BTG IN A BUDDHISM CLASS
I teach Buddhism at Dooly State Prison, Georgia. Originally, I was invited to share my insights, and I have shared BTG with interested inmates to educate them on the Vedic culture, Buddhism comes from. I haven’t met anyone, even narrow minded people, who has not appreciated at least one article in BTG. The articles are always so relevant, meaningful, and Krishna conscious.
(Hardik Kaswala, Unadilla, Georgia)
SIGNIFYING THE BODY
One of the primary spotlights of Vaishnava philosophy is to realize that we are not the body but the soul and that the body is just a garment/instrument for the soul. Then why do we waste time in signifying this garment with tilaka?
Our reply: Yes, our body is our instrument for a lifetime, but it is a very special instrument. We can use it to realize Krishna and go back to Him. When we mark it with tilaka, we meditate on the fact that it is a temple where the Lord resides. Therefore we care for this instrument and use it fully in the Lord’s service.
By wearing tilaka we also help other spirit souls begin to remember the Lord in their hearts and awaken their lost and covered consciousness. When we wear tilaka and people ask what it is and why we wear it, we can tell them that this body is a temple where the soul and the Supersoul live side by side.
Our scriptures say that the Yamadutas, who come to punish the sinful at death, do not approach persons wearing Vaishnava tilaka and neck beads. Srila Prabhupada wanted his disciples to wear tilaka and neck beads, which he said made them look like they were coming from Vaikuntha, the spiritual world.
LOSING THE CONNECTION
I used to feel a connection with Krishna, but now, not so much. I feel separation. And I feel that if I try to learn more about Krishna, I will just offend Him even more. How do I please Krishna and stop offending Him?
Our reply: Lord Krishna is very kind, and He is pleased when we feel separation from Him and try to get closer to Him. You need not feel that you are offending Him by trying to get to know Him more.
We get to know Krishna by hearing and chanting His name, reading books about Him, speaking what He said, and serving Him and His devotees. If you have a humble service mood and show Krishna your desire and effort, even if flawed, to know Him, He will be pleased and gradually reveal Himself to you.
Feelings of separation from Krishna are good. They help us remain humble and aspire to get closer to Him. Feelings that prevent us from trying to serve and know Krishna are not genuine feelings of separation, but rather frustration coming from not meeting our own desires. For example, we may want to experience Krishna before we’ve developed the necessary qualifications. We have to be careful not to indulge in self pity, which will prevent us from doing the work necessary to get to know Krishna. He is eager for us to return to Him and will respond to our efforts and spiritual desires.
GRASSROOTS KRISHNA CONSCIOUS MATERIAL
I loved the article “Becoming Wealthy On Rs 80 a Day,” by Dhanesvara Dasa, in the Feb 2011 issue. It’s true that the U.N. sets a false bar for poverty and for measuring “having enough.” I loved the photos with the article.
(Bhaktimarga Swami, ISKCON Toronto)
TONE DEAF BHAKTA
I am a fairly new bhakta, reading Back to Godhead regularly. I have one major question that has been plaguing me and hindering my further involvement.
In the Hare Krishna movement there seems to be so much emphasis on the musical glorification of Krishna’s holy names. I have a complete lack of musical talent. In fact, any attempts of mine are sorely offensive not only to any present listeners but I fear unto the Lord Sri Krishna Himself. How am I to participate further in this movement?
Our reply: Many devotees can’t carry a tune, but that doesn’t matter at all. You probably won’t be asked to lead the singing in the temple, but that’s not necessary for your spiritual advancement. You can sing along with everyone else to the best of your ability.
It is said that Prabhupada’s spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, would sometimes ask someone to lead the chanting who was not a good singer. He did this apparently for at least two reasons: (1) to remind the good singers that their musical ability was not the most important thing (so they shouldn’t be proud of their beautiful singing), and (2) to remind everyone that it is one’s devotion and not the musical quality of one’s singing that pleases Krishna.
We can apply this principle to our spiritual life in general: If we offer the best we have to Krishna with devotion, He will accept it.
It can be somewhat disturbing to others if someone sings loudly out of tune, but if you sing along with others at a moderate volume, Krishna will be pleased, and no one should be offended.
WHO OR WHAT TO BELIEVE IN?
It is very difficult for me to choose my creed that is, which set of religious principles to follow. I am afraid to dedicate myself to abiding by some set of regulations because I am not sure that I am able to hold fast to those commitments and not change my mind and follow another way or abandon spiritual life altogether, in which case bad reactions may occur. In short, I am afraid to believe in God because I am afraid of offending Him by my improper actions or inaction, and hence the reactions may follow and make my condition even worse.
Our reply: Our relationship with the Supreme is based upon love, not upon the religious principles one accepts as a means of expressing that love. As in any loving relationship, each party is always looking out for the best interest of the other and doing everything within their power to give the other full protection from harm. It is only because of that deep loving relationship that the Supreme Lord, through the agency of His pure devotees who act as our teachers (gurus), gives guidance through religious principles for our purification and protection from sinful reaction.
Lord Krishna guarantees His full protection from sinful reaction to those who surrender their lives to their spiritual loving relationship with Him. He gives this promise at the end of His instructions in the Bhagavad gita.
So you need not worry about taking to spiritual practice, for Krishna is even more interested in our true well being than we are. As our love for Him develops, under the direction of the qualified spiritual master, unwanted habits of sinful activity will naturally diminish, and we will begin to realize our true spiritual potential.
The laws of nature already dictate that we suffer or enjoy according to the reactions to our activities. So what harm can their be in taking up a spiritual practice that will permanently end all good and bad reactions on the material plane?
That you have such deep concern about offending God in the course of your spiritual pursuit and practice is evidence of your seriousness and sincerity. Such qualifications exemplify your eligibility for advancement in spiritual life.
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