Expect to get kicked in the butt

Maya infiltrates everywhere.

As soon as there are signs of bhakti, she comes to do her job. Lābha, pūjā, pratiṣṭhā, what to speak of ordinary sense gratifications, are all important parts of her arsenal.

Institutionalization is a particularly effective trick employed by Maya because it allows her to use the whole panoply of allurements, surreptitiously, by stealth as it were, deceptively, by dressing and decorating them in disguise as saintliness, dutifulness and surrender.

Ultimately, though institutions and organizations may serve a temporary benefit to (mostly) beginners in spiritual life, at some point they outlive their utility to the individual practitioner.

As you progress in spiritual life, you recognize the presence of the guru in the proximate, and not in the remote.

The principle is: the more distant the guru, physically and psychically, the less advanced you are. If your guru is only present in books, or on an altar, or on a stage 300 meters away, or on a screen, or in videos, etc., this goes without saying.

The guru relationship is human, it is present, and it is sweet in character.

If your guru relationship is predominantly touched by aiśvarya-bhāva, it may be temporarily beneficial for vaidhi type bhakti, but you will in all likelihood end up getting kicked in the butt. Expect it. One way or another. Direct or indirect.

Taking shelter of a guru or human institution for physical needs, etc., is not shelter, not surrender. It is a subtle way Maya has of sucking you into the closed institutional model (cult/sect, etc.) rather than the universal one of Prema.

Seek out advanced sādhu-saṅga, which is sweet and headed in the way you want to go. Seek out other, informal ways, of associating. That was the old model that Vaishnavism followed before the advent of modern institutionalization. It is the "small is good" model.


Anonymous said…
This is slightly confusing. How do we go about finding a guru in the first place, when it seems all seekers of spiritual bliss are ensconced within institutions? Is it really possible to stay out of institutions and still be able to find a guru, aspire for that highest bliss, Prema?
Satya devi dasi said…
Were you inspired to write this because of recent problems with Ravindra Swarup Das?
Jagadananda Das said…
Seeing the commentary it excited, yes, Satya Devi.

As to whether institutions have utility, I think they do.

Gurus are many in life. Your mother is your first guru and probably the most influential. She was a guru in great intimacy, but as you grow older, certain levels of that intimacy are naturally transformed and cease to have the absolute quality they once had.

The guru is generally a father figure (duh!) and in many ways it replicates the kind of relation we had with the physical father, though it hopefully helps you make some progress. But it is characterized by the kind of childishness and inequality of relationship that is also eventually outgrown. Must be outgrown.

Friendship is another kind of love, and erotic love is the greatest of all. In each of these relations, there is guru in intimacy. Guru comes closer and closer.

You cannot be born without a father and mother. So to be born in sahaja prema yoga, you need both diksha and siksha gurus.
Anonymous said…
This explains why Kripalu followers are still stuck in JKP cult, many consider him as their 'Gopi Bhava Shiksha Guru'
Anonymous said…
"Taking shelter of a guru or human institution for physical needs, etc., is not shelter, not surrender."

That's one of the problems with the ashram model. It attracts people who are looking to shirk personal responsibility and mooch off of others their entire lives.

Ayn Rand is disgusted. Marx no doubt very pleased.
Anonymous said…
Scholarship is a also a particularly insidious instigator of pride, arrogance and conceit. As far as institutions go, the colleges are about as degraded and degrading as any institution can be outside of prison. Religious institutions with all their faults are still immeasurably more auspicious than the colleges.
Gaura said…
Jagadananda prabhu, You have said in your article "Ultimately, though institutions and organizations may serve a temporary benefit to (mostly) beginners in spiritual life, at some point they outlive their utility to the individual practitioner."

Srila Prabhupada remained loyal to his ISKCON institution up until his last breathe. How do you explain this in light of your comment above. He never taught us by his example that he outlived the utility of ISKCON
Jagadananda Das said…
Of course, Gaura, ISKCON was Prabhupada's baby. Why should he abandon it? It was the crowning jewel of a success. And glorious indeed a success it was.

I don't begrudge those who are best suited to working in the institutional setting. For many people it is the best way.

I personally am driven to go beyond the limitations that are naturally created in that kind of framework. Different strokes for different folks.

As long as you don't see my point, you were not meant to see it.

Jai Radhe.

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