"The world is charg'd with the grandeur of God . . . ."
Gerard Manly Hopkins
(Mantra to be sung at the top of your lungs to whatever tune you like from dawn to dawn to dawn without cessation forever and ever and ever into eternity.)
HARE KRISHNA, HARE KRISHNA
HARE HARE, HARE RAMA
HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA
All that we ever see
Is God's blissful energy.
O God's blissful energy!
O God's blissful energy!
God's blissful energy
All just for you and me.
O God's blissful energy.
Blissful, blissful energy!
Wipe your eyes
So you can see,
Blow your cool,
Don't play the fool
Can't you see?
We're His very
E N E R G Y
Sing it, shout it,
Tell the entire
World about it.
Chant it, rant it!
Dance, enhance it.
Don't sit and sigh,
Let's all get high.
Don't feel morose,
Have a double dose
It's always, always
Don't be suspect,
From God to thee,
And it's FREE!
ENERGY! E N E R G Y!
E N E R G Y!
HARE KRISHNA! HARE KRISHNA!
HARE! HARE! HARE RAMA!
HARE RAMA! RAMA! RAMA!
"'Hare' means 'the energy of the Lord.' So when we sing 'Hare Krishna,' we are saying, 'O Lord, O the wonderful energy of the Lord, O Lord please accept me who am no more than the straw in the street.'" – Swami Bhaktivedanta
Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is Energetic. In fact, Krishna is the Energetic Supreme Person. Everything is His energy; everything we come into contact with during our brief lives is energy, and what's more it's Krishna's energy. This may sound staggeringly simple (or staggeringly unacceptable) but the degree of our realization of this fact will account for our happiness in this world and in whatever spheres we encounter after death.
As far as man is concerned, the Lord's energy can be broken into three categories: material energy, marginal energy, and spiritual energy. Material energy is called inferior or external energy, Prakriti, or Nature. Spiritual energy is called superior or internal energy, Purusha, or Spirit. The combination of the two creates marginal energy. Liberated souls without material bodies are examples of spiritual energy. Man, as a conditioned embodied soul, is an example of marginal energy. He is both matter and spirit. And a rock or a piece of metal is an example of material energy. All are emanations of Krishna, the Indwelling Spirit of all things. The process we are interested in involves transferal of ourselves from inferior, material energy (Nature) into the realm of superior, spiritual energy (what has been called the Kingdom of God). This transferal has been referred to as "salvation" by the Christians and "liberation" by the Hindus.
In the Bhagavad–Gita, Krishna has explicitly stated that Nature, His external, inferior energy, is under His control. "Prakriti, under My guidance, gives birth to all things, moving and unmoving; and because of this, O son of Kunti, the world revolves." (Gita, 9.10) Again, He states that Nature Herself rests in Him, that He, in brief, contains Nature.
As the mighty wind blowing everywhere ever rests in the akasa (ethereal space), know that in the same manner all beings rest in Me. At the end of a cycle all beings, O son of Kunti, enter into My Prakriti (Nature), and at the beginning of a cycle I generate them again. Controlling My own Prakriti, I send forth, again and again, all this multitude of beings, helpless under the sway of maya. (Gita 9.6-8)
It is Nature, Prakriti, that is called maya or illusion, because it is a perverted, temporary covering of the eternal Reality. All phenomena meeting our senses is termed maya. This includes our very bodies, the bodies of others, all the boys and girls and men and women and animals and aquatics and fowls and insects, the earth and grass and trees, plains, deserts, mountains and oceans, the towns and cities, roads and junctions, signboards, railroads, highways and skyways with all concomitant paraphernalia: clouds and rain and snow and hail and sun, moon and stars and whatever visible through microscope or telescope, on earth or down in the deepest seas or in the highest material planet or sun and whatever else visible or invisible from the tiniest atom to the largest whirling galaxy all this and whatever else comes to mind is God's blissful energy, is His Prakriti, or Nature, which He controls, and all, without exception, is maya, illusion, and is therefore subject to the rigid elementary laws governing creation, maintenance and destruction. All this phenomena, which in its entirety comprises the material universe, has been said to be "on fire." The material universe has been likened to a forest fire because it is by nature always changing and raging. There is no peace for embodied beings in such a place. It has not been designed for peace or happiness. It is called, therefore, Krishna's inferior energy. It is blissful for Krishna because Krishna is not attached to it it has consequently been described as His leela, or "play." But for the embodied, conditioned beings, caught in the ocean of maya, this "play" can be very painful and terrifying. This is because this multitude of beings, not perceiving the eternal Reality behind the play, is "helpless under the sway of maya." Some men, however, through God's grace, have been able to perceive the Omnipotent One, the Living God, shining in all His effulgent glory behind His maya. The poet Coleridge in The Destiny of Nations writes of "the clouds that veil His blaze," in some sublime poetry revealing his knowledge of the One Reality governing the play of the many:
For all that meets the bodily sense I deem
Symbolical, one mighty alphabet
For infant minds; and we in this low world
Placed with our backs to bright Reality,
That we may learn with young unwounded men
The substance from its shadow.
This phenomenal universe, a "mighty alphabet for infant minds," passes across the Face of the Supreme like clouds passing across the sun. Yet every particle of this universe, being His creation, reflects a bit of Himself, however pervertedly. From this shadow of Reality we may briefly deduce the substance, and by so doing turn from the shadow to the substance. Socrates, in the famous parable of the cave in Book VII of The Republic, speaks of mankind as being chained in a cave with their backs to the blazing fire of Reality, only capable of making out shadows of one another which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave. When at first confronted with the blazing light of Reality, men, not accustomed to it, turn away, their eyes dazzled, for they are used to the cave and require to grow accustomed to the upper world. But once their sight is accustomed to the sight of the upper world, they would disdain returning to their prior condition. The shadows, thrown on the wall of the cave, are analogous to the illusory energy of Krishna. The light of the upper world is His superior energy. Our process, in the spiritualization of energy, is a process of moving out the cave, of turning from maya, the inferior energy of Prakriti, to the spiritual light of the Imperishable.
In the Gita, Krishna Himself differentiates between His two energies: Prakriti, or Nature, His inferior energy; and Purusha, or Spirit, His superior energy.
Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, false ego such is the eightfold division of My separated material energies. Besides these there is another energy of Mine which is superior, which is the living entity, by which the world is utilized. (Gita, 7.4-5)
Prakriti, therefore, is indefinable and beginning less nescience in which conditioned souls have been entangled since time immemorial. Conditioned souls are, in actuality, Purusha, or spirit soul, and as such they have no business being entangled in matter. They are Purusha in so much as they are part and parcels of the Supreme Lord. It is the Self, or Spirit-soul, entangled in Prakriti, Nature, that brings about birth, suffering and death. Krishna informs us:
Prakriti is said to be the cause of the generation of the body and the organs, and Purusha is said to be the cause of the experience of pleasure and pain. Purusha, embodied in Prakriti, experiences the gunas (the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance) born of Prakriti. It is attachment to these gunas that is the cause of his (the soul's) birth in good and evil wombs. (Gita, 13.20-21)
Furthermore, to insure us that all individual entities in the material universe are deluded by Prakriti, Krishna says, "There is no creature here on earth, nor among the gods in heaven, who is free from the three gunas born of Prakriti." (Gita, 18.40) If this is the case, then how is liberation possible?
Liberation from Prakriti is possible through the spiritualization of energy. Krishna assures us, "He who knows Purusha and Prakriti, along with the gunas, is not born again, howsoever he may comport himself." (Gita, 13.23) How is this possible? Through a) Knowledge, b) Performance of duties with renunciation of the fruits of labor, c) Devotion to Krishna, and d) Grace given by Krishna to His devotee. Combined, these constitute a sure formula for flipping our of material energy and into spiritual energy. Of course this involves a process of change; up to this point your life has been like a deflated balloon. The process of spiritualization, whereby you turn the material energy in your life into spiritual energy, is like blowing up the balloon and blissfully watching it pop. It was Newton who discovered that every object or body in the universe attracts every other body or object. This is not only true of heavenly bodies it is true of ourselves. The attraction of energy for energy is basic and natural. This attraction largely operates on the basis of the sex drive. Now the process for eternal happiness is in redirecting all energies to Krishna. Our energies must not be attracted to Prakriti (maya), the illusory energy of Socrates' cave. Rather, all energies should be one hundred percent directed to Krishna and His eternal Spiritual Kingdom. This is what the spiritualization of energy entails. It is a turning from the illusion to the Reality.
I have mentioned that liberation is made possible by a) Knowledge. In regards to Knowledge, that is, the ability to distinguish between the Reality and the illusion, Krishna says, "Even if you are the most sinful of sinners, yet by the raft of Knowledge alone will you be borne over all sin. Verily, there exists no purifier on earth equal to Knowledge." (Gita, 4.36, 38) In describing the man of knowledge, Krishna characterizes him in this way:
He who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, he is wise among men, he is a yogi, and he has performed all action. He whose undertakings are all free from desires and self-will, and whose works are consumed in the fire of Knowledge he, by the wise, is called a sage. Giving up attachment to the fruit of action, ever content, and dependent on none, though engaged in work, he does no work at all. Free from desire, with body and mind controlled, and surrendering all possessions, he incurs no sin through mere bodily activity. Satisfied with what comes to him without any effort on his part, rising above the pairs of opposites, free from envy, and even-minded in success and failure, though acting, he is not bound.
The man in true knowledge, according to Krishna, is always in communion with the Supreme Lord. His life has been purified through desirelessness and renunciation of the fruits of action (not action itself). He sees Krishna as the Reality behind all form,the Supreme Spirit behind the material guise. "The knowledge by which one indestructible Substance is seen in all beings undivided in the divided know that that knowledge is of the nature of sattva (goodness)." (Gita, 18.20) For him, energy is already spiritualized. It is only a matter of seeing properly.
Knowledge can be acquired through b) Performance of duties with renunciation of the fruits of labor, and c) devotion to Krishna. Krishna says that "He who neither hates nor desires may be known as constantly practicing renunciation." (Gita, 5.3) Krishna further states that renunciation of action is not possible without the performance of action. In practicing Krishna-consciousness and spiritualizing one's life, one does not sit stock still in a room staring at the wall. Rather, one is always engaged in action, devoting one's action to Krishna and surrendering the fruits of action to Him. Action is not separate from knowledge; rather, they are intimately related. "It is children, and not the wise, that speak of the path of knowledge and the path of action as distinct," Krishna says. "He who is firmly set on one reaches the end of both." (Gita, 5.4)
How does one spiritualize energy through renunciation of the fruits of action? First, we recognize that nothing belongs to us. All things belong to Krishna, for He is the proprietor of all energy. For instance, when typing an essay, a man in Krishna consciousness is not performing the same action as a man who is bound by the sense of "I" and "mine," although an observer may not see a difference. A man on the spiritual platform sees the typewriter as Krishna's, the paper and ink as Krishna's, the words as Krishna's and the fingers that type as Krishna's. In his action he sees nothing but Krishna's energy at work. For him there is nothing but God's blissful energy. He is not attached to this action because he sees "the inaction in action," that is, he knows that it is simply the senses busy with their objects: or, illusory energy at work. He knows that the real Self remains inactive. In this way he is free from all taint of ego, for he is not the doer. Krishna instructs us in this way:
"I do nothing at all," thinks the yogi, the knower of Truth; for in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting; in walking, breathing, and sleeping; in speaking, emitting, and seizing; in opening and closing the eyes, he is assured that it is only the senses busied with their objects. He who works without attachment, resigning his actions to Brahman, is untainted by sin, as a lotus-leaf by water.
A selfless man who has renounced the fruit of his action attains peace, born of steadfastness. But the man who is not selfless and who is led by desire is attached to the fruit and therefore bound. (Gita, 5.8-10, 12)
Detached action is made easier through practice. Through such detached action, one becomes purified from actions in the modes of passion and ignorance. Then one is in a better position to execute pure devotional service to Krishna. It is through pure devotional service chanting of the Holy Names, "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare" that one receives grace from Krishna enabling liberation from the material energy.
Regarding such devotional service, Krishna is outspoken in the Gita. He makes it clear that the wisest man worships Him (Krishna) alone.
All beings, from their very birth, O Bharata, are deluded by the spell of the pairs of opposites arising from desire and aversion. But the men of virtuous deeds, whose sin is ended, are free from the delusion of the pairs and worship Me with firm resolve. (8.27-28)
That Supreme Purusha (Spirit), in whom all beings abide and by whom the entire universe is pervaded, can be attained, O Partha, by whole-souled devotion directed to Him alone. (8/22)
There are two beings in the world: the Perishable and the Imperishable. The Perishable comprises all creatures, and the Imperishable is said to be the Unchanging.
But there is another Being, the Highest, called the Supreme Self, who, as the Immutable, pervades and sustains the three worlds.
As I surpass the Perishable and as I am higher even than the Imperishable, I am extolled in the world and in the Vedas as the Supreme Personality.
He who, undeluded, knows Me thus as the Supreme Personality he knows all, O Bharata, and he worships Me with all his heart. (Gita, 15.16-19)
How then is worship and devotional service carried out? There have been many methods used. Meditation, sacrifice and temple worship were common practice in more religious ages. In this age of irreligiosity, however, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a 15th century incarnation of Krishna, has suggested the method of Samkirtan, that is, a method of bhaktiyoga utilizing the Maha Mantra, the chanting of "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama."
The greatest spiritualizer of all energy is this Maha Mantra, the Great Hare Krishna Mantra, which obliterates all materialistic dust by dint of transcendental sound vibration. As Lord Chaitanya and Swami Bhaktivedanta are always pointing out, the words "Hare Krishna" and Krishna are non-different. Lord Chaitanya said, "In these transcendental Names (Hare Krishna, Hare Rama) you have invested all your transcendental energies . . . ." Because Krishna is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, He is present in the very sound of His Holy Names. When we say the word "Krishna," Krishna is there by His sound representation. We are always anxious to "see" God. But why do we put such stress on seeing God? As He reveals Himself to us, we will see more and more of Him, but we should take advantage of the fact that we can also "hear" Him through His sound representation. Hearing Him is just as good as seeing, tasting or feeling Him. As the origin of sound, He is sound personified. Religion has actually been defined as the worship of God through sound. The transcendental sound vibrations of the "Hare Krishna" Mantra provide the quickest and most effective means for purifying our lives, spiritualizing energy, and making us eligible for "promotion" to the spiritual Kingdom of God.
When one chants the sixteen word mantra (HARE KRISHNA, HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA, HARE HARE, HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE) one should be careful to follow certain rules in regard to the chant. One should never:
1. Blaspheme the Lord or His devotees
2. Consider the Lord and the demigods on the same level or assume that there are many gods
3. Interpret the Holy Name (All personal interpretations, being conceptualizations of the inconceivable, will of necessity lead one astray. Lord Chaitanya suggested chanting the Holy Name with all humility, thinking oneself lower than the straw on the street and begging the Lord to accept him.)
4. Minimize the authority of the Scriptures or of the spiritual master under whom one is studying
5. Commit sin on the strength of chanting
6. Instruct the glories of the Name to the unfaithful or demoniac
7. Compare the Holy Name with material piety or mundane goodness (The Holy Name is transcendental to all worldly conceptions of sanctity.)
8. Be attentive while chanting the Holy Name (This is a matter of personal, mental discipline. The tendency of the mind to wander will render the chant less effective. One should concentrate on each syllable as one emits it, fully aware that the sound representation of the Supreme Lord of the Universe is passing through one's body.)
9. Be attached to material things, especially while engaged in chanting. (One should be oblivious to one's circumstances or surroundings when chanting. The mind should be totally fixed on the Supreme Lord.)
If the rules are consistently broken, then the Lord will render the chant ineffective, for one is then not worthy to chant His Name. The Maha Mantra is not the "hit song of the week," but the hit song of Eternity, and as such should be chanted with all due reverence and concentration. If one keeps the rules 20% of the time, then the chant will work 20%. If he keeps the rules 50% of the time, then the chant will work 50%, and so on up to 100%. Also, the more frequently one chants, the more effective the chant becomes. One need not chant in a temple with instruments and other devotees, though this is highly desirable. One can chant softly to oneself while at work or walking down the street or on the bus or subway or in the privacy of the home. And if no supplementary instruments (such as cymbals or harmoniums or drums) are available, one can always clap one's hands softly. The hands and the voice are the original instruments of praise, and as such are especially pleasing to Krishna. In such a simple way we can be transferred out of Prakriti, material energy, into Krishna's spiritual realm.
It has been argued that in actuality there are no distinctions between material and spiritual energy, that in reality all energy is spiritual energy. If this is the case, then why does Krishna, in the Bhagavad-Gita, make the distinction between Prakriti, his inferior nature, and the jiva (living entity), His superior nature? True, once we are pure, liberated devotees of the Supreme, we are in the spiritual kingdom, having overcome the inferior modes of Prakriti. One whose primary thought is serving the Supreme, in whatever condition he may be, is liberated. In his Purports to Srimad Bhagavatam, Swami Bhaktivedanta clarifies this point.
There is no difference between matter and spirit for the Lord, although there is a gulf of difference between the two in the case of the conditioned living being. As for the Lord, there is nothing except spiritual existence, so also there is nothing except spiritual existence for the pure devotee of the Lord in his intimate relation with the Lord. (Srimad Bhagavatam, Vol. II, p. 696)
As to what constitutes a pure devotee, Swami Bhaktivedanta writes:
… those who see everything in the Lord and everything of the Lord and also sees in everything an eternal relation with the Lord so that there is nothing within his purview of sight except the Lord are called the Mahabhagwatas, or the first grade devotees of the Lord. Such first grade devotees of the Lord are perfect in all respects.
(Bhaktivedanta, Purport, Bhagawatam, Vol II, p. 708)
Krishna Himself speaks in this way of His pure devotee: "He who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, to him I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me." (Gita, 6.30) Even Lord Chaitanya, God Himself incarnated as a devotee, lamented the inadequacy of His devotion, often saying that if He really loved Krishna He would have died long ago rather than endure separation for a moment. So even Lord Chaitanya taught separation from the Supreme Lord due to His descent into material nature. Until we reach the absolute transcendental levels, we must admit to the duality of matter and spirit, for we are conditioned souls and conditioned souls, entangled in material nature, are marginal energy, a combination of matter and spirit. One might ask how spiritual energy can ever be under the grip of material energy. Well, that is the very conditioning of conditioned souls if they weren't under the grip of the material energy they would be unconditioned. This is the difference between conditioned souls and the Supreme Lord. Krishna, who controls Prakriti, is never under the control of maya. That would mean that maya, the inferior energy of Krishna, is stronger than Krishna. No, Krishna is never illusioned. It is the conditioned individual souls that have fallen under the influence of the material nature through contact with it. The process of renunciation and devotion is the process of making oneself eligible to receive the Lord's grace which will free the individual soul from the entanglements of material energy. It is this process that is called salvation, or liberation. A devotee who considers the Supreme Lord to be his ultimate aim and takes refuge in Him will certainly be transferred to the eternal spiritual realm. This is the promise of Krishna:
Fix your heart on Me, give your love to Me, worship Me, bow down before Me; so shall you come to Me. This is My pledge to you, for you are dear to Me.
Abandon all dharmas and come to Me alone for shelter. I will deliver you from all sins; do not grieve. (Gita, 18.64-65)
This is Krishna's promise not only to Arjuna but to all devoted men. Because, in this age, we have fallen below the status of even a warrior like Arjuna, Lord Chaitanya incarnated Himself to introduce the Samkirtan method of spiritual realization. This method of chanting "HARE KRISHNA, HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA, HARE HARE, HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE" is the quickest and most direct way to Krishna. The chant is an instant spiritualizer, transforming the singer into spiritual energy and clearing the way easily to his ultimate liberation for returning home, back to Godhead.