Krishna is close to us, but we are far away from him
[Sunday feast class at ISKCON, Brisbane, Australia]
Transcribed by : Muralidhar Prabhu
Krishna Is Close To Us, But We Are Far Away From Him BG15.15
Three Parts: Understanding God and His Nature In This World; How We Have Presently Turned Away From God; How We Can Feel His Presence
Purpose of Purpose:
When we observe the world around us we are caught in the immediate needs; food, shelter, money, etc; and hence normally do not think about God because we are busy of how to meet our desires; however all of us have a need to make sense of things just like we have a need for air, water, food, etc; we have a need for meaning in life; MEANING AND PURPOSE; all of us face problems in life; what makes problems especially unlikeable is if they are meaningless problems; if I am walking along the road and a thorn pricks me, I will be annoyed; but if I go to a doctor and the doctor gives me an injection, I will not be annoyed; in essence in terms of the experience is the same in both; but whereas for the injection I will pay to get the painful experience; for us we just do not look for the content of the experience but also the context of the experience; context means how do we make sense of that experience; if we are told to carry a 10 kg weight we will resent but we will go to a gymn and carry weights; the muscles will pain in both the cases is there but in one there is a purpose; I desire that experience for a higher purpose; the pain becomes meaningful; the nature of this world is we cannot avoid pain; but what makes the pain unbearable is when it is meaningless and purposeless; we can take up even great pains if it is meaningful; when a woman becomes pregnant there is a lot of pain at the time of delivery but it is meaningful; we need a context in which we can make sense of that experience; if the context is lacking then even small difficulties become unbearable; we will willingly accept big difficulties if the context is meaningful; normally when a person pushes us on the road we will get upset; but a person who is going to serve the defence they will sacrificce their life if it is for the country; Without a Broader Context in which we can make sense of what is happening in our life we become prey to anything and everything; we cannot tolerate even small pains and life becomes unbearably miserable; all of us human beings have a NEED FOR A PURPOSE AND MEANING; although this need is not talked about in our culture, it is a vital need; Medical researchers have found out that people who have a strong sense of purpose in their life such people recover fast from sickness- sickness is not just a physical phenomenon but also a psychological aspect to it; our immune system is activated by a strong sense of purpose then people recover faster;
Purpose/meaning of life – reflection on death; we are born, live, grow and then we die; we look at life and fast forward our life – to the end of life, then there is only conclusion to life – life has only destination and that is the graveyard; whatever we do before that it is all over; in Italy there is a saying-at the end of the chess match the King and the Pawn go back to the same box; similarly, we struggle, achieve and then die; we deeply require a meaning to life; we may create certain meaning; why there are mental problems more today inspite of a comfortable physical environment; the traditional structures that gave meaning and purpose to people’s lives those are collapsing; the family, society, religion are different structures which gave meaning and purpose to people’s life; hence even small problems become big; the mind is often having strong impulses within it; the mind can magnify problems; small conflicts can become big; if someone pushes us we may tolerate it if we are going on an important work and do not want to get delayed; a sense of purpose helps us to keep small things small; many mental problems are because we do not have an overall purpose to see our experiences in life; many of our purposes are based on temporary & transient desires – I want to have a relationship, i want to have a job and if these do not materialise then my whole structure of my life collapses; if the purpose of life is to earn money and if the stock market crashes then our whole life crashes; the purpose we create is shattered by life; hence we need a PURPOSE for life that is BIGGER than the problem; post retirement life of sports star- peaks at an early age- beginning life fresh; a transcendental purpose will be given by spirituality; that purpose is the purpose of SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION; the BG says that we are a part and parcel of the Supreme Lord Krishna, and we are in a multi life journey towards love for Krishna; this evolution is evolution in consciousness- evolution in wisdom and evolution in love; our consciousness is directed by two things – what we intellectually understand what we emotionally love; as our consciousness evolves, which means that our wisdom increases and our capacity to love increases; BG explains that whatever we do in life is meant to contribute towards the development of that Love; hence without God as the ultimate purpose of life, life will have no transcendental meaning; it has no deeper meaning; when therefore God is neglected from the world view of people, then people try to create some meaning for themselves but that meaning does not last; then they do not know what to live for; BG says bahunam – janavan prapadyante….takes many life times of spiritual evolution; at the same time every single moment in every single life can be a step towards Krishna; the BG gives a vision of God who is all attractive;
Ocean & Drop:
Someone may say why should God be the purpose of my life; i can have a different purpose; I want to be a musician, engineer, etc; the BG explains that whatever is attractive in this world, it manifest a spark of Krishna’s splendour; whatever we set as our purpose, there is something attractive for us to set it as our purpose; that attractiveness comes from Krishna; the thrill in sports, the beauty of nature, etc. all that comes from a spark of His splendour; there is pleasure in those purposes but the pleasure is like a drop; the pleasure of loving Krishna and experiencing Krishna is like an ocean.
Connect all purpose to Ultimate Purpose:
If Krishna becomes the purpose of our life it does not mean that we reject all other purposes; rather we integrate the other purposes in the pursuit of Krishna. Whatever pleasure we get by the pursuit of those other purposes, we will get all that and more by becoming devoted to Krishna; if one wants to become an engineer, doctor, etc they are valid purposes but not the ULTIMATE purpose of life; God is our ultimate purpose of our life; God is not a destination in the future; He is present in our heart right now because he wants to guide us in our journey and he wants us to love Him; when we understand that Krishna is a realisation that has to be got; if one is going by a flight to go to Melbourne to see a person and then you reach the destination and knock on the door and the person who opens the door is the person who was sitting next to you in the flight; but you have not seen before and hence could not recognise him; Krishna is not just a destination during our journey but He is also our companion during the journey; because our consciousness is caught in external things we do not perceive Krishna’s presence in our heart; Krishna is close to us but we are far from Him.
Dovetail & Balance – the key:
Some of the goals we set in life we achieve and some we do not achieve; either way satisfaction evades us; all our satisfaction in life is short lived; there is a rat race that is going on in life; even if you win a rat race you still remain a rat; it means nothing changes even if we win the rat race; no matter whatever we achieve we will not happy; there is nothing wrong in achieving because growth is a natural phenomenon; for growth to be healthy it has to be proportional; when cancer occurs in the body cancer is also growth – it is disproportional and destructive growth; similarly, it is not wrong to be attracted to the things of this world but it is important to understand the broader context in which those achievements operate; the experiences of achievements can be experienced in our journey to Krishna or we can experience these achievements and go away from Krishna; if someone loves music they need not give up the music; they have to integrate it with the ultimate purpose of developing love for Krishna; there are objects in this world that can attract us towards Krishna – pro devotional objects; there are objects that are not connected with Krishna and we can call them non-devotional objects and there are objects that take us away from Krishna and they are anti-devotional; for example music which can be made pro devotional; if we see all the objects in relation to Krishna then we go towards Him; all the objects come from Krishna but not all objects take us towards Krishna; multiple choice questions all come from the teacher but only the correct answer will take you towards the teacher; thus developing love for Krishna is not to reject the world but to connect the world with Krishna; how to use everything in Krishna’s service is the attitude we should develop to realise that Krishna is close to us; otherwise we will think that Krishna is far away in the spiritual world and I have to take care of my immediate needs; must not think that God is happy there and I am happy here; this is a disconnected view of God; a disintegrated view of God is defined by SB; defines maya as to think anything that is disconnected from Krishna is meaningful, attractive or will give happiness; if we see that everything is connected to Krishna and I have to find ways and means to connect to Krishna then life will become meaningful.
Aspects to Connect:
In our life we have certain interests in certain objects, activities and relationships; in all of these we may face problems.
In whatever activity we do because of a talent we have in that activity ( eg music, management, etc), if we do that activity in the mood of a service to Krishna then we get a bigger purpose for it; BG18.46 – one who understands that everything comes from Me, they can worship Me thru their work; it is wrong to interpret this as work is worship; Krishna is saying work can be done as a worship; we can worship the Lord thru our work; how to do that? thru a mood of devotion; my talents comes from Krishna and let me use these talents in the service of Krishna; this is a dynamic understanding of Bhakti; a static understanding of bhakti means going to a temple and doing some worship or japa, etc; a dynamic understanding of bhakti means it is actually a relationship with Krishna; that relationship can be developed thru every activity in my life; when I am doing my job that is also a way of serving Krishna; what we are is Krishna’s gift to us and what we become is our gift to Krishna; when Arjnua was practising archery he became a foremost archer and eventually that skill was used in Krishna’s service; similarly whatever we do we do it wholeheartedly in a mood of service to Krishna; when we do that we get a bigger purpose; if say my goal is to become a famous writer then it may be i become and I may not become; if i do my worldly activities only with a worldly goal then if do not get success i will become frustrated and even if i get success the pleasure will not be for long; but if i see my writing ability as a gift given by Krishna and use that ability in Krishna’s service, which means let me do my work in a mood of service to Krishna, then we will do it well because we are doing it for Krishna but we won’t become so dependent on the external success; because one will be experiencing internal success- there is internal growth. The world judges us by the results and if the results do not come the world will not care for you; the self-worth is determined by the net worth in today’s world; but if we have the vision that thru this work i am serving Krishna then we will see that irrespective of the result we will be going towards Krishna; Krishna judges us by our efforts to please Him; by this the ultimate purpose of my life will be fulfilled due to my diligence;
Similarly, we have various relationships in this world; in our relationships sometimes we feel close and sometimes we feel them unbearable; some people bring happiness wherever they go and some bring happiness whenever they go; if we see a relationship just not with that person but with Krishna thru this person; we have a horizontal relationship and a vertical relationship; every relationship we can approach in a mood of service; if we see irrespective of how that person acts in that relationship, but we see as how I can serve Krishna in that situation then we can grow thru that situation irrespective of how the other person acts; an attendant in a cloth shop – the boss is watching on a close circuit tv- some customers are very demanding – the attendant is still courteous – knows the salary comes from my boss – sale may not happen but still the boss will be happy and promote him; similarly, when we have a spiritual vision, it is just not we and the other person, it is we, the other person and Krishna; therefore when we have this higher vision then every relationship becomes a way to grow spiritually; irrespective of how the other person is acting we act in the mood of service to Krishna; that brings stability to the relationship irrespective of the moods prevalent at a particular time; also we will not get disturbed by the other person’s moods; in Ramayan – when Bharat & Shatragun come back – they are furious – Mandira- Shatragun catches and shakes her – screams to Kaikeyi for help – Bharat tells that what you are doing to Mandira so many times I have felt like doing it with Kaikei but if we do such a thing Ram will be displeased and if Ram is displeased what is the point of our life; thus there is a natural human emotion of anger but they restrain themselves for the sake of Ram; similarly, when we see the higher picture and see how we can please Krishna in this situation, how can i act in this interaction in a way that will please Krishna, if we have that attitude that will bring so much stability in our contribution in a relationship;
All this is possible only when we adequately connect with Krishna directly; when we chant, hear the philosophy and associate with devotees that will help us to have the attitude of service to Krishna, and then we can carry it in our entire life. Krishna is not far from us; he is just a thought away from us; if we think about Krishna, chant about Krishna, pray to Krishna, thru it all, we invest our thought in Krishna then we can experience Krishna at this very moment; the thought of Krishna is cultivated and nourished by the association of devotees; SP started the KC movement for providing us with a rich supply of thoughts about Krishna; it is a KC movement; the more we develop the habit of thinking about Krishna then we will feel Krishna’s presence whether we are at the temple or anywhere else.
1) All of us need meaning and purpose; thorn prick and injection; carrying a luggage and lifting a weight; content and context of the experience; context is determined by our Philosophy/Spirituality; souls meant to evolve towards Krishna.
2) All attractiveness of the world comes from Krishna; pursue everything in the context of our relationship with Krishna instead of pursuing them alone; Krishna is an ocean and everything else are like drops in an ocean; the relationship is one of mood of service to Krishna;
3) Work & Relationships in relation with Krishna;
4) Practice direct devotional activities to develop this attitude of service to Krishna.
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