Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bhakti and the culture of the human body (deha-sadhana)

In response to my discussion of asana-siddhi, it was suggested that this was intended to impress others rather than to be a value in itself.



Of course this is not about impressing anyone, except for impressing on them the importance of physical culture, deha-sādhana. I cannot possibly agree with those devotees who think that proper care of this human body is irrelevant to the pursuit of bhakti. Who think that exploring the potential of the human body has no relation to the culture of Krishna prema.

śarīram ādyaṁ khalu dharma-sādhanam

The body is the beginning point of all spiritual culture.

The shastra glorifies the human body as the vehicle to spiritual realization, but we think it is only talking about the human brain and we ignore the rest of the possibilities and glories of this body. Dattatreya says the human body is the 25th guru. In other words, of all the "natural" gurus, the human body is the best.

Yet we think that listening to and learning from this miraculous engine that is the human body is somehow "not" Krishna conscious.

Krishna took a human form and engaged in such pastimes as the world would be attracted to him. He didn't really need the body to have a brain or a mind. It was the human form himself that was desirable for its possibilities in terms of lila.

We reside in the middle of a complex system that is interconnected--body-mind-intelligence-self. If you think you can skip the lower self and go straight to the higher, I admire your courage, and indeed, God's mercy is great on all those who seek him by the most direct method possible. But those who know that the human body IS the Lord's grace on us will learn how to engage it in the service of divine consciousness in a multiplicity of ways.

Bhakti is also a yoga because it is also about transforming the mind. We have some different ideas from yoga, philosophically, but most of the basic principles of yoga sādhana also apply to bhakti -- sooner or later you have to go from the external to the internal, and the internal process begins by looking within the body. That means first seeing the body and then seeing what is IN the body: First the prana and then the mind. And then the intelligence.

sṛṣṭvā purāṇi vividhāny ajayātma-śaktyā
vṛkṣān sarīsṛpa-paśūn khaga-dandaśūkān
tais tair atuṣṭa-hṛdayaḥ puruṣaṁ vidhāya
brahmāvaloka-dhiṣaṇaṁ mudam āpa devaḥ
With the help of his illusory potency, the Supreme Lord created this visible world with its trees, serpents, animals, birds and other creatures, but his heart remained dissatisfied. Then he created man, who alone possesses the intelligence to see Brahman and was delighted. (SB 11.9.28)
labdhvā sudurlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte
mānuṣyam arthadam anityam apīha dhīraḥ
tūrṇaṁ yateta na pated anumṛtyu yāvat
niḥśreyasāya viṣayaḥ khalu sarvataḥ syāt
After many, many births, one finally is born in a most rare and valuable human body which provides an opportunity to attain the supreme goal, but is nevertheless temporary. Therefore, the wise individual should immediately take up the effort to find that which provides the supreme good in all times and circumstances, and not give up that effort to the very moment of his death. (SB 11.9.29)
nṛ-deham ādyaṁ su-labhaṁ su-durlabhaṁ
plavaṁ su-kalpaṁ guru-karṇa-dhāram |
mayānukūlena nabhasvateritaṁ
pumān bhavābdhiṁ na taret sa ātma-hā ||
This human body is the root of all benefits. It seems so easily obtained, yet is in fact extremely rare. It is like a boat especially designed for crossing the ocean of material existence. If one has a spiritual master to guide him like the boat’s helmsman and is given the favorable winds of my mercy, but still fails to cross over, then he is willfully committing suicide. [11.20.17]
The first thing is to learn what the body is capable of spiritually. The body is the vehicle for the subtle body and the soul. So still the body and contemplate the mind. See the reflection of God in the body and the mind. See God in the intelligence in the thousand-petaled lotus. Set the energy rising from below to above, from the raw energies, the raw material of psychic energy or libido, on the path of transformation into the pure intelligence that manifests in the form of Radha-Krishna.

The intelligence of Prema.

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