Significance of the Feeling of Insignificance

Souls in the material world feel important, very important, or most important. It is a root cause of all strife in the world. What about the feeling of insignificance, or humility? Is that significant?

Most of us consider ourselves highly significant. I am not immune to this either. But when I put my own life in context with the world around me, the other souls, especially in relation with God, I begin to feel insignificant.

But then, in many of my personal interactions, I begin to find this feeling of super-significance show itself again. It manifests itself as pride, arrogance, impatience, intolerance, condescension, holier-than-thou, or obnoxious bossy behaviour. Most people can’t stand it when they see it in someone else. But most of us carefully cultivate the root cause of those traits.

Of course, it’s easy to think that we’re super-significant, after all, we came out of the spiritual world to feel that way, and the material world is designed to make us feel that way too.

It all started with the envy of God. Envy, not jealousy. What is the difference, one may ask. One very advanced spiritualist, Chakri Dasa, a disciple of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada made it very clear in a class in Durban, South Africa, many years ago… He said “Jealousy means you don’t like that someone has what they have”, he continued “But Envy, that is different, it means, I don’t like that you have what you have. I wish that I had what you have. I wish that you didn’t have it, I wish you were dead and I could have that instead”.

So, envy of God means that we want God to be subservient to us (or dead), and instead that we would rather be God. This is actually the “Original Sin”.

This is why the spirit soul comes to the material world. God says, “well, you are you, and I am Me, but if you want, I can send you to a place where you can think that you are God”. And reluctantly He makes arrangements for us to come here, but comes along with us as the Super-Soul or Paramatma!

Therefore, we have the unfortunate situation where everyone in material consciousness is trying to dominate one another.

Is it any wonder then, that as a recovering atheist, I still have these feelings of super-significance! I came here to be God in the first place! 🙂

By now I know that I am not God, but this tendency to try to lord it over the material world, and all others stubbornly persists.

But what is incredible, truly incredible, is that God Himself does not consider Himself very significant, whereas He sees service done unto Him as highly valuable! I found that amazing, and thought you might too.

किञ्चित्करोत्युर्वपि यत् स्वदत्तं
सुहृत्कृतं फल्ग्वपि भूरिकारी ।
मयोपनीतं पृथुकैकमुष्टिं
प्रत्यग्रहीत् प्रीतियुतो महात्मा ॥ ३५ ॥ kiñcit karoty urv api yat sva-dattaṁ
suhṛt-kṛtaṁ phalgv api bhūri-kārī
mayopaṇītaṁ pṛthukaika-muṣṭiṁ
pratyagrahīt prīti-yuto mahātmā

The Lord considers even His greatest benedictions to be insignificant, while He magnifies even a small service rendered to Him by His well-wishing devotee. Thus with pleasure the Supreme Soul accepted a single palmful of the flat rice I brought Him.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/10/81/35/

In this chapter (and the previous one) of the Bhagavatam, there is an account of a saintly gentleman by the name of Sudama, who was a boyhood school friend of Krishna, in the school of Sandipani Muni.

While Krishna, as the husband of the Goddess of Fortune is Supremely Opulent, Sudama, as a simple spiritualist, was satisfied with whatever came of its own accord. When his wife, frustrated by the extreme poverty (bony bodies, torn clothes, starvation), persuaded Sudama to seek a favour from Krishna, his boyhood Friend, he reluctantly agreed, more joyful for the opportunity to meet Krishna than to ask for some benediction.

He joyfully went to see Krishna, taking a humble gift of 4 handfuls of flattened rice, begged by his wife from a neighbour. But when he saw the opulence of Krishna’s palace, he was too ashamed to give Krishna the humble gift.

He also forgot to ask Krishna for anything at all! He was just so happy to see Krishna, reminisce, etc.

Krishna of course, being the All-knowing Super Soul dwelling in everyone’s heart, knew everything, snatched the rag-parcel of flattened rice, and in return gave Sudama opulence equal to that of the king of heaven.

Sudama felt insignificant in front of Krishna. Krishna felt His gift of opulence insignificant in front of Sudama’s love.

अहो ब्रह्मण्यदेवस्य द‍ृष्टा ब्रह्मण्यता मया ।
यद् दरिद्रतमो लक्ष्मीमाश्लिष्टो बिभ्रतोरसि ॥ १५ ॥ aho brahmaṇya-devasya
dṛṣṭā brahmaṇyatā mayā
yad daridratamo lakṣmīm
āśliṣṭo bibhratorasi

[Sudāmā thought:] Lord Kṛṣṇa is known to be devoted to the brāhmaṇas, and now I have personally seen this devotion. Indeed, He who carries the goddess of fortune on His chest has embraced the poorest beggar.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/10/81/15/

It is not possible for a person in material consciousness to feel that kind of humility. It is impossible to feign. Only a soul in pure spiritual consciousness, pure Allah/Christ/Yahweh/Adonai/Buddha/Krishna, consciousness can feel such deep humility…

Humility is a precious gift, and true humility comes from knowing and being in one’s own constitutional position as an infinitesimal fragmental part-and-parcel of our glorious emanator.

Oh! When will I feel the genuine insignificance felt by the pure spiritualist? When will I be free of my false pride? When will I actually recover from this horrible atheism I am afflicted with? Oh! My dear Krishna, how and why did I ever allow this horrible poisonous envy enter my heart?

Devotees and Karma

Preethi, 17th March 2013

Hare Krishna

Please accept my humble obeisances

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

All glories to the Vaishnavas

I read in some places that devotees of the Lord are not affected by Maya or Karma. And then in some places I read of devotees being ‘tested’ put through some rough times and hardships and then we look at that as being part and parcel of this material world and the clutches of Maya / Karma.

So then does that mean devotees are effected by Karma / Maya or not and if people are affected, then does that mean they are not doing enough in Krishna Consciousness as a result they are being put through tough times?

My other question is this: I notice that some senior vaishnava devotees speak of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘tolerance’ and ‘patience’ and that everything can be achieved and everyone can be conquered (thru love prasadam patience chanting and devotion). But, I find that very hard to possess or display. The feeling that: I will tolerate and withstand anything but I will not hurt anyone even if they have hurt me – I feel that is very hard to fathom for me. Is that something that will come as my attachment to Krishna increases? Is it also possible I never reach that state?

Requesting your valuable guidance.

Hari Bol
Preethi

Sanil, 17th March 2013

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

The devotees of the Lord are not affected by maya or karma.  Because they are not bothered about what is happening, their concentration is in pleasing Krishna.  Though the devotee is very careful in each and every words and deeds, to avoid material contaminations in their actions, there could be imperfections.  Due to this imperfection, the result can be either good or bad. But devotee is not looking at the results, he is going on serving Krishna.  So, the devotee is not affected by the results whatever it may be.

We should be detached from all material things including our spouse and children.  This relationship is imperfect since this relation is like a business, you are pleasing me so I am pleasing you. When the spouse stops serving or incapable of serving then the issue starts and getting complicated.  So, instead of having material attachment, we should have transcendental attachment.

Detachment means transcendental attachment as Srila Gurudeva said in a recent Thought of the Day.  Also, Srila Gurudeva told that you can have attachments to devotees and  to have the  attachment to the devotee as much as possible.  This attachment is due to being the devotee of Krishna, so this is in relation with Krishna.  Like that we can have transcendental attachment to anything (to the spouse, dog eater, dogs, etc) realising that they are pure souls and they are part and parcel of Krishna. So, we must treat everything and everybody with ultimate care and love, even material things like cars, home, bikes, etc. So, we will naturally forgive, tolerate and patient.  In short we will become perfect lovers if our tove towards Krishna is perfect.

your servant,
Sanil kumar

Rathin Mandal, 17th March 2013

Hare Krishna,
Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Gurudeva and Srimati Gurumataji,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I am only presenting my understanding here Mataji.

Pure devotees of Sri Krishna are not affected by the dualities of nature. For them happiness or distress is all same. They take everything as a mercy of Supreme Lord. If something good happens to them then they will say that it is gift of Supreme Lord to this unworthy servant. And for distress they will say that although I am eligible for much more, by mercy of Sri Krishna I am receiving only so little.

Qualities of pure devotee is described as such by Sri Krishna:

BG 12.18-19: One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contaminating association, always silent and satisfied with anything, who doesn’t care for any residence, who is fixed in knowledge and who is engaged in devotional service — such a person is very dear to Me.

We can say that karma is something just like seasonal changes. When the soul embodied in this planet, he has to go through all the seasons. Sometime he may feel very cold and other times he may feel very hot. Other times it may be pleasant. Things like this will keep on happening till the soul resides on the material planet.

But if he trains himself with pure love and devotion for Lord, then only he can understand the science of Maya. And he finds his way on interacting with it.

For the second part of the question, we should take example from Mother Sita. Ravana took her away from Sri Ram and held her as prisoner in Lanka. Mother Sita is internal potency of Supreme Personality of Godhead and way powerful than Ravana. She could have easily punished Ravana. But in human form she was a simple lady. So she accepted to be held as prisoner. She also accepted all the torture given by Raksasis.

We can also learn from Sri Laxman. He was never given the exile. Still he went out with Sri Ram, lived in forest and accepted all the unpleasant things. But he never said that why this things happen to me.

I believe that if the one who can continue with chanting of Hare Krishna matamantra even in time of distress, he can attain the qualities that Sri Krishna wants a person to have.

your Servant
Rathin

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 19th March 2013

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

First and foremost, it is very auspicious that you are asking these questions. It means you recognize that there is a beginning position and a advanced position, and you want to get to advanced position.
Thank you also to those who answered, very nice answers that display your strong understanding of our process and philosophy.

To both questions, I beg to answer that it is a gradual process. It is not that one will never “get there”, one who tries, the process is scientific (results are repeatable) and gradual advancement is made as long as one continues to try. It is almost imperceptible when and how someone got to some stage, but that is seen by us in our own heart as a feeling of really feeling fallen. An advanced devotee feels very lowly and fallen, even though other devotees and even ordinary persons can see their exalted nature. The Goswamis were liked by all, the saints and the rogues… because they were not envious of anyone.

To give you another example, here in Toronto, we have one shiksha guru who came to teach us a few things.i. Her Grace Kamalini Mataji. She is a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada, a wonderful wife and mother, she distributes books every single day no matter where she is, and she teaches us by personal example. She is a great great inspiration to the Vaishnavis here at the temple.

But yesterday, when it was my service to give the Sunday feast class, she humbly sat in the audience on the floor! She listened attentively and she came to ask me a question! Can you imagine that, a person 40+ years my senior in devotional service asking me, a lowly neophyte a question? And it was not asked in a “let me see if you know this” mood – she genuinely wanted to hear what I would say. Very humble devotee. Very advanced. And such persons are able to touch hearts and transform consciousness simply by the force of their humility.

But they didn’t necessarily set out to try to be perfect… they sincerely followed the process of devotional service, which includes a continuous effort to develop various Vaishnava qualities, to chant Hare Krishna offenselessly, to give others what we have, to share, to care, to serve the Vaishnavas, to act as Krishna has instructed us to act, to follow strictly the orders of the spiritual master, and to not see oneself as anything other than insignificant.

But along the way, the weight of their devotional service gave them certain perfections, certain power, certain strengths, and among those strengths are to be tolerant, forgiving, humble, kind, generous, dependence on Krishna, consciousness of Krishna, remembrance of Krishna, love for Krishna, respect and affection for the devotees, and much much more.

Specifically, to see a devotee who may be externally sufferingor enjoying and to assume that this is karma is not very nice, even if the devotee may say that it is karma, no, Krishna is personally involved. When a devotee stays devoted, it is an example to the rest of us how to behave when we are inevitably tested. Did Bhishma have any karma? Did Kuntidevi have karma? Did Draupadi have Karma? Did Arjuna have karma? No, they are eternal associates of the Lord. Anyone who apparently suffers or enjoys but does not forget Krishna, that is not karma, that is Krishna acting.

But anyone whose suffering or enjoyment causes forgetfulness of Krishna, that is karma. 🙂 So that is the litmus test, have I forgotten Krishna or am doing less service, oh, then I am not surrendered, I am karmi to that extent which I have forgotten. But if I have not forgotten Krishna, then it is Krishna’s mercy, not some kind of qualification…

Same thing with forgiveness… actually forgiveness is not only a mercy upon others – to the extent we do not forgive, we hold ourselves back from making spiritual progress… but this is a BIG topic too.

Keep at it Mataji, that’s all I can say, please keep trying.

Sincerely,
Mahabhagavat Das

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 19th March 2013

Would like to share this writing by His Grace Sriman Vaisesika Prabhu, which is very appropriate:

“Trials and difficulties give us the opportunity to show Krishna our sincerity. Those who prepare themselves for these tests by being vigilant in their bhakti practice during the good and easy times, will be well prepared for the difficult tests that Krishna sends to help one advance on the path of bhakti.

“Krishna can provide anything and everything within a moment, but He waits to test a devotee. And when the devotee comes out successful from the test, He gives him all opportunity for devotional service.” (SPL to Rsi Kumara, 11th April, 1970) Om Tat Sat”
Preethi, 19th March 2013

Hare Krishna
Please accept my humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Prabhupada
All glories to the Vaishnavas

Thank you Mahabhagavat Das Prabhuji, Sanil Prabhu & Rathin Prabhu for your answers with examples. I suppose when we encounter difficulties one way to look at it is yes my sincerity is being tested but it also makes me wonder if I am truly a devotee because I see that the more resilient someone gets the more tougher the situation seems to get. Our mind can be our greatest friend or worst enemy depending on what we feed it and how we train it. During distress it tempts us to cheat and side track especially when one is low and shaken it is all the more easy to forget about the Absolute Truth, but perserverance, patience and constant thoughts of Him and Him alone will save us. Having devotee association ensures that even if we get left behind, someone will be holding out a helping hand. Thank you all for your wise words.

I know with devotional service and constantly doing things in Krishna’s service will slowly yield results. I have a long long way to go in my service, in my bhakti and service for Krishna but being in all your company and association makes me feel like I am very fortunate for being guided and shown the right path.

Hari Bol
Preethi

DK, 20th March 2013

Hare Krishna
Please accept my humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Prabhupada
All glories to the Vaishnavas

Preethi jee,

It was one of the six promises made by Lord Krishna himself.

Sri Krishna promises: “Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me, and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (9.34)

“Loving service unto the Personality of Godhead is established as an irrevocable fact.” Irrevocable: permanent, cannot be changed. Whatever we do for Krishna in this life is permanent and will stay with us even after the demise of this one body and this one temporary life.

Hare Krishna.

Krishna’s Servant
Deepak

Please subscribe to daily inspirational emails from His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari (Writings and lectures archived at sda-archives.com), written fresh every day from his travels around the world sharing the highest spiritual knowledge with everyone. Sign up now at www.backtohome.com