Surrender yourself, with your intelligence

In spiritual life, we often hear the term “surrender”, and surrender we should. But dear reader, never surrender your intelligence!

In spiritual life, one of the key tenets is surrender to God. Without surrender to the will of God, spirituality has no meaning. But since most of us are not at a level where we can surrender directly to God, because it is hard to differentiate between the ranting of the mind and the voice of God within the heart, we often offer our surrender to a representative of God.

Now, it is required that any representative of God is of pure heart, simple, clean, and honest. But since we are all here in the material world, and the illusory energy of God is extremely strong, it is possible that even the most dedicated servant of God can come under the sway of illusion, even if momentarily.

Therefore, it is extremely important never to surrender our intelligence. In other words, while we surrender to the authority of the representative of God, a priest, a Rabbi, a Mullah, an Imam, a Guru, or a Pastor by any other name, we need to constantly remain on guard and not suspend our common sense and intelligence.

Not doing this, in other words, surrendering our common sense and intelligence has resulted in horrific abuses, including sexual abuse of children, abuse of poor and vulnerable people, and the destruction of faith in many a venerable religious organization. Such a loss is lamentable, because then, the purpose for which the spiritual tenets were coalesced to form a religious organization is lost.

My spiritual master instructed me “Surrender with your intelligence”.

What does this mean? If the actions of a superior in spiritual life are somehow incongruous, or going against our common sense or clear knowledge not tainted with opinions, then it is important to distance those from our surrender.

On the one hand, real spirituality is pure, but to take the essence of that spirituality to a large population, it is necessary to organize… And organization brings about its own sets of risks.

In a religious organization, managerial authority is often conflated with spiritual authority. It often happens that a person with spiritual authority is also given significant managerial authority. In such cases, the person may wear different hats at different times… or their actions while wearing one hat may conflict with their actions while wearing with the other. While it is extremely difficult to contest an instruction given under spiritual authority, every member of every religious organization has the right to carefully assess every single instruction given under managerial authority with their common sense and intelligence.

Doing so with small and big things is absolutely critical to preserve the spiritual purity of an organization. It is impossible to avoid dynamics of sycophancy, groupism, nepotism, politics, and positional power in any organization. That is the definition of the material world… A religious organization is still an organization in the material world, though its core is spiritual.

We deal with these types of political issues in business, Government, at Universities, in Hospitals, and all types of institutions, even Religious Institutions. But while all other types of organizations give an individual a choice to walk away from a job or a contract, in religious institutions, the situation is very different. A spiritual person associated with a religious institution often finds that their entire personal and social life is intertwined with the facilities afforded by that religious institution! And the leaders in those organizations know this very well. So it becomes extremely difficult for an ordinary member to “walk away”. Because walking away means leaving a big part of your life behind. And this becomes the reason for perpetration of all kinds of issues.

Abuse can range all the way from the innocuous to “I can do whatever I want and face no consequence”. And because powerful people are often surrounded by sycophants who, in order to fulfill their own personal agendas, will not speak the truth to the powerful, it is important for those of us with a conscience to reject nonsense when we see it.

Recently, I was in a situation where a very powerful individual tried to use their influence to “rewrite” facts. They had done something that was irresponsible, and they wanted to spin their actions as being reasonable, and wanted me to accept their version of the “alternative” facts. They were very angry with my refusal to “believe” their version which went against all reason and fundamental facts. I had to resist with all my might. I struggled with emotions like fear, guilt, and shame. They told me “I had a lot of respect for you, but I must say that it has diminished greatly”.

There may be material consequences in the short and long term, for example, I may not be in the “inner circle of confidantes” of this particular powerful person. And maybe I may remain far removed from positions of power within that religious organization. But as my spiritual master has instructed me to always remain focused on the spiritual essence, to be a pure devotee of Krishna, I must remain careful not to become a sycophant.

But what do I care about material consequences? My goal is pure devotional service to the lotus feet of Sri Krishna. If I had to endure a million material miseries for millions of times, it would be worth it to be a pure devotee of Krishna.

Another instruction my spiritual master gave was on the definition of intelligence. He said “the intelligent person is one who can hold two opposing sides of an argument or a concept, and not be disturbed by either of them“. So that was an interesting instruction.. what this means in this case is that while a person may have made a mistake on one aspect – the managerial side, the other aspect, the spiritual side does not automatically get diminished…

However, this very same person has indeed helped me in my spiritual life for many years. I need to learn to distinguish between the same person acting in a spiritual capacity, and the same person acting in a managerial capacity. So while I reject the erroneous actions and attitude of the managerial side, I still retain my respect and love for the spiritual side of the same person. So therefore, while I reject that person’s heavy-handedness and accept the consequences of doing so, I cannot discount the contribution of that person to my spiritual journey.

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, there is an instructive exchange between Maharaja Parikshit, the ideal example of a ruler, and Dharma, the personality of religion… https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/1/17/ and I will excerpt a couple of key passages…

न वयं क्लेशबीजानि यत: स्यु: पुरुषर्षभ ।
पुरुषं तं विजानीमो वाक्यभेदविमोहिता: ॥ १८ ॥

na vayaṁ kleśa-bījāni
yataḥ syuḥ puruṣarṣabha
puruṣaṁ taṁ vijānīmo
vākya-bheda-vimohitāḥ

O greatest among human beings, it is very difficult to ascertain the particular miscreant who has caused our sufferings, because we are bewildered by all the different opinions of theoretical philosophers.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/1/17/18/

केचिद् विकल्पवसना आहुरात्मानमात्मन: ।
दैवमन्येऽपरे कर्म स्वभावमपरे प्रभुम् ॥ १९ ॥

kecid vikalpa-vasanā
āhur ātmānam ātmanaḥ
daivam anye ’pare karma
svabhāvam apare prabhum

Some of the philosophers, who deny all sorts of duality, declare that one’s own self is responsible for his personal happiness and distress. Others say that superhuman powers are responsible, while yet others say that activity is responsible, and the gross materialists maintain that nature is the ultimate cause.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/1/17/19/

अप्रतर्क्यादनिर्देश्यादिति केष्वपि निश्चय: ।
अत्रानुरूपं राजर्षे विमृश स्वमनीषया ॥ २० ॥

apratarkyād anirdeśyād
iti keṣv api niścayaḥ
atrānurūpaṁ rājarṣe
vimṛśa sva-manīṣayā

There are also some thinkers who believe that no one can ascertain the cause of distress by argumentation, nor know it by imagination, nor express it by words. O sage amongst kings, judge for yourself by thinking over all this with your own intelligence.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/1/17/20/

In other words, whatever happens to us is by the direct sanction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead! We are meant to learn something from every experience, and without casting blame, we must intelligently figure out what is to be learned, learn that lesson, and move on.

The above two verses were spoken by Dharma, in the form a bull whose 3 legs had been broken by Kali, the personality of the age of quarrel and hypocrisy we live in Kaliyuga-not to be confused with Kali devi, the fierce form of the material nature. Maharaja Parikshit, who was responsible for the welfare of all, especially Dharma, inquired who was responsible for this violence, but Dharma stayed silent and did not incriminate Kali

And by applying the instructions of my spiritual master to every situation intelligently, I shall be always happy by his grace.

So, dear spiritualists, without getting bewildered by these tests of our faith, let us remain committed to the truth, and nothing but the Supreme Absolute Truth Sri Krishna and remained surrendered to Him at all times, places, and circumstances!

Truly Great Leaders

Everyone recognizes that we need great leaders. Some aspire to be great leaders, others aspire to follow great leaders. Some quarrel about who a great leader was or not, others are leaders without followers, and many are leaders with followers or without direction. Many leaders are also misguided, having led their followers to terrible destinations.

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः ।
स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते ॥ २१ ॥ yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/3/21/

So it is a fact that whenever some kind of greatness is perceived by others, they strive to follow that greatness.

Knowing that everyone has some great qualities, we can see that society is full of leaders, big or small.

Parents are leaders. Teachers are leaders. High school students are leaders. College seniors are leaders. Work supervisors are leaders. Businesspeople are leaders. Artists are leaders. Comedians are leaders. Actors are leaders. Scientists are leaders. Farmers are leaders. Policemen are leaders. Soldiers are leaders. Politicians are leaders. Doctors are leaders. Mathematicians are leaders. Corporate Officers are leaders. Practically everyone is leading someone else in some way.

In a society with so many leaders, how come so many of us are directionless, clueless, unhappy?

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, a merciless tyrant named Jarasandha captured 20,400 kings, all leaders, and imprisoned them. They were eventually freed by Lord Krishna.

They prayed as follows…

Text 10: Infatuated with his opulence and ruling power, a king loses all self-restraint and cannot obtain his true welfare. Thus bewildered by Your illusory energy, he imagines his temporary assets to be permanent. Text 11: Just as men of childish intelligence consider a mirage in the desert to be a pond of water, so those who are irrational look upon the illusory transformations of Māyā as substantial. Texts 12-13: Previously, blinded by the intoxication of riches, we wanted to conquer this earth, and thus we fought one another to achieve victory, mercilessly harassing our own subjects. We arrogantly disregarded You, O Lord, who stood before us as death. But now, O Kṛṣṇa, that powerful form of Yours called time, moving mysteriously and irresistibly, has deprived us of our opulences. Now that You have mercifully destroyed our pride, we beg simply to remember Your lotus feet. Text 14: Never again will we hanker for a miragelike kingdom — a kingdom that must be slavishly served by this mortal body, which is simply a source of disease and suffering and which is declining at every moment. Nor, O almighty Lord, will we hanker to enjoy the heavenly fruits of pious work in the next life, since the promise of such rewards is simply an empty enticement for the ears.

Text 15: Please tell us how we may constantly remember Your lotus feet, though we continue in the cycle of birth and death in this world.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/10/73/

The problem seems to be that almost every leader is “infatuated with his opulence and ruling power”. The parent is infatuated with the power she has over her child, the husband infatuated with the power he has over his wife… the teachers infatuated with the power over their students, and so on.

It also appears that with childish intelligence, we see the mirages in the material world as actual water. When we miss the “great” for being blinded by the “good”.

Most of our leaders are too busy fighting other leaders, over the intoxication of power, wealth, and personal fame. We hanker for that which is temporary, and slipping through our hands like the sands of time.

No matter what we may be a leader in, we need to remember that time is a most powerful force. And all the good we may do on the material level is reduced to insignificance.

But by always remembering the Lotus feet of God, we can transcend being mediocre leaders, and truly lead ourselves and the world out of confusion.

What type of leader do you want to be?

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