubt was, “This world is real but  temporary “I was convinced it was unreal, but inquires eradicated that doubt.  But the strongest doubts I had to deal with was my christian conditioning.  And with Krsna consciousness there is a lot of doubts that can come if you are from Christian background  the first of course being the deity form of the Lord which to a condition Christian is “idol worship”, and of course Krsna lets Maya test you a bit, to see where you go for shelter, whether you take shelter of your mind, or his devotees.  On this point though I inquired and I could therotically understand the post box anology, (as you send a letter through the post box, the Lord allows us to worship him through his  authorised diety form, it  is the Lord’s mercy because he appears to us in material form, because our eyes to not have the spiritual vision to see him),  but still some doubt was lingering but then one day nine months after I started taking up the process Krsna did something wonderful.  One of the devotees in my community was going to India and wanted me to take care of her Radha Krsna dieties.  She asked me to do arti everyday for them, offer, flower, ghee lamp and insense and of course offering of food.  They at first appeared just like statues but I stared doing arti for them and offerings, and by the end of the month I could actually realize the mercy of Krsna through his diety.  Through this intimate service I could experience a attraction for Radha and Krsna devoloping and so felt reciporaction from them.

The process of Krsna consciousness can sometimes be diffcult to understand intellectually but without a doubt if you give it some time you will understand it practically through experience, as Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita 9.2

raja-vidya raja-ghuyam
pavitram idam uttamam
pratyaksavagamam dharmyam
su–sukham kartum avayayam

“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets.  It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion.  It is everlasting, and it
is joyfully performed.”

So I wish to encourage you Jessica, we have all been there and are still there to various degrees, but if you inquire from devotees in this forum, and inquire from senior devotees.  I especially reccommend to humbly inquire from pure devotee becasue they can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.  BG 4.34, “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master.  Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him.  The self-realized souls can  impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”  So I especially enccourage you to bring you doubts to His Grace Srimad Sankarshan das Adhikari, with which you are already his student on his e- course.

You can e-mail him at sda@backtohome.com and I can guarantee he will be delighted to answer you inquiries.  Of course we are also happy to answer your inquiries to the best of our abilities.  Many of my doubts were cleared up just through inquring from devottees in my community, and a lot of mine are getting cleared up through this forum.
Some through direct inquiry and others through the inquiries of others.  And finally just keep with the process, eventually, everything will become revealed,

BG 10.10

tesam satata-yuktanam
bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadmi buddhi-yogam tam
yena mam upayanti ti

“To all those who are constantly devoted to serving me with love I give the understanding by which they can come to me.”

your servant
Rupa Manjari devi dasi

Shobha, 07th November 2012

Hare Krishna
Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!
All glories to Srila Prahbupada!

Very nice answer. Thank you for sharing your realization.

your humble servant,
Shobha

Hemanga Das, 08th November 2012

Hare Krishna Devotees,

Please kindly accept my humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Gurudeva
All glories to Srila Prabhupada

It’s so enlivening to read devotee emails who are always up to guide others in spiritual path. Thank you Rupa Manjari Devi Dasi Mataji for sharing your experience.
This present Karthik month is like a Mega Sale.Any effort to chant more rounds or read Srila Prabhupada books will definitely help in spiritual advancement.Let’s all utilize this wonderful opportunity.

your servant,
Hemanth

Rahul Mangla, 10th November 2012

Hare Krishna to all devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances!
All glories to Srila Gurudev & Srimati Gurumata.
All glories to Srila Prabhupad.

Please find below link which focuses on the detrimental effects of doubt in the path of devotion.

http://archive.org/stream/SriKrishnaKathamritaBinduIssue288/bindu288#page/n0/mode/2up

Hare Krishna,

your servant,
Rahul

Tirtharaja Dasa, 15th November 2012

Hare Krishna Jessicca,

When one starts experiencing doubts, that is a sign of making spiritual progress for the faith we have on Krishna is not blind faith but is faith with a purpose that is backed by Shastra (Krishnas own words or descriptions of
Krishna and the like) and emulated by great saintly personalities down the ions of time.

There is a very nice book on this matter and I advise that if you can gret a copy then get a copy immediately for it deals with this matter of doubt precisely. Conclusively we have to practically read all of Srila Prabhpuadas books but for starters this is a good starting point. The book is entitled Obstacles on the Path of Devotional Service by Srila Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami.

Just to give you a test, He writes quoting from Bhagavad-gita (7.27 purport) p. 2 “…Due to desire and hte, the ignorant person wants to come one with the supreme Lord (impersonalism) and envies Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead” One form this rebellion takes is doubts towards the teachings of the revealed scriptures and on the same page…Ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this life nor the next..”. further, “…The doubts that have arisen in your heart because of ignorance should be slashed with the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, arise and fight.” and He concludes, … Meditation on these verses has been helpful in curing my doubt.

In his own words he advises…” Until one reaches the liberated stage, doubts will continue to come. They may not be serious, or they can become so grave that they can impede our progress. We should not hide the fact and bluff as if we are perfect. We have to learn how to deal with the obstacles on the path.

I hope this helps

your lowly servant,
Tirtharaja Dasa.

Sunil, 15th November 2012

Hare Krishna

Please accept my humble obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

Respected Jessica I have read your question. I humbly suggest to you that you try to chant as attentively and sincerely as you can. Process of Chanting is like meeting with God through transcendental sound vibrations

And when you are free please give as much time as you can , to reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. If any question or doubt comes
to your mind while reading Srila Prabhupada’s books , please post them here

Regards,
Sunil Vaswani

Sanil, 17th November 2012

Hare Krishna Mataji,

Kindly accept my humble obeisances,

All glories to Srila Gurudeva

Following understanding helped me a lot:

o  Srila Prabhupada says in the purport of Bhagavad-gita that one with the conviction that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead will receive the maximum benefit of reading Bhagavad-gita.  So, I wanted to be convinced

o   When I searched, I found out that the acharyas in the disciplic succession, pray to Lord and also spread Krishna Consciousness not for any material achievement or sense enjoyment. In fact they have rejected all material
benefits on their path of spiritual progress.

o   Srila Gurudeva sacrificed everything material he had except a guitar, with which he had a strong attachment.  Later on Srila Gurudeva said that he even sold that guitar for paying the rent of the temple.  I just heard a seminar
of Srila Gurudeva in the net http://www.theultimateselfrealization.com in which he says the following in between the seminar:

“I have been married and my wife is sitting here now, Vishnupriya Devi Dasi. We married since 1984. That means almost 29 years married. We remain brahmachari the whole time, strict brahmachari. I am not saying that every householder should do that, because householder life is meant for producing children. But Prabhupada said if a householder does not want to have sex life, which is very good. They can remain brahmachari. They can do that. There is a very nice verse in Srimad Bhagavatam, 7th canto (SB 7.12.11). Srila Prabhupada talks about the rules and regulations for the householders and sanyasis. I recommend that all householders should study this verse very carefully.” So, I realised that they are selfless people; they are not interested in any material achievement or sense enjoyment. Hence, I did not find any reason why I should not believe them. I feel and understand the unlimited mercy and
blessings they shower when I associate with them.

o   I also noted that associating with devotees help me lot to be focused.  By this virtual network, it is very easy for me to have association all the time.

o  Also, I realized the importance to finalize what I need at the end. So, I came to following conclusion:

o   I don’t want to be a miser – since, miser is satisfied only when he satisfy himself.  The miserly satisfaction is incomplete and temporary and doesn’t provide any real satisfaction.

o   I wanted to be a selfless lover.  So, in that process, I understood and convinced that only Srila Prabhupada’s teaching can guide me to realize these goals.

o   I wanted to achieve perfection:  To achieve perfection, I am convinced about Srila Prabhupada’s teaching that:
v  I should fully surrender to a bona-fide spiritual master who is perfectly situated, so that I can get proper guidance.
v  I should offer everything to Krishna, and my only aim should be to satisfy the senses of Krishna.  So, I need to do everything very carefully and lovingly before I offer it to Krishna and I should not do anything which Krishna
doesn’t like.  And at the end, when I achieve this, I am convinced that it will help me in the following:

o   I will be in perfect love relationship with Krishna, since I am serving Him unconditionally.

o   I will love everybody and everything (and I will not hate anybody or anything) since I know that everything is Krishna’s energy and Krishna’s arrangement.

o   With Krishna’s mercy, I will be able to transcend all dualities.

o   I will achieve spiritual perfection and unlimited bliss, since I am doing everything perfectly and unconditionally and there is no sin associated with it, and lastly,

o   I am protected, since Krishna had declared it through Arjuna that my devotee will never perish.

your servant,
Sanil kumar
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