British Airways Flight to Trinidad
"STEAK OR FISH?" The friendly stewardess doesn't know what a horrible question she is asking. I am trying to relax. We are going to Trinidad. I am thinking about how important it is to hear from Srila Prabhupada. In a sense, I have nothing new to say to anyone. I can only repeat what Srila Prabhupada has said. The devotees in Trinidad are struggling, and I want to remind them of the goal of human life. They live in a third-world country where they struggle to maintain their spiritual standards in the midst of materialistic countrymen. They also have a poor national economy. They struggle to put petrol in their cars, to get a simple house, to cover the basics like food and rent. They don't seem to have much time for wide-scale preaching. The nondevotee population doesn't really seem that interested. But this is only one side of things.
What can I do there? I can only go and repeat to them what Srila Prabhupada has said. That is the only hope I can offer. Everything is solved by Krsna consciousness.
Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us that Lord Krsna is so attractive to His devotees that they cannot bear His separation. "There is, of course, a difference in the qualities of the transcendental devotees of the Lord," Srila Prabhupada says, "but none of them who have ever contacted the Lord by direct communion or otherwise can leave Him for a moment. That is the attitude of the pure devotee." (Bhagavatam 1.10.9-10, purport)
Srila Prabhupada says we can attain this state even if we don't have face-to-face exchanges with Krsna as the Pandavas and Yadavas did. I may read this section to the Trinidadian devotees.
"Meet with Sri Krsna in the Srimad-Bhagavatam," I may tell them. "Find Him in Srila Prabhupada's purports. Increasing your attraction to Krsna will automatically diminish your attachment to the material world and diminish your anxiety."
Prabhupada says that like the Pandavas we all have attraction for Krsna. "Lord Sri Krsna is so attractive for the living beings, especially for the devotees, that it is impossible for them to tolerate separation. The conditioned soul under the spell of the illusory energy forgets the Lord, otherwise he cannot."
While reading the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, I pause and try to visualize Srila Prabhupada working on it day and night in the 1960s. Whenever I think like that, I become satisfied to just accept whatever Srila Prabhupada is giving us. That simple acceptance might be our best accomplishment in this life. I want to understand Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, The Nectar of Devotion, and all of Srila Prabhupada's books analytically, but ultimately I want to accept the books because Srila Prabhupada gave them to us. He is our authority, and the representative of the Supreme Authority.
There is no other way to gain realized knowledge. We cannot under-stand Krsna by logic or even by scriptural study; we have to follow the mahajana, the great soul. Do we "know" that life comes from the Supreme? Do we "know" that Krsna is the Supreme Person? No, we don't know. We simply accept it because our spiritual master said it. Now we want wholehearted acceptance.
We chanted in the temple. Hard, wild dancing. Later I gave what I could in the lecture.
One devotee asked how to overcome complacency. I told him complacency comes when we are satisfied with the material benefits that come from bhakti, devotional service. I gave the example of a man told by his landlord to pay fifty dollars in four days. The man has only ten dollars, but he feels satisfied. He is complacent. He is also in ignorance. He doesn't believe he will be thrown out of his room, so he doesn't work to get the extra forty dollars required. Complacency comes when you think you have already done enough.
Another devotee asked me to explain patience. He said, "We are born in a third-world country." Does he think he cannot go back to Godhead from Trinidad? Does he think he has to go to America to go back to Godhead?
Whenever I'm here, my mind fills with mosquitoes and frogs and the dum-dum of their music. The temple here is dark, although outside the sunlight is brilliant. Third-world country.
Debe, South Temple
The climate here is pleasant. Kids on their way to school carry umbrellas in case it rains. There are layers of mild clouds, very different from the clouds in Ireland. Life is simple. What more could we need? Srila Prabhupada says that if you earn fifty dollars a month and increase it to five million a month, you can still eat only four capatis and lie down in a six-foot bed at night. The real purpose of life is Krsna consciousness.
The temple president wants me to speak on Bhagavad-gita 5.2. He says it's about householder life, but I don't see it as a verse about householders. It's about action without reaction. It recommends not giving up our activities, but doing them for Krsna. The background to this discussion appears in the second chapter. There we learn that the tiny eternal soul is entangled in karma and forced to go through repeated birth and death. Krsna tells Arjuna and all of us to learn about the atma and stop fruitive work. But Krsna also tells Arjuna to perform the heavy task of fighting on the battlefield. Arjuna then claims that he is confused by Krsna's equivocal instructions.
This came up in the third chapter, and now it appears again. Krsna says that renunciation is best achieved by bhakti-yoga, in which you act but without attachment for the results. You offer your acts to Krsna. The renunciation whereby you try to avoid material objects is less renounced, less effective. It's a kind of mental speculation that doesn't actually stop karmic work. This is the subject matter of verse 5.2. Prabhupada quotesSrimad-Bhagavatam 5.4.6, nunam pramattah kurute vikarma. Get out of this world of repeated birth and death. Engage in Krsna consciousness and be free.
Arrived safely last night. We are staying in a small house on the temple property. This morning I read Prabhupada's purport to The Nectar of Instruction, Text 8. He says that the mind comes up with impressions that produce contradictory images. Therefore we have to train our minds in Krsna consciousness. Otherwise we may think of something other than Krsna or devotional service at the time of death. Every time I read something like this, it makes me aware of the mind's power and the danger in indulging the mind. I want to arrest my mind and bring it to Krsna.
To read the Bhagavatam takes intelligence and mental control. The Bhagavatam's statements can be bewildering unless we approach them with our spiritual intelligence. Those who doubt the Lord because of apparently contradictory statements are doomed like the atheists. "O Lord, is it not bewildering that You are unborn and yet You take birth as the son of Devahuti; that You are the all-powerful Supreme God yet You asked Your parents to move You to Gokula out of fear of Kamsa; and that fear personified is afraid of You yet You cry when mother Yasoda catches You and shows You her stick?"
We do not belong to this material world. May we continue our Prabhupada consciousness and always read his books. Even when we can't be reading, we can be remembering what we have already read Krsna at Kuruksetra speaking the last verses of Bhagavad-gita, or whatever it was. Keep the sentences going through you. Krsna is the same one Supreme Personality of Godhead who never leaves Vrndavana and who eternally appears in His expansions.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of more than two dozen books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.