Improving our Sadhu-sanga. TODAY’S SEMINAR Presentation ( Ihr 15min) Demonstration (15 minutes) 20 minute Break Group Discussion (1:30 hours) 10 minute Break Reflection and Questions (30 minutes) (Please write all your questions down and save them for the end).
(Please write all your questions down and save them for the end)
If a person is actually executing devotional service, then he must be happy. If he's not happy, then he's not doing properly. So first thing is this. He might be doing something in the name of devotional service. If he's actually rendering devotional service, then he must be feeling. Just like if you are eating actually, then you must feel strength and satisfaction of your hunger. You cannot say, "I'm eating, but I'm not satisfied of my hunger." That is impossible…Then he has to rectify the process of his service. Not to change but to rectify the process….If you are actually executing devotional service, you must feel happy. If you don’t feel happy, then you are not executing. There is some flaw.”
In 1996 we realised we weren’t happy. Something wasn’t working. So we set about trying to rectify our practice. The following are some of the many instructions we have heard from sastra which we have tried to apply.
The topmost benediction for those who are living in this material world and are subjected to the repetition of birth and death is association with pure devotees. One should search out such pure devotees and remain with them. That will make one completely happy, even though living within the material world.
My dear Uddhava, I am personally the ultimate shelter and way of life for saintly liberated persons, and thus if one does not engage in My loving devotional service, which is made possible by associating with My devotees, then for all practical purposes, one possesses no effective means for escaping from material existence.
SB 11.11.48 verse
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Uddhava, by associating with My pure devotees one can destroy one's attachment for all objects of material sense gratification. Such purifying association brings Me under the control of My devotee. One may perform the astanga-yoga system, engage in philosophical analysis of the elements of material nature, practice nonviolence and other ordinary principles of piety, chant the Vedas, perform penances, take to the renounced order of life, execute sacrificial performances and dig wells, plant trees and perform other public welfare activities, give in charity, carry out severe vows, worship the demigods, chant confidential mantras, visit holy places or accept major and minor disciplinary injunctions, but even by performing such activities one does not bring Me under his control.
SB 11.12.1-2 verse
… one has to seek the association of devotees, and by such association, when one contemplates and tries to understand the transcendental activities of the Lord, the path to liberation is open, and he is freed
In an assembly of pure devotees, there is no question of discussing material subjects like politics and sociology. In an assembly of pure devotees, there is discussion only of the qualities, forms and pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“…unless and until one is trained in the culture of good association, one cannot become good.”
SB 3.3.6 purport
Since the living entity is associated with material nature, he is in an awkward position, but if in the human form of life he is taught how to associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotee, this position can be overcome.
One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.
The summary is that one has to, first of all, seek the association of pure devotees who not only are learned in the Vedanta but are self-realized souls and unalloyed devotees of Lord Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead
There is no end to such sense gratificatory business, and the conditioned soul becomes entangled in such servitude without hope of release. The release is only effected by association with pure devotees.
The fact is that devotional service is bestowed by the blessings of a pure devotee (sa mahatma su-durlabhah). A pure devotee is the supreme transcendentalist, and one has to receive his mercy for one's dormant Krsna consciousness to be awakened. One has to associate with pure devotees. CC Madhya 22: Introduction
…one has to associate with liberated persons not directly, physically, but by understanding, through philosophy and logic, the problems of life.
SB 3.31.48 purport
One should take shelter of a pure devotee, who has nothing to do with this material world but is simply engaged in devotional service. By serving him only, one can transcend the qualitative material condition. In this verse it is recommended (yogesvara-upasanaya) that one serve the lotus feet of the topmost yogi, or the devotee. To serve the topmost devotee means to hear from him about the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Does association only mean with a physically present self-realised soul?
There are two types of Bhagavatas, namely the book Bhagavata and the devotee Bhagavata. Both the Bhagavatas are competent remedies, and both of them or either of them can be good enough to eliminate the obstacles.
Therefore our method is to accept the perfect guru to understand the subject matter. But still, if one reads the books as it is from authorities, there is chance of understanding.
Room conversation, ‘76
Reporter (2): What will happen to the movement in the United States when you die?
Prabhupada: I will never die.I shall live forever in my books, and you will utilize.
Press conference ‘75
You may please me the most by reading my books and following the instructions therein and by becoming fully Krishna Conscious in this life time.
We began daily associating with both Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam…..
no matter how busy we were
But we also changed how we associated with them.
Therefore one must learn detachment by discussion of spiritual science based on authoritative scriptures, and one must hear from persons who are actually in knowledge. As a result of such discussion in the association of devotees, one comes to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Generally, people cannot understand. But if one understands, he becomes liberated. If some way or other... It is not very difficult; simply we have to associate with devotees and discuss this literature. Then we'll understand Krsna very easily.
Discussion of Krsna is very potent, and if a fortunate person has such association and tries to assimilate the knowledge, then he will surely make advancement toward spiritual realization.
Bg 9.1 purport
Simple hearing is not all; one must realize the text with proper attention.
Simply to hear like the hogs is not sufficient; one must be able to understand from the authorities.
Nor by independent study of books of knowledge can one progress in spiritual life.
Bg 4.34 purport
Now we always reflect back in our own words everything Srila Prabhupada says …we even reflect back each other’s understandings.
Because we heard Srila Prabhupada say……
To hear and explain them is more important than reading them. One can assimilate the knowledge of the revealed scriptures only by hearing and explaining. Hearing is called sravana, and explaining is called kirtana. The two processes of sravana and kirtana are of primary importance to progressive spiritual life. Only one who has properly grasped the transcendental knowledge from the right source by submissive hearing can properly explain the subject. SB 1.1.6 purport.
Hearing is solidified by the process of chanting. One who has perfectly heard from the perfect source becomes convinced about the all-pervading Personality of Godhead and thus becomes enthusiastic in glorifying the Lord.
SB 2.2.36 purport
"When we will learn something, we have to repeat it, even in material things. And what to speak of spiritual?"Lecture New York, 1966 Bhagavad-gita 2.55-56
" So one who is spreading krsna-upadesa, simply repeat what is said by Krsna, then you become acarya. Not difficult at all. Everything is stated there. We have to simply repeat like parrot. Not exactly parrot. Parrot does not understand the meaning; he simply vibrates. But you should understand the meaning also; otherwise how you can explain?”
Lecture April 7, 1975
We also unpack the meaning of Srila Prabhupada’s purports sentence by sentence….often word by word. We can spend several weeks on one purport.
Because we heard Srila Prabhupada say….
I am very much stressing nowadays that my students shall increase their reading of my books and try to understand them from different angles of vision. Each sloka can be seen from many, many angles of vision, so become practiced in seeing things like this.
So by studying Krsna, you become liberated. So these verses should be studied very carefully, understanding each word very carefully. Then you'll understand Krsna.
And each and every verse is so important that if a serious student studies each and every verse, each verse will take at least one month to understand. And there are eighteen thousand verses. So for serious study of Srimad-Bhagavatam, it will take eighteen thousand months.
We avoid getting into debates….even if our partner’s understanding differs from ours.
Because we heard Srila Prabhupada say….
Actually Vedic scripture is krsna-katha, topics about Krsna, and krsna-katha is not a subject matter for a debate club.
TLK Vs 34
We also try to support our understanding with scripture.
Because we heard Srila Prabhupada say….
One should not speak in such a way as to agitate the minds of others… This is penance as far as talking is concerned. Besides that, one should not talk nonsense. The process of speaking in spiritual circles is to say something upheld by the scriptures. One should at once quote from scriptural authority to back up what he is saying. At the same time, such talk should be very pleasurable to the ear.
Because we heard Srila Prabhupada say…
Suppose you hear something of the Bhagavad-gita, and it appeals to you, or even does not appeal to you. Just try to think over: "What Bhagavad-gita says? How Swamiji has discussed this matter?" Apply your arguments. Apply your logic. Don't take it as a sentiment or as a blind faith. You have got reason; you have got arguments; you have got sense. Apply it and try to understand it. …Then you will feel... …. You will gradually develop your attachment for hearing it, and devotional service will be invoked in your heart, and then, gradually, you will make progress.
We ask questions that help us to focus on the meaning of the text we are discussing, and prevent us from going off on tangents.
Because we heard Srila Prabhupada say…
Make your question to understand it, not making question to avoid it. There are two kinds of question. That question will not help you. If you try to avoid, then Krsna will help you to avoid, and if you want to capture Krsna, then Krsna will help you how you can capture.
Try to always study our books and see our philosophy from different lights of directions, become convinced yourself of this knowledge and without a doubt all of your difficulties of mind will disappear forever and you will see Krishna face-to-face.
Such exchanges of thoughts in regard to Krsna give pleasure to the Lord, who therefore favors such devotees with all enlightenment.
CC Adi Lila 1.49 purport
This process of hearing about and glorifying the Lord is applicable for everyone, whoever he may be, and it will lead one to the ultimate success in everything in which one may be engaged by providence. …Everyone wants to be free from all kinds of fear, and everyone wants the fullest extent of happiness in life. The perfect process for achieving this, here and now, is recommended in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is uttered by such a great authority as Srila Sukadeva Gosvami. By hearing about and glorifying the Lord, all a person's activities become molded into spiritual activities, and thus all conceptions of material miseries become completely vanquished.
SB 2.1.5 purport
What is the value of this association? Sat-sanga. Sat-sanga means assembly, discussion. Bodhayantahparasparam, tusyanti ca ramanti ca. If you are not interested in association, discussion, then you are finished. So... karmis, they are fools and rascals. When you have got this center, it is not that you should be engaged from morning till you go to bed for sense gratification. That is not life. That is karmi's life. You have no time for sat-sanga, for association. You cannot make any progress by this sort of karmi's life. We have to work for organization, but not that whole day and night engaged and no sat-sanga. That is a misguided policy, and it will spoil the whole structure.
Room Conversation – 1973
In human society, aversion to the principles of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the cause of all falldowns. That is the greatest offense of human life.
We believe the morning Srimad Bhagavatam Class and evening Bhagavad-Gita Class should incorporate these principles and become effective sessions where devotees actually learn and assimilate the teachings.
Be engaged always in reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, discussing amongst yourself. Then you'll make progress. Otherwise, if you take it as an official routine work... You should take as routine work, but with consciousness that "We have to learn something," not simply attending the class, but to learn something. In this way make your life successful.
(cited in Ramayana)
The eight virtues characterizing intelligence are:1. The inclination to hear what others say;2. Actually hearing what others say;3. The capacity to grasp the meaning of what others say;4. Retentiveness;
We need to
than we speak
We understand that when discussing Srila Prabhupada’s books with one other person what we speak should be approximately:
NEVER with our response.
Eg. “Thank you. You almost understood me. I just want to clarify one point.”
“Thank you. You understood me perfectly. But I would like to add some thing.”
When we speak of hearing and chanting, it means that not only should one chant and hear of the holy name of the Lord as Rama, Krsna … but one should also read and hear the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam in the association of devotees. The primary practice of bhakti-yoga will cause the seed already sowed in heart to sprout, and by a regular watering process, as mentioned above, the bhakti-yoga creeper will begin to grow. SB 2.2.30