The Journey Home Book - By Radhanath Swami
At the age of only nineteen, Radhanath Swami left his home in America seeking adventure and spiritual knowledge. After trekking across Europe for months, Radhanath Swami reached his long hoped for destination: India. After living there for many years as a sadhu or wandering monk, Radhanath Swami returned to America in order to share the sacred knowledge and wisdom he had learned from the many holy men and women he had met there. It was an extraordinary choice, given what Radhanath Swami had survived to get there: a journey filled with bizarre characters, mystical experiences, and dangerous adventures. The story is recounted in his recently published memoir The Journey Home - Autobiography of an American Swami. Reviewers have called Radhanath Swami's saga "at once an engaging yarn, a love story, and the evocation of a transcendent paradise in all its savagery, solitude, and splendor.
Radhanath Swami emerged from his years of travel wanting to explain for others the beauty and rewards of a life devoted to God, and therein lay a dilemma. Radhanath Swami's many followers and friends describe him as completely selfless and consequently unwilling to take credit for his work and restless when a spotlight is focused on him. By choosing A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (1896-1977), a Bengali Vaishnava Saint, as his guru (after declining offers of initiation from several tyagis or renunciants in the Himalayas), Radhanath Swami cast his fate to the wind, cut his matted locks, and entered back into the society.
RadhanathMaharaj.net gives us a complete collection of the teaching of Radhanath Swami. Teachings consists of Transcriptions of lectures delivered by Radhanath Swami at various places. This website is to inspire the followers of Radhanath Swami to practice the philosophy of Vaishanavism.
yaj jïätvä na punar moham
evaà yäsyasi päëòava
yena bhütäny açeñäëi
drakñyasy ätmany atho mayi
Kåñëa tells, “one who has thus learned the truth, knows that all living beings are but part of me and that they are in me and that they are mine.” mamaiväàço jéva-loke jéva-bhütaù sanätanaù, that the soul, the ätma, the life force within every living being is part of God. Our constitutional nature is sac-cid-änanda, eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss. Kåñëa tells in the Gétä,
na jäyate mriyate vä kadäcin
näyaà bhütvä bhavitä vä na bhüyaù
ajo nityaù çäçvato ’yaà puräëo
na hanyate hanyamäne çarére
That the soul is unborn and it never ceases to exist. It does not die when the body dies. We are eternal, we are full of knowledge, and we are full of bliss. That is the nature of life. Wherever there is life, that is the essential quality. So, for the soul, there is no death. From a spiritual perspective, death means forgetfulness of our true identity. Avidyä, ignorance. In ignorance simply means identifying with what were are not. As long as we think that we are this temporary material body and mind and intelligence, we are trying to experience pleasure and fulfillment through this medium. We are not this body. We have never been this body. We are eternal souls, and the real happiness that everyone is searching for is within our very selves. So, this cloud of forgetfulness is likened to death for the soul. Now, Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura explains in one beautiful prayer “He reasons ill who says that Vaiñëavas die, When thou art living still in sound! The Vaiñëavas die to live, and live to spread the holy name around.” Now when Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura and all of the great saints say that devotees die to live, they are not simply talking about death to this gross physical body made out of flesh and bones and blood and so many other elements. We are speaking of death to the very root cause of all of our misconceptions and sufferings and what is that, that is ahaìkära or the false ego. This false ego has given us the misconception in which we have forgotten our true, blissful identity. The ätma, the eternal soul is deeply buried in this grave of ignorance. In an apparently dead state, the ätma is in a grave that is covered by the earth that we have accumulated from this foreign land; lust, envy, anger, pride, greed, illusion, the desire to exploit, the desire to possess, the desire to accumulate, this is the dirt that we have collected since time immemorial in which our true-self is buried as if in a grave, but when the false ego, the misconception dies, then the true-self, the soul is resurrected in its full glory. This gross body, we know, that death is inevitable, but the false ego continues to cover over the soul birth after birth after birth after birth and is depriving us of our real inheritance as the children of God. Death means to let the false ego go and to live in the light of real truth. The great philosopher from German Hegel spoke very strongly the principle “Die to Live” which is very much in harmony with the essential knowledge of the Bhagavad-gétä and the Vedas. Die to live, if you want to live in truth, you will have to die as you are in your present state of consciousness. Material illusory consciousness is one of exploitation, and real consciousness of the soul is a consciousness of service. Death to the ego is a process, it is the most important process that it is the very basis of all spiritual paths, just like gold. When you put gold in fire, the fire burns away all the gross coverings, and the longer the gold is in fire, the more its original, natural shine manifests. It becomes more and more and more beautiful. Sandalwood, the more you press sandalwood or rub sandalwood, the more its natural, beautiful fragrance is manifested. Thesis, antithesis, or synthesis, this can be understood from various points of view. From one point of view, we can understand that theoretically we are the eternal soul, part of God. We are eternal servants of Kåñëa. However, in our life and in the process of purification, in the process of making actual progress, there will be many challenges and obstacles that are threatening and fighting against the principle of what we want to achieve. However, if we, with proper integrity and proper spiritual direction, pass through those obstacles, they bring about realization. There is jïän and through the process of overcoming so many obstacles on the path, we develop vijïän or realization which is the synthesis, the holistic understanding of the truth, of who we really are, what is our relationship with God, what is our relationship with other living beings, and what is our relationship with material nature. In order to make progress on the spiritual path, in order to properly die to live, there must be elimination of our conditioned state, of our very, very deeply rooted desire to exploit, to accumulate, to possess; and acceptance of a path of humility, purity, and service. Sevä or service really means death to the ego. It is very powerful. It is our constitutional position. It is not our desire to simply die. We want to die to live. Not only do we want to dismiss the ego or cause death to it, but we want to live according to our real ambition, to live in a state of complete fulfillment, divine life and divine love. Freedom means to surrender to the truth. To serve the mania of the society of the world is slavery, but this is the ignorance of the world. We are thinking that slavery to our mind, our senses, and our ego is freedom and we are thinking that to live a spiritually oriented life is slavery. Just like, when Çréla Prabhupäda, his Godbrother spoke to Lord Zetland, one of the great British nobleman, he really had a deep appreciation for Bhagavad-gétä and for Vaiñëavas, and he asked, “can you make me brähmaëa,” and the person said yes, “we can make you brähmaëa, it is not a matter of birth, it is a matter of one’s quality.” What do I have to do. Simply follow these four principles: No illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling, no meat-eating. And he very honestly looked to this saint and said, “that is impossible, how will I live.” So, to follow these rules feels like slavery. You are giving up so many nice things in life that give so much enjoyment, but from the perspective of reality, to be addicted to all of these things which simply infatuate and perpetuate the power of the false ego, that is slavery. Milton, he had written the opinion of Satan, that to reign in hell is better than to serve in heaven. That is the modern day philosophy of life in a very blatant and honest form, but if we want real life, actual life, we have to understand the opposite principle. The absolute truth is for himself and that by himself and for himself. Kåñëa tells in Gétä what is real peace,
jïätvä mäà çäntim åcchati
Real peace is to understand that I am meant for the enjoyment of God. My constitutional nature is to serve. Sacrifice is the quality of real love. Not to take, not to accumulate, not to possess, but to give, to serve, that is spiritual quality, that is our nature, and that is where we find real happiness. Actually, death means transformation. On the gross physical level, when somebody’s body dies, really what has happened is just transformation of material elements. It is not that the elements of the body cease to exist. They may be turned into ashes if put into fire, they may be turned into dust if they are put into earth. They are just transformed, so similarly death of the ego means transformation of our consciousness, and in that transformation, there is real life. One of my Godbrothers wrote a beautiful song where he describes how the caterpillar just by nature’s process, the caterpillar is crawling around and then enters into a cocoon, and that cocoon is a very, very restricted environment, but through that austerity, through that process of tapasya you may say, it is transformed into a butterfly. Now, nobody feels a caterpillar is very beautiful, but butterfly is perhaps the most beautiful of all little insects with all of its colors, flying from one scented flower to the next scented flower. Just a couple of years ago, in the corner of our temple, there was an area that was a garbage dump where there were so many caterpillars and crows just eating the garbage, but then we made it into a very nice garden with fresh, scented flowers and trees, and now so many butterflies are coming. Transformation, transformation of the heart is what is required, transformation of our desires from living according to this egoistic conception that I want to enjoy to the conception of wanting to serve. ye hi saàsparça-jä bhogä duùkha-yonaya eva te. Is anyone ever really satisfied by whatever fame, prestige, or accumulation of wealth one may achieve? In previous purana festivals 20:55, there have been many statistics presented to all of you, how people even in the wealthiest parts of the wealthiest countries in the world are spending their money in psychiatrist, taking sleeping pills, taking antidepressant pills, even suicide, so much dependence on intoxications just to try to ease of the frustrations of life. Fame, power, material wealth cannot bring happiness; and ultimately, we are living for these things and what is the combination, death; it is all taken away. This is not pessimism. This is simply reality. So, transformation means to actually have the proper attitude to strive for what is real, what is true.
näsato vidyate bhävo
näbhävo vidyate sataù
ubhayor api dåñöo ’ntas
tv anayos tattva-darçibhiù
What is real is what is eternal, what is ever lasting, and what is temporary, it is illusory. Now, people may challenge that how do you know the soul is eternal, how do you know there is a God? Because unless we have faith in these principles, how will we strive to live for that when there is so much opposition, philosophically, logically, socially. The scriptures and the great saints of every spiritual path, of every religion throughout history, they have lived and died for this truth. Recently, someone asked, “how do you know there is God?” The obvious question to ask such a person is, “how do you know there is no God?” “Can you prove there is a God?” “Can you prove there is no God?” Can anyone actually prove that there is no God. There are no many theories, but what really is the evidence. Was anyone there to actually eye-witness with a video machine the Big Bang? It is just a concept born in peoples’ minds which seems to make sense due to certain things, certain phenomenon that they are witnessing today, but the obvious question, is it more logical that everything comes from nothing or that everything comes from something. If it is more logical that everything comes from something, that something is God, janmädy asya yataù. This is the definition of Vedänta-sütra that the absolute truth is whom everything emanates from or as Kåñëa says in Gétä ahaà sarvasya prabhavo mattaù sarvaà pravartate, “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds.” Now, throughout history who are the greatest people that ever lived? Are they the politicians, are they the atheistic scientists, are they the athletes, or are they the saints who dedicated their lives, their souls, everything to truth, who were willing to sacrifice their whole lives to enlighten people, to love God. The saints of India, the saints of Christianity, the saints of Islam, study their lives. The actual åñis, they lived completely pure. They were completely peaceful. They were completely intoxicated; intoxicated with love for God; and they spoke their realizations of God with such illuminated hearts, with such realization that they transformed millions and millions of peoples’ lives. Is Rüpa Gosvämé a liar? Is Jesus a liar? Is Abraham a liar? Is Moses a liar? Is the prophet Mohammed a liar? Is Lord Chaitanya and all of these great personalities liars? They lived the most resplendent lives of pure integrity as did their followers, millions and millions of them. Are they all in illusion? They are telling us that they are seeing God, they are feeling God, they are tasting God, they are loving God. So, who to believe? People taking sleeping pills, smoking cigarettes, addicted, and saying there is no God or people who are living the most pristine lives of compassion and sacrifice of love for all living beings without discrimination; it is for each of us to decide, and especially the great åñis of India spoke with such deep philosophy and profound knowledge the science of God consciousness, not just some sentimental belief, but presented the truth, the existence of God in his three features, Brahman, Paramätmä, and Bhagavän in such deep, sound, scientific, philosophically, logical ways. With realization, in the association of people who have faith, the natural faith which is within our heart awakens. Real faith is not something that is imposed upon you. Real faith is awakened from within in the proper environment like a seed. A seed if it is watered properly, it grows into a beautiful flower. So, in order to have such confidence in which we are actually willing to take the great apparent risk of dying to live, sädhu saìga is most important. Sädhu saìga means association of devoted people. Otherwise, the campaign of mäyä or illusion which is all around us is directly or indirectly speaking, better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven, better to be the proprietor and the enjoyer in this world of illusion than to be a servant in the ecstatic realm of dedication and devotion to the Lord. Sanätana Gosvämé had very, very painful itching sores all over his body due to drinking some bad water when he was traveling in the forest, and it was causing him so much pain. When he came to Jagannäth Puré, he came before Lord Chaitanya. Now, in his mind, he was thinking that my body is totally useless, it is covered with all these diseases. “During the Ratha-yäträ festival, I will throw my body under the chariot of Lord Jagannäth in the presence of Lord Chaitanya and his devotees and die, and then perhaps I will get a better birth in my next life.” He did not speak his thoughts to anyone, but Lord Chaitanya understood his heart and spoke. He said, “Sanätana, you are a criminal. You are a criminal. You want to destroy someone else’s property. You have already surrendered your body to me, so how can you kill what is mine?” Then he told Sanätana Gosvämé, “if just giving up this body or killing this body will bring us to Kåñëa,” he said, “I would have already killed this body tens and tens and tens and millions of times, but it is not by killing this body, it is not by the death of this body that anyone can go to God. It is by purifying the heart. It is by dying of the ego to live eternally.” And actually, the way devotees dress, it is to help us with this conception of identity. It is not that you have to do these external things, but those who do, it should be understood in its proper context. Why do some of us shave our heads? Shaving the head is symbolic. It represents death to the ego because beautiful hair is something that gives people beauty and prestige, tradition. To shave the head in all great religions, whether it is Christian monks or Buddhist monks or Hindu monks or Vaiñëava monks, it is an expression of death to the ego so that my real life as a servant of God, I am identifying myself like that. And also we put on this tilaka for the same principle. People are using this body to exploit and enjoy, but tilaka means we do not want any part of that die to live. Tilaka represents that this body is a temple of God. God is living in this body, the soul is living in this body. This body is a place of worship of God. According to the religious institution, there are so many buildings in the city, some have a star of David, some have a crucifix, some have a trident, some have a cakra, some have a crescent moon and star--what does all that mean. That means this is a place of worshipping God, but why just the building, our body is a place, a temple to worship God. Therefore, this tilaka has very, very great significance---- die to live. At the same time, when we take initiation or dékñä, we are taking a new birth. We are given a new name, and every name ends with däsa, servant, or devi däsi, servant. Kåñëa däsa, Gauräìga däsa, Çivaräma Däsa, Rüpa Gosvämé Däsa, these are all not just 0:35:22, it is a very, very sacred act of surrender if we understand it in its proper context. When we are given this name of the servant of God, that is the process in which we die to live. I am now leaving behind my false ego, all of my temporary designations, and I am identifying myself and living according to the principle of my eternal identify as the servant of the Lord. The spirit soul is infinitesimal, it is only a tiny little spark of the supreme sun of Kåñëa or God. Çaraëägati or surrender, the spirit of dying to live means to wholesale offer, offer everything that we have for the pleasure of the Lord. It is not that such a little small particle as ourselves only wants to offer a small particle of the small particle. Now, in the material sense surrender means to lose, just like when Mahatma Gandhi did his nonviolent protest and Subhash Chandra Bose very expertly balanced act with his declaring violent war on the British obstinately, the British surrendered and said, “you can make India your independent state.” But that is not what they wanted, they lost. Yes, India won, Britain lost. The allied forces headed by Russia and America won and Hitler and Japan, Germany, they lost, and in that loss, they surrendered. So, this is the idea people have, surrender means to lose. Surrender is something that is very, very undesirable, by force. But in Sanskrit, the word Çaraëägati is something very different. Çaraëägati means-----when Kåñëa says, sarva-dharmän parityajya, surrender, it is the most positive of expression, of our gratitude and our love. It is the ultimately the most joyful experience of the heart. There cannot be love without surrender. Love is not selfish. Love is self-less. Love is for the beloved. Bhägavatam explains,
sa vai puàsäà paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokñaje
that the supreme occupation for all humanity is loving service to the supreme. Such love must me unconditional and unmotivated to complying satisfy the self. Is that not what every living being is looking for, longing for, and searching for in every aspect of their life? They are looking for pleasure. There is pleasure to the senses. There is pleasure to the mind, but there is only one thing that can give pleasure to the heart, and the heart is the sitting place of the self, the soul, and that is love; to love and to be loved, but what is the meaning of love? This is described in Çré Caitanya-caritämåta: Käma is affection in which we try to enjoy for ourselves, that is called käma. It is the material principle, and it can never be satisfied because as long as we are trying to enjoy ourselves, that burning desire for enjoyment is like fire, the more you feed it, the hungrier it grows. But, what is love or prem. It is the complete giving of the heart for the pleasure of the object of our love. Even in this world, the most satisfying, loving relationships are not the romantic affairs that you see in the movies because it does not last. The real pleasure of the soul….. the real pleasure of the heart, let us say…. comes through sacrifice and dedication. The love of a good father or good mother for the child, it does not matter what the child does…. my mother and father, they gave me everything, and they expected so much of me, and then I told them I am going to Europe and I will be back in 3 months, and they did not hear from me for 5 months, and then they got a letter from Iran that I am on my way to India to search for God, and I have no idea if I will ever come back. And then they get letters from me from the jungles of the Himalayas while I am living in caves. How much pain, and then I came back a personality that was utterly inconceivable and mysterious to them. They felt that there was nothing in common anymore, but still they loved me. They would do anything for me. They were striving and struggling and everything to somehow or other understand me. Now, anybody else seeing me so absolutely different, who is actually living in opposition to everything that they hold sacred and stand for in life, there would be no love, but as mother and father, they never gave up. They would do anything, everything; and ultimately when they understood really what was the substance I was living for, not only were they blissful and happy, but they personally accepted it and became very proud and that was the greatest bliss of their life, they told me, when after years of being disappointed because of mystery, they could actually be proud and pleased with what I was doing. That was the happiness, the most elated moment of their life. So, this is a material example. In this world, real love is not selfish, real love is self-less, willing to make sacrifices for the beloved and that love actually satisfies the heart because there is some reality to it. Why… because that is the nature in its perfect state of the soul’s love for the absolute truth, the supreme soul or Kåñëa, the origin of love. Kåñëa is all-attractive, the source of all beauty, all knowledge, all strength, all wealth, all renunciation all beauty; therefore, he is the ultimate object of all the people’s love. So, to surrender to Kåñëa is the expression of true love and is actually the source of the greatest shelter and the greatest happiness. There is a beautiful verse in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu
atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevon mukhe hi jivadau svayam eva sphuraty adah
that means one cannot understand Kåñëa with these blunt contaminated mind and senses. sevon mukhe hi jivadau … only when our consciousness is saturated with a serving attitude, do our senses become purified, and according to that service attitude we have, the Lord reveals to us the truth. When we chant the names of the Lord… sevon mukhe hi jivadau svayam eva sphuraty adah….. we can purify our entire consciousness simply by proper utilizing the facility of our tongue. This is described in the scripture. When we chant the names of the Lord, we are invoking the divine presence of the Lord. In fact, Kåñëa says is Gétä…… ye yathä mäà prapadyante täàs tathaiva bhajämy aham….. “that according to how you approach me, that is how I reveal myself to you.” So not only do we try to chant the names of the Lord, but we try to chant in a service attitude that will please the Lord. That service attitude attracts Kåñëa to actually reveal himself through his holy names. Rüpa Gosvämé describes what happens when we taste even a drop of the nectar of the sweetness of the holy name. He states, “when the holy name of Kåñëa dances upon my tongue, I desire many, many, many tongues; and when that name enters into my ears, it is so sweet, it is so beautiful that I desire millions and millions and millions, unlimited ears; and when that name enters into my heart, my conscious is conquered by the beauty and sweetness of Kåñëa.” We are not speaking about the aspect of God in his wrath and his punishment upon sinners. We are speaking about the essential glory of the Lord in the spiritual world, who is all-attractive. When he enters our hearts, he is Hari, he steals our love…. steals our love by his unlimited beauty, sweetness, and his own love. That is the ultimate experience, but there is only one way to achieve that love and that is by the mercy of the Lord which comes in proportion to our service attitude, our desire to give to God and to give to others without selfishness, without egotism. When a devotee chants the names of the Lord, the aspiration should not be kanaka, käminé, or pratiñöä. It should not be simply to accumulate wealth, it should not be to enjoy the pleasures of the senses, it should not be to gain popularity and fame. It should be simply an offering of love for the pleasure of Kåñëa, of God. And what happens….. as our senses become purified by subservice, our senses, our mind, our everything derives eternal, ultimate satisfaction in this very life. We don’t have to die to realize God. God is within us. God’s energy is everywhere. It is the art of utilizing whatever talents we have in a spirit of servitude. Sometimes, the example is given of when Prabhupäda was living in the estate of John Lennon of the Beatles in London, and George Harrison, he became so deeply moved and transformed that he gave his heart to Kåñëa. Now, he was a multimillionaire with so much fame and so much prestige and so much property and he was young and he was handsome, he had everything… .. one of the most popular people in the world, with more money than he knew what to do with, and he was young and he was strong, but yet he asked Prabhupäda if he could shave his head and live in the temple because he explained that there was no happiness in any of this and he never met anybody who had any of it that was happy. He was a man of great dignity. He was looking for something real. Prabhupäda told him that Kåñëa consciousness does not mean giving up things, it simply means giving up the ego. “Carry on in the Beatles, play your guitar, live in your beautiful estate, but transform your consciousness, understand how everything is the grace of God, everything is the property of God, and reciprocate with love in the spirit of service.” And he dedicated the rest of his life to do that, and in the 1970s wrote one beautiful song “The Art of Dying” where he is explaining there is nothing so beautiful as the art of dying. Today, it is very popular “The Art of Living,” but actually a higher level is the art of dying. He said there is nothing so pleasurable, there is nothing so glorious, there is nothing so great as the art of dying. Now, he was not just talking about the body, just the heart stops and the pulse stops, and you just drop dead. He was speaking dying to live, the art of dying to this egoistic misconception of selfish life. You cannot live until you die to that. There is nothing so beautiful as the art of dying, written by a man, sung by a man who is living the way practically the whole world wanted to. So Lord Caitanya has told that there is no need to give up your present position in life. He told this to Kurma Brahmin. He went to a house in south India, and that person, he was so transformed by the Lord’s presence. He said, “this material ocean is very painful and I am constantly being beaten and crushed by the waves of suffering within this ocean of material existence, and my family life, so many anxieties. My occupation life, so many difficulties. I want to give it all up and become a renunciant and follow you.” Does that sound like a good proposal? Lord Caitanya said, “Do you speak such nonsense. There is no need for you to change your status or your occupation. You just have to die to live. You just have to change your consciousness.” And how he said you can change your consciousness, how you can overcome this egotism. He said, chant the names of the Lord, associate with saintly people, and share this great wealth with others. ceto-darpaëa-märjanaà bhava-mahä-dävägni-nirväpaëaà….. the name of the Lord cleanses the mirror of the heart. When a mirror is covered by dust, you don’t see yourself, that is what ahaìkära is about. You look in the mirror, but if the mirror is covered with dirt, all you see is dirt, and you identify yourself and live according to that impression of yourself, but if you cleanse the mirror and simply remove all of the external foreign contaminations, then you see yourself as you are. This is the process of chanting God’s names. It simply brings our consciousness back to its original, natural state. The other example is when water falls from the cloud, it is pure and transparent, but when it comes to the ground, it becomes muddy. The dirt is not the water, it is just mixed, and therefore, the transparency of the water was lost. The name of God is pure. By associating with what is pure, we become purified. By developing a proper attitude, we become purified, and our original nature can be realized which is full of love, full of bliss; and it is not just a theory, it can be directly perceived and experienced by anyone and everyone. It has nothing to do with our social status, with our educational qualification. It does not have anything to do with our nationality or our caste or our sex. It has nothing to do with our financial status. All that is required is sincerity and simplicity. Simplicity means just to be honest…….
tåëäd api su-nécena
taror iva sahiñëunä
kértanéyaù sadä hariù
……. Lord Caitanya taught that the name of the Lord manifests its supreme glory and love of God awakens immediately when we could chant in a spirit of humility like a blade of grass, tolerance like a tree, eager to offer all respect to others, and expect none in return, then we could chant the name of the Lord constantly. There are histories of people who were kings, who were powerful businessman or woman… all fields of life…. they developed these qualities and lived an enriched life of deep, deep spiritual quality and satisfaction. And that is available for everyone. The only qualification is just our sincerity and our simplicity. A beautiful example of this principle is our own beloved Çréla Prabhupäda. How he inspired so many millions of people all around the world is actually a great miracle. He did not show any superficial miracles because many people can be attractive by healing a sick person or producing gold or ashes or reading your mind. These mysticities are actually material arts according to the scriptures. Çréla Prabhupäda, perhaps he could have done all those things, but he did something much greater. He died to live. He lived in the service of others. He had no ego. He left India to try to give this great treasure of spiritual knowledge to the whole world. He wept and cried to see people so completely distracted and diverted by so many superficialities of life that the real treasure of the wealth of their heart was forgotten. They were living and dying without understanding who they are, who is God, and what is love. He left India on a cargo-ship with 40 rupees and could not change it because no one in America in 1965 even knew what a rupee was. He literally went with nothing. Seventy years old, he had two heart attacks, sea sickness before he even began, and just after that, he was 1:02:17. He lived alone for a year. He had death-threats, living in a ghetto. No one was helping him. He could have come back to India. He had a beautiful place in Våndävan, the most pleasurable place to live. But he lived in a spirit of compassion, and when these people from America, even upper class and upper middle-class and middle-class people, just seeing his sacrifice, seeing his compassion, seeing the selflessness of his love, their hearts melted. He was speaking the highest knowledge of Çrémad-Bhägavatam and Bhagavad-gétä according to the paramparä authority, but most of these people could not even understand him properly, but one thing they understood is here is a person who loves us more than anyone has ever loved us in our life and he does not even know us or perhaps he knows us better than anyone else does. In the 1960s in America, there was a social revolution. The young generation revolted against the older generation and all of the tenets that they stood for in life. It was a counterculture. It was a culture completely counter or against the existing culture, better known as hippies, and the battle cry was never trust anyone over 30….. yes, and we took that very, very seriously. Anyone over 30, even your own relatives, you may love them, but you cannot trust them. That was the deep 1:04:44 ideal and here comes a man who is 70 years old…. at that time, he was 71…..and he is telling them that they should give up illicit sex, give up intoxication, give up gambling, give up meat-eating, chant the names of Kåñëa 16 rounds every day minimum, and give your life for the loving service of the Lord, and they did it. That is miracle. Miracle is not just showing some trick. Miracle is transforming people’s lives, and what is that that transformed their lives…. they saw in him unconditional love, unconditional service attitude. At his age, he had a stroke, he had heart attacks, he was cooking for them, he was cleaning for them, he was painstakingly teaching them with so much love. He was absolutely not judgmental to any of their defects or short-comings. Philosophically, he was uncompromising that this is the standard you should set if you want to realize God, but on a personal level, you could not do anything that would make him not like you. He loved unconditional. Even they would come smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana, taking LSD, Prabhupäda would just never be judgmental. Hate the sin, but never the sinner because he was seeing part of God in everyone’s heart. Therefore, he was loving every person’s soul. He was loving every person’s essence and trying to help them to realize that love within themselves. That is what it means dying to live. Giving up the false covering of all of our selfish, egoistic conceptions of reality in order to live…. live a life of divine nature…. to access…. access Kåñëa’s love within us and be an instrument of that love in this world, that is dying to live, the art of dying, and the process of living. (Thank you very much….. Is there any questions?)
Question and Answers
Devotee 1: Hare Kåñëa Maharaj…. Maharaj, you told about ego, but in this world, everybody tells us that you should be in your self-respect…. everybody around us tells us that you should be in your self-respect, but when we try to be in our self-respect, this ego pushes in, so can you please tell me that what is the difference between the self-respect and ego from the spiritual point of view?
Maharaj: Respect for the true self rather than the temporary false self is real self-respect, to live in harmony with our own inner virtue. Lord Caitanya prayed nähaà vipra na ca nara-patir na pi vaiçyo na çüdro. He said, “I am not a brähmaëa or a kñatriya or a vaiçya or a çüdra. I am not a brahmacäré, gåhasta, vänaprasth, or sannyäs. These are all temporary designations. The real nature of the self is the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. When we actually strive to live by this principle: I am the servant of the servant of the servant---that is real self-respect, that is respecting the nature of the self, that is respect to God, that is respect to all living beings amäninä mäna-dena. If you respect others, you get much greater satisfaction than trying to respect yourself, yes… In respecting others, in giving to others, we receive the greatest benediction, that is love. So, real self-respect is not being selfish; real self-respect is to respect God within our heart, to respect our own real nature, and to respect all living being selflessly. And that may seem like a very impossible, theoretical idea….. does it sound that way? But it is natural for all of us. Just a little purification is required to realize it….. is there any other question?
Devotee 2: Hare Kåñëa, Maharaj. Please accept my humble obeisances to your divine lotus feet. Give your blessings to me. Actually, my question is 1:11:12 why cannot I have attachment to service and my quality of chanting is very bad(indistinct), so how to improve the quality of chanting.
Maharaj: How to improve quality of chanting, you are asking? By our sincerity and simplicity, by trying to improve the attitude of our service in our life, by trying to live more and more according to moral ethical and pure principles , and at that same time, by guarding against offences and sincerely and attentively making the effort to take shelter of the holy name as you are chanting. If you are simply sincere, Kåñëa will give you all help. Ananyäç cintayanto mäà ye janäù paryupäsate…. if we are just sincere to live with integrity and chant, then Kåñëa will give us all help, that is for sure. Is there another question?
Devotee 3: Hare Kåñëa, Maharaj: I want to ask one question, that is that when we say prayers or when we do any good deed, as you say it should have no selfish motive, but behind your mind, again you are thinking that you want to purify yourself, you want to have better deeds, etc, etc. That “I” is coming again. How do you explain that? Ultimately, it is “you are trying to move ahead, you want to be one with the Lord, with that light.” How do you explain that the “I” has come again? How do we say that is not a selfish motive?
Maharaj: Because the true “I” is not selfish. The egoistic “I” is selfish, but the spirit “I” is not selfish, it is our real “I” “I am a servant” is not a selfish conception. “I am a controller and enjoyer” that is a selfish conception. You cannot be free from “I,” it is impossible. There are three stages of existence. One is exploitation, the other is renunciation, and the last is dedication. So exploitation means “I am the enjoyer,” but that is a frustrating situation because we are trying to enjoy in a foreign conception to our real self…. yes. So, when people become frustrated by this path of exploitation, they may take to the path of renunciation. Renunciation is like a no-man’s land where we try to just negate everything and bring it to zero and eliminate the “I” (yes), but there is no love, there is no ras, there is no dynamic experience there; there is just the peace of existence that comes through renunciation, but through dedication, we are actually pursuing the positive side. The positive side is the real eternal “I.” Just like, this eye that we see…. If the eye is diseased, it is causing us pain. Now, one solution is to pluck it out, then you have no eye; the other solution is to heal it and then it is the real eye and you could see nicely and enjoy with it (yes). So, similarly, this ego “I,” the false ego is: I am the enjoyer, I am the controller, I am this body, I am a man, I am a woman, I am Indian, I am American, I am old, I am young; these are all designations, upädhis. They have their reality, but the reality is like an automobile for a driver. We use all. We use this body. This body is a sacred instrument to be used in God’s service, but we should understand “Who I am?” So, through frustration in the path of exploitation, people take to renunciation and they try to make everything zero, but the highest truth is the healthy, real, eternal emergence of “I,” the real “I,” that I am for Kåñëa, I am the lover of Kåñëa, I am loved by Kåñëa, I am the servant of Kåñëa, I am the servant of the servant, I am the well-wishing instrument of God’s love toward every living being with all humility. The emergence of that realization is the greatest attainment in life. Does that answer your question? Is there any other question?
Devotee 3: Hare Kåñëa, Maharaj: I don’t know if this question is relevant or not. You said that for self-realization we should not give up anything, then why there is brahmacäré ashram, sannyäsa ashram, and vänaprastha ashram… this is my question?
Maharaj: To do service, there are different occupational duties, you may say in different ashrams, and the real question is simply how we could best serve. Even brahmacärés, they are not lazy. Each brahmacäré has so much work and so many responsibilities and so many duties to perform and similarly gåhastas have so many duties and responsibilities to perform. So in whichever way we are best suited, we should perform our duties with this spiritual sense of dignity and dedication. If one is situated in the gåhasta ashram, there is no need to change that situation; however, if one pursues the path of renunciation as a brahmacäré, that is also perfect path to perfection; either one is perfect according to where we are most comfortably suited and according to how we could best serve. That answers your question? Thank you.
Devotee 4: You mentioned in the class that one should be eager to offer all respects to others, so what it means in practical life to be eager to offer all respects.
Maharaj: That is the spirit of servant. Prabhupäda explains that a devotee addresses all others as Prabhu, that means we take a humble position. In India, people fold their hands and say “namaskär,” but like so many things in this world, rarely do people understand what it really means. What is the origin. The Indian culture is so deep and so rich and every little detail of it is so meaningful if we actually understand it as it is. Namas means that we bow our head down, does it not? Means we prostrate ourselves. It is an act of worship, is it not? Namas means…. namaste sarasvati deve…. namaste means, “I bow down to you,” and who are we bowing down to. We are bowing down to the Lord within the heart of that person. Even an insignificant ant, if we are actually conscious, we would offer respects…. maybe not for every little ant that are going like this…. but in our heart, we are offering respect because we are identifying the presence of God, the presence of a part of God within even the ant. Wherever there is life, there is the presence of a part of God. So when we say namaste, we are actually offering our obeisance. We are offering our worship to the Lord within the heart of that person. That is the greatest respect, that is culture. To not only do it, but to feel it. Does that answer your question?
Devotee 5: Hare Kåñëa, Maharaj. Please accept my humble obeisances. My question to you is that how to explain about one’s true self to an atheist, that is a person who does not believe God, how to explain him that you are the soul and like what is your real identity?
Maharaj: Can you say again, please.
Devotee 5: Maharaj, My question to you is that how to explain about one’s true self to an atheist, how to explain to him about what his real identity is?
Devotee 6: How do we explain our true self to an atheist?
Maharaj: I already described that in lecture, the simply principle taught in Gétä, are you the soul or are you the body? That the body is always changing, but do we change? Does the witness of the body and the mind change? From boyhood to youth to old age, we are the witness of life. If you show a person a photograph of themself as a little baby, they will say “that was me when I was 2 months’ old.” Now, they are 45 years’ old. Is that body actually the same? The body is very very different, and the mind of a 2-month-old child and the mind of a 45-year-old man or woman is very different, but it is the same soul, the same person in that changing body. And at the time of death, the body is there, but there is something missing. If it is a material ingredient, why no one can find that ingredient to put it back? Death means, there is nobody home. We are seeing through our eyes, tasting through our tongue, smelling through our nose, hearing through our ears, feeling through our flesh, thinking through our brain, and loving through our heart, but who are we? Who am I? That is the most important question in life. If we want to be actually happy and have meaning, we have to understand this. Is there …. one more question?
Devotee 7: Maharaj, hare Kåñëa. Sometimes, we have to take great care of our body in some situations like disease. At that time, we have to think that first my body and then all these. If we are the spirit soul…… although we know this that we are the spirit soul, so why does this thought comes up in me? Maharaj, sometimes we have to think of our body and have to take great care of our body. In some situations, we have a thought that first my body and then all. If we are the spirit soul…. although we know that we are the spirit soul, why does this thought comes upon us?
Maharaj: How to realize the soul? By simply using this precious sacred body that God has given us in harmony with the true interest of the soul, we realize the soul. We like to eat, so we eat prasäd. We like to speak, so we speak transcendental subject matters. We use this process of hearing to purify ourself by hearing transcendental subject matters. Our sense of movement, to act for the welfare of others. So, by using this body that we have in harmony for the actual self-interest of the soul is the path of realization of the great treasure within us, and the easiest process is näma saìkértan, using the body to dance for Kåñëa and using the sense of speech to chant the names of Kåñëa. It is a beautiful experience which has a very, very, very powerful effect of awakening our original natural consciousness. At this time, let us perform näma saìkérta. I thank you very, very, very much. (END)
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