The Call of Maya
One of life's great delusions is that Self-realization is an automatic process, that simply by staying alive for sixty or a hundred years we will come to know what life is all about. This silly conceit remains, in old age as in youth, generally unfulfilled.
Psychology and other techniques have convinced us, through endlessly speculative exercises, to believe that self-realization (note the small S) involves a mere material display of our potency. After all, what is the materialist gross or subtle doing, but materializing ideas (his own or more likely someone else's)? Nothing is actually created by us; all is a play between the senses and their objects. The play of Maya is going on, and it is Krishna alone who is the actual and Supreme Enjoyer.
In this country, we are presently preoccupied with conditioned and false ideas of what our "real" needs are and our labors are meant to guarantee some bodily or mental comfort. Unfortunately, people striving in such a system, even though unhappy and miserable, continue to the graveyard in their search for merely the smallest bit of material peace or pleasure. Their efforts are folly because real happiness is transcendental to the material world. Most people,
Bewildered by many thoughts, entangled in the meshes of delusion and addicted to the gratification of desires … fall into a foul hell. (Bhagavad Gita 16.16)
Describing the wisdom of Yoga to Arjuna, Krishna says:
In this, O joy of the Kurus, the resolute (decided) understanding is single; but thoughts of the irresolute (undecided) are many-branched and endless. (Bhagavad Gita 11.14)
We must decide whether to choose God and to love Him, or not; and this is the choice of our lives. Krishna gives us the power to concentrate upon Him. If we choose not to think of Him, our minds continue out of control, lost in the impermanent flux of our desires.
The great delusion of the grand ascension is that, by concocting our own intellectual adjustments and mental speculations, we can rise up to knowledge of or union with the Absolute Truth, God. For example, it is often thought that God is some great esoteric secret, properly cherished deep within. However, knowledge of Krishna is public not private, and readily available to those who truly seek It. The sentimental need for privacy is material only, an excuse for personal unauthorized concoctions. If we want a confidential relationship with Krishna, we must take shelter of Him, chanting His Holy Names.
There are so many practicing impersonalists in the world, striving to merge into or become Krishna. Such persons are transcendentalists who haven't really leaped into the Spiritual Ocean. Either they are afraid of accepting their eternal individuality, or they want to be God, which for them means merging with the Effulgent Rays of Lord Krishna's Body. They are mistaking their true position. Swami Bhaktivedanta calls this spiritual suicide, or giving up the natural position of Sat–Chit–Ananda. It is the realization of our eternal (Sat) feature only, with ignorance of Chit (full knowledge) and Ananda (complete bliss). Thus His Maya shields the Personality of Godhead, Krishna, from those who do not want Him.
Such a misfortune begins with the prevalent conception that Self-realization is an ascending process. Actually, the complete revival of our God Consciousness depends always upon the Grace of Krishna Himself. This is a descending process; it comes down to us from the Spiritual Platform and does not arise from our material level. We cannot know God by some mechanical process, which would automatically place a false limitation upon Him. To the impersonalist, whose concept of God is limited in that it is incomplete, Krishna remains hidden behind His glaring Effulgence.
Now we can see how far this delusion of ascension reaches, for it keeps the conditioned souls milling about in the impermanent worlds of fantasy and false promise, and can eventually drag the impersonally realized soul down from the Golden Effulgence of Krishna and back into the material ocean. Our eternal position is that of part and parcel. Our perfection is to realize our individual relationship as spirit soul, in sweet loving service of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we choose to lose ourselves in speculative worlds or even in His Loving Rays, then we fall far short of our true destination. As a man heading home after an over-extended absence settles for another vacation, we choose foolishly and poorly.
This faith in the ascending process accounts for the skeptical notion that the Maha Mantra is just too easy, too good to be true. After all, we complain, how can one know God simply by chanting His Names? The ascending process is supposedly "progress," which means it is needlessly complicated. The puffed-up and pompous living entity, who has this misconception of what it means to be independent or "free," must fill his life with pointless confabulations, unworkable fantasies, arbitrary "goals," and other nonsense, merely to lend meaning to such independence. All the same, no amount of philosophizing can disentangle us from our material inheritance, which is never actually at our disposal anyway, but is under the complete control of Lord Krishna. We possess the illusory freedom of drowning in the material turbulence while thinking we are flying. Our actual freedom is in complete surrender to, and dependence upon, Lord Krishna. Of course, we cannot change our allegiance from the material to the spiritual instantly, but we can make an immediate start by chanting HARE KRISHNA, HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA, HARE HARE, HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE. Simply by reading this line you have started.
Those much enamoured of the ascending process are too blinded to accept the bona fide Spiritual Master, whose Grace is necessary for spiritual advancement. They cannot accept the Divine Grace of the Spiritual Master because they do not believe that it is by Krishna's kindness, distributed through the pure devotee, that He may be known. The Spiritual Master is the living proof of Krishna's Divine Grace; in fact, He is Divine Grace itself.
Learn by humble reverence, by inquiry and by service. The men of wisdom who have seen the truth will instruct thee in knowledge. (Bhagavad Gita 4.34)
Spiritual Masters who teach impersonalism are generally descended from Shankaracharya. Factually, Shankaracharya, like Lord Buddha, taught his disciples what they were able to comprehend; he himself was a pure devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, as is verified in his Meditation on the Gita:
You fools, just worship Govinda (Krishna)! Just worship Govinda! Just worship Govinda! Your grammatical knowledge and word jugglery will not save you at the time of death.
One engaged in Krishna Consciousness is automatically on the Spiritual Platform when serving, chanting, or reading the Scriptures. When the first Syllable of the Maha Mantra, HARE KRISHNA, HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA, HARE HARE, HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE dances on our tongue we immediately transcend impersonality as well as the material worlds. As our practice and sincerity increase, our position becomes factually revealed to us without a doubt.
To those who are constantly devoted and worship with love, I grant the concentration of understanding by which they come to Me. Out of compassion for those same ones, remaining within My own state, I destroy the darkness born of ignorance by the shining lamp of wisdom. (Bhagavad Gita 10.10-11)
We can struggle with Krishna, rebels with no cause but our own illusion. If we want, Krishna will even be our Enemy and smash us, for He gives us only what we desire; He enjoys everything.
Those who engage in the ascending process are actually struggling with Krishna, thinking "I can do it on my own," or "to ask for help would show weakness," or "surrendering would mean slavery" and on and on. So they flee into the worlds of geegaws, mandalas, psychedelic pacifiers and other material activities. Behold the great Wall Street monopoly set, who are all merely wasting their living energies in games of money. Their least and greatest efforts are alike spent on the wholly perishable.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna informs us that we have only the right to act, and no right to the fruits of actions; for the fruits belong to Him as Sacrifice. Only the number one fool believes that his private machinations are worth the risk of eternal knowledge and bliss, no matter how fancy and glittering the outcome may appear. In reality he ascends nowhere, but becomes more deeply entangled by the tentacles of his activities. Maya, the illusory energy of the material world, is never more fascinating or seductive than when she appears to a man as his own personal reward and pleasure. This is the ascending process, the call of Maya.
Man did not, with his puny intellect, discover or invent the Scriptures, the Word of God, That contains all that can be asked. Krishna Himself, by His Causeless Mercy, tells us how to come home to Godhead. This great gift descends from the Spiritual Sky. Otherwise, we could never know it. Transcendental concepts are not from the material plane and can certainly not be improved upon, much less replaced by the pitiful endeavors of embodied souls.
Our actual position the position of all living entities is Sat-Chit-Ananda. Why settle for less? Krishna facilitates our returning to Godhead because He Loves us and wants us to come Home. Swami Bhaktivedanta's instructions, the Maha Mantra, the Scriptures all are Krishna's Divine Grace.
Let us go to Him
Who is always waiting,
By the Touch of our Beads,
In the Taste of the Prasadam Feast,
At the Ends of our tongues,
In the sweetness of our music,
For the Sweat of our works:
No atom moves without His Grace,
No man lives without His Love,
Whose Home is Goloka Vrindabana,
Whose Name is KRISHNA.
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA
KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE
HARE RAMA HARE RAMA
RAMA RAMA HARE HARE!