Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
Varieties Of Dysfunctional Experience
Preface Part 2
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 Reject, categorically, all manifestations and permutations of bullying and intimidation

I am only intractable on one point—on matters of practical or philosophical concern to me, I do not accept any outcome that is not reached by rational procedures, namely open discussion. That is to say, I reject, categorically, all manifestations and permutations of bullying, intimidation, etc., which are symptoms of the lower modes of nature, and therefore have no place in the realm of Vaisnava dealings. I urge all my readers to do likewise, no matter their status in the society.

This proposal that we accept nothing blindly and reject nothing blindly is, naturally, a huge task. But I know that you, dear reader, know that it is an excellent idea, that it is actually our duty—sifting the data that comes to our attention from both our subjective and objective worlds, that there really is no other way; no shortcut to being free from doubt and delusion. You should be confident in making this effort because the Bhagavatam has already assured you that it is the highest welfare work.

Also, I know that you know we pretend to be doing this when we are not. One of the pitfalls on the royal road of spiritual life is an underlying yet pervasive preference for comfort over truth. Examining everything is a huge responsibility, especially, it is hard work. Often what we find by this effort both in and outside ourselves, makes us uncomfortable. We like feeling secure. The sensation of being warm and fuzzy is much preferred to work—even if that work may make all the difference as to whether we live in truth or illusion. Breaking out of this can take lifetimes.

Ah, and how do we sidestep facing this treacherous tendency? What plausible lie do we tell ourselves? “I am surrendered to ISKCON. I lay my head in its lap and I cooperate out of love for Srila Prabhupada.” it is a powerful plausible lie, an opiate.

And we do not want anyone think we are so shallow as to live a lie, so we make a show of examining everything, when actually we follow the herd 90 percent of the time, or more.

We have another plausible lie to rationalize our laziness to examine everything. We tell ourselves that examining everything shows a lack of faith in Krishna. Since the game in ISKCON is to come off as more advanced than we actually are, this game is spontaneously attractive to the majority of us, because we cannot be seen as lacking faith in Krishna. Minimal effort is thus construed as a sign of great faith.

I want to challenge this view with this thought of Galileo: “(God did not give us intelligence so we can forego its use.” Indeed, in the Bhagavad-gita He assures us that if we use all our Intelligence for Him “I shall give you more intelligence by which you can come to Me.” The Lord is saying that you must examine everything, because that is the primary function of the intelligence, to discriminate. Then the Lord will give you more power of discrimination. He indicates that He wants to help us by enabling us to help ourselves. Our task is to have faith and to apply ourselves, to hammer away.

If you consider the mammoth job of accepting or rejecting nothing blindly overwhelming, I suggest you read verses 10.4-5 In Bhagavad-gita and Prabhupada’s purport carefully. Then return to reading this book.

(Editor is saving you the transcendental hassle, here is Bhagavad-gita 10.4-5 & Purport:

“Intelligence, knowledge, freedom from doubt and delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, control of the senses, control of the mind, happiness and distress, birth, death, fear, fearlessness, nonviolence, equanimity, satisfaction, austerity, charity, fame and infamy—all these various qualities of living beings are created by Me alone.”


The different qualities of living entities, be they good or bad, are all created by Krishna, and they are described here.

Intelligence refers to the power to analyze things in their proper perspective, and knowledge refers to understanding what is spirit and what is matter. Ordinary knowledge obtained by a university education pertains only to matter, and it is not accepted here as knowledge. Knowledge means knowing the distinction between spirit and matter. In modern education there is no knowledge about spirit; they are simply taking care of the material elements and bodily needs. Therefore, academic knowledge is not complete.

Asammoha, freedom from doubt and delusion, can be achieved when one is not hesitant and when he understands the transcendental philosophy. Slowly but surely, he becomes free from bewilderment. Nothing should be accepted blindly; everything should be accepted with care and with caution.

Ksama, tolerance and forgiveness, should be practiced; one should be tolerant and excuse the minor offenses of others.

Satyam, truthfulness, means that facts should be presented as they are, for the benefit of others. Facts should not be misrepresented. According to social conventions, it is said that one can speak the truth only when it is palatable to others. But that is not truthfulness. The truth should be spoken in a straightforward way, so that others will understand actually what the facts are. If a man is a thief and if people are warned that he is a thief, that is truth. Although sometimes the truth is unpalatable, one should not refrain from speaking it. Truthfulness demands that the facts be presented as they are for the benefit of others. That is the definition of truth.

Control of the senses means that the senses should not be used for unnecessary personal enjoyment. There is no prohibition against meeting the proper needs of the senses, but unnecessary sense enjoyment is detrimental for spiritual advancement. Therefore, the senses should be restrained from unnecessary use.

Similarly, one should restrain the mind from unnecessary thoughts; that is called sama. One should not spend one’s time pondering over earning money. That is a misuse of the thinking power. The mind should be used to understand the prime necessity of human beings, and that should be presented authoritatively. The power of thought should be developed in association with persons who are authorities in the scriptures, saintly persons and spiritual masters and those whose thinking is highly developed.

Sukham, pleasure or happiness, should always be in that which is favorable for the cultivation of the spiritual knowledge of Krishna consciousness. And similarly, that which is painful or which causes distress is that which is unfavorable for the cultivation of Krishna consciousness. Anything favorable for the development of Krishna consciousness should be accepted, and anything unfavorable should be rejected.

Bhava, birth, should be understood to refer to the body. As far as the soul is concerned, there is neither birth nor death; that we have discussed in the beginning of Bhagavad-gita. Birth and death apply to one’s embodiment in the material world. Fear is due to worrying about the future. A person in Krishna consciousness has no fear because by his activities he is sure to go back to the spiritual sky, back home, back to Godhead. Therefore, his future is very bright. Others, however, do not know what their future holds; they have no knowledge of what the next life holds. So, they are therefore in constant anxiety. If we want to get free from anxiety, then the best course is to understand Krishna and be situated always in Krishna consciousness. In that way we will be free from all fear. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.37) it is stated, bhayaà dvitiyabhinivesatah syat: fear is caused by our absorption in the illusory energy.

But those who are free from the illusory energy, those who are confident that they are not the material body, that they are spiritual parts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and who are therefore engaged in the transcendental service of the Supreme Godhead, have nothing to fear.

Their future is very bright. This fear is a condition of persons who are not in Krishna consciousness.

Abhayam, fearlessness, is possible only for one in Krishna consciousness.

Ahimsa, nonviolence, means that one should not do anything which will put others into misery or confusion. Material activities that are promised by so many politicians, sociologists, philanthropists, etc., do not produce very good results because the politicians and philanthropists have no transcendental vision; they do not know what is actually beneficial for human society.

Ahiasa means that people should be trained in such a way that the full utilization of the human body can be achieved. The human body is meant for spiritual realization, so any movement or any commissions which do not further that end commit violence on the human body. That which furthers the future spiritual happiness of the people in general is called nonviolence.

Samata, equanimity, refers to freedom from attachment and aversion. To be very much attached or to be very much detached is not the best. This material world should be accepted without attachment or aversion. That which is favorable for prosecuting Krishna consciousness should be accepted; that which is unfavorable should be rejected. That is called samata, equanimity. A person in Krishna consciousness has nothing to reject and nothing to accept save in terms of its usefulness in the prosecution of Krishna consciousness.

Tusti, satisfaction, means that one should not be eager to gather more and more material goods by unnecessary activity. One should be satisfied with whatever is obtained by the grace of the Supreme Lord; that is called satisfaction.

Tapas means austerity or penance. There are many rules and regulations in the Vedas which apply here, like rising early in the morning and taking a bath. Sometimes it is very troublesome to rise early in the morning, but whatever voluntary trouble one may suffer in this way is called penance. Similarly, there are prescriptions for fasting on certain days of the month. One may not be inclined to practice such fasting, but because of his determination to make advancement in the science of Krishna consciousness, he should accept such bodily troubles when they are recommended. However, one should not fast unnecessarily or against Vedic injunctions. One should not fast for some political purpose; that is described in Bhagavad-gétä as fasting in ignorance, and anything done in ignorance or passion does not lead to spiritual advancement. Everything done in the mode of goodness does advance one, however, and fasting done in terms of the Vedic injunctions enriches one in spiritual knowledge.

As far as charity is concerned, one should give fifty percent of his earnings to some good cause. And what is a good cause? It is that which is conducted in terms of Krishna consciousness. That is not only a good cause, but the best cause. Because Krishna is good, His cause is also good. Thus, charity should be given to a person who is engaged in Krishna consciousness. According to Vedic literature, it is enjoined that charity should be given to the brahmanas. This practice is still followed, although not very nicely in terms of the Vedic injunction. But still the injunction is that charity should be given to the brahmanas. Why? Because they are engaged in higher cultivation of spiritual knowledge. A brahmana is supposed to devote his whole life to understanding Brahman. One who knows Brahman is called a brahmana. Thus, charity is offered to the brahmanas because they are always engaged in higher spiritual service and have no time to earn their livelihood. In the Vedic literature, charity is also to be awarded to one in the renounced order of life, the sannyasis. The sannyasis beg from door to door, not for money but for missionary purposes. The system is that they go from door to door to awaken the householders from the slumber of ignorance. Because the householders are engaged in family affairs and have forgotten their actual purpose in life—awakening their Krishna consciousness—it is the business of the sannyasis to go as beggars to the householders and encourage them to be Krishna conscious. As it is said in the Vedas, one should awake and achieve what is due him in this human form of life. This knowledge and method are distributed by the sannyasis; hence charity is to be given to the renouncer of life, to the brähmaëas, and similar good causes, not to any whimsical cause.

Yasas, fame, should be according to Lord Caitanya, who said that a man is famous when he is known as a great devotee. That is real fame. If one has become a great man in Krishna consciousness and it is known, then he is truly famous. One who does not have such fame is infamous.

All these qualities are manifest throughout the universe in human society and in the society of the demigods. There are many forms of humanity on other planets, and these qualities are there. Now, for one who wants to advance in Krishna consciousness, Krishna creates all these qualities, but the person develops them himself from within. One who engages in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord develops all the good qualities, as arranged by the Supreme Lord.

Of whatever we find, good or bad, the origin is Krishna. Nothing can manifest itself in this material world which is not in Krishna. That is knowledge; although we know that things are differently situated, we should realize that everything flows from Krishna.”

Before closing it is fitting that I address those uneasy with my emphasis on using all our intelligence in the process of devotional service. My stress in this area may appear one-sided, as revealing a weakness in the faith department, or perhaps even appear irreligious. After all, many devotees, unfortunately, give greater stress in their preaching to “mercy,” or “grace” than to “our own personal effort.” In my writings, the absence of such expressions of hope and prayer for grace is not an indication of disregard for the possibility of divine intervention, or the absence of desire for it; indeed, I pray for it daily.

Expressions of hope and grace are not set forth here because I assume that the reader understands that God helps those who help themselves. Grace flows automatically to those who do everything in their capacity to achieve pure Krishna consciousness, all the while knowing that their effort is not all it takes. This is the import of the ananyas cintayanto mam verse. Those, who think that since their effort is not all it takes, better to simply go at half sail while waiting for grace, I consider unfortunate. misguided.

About hope, a seventeenth century Jesuit monk left us this salutary caution: “Hope by itself, is a great falsifier. Let good judgment keep her in check.” In my exhorting you, therefore, to think of Krishna consciousness as effortful instead of effortless, let’s not forget that desiring the grace of Krishna is not in question. Indeed, grace and works go side by side in His devotional service.

Saints have expressed this in different ways. Augustine said “Pray as if everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on you;” Ignatius Loyola advised similarly, “Use human means as though divine ones did not exist, and divine meari as though there were no human ones;” and our Srila Prabhupada said: “It is alright to pray for Krishna’s mercy, as long as your prayer is accompanied by your endeavor”; and the Spanish say, “Pray to God, but hammer away….” Essential truth spoke concisely is true eloquence, indeed. We have books with prayers, or exclusively on prayer. This book is exclusively on hammering

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