Sunday, November 27, 2016

Recognizing the channel of Grace

Bhakta : I find it a bit odd that the person (you) I respect and admire is defending someone (Prabhupada) who is the exact opposite. What I like about you is that you allow your perspective to change and grow as you become more realized, whereas Prabhupada presented himself as having all the answers for the next 10,000 years. If Prabhupada were here today he would probably deride you as a sahajiya - and yet you defend him. I know he is your first spiritual master... but, he is not your kind of a person.

People sometimes claim that if it weren't for Prabhupada then they would not have known about bhakti. I dismiss those arguments because we don't know what would have happened otherwise. I'm not so sure if on the balance what Prabhupada presented has caused more good than harm.

Jagadananda Das: Radhe Radhe. You can't talk about your life theoretically. Your life is all you have. The process of bhakti is to recognize the presence of Grace. And Guru Tattva means recognizing the channel of grace. You cannot take the grace and disparage the vessel from which it came, no matter how flawed.

We are in a transformative time. Prabhupada himself talked about the necessity of putting old wine in new bottles. But because our knowledge-universe is really so different from his, we need to do a lot of work to really understand the essence of bhakti.

Our knowledge universe has one kind of sophistication, but there is a great deal of sophistication in the yoga systems of India as well, which developed over millennia. Bhakti is also one of those systems and should not be looked at superficially. All these systems have universal applicability.

But if you simply observe things with a critical or empirical lens and without actual practical insight, then you are bound to misunderstand what is meant to result from bhakti practice.

We value knowledge over wisdom. And so a lot of shallow (though complex) thinking poses as wisdom in our day. The goal, as I see it, is to harmonize empirical observation with the inner practice and transformation.

God is not something that can be reified. God's presence in our lives is subjective. The mistake of most religious believers is literal mindedness. In this world of Maya, it seems madness to take this approach. The critiques of modern psychology, etc., help us to become free of it, but we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We can push things forward by seizing the essence. Don't underestimate the rishis.

And to bring this back to Prabhupada, don't underestimate his brilliance in attracting people to the bhakti path. If you think I have any good qualities, you should know that these good qualities also originate in him.

Guru, Grace and Gratitude.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jagadananda Das said: God is not something that can be reified. God's presence in our lives is subjective. The mistake of most religious believers is literal mindedness. In this world of Maya, it seems madness to take this approach. The critiques of modern psychology, etc., help us to become free of it, but we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We can push things forward by seizing the essence. Don't underestimate the rishis.

Śrīmaccidānandanātha replied: 'Subjective' (in the mind) perception of God is relative to each and every mind's point of view to the 'objective' (external reality) perceived as a construct of mind; this external reality is used by the mind to form a false ‘subjective’ image (Maya) of God. As each individual divided mind perceives its own form of Maya, the iterations of this false construct are endless. Only the undivided mind as a true reflection of god is able to perceive God by becoming God; to know God is in truth to “know yourself.” To know One’s own true self is to go beyond both ‘subjective’ (duality of mind) and ‘objective’ (duality of the physical).

Anonymous said...

In other words, 'subjective' and 'objective' is a never ending merry-go-round, a self-driven trap which ensnares the mind.

True brilliance is to be found by simply letting go.

Anonymous said...

To help in practice, earnest readers may whish to study:

Calming the Mind and Discerning the Real: Buddhist Meditation and the Middle View
From the Lam rim chen mo of Tsoṅ-kha-pa

Translated by Alex Wayman