Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Choosing between Spirituality and Activism: Vira-rasa and Madhura.

After Karttik Purnima I came down with a cold and a bit of exhaustion, and have been either sleeping or sitting here sipping brahmastra tea and catching up with international news of various kinds. Though many things, mostly same old same old, are features of the current world situation, I would summarize the following three principal points:
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(1) The American empire is expanding at a speed that I never would have imagined. If anyone had any illusions that Obama was progressive on this front when he promised to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is now clear that this was a smokescreen. The Military-Industrial Complex in the USA is the single most dominant force in dictating the international situation. The technological capacity to survey, control, and coerce ordinary citizens, combined with the total domination of the media in [at least] the USA for propaganda and control of information, is at levels that Communist and Fascist dictatorships of the past could only marvel at in envy.
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(2) Fear of terrorism is simply the external raison-d'etre that is used to sell this policy, which is of course only meant to support the domination and control of international business. "It is the manifestation of a new vision of global geopolitics in which human beings in need are to be corralled, their free movement criminalized, and their labor exploited." (Tom Dispatch)
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(3) There is no such thing as a coherent force to speak of expressing the "collective interest" of humanity. Any democratic institutions or international agencies that were meant to serve this purpose, like the UN, etc., are completely marginalized. The most important symptom of this is world leadership's total disinterest in taking real practical steps to counteract global warming. In fact, I suspect that the privileged classes actually welcome the possibility of decimating the world population as long as their own safety and comfort are assured.
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In all this, I wonder where a person like myself, who places spirituality and spiritual culture above everything, stands. The increasingly monolithic domination of ordinary personal life means that survival itself comes at a great cost to our freedom. Spirituality and religion, if apolitical, does not represent a significant threat to the powers-that-be, and therefore is actually favored by them -- just as some non-economic issues like homosexual marriage, etc., are ultimately tolerated if they keep people apathetic about challenging the entrenched power structures.
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And yet, apathy to a control of the world by what can only be called the forces of evil seems to be wrong.
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Personally, I have nver been active politically. I am able to tenuously remain here in Vrindavan by the grace of the Indian government. It is clear that terrorism paranoia (even more justifiable here in India than it is in America) has resulted in an official distrust of all foreigners, even those here to pursue spiritual goals. As a matter of fact, the Indian mindset, currently dominated by anglo-americanized English-speaking elites, is fearful of Hinduism as a political force and thus conducts a rather transparent project to reshape it into a kind of anodyne and apolitical New Ageism and self-helpism. This apparently creates policies where foreigners overly committed to traditional Hindu spiritual goals are treated with some ambivalence and even suspicion.

New Ageism is, of course, an apolitical spiritualism, which as stated above is most convenient for ruling elites, for as Napoleon is supposed to have said, "Religion is what keeps the poor from killing the rich." Today, however, it is probably suburban isolation and electronic entertainments, if not drugs, that are keeping the poor from killing the rich. Teach a man to fish and he will feed himself for life. Give a man enough food to survive and a television or the internet and he may never wonder why his life has so little meaning! And if religion is needed as an added opiate, that does not burden the scheme of promoting political apathy.
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The argument of progressive Christians is that of a theology of concern for the poor and so on. Since one cannot love without empathy, universal love means universal empathy for the suffering of others. For Christ said, "As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me." This is a great and noble sentiment and is reflected in the concept of the madhyama Bhagavata and even, I think the Christian would say, in the uttama Bhagavata. Or we could say, the former as sadhana and the latter as sadhya.
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This is, in fact, what Vivekananda was getting at with his Daridra Narayan philosophy. See the presence of God in the poor person and serve him as a way of bring the sacred presence of God into these most debased of social relationships. The rich are less empathetic; study after study shows that material comfort and privilege feel contempt for those less privileged. Such persons isolate themselves from the reality of suffering and from practical empathy towards the poor except in "official" types of charity or public posturing.
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It is not surprising that there are many who wish to accelerate that process by revolutionary acts. If the society has become so corrupted by the rule of evil, then one must combat it with arms or whatever means are at one's disposal. Is not the struggle with evil for the sake of justice for all a service to God? Indeed, is it not a service in the mood of heroism? In other words, is it not a service to the cause of Love? And is it not, for one who is but a mere sinner in this world, a sadhana for achieving Love through sacrifice?
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I am far from arguing with this point of view. Who would not feel a surge of emotion at the thought of participating in a just and heroic struggle? And of course, like Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra, the path is open to such an attitude in the wide world of bhakti.
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Though I am somewhat sanguine about achieving any short-term success in changing the way the world works, I see that done with detachment is indeed an admirable endeavor. And perhaps such efforts will indeed contribute to an eventual evolution of humanity wherein -- in a few millennia -- an ideal state will exist where everyone can realize the full spiritual potential that human life offers.
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But Krishna also tells Arjuna to know himself: Know your nature and through following your nature perfect your life. In keeping with my own nature, I must admit that I am not exactly of the heroic type, i.e., I am not driven by a taste for the heroic flavor, the vira-rasa. And I must further say that not everyone is, though we are all called upon to perform acts of heroism in our lives. Nevertheless, my feeling is that we must, in whatever our calling, serve the cause of Love.
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For what will be a world of justice where no one has learned the art of love? And how will a world of justice be created if no one has learned the art of love? We must each choose our task, and I choose the task of understanding the gift of prema as it was given by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and expounded by Srila Rupa Goswami.

vāg gadgadā dravate yasya cittaṁ
rudaty abhīkṣṇaṁ hasati kvacic ca
vilajja udgāyati nṛtyate ca
mad-bhakti-yukto bhuvanaṁ punāti
person endowed with devotion to me, whose voice is broken with emotion and whose mind melts, who cries constantly and sometimes laughs, who shamelessly sings aloud and dances, purifies the entire world. (11.14.24)

Jai Sri Radhe.
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7 comments:

sungazer said...

Pamho Jagat Ji. The fact of the matter is, unlike characters portrayed in movies or books, we arent 2 dimensional beings. We are supermultidimensional. For example, one can have tears well up while he sings "jaya radha madhava, java kunja vihari" and have deep heartfelt experiences of aspiring to feel what the hearts of the gopis of Vraja must feel for Krsna, and also be a warrior and a truth seeker in this material world. Meaning, he can also have research that proves that 911 is an inside job. That the education system is an indoctrination system. That healthcare destroys health, that the current law system denys justice, that Money is actually debt. All the so called money is actually only debt. See the movie money masters on youtube. Read the book creature on jekyll island. I for one, have actually witnessed ufo's since 2006, have posted the pictures on online forums of other sightings in 2008. On abovetopsecret.com. what I am typing may seem to be random, but the fact again is, all this insanity is already happenning. And we are deli erately being dumbded down, our waters poisoned with fluoride, our atmosphere irradiated with microwaves that have proven to cause brain cancer and on and on and on. There is a very deep and dark conspiracy in effect al over the world that seeks to enslave humanity to become fodder for these beings. See whats going on in the w9rld today. Kama krodah lobha moha is all being used as a weapon against the gullible public who had their heads in the sand. The solution to this, is actually being protected by the fire of pure bhakti in the heart for Sri Krsna. And I say, it is upto us to be aware of all the other conspiracies that are at work in the world today, otherwise just saying that I cant be bothered with all this and I will just chant and be happy, is well.....then you are also responsible for the hell the world is in. Ignorance is never bliss. Disinformation by the media and govt, and we are stupid enough to trust them. Krsna is not responsible for all this havoc, our laziness and lethargy is. We need to wake up to the nwo. And to do that, a strong foundation in spiritual science is necessary. Only this tattva gyan can fight this darkness.

Jagadananda Das said...

You illustrate rather well what I intend to say. Let us research the highest state of consciousness as the most direct means of action. External action is really the illusion. The real action takes place on a subtle level through the power of prema, to the degree that prema is present.

Jagadananda Das said...

But I bow down and offer my dandavat pranams to all those who become motivated for whatever reason to counter the nonsense of the evildoers. I have decided that the real work, the highest work, lies elsewhere.

If the whole world is destroyed but one or two people attain prema, that is still better than the world carrying on without prema.

sungazer said...

Pamho Jagat Ji.
i would like to recommend a couple of sites for your viewers to get upto speed. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/ take a look at the '911' section, 48videos. take a look at the 'conspiracy' section. 119 videos. Never before in the history of this planet, has so much information been made available at the click of a button. also check out infowars.com, and videos of alex jones, david icke, jordan maxwell, project camelot, disclosure project, the list goes on and on on youtube. Stay Vaishnavas and stay informed. Amd make up your own mind.

sungazer said...

Pamho Jagat Ji. There is just something more that I would like to add. I csme to Gaudiya Vaishnavism in 2011. After a long spiritual quest, a journey through many paths which included being an osho sanyasi ( which I formally gave up a decade ago) to being a freemason in the theosophical society. Egad! I used to pour through the books by besant and leadbeater and powell and of course blavatsky, and I am indebted to them because I learned a lot about the various planes and the universal brotherhood that they talked about, but it just didnt satisfy the thirst in my heart. I knew something was missing. Similarly, ramana maharishi, ramakrishna paramamahamsa, aurobindo, krishnamurti, nisargadutta maharaj, mehr baba, paramahamsa yogananda and mahaavataar babaji, I poured and am very grateful to all my experiences with their books and the nice people that I met, but none of them talked about Sri Krsna! I knew something was missing, just didnt know what it was. Finally, Bhagavan SuryaNarayana came to my resque. As you can see from my name, I am a 'sungazer', but I know, from the Sun telling me, that inside, is Svayam Sriman Narayaan, the Golden One who is known as Uut in vedanta sutras. The one in the sun and the eye is the same Paramatma. Anyway, I cant go into the details of my sadhana because its besides the point. I know you have an article on your blog about Kripaluji maharaj. And I am aware of the controversy. However, I owe so so much to his lectures thst I saw on tv. He led meto Srila Prabhupada. And Srila Prabhupada led to BV Narayana Goswami Maharaj. Now, unfortunately I couldnt take diksha from him, because he entered nitya leela in 2010. But I still know him as my Gurudeva. I see the same Guru Tattva in Sridhara Maharaj and bhakti vigyan bharati maharaj and all our glorious guru parampara, but also all the other gaudiya sampradayas in the line of Mahaprabhu. Bot not only that, all the Vaishnava sects, even if there are real philosophical differences, they still are sadhus, they still have wonderful harikatha emmanating from their lips and are really dear to Sri Hari. So, I have the books of Srila Haridas shastri and syamlal hakimji and anants das babaji also. I have learned a lot from you jagat ji, although I disagree with many of your points regarding many things. The point is, for example, the discussions by tripurari maharaj and prem prayojana on vrinda.pl, the discussions by tripurari maharaj and uttamasloka das regarding his book realization and manifestation of your identity, narasingha maharajas other articles, not the ones where he criticized your Gurudeva JagatJi, and the archives at indiadivine forums and others with madhavananda das and you and others discussed and shed light on so many topics.......my point is I am so thankful to All, because again like I said, we are not simply 2d beings, but are vaster than any box that seeks to define us as only this or that.

Elizabeth Kolansky said...

This article struck a chord with me. We have become aware with the disparities, injustices and corruption and yet the commitment and energy it takes to take action is daunting so the choice to live ones life the best we can is what we choose. (there ARE some great TV shows!)
I'm optimistic that Pope Francis will have some influence and there will be an increase of acts of basic human kindness. People will discover the joy that brings and will choose that instead of consumerism to find fulfillment and will not envy the rich.
I see it happening but then again I'm looking for it and my optimism may be deception.

Jagadananda Das said...

Thanks for reading, Liz.