Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving thoughts

One of the psychological features of devotees that atheists like to complain about is that we always want to be saved. Whenever we get a little bit weak we start hollering for God to come and save us. I haven't had that mood for a long time. But still, from time to time, I start doing it.

Reading in Vivekananda's biography, it says that in his Brahma Samaj days, he could not stand "devotees who would cry emotionally, pray for God's mercy in every sentence they spoke, or repeatedly condemn themselves as lower than worms or insects. He thought that a man should hold his head up high like a man and worship God with steadfastness and unbroken resolve." (Satyendranath Majumdar, Hindi edition, p.58)

[विशेषतः भक्तों का भावावेश में रोना, बात बात में दयामय भगवान् की कृपा के लिये प्रार्थना करना, अपने को कीटानुकीट के समान हेय मानकर आत्मनिन्दा करना अदि बातों की नरेन्द्र कठोर आलोचना करते थे । वे तो यही उचित समझते थे कि पुरुष पुरुष की ही तरह मस्तक ऊंचा करके दृढ़ उद्यम और अटूट संकल्प के साथ भगवान् की अराधना करे ।]

Mayavada is like mystical atheism, really. I often think there is an element of maturity present in Mayavada that is not there in many devotees, especially not those of the kanishtha variety.

Today in the NYTimes there is an article about the "first Thanksgiving" in North America, which was promptly followed by a massacre by Spanish Christians of the French Huguenots who had settled in Florida. I told this story to a friend who reminded me that edited out of the American mythology is the epilogue to the Pilgrim Fathers' original Thanksgiving. The native Americans who brought them food in the time of hardship were subsequently killed off. A subtle reminder that the thanksgiving of the believers could just as easily become an orgy of sacrificial bloodletting. The phenomenon of the scapegoat is still one that is poorly understood.

I often read the Guardian pages where occasionally Theo Hobbes or some other writers come and try to find something positive to say about religion or to defend it from its critics in some way.

Hobbes is very liberal, but even so, he gets jumped on by the atheist hordes every time, accusing him of everything under the sun. But what is hardest to defend against is the asinine things that human beings do in the name of religion. The abovementioned massacre is just another thing that brings disappointment to the heart of the devotee.

It is not so much that God permits evil to exist, but that people who claim that God is Love can be so hateful. It is a psychological aberration, a trick of the mind. And we have to recognize, as Christians have since the time of Bonhoeffer, that there is immature religion and there is mature religion.

This is what the Bhagavata is talking about when it talks about the kanishtha, madhyama and uttama bhaktas. The kanishtha is using his religion to prop up a material ego. For him, God is a material accoutrement. It is not so much that he does not have a genuine impetus for spiritual realization, but due to his immaturity he gets caught up in identification politics.

Though one sign of this is the "There is only one way to God" syndrome, that does not mean that there are no objective signs of religious effectiveness. Just as there are objective signs of religious error--many of which are pointed out with great relish by atheists and their more mystical counterparts.

Let us turn inwards and discover the Atma, which is complete in its simple existence, full of awareness and love. Let us know this before we start trying to change the world.


9 comments:

Tree Hugging Hippie Lover said...

What do you make of the following?

Morning Walk — January 21, 1976, Mayapura

Still, if you say, “You are mūḍha, ” they become angry. Such mūḍhas, rascals, they are in the government service. And if you say that “You are mūḍhas, ” he becomes angry. Upadeśo hi mūrkhāṇāṁ prakopāya na śāntaye: “If a mūḍha is advised nice instruction, he becomes angry.” He does not take it. Payaḥ-pānaṁ bhujaṅgānāṁ kevalaṁ viṣa-vardhanam: “If you give milk and banana to a snake, you simply increase his poison.” One day he will come-(growls). You see? “I have given you milk and you…” “Yes, that is my nature. Yes. You give me milk, and I am prepared to kill you.” This is mūḍha. We have to kill this civilization of mūḍhas. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām BG 4.8 . Those who are actually human being, you have to give them Kṛṣṇa. And those who are mūḍhas, we have to kill them. This is our business. Kill all the mūḍhas and give Kṛṣṇa to the sane man. Yes. That will prove that you are really Kṛṣṇa’s. We are not nonviolent. We are violent to the mūḍhas.

Room Conversation — February 25, 1977, Mayapura

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Gradually some of the people are beginning to understand what you’re up to, Śrīla Prabhupāda. Some of these big demons in America especially, they are beginning to understand that you are the most dangerous personality in the world to them.

Prabhupāda: To kill “demon-crazy,” LSD. (laughs) Yes, that is my mission. That is Kṛṣṇa’s mission, paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām BG 4.8 , to kill all these demons, crazy demons. I have no such power; otherwise I would have killed them. Either establish Kṛṣṇa conscious government or kill them- bas, finish. I would have done that, violence.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes, when good argument fails…

Prabhupāda: Kill them. Finish. Just like Paraśurāma did. Kill all them, twenty-one times.

Bali-mardana: Oh, Paraśurāma. I was just reading in that…

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Bali-mardana: …8.3. Very nice.

Prabhupāda: No consideration. Kill them. Due to Paraśurāma, the kṣatriyas went to European side, fled away. From India either they were driven away or killed when they become inconsistent with Vedic rules. So these kṣatriyas and associates… These parts of the world were resided by aborigines, mean uncivilized class. So for so many years associated with them, they have learned killing the an… Otherwise they’re Aryans.

Jagat said...

What can I say? There is no place for such an attitude in the modern world. It just does not work.

"Us and them" is duality; Love is about transcending duality. You cannot transcend duality by destroying the other. There really is no other.

What is interesting, of course, is that once this attitude becomes ingrained, it has no limits. But because we cannot destroy the big demons, we find smaller ones closer to home that we can clobber--Ritviks, GBC, fallen sannyasis, Narayan Maharaj, the Gaudiya Math, etc., etc.

I offer obeisances to Prabhupada for bringing me to Lord Chaitanya, but there is so much that needs to be set aside.

Good luck to all those people who think that every word of his is the Veda. And God help everyone else.

Gandhiji said, "We don't want to bring our enemies to their knees, we want to bring them to their senses."

Revelation is evolution. If you don't understand that, you understand neither.

Prema Prayojan.

Jagat said...

I was looking for that song about Gauranga that says that other incarnations came carrying weapons to kill the demons, but Mahaprabhu gave them the Holy Name and changed their hearts. I know I have it somewhere.

I can related to the Vivekananda quote above, and recognize that Siddhanta Saraswati pretty much felt the same way. But that is really about pretentiousness, not the underlying mood.

And the underlying mood has both a rationale and a practical application.

Chaitanya Vaishnavism is about madhura rasa, not vira rasa. That is the whole point.

On the one hand, it should be understood that they are complementary, so the masculine spirit cannot be uprooted entirely in this world, but the feminine, madhura, has to be given the last word. It has to be ultimately what colors everything else.

Alam.

Jagat said...

"So let them have their pseudo intellectual fantasies and re-mold institutional ISKCON into their perverted heretical program. We know that every dog has its day. Now they are doing this, and soon they will be out. As Srila Prabhupadanugas, kick them on their traitorous faces."

By Govinda Das

Anonymous said...

Jagat,

Dandavat pranam. I am glad that you posted what Vivekananda said. Not that I agree with everything that he said.

But it resonates wiht something I read, I believe was from Pandit Dr David Frawley in an article "All Gurus Great and Small". It was in
a back issue of Yoga Journal I believe.

The whole issue was about corruption in yoga: about predator gurus sexually harassing their disciples, the various scandals and articles about "why" it may have all happened.

The article I liked said that one reason why it is very difficult to change the rampant corruption in the yoga world is India has this idea of "Vaisnava etiquette" or this whole "I'm a worm in stool" mentality contraposed with "Mother, Father, and Teacher are like God to you".

The article said that it was very difficult to press charges against someone who is "God" to you.

So that whole idea of trnad api can be perverted and used to exploit others by the 4 - 6% sociopaths in the world.

Then I guess certain societies have a larger tolerance for corruption due to this "I am a worm in stool" and "You are God to me" dichotomy.

I'm glad that you mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your article about the first thanksgiving in America. At least there are more and more resources becoming available like this.

The other day I went to the library and I found several books for kids that told facts about the first thanksgiving, that basically there was not even such a holiday until President Abraham Lincoln set aside the third Thursday in November to give thanks, AFTER the CIVIL WAR in 1800s, not 1600s!!!

The books went on to say that the Pilgrims did not dress like how they are depicted, only when they went to church on Sunday they dressed like that. That they celebrated or gave thanks by going to church, which lasted all day: an AM church service and a PM church service that all were required to attend.

Then by contrast you go into most schools, even an exclusive and private prep school, and is fed to the little kiddies all this mythology about "Pilgrims", "Indians",
"turkeys" and so on.

This really produces, in my opinion, hackneyed and stereotypical thinking in the kids, who are fed a diet of no one tell them the truth, even to still in new millenium call the indigneous peoples "Indians" when it has not been PC to do that since 1960s when Marlon Brando gave his Academy Award to a Native Americans lady to accept on behalf of her tribe instead of to himself.

Anyway, I guess then we have to think about, if people cannot even get it straight basic and simple facts, and instead feeding pablum to kiddies and fanciful tales, and is about events that occured only a few hundred years ago then imagine all of the difficulty to get people to think clearly and have accurate information about "the absolute truth"(!!!).

I guess what I am trying to say, although I sometimes disagree with you, I appreciate that you have this blog. One thing is, it's nice that you are not affiliated with perpetuating any organization; right there that is where alot of spin-doctoring comes in, in my opinion.

For example, one org I really respect about 90 to 95% of their teachings, but their guru has put it in writing that Indians did not have hitting children in their culture, this came from the Westerners and their "spare the rod, spoil the child" mentality.

Then just reading Garuda Purana the other day, came across the verse where "the wife and son are to be beaten".

I was like, "Omigosh, what a liar that guru was about "hitting kids does not come from Indian culture". Just to spin doctor that "Hinduism is the best religion."

Then is sad, because when a person lies about something, then it makes one wonder about all the other things must be covered up or are actually totally wrong also.

Anyways is nice your blog. I'm sorry I disagree with you sometimes, but I am also thankful for it. Well happy thanksgiving!!!

Anonymous said...

"For example, one org I really respect about 90 to 95% of their teachings, but their guru has put it in writing that Indians did not have hitting children in their culture, this came from the Westerners and their "spare the rod, spoil the child" mentality."

This does not make sense. Spare the rod, spoil the child means just that - to spare the rod and spoil the child. So it is not a good example if you (or the Indian guru, rather) are trying to make a point that British culture hits kids.

Obviously English is not that guru's (or your's?) first language.

Anonymous said...

Jagat said: "There is no place for such an attitude in the modern world. It just does not work.

There is no place for such an attitude in ANY world, at ANY time. It has NEVER worked, because the foundation of such an attitude is simply illusion.

Clearly Prabhupada was a victim of a few anarthas of his own. A similar unfortunate conviction of his (and even more unfortunate, his teaching of it) was that, for the purpose of self realization, humanity was to be separated in two groups, with two respective functions: males to dominate, and females to be managed.

His teaching that when it comes to spiritual life, women are natural enemies of men, that the holy name requires a masculine voice, was ludicrous enough to literally bankrupt his movement.

What has destroyed the Hare Krishna movement was Prabhupada immaturity of not leaving his personal impressions of life where it belonged, i.e., in the absurd Indian past. With regards to issues such as society, science, education, etc., but specially with regards to women, his experience was negligable at best. He failed to accept the laughability of his perspective, but instead trumpeted it out to be all in all - this immaturity kept him from concerning himself with the essence of Krsna Consciousness. Consequently his legacy has been one of mounting confusion and of lesser and lesser chances of his followers effecting the promised perfection of human life.

Does not human life include the scientific perspective? Why did Prabhupada mislead his followers into believing that there is no spiritual legitimacy in science? And even more signigicantly, why did Prabhupada mislead his followers into believing that there is no spiritual legitimacy in love among humans - the family? The answer, as we know, is that Prabhupada, like all his clones at Gaudiya Math, and then extensively in Indian culture, was afraid of losing the only identity worth persuing for them - that of the accomplished male vairagy. For all his brilliance in the West, Prabhupada failed to see the obvious which is that in the West, acomplishment means to find legitimate companionship. Moreover, Prabhupada overestimated his very limited academic capacity by challeging science. Women's brain are smaller therefore there is less inteligence; its fact, bas, proven. In his arrogance, born of insecurity, Prabhupada failed to consider that in modern times, and especially in moder times in the West, old and rotten traits of human behavior such as misogyny and class exploitation are quick to be exposed for what they are: anomalies.

Prabhupada was an insecure man, like most men produced in India up to this day, suffereres of culturally induced fear of women. A fear that is forced into a false premise of superiority. If superiority it be, it is the superiority of the vampire.

And thus we must become angry. And thus Prabhupada was wrong again: Not all anger is a sign of inability to accept apropriate instructions. In fact, regarding some of Prabhupada's instructions, indignation is the only reaction to have. Also a sign of good, healthy, reasonable hope.

Jagat said...

For the meaning of "spare the rod and spoil the child," look here. "The notion that children will only flourish if chastised, physically or otherwise, for any wrongdoing."

But I doubt that India can credit Britain with teaching it this.