How to cultivate positive thinking in bhakti
[Sunday feast class at ISKCON, Chowpatty, India]
I thank all of you for coming here today afternoon for this Sunday feast program, and as it is announced, today I will speak on the topic of positive thinking and bhakti. Can they go together? or where they go together and where they don’t?
The… one of the most significant discoveries in science which has effected humanity in a practical way in the last century was the discovery that our thoughts are also things. That our thoughts affect us practically. So as the… since the time from Newton… he came up with the theory of gravity on falling of… seeing a fruit falling. Since that time the trend in science was to explain things in mechanistic terms. This is the cause, this is the effect. So if I hit this mike… the force with which I will hit the mike, it will affect… how much it will move back, and that world view was extrapolated even to human beings and humans were seen simply as creatures which respond to stimulus. That means if this stimulus comes in this response will come. This stimulus, this response, and in this mechanistic view, the human free will was downplayed. Basically, there is science and there is scientism. Scientism is the idea that science alone is the valid way to all form of knowledge. So, the idea is that, humans basically are like biological robots. That robot… that is given… is done a program is there inside it, and as per the program whatever stimulus comes it will have a particular response. So it was thought that the human beings were like that.
So, if you consider the human beings like a black box…. Now what is there inside the box, doesn’t matter. If this stimulus comes, it will give this result, and yes, there is some programming inside and what cause that programming you can try to figure that out, whether upbringing caused the programming, society caused the programming, culture caused the programming, but the idea is that people are simply based on the stimulus with the program inside, and there will be a response, but over a period of decades… last century, scientists found that people thoughts affected them. This was seen through various ways. One was psychosomatic illness. Psychosomatic illness means that when people, when they have negative thoughts…negative sentiments, frustrations, hate, negativity, and these thoughts had physical affect.
Biologically, phycho means mind, soma means body. So psychosomatic diseases means, diseases which originate in the mind and affect the body. This was found that there is no reason for the person… biologically speaking to be sick, but still they were sick and they found that the cause was psychology. So, psychosomatic diseases were there. So that was in terms of diseases. Conversely it was found that there was something called Placebo effect. Placebo effect means, that if a patient is simply give sugar pills instead of being given actual medicines, but the patient is not told that you are being given sugars pills. The patient will think that I am getting medicine, and in many cases people got cured. So, they were not given any medicine and they were cured. So now, how did they get cured? The scientific explanation was that actually just the feeling that I am being treated, that triggered within the body, its own healing mechanism, and there are certain enzymes which in the body… they when they are secreted, they promote health. There are certain enzymes which triggered in the body, they promote sickness, or they…they are the enzymes which gets activated when there is a perception of threat or disease in the body, and that perception itself makes the person feel uneasy. So either way, both positively and negatively it was found that what is inside the black box also matters. So now, the programming is there, but how people look at things? This is not… this attitude is just not the matter of some… some conception. It has scientific basis. It was found so… now mind, body medicine is a huge field… is a huge field in medical science, and in science in general. Now this is from the empirical or the scientific perspective. From the spiritual perspective, when we start practicing bhakti, if we do not understand the bhakti philosophy properly, we might unnecessarily become pessimistic.
So, for example, the Bhagavat Gita tells us that this world is a place of misery. In the 8.15, it says
mām upetya punar janma
saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ
So, it is said that this world is dukhalayam, it’s a place of misery. It is asawatam- it’s temporary. Now based on this, some people will start thinking, “Ok, this world is a place of misery. That means that whatever I am going to do, I am going to get misery, and when we start thinking like this, then we often… because of the negative thinking we often do things which bring misery upon us. So, misery becomes like a self-fulfilling prophesy. So, I expect problems, then I get problems. Now there are two extremes. One is to think that… that you know, “Oh, this world is a place of misery. So I will always have to be miserable.”, that is not the whole mood of the Bhagavat Gita. We see at the start of the Bhagavat Gita, Arjuna is so overwhelmed in agony, that Arjuna is in tears…
taṁ tathā kṛpayāviṣṭam
(B.G – 2.1)
Arjuna was overflowing with tears. Now normally, tears… even when people are hurt, when people are in pain, they don’t cry in public… when we have to cry, we will cry privately, we will cry in the presence of our loved ones, and often tears are associated more with faminity than masculinity. Now say, in a relationship say with woman… if nothing else works, they want to pursue with someone, tears are like the nuclear weapon. People’s determination melt, when they see the tears of a woman. So usually… it is not to stereotype according to the gender, but generally men… even if they are in pain, they wouldn’t show their emotions, especially not tears, and Arjuna was the embodiment of virility, of masculinity. So, for a warrior like Arjuna to be crying in public, it is like the two armies… thousands and thousands of soldiers are there and Arjuna is in the middle of that war basically. So, it is point of maximum visibility for everyone. If he had been in his own side, not many people would have seen him… but right in the middle… it’s like today India and Pakistan cricket match is there (laughter). So if in the middle of a cricket match, while the batsman is batting, the batsman starts crying (laughter)…. Ok you get out, and then you go to the pavilion and then you cry that is one thing, but in the middle if the batsman starts crying, people will say, “don’t be such a cry-baby”
So, for a person to cry… for Arjuna to be crying in the middle of the battlefield, that means that he must have been under tremendous misery. Now Arjuna was a trained warrior, and even when he would be severely wounded… Now once killed in fighting… it’s intimidation. Now you have to create fear in the enemy, and essential for intimidation… intimidating the enemy is that you don’t show any fear, you don’t show any pain. So Arjuna was trained, that even when he would be great pain he would not show the pain, because that is required for fighting. So yet…that same Arjuna who was the embodiment of masculinity, who was in full public view, who was trained to conceal pain, that Arjuna was in tears. So we can imagine how much of an agony he must have been at that time, and now when Arjuna was in tears, did Krishna say, “Arjuna, Yes this world is dukhalam, you are realizing it is dukhalayam. You are crying, …10.05… crying. No, that is not the mood of Krishna. Krishna gives in message in the Bhagavat Gita, and the result of the message is what happens? Now at the end of the Bhagavat Gita, it is 2.1… before Krishna starts instructing, Arjuna is crying in tears and by the time Krishna finishes speaking the Gita what has happened to Arjuna… He describes his own testimony in 18.73, and he says that
naṣṭo mohaḥ smṛtir labdhā
sthito ’smi gata-sandehaḥ
kariṣye vacanaṁ tava
He says sthito ’smi, now I have become composed, now I have become calm, now all my illusion has been destroyed. So Arjuna is restored to calmness, to clarity. That means Arjuna was distressed at the start of the Gita and Arjuna was composed at the end of Gita. Physically he didn’t do anything. All the difference between him before the start of the Gita and at the end of the Gita was that, from being distressed he became composed. So essentially, what has the Gita done? Gita has changed Arjuna from a pessimistic frame of mind to a optimistic frame of mind. In the pessimistic frame of mind, he was destroyed. He was thinking, “What can I do? Now if I fight, I will kill my relatives. My loved one’s will die. If I fight then I am my other loved ones will die. If I don’t fight, then I will be mocked as a coward. The unrighteous will stay in power.
So Arjuna was seeing everything as a lose-lose situation, and basically pessimism means that to see everything negatively. This will go wrong, that will go wrong, that will go wrong, and if that happens… that attitude was what Arjuna had in the beginning. By the end of the Gita he understood…based on the …12.05(inaudible)… of the Gita, how actually… whatever happens, if I am serving Krishna auspicious will result. So, in that sense Gita is a message of spirituality that is imbued with positivity. So, the… it is not that because… it’s paradoxical that, the Gita says that this world is dukhalaya, this is a place of misery but hearing the message that the world is dukhalaya removes the dukaha of Arjuna. So how does that work out? The thing is that the Gita tells us that misery is a fact of life but misery is not the purpose of life.
That… just like this world can be compared to a hospital. Now in a hospital, people are diseased, and because they are diseased there will be distress but the purpose of the hospital is not to put the people in distress. The whole purpose of the hospital is to decrease people’s distress, to restore them to health. Similarly distress is a fact of life in this world, but at the same time… just like in the hospital, the patient takes the proper treatment, the distress can be minimized and can be removed. Similarly there is a treatment of dhama.
The Bhagavat Gita teaches us the path of dharma, which culminates in the path of bhakti, and if we follow this path of dharma then our distress can be minimized. In the same verse, which says that this world is duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam …. The stress of that verse is what?
mām upetya punar janma
Oh Arjuna! Those who worship me, they will not take birth in this world again which is a place of misery. So, the distress filled miserable nature of the world is simply a passing fag that Krishna says. Those who practice bhakti will not be reborn in this miserable world, but they will attain my eternal abode. So, Krishna’ stress is not on the fact that this world is a place of misery. His stress is on… that bhakti is the process that frees one from misery. This is from the ultimate perspective that this world is like a hospital and bhakti will restore us to spiritual health, and it will free us… it will help us to get out of the hospital, to go home where we can be healthy and happy.
Now, even in the hospital there is the possibility to decrease the pain of the patient as much as possible. So, there is the utopia… utopia is that everything in this world is fine, you know. Everything is… in English you say Hunky Dori… everything is wonderful. So that… people say, “Oh…Look at the positive.” Yes, for example if this glass of water is there. Now if this glass is say half-empty. Now I say it as half-empty, that is pessimism. If I say it is half-full, that is optimism. But suppose, this glass is empty… and I say someone, “Can you get some water?” … “Why are you so pessimistic? Just think that the glass is full.” (laughter)… Now, you know, it is full of air, it is not full of water.
So now, to imagine that an empty glass is full, that is not optimism, that is stupidism (laughter). So, optimism is not denying reality. So, like that… so this whole idea of positive thinking which science has discovered, this has also become a cult. The cult of positive thinking…. What is the idea… that if you just think something, that will work out. So, there are bestseller books on this topic. Say there is a book like, “The Secret”, what is the secret? That whatever you desire you will achieve it…. So, they show videos, that you know there is a woman who is walking by a jewellery shop and she sees a necklace in the shop, and she is thinking about it… thinking about it, and next day she has the necklace around her neck (laughter)… “How that has come?”… that is the power of your desire, power of your thoughts. So, this is simply imagination.
The idea is that, if we think that our thoughts are low-determine reality, that is no reality objectively independent of our thoughts. That is illusion. There is a reality.
So, the extreme is to make our thoughts themselves into God. God alone can fulfil all His desires. He is satya-sankalpa. Whatever He desires He achieves, but we are not God. So these positive thinking can be taken to a extreme where we just think that our thoughts determine the reality.
Now my thoughts… I may think that this glass is full, but that is not going to make the glass full. I can think, “OK, the glass is empty.” I acknowledge that the glass is empty, and then I find out how to make the glass full. Then I can go and fill the glass.
So, pessimism would be, “No, the glass is empty. You know nobody cares for me. There is no water here. I don’t know where water is. Even if I go somewhere may be the tap will not be working over there and I will not be able to get water… Oh, I have to suffer because of this this thirst.” So, when I just think negative, and imagine negative then that is pessimism. So, we have to begin with acknowledging the reality.
Just like, a patient who is sick. If the patient denies… you know the patient is having a cough, and the patient says, “No, I don’t have a cough… ah..ah..ah… (makes coughing sound)…. No, I don’t have any cough.” They are coughing and they are trying to supress the cough. “I don’t have any cough.”…. No, by denying the reality, we don’t get rid of the reality. So that means there is a objective reality out there, and there is a subjective perception of that reality.
So, the cult of positive thinking holds that, our perception of reality determines the reality which is not true. There is an objective reality out there independent of our thoughts. At the same time… one extreme is to make our thoughts into God. So, say that our thoughts alone determine the reality. The other extreme is to say that our thoughts don’t matter at all. Reality only matters. No, our thoughts do affect our response to reality. So, our thoughts affect how we respond to reality, and the whole process of bhakti is actually meant to change our response to reality. Reality is what it is. By denying it, we won’t make things better, but bhakti can help us to change our response to reality. Now how do we change that response?
The Bhagavat Gita talks about three truths, and the Upanishads talk about tattva-traya… The tattva-traya, the three truths are- they are… Jagat, Jiva and Jagadish. Jagat is the universe, Jiva is the soul-consciousness, Jagdish is God (Krishna). These three are the fundamental categories of existence. There is matter, there is consciousness and there is the absolute.
So, normally our consciousness is focussed on the Jagat. Now, this person has done like this, this has happened over here, that has happened over there. Now, as long as we are caught in our circumstances… now we… we become very reactive, we become very fearful because the world around us is a uncertain place, and we don’t have much control over the world around us. So as long as our consciousness is caught in the Jagat… our consciousness at the material level… we subject ourselves to uncertainty, “This may go wrong, that may go wrong, this problem comes up what I will do, what about that problem, what about that problem?”, and in that way we make ourselves fearful.
There is a difference between fear and fearfulness. Fear is simply a natural human response to danger. If I am say on a hundred storey building on the top, and I look out from the balcony down… just a dizzying fall that is there, immediately I feel fear. That’s natural. Just like, if there is a nail over there. I put my hand, I feel pain and that makes me move my hand away. That pain is a protector from further damaging my hand. Similarly, fear is a protector from danger. Fear helps us to understand, “Oh, there is danger in here, be careful!” But, fearfulness means that, even when there is no danger, still there is fear. That means I am no longer …21.40… down the hundred storey building. I have come back, I am sitting on a comfortable chair. “What if I fall down, what if I fall down, what if I fall down?” So, fearfulness is where the feeling of fear, even when there is no danger. That is unnatural, that is undesirable. Now, when our consciousness is caught in Jagat, when our consciousness is caught in the world, then we define ourselves in terms of the world… “Ok, what if I lose my job, what if I can’t pay by mortgage for my house, what if my health gets spoiled, now what if my loved one’s leaves me, what if this, what if that?”
In this world so many things can go wrong, and if we start thinking what if this goes wrong, what if that goes wrong, what if that goes wrong. If our sense of identity, if our sense of self-worth, it comes from the world, then we will always be in-secured. If I define myself as say a software engineer, and then I lose my job, then who am I? What is my status, who am I? If my sense of identity and self-worth comes from something in this world, from the Jagat, then I will be always be in-secured.
If I think of myself, “I am the owner of this house.”, and that’s my defined sense of identity. What if I lose that house?… No one… So wherever our consciousness is invested, whatever it is that we identify with, whatever it is that we get our sense of self-worth from, that itself can become the cause of our insecurity. So we identify with the world we sentence ourselves to insecurity, and the more the identification the greater the insecurity.
So Krishna talks about the mode of ignorance, tamo guna and He says in 18.35 of the Bhagavata Gita :
yayā svapnaṁ bhayaṁ śokaṁ
viṣādaṁ madam eva ca
na vimuñcati durmedhā
dhṛtiḥ sā pārtha tāmasī
So, He says that when people are always day-dreaming, not doing anything practical, always fearful… bhayam… “this may go wrong, that may go wrong, that may go wrong.”… There was as survey done about people who worry. It was found that actually between 70-90% of things that people worry about, they never happen, they never happen only. So, worry is the interest we pay on loans that we haven’t yet taken. (laughter) Then we start thinking, “This may go wrong, that may go wrong.” Actually, what can go wrong? Anything can go wrong. Right now, we are sitting in this room, the roof may cave in and we may die but anything is possible, anything can go wrong, but in life there are possibilities and there are probabilities. Probabilities – what is realistic is likely to happen.
You know, if I am driving a car… if every time I drive a car I think, “what if… what if you know a drunk driver comes from the opposite side, what if… what if somebody drives over me, there is an accident.” Now, if I constantly I fearful that if there is an accident… I will be paralysed, I will not be able to drive. Now if my cars breaks are not working. I know that they are not working, but still I am driving the car, then there is reason to be fearful, then at that time the accident is not just a possibility, it is a probability.
Possible means anything can happen, probable means it’s likely to happen. So, if I am sitting in a house which the municipality has declared that this house is dangerous, it is …25.53…, it is about to fall and still I continue to stay in the house, then the house caving in is a probability. So when our intelligence is not very strong, when we are the mode of ignorance, when we identify too much with material things, then what happens is – we don’t focus on probabilities, “This is possible, what if this goes wrong, what if that goes wrong, what if that goes wrong?”, and that way we become overwhelmed by misery.
So, now specifically we may address questions you know. “Ok, now I will get a…you know, if I am driving a two-wheeler… Two wheelers are too prone to accidents, so I will get a four-wheeler, and small four-wheelers …26.34-36… not better, so I will get a big four-wheeler.” So, you may try to arrange for security at a material level, and yes if you have the capacity you can arrange for that security, but that alone is not the solution because as long as I keep identifying with material things…. Now I may get a bigger bank balance, and I think that provides the security. Yes, it provides me some security but along with that a bigger bank balance also causes anxiety. I have to take that, I have to maintain that.
So, as long as our consciousness is invested in the Jagat, we will have insecurity. If it is too irrationally, excessively invested, then we have far greater anxiety. So, just like there is a cricket match. So, now if a person is… “Ok, India-Pakistan cricket match, I don’t want to know what is the result.” …27.30… means one is so obsessed with it, constantly thinking, “what will happen, what will happen, what will happen in this match, what will happen in this match?”, and then you know the star batsman gets out… “Oh no!”, It’s like the end of the world for them. (laughter)
So, the more the emotions are invested in the… in the cricket match, the more is the anxiety, the more is the agony that comes. Now, this person may be sitting. This person watching the cricket match may be sitting in their air-conditioned home, and the cricket match is somewhere you know thousands of miles away, but what has happened, because the consciousness is invested, that’s why there is all the illusion.
So, yes there are specific dangers and fear is a natural protector from such dangers, but when our consciousness is invested in the Jagat, in the world, then there is always going to be insecurity. So the Bhagavat Gita… the first thing it does is, it raises Arjuna’s consciousness from Jagat to Jiva, it tells Arjuna, “You are not of this world, you are a non-material being, you are a soul whom nothing in this world can hurt.”
nainaṁ chindanti śastrāṇi
nainaṁ dahati pāvakaḥ
na cainaṁ kledayanty āpo
na śoṣayati mārutaḥ
In B.G 2.23, Krishna says, “A soul cannot be destroyed by anything, neither by weapons nor by fire, nor by water, nor by wind, nothing… it is indestructible. So, understanding that whatever happens in this world is happening, not to us, it is happening to our body, it is happening to our mind, it is happening to thing which are connected with to us, they are important to us, but it is not to us. That understanding that I am a soul, it is meant to raise us above the world. So, our circumstances should be like carpets. The carpet is meant to be below us, not above. If I am under the carpet, I feel suffocated, and I fel miserable but if the carpet is below me, it will be soft, it will make me comfortable. So, when we identify ourselves with the Jagat, with the world, then we put ourselves below the carpet, but when we identify ourselves as Jiva, as a soul, I am not …29.55…(inaudible), I am spiritual. That itself brings some amount of security, that brings some amount of calmness. “Yes, things may go wrong, but I am different from these things. At my core, I cannot be destroyed.”
It’s like say, if tsunami comes in Mumbai. There is flood all over. Now, If I am in Mumbai I will be agitated, but suppose a rescue helicopter has come and has lifted me, and then I am above. I may still be concerned. Maybe my loved ones are there, may be my friends are there. I want to know what is happening, but I don’t feel personally threatened. So, if we are above… if we are in the flood we will be disturbed. If we are above the flood, we will be concerned but not disturbed. Similarly, the Bhagavat Gita message… when we understand the spiritual philosophy, it raises our consciousness from the Jiva… from the Jagat to the Jiva. We understand that we are not of the world. We are souls who are indestructible. Whatever happens, it doesn’t hurt us. That is the first consciousness elevate… first level of consciousness elevation that the Bhagavt Gita does. Then… it itself brings positivity.
So, here we are talking of positivity not simply in terms of just changing perception, like there is a flood here… I say, “There is no flood here.”, No flood is there, but you are above that. We understand that as consciousness beings we are above our circumstances. The second step… as the Bhagavat Gita’s thoughts move forward… so once we understand we are the soul, the focus is understanding… actually there is nothing to do with the world… No, I am different from the body.
So, initially the first six chapters of the Bhagawat Gita, Krishna time and time again talks about detachment. “You don’t have to do anything with this world. Therefore, whatever is happening in the world, don’t be attached to it.” So, that way when we get that distance from the situation, then there is detachment.
From the seventh chapter of the Gita, Krishna shifts His focus. Krishna takes one step forward. Not just raises Arjuna consciousness… not just to Jiva, but one step above to Jagadish. So, Krishna says that not just… prior to that he talking about… “be detached, be equiposed…
sukha-duḥkhe same kṛtvā (2.38)
…32.36-32.39… (different verse)
“If you get good don’t get elated, if you get bad don’t get dejected. Just be equipoised, be detached.
In the seventh chapter, the first is :
mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha
yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ
yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu.”
“Arjuna, I will tell you now, how to practice the process of yoga by which… what will happen? You can make your mind attached to Me… mayy āsakta-manāḥ”
So, in earlier terms from the Jagadish, from the Jagat… Krishna is saying, “Be detached.”, but now He is saying, “Towards the Jagadish, become attached.”, and the whole thrust of the Bhagavat-Gita is not just to understand, “I am not the body, I the soul.”, the whole thrust of the Bhagavat Gita is to understand that “I am part of Krishna, and I am part of Krishna. Therefore, I should not be apart from Krishna. Because I a part of Krishna, so I should not be apart from Krishna. I should be connected with Krishna.” So, that connection is the …33.50… mayy āsakta-manāḥ.
Now, at one level you know, you may say that, “Actually, the circumstances out there… that… they don’t… you are not the body, you know you are not a part of the world.”, you say, “That’s ok, but I still have to live in this world, I still have to live with this body, and things here matter to me. So, how can I just become detached?”, but when we shift our focus to Krishna, when we become attached to Krishna, what happens by that?
You know normally, we think of things only in two terms. Either things are in control or things are out of control. Now, I am giving an exam and I know the answer to these questions …34.35…(inaudible), and I don’t know the answer to the question, then the things are out of control.
So, we normally think of things only in two terms. Like a patient, either I am feeling good or I am feeling bad, but when we understand Krishna, when we understand that He is Jagadish, He is the supreme Lord, then what happens? We understand that there is a third possibility. Things may not be under my control, but they are not out of control. Things may not be under my control, but they are not out of control because they are in Krishna’s control.
Just like, from my perspective the patient… sometimes I am feeling good, sometimes I am feeling bad, but even when I am feeling bad… now if the doctor is a competent doctor, I am being treated by the doctor, things are in control. Yes, there is a bad… because of the disease… there is a bad, there is pain over here, but still things are in control.
So, the conclusion of the Bhagavat Gita is,
“If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all obstacles by My grace. You become conscious of Me.”, Krishna says. Now what does it mean? This Krishna Consciousness… what does it do actually? The first time when I heard about Iskcon, more than 20 years ago… “International Society Of Krishna Consciousness.”, I said, “What is this? Now, Krisha is a religious figure, consciousness is a scientific idea. Now, what is Krishna Consciousness? Why do you need an international society for that?” (laughter) It just didn’t make any sense to me at that time, but Krishna consciousness, you know, it’s mac-cittah. Directly it says… become conscious… Krishna conscious. So idea is, what does Krisna Conscious do?
So I will… how does this shifting of our consciousness from the Jagat to the Jiva and to the Jagadish… I have problems out there, and I can see those problems negatively or I can see those problems positively. So just by chanting Hare Krishna or by practicing bhakti., what happens? We saw that Arjuna at the start of the Gita, he was filled with negativity, at the end of the Gita he was composed, he was filled with positivity, picked up his bow ready to fight. So, what exactly happened by which Arjuna’s whole mood, his disposition got changed?
Now Arjuna, he focussed his consciousness on Krishna, but how did that make a difference? So, you know, when there is a problem out there… So, we… sometimes we are in a situation where we… the problem is just beyond us to deal with, and somebody has got a terrible disease. “you have a disease, you can’t wish it away.” If the disease is, somebody has lost the job, they have lost the job, you can’t do anything about it.”
It’s so… sometimes bad things happen in life. Now, there are some people who put in their shops or in other places, the Gita Sar, so… “Jo hua wo accha hua, jo ho raha hain wo accha ho raha hain, jo hone wala hain wo bhi accha hi hoga. – everything that happens is good, everything that is happening is good, everything that will happen is good.” Well, I have read the Bhagavat Gita hundreds of times. I never found any verse which says this. (laughter) And…. You know, when Draupadi was disrobed, nobody told, “Jo hua wo accha hua.” (laughter)
No, no, in life bad things happen. It’s not that… the Bhagavat Gita doesn’t… Bhagavat Gita’s focus is not so much on what happens, the Bhagavat Gita is focussing on how we respond to what happens.
So, everything that happens is not good. Bad things happen in life, but everything that happens can be for good. Can be for good means that through bad things Krishna can bring out good things. When something has happened, when somebody has got terrible disease, somebody has lost a job, somebody has lost their loved ones, those are bad things. It’s not that you just say, “It’s all good.”… No, it’s a bad thing that has happened, but from the bad good will come, but then good is not going to come automatically. It will depend on our response. If we can choose a proper response, then even from the bad, Krishna can bring about the good. So, Krishna doesn’t control of us. Krishna doesn’t… we are not robots. That’s why we have to choose the right response.
And, towards the end of the Bhagavat Gita Krishna tells Arjuna, “vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa
yathecchasi tathā kuru” (B.G- 18.63)
“Deliberate deeply and then decide what you want to do.”
So, Krishna respects Arjuna’s intentions and Arjuna’s …40.05…(inaudible) “You think and you decide.”
So, if the response has to be proper… proper response has to come. Krishna will give us the intelligence. The Bhagavat Gita will help us to respond properly, but that response is up to us to choose.
So, I will talk about this in… how does becoming Krishna Conscious help us to choose the right response? It is said, suppose we are in a situation where the circumstance is really not changing. So, let’s say something bad has happened. Now, we may feel, “This has already happened, what can I do now?” “My life is over.” we may feel… such a terrible thing has happened. Bad thing has happened, but still there is something that you can do. The first thing that we can do is… we can choose what we think about. We always have the freedom to chose our object of thought.
That means say, simple example I will start from. Suppose, there was a cricket match and say India loses the cricket match, and sometimes people… may be day’s after that you know they are in a bad mood, “Why did he hit that shot? (laughter) If he had not hit the shot he wouldn’t have got out. Why did he bowl a full-toss? He hit for a six. The bowler, he could have bowled like that.”, so they are still mentally caught in that. The match is over now, but what is happening? The more we think about a problem, that the more we suffer.
So, now the problem is out there. “Yes Ok I have got a disease, I have got this, I have got that.”, but I don’t have to think about it. You say, “How can I not think about the problem, it is there.” Yes the problem is there, but we have the freedom to choose our objective. Now, it will depend on what is my attachment. If I am very attached to cricket, then I cannot not think about cricket. You know, if I become… it’s like, if India wins I will be delighted, “Yea, India won.”, and if India loses I am detached from Cricket (laughter). It doesn’t work like that you know.
If we are emotionally invested in something, then we may get pleasure when it works out well, but we will get misery when it works out bad. So, the whole process of bhakti is about changing our… changing where we are emotionally invested. When you become emotionally invested in Krishna, when we are chanting Hare Krishna, when we are practicing the process of bhakti, when we do our puja, when we do our bhajan and we do… hear katha, the whole purpose is to make our mind attached to Krishna… mayy āsakta-manāḥ.
When we become emotionally invested in Krishna. When we become habituated to thinking about Krishna, then even when the problem is out there our mind will not get caught in the problem. We can withdraw the mind from the problem, and think of something else, think about Krishna. That thinking about Krishna gives a relief, that gives calmness, it gives clarity.
So there is thinking about Krishna as a activity which we try to do, and there is thinking about Krishna as a mentality, as an attitude, as a habit that we cultivate. Suppose this floor is inclined in this particular way. Now as soon as water falls on this, the water will start flowing in that direction, where the floor is inclined like that. Now, if I tell, “No water should not flow like that.”, water is going to flow. If I don’t want it to flow in that direction… two things, first thing – I have to push the water in the opposite direction, push in the other direction, and over a period of time I can reconstruct the floor, so that it is inclined this way. If it is inclined this way, then the water will not flow in that way actually. Water will flow in this direction.
So, in the process of bhakti what are we doing our mind is inclined towards to world. Towards… we have particular attachments and our mind is inclined towards our attachments. That means, when we have… you know, if you want to know what are our attachments? Then easy way to know is, “what we think about when we have nothing to think about? When we don’t have any immediate job at hand, anything to do, where do our thoughts gravitate towards?” that is our object of attachment. So, most people… as I was talking earlier about anxiety… now psychologists have found that it is… when people have leisure time… it’s in that leisure time that people worry the most. Because when they have nothing to do, then they say, “What if this goes wrong, what if that goes wrong, what if this happens, what if that happens?”
So, when we are attached to something, our thoughts naturally flow in that direction, and at present we may not have so much attachment to Krishna. So, say Krishna is here, our worldly attachments… the objects that we are attached to is here, and the floor of our mind is inclined like this… So, because… if we leave our mind, it will automatically go towards the objects of our attachments, and that’s why we are practicing sadhana bhakti….
Sadhana bhakti is the process of voluntary force. It’s a process of voluntary force. Nobody else can force me to fix my mind on Krishna. Now, even if I am sitting with devotees, while chanting I can think of so many other thinks. I have to consciously recognize the importance of fixing the mind on Krishna, and then although the water is inclined to flow this way, I consciously push the water the other way… push the water… I want the water to go here… so like that our thoughts may naturally go towards worldly objects, but we consciously push our thoughts towards Krishna. When we push our thoughts toward consciously we connect with Krishna. As we connect with Krishna, gradually the mind starts experiencing, “Oh, yes actually thinking about Krishna… that’s nice, it helps me to be peaceful, it gives me some joy, it gives me some clarity, I want to do this…”, and as we start becoming more convinced about this, then we can push with more determination.
Krishna says that, “don’t expect that the mind will naturally go towards Him…
(Verse)- B.G – 6.26
yato yato niścalati
manaś cañcalam asthiram
tatas tato niyamyaitad
ātmany eva vaśaṁ nayet
He says, “Wherever and whenever the mind wanders…” you will be pushing the water like this… and we let the water go… is it going again, why is it going? … oh no…. no, it will go. Don’t be… don’t think that there is something undesirable, don’t think of that something else shocking…. The mind will go towards worldly objects, you just push it back. Wherever the mind wanders, push it back. So, if the inclination is towards worldly objects, we push it towards Krishna again and again and again. By this, gradually the architecture, the flooring of the mind changes. Over a period of time, the inclination itself will change. As we practice bhakti steadily, our mind will become attached to Krishna. Not just necessarily towards Krishna fully. We will find that to a particular manifestation of Krishna, it is easier to become attached. Now we may like kirtans very much, some of us may like deities. So, whenever we see a picture of a deity we feel so blissful. When we just hear some kirtan… aha! we feel rejuvenated, or we just hear some classes, we get absorbed in the philosophy…. Some of us may like pastimes, whatever it is, whichever manifestation of Krishna we can become attracted to, we make our mind inclined towards that.
So Mayi asakta manah… when that happens, then… then problems… so, this is something which is a regular practice which we need to do, but when we are doing this practice regularly… when problems come, we can draw the mind away from the problems, and we can fix it in Krishna, and when this happens then we will find that we will get relief.
Actually, many times problems seem to come with an in-built mental glue. That means that if a problem comes, it just holds on to the mind, it sticks to the mind. If I want to think about something else, we tell the mind, “why are you thinking about it, think about something else.”…. “I can’t…. just my thoughts just go over there.”
So, we have to… we have to put in some conscious effort, and as we get purified, as we get attached to Krishna, withdrawing our mind… our mind from the problems will become easier. Now…now the problem may still be there, but actually if we keep thinking about the problem, what happens? The more we think about the problem, it’s like in our inner world the problem seems to become bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, and we start feeling, “I am becoming smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller.” So, we start becoming overwhelmed… “Ah…I can’t do anything about this”, but the less we think of the problem, there is a changing of the sizes. We don’t become overwhelmed by the problem… “Ok, the problem is there. I have to deal with it.” That connection with Krishna calms us. It gives us relief. It gives us strength.
Just like outside say… it is very hot. Now I can’t change the heat that is there outside…. That is there. The weather is summer, it is hot, but if I come inside a room which is air-conditioned I feel relief, I feel relief. So, thinking about Krishna is like coming in an air-conditioned room. The heat is there out there, and I may have to go out there in the heat once again, but at least now I have some relief. So, thinking about Krishna, it gives us relief. So, this it first part of the right response. We can change our object of thought. What we think about is always in our control. That freedom no one can take away from us. No matter how big a problem comes in our life, that problem can’t control our thoughts unless we allow it to control it.
So, the process of bhakti actually increases our freedom of thought. Why? Because we become free to choose what I am going to think about. The problem is there, but I don’t think about it so much. Then I don’t feel so burdened by the problem. Then after we connect… we think about Krishna, we connect with Krishna, we calm ourselves down, then it is not that we wish away the problem. The problem is there and we need to deal with it.
The second stage is, our attitude towards the problem. How I… the first is, how I think about, second is – how I look at the problem. So, the problem is out there, but I see that problem as a… as a disaster, as adversity or I can see that problem as an opportunity to serve Krishna in some other way… “ok, this way also Krishna has some plan. This has happened. How can I serve you?” So, if I see that… Ok, my attitude is, “this is some new way in which I can serve Krishna, this is…”, I don’t… I see it positively, not negatively. Again, if our consciousness is too caught in Jagat- this world, then we become invested in the things of the world. “This is what I have to do, and if I can’t do this my life is ruined”, but if we understand that I am a part of Krishna, I am a servant of Krishna….
Now we have many horizontal designations in this world, and we have a vertical connection with Krishna. So, I may be a software engineer, I may a businessman, I may be a husband of someone, I may be a wife of someone, I may be a child of someone, I may be the parent of someone. Now all are relationships, all are occupations. Now we have identity in relationships. Now if that becomes our primary identity, then we will always have insecurity, but if you understand that this are all roles that I am playing, my primary identity is – “I am a part of Krishna, I am a servant of Krishna.” As a servant of Krishna, I am the mother of someone. As a servant of Krishna, I am the husband of someone, as a servant of Krishna I a professional …. So, if our primary identity comes from our connection with Krishna, then we understand that in this relationship, in this identity there will never be any 12.14-12.15(inaudible), there will never be any rupture, there will never be any reverse. No matter what happens Krishna is never going to reject us, Krishna is always in always there in our heart and Krishna’s love for us is based not on who we are, Krishna’s love for us is based on who He is.
Now He is the all loving supreme Lord. Now He loves us irrespective of who we are. So, His love for us is not based on who we are. We may be fallen, we may have done many wrong things but still Krishna loves us. Krishna is in the heart of every one of us… and now, Krishna’s love for us is not based on who we are, but our ability to perceive this love is based on who we are, just like the sun gives light to everyone but if my eyes are closed I can’t see the sun. So, Krishna loves all of us but if we are too attached to worldly objects, then what happens? those worldly objects become the filter through which we look at Krishna’s love. Now if this thing works out, “Krishna is so good! Krishna is so kind!”, and if this doesn’t work out, “Does He even exist?” So, what is happening? we are seeing Krishna’s love filtered through our particular objects. Just like suppose, you have a child, and the child goes to the shop and sees a toy, and says, “Mummy, I want to have this toy.”, Mummy says, “No, not now.”…. “No, I want this toy.”…. “No, not now.”….. “ah, I want this toy.”…. “No.”…. “ah… you don’t love me.” (laughter) So what has happened, the parents, they may have done so much for the child, but the child reduces the love of the parents down to whether they are giving me this toy or not. So, the child sees the love of the parents through the filter of that toy, and….
Now we may say, “the things which I am concerned about, they are not like toys, they are very important for me. My job, my health, my relationship…” Yes, they are important, no doubt, but still if we consider from the perspective of eternity… or even what to speak of eternity? even from this lifetime’s perspective you consider… the things that we are considering as earth-shaking… has you know… life-shaping… You know, if you look at something 10 years ago. You know 10 years ago you might have had some problem… “Now, if this doesn’t work out, then my whole life will be ruined, but now if you look at it and think about it… “how worried we were then, what was the need to be so excited, so agitated about it?” You know, in life problems come and problems go. So, from a long term perspective, the problem that seems to be very big right now, we will find it as not all that big… it is not all that big.
So, Krishna always loves us. The point I was making is that, if we identify ourselves with our connection with Krishna, that I am a servant of Krishna and all we have is secondary roles… we have identity …15.57-15.59… with secondary roles. “I am a professional, I am a businessman, I am a husband, I am a wife, whatever, but if we identify with that primarily, sometimes the problem may seem just overwhelming. You know, if I am a parent and my child is turning out to be… you know the chid is developing some bad habits such as- the child is going in the wrong direction… I feel that my whole life is a failure, but no… Yes, we want to take care of our children, we want to help them, we make right choices, but ultimately, we understand that this isn’t service, and in life some services will work our right, and some services may not work out so right. It happens with everyone. And Srila Prabhupada himself… who can be greater devotee than him? Srila Prabhupada tried so many services for Krishna. Now he tried to… he tried to start a business so that he could fund his spiritual masters mission. He worked very hard, but the whole business just collapsed. He tried to start a magazine and nobody was… people were not interested in taking the magazine and one day… just like on a hot afternoon Prabhupada was walking on the streets of Delhi… the hot afternoon… when a cow just knocked into him, knocked him down on the ground, and the magazines scattered away. So, Prabhpada… what was the attitude? He tried so many things for Krishna, and sometimes some services just didn’t work out. So, the example that the Bhagavatam gives is, “just as the Ganga keeps flowing towards the ocean, we keep….” It says that the devotee’s consciousness keep flowing towards Krishna. Now when sometimes the Ganga is flowing towards the ocean, there might be a big stone which blocks it. So then, what does Ganga do? It tries to go below, go round, go above, or it just erodes the rock and it will go. It will find some way to move on. So, like that… you know, if we identify ourselves with a particular role that we are playing, we identify ourselves with a particular activity that we are doing, and a problem comes in that… if we are attached too much with that, we think that this is the end of my life. Everything that I have done is a failure, but if we understand that this is a service to Krishna, and if this service doesn’t come, some other service will work out. If Ganga cannot move towards the ocean, that means there is some other way to move towards the ocean.
So actually, by having this attachment to Krishna… or by attachment to Krishna what do I mean… I don’t mean it is something abstract… “you know, oh! When I come to the temple, you know… I look at the deity then I feel so good, you know I feel such tear come from my eyes. You know, when I hear kirtan I feel like my hair is standing on end” Well, if all that happens, then it is very good, but attachment to Krishna in a practical sense means, “what am I identifying myself as?”
Now, if I am attached to someone… you know, I identify myself in relationship with that person… “you know, I am the husband of so an so, I am the wife of so and so, I am the mother of so and so”, If you are attached to Krishna, the test of our attachment is not in the emotion when we come to Krishna, the test of our attachment is, “What is our primary identity?”, If we see ourselves as parts of Krishna, that I am a servant of Krishna, then that will help us to see every situation as, “Ok, this service is not working out, I will find out some other service that I can do…. Ok whatever happened… this service is not working out” If I identify with that role, if I identify with that service I will be frustrated.
Prabhupada writes in one of his purports that, “a devotee may be perplexed, but a devotee is not discouraged.” Now, perplexed means that we don’t know what to do. Discouraged means, we don’t feel like doing it. They two are different things. So yes, even serious devotees… they are seriously determined to serve Krishna, but it may happen …20.10-20.11…(inaudible) with a purpose, so what should I do in that situation. “Now, I was trying to do this, this is how I was going to serve, this is what I was planning to do, but now this big, unexpected problem has come, what do I do now? So that perplexity can come in life, but a devotee never loses the spirit to serve Krishna. To be discouraged means to feel, “I don’t want to serve anymore.”, so our attitude changes.
The first is, our object of thought will change by being Krishna consciousness. The second is, our attitude, our… the way we look at the situation, we don’t see that as a… as a life devastating situation. We see that as a obstacle in one form of service, and then we find out, “OK, how can I respond, how can I serve in this situation?”
Third is… so our thought, our attitude, and third is our action. Now we can choose how we act in the situation.
Broadly speaking, when we face a major problem in our life, we can have three responses. We can change ourselves and tolerate the situation, we can change the other person, we can change the situation, or we can walk away from the situation. Now all three can be wise choices in different situations. We see the Pandavas in their life exhibit all these different choices at different times. Initially, when the Kauravas, when Duryodhana tries to poison Bhima, when the Kauravas tried to burn the Pandavas in the …Varnavrata??(21.52) Palace of lack. So, at that time Yudhisthir said you know, “don’t make a big issue. This is a inhouse conflict, keep it inside, don’t… let’s not make a noise about it”, Just changes himself to tolerate… assassination at depth, but he keeps it inside, “just tolerate it”, but thereafter, you know when Draupadi is dishonoured then the line is crossed. Not only Draupadi is dishonoured, even the Pandavas go through exile, and there is not even slightest remorse on Duryodhana’s part. Duryodhana was arrogance personified, then Pandava’s decide that, “no, this cannot be endured. “
They fight…. They fight to re-establish the rule of dharma. First what they are doing, they are just changing themselves, in the second, they are changing the situation. Eventually when Krishna departs from the world as soon as they get the news, they just walk away. “Enough! we have done the service to Krishna, now we are going to renounce the world”, they just walk away.
Now all three can be responses which we may do in a mood of service, and in different situations we all may decide, “Ok this is what I will do.” So, which is the best response for us? That will depend on our time, place and circumstances. Sometimes in some problems, “Ok it’s a minor issue. This person is acting like that, but that is just their nature. I just have to leave with this.”
Some people may be a little immature, some people may be little emotional, some people may be little irresponsible… they keep forgetting things. That is how they are, and we just learn to live with them. So, we accept the situation. We learn to tolerate. Sometimes, if some people are just behaving in such unreasonable ways, they are hurting others… We say, “No, this has to be changed. We will work to change the situation. We will take action against them.” Sometimes they may decide against that. “I have this problem, this is so messy… you know, I have better things to do in my life, I don’t want to get involved.” You just walk away. Now walking away is different from running away. Now when we run away from the problem, our mind is still in the problem. Now we are still thinking about the problem and we think, “the problem so big, I can’t manage it, so I want to be anywhere accept this problem.”
While we are running away, our focus is on what we are running away from, not what we are running towards. Walking away means, I understand I have more important things to do in my life, I will not get involved in this. So, when we see that, “Actually I have options. This problem is there but ultimately, I am a servant of Krishna, and as a servant of Krishna whichever situation we are put, I can find some way to keep serving Him. This may go wrong, that may go wrong, but I will keep serving Him.”
So, when we have this attitude, then n
No matter what problem comes, we will just find some way… “ok I can do this, I can do this, I can move forwards.” So, this is what empowers a devotee, that this understanding that the principle of serving Krishna is fixed, but the practice of serving Krishna can vary. So, by that always… no matter what problem comes in our life, we can always move onwards.
I will conclude with two metaphors: –
So, suppose we are going on our road, and suddenly the power goes off. It’s dark, we don’t know what to do. Now say we are in this room and suddenly the power has gone off, it is night say, it’s complete dark, we may groan, we may rant, we may curse for few moments, but then what will do after that? We take out our mobile and we turn on our flashlight. Now the flashlight does not replace the street light. The flashlight can only show us… “ok, I can see this is here, this person is sitting here.” I can take one step forwards, one step forwards, one step forwards.
So now, if I just keep taking one step, one step, one step forwards, we find that over a period of time we can cover a significant distance, and after some time the lights will come back. So similarly, in our life sometimes the lights just go off. That means that we have made a particular plan for our life, and this is the path we are going to follow, and suddenly something happens…. “You know, what is happening? Now, why is this person behaving like this, why is this going wrong?” In our whole path… everything seems to be filled with darkness. Just don’t know what to do. So, at that time, if you just keep crying for the light… “Now when is that light going to come? why is the light not coming?”, you will get frustrated.
But then we can turn on our torchlight. Torchlight is simply the question, “how can I serve you Krishna?”
There are two questions that we can ask when problems come in our life. One is, “Why did this happen?” Now the why question in many situations has no answers. “Why did this happen? Why did this person do like this? Why did this have to happen?” The why question is simply like increasing the darkness. Just feel frustrated, be disempowered, but if we just change…. “Ok, Krishna this has happened, how can I serve you?”
When Srila Prabhupada was asked, “What is the best prayer that you have for Krishna?”
Prabhupada said, “Pray to Krishna, how can I serve you? Please give me the strength to serve you.”, so that question, “How can I serve you Krishna?” that becomes like a flashlight, … “No, I can do this… I can do this, maybe I can go and talk to this devotee, maybe I can try this out”
Now that service attitude becomes like a torchlight, we take one step forward, one step forward, one step forward, and once we see that one step forward… we just keep taking that one step forward. We may think, “Oh, there is all so much darkness.” No, there is light here. So, if we think, “how can I serve Krishna now?”… Now the problems of today can be managed today, but it is only when we add problems of yesterday and tomorrow to today, then it becomes unbearable. “Now why did that happen, what if this happens, what if this that happens??!!!” So, then life becomes unbearable. So, if I think, “right now in this situation how can I serve Krishna?”, take one step forward. Keep taking one step forward, one step forward, and gradually you will find that the light has come back, the lights have come back, things are becoming… have come back to normal… actually they don’t come back to normal, because through it we have gained a deeper realization… a deeper realization… What is that realization? We understand that even through the darkest of situations… the desire to serve Krishna can be the light that helps you to …29.24… (inaudible) …. And that conviction is like a… is the greatest gain for us.
Now philosophically, we understand that, “Now, if problems come in our life it is just because of our past karma”, but Krishna is not up there, you know… He is causing the suffering to us. Krishna is not the cause of all our suffering, He is the cure for our suffering.
The second metaphor is, suppose there is a child who has not done the homework, and there is… the mother knows, my child has not done the homework. The mother knows, the teacher is also very strict. So, the teacher is going to beat the child…. Thk… thk… with a stick, and the mother doesn’t want the child to be beaten, but at the same time the mother also wants to child to be responsible. So, what the mother does is, when the child goes to school…. the mother puts a nice, thick glove on the hand of the child, and the glove is there… and the child goes to school and…. “have you done your homework”
“come here, show your hand”
Thk… thk… thk… the stick hits, loud noise comes… the stick hits, but the stick doesn’t hurt, why? Because the glove is covering. Similarly, you know we are like the child. Material nature is like the school teacher. Now by the law of karma, we are meant to get some sufferings, but Krishna is like the mother, and the remembrance of Krishna… Krishna consciousness is like the glove. So, when we put on the glove… now we will see that, “yes the problems will come, and if we compare ourselves… 10 years ago when I was not practicing bhakti, I would have crumbled under this problem, but now I am able to deal with it…. The blows of life will hit, but they will not hurt us so much, because we have the glove of remembrance of Krishna.
Remembrance of Krishna does not remove our problem, but it releases us from the suffering because of the problems. The problems are there. We have to deal with them, but then we don’t suffer them so much. That’s what the magic of absorption in Krishna is, but the child thinks, “Why do have to wear this glove?” The child takes the glove and throws it away, and then thk…. Ah…. Thk…thk… the child gets hit…
So, like that we think, “What is the need for remembering Krishna? What is this chanting Hare Krishna? What does it do? Just forget it.”, and then when you forget it, then we get it. (laughter), then we suffer. But if you are remembering Krishna, we will find that, actually we will be able to not only tolerate the sufferings but we find that actually our capacity to face problems has increased. So, we can see the problem as an opportunity to discover how tough Krishna can make us. That the potency of Krishna consciousness is so much that it can toughen me internally and that conviction on the potency of Krishna consciousness is actually our greatest gain. In life, many different problems will come, but if we have the conviction of absorption in Krishna, that conviction is a far, far greater gain than simply a problem-free life. Even in a problem free life, there is going to be old age, there will be death, there will be problems. Again, there is going to be another birth, then again problems are going to be there, but if we can become absorbed in Krishna then what is going to happen? Then that absorption in Krishna means, at the end of our life we will think of Krishna and we will attain His abode, which is ultimately free from all problems. That is, we go out of the hospital, we be discharged. Because we have become healthy and because we have now attained love for Krishna. When we attain Krishna’s abode, then we are completely free from misery.
I spoke today about positive thinking and bhakti. I talked about how initially scientists thought that we are simply programmed robots… the stimulus and response. That was the main stream scientistic attitude, not scientific attitude… scientistic attitude, but both through Placebo effect and Psychosomatically it was found that how people think shapes either their sickness or their health.
From the bhakti perspective, I talked about how Arjuna …. He endured?? ( 34.06 ) suffering… that a person who was a embodiment of masculinity… in public view was trained never to show pain, he was publicly…34.17… and what did Krishna tell Arjuna… “Oh, this world is dukhalaya, keep crying now.” No, Krishna gave a message to him which made him composed. The Bhagavata Gita’s message changed his vision from negativity to positivity, from distress to composure.
How did it do that? So, talked ….34.38… about, Bhagavata Gita raises our consciousness from Jagat to Jiva to Jagdish. Then when our consciousness is caught in the world, when we identify with the objects of this world, then we sentence ourselves to anxiety.
Fear is simply a natural human response to danger, but fearfulness is an unnatural obsession with negative possibilities. Anxiety…. Worry is the interest we pay on loans that we haven’t yet taken.
So, anything can go wrong, but we don’t have to go paranoid over the possibilities. With our intelligence, we think about what is our probability. The first step that Krishna does is, takes Arjuna’s consciousness from Jagat to Jiva. “you are a soul, you are indestructible.”, so this will not disturb. Just like there is a flood in Mumbai, but if we are in a helicopter above, we are concerned but we are not disturbed. Like that once we understand our spiritual… we become detached… distance from the material and we can become calmer. Then the Bhagavat Gita, from the seventh chapter moves not from detachment from matter, it moves to attachment to Krishna. So, invest the consciousness in Jagadish. When you become attached to Krishna, we see beyond that, “Oh, things are in control or they are out of control.”, we see that things are still in Krishna’s control. In this world, there are miseries. Miseries are fact of life, but it is not the purpose of life. Just like in a hospital there is distress, but the hospital’s purpose is to heal the person of the distress.
Similarly, Krishna gives the purpose of dharma culminating in bhakti, which can help us rise above misery. So, when we become absorbed in Jagadish… So, the Bhagavat Gita’s message is not that everything that happens is good. Bad things will happen, but everything that happens can be for good, and how will it be for good? When we chose the right response. And using the right response, I talked about three things – our object of thought… First, we always have the freedom… no matter how big the problem is, the problem comes with a mental glue and we just stick to it, and then we start feeling, “this problem is so big and I am so small”, and thus we start feeling powerless, but if we can draw our consciousness away from the object and fix it on Krishna, that itself brings relief. So, the floor is inclined in a particular way, on will naturally flow 37.06 in that direction. If you want to get the water to go in that direction we push from the other direction we have to push, push, push, and gradually you can change the inclination of the floor itself. So, like that presently our mind will go towards worldly objects, but we push it towards Krishna.
Sadhana bhakti is voluntary force, and by this as our mind becomes attached to Krishna… to whichever manifestation of Krishna our mind becomes attached to, that will enable us to take shelter of Him, move our thoughts towards Him. So that fixing the mind on Krishna will bring us calmness and clarity, will give us relief, just as outside it’s hot but you come in air-condition room I feel relief 37.45. So thinking about Krishna is like coming in air-conditioned room. Then after that we become calm and clear and then we decide how to look at the problem.
So how do we look at the problem? If we are identifying with any of the roles that we are playing, like you know, “I am a professional, I am a husband, I am a wife”, and if there is a problem, then we may feel like it’s end of life, but if we see all these as services, and we identify ourselves as servants of Krishna… Attachment to Krishna is not so much about how much emotions we can feel in Krishna’s presence, it’s more about how we identify ourselves. If our primary identity is, “I am the servant of Krishna”, then everything that I am doing is important, that is a service to Krishna. So, if one service… …38.33…then I will find another service, keep serving … just like Srila Prabhupada, his business didn’t work out, he tried to start a magazine. The magazine didn’t work out, he tried to start out on an organization, and that didn’t… he tried out various things… and Ganga keeps moving towards the ocean. So, like that, we see the problem not as a death knell… not as a something as end of life. We see that just as a course changer, you just need to find some other way to move on.
So, Krishna’s love for us doesn’t depend on who we are. It depends on who He is, He always loves us. Our perception of His love depends on who we are, on what we are attached to. So, like a child who sees the parents love through the filter of a toy which the child wants, like that we see Krishna’s love through the object of our attachments. If Krishna gives this, then He loves me, otherwise He doesn’t exist also, but instead of that if we expand our vision of Krishna’s love, “Ok, this object is important, but 10 years ago I thought that something else was important, and life goes on, let me also move on. So, if we see the problem simply as a… not as a life stopper or life-threatener, we see it as a course-changer. Then we can move on, and then we change our attitude towards the problem.
And then, What about our action? We have three actions, broadly… categories. We can either change ourselves to tolerate the situation, we can change the situation back acting assertively or we can walk away from the situation. The Pandava’s did all three at different faces of life. The important thing is that, whichever actions we chose, we do it with an attitude of service.
So Prabhupada said, “The best prayer we can offer to Krishna is, “how can I serve you?””, and when life… and when suddenly life just gives us a …40.20… and suddenly our road becomes dark. At that time, instead of just cursing or moaning, we can turn on the torchlight. The torchlight is, “how can I serve you now, Krishna.”
The problems of today are always manageable today, it’s only when we pile on top … the problems of yesterday and tomorrow, it becomes unbearable, but that service attitude keeps us in today, “That how can I serve you now? We may become perplexed, but we will not become discouraged, “yes, let me do this… If it works out good, otherwise I will try out something else… “Not… You take steps forward, forward, forward, and gradually, you find the lights will come back, and not only will the lights will come back, but actually we will become stronger. So, for that I give the example of the mother who protects the child by giving a glove so that the stick of the teacher hits but doesn’t hurt. So, Krishna is like the mother, material nature is the teacher, and the blows that we get in life, they are like the karmic reactions. Remembrance of Krishna shields us. So, by remembering Krishna we will discover how tough Krishna bhakti can make us, and that realization is life’s greatest gain, far greater than simply a problem free life, because that conviction about the potency of absorption in Krishna will enable us to always remember Him and thus we will ultimately attain Him.
So, I will conclude will one thought “Whatever Karma may get us to, Krishna will get us through.”
Thank you very much… Hare Krishna
(Transcription by Sadananda Krishnaprema Prabhu)