THE POWER OF PRABHUPADA’S ASSOCIATION
The quieter we become, the more we can hear. Isn’t this the perfect time in the world to meditate on this wonderful phrase? Though we are in an external lockdown of the world can we unleash our internal self to the opening of the wairua?
Hear the unheard, the sound of blossoming roses, the sound of the sun silently kissing the moon across the distant stars, the sound of raindrops dancing under the spell of the rainbow, the sound of the earth caressing the skies with the sweet magic of a monsoon, the sound of love beating in every element of life, from tolerant trees and humble blades of grass, to delicate feathers of faith and devotion growing in the hands of the poor and despair, making them fly on the wings of the greatest gold. Those leaves that fall dead on the tough grounds, sprout from their ashes an eternal fire of separation than burns beautifully like a ray of hope, forever singing and shining in the sounds of Her beloved.
The several stories that come to life with the power of sound, what a wonderful story to read if we just sit silently and try to hear with our Heart. Is it like a soothing whale song, underneath the currents of the deep blue waves, when soul mates meet they speak a language spoken less often. Yet, for those who can read their eyes, in emotions tied so deep, the oceans collide and leave the shores of their mind filled with faith, hope and joy. Through the symphony of the heart, spiritual creatures hear a tale of wonder and magic only understood by the power of love. Sometimes as a child I would wish I was a whale, they are renounced from the world and they only trench in deep waters. In the Bhagavatam there is a description of a transcendental dolphin which is known to be another form of the Lord. Like a constellation of stars lights up the world in the darkness, the entire body of the śiśumāra faces toward its right and appears like a coil of stars, which when studied by observators seems to be a true phenomenon, just like the Aurora. Like a dolphin swimming in a galaxy of stars, it is a sight for gazers. Many worship these stars and somehow or another yogis meditate on this form to open the chakras of their mind. Who knew that this magic underneath the ocean was shining above us in the night sky? All we need to calm our minds and master the mystery, is seek an unseen dolphin high above us under the moonlight. These puzzles of surprise resting all around us, like a parts and parcels of a greater soul, tell us of a tale untold but for those who wish to explore, they will find diamonds. In the currents of time and waves of patience, if you give yourself some faith, what is invisible to the heart becomes visible with the power of love. I think this is exactly why wise men say Love is blind because to find it you have to stop what you want to see externally, and meet what the eyes find deeper inside. Hearing the unheard, seeing the unseen is an art, a science, a pursuit and for those who can hear with the heart, it is a blessing.
In the Dhammapada it says, “The Bhikshu who behaves with kindness, who is happy in the doctrine of Buddha, will reach the quiet place (Nirvana), happiness arising from the cessation of natural inclinations. O Bhikshu, empty this boat! If emptied, it will go quickly: having cut off passion and hatred, thou wilt go to Nirvana. Cut off the five fetters, leave the five, rise above the five. A bhikshu, who has escaped from the five letter, he is called Oghatinna, ‘saved from the flood’. Meditate, O Bhikshu, and be not heedless! Do not direct thy thought to what gives pleasure that thou mayest not for thy heedlessness have to swallow the iron ball in hell, and that thou mayest not cry out when burning, ‘This is pain.’ Without knowledge there is no meditation, without meditation there is no knowledge, he who has knowledge and meditation is near unto Nirvana. A Bhikshu who has entered his empty house, and whose mind is tranquil, feels more than human delight when he sees the law clearly. As soon as he has considered the origin and destruction of elements of the body, he finds happiness and joy which belong to those who know the immortal (Nirvana). And this is the beginning here for a wise Bhikshu: watchfulness over the senses, contendness, restraint under the law, keep noble friends whose life is pure, and who are not slothful. Let him live in charity, let him be perfect in his duties, then in the fullness of delight he will make an end of suffering. As the Vassika plant sheds its withered flowers, men should shed passion and hatred, O ye Bhikshus! The Bhikshu whose body and tongue and mind are quieted, who is collected, and has rejected the baits of the world, he is called quiet. Rouse thyself by thyself, examine thyself by thyself, thus self-protected and attentive wilt thou live happily, O Bhikshu! For self is the lord of self, self is the refuge of self, therefore curb thyself as the merchant curbs a noble horse. The Bhikshu, full of delight, who is happy in the doctrine of Buddha will reach the quiet place (Nirvana), happiness consisting in the cessation of natural inclinations. He who, even as a young Bhikshu, applies himself to the doctrine of the Buddha, brightens up this world, like the moon when free from clouds.”The Way of the Buddha – The Illustrated Dhammapada
Everywhere you go from social media to news, we can hear people screaming on and on about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is the worst thing happening to us. But should this come to us as a surprise? Haven’t we always been surrounded by alarming issues such as poverty, cancer, suicide, mental health issues, female genital mutilation, rape, child trafficking and domestic violence? So what’s new, pandemic or not we have been raging our own wars with the material disease. As Srila Prabhupada says, this world is a place of constant miseries, “duhkhalayam asasvatam,” and at every step there is a danger, “padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām.”
These elements of despair and tragedy are an integral part of the material creature, so why are we crippled by a small and invisible virus… when there are millions living within us? Think about it. What has actually brought the world to its knees? What has actually brought the world to pause? It is not a virus that lives externally, but the lack of responsibility we all take internally to associate with our consciousness, with our only cure. The virus that kills us softly within, has been dealt untamed. We failed at associating with the most crucial element of life itself, we left our soul to drown. Because if we did, if we saved ourselves, we would have acted responsibly and not got here in this catastrophic disaster in the first place. They say actions speak louder than words, so we need to take a few steps back, sink in deeper and ask ourselves what steps are we taking to be the change we wish to see in the world? If we sit and just think for awhile, reflect upon our inactions, our failure in responsible and loss of duty, then my friends we have surely taken one step closer to the cure.
This tragedy can surely help us triumph over our lesser evils and cultivate a mood for meditation. Silence is golden they say, and what better time, place and circumstance than now, to become just little more Quiet.
Where can we find this Quiet Place?
It is staring right in front of us, Prabhupada has given us the cure, the panacea, for this age. He has said it in his books again and again, the cure sits in one simple holy name. The Bhagavad Gita repeats is as well, as there is no other, no other way, Harer Namaiva Kevalam. This is the quiet place we need to seek, that place where we develop our relationship with the holy name, with Krishna. This can only be found in the association of a pure devotee like Prabhupada. Just like a freshman medical student can only learn the science of medicine from an experienced practicing doctor, similarly as spiritual students who are finding the cure to our material disease, Prabhupada is our only hope.
In this age of rapid mcdonaldization instead of consumerization of our mind we should apt for conscious awakening of the soul through socialization with Prabhupada. We need to find our Nirvana, our quiet space under the shelter of Prabhupada. We need to give Him our time and invest in our spiritual career, by serving at His lotus feet as His menial invisible apprentices. For without his help and direction we have no hope, and no chance to find Krishna. This is also mentioned in the morning guru puja, “Sri-guru-charana-padma, kevala-bhakati-sadma…krishna-prapti hoy jaha hoite. The lotus feet of our spiritual master are the only way by which we can attain pure devotional service. I bow to his lotus feet with great awe and reverence. By his grace one can cross the ocean of material suffering and obtain the mercy of Krsna.”
Just as in mangal aarti we start our day by praising our spiritual master, we should maintain this morning meditation, this Prabhupada mood throughout our services and prayers. Just as we brush our teeth and take a daily service we should invite Prabhupada to our life every single day and beg for His protection. For without His mercy and blessings we cannot greet the wonders of devotion, “Just as a cloud pours water on a forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master delivers the materially afflicted world by extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence.The spiritual master is always engaged in the temple worship of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. He also engages his disciples in such worship.The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord.By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krishna. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Sri Hari [Krsna].“
Many, many times at the manor, though several people where around me, I would look for opportunities to be left alone with Prabhupada, so that I could clean His Vyasa asana, get him water, listen to him chanting, sing songs for Him and sometimes just quietly watch Him look at Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda. I wanted to see the deities as a reflection in his eyes, I wanted those remnants of love to fall in my poor hands. From all the travels I have made to the places I have seen, it was the perfect million dollar view, which gave me the opportunity to find the truth. For an insignificant fool like me, I have no right to greet the lord, who am I to see the lord? Krsna sees only those He wishes to meet, I have not done anything great to deserve this gift. Yet his pure and godly servants, like Prabhupada allow even sinners like me to get a sneak peak of Krishna with the simple eyes of love. To see Prabhupada, to sit in silence and share a quiet place with him was a magical moment, for those who wish to hear the unheard. Prabhupada speaks to those few who wish and desire to listen. I wait for those days to return, where I can be at the Manor, absorb myself in the thoughts of Prabhupada and get to understand the power of His association in my spiritual erudition. This is very beautifully described in the songs of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, “Ohe! Vaishnava Thakura, vaishnava thakura, doyara sagara,e dase koruna kori. Oh venerable Vaishnava, O ocean of mercy, be merciful unto your servant. Give me the shade of your lotus feet and purify me. I hold on to your lotus feet, make me your servant. Krishna se tomara, krishna dite paro, tomara sakati ache ami to’ kangala, ‘krishna’ ‘krishna’ boli’, dhai tava pache pache…Krishna is yours; you have the power to give Him to me. I am simply running behind you shouting,”Krishna! Krishna!” Who says Prabhupada is gone, He is eternally living with us in our actions, commitments and wholehearted service.
True love never dies, it only gets stronger with Time. This is Prabhupadization.