Shikshashtakam 6 Text 3 Humility means to not let our ego interfere with our purpose
Workshop at Krishna Institute, Alachua, USA
Transcription of Lecture
Let’s start with the 3rd text.
Trinadapi Sunichena taror api sahisnuna
Amanina manadena kirtania sada hari
So, the second text ended with an expression of misfortune that, “Oh I am so unfortunate that I have no taste for the holy name. Now this verse ends with describing how one can come to the state of constant chanting. So, constant chanting means one has got the taste. That’s what it means –kirtania sada hari, and it says trinadapi sunichena – by being humbler than a blade of glass, more tolerant than a tree, offering respects to others, seeking no respect for oneself, one can come to the level of constant chanting.
So, I will talk about some of these qualities about humility, and we will talk about how it has been described in scriptures as well these virtues are something which we can cultivate practically. So, I will start from the practical level, and then I will move to the scriptural level.
So, firstly Srila Prabhupada in Gita (13.8 – 13.12) talks about the 20 characteristics of knowledge. Amanitvam adambhitvam. So amanitvam he defines it as, to not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honoured by others. So, it’s a very interesting definition of humility focussed on – it is not even saying that one should not be honoured by us. It is saying – do not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honoured by others.
So, from that definition I will talk about two further aspects of humility is – to not ego interfere with our purpose, and if there is honour we accept honour if it comes, but we don’t go about expecting honour; to accept honour but not to expect honour.
In today’s ethos humility is often associated with low self-esteem or with negative view of oneself, and it is often considered as a weakness, quite self- demeaning. You have to have a healthy self- esteem. Actually, humility and self-esteem – it’s not that the two are self-contradictory. We will try to understand this. So, let’s try to understand the definition which Prabhupada is giving. The Sanskrit word is amanitvam. Krishna talks about two qualities over there – amanitvam and adambhitvam. So Prabhupada translates them as humility and pride-lessness.
This is Gita (13.8). The first two verses in that. The acharyas describe that dambha is something little more specific. So, amanitwam and adambhitvam.– the difference is that in amnitwam I have some honourable quality, but still I don’t look for honour. That means I have wealth but I don’t flaunt my wealth and I don’t go out of my way to parade my wealth, and expect others to respect me as a wealthy person.
So, amanitvam means when I have to quality, but still I don’t parade my quality or possession or whatever for getting respect, whereas adambhitvam means – actually I don’t have the quality, but somehow I create a facade of that quality so I attract people. Like say, if a boy wants to impress a girl, and then boy maybe borrows some wealthy friend’s car and goes in that car, and says, “This is my car.”
“Oh your car!” – The girl gets impressed – “I will come with you.” So, that means that one is trying to get prestige, get some respect, get some admiration for something one which doesn’t have only. So, that seeking prestige for what one doesn’t have – that is dambha, and seeking prestige for what one has that is mana. So, amanitvam and adambhitvam– the two qualities which are talked about there is – we don’t make a show of the qualities if we don’t have them, and even when we have them we don’t go about parading them for seeking honour for them. So, from that negative focus – amanitvam, adambhitvam – Prabhupada renders that here is, do not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honoured by others. That means – just look at this one by one. He is talking about honoured by others. So, he’s not saying – humility means that one should refuse being honoured by others, one should not be honoured by others – he is not saying that. What he is saying is that, “When others honour us we should not get that satisfaction.” He is not even saying that that satisfaction is itself bad, that satisfaction is to be avoided. Rather he is saying that, “Don’t be anxious for that satisfaction.”
So, if to some extent if we see, the vaisnava culture is a culture of honouring each other. When we see each other we fold our hands for obeisance’s. By that we are offering respect to each other. So, one side that receiving respect and offering respect, that is a very integral part of Vaisanvas culture, but one does not go around craving for that. One doesn’t go around craving primarily for that.
If you look at Srila Prabhupada, when he was India, he did not have many followers, but he had respect as a sadhu. The sadhu’s at that time in India were much more pious that what it is, and people who were sadhus, who were devoted to God, were respected. So, he would go to any person’s house and they would give him food, they would serve him and they were not really interested in becoming committed followers, but he was respected, but when he came to America people had no idea of what a sadhu means, and although his dress was strange, especially when he came to lower east side – there people specialized in being strange. So, everybody having their own version of – everybody was doing their own thing. So, it was not that Prabhupada got some special attention because of his strangeness . People were used to doing their own thing. So, in that sense when Prabhupada started preaching to the hippies, it was not that they respected him a lot. Some of them they felt, “He is a wise a person, a saintly person” but he had to actually start from scratch and earn the respect, by his spirituality, by his wisdom, by his compassion. So, in one sense Prabhupada went from a situation where he was at least culturally respected, to a place where he was just another person who was neglected. An old man in a lonely place, but he went there. Why was that? Beecause he had a purpose. The purpose was to share Krishna’s message, to fulfil Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s prophesy, to carry out the instruction of his spiritual master. So, we can say that another build up from that definition is that, humility in a practical sense means, to not let our ego interfere with our purpose.
So, if I have a purpose. I have been given this particular purpose. You have to do this service, you have to do that service. But sometimes while doing some services – some people are very irritable. Every suggestion that we give they try to find some fault with it, they come in the way. At that time if my service requires that I have to work with the people, I will work with them. So, that means it is not that – humility is not so much focussed on oneself. “Oh I am so unqualified, I am so fallen” I will talk about that aspect in the next slide, but here humility means it enables us to not to become – to get out of ourselves and to focus on our purpose. So, Ok – I have a service to Krishna, and whatever it takes for that service I will do that. So, if it means that I have to go to a place where I may be mocked – If somebody goes for book distribution, sometimes people may just neglect them; people may disrespect a book distributor, people may just mock them, but the book distributor will go and distribute books, but if somebody is a great book distributor and they come in the assembly of devotees and then many devotees want to come and know, “How do you distribute so many books?” There they get honour, “You are a great book distributors.” The same book distributors in the temple may get great honour or in the assembly of book distributors they may get great honour, outside they don’t get much honour. In fact when they go out, they are neglected sometimes, but then they have a purpose.
So, we focus on our purpose and don’t let our ego come in the way. So, that means rather than being too conscious of whether I am being respected or not being respected, I focus on whether I able to do my service or not.
This is the way I am explaining, to not be anxious to have satisfaction. That means that my focus in not on whether I am getting honoured or not. My focus is on whether I am serving Krishna or not. My service to Krishna – it has to go on. In that process if I get honour, Ok; if I don’t get honour – Ok. I will go on myself. I won’t my ego come in the way of my service, and the other aspect is – if honour comes we accept it, but we don’t expect honour. That means that I don’t make my service conditional to the honour that I get. I may get it, I may not get it, but I will do my service. In one sense if a preacher is speaking somewhere, there has to be at least some level of receptivity and respectfulness among the audience, otherwise the audience cannot benefit. If every statement that the speaker makes and the audience is challenging, countering, questioning, then there is not much knowledge sharing that can happen. So, in a sense it may be that sometimes if a preacher goes to a particular place and the preacher finds that there people are not very interested, and when the preacher goes to some other place he finds that people are so interested. So, is it that because here people are so eager, they are so respectful, they are so enthusiastic, and there are people are not at all interested. “There if I go, I don’t get any respect. So, I will go there, then I will stay humble, and if I go here, then people are so eager, people are so respectful, I will become proud, so I will not go here.”
So, is it that we should go to places where we are disrespected, and not go to places where there is receptive audience? No, it is not like that. We have to see where I can do my service the best, and wherever I can do my service – if I am been allocated, if I have to go here, and my authorities have instructed me, “You have to go and preach over here”, then even if there is no one receptive I may go there, because that is the instruction, but otherwise if I have option it’s not that in the name of humility we have to necessarily court dishonour or court neglect from others. The point is our service. So, if we go to a particular place, and people respect us, then we use that respect for serving Krishna. So, in some cases the respect can actually be a valuable tool which can be used to give people some spiritual knowledge. So, when Srila Prabhupada went to America he was literally a nobody. In India at least he was a sadhu, and when he went to America he was nobody – initially at least. Eventually he got enormous numbers of followers, but initially he was nobody. He accepted that because that was what was serving his purpose. That was what was enabling him to fulfil his spiritual master’s instructions. So, if honour comes we see that as an indicator that here there is a facility for me to serve Krishna, and then we use that, but we don’t make our service conditional to that honour.
Now one aspect of humility is – focus on our service and we don’t let our ego come in the way. Basically I am going to talk about humility in three parts. How we look at our service? How we look at ourselves, and how we look at Krishna? What is the attitude towards all these things? So, with respect to service, for us at least at the sadhaka stage humility means primarily – I have become service centred, and whatever is required for my service I will do that, and if while doing my service if I get honour, and if that honour can help me to do my service better, then I will accept that, but I will not make my service conditional to that honour. Now that was with respect to the service. Now with respect to myself – how I look at myself in humility?
So, self pity is not humility. Self-pity means, “Oh, I am so fallen! I can’t do this, I can’t do that, I am not good at this, I am not good at that.” So, maybe we think that it is humility, but actually it is referring to self-pity, not humility. It is negative self-absorption, it means – self-pity is actually simply negative self-absorption. So, negative self-absorption means that – like some people always talk about themselves, “You know I went here and I did this, and I went there and did that.” and we can clearly say that this is arrogance. They are always talking about themselves. So, they are so self-absorbed. So, that self-absorption we can understand is opposite of humility, but that is not humility at all, but that self-absorption can come in another, where we may think that, “I am good for nothing. I am so bad. I am this. I can’t do this. I don’t have this.” Even then the person is still self-centred. So, the point is that humility is for us a launching pad to freedom from self-absorption and focus on Krishna absorption.
So, it is – we become free from self-absorption, and thereby we focus on Krishna’s greatness, not on our smallness. We will talk about our smallness little later. It is important to be aware of that, but the focus has to be on Krishna’s greatness. Like, I come out of myself so that I can focus on Krishna. When Prabhupada was travelling and preaching, he was focussing on Krishna, telling everyone about Krishna, and his humility was that – he was always talking about Krishna to everyone. So, humility means, it gets us out ourselves. So, I can be caught in myself in a self-congratulatory way where I think that I am so great, or I may be caught in myself in a self-condemnatory way where I think that, “I so bad, I can’t do this. I can’t do that.” But in both cases I am caught in myself, and when I am caught in myself then actually that is not humility. So, when people talk about low self-esteem or people talk about inferiority complex, there the whole mind is caught in themselves. They are caught in themselves and they are thinking, “Oh, this person is better than me, that person is better than me.” And because of that they feel, “Oh I am not good of anything.” So, there is no focus on anything bigger than myself. It is I, and I am comparing with others “Oh, I can’t do this. I can’t do that. Oh, that person looks better than me. That person speaks better than me. That person has a better memory than me. That person has more followers than me.” And through that whole comparison the focus in on myself, and when we are focussed on ourselves, then naturally we can’t think of Krishna much.
So, when we talk about humility – if you look at the flow of this verse, the purpose is – trinadapi suni chena – the purpose is what? Kirtania sada hari – Now kirtania sada hari doesn’t necessarily have to mean that I chant the holy names of Krishna 24 hours a day. That can be one meaning, but kirtan is not just the utterance of the holy name. Kirtan is also glorification of Krishna. so, even our life can be lead in a way that it is – through our actions we are glorifying Krishna. So, kirtaniya sada hari, in a general sense means – absorption in Krishna. Absorption in Krishna glories, absorption in sharing Krishna’s glories through our words and through our actions. So, if we look at this – the purpose of this verse is that humility is meant to get us to the level of kirtania sada hari. That means humility as I said is a launching pad to freedom from self-absorption so that we can get into Krishna absorption.
So, the point of humility is that we get out of ourselves, not thinking how good I am or even how bad I am. That is not the point. The point is I get out of myself so that I can focus on Krishna. Now within this we have examples of the acharya’s talking about humility in a very extraordinary way. So here itself example is there – to be a humbler than a blade of glass. It’s a very – because you have heard it so many times – so it just becomes like a platitude for us, but if you think about it, it seems like a very jarring idea – a grass is something that everybody tramples on, and to become humbler than that – how can I do that? Or we have Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami saying that, “Jagai Madhai hoite moi se papistha” That I am actually more sinful than Jagai and Madhai, or I am lower than a worm in the stool. So what does this mean? We may say actually they are so exalted. Certainly from a objective perspective, it’s not that Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswwami is more sinful than Jagai and Madhai. So, why they are saying like this? Is it that if I have to become humble, I have to be dishonest? Is this being dishonest, is it real or is it not real? What is it actually? So, when we talk about such exalted feelings of humility or exalted expressions of humility – they are not things we can artificially imitate, just like this are all – this kind of emotions come by a very deep absorption in Krishna.
Just like Caitanya Mahaprabhu – we talked about the other emotions – so, when he is very deeply absorbed in Krishna, at that time he becomes – there are tears coming out of his eyes, as we will see later in this Sikshastakam itself, or sometimes bodily hair stands on end, or sometimes practically his bones becomes separated, they are held together by a skin, but his whole body has become elongated. So, these are all transformations of the body and the mind caused by immense absorption in Krishna. So, in this case the primary thing is the absorption in Krishna, and that absorption in Krishna has resulted in such extraordinary transformations of ecstasy.
Similarly this extraordinary feelings of humility, they come from a very exalted level of absorption in Krishna. So, when Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami says, “Oh, I am more sinful than Jagai and Madhai!” What does that mean? That actually he is so absorbed in Krishna at the spiritual level; so he feels that, “Krishna loves me so much. Krishna’s love for me is like an ocean, and in response what am I doing for Krishna? Actually I am not doing anything. Krishna has given me so much, and what have I done for Krishna in return? I have not done anything. Now the amount of mercy that Krishna has given me – actually the amount of association, amount of mercy, the amount of opportunity – that much Krishna has actually not given to Jagai and Madhai also. So, as compared to what I have got – in return to what I have done – what I have done is so little.”
Jagai and Madhai, they got mercy, and immediately there is such a big transformation in their lives. So, in the light of Krishna’s greatness, in light of Krishna’s love – when one is illumed by that light, at that time one feels, “Whatever I am doing is so small.” And then one gets that sense of humility. Now for most of us, we don’t feel that Krishna is doing so much for us. We feel that, “Actually I am doing so much Krishna, what is Krishna doing in return? I have this problem in my life. I am not getting this, I am not getting that.” So, because – how it works ? That when our consciousness is at the material level, then we see even Krishna’s mercy largely in material terms. So, if something materially is not working out, then spiritually things may be wonderful, but still we don’t focus on that so much. We think, “Oh this is not working out, this is not working out”, and as our consciousness becomes more and more spiritual, the material things don’t matter so much, because at the spiritual level we are connecting with Krishna.
So, when the consciousness is very exalted, when one is at a very exalted level of consciousness – in spiritual consciousness, then material reality becomes incidental, and that is why whatever problems are there at the material level may be there, but still one is absorbed in Krishna. So, at our stage – just as we artificially start shedding tears or thinking that my bodily hair has risen, that is not going to work, we can’t artificially imitate those emotions.
Similarly if we start artificially start saying that, “Oh, I am more fallen than Jagai and Madhai.” Those sorts of things, that will be artificial. This does not mean that we don’t aspire for it, but when we aspire for those exalted feelings of either humility or ecstasy in Krishna’s service, there is a process for that, and that process is centred on doing our service right now. In a practical sense humility means, we focus on our service to Krishna, and this exalted emotions that they come of the exalted expressions of humility – they come when we focus on Krishna’s greatness, and when we focus on Krishna’s greatness, then our smallness becomes evident, but when we are not really become so aware of Krishna’s greatness – at that time if we focus on ourselves, then I try to focus on my smallness, then my focus on my smallness often makes me either feel inferior if I am smaller than others, or if I am bigger than others that makes me feel superior. Either way the focus on oneself, it interferes with our Krishna consciousness. It doesn’t help us so much to grow in our bhakti.
At a practical level, we can see humility primarily as a means by which we get out of ourselves, and focus on our service to Krishna. Now in relationship with this there is one point here. The cure for pride is not suppression of talent, but purification of intent.
So, sometimes if we have some talent, and I am thinking, “I can sing nicely but if I sing nicely then people will praise me, and after they praise me I will become proud. Therefore I will not sing.” Or if I give classes – I can give classes also – If I study nicely, I can speak, I have been given that ability suppose, but if I think that I will not use that ability that I have, because that will make me proud – I have to think that I will become proud by doing something – that thinking itself is pride. Why? Because the thinking assumes that I am not proud right now. (laughter)
When I think that by doing something I will become proud, that means – actually I am humble now, but then I will become proud. (laugher) So, that fact is that it is not like that. The pride is already there in our heart, but right now we don’t have any reason to express our pride.
It’s like when Krishna talks about lust in the Bhagavad-gita, he says that lust is situated in Indriyani mano buddhir, in the senses mind and intelligence. He doesn’t say that the lust is situated in the sense objects. So, we cannot blame someone else. “Oh because of you I am becoming lusty.” No, lust is there in our own senses, in our own mind and in our own intelligence. Now it is possible that when we see certain sights or certain objects they may trigger lust within us, but that triggering of lust happens because lust is already there within us. If there was no lust, then even the perception of that object would not make us lusty. So, what is happening is that – that which is dormant, that becomes active and there is perception. It is not that the perception is creating lust. So, just like that with respect to pride also – pride is already there in our heart, but it is dormant. Now when I do something special, when I do something noteworthy, then that noteworthy activities that I do, that becomes a trigger by which the pride moves from dormant to active. So, that is why if I think that I will become proud, that means that I am in the illusion thinking that I am not proud not now. It is just I have pride, but it is dormant. So, how do I get rid of this pride? Actually we will get rid of the pride, we will become free from pride, only through purification. So, when we render service to Krishna, that contact with Krishna gives us a higher taste, and when we get the higher taste, then we become free from the craving for lower pleasures including the pleasure of pride. So, unless we get that higher taste we will not be able to become free from the pleasure from pride, and how we will get that higher taste? That is only when we do service to Krishna.
So, to think that by not doing service I can protect myself from pride, that is not the bhakti way. That is more like the jnana way, “I will not do this only.” But no, the bhakti way is – if I have been given some talents, I use them in Krishna’s service, and while doing that service I purify my intent. So for example say, when I started speaking – before I was introduced to Krishna consciousness itself I had a desire to become a public speaker, and I would speak, but then I would not have so many ideas to speak. After I came to Krishna consciousness there are so many ideas to speak. Initially when I would give classes, I would be so eager after the class, how many people will come and appreciate me after the class? (laughter) So, after the class would be like the prayojana of the class. (laughter) How many people will come and appreciate me? And then at one time it happened that I was giving a class. It was very well prepared, and I was very happy with the way the class was going – all thoughts were well organized, I was very absorbed in the class, and then at the end of the class, I thought, “I gave such a great class. Now so many people will come and appreciate me.” Just no one came. Absolutely not one person came, and then I was feeling so frustrated in one sense, but then it just struck me, “Actually when I was giving the class I was much happier than after the class.” (laughter) So, why was that? Because when I was giving the class I was absorbed in Krishna. After the class I am absorbed in, who is appreciating me or who is no appreciating me.
So, I would never have got this realization if I had not actually tried to absorb myself in Krishna by speaking. It’s not that I am free from pride in any way. I have a lot of pride in me, but the point is that when we do service, then we get the higher taste, and when we get the experience of the higher taste, then we can give up the lower taste. Otherwise if we don’t do service, we don’t get the higher taste, how are we ever going to give up the lower taste? So, that is why we always need to do service.
I the Gopi Geeta it is said that – the gopi said, nija jana smaya dwamsa na smita. It is a very striking verse, it says, nija jana, your own people, your devotees, smaya – smaya is pride. He says that, “Your devotees pride – dwamsana – is destroyed by smita – your smile. So, Krishna, your smile destroys your devotees pride. Now what does it mean? Is it that Krishna gets joy when he destroys our pride and he smiles? It is not like that. What it means is, that actually a devotee may be delighting in pride, but when the devote comes in front of Krishna and sees the beauty of Krishna, and sees the smile of Krishna – and then in that the devotee gets so much rasa, the devotee thinks, “Oh, Krishna is so beautiful. I can just absorb myself in Krishna. Why should I bother about the worlds honour, and in that way the craving for honour in this world – the pride gets destroyed. So, actually – so, our pride gets destroyed when we serve Krishna, and we get a higher taste in Krishna’s service, and that is why if we suppress talent then we are not connecting with Krishna at all, and then we will never get the higher taste. Now while doing service – if we keep doing service, then there will be gradual purification of intent. Purification of intent means – initially I do the service because I want people to praise me for it, but as I keep doing service, I start seeing, “Ok, praise will come and go, but if I absorb myself in Krishna there is so much fulfilment over there.” So, gradually our focus will shift from – when I am doing the service how much the world is appreciating me, and how much I am absorbing myself in Krishna.
So, Hari Shauri Prabhu writes in his transcendental diary that – whether Prabhupada would be speaking to one or two people in a private darshan, or Prabhupada would be giving a class to 100 people, he would be so enthusiastic all the time for speaking about Krishna. One time one journalist was interviewing Prabhuapada – it was a live T.V. So, he said, so Prabhupada was explaining to him – “So, you are not the body, you are the soul. So, I will give an example, you are there and your car is there. So, what is more important?” He says, “My car. Without my car I cannot go anywhere.” So, he says, “You are not understanding.” Prabhupada said. “Even if the car is there, if you are not there how can you go anywhere?”; he said, “Yes, that is alright, but babaji, America is a big country, without the car you cannot go anywhere, the car is also important.” So, Prabhupada was trying to explain, he was just not getting it, and then by that time the interview time got over, and then he said, “Swamiji, thank you very much.” No, wait I will have to explain to you. Prabhupada kept explaining for 15-20 minutes to him how you are not the body, you are the soul. And whether the reporter finally understood it or not, he said, “Swamiji, yes I understood.” (laughter) So, the point is that for Prabhupada, the T.V interview was not important. The T.V was important no doubt, but that was not the most important thing. Prabhupada’s point was, here there was a soul, and I have to give spiritual knowledge to him.
So, whether it is T.V interview on or not it doesn’t matter. Prabhupada was focussed on giving that spiritual knowledge. So, that is actually the focus on the purpose. So, similarly when we are trying to serve Krishna, it is important that we just start serving with whatever talents that we have, and then gradually we purify our intent. If sometime while doing our services we start becoming a little proud, then other Vaisanva’s will also tell us, “You are becoming a little too much”, then we may cut down from the service or we may cultivate some humility, but the service is the primary connection that will give us the higher taste. Without that higher taste we cannot give up the lower taste, and that’s why humility in that sense is getting out of ourselves, and service is the means by which we can get out of ourselves.
So, I will summarize, then we can have some questions,. So, I started by talking about how humility is primarily – Prabhupada defines it as – “Do not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honoured by others.” So, we talked bout amnitwam, adhambhitvam. So, even if I have good qualities I don’t see honour for it, and if I don’t have good qualities, then also I don’t create a show in order to get honour out of it. That is the two qualities that Krishna is talking about there, and it means that we can analyse it as – “To not let our ego to let interfere with our purpose.”
Devotee means we are meant for serving Krishna, and we focus on our service, and if somebody is troubling me, if somebody is disrespecting me, but if that is what I need to do for serving Krishna I will do that. Prabhupada went from India where he was honoured as a sadhu, to America where he was just an old man whom nobody understood in the initial days. He went there because that was fulfilling his purpose, and while doing our purpose if we get honour we accept it, because that honour can be used to convey knowledge to people more effectively. If people are more receptive, then knowledge can be better conveyed to them, but we don’t expect honour. We don’t make our service conditional to the honour. We focus primarily on service. So, we talked about humility in terms of how we look at our service. Then how we look at ourselves? So, humility is not self-pity, just like there can be self obsession in a self-congratulatory sense where I think I am so great; there can self-obsession in a self-condemning sense where I think that I am so bad, I am so fallen, but in both cases one is focussed on the self, and obsession in the self is not humility. So, we want to get out our selves. For us humility is a launching pad to take our consciousness from ourselves to Krishna.
Here trinadipa Sunichena ends with kirtania sada hari, absorption in Krishna, and then we discussed in that – the exalted acharyas feeling of humility, they come because they are absorbed in Krishna that in comparison with what Krishna is doing for them, the feel what I am doing is so little, and therefore they feel that, “I am so fallen. I am more fallen than Jagai and Madhai.” At our stage because our consciousness is more at the material level than at the spiritual level, and in the material level things always keep going sometimes right and sometime wrong – so, we often don’t feel that Krishna is doing so much for me, and that’s why, this kind of feeling that, “Oh, I am so fallen, that is often very artificial for us.” So, we can focus on the practical aspect of humility. That is be focussed on serving Krishna, and in that connection we discussed about – we have certain talents. To think that by not acting by those talents I will stay humble, it doesn’t work, because the pride will still be there dormant and one thing I forgot to mention is – that if we don’t use our talents in Krishna’s service, then what happens is, I may think that I am staying humble, but when other use their similar talents in Krishna’s service, that pride which is dormant in me, that will come out in a ugly way as envy.
So, I don’t sing because I don’t want to become proud. When somebody sings and someone praise them, “He is such a good singer!” “Oh, he is just making a big show.” So, what happens is that the pride which is there will come out as envy. So, better than that what we do, if I have some talents, then I see that Krishna has given me, I use them in Krishna’s service, and through the service when the connection with Krishna happens, at that time we will get a higher taste, and then we will be able to – by the experience of the higher taste reject the lower taste.
The gopis say, “By beholding Krishna’s smile the devotees pride gets destroyed.”
Lastly we discussed how, when we are talking about humility in a practical sense, the focus is on how I can best serve Krishna. Whether there is external, don’t matter. Now whatever is the service for Krishna I will do that, and through that service we move closer and closer to Krishna.
Any comments or question:
Q: What exactly is the false ego? Yesterday you explained the mind. So, where do the false ego come into the picture. We talked about the mind and the intelligence.
CCP: Yesterday I gave the example of a person watching a T.V, and then the mind is like a T.V Screen through which our consciousness gets caught somewhere else. So, now if the person is here, the T.V screen is here, and the person can look at the room around, but the person is focussing on the T.V, and then if say – assume that there are blinders on both sides – by which say the person is here adn the T.V is here and there is blinders on both sides by which the person cannot actually look anywhere else. They have the capacity to look elsewhere, but at that point the blinders prevent them from looking anywhere else. So, those blinders which rivet the souls consciousness on the minds movie screen, that blinder is the false ego.
The false ego is what causes the souls consciousness to be caught in the minds movie screen. Whatever the mind is depicting that’s what the soul can see, the soul cannot see anything else. So, when I have a false ego that says, “I am a man, I am an Indian, I am that, I am this”, then I cannot perceive things from anyone else’s perspective. So, the stronger our false ego, the stronger our vision gets restricted to whatever our mind is showing us.
Like there are some people who are very opinionated. They just cannot tolerate any opinion apart from their own – others opinion. That means that they are very caught in their own mind. So, the false ego is what? It is the blinder that causes the soul to get completely caught in the mind’s picture of reality.
Q: How do we remove or dissolve the false ego?
CCP: Among the three subtle elements – the mind intelligence and ego – among them the ego is used in two senses. Ego at one level is an objective thing, like the element. There are 8 elements, one of them is the ego. That is a thing, but along with that ego is also a feeling. When a person has a big ego, then they are always talking about themselves, always boasting about themselves. So, we say we talk about dissolving the ego, the element ego itself will never be destroyed. That is a part of our subtle body. The element ego will be there, but the feeling of self-centredness, that is caused by the ego – that can be dissolved. So, when Krishna is saying ahankara as one of the elements. Now later on he is saying, anahankara eva cha. So, when he is saying anahankara eva cha, that does not mean that he is saying that somehow we find out in the subtle body where is the ego and find a bomb and destroy the ego. He is not talking about that. We cannot do that. It is a part of our make-up, but what we can do is, we can – the feeling of self-centredness that the ego fosters that we can avoid, or that we can minimize through the cultivation of spiritual knowledge. So, when I cultivate spiritual knowledge although by my ego I think that I am male, I am a female, I am this, I am that, but with spiritual knowledge I understand, “Actually I am not a male or a female, I am soul, presently I am in a male body or a female body.” So, through that philosophical understanding we start distancing ourselves from the blinders created by the ego, and gradually as we keep practicing bhakti we experience. Maybe experience say when chanting Hare Krishna or in Krishna consciousness – we experience some spiritual emotion, we experience some ecstasy, we start realizing that this is something different from my body. So, I may think that, “I am a Bengali, I am an American or whatever”, but here when we come to Krishna I experience as ecstasy which is completely separated from whatever material designations we have. That way we get a experience that I have a transcendental side, and then gradually we distance ourselves from it.
So, there are practical ways that we do is – we cultivate humility by offering obeisance’s and being respectful in our dealings with others. That is the practical way we cultivate humility, but along with that philosophically also if we understand that I have an identity which is beyond my body, beyond my mind, beyond my conditioning, and we get that experience through the practice of bhakti that there is something higher then gradually that also helps us to distance ourselves. So, that way the ego can be decreased, and especially if you associate with people who are far more advanced than us, and still they are humble, we feel, “Oh, this people have so much great things and still they don’t have pride. What do I have to be proud about?” So, the subjective feeling of ego we can decrease. Just like with respect to the mind also – the mind is not something which we can destroy, but what we can do is – the mind’s control on us, we can decrease that. So, rather than the mind dictating what I should do, I tell the mind what you should be doing.
So, like that the ego is always going to be there, but as Prabhupada said, there is false ego and there is true ego. So, false ego means, when the ego dictates to me who I am. The ego tells me I am a man, I am a woman whatever, but true ego means I understand that I am a soul. I may have a male body or a female body, but these are meant for me to use in Krishna’s service. So, the more we cultivate spiritual knowledge, and the more we get spiritual experiences, the more we can push back the ego.
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