Practicing bhakti amidst todays fast-paced life

by Chaitanya Charan dasOctober 2, 2015

Congregation Program in Phoenix
Lecture Podcast:


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Date – 30th Oct 2015
Location – Evening Home program at Phoenix, AZ, USA

Topic – “Practicing Bhakti amidst today’s fast paced life.”

Summary points by Eshant Pr

  • Duryodhana missed to count most important person in battlefield – Krishna. He didn’t realize that even though Krishna was not going to fight, his mere presence was enough to defeat him.
  • Our situation is also like Duryodhana, we are focusing everything in life but not Krishna and hoping to win the battle.
  • Material things are necessary, but they are not the only necessity. The problem with us is that we think Material things as the only necessity and keep running after them.
  • WHO says mental health problem is biggest challenge in new century. In spite of having more material facilities, anxiety levels are more in the first world countries than in third world countries.
  • One need cannot be used to satisfy another need. If we are hungry and somebody offers garland then that won’t satisfy the hunger. Similarly material things can’t satisfy spiritual need.
  • Soul is subtle and its needs are also subtle.
  • Effects of spiritual deprivation are not easy to see as compared to physical deprivation. So if we have physically malnutrition we will look weak, but we may have spiritual malnutrition the effects are not very immediately seen. Or rather effects are seen but its causes misdiagnosed.
  • Today’s materialistic society is running on misdiagnosis. False diagnosis is more harmful than no diagnosis. False diagnosis is that we can become happy if we get more material things. Because spiritual needs are not fulfilled we live in perpetual dissatisfaction. Just like fish needs water, soul needs spiritual connection. We will be perpetually dissatisfied if we don’t satisfy soul’s spiritual connection.
  • We keep running after things hoping to be happy, but we are like a fan that moves round and round but it goes nowhere.
  • We are led by material things and they are changing continuously causing constant anxiety. Soul needs something which is unchanging and that is God. Spiritual side of our life is unchangeable.
  • We don’t have worry time scheduled in our day but we still worry all the time. Worry is the energy sucker. Surest way to avoid Chinta is to do Chintan of God. By which our chetana (consciousness) gets a shelter on something which is unchangeable.
  • We are in the state of spiritual infancy, so we can’t perceive God right now. But if we chant, do Kirtans than we will feel the love of God. Hare Krishna Maha mantra is the hotline to God.
  • People who complain that they are too busy to do chanting need to understand that our time is not just taken by activities but also by anxiety e.g. a distracted student in class, who even though is attending the class but not learning anything.
  • Vision without action is a dream, often action without vision is nightmare.
  • Busyness does not mean productivity.  We should look at our schedule not in terms of activity but in terms of productivity. The time we spend for God, will help us become more effective in worldly life.
  • When we learn to love the God that love is everlasting. That is the real happily ever after concept.
  • Pre modern age – people accept scriptures
  • Modern age – people accept science
  • Postmodern age – harmful effect of technology appear more and more, e.g. climate change, so many people even don’t accept science as authority. They only accept their own experience. Show them yourself as example and they will accept.
  • Krishna is god who is always there to protect and shelter us. No matter how many things go wrong in our life that understanding of our spiritual side will rejuvenate our determination.

Full Transcription by Eshant Pr

Duryodhana missed one important person in very start of battle, are we doing same mistake in our battle of life?

  • Bhagavad Gita begins with counting when Duryodhana counted and listed most prominent warriors on both side. And very interestingly in whole list Duryodhana missed one important person – “Krishna“
  • He mentioned karna name even when karna was not present in battle field, (Before battle started, Karna was insulted by Bhisma and Karna decided not to fight under commandment of Bhisma) because karna was very much present in mind of Duryodhana.
  • Here we see – “Attachment makes absent present”
  • Why does Duryodhana disregard Krishna?
  1. At immediate level he sees Krishna is noncombatant. He thinks that Krishna role is just charioteer and he is not going to raise weapon.
  2. Because he philosophically doesn’t understand Krishna’s position.
  • If we see battle, among those 18 days – At all the critical juncture, Krishna played a decisive role by giving council and by that only Pandavas ultimately attained victory.
  • So the very factor Duryodhana leaves out, that is the factor which decides everything against Duryodhana.

What mistake are we doing? – Thinking that “Not only material things are necessary but material thing is all that is necessary”

  • When we live in today’s society which is largely materialistic, now material needs are important. We just not need food clothing shelter, we need all so that we can live respectably. And fulfilling out material needs are natural and necessary. But materialism go beyond this and says that – not only material things are necessary but material thing is all that is necessary.
  • World health organization has declared that mental health problems are the biggest health challenge in current century. Based on researcher study on anxiety, they found some intrigant pattern, in the demographic trends on anxiety.
  • In first world country material things are fairly well and abundantly available and far less available in third world country. But they find out that anxiety level are more in first world country then people in third world country. Not only that when people in the third world country emigrant to the first world country they anxiety level go up. So why it is that despite having adequate material things, still there is anxiety.

Material things cannot substitute for our spiritual needs

  • There are different level of needs we human beings have. Suppose a person is fasting and haven’t drunk water for 24 hours, now the fast has to be broken and he is very thirsty. At that time if someone comes and say you are such an austere person we want to glorify you with garland, and here is second garland, here is third garland, … 11th garland, we are going to give you 121 garland, that person may say “please give me one glass of water” so here honor is fine but there is another level of need which is water.
  • So one need cannot be satisfy by satisfying other need.
  • We need a sense of self identity; we need a sense of self-worth, and if we are in a society where we are respected that is good. But respect doesn’t substitute water. So similarly material needs or material things cannot substitute for our spiritual needs. They cannot satisfy our spiritual needs. They are two distinct dimensions of our life. And both needs to be taken care separately.
  • Soul is itself suksma (subtle), avayakta (invisible), Achinctaya (not very easy to conceive) BG 2.25. Similarly Soul needs are also subtle.
    • When there is Physical deprivation – the effects are very immediately seen. That means, if we do not get food or water, then we immediately get physical result, like de-energized, and dehydrated.
    • When there is spiritual deprivation – the effects are not very immediately seen. Or rather effects are seen but its causes are misdiagnosed.

False diagnosis is more harmful then no diagnosis

  • Today materialistic society is running on misdiagnosis. I am not going be cured from my disease if I continue taking wrong medicine because of doctor misdiagnoses.
  • In Isopanishad mantra 9 says Avaidya is bad, but so called vidya is worse.
    • “Those who engage in the culture of nescient activities shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance. Worse still are those engaged in the culture of so-called knowledge (Isopanishad mantra 9)”
  • Today society thinks that we can become happy if we just get little more things. Get new gadgets, new car or any new thing, then we will become happy.
  • So in case of Physical deprivation – the effects are very immediately seen. But when spiritual needs are not fulfill we live in perpetual dissatisfaction, always feel like something is wrong, something is missing in my life.

Uncertainty brings Anxiety

  • Perpetual dissatisfaction keeps us filled with anxiety.
  • We are atama (soul) and we have natural connection with god. Just as fish needs water, similarly soul needs spiritual connection/consciousness at least in the background of one’s life to have stability and satisfaction. When it is not there, then the result is anxiety.
  • In Bhagavad Gita 16.11 and 16.12 Krishna says
    • cintām aparimeyāṁ ca pralayāntām upāśritāḥ – Materialistic people have immeasurable anxiety until the end of life.
    • They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable. Bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification. (Bhagavad Gita 16.11-12)
  • General anxiety or fear is not a problem, for example anxiety because of exam or interview is fine and is in everyone life. But if it becomes constant state of mind then that becomes a problem, sucker of our mental energy.
    • Example – fan moves round and round, but going nowhere. Similarly when our mind is in anxiety, it goes round and round thinking about different things and do nothing constructive. Just erode our mental energy.
  • Anxiety occur when there is uncertainty in our life. Example if I have a flight, and I don’t know whether I will reach on time causes anxiety.
  • Constant uncertainty – constant anxiety.
  • So if we are led by materialistic world view alone then material things are constantly changing. When everything is changing and nothing is stable, when we think that only material things matter, our bank balance, business, and my assets and when some uncertainty occur about them there is anxiety.
  • So we need something which is unchanging in our life, supreme unchanging reality is God.
  • So like Duryodhana, we also think God doesn’t matter. We have our family, job, and other things to take care in life, so we think how God matter. May be God exist, he is happy there and I am happy here.
  • Even if we are happy now, nature of material energy is that it will not allow us to remain happy longer, somehow or other sonner or later anxiety will come. And if we do not have some unchanging shelter, anxiety will erode our mental energy.

Connection with Krishna provides relief from “Worry” and “Anxiety”

  • We don’t have worry time in daily schedule, but worry takes our time all the time.
  • Worry is like background noise. It acts like an internal energy sucker.
  • It is like if boxer wear heavy gloves to beat opponent but the boxer loses all of his energy in just lifting his gloves. That internal resistant exhaust up the energy.
  • There are practical situations in the external world where there is uncertainty and worrying about that is unavoidable but worry as a constant default emotion in background that is something which is avoidable. Also it leads to all kinds of health complications.
  • Surest way to avoid “chinta” (worry) is to do “chintan” (meditation) on god. By which our chetana (consciousness) gets a shelter on something which is unchangeable. And that is immediate relief provider.
  • When baby is drinking milk from mother’s breast he may not understand, that she is a person my mother and my mother loves me. And when baby feel cold and mother see him shivering, mother comes and put a blanket. Baby will not understand that she is her mother. But when he is grown up, and mother put blanket he may understand that his mother has put this blanket.
  • Similarly we are present at a stage of spiritual infancy. And we cannot perceive god right now, we cannot directly understand god’s love for us. We cannot understand directly how god protect and shelter us. But when we start shivering and shacking with anxiety, if we turn towards God, chant his holy name, sings his kirtans, we will sense relief, release from the anxiety. And this shelter is the remembrance of god, is prayer to god, specially chanting his holy names. The names of god, Hare Krishna maha mantra that we chant is like our hotline to god. We can immediately connect with him through holy name and connection provides relief. So right now we may not perceive that god is caring and protecting me but all that we can perceive is that our relief
  • BG 9.2 – pratasyavagam – experience susukham – it becomes joyful.
  • Like Duryodhana, a materialistic person doesn’t understand what the use to devote oneself to god is. What is the point of it? The point is that he protect us from anxiety.

We become more productive and get more time when meditate on Krishna

  • People feel they don’t have time, but our time is not just taken by our activities but also by our thoughts.
  • Like student cannot understand in class if he is filled by anxiety.
  • Our busyness cannot always equate with productiveness, if my mind is not focused. Even sometimes counterproductive.
  • Vision without action is a dream, often action without vision is nightmare.
  • Learn to calm and focus the mind, we will be active and productive.
  • Time we spend with god, it helps calm and focus our mind. We will be able to do rest of our things better, more affective in our worldly activities.
  • And it not just helps in this life, but eternal life after this life.

Life forever with Krishna

  • Movie often ends with HEA – ‘happy ever after’. We know that this is not true but we attract the sentiment over there because we all long for love and life everlasting. And that longing fulfil when we direct our love towards god. Because that love is everlasting.
  • In Bhagavad Gita chapter 15 Krishna says – those who devoted to me they attain me and stay with me forever.

How to deal with postmodern age children

  • Children learn a lot by observing.
  • Pre modern age – people used to accept scriptures
  • Modern age – people accept science
  • Postmodern age – harmful effect of technology appear more and more, e.g. climate change, so many people even don’t accept science as authority. They only accept their own experience.
  • For example – if married couple tell people that we are happily married for 25 years, people want to listen how but if they say divorce is sin and nobody should take divorce people will not care.
  • People become interested if I tell them that how something work for me but if I tell them to do something they don’t care.
  • So we don’t need to tell to our postmodern age children what to do but show them by our example. Some discipline has to be done but it has to be balance by love.
  • Essential part of learning is to take ‘NO’ as an answer. Life is going to say ‘NO’ to each one of us.
  • Children will do they see that helps them to become happy and better.
  • Krishna has all power but when he is speaking to Arjuna, he didn’t stamp his will to Arjuna throat. He doesn’t tell Arjuna I am god follow me. Krishna gave elaborate details on the basis of which he urges Arjuna that now you decide what you want to do BG 18.63.

Face life battle confidently and victoriously

Anxiety means three things:

  1. I don’t know what to do
  2. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to do it
  3. Even if I able to do it I don’t know whether I will succeed.

But if we study BG and understand its message, Krishna is god who is always there to protect and shelter us, no matter how many things go wrong in our life. That understanding of our spiritual side will rejuvenate our determination.

Like Arjuna picked up his bow, we will also raise our determination and face life battle confidently and victoriously

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das

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