Saturday, October 25, 2014

Back to basics again

Of late I have been doing most of my writing over on Vrindavan Today, where I have been attempting to post a daily verse with commentary on the Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta. The day before yesterday I commented on the following verse:

rājyaṁ niṣkaṇṭakam api parityajya divyāś ca rāmāḥ
kāmān sarvān api ca vihitāṁs tikta-tiktān vidantaḥ |
hitvā vidyā-kula-dhana-janādyābhimānaṁ praviṣṭā
ye śrī-vṛndā-vipinam apunar-nirgamāṁs tān namāmaḥ ||
To those who have entered Vrindavan never to leave, rejecting a kingdom without enemies, along with beautiful women and all desires and duties, thinking them to be most bitter, and who have renounced their learning, noble birth, wealth, and fame to do so, we offer our respectful obeisances. (1.76)
Anyone familiar with my blog is aware that I have spoken extensively about gender issues, in the firm belief that Radha and Krishna is a Truth that represents the supreme ideal of human love. In response to what I wrote on VT, a woman of a feminist persuasion wrote the following:
[This post] was by a man about men's point of view both of Vrindavan (a positive place to escape and dwell solely on "spiritual matters" -- or fantasies -- ignoring the real if temporary world around them) and of women there and everywhere (negative, misogynist, and sexist, and each one like "Maya" the cause of all male falldowns... or most of them).

If I also assumed that destroying Vrindavan are all or are mostly all male as well, would I be correct? If so, then what is the underlying CORE issue on the current and future state of Vrindavan? Take a minute or two if you need them... And then: what are these groups two major problems? One starts with an S (or M), the other with a G.

As for the majority of the article contents: It is a typical male-centric, women-ignoring attempt to be inspiring.
I think that a healthy repudiation of the dangers of sexual objectification is good for spiritual life. Indeed for life in general. Is that not the basic premise of feminism, that men objectify women? So does sannyas not address this problem?

Now the question is, is religion the cause of the objectification of women? Or is it an attempt to counteract that tendency? I think an argument can be made for the latter. It is just that we live in changing times and so the goalposts have moved and everyone needs to up their game a little.

Who is sannyas for? And what are these "fantasy projections" for? What service do they provide to the human psyche? Do romantic fantasies not exist already -- with or without Radha and Krishna -- and does not a mature mind deal with them in whatever way it can, without ever being entirely able to get rid of them? As such, we may ask whether the archetypal fantasy of romantic love is a profound, hard-wired psychological issue and the way that we deal with that innate instinctual desire to find a romantic partner, an ideal love, is probably the defining psychological problem, as both Freud and Jung, in their own ways, recognized.

So what does it mean to give transcendent meaning to a symbol of romantic love? Does it serve a purpose? Is transcendence real? Does transcendence have significance in the day-to-day world of so-called reality?

So many women and men suffer due to frustration in love. And they want to blame it on something, in accordance with their conditioned complexes. What Radha and Krishna are about is primarily this: They affirm the existence of love as having its pure form in Divine Transcendence. This puts material relationships into a particular perspective. The interaction of ideal and real are what produce rasa.

If that is so, then why do men take sannyāsa? And why do we glorify sannyāsa? And why has it historically been men who idealize the romantic vision in literature and the arts? And now women do the same thing, which of course is something that feminists dislike tremendously since they feel that female romantics have been co-opted by a patriarchal fantasy that is not beneficial to the woman. Help!

The Vaishnava Radha-Krishna worshiping sannyāsin wants to affirm the ideal due to his incapacity to realize it in the world. This incapacity may come the normal way, due to age, or due to some other reason, pessimism about the world usually.

But the important point here is that without the ideal, you cannot realize love in this world. Otherwise you end up with nothing but a mundane concept of love that is objectification.

Actually material love means objectification. It is about projecting subconscious contents outwards onto other people and then dealing with the consequences. Without the spiritual basis in yoga and bhakti, the experience is usually unfulfilled; it does not realize its fullest potential, which is prema.

Spiritual love means entering a divine realm. If you have a proper partner in bhakti, it can be done together. If you don't, then it is better that you extract yourself from the game and focus on the ideal.

The ideal is ultimately NOT a fantasy. It exists in transcendence. It is what makes love possible in this world. There are two ways of realizing that transcendence: one is through renunciation, the other is through active participation in the world.

Both are difficult, but the latter is the process followed by most. But due to ignorance and bodily consciousness, etc., most people in the latter process, i.e., the worldly process, end up frustrated. How many people understand the spiritual process of love as mediated through Radha-Krishna consciousness? Not many.

So the core issue is that of love. And the purification of that concept, with the backdrop of an ideal symbolized by Radha and Krishna. Everything else comes out of that.

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