The Plastic Problem
Often times we start on our spiritual journey with great enthusiasm, excitement and cheer. Yet, somewhere in the middle we come to a point where everything becomes known, monotonous and obvious. The adventure of learning new things dies out and we seem to sail in the same boat again and again. The problem is not with the process or the people, but the problem sits in our mind. We become fake and create plastic ideals of spiritual advancement. We expect that with a touch of a button, everything will be blissful and everlasting. In the age we live in, everything is dependant on this plastic nature of instant gratification, from our credit card to our toothbrush, everything is an element of plastic. As a result of this mass plasticanization, we have become what we associate with, and indeed we have become Plastic.
This is why it is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam, through the story of Bharat Maharaj, that association is highly important. The quality of our journey is determined by how deep we are willing to go an extra mile and are we willing to scrub out all the dirt that settles in the heart. This can only start if we have a frank conversation with ourselves and our mentors. Are you really truthful to yourself? Are you really chanting 16 rounds while no one watches? Are you really absorbed in the service, or is it just getting tiresome, dull and mundane like any other chore or job?
In this pursuit of love, we should not be in a mechanical state and be alarmed if your emotions are slowly dying out, your enthusiasm is stagnant, or everything seems familiar. It is said that for advancing devotees, they can read the same passage, books and sing the same songs for the rest of their lives however everytime they dwell into transcendental literature there is always something new to learn, something new to understand, and always something interesting to question. Consciousness is about awakening strength, purity, energy, curiosity and joy in your service, it surely makes the heart softer and bright like shining gold. Everyday becomes an adventure and every minute becomes an opportunity to learn, grow and aspire. This can only be revealed through humility and tolerance when we come to agreement with our real strength in service. Nevertheless, we should also try not to forget our constitutional position as servant of the servants of servants. You may ask, What does it mean to fall in love with the soul, to feed it and to nurture it? It simply starts by understanding how plastic, how hard hearted, how insensitive we have become in our chase for material desires in a spiritual life.
Why does this feeling arise and what is Krishna trying to teach us?
First of all, we are humans and bound to keep thinking, feeling and willing. Feelings and emotions are bound to arise, its natural, as long as we are tuning material emotions to spiritual aspirations we are totally fine. It is in our nature to go through these ups and downs, because like any good practice we need to keep steering ourselves back to the actual path. They say, when a pilot is flying a plane, he is always out of control, and the only thing preventing the plane from crashing is his continuous effort to try to steer the plane back to the right track again and again. This is the secret of life, this is the tune to which every single particle in the air to the ether dances to, continuous trial and error. I think I have said it enough times but we got to try, try and try.
How do we steer back? The best and ideal solution is chanting and hearing the sweet holy names, “harer nama harer nama kevalam,” as Prabhupada says there is no other way, there is no other way. Even if your not there yet and are struggling through a day of uninspiring chanting, which seems an objective rather than a flamboyantly optimistic second nature. Keep moving on and push along the steep hill. At the same time do not pretend to be a Mahaprabhu of the millennial generation and deny failing at it, do not be plastic. Accept the process, it starts with anger, denial, soon after which you will learn to embrace and accept it. The power of the holy name is revealed to those who have faith and give in to it, even in the most worst possible position, just try to give in. Do your service and leave everything else to Him, remember our focus is Krishna, not You. Surprisingly, this is also where we will come to meet the great wonder in surrender.
Secondly, like when any problem arises we should not panic. Instead we should take three steps back and avoid bailing ourselves out of the problem. In the age of quick remedies for sicker minds, rushing through a problem with a quick dose of painkillers, does not erode the root cause of the problem. We have to work though it slowly and steadily, absorbing in every realization and every lesson. Face the fear, acknowledge it is there and create an action plan to manage it. The fear of the problem itself, creates a further greater trail of silent problems. Attend to the predicament, understand the preciousness of that moment, be with the problem and walk the mile it takes to resolve the agenda. This also means asking for help and letting go of our big fat egos and pride. Don’t be plastic, know your capacity and take responsibility of letting go, everyone is not superman trying to save the day. Just give a call to a friend and talk about it over a warm cup of ginger honey tea. There you go I have given you the heads up, check in with your mates and discuss some bhagavad gita together. You will defo find a solution and will find a way out of your labyrinth of confusions. Any spiritual reality seems far to grasp, not because its difficult but because its a conception of our mind.
Lastly, understand how much we all are mercy cases. We are all conditioned by our material bodies, that no matter how much we try, if we do not have the mercy of senior devotees or Krishna, we cannot exfoliate off our outer plastic shell. We have polluted our minds with a mountain full of material jargon in this age of independent nationalism that we have forgotten the whole idea of community and togetherness. Like a patient is dependant on the care of the doctor and nurse to make the medicine work, in the process of healing our hearts and mending our souls, we are not alone, we are a team in spirit.
Unity is Strength, Division is Weakness.Swahili Proverb
We are totally tribes people, with our own unique nature working in a system to cumulatively cultivate consciousness. Do not forget this principle, for in the Nectar of Devotion it states that Bhakti is all about cultivating a relationship, and if your in search of eternal love than you need the lover, the beloved and the eternal relationship. The best solution I have found, is to embrace where you are, accept that you are not enough and understand that it will take you time to get to the height of perfection. Krishna teaches us our own limited nature in isolation and his unlimited strength in the people we meet. Greet your shortcomings with resilience and someday when you are ready to learn the power of love, Krishna will give it all to you. Until then, do not be plastic and discouraged. Bask under the Sun (Krishna), shine bright even under the rain (problems), show all your true colors (soul) and dance like a beautiful rainbow in this service of love.