by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
Try to adjust yourself through sound only, the subtlemost element of this plane. Through sound, go on cultivating spiritual life; and that too must be approached with a serving attitude, otherwise it will be futile. We are recommended to approach divinity through the most subtle element of this gross world. Although it is apparently nothing to us at present, this divinity is actually everything.
So, accept the subtlemost thing. But if the very life is absent, our search will be futile. Learn to give yourself, learn to die, to embrace so-called death at every second. Even in this world we find the "do-or-die" attitude in ambitious politicians, social workers, etc. In every duty and at every step they are ready to sacrifice their lives for the cause. If one embraces that do-or-die principle of life, he is sure to progress very intensely and become a great success.
Service means self-giving, self-dedication, and this should be our attitude to approach that plane. In that way, all the coatings of ego will vanish one by one, and the genuine self will come from within and select its own soil: "This is my home." So many coverings are deviating us in different directions, taking us far, far away from our svarupa, our real noble self--a servant in the highest plane of the whole organism. The Beautiful is playing, dancing in His own sweetness and affection, and we can reach Him, following such a course of "do-or-die" at every moment.
Through self-giving I can acquire my fortune, and not as a master sitting in my chair gathering information from different quarters to utilize for my selfish plans. Adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sanga atha bhajana-kriya (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu- Purwa, 4.15): to progress with faith, keeping the association of devotees and dedicating one's activities to the Lord, means this you must go forward in your life with the spirit that you are willing to give away this life. Do-or-die is, of course, not in the physical sense but the internal sense (bhajana-kriya). This is self-giving, ego-giving.
Tato anartha-nivrtth syat: if you can adopt this, the undesirable things within you will disappear very easily and swiftly. Tato nistha: then you will find a continuous connection with such a principle in your life. That principle will always act continuously, and other fleeting, mean desires won't be able to approach or touch you. Next, you will find ruci, a real taste for divinity. Otherwise, before that continuous stage, whatever taste we may think we have is only treachery and not real taste. Nistha nairantarya: when we are established in twenty-four hours a day continuous connection with that charming substance, a real taste will arise, and we can rely on that taste. Any taste that we may find in any other position is unreliable. Twenty-four hours a day connection with divinity eliminating all other charms of this world-is necessary. Then, the ruci, the conscious taste that arises in us, is a reliable guide.
After that, asakti , natural affinity, arises, and then the symptoms of bhava , the bud stage of the flower of prema, divine love, makes its appearance. This is the way of our progress. But if there is any imitation, only offenses will be created. Those offenses will be recorded in that circle of the examiners of the upper quarter, and they will give a stamp of disqualification that we are criminal and unfit. This will go against us and hamper our future progress. Thus, we must be very careful not to commit offense, aparadha. It is better to be a newcomer with a new introduction than to have a criminal record, for that will go against us. We must be very, very careful in our quest for the highest objective of our eternal life. This caution has been especially given by our Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura, and he attracted us to the line of exclusive devotion.
Sevonmukhe, serving attitude was foremost. Our Guru Maharaja did not allow us to read much, even of the lower types of scriptures dealing with general sadhana or practices, not to speak of the higher books. Rather, we were expected to actually follow those practices by hearing from the proper source and practicing accordingly whatever was instructed from there. Serving--learn to give yourself properly. There are different methods of service: sravana, hearing; kirtana, chanting; smarana, remembering; vandana, praying, etc. Srila Rupa Goswami has mentioned sixty-four kinds of devotional practices, and it is has also been further mentioned that there are one thousand types of devotional practices. The practices themselves are not very important; but the very life of the practice is all-important, for this is self-dedication. Thus we should be very particular to learn that dedication is work under a Vaisnava.
Try to get practical training, working under a proper agent; that will help you most to learn and practice true dedication. Guidance must come from above. It may be very rare, but it is most valuable. We must selflessly surrender to whatever directive descends from above. "I won't serve my whims or the whims of men of my level, but whatever comes from the plane above, I shall obey very eagerly." This is the key, and this is service. Sevonmukhe, serving attitude, means what? One day, during the latter days of his presence in the world, our Guru Maharaja Srila Prabhupada said to a certain sannyasi who had led a full twenty years of life in the mission, "You did not see me-you could not see who I am. Like a zamindar you have kept some householder servitors under you, and from them you periodically give a donation to me. You have become like a broker, but you should be wholesale mine --my agent. You are not doing that. You are dependent on those householders while maintaining some connection with me. This is not necessary. You are not a member of this world. You are mine alone. Whatever I say, you should do. You should not sell yourself to anything or any proposal of this world. You are to be wholesale my servant." Thus, this necessary attitude is rarely to be found. We should surrender to whatever flows from the higher plane and thereby substantiate its reality.
viracaya mayi dandam dinabandho dayam va
gatir iha na bhavattah kacid anya mamasti
nipatatu sata-kotir nirbharam va navambhas tad
api kila payodah stuyate catakena
The bird known as Cataka always looks above for rainwater, but it will never take any water from the ground even if there is an abundance there. He waits only for whatever water will come from above. Sufficient rain may come, or thunder may come, yet he will not take even a single drop from the earth. Our attitude should be like that. We must follow whatever instruction and direction comes from above, and never try to fulfill any plan from the mundane world. "The Director," the Master, the Lord above --I am connected with Him." This sort of practice is conducive.
We may chant the name, hear the musical kirtan , etc., but the very life will be present only as much as our activity is on the order descending from the plane above, and as much as that order is earnestly being carried out by us. In that way, we may be taken above. We may be promoted to the higher layer by preparing ourselves only to carry out the order from above, without question. If we are certain that the order is coming from the higher layer, we should surrender without question. By living at the disposal of the higher, we learn selfless service of the higher, which is not of any mundane source. This is our necessity: Vaisnava-seva and Guru-seva-service to the Vaisnava and Guru. By Guru-bhakti alone--devotion to the service of Sri Gurudeva, in one stroke, all desirable pursuits will be accomplished.
etat sarvam gurau bhaktya
puruso hy anjasa jayet
(Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.25)
There are also many symptoms by which to recognize the genuine Guru, and by obeying the directions of the higher, we can make progress towards the higher; we may hope to be selected by the higher and be taken up to that layer if we are considered sufficiently qualified. This attitude will be the main tenure of our lives if we want to go to the high, superconscious region. In the Vedanta-sutra, it is mentioned that the process to reach that region is by revealed truth and not by reason (tarkabe pratisthanat). If we apply reason, we shall be nowhere.
Among expert arguers, there may always be one more expert--in this way, on and on, no end. Thus, tarka, reason and argument, is inconclusive (apratistha). Intellectualism has no standing here, because super-consciousness is beyond our jurisdiction. It cannot be an object of our intellect. By serving, by honoring, by self-giving, by heart-giving, and never otherwise, can we invite that high guest. It is not possible to capture and encage Him by intrigue and conspiracy. Such an attempt will betray Satan in another color.
Not only self-abnegation, but self-surrender is necessary to approach God. Deep self-surrender will take us into connection with the higher, noble substance, and it must be cultivated by all means. And service is not service to maya. I must be very careful to perceive that I am not merely serving maya, who has appeared in a charming or "godly" form. In our present position we must be extremely cautious regarding who and what we are serving.
The main wave will be jnane prayasam udapasya (Bhagavatam 10.14.3): hatefully discard (ud-apa-asya) all proposals that your intellect may offer you. Whatever the intellect can judge and accept or reject must necessarily be of a lower type. So you are to summarily reject that, and understand that you must bow down your head (namanta eva).
The beginning of your interest is to bow down your head, and your heart will be captured automatically. Try to connect with that section where you will always be with folded palms, and where you can never be master. Such abnegation and courage of self-giving is necessary if you want to live in the higher plane. Otherwise, you may reign in hell. According to Satan's word, "it is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven." But just the opposite is necessary.
Even tears and crying have no value if the inner tendency of self-giving is absent. Seva, service, means self-giving, and that is the standard principle in the life of a devotee. This self-giving must really be to the higher sphere and not just haphazardly around us, for that is another way to be captured by hateful things.
Jnana, knowledge, is generally regarded as being very pure. By the majority of people, jnana is considered to be very innocent because It has no relationship with gross, material things. It is always admitted that to handle the gross material energy is very unwholesome (sasvad abhadram); and knowledge is considered by the higher personalities to be very pure, very innocent and spotless (jnanam alam niranjanam). But if it is not connected with Krishna, such knowledge must be hatefully rejected.
naiskarmmyam apy acyuta-bhava- varjjiitam
na sobhate jnanam alam niranjanam
Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.12
Here, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam , it is said that knowledge is widely considered to be spotless, pure and innocent, but if it is not connected with the positive absolute good, then it is your enemy. A qualified candidate will consider things in this way.
Jnana-sunya-bhakti: Surrender is so pure, that any connection with knowledge, which is considered to be very innocent and pure-even that must be hatefully rejected. Such a degree of surrender is necessary for the higher association of genuine devotion.
Both the charm of material acquisition, and the charm of the mastery of knowing everything, are to be rejected (jnana-karmmady-anavrtam). It is not possible for you to know anything about the infinite, either in magnitude or quality. The infinite is a flow of autocracy, so what can you know of it?
Therefore, knowledge means more than storing so many relative or false incidents, and selling that information to the world in order to fulfill some other function such as personal name and fame. Hatefully give this up and engage in unqualified and unconditional service. That is noble, and that will take you up to the nobler region.
Thus, karma and jnana --handling matter and handling knowledge--both are discouraged. Knowledge won't be allowed to enter that market where the absolute will and autocracy reign. No rule and regulation can work there. False gathering and false store have got no standing there.
Only surrender, and we will have that high relationship. Serving attitude is our friend. We are a unit of serving attitude, and service means to surrender to the higher. And the higher means the plane uncontaminated with material and intellectual acquisition. We must serve such a higher plane.
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