Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Lately I’ve been wrapped up in the non-essentials of spiritual life: work, family, money, car problems, entertainment, sense gratification, etc. The only glimmer of devotional activity in my life right now is listening to Srila Prabhupada lectures on my commute to work. Even that has become sketchy lately, as I’m usually only half paying attention or zoning out.
I feel no enthusiasm for the devotional process right now. I don’t feel eager or excited to chant. I don’t have much desire to make the effort to attend the Sunday programs. Sure, circumstances play a huge part in those choices, because when I think about taking our difficult 3-year old daughter out late at night to the temple, I don’t feel that enthused about the prospect. Or even getting up early on Sunday and trekking into New York City. It’s a serious endeavor; one that I simply can’t justify or see the reason for.
But that’s totally the wrong consciousness, isn’t it? Isn’t that the point of tapasya? Voluntarily doing something inconvenient and difficult or troublesome for some higher benefit and purpose? Well right there is where I get hung up. What is the “higher benefit and purpose?” How will my life improve if I go crazy trying to daily rise at 4am, worship my Deities, chant 16-rounds a day, attend all the devotee programs, eat only prasadam, stop watching TV and listening to mundane music, etc? The answer I say to myself is, “Well, you’d be preparing yourself for your next body. You’d be breaking the identification with this current physical body and subtle mind.” Sounds good, but it seems so…extreme, maybe?
I recently heard a quote from Srila Prabhupada that we can’t “dance with God and dog at the same time”. The point being that you can’t dabble with maya and sense gratification and be any kind of serious devotee or Vaishnava. Being a Vaishnava means being devoid of desire for personal sense gratification. That just seems impossible to attain. This is why true Vaishnavas are so rare, special and worshipable in this world.
I just don’t know what to think anymore. I’m certain there’s a deeper, more profound experience of bhakti, but I don’t seem to be willing or have the desire to do what’s necessary to experience it first hand.
I know one day I will have to face my death. It may come unexpectedly. It may come with warning and preparation. Either way it’s a reality that I can’t shake from my mind. The uncertainties that go along with death drive most people towards religion and spirituality. They drive us to find peace and comfort within those constructs. So much of that world beyond this physical body and subtle mind are foreign to us. We think of it as fantasy, yet ironically it’s more real than this present world we’re experiencing with our material senses.
I want that inner world to become completely manifest, yet I’m not willing to do anything to attain it. I want it to be effortless, painless and easy. “But really, in kali yuga, why would Krishna make it so hard?” is what my mind says. Then I hear, “Is it? Is it really that difficult to just chant the Holy Name?” Hmm. I suppose not, but to chant it with FAITH sure is.