Saturday, June 14, 2014

Conceiving a Jaiva Dharma world. What am I thinking?

So in my last post, I spoke a little of my own experience on the Sahajiya path and how I found that the experiment as I had been conducting it had been deemed a failure. I was contemplating whether one should be pessimistic about my philosophical understanding, in view of the seeming rarity of success.

In actual fact, what is happening, my friends, is that we are giving the juices time to ferment. I really do not know what the outcome of this experiment will be, because whatever happens, the repercussions of it will remain. In other words, very strong samskaras were created in the last ten years, and I really don't think it will be possible for me in the long run to accept the orthodox position, as expressed to me by a friend:

This world is a shadow of the spiritual world and so resemblances exist in form....but not in substance. Male and female forms exist both here and there, so there is a slight resemblance of form. However the substance is entirely different. Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur writes that when the devotee realizes Sri Krishna's form, he apologizes for the "offense", in his previous ignorant state, for comparing Sri Krishna's complexion to that of a blue lotus. In other words, the reality of Sri Krishna is far beyond the imagination of the conditioned souls.

Similarly, conditioned souls dare to speculate that their genital friction has some similarity to the pastimes of the divine couple. This is a cataclysmic mistake that will forever banish them from the spiritual realm. So my message is......please understand......your sex is your sex ..... Radha-Krsna's sex is Their sex and never the twain shall meet.

If you want to advance in spiritual life the golden rule is never compare the two, never combine them in the same sentence, the same breath or even, or especially, in the same thought. Every acharya has warned us repeatedly on this point. But almost all conditioned souls are simply incapable of containing their arrogance in this regard.

Srila Jiva Gosvami clearly states that Radha Krsna's amorous pastimes create a negative effect (bhava-virodha) in any man who is still subject to experiencing an erection. So this subject is not for any sexual active person to even think about.....period.

Now we have that subject out of the way, let's consider sex in this world. No power on earth can stop young couples from having sex. So why even try? So everyone can go ahead and satisfy their appetites in a functional, healthy, dharmic context, and after a few years if they are also practicing a decent daily sadhana, the desire will just fade away into the category of "been there, seen it, done it." It's just a natural combination of experience, maturity and purity. It cannot be faked or artificially imposed in any way.

So you can see my position is not based on any idea of repression on one side, or immorality on the other. You have incorrectly assumed that I have taken a vow of celibacy in marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are celibate and happy because the natural process actually works. The joy of bhakti really does make all other pleasure seem pale in comparison. Therefore, we are in an ideal situation to help others.

I hope this clears things up. If not we can continue to refine the explanation. It's just common sense really. Be normal and chant Hare Krishna. After some time, by the power of the holy name, you will cease to be normal. The process is simple, but devotees get derailed for decades as the reaction to the offenses of careless talk, narrow-minded judgmentalism, and less than affectionate dealings.

There is a temptation to jump into the debate, since these are all problems I have dealt with repeatedly on this blog. This is not the time for that, however. I am taking a slightly different attitude to the problem in general. As I may have said before, I am removed from the general Western devotee's experience by several degrees of difference. How can anyone understand the higher things when they don't even grasp certain basics?

The first problem, as I see it, is that too few people have any real experience of what it means to go inward, to be silent, to be absorbed in a mantra, or indeed anything whatsoever, what to speak of lila!

One of the main problems for the Sahajiya mode of thinking or approach is that it is based on an assumption that both sadhaka and sadhika have reached a certain level of spiritual self-awareness, or accomplishment. Such spiritual self-awareness is not the same as dogmatic unity. In other words, two dedicated disciples of the same Guru, who read and believe the same things, will not necessarily find that genuine communion on a transcendental level is possible unless they have the actual practice.

There must be a training in individual inwardness in order for dual inwardness, or communion, to be possible.

Now there are different models of Vaishnavism out there, the Gaudiya Math and Iskcon are the main ones for people coming from the West. For their devotees, the "authenticity quotient" present in each is sufficient for their hunger. One has its time or ethos frozen in late British Bengal, the other in the New York of the 1960's. But in either case, they have a particular flavor or mood that has been assiduously cultivated over the years. There are some crossover influences, but for the most part, they have kept their unique flavors intact.

One thing they have in common, however, is that they are most proud of external achievements -- grandiose developments, big temples, many converts, big successes, achievements, photos with the president, speaking to national parliaments, and all the rest of it. They call this preaching to the world at large. These have their market, and because they are externally oriented, towards growth, they naturally tend to a group ethos.

But there are others who are looking for something different, something a little more romantic spiritually, something that satisfies their quest for the exotic and which is yet a deep and profound insight into human nature universally. Something that satisfies their craving for inwardness, towards the Self, towards the Soul.

In early stages of spiritual life, the strength of community helps one's training tremendously, but such training should lead to the capacity to be alone. So the way that I conceive of Bhaktivinoda Thakur's tradition, as we can have it today, is to take the next step towards inwardness.

Anyway, the point here is that I am not thinking in terms of a "world dominator" religion, but more in the spirit of a free market of religious experience. Of finding a niche and serving it. The Gaudiya Vaishnava world is bigger than the iron-fisted rule of one or two giant orthodoxies and orthopraxies.

There are countless ways of going inward, but certain methods are common to yoga, which is described in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita or Yoga-sutra. In our tradition, lila-smarana is given only as a later development in the training. Like any yoga, you have to first learn to sit still and focus the mind on the Holy Name and the mantra, etc.

So if someone has built up faith in Bhaktivinoda Thakur through the IGM, and they start to crave the kind of spiritual ambience that he himself idealized, then why not go deeper into it? And why should the very birthplace of Bhaktivinoda Thakur not provide the service of creating a space like those of the great bhajan communities like Tatia Sthan in Vrindavan, or Bhagavata Nivas?

Bhaktivinoda Thakur is the crossover point from the modern world to the bhajan world of the past. Even if this is not a possibility as a general way of life today, it most certainly can be an asylum, a shelter from what the modern world has become, and a place to find one's spiritual core.


Now some may object that I am talking about a kind of artificial experience: It was a world that never really existed, was it? And the Jaiva Dharma world seems to have no place for women. Is that kind of gender segregation and all the negative implications that has also part of this vision?

Obviously, we cannot recreate the Jaiva Dharma in some pristine way. It will always have a touch of artificiality to it. This is what I am calling the Disneyworld aspect of things. There are medieval castles that look like Cinderella's castle, somewhat, but they don't have internal plumbing. As far as possible we preserve the best of the ideal, as much as it is possible for us to implement it. But even an artificial environment has the power to aid the elevation of consciousness and certain deliberate uses of nature and imagery can be powerful catalyst in this way. Maybe it is more of a "Frontier Village" concept rather than a Disneyworld, but the basic idea is that of a specially constructed community and environment designed to optimize spiritual culture.

Moreover, an ashram, as I said above, is asylum. It means a refuge from the madness of material life, an escape. And the primary thing, it would seem to me, for either men or women, is to spend a little time out of the "game." Some people will be forced into it by circumstance and will find the environment conducive to dealing with their lot, others will come running just like a wounded animal finds a place to lick its wounds. But as Elizabeth Abbott shows in her "History of Celibacy," both men and women have recognized through history that abstinence is a key to liberation.

This does have to have negative effects on the wider Vaishnava community or gender relations. Indeed, in the proper context it could be seen as having a salutary effect. Even a temporary bit of enforced separation can enhance union.

So why not have such ashrams for women also? And I think it is inevitable that there will be women at Birnagar also. We will have to figure out how to do it.


7 comments:

krishna-kirti das said...

Interesting set of posts, Jagat Ji. I would say the safe money is on being pessimistic about one's own philosophical understanding. If you wish to nurse that pessimism any further, we can chat privately. In the meantime, good luck. ys kkd

Jagadananda Das said...

Dear Krishna Kirtiji,

I would only do so if I thought you had read what I have written in the past. I am tired of repeating myself.

There are limits to pessimism. That is the very principle of Vaishnavism.

Radhe Radhe,

Jagat

Anonymous said...

namaskar
how while making a etopian "jaiva dharma" environment to avoid the problems of ego, power struggle, autocrazy, embezzlement, etc. Can the expectation that these things will not happen depend on the purity of the leader or something else?

Jagadananda Das said...

There is no doubt that everything depends on the purity of the leaders. Nowadays everything is so oriented to externals that places dedicated to the inner life are becoming rare.

Jagadananda Das said...

There is no doubt that everything depends on the purity of the leaders. Nowadays everything is so oriented to externals that places dedicated to the inner life are becoming rare.

Anonymous said...


"Keep you cocoa in the tin
the life-force must be kept within
six months to a year is all it will take
so save your cocoa for goodness sake"

Always makes my person laugh that one, few control themselves, even fewer can overcome the need to control themselves, and of this number even fewer still - simply through practice have gone beyond such thought constructs to truly become "as a child" with no thought for such action.

Sahaja is not something to be resorted to at certain times of the day, or as an escape, Sahaja practice is a continuous mantra, all consuming by those whom know of the very real effects that its true practice brings over-time-and-constant-repetition.

Anonymous said...


Jagadananda Das said: "places dedicated to the inner life are becoming rare."

M. N. replied: There is only one place dedicated to the inner life, and to find this place - each and every one of us must die and be truly re-born from this shining womb of light.

Re-born alive yet dead, dead yet alive, a mirror image of life-and-death, both and neither - all at the same time of past, present, future and no time at all - reflecting each other like fractal mirrors into the infinity of the present.

There is only the now, punctuated by the play of light and dark, day-time and night-time, rotation and tilt.

Few are able to ride the horse and tilt, few know of the hidden rotation, even fewer have managed both and emptied out before the brow to become re-born as children of the shining womb of light.

In truth, what else is there to speak of Jagadananda Das.