«WHY WE SHOULD NOT GIVE UP» | Talk with Sripad Bhakti Chaytanya Bharati Swami, live class the evening of 28 July 2018 at the Bhakti Yoga Institute of West London.
- The chance to escape from prison (01:25)
- Give up and start again (7:15)
- Make clear what you do (10:45)
- The eternal duty (18:00)
- The story of Narada Muni (31:00)
- The main prayer (34:40)
- Stick to devotees (40:20)
WHY WE SHOULD NOT GIVE UP
July 28, 2018. London
LISTENER: I have a question, Maharaj. Sometimes it feels like attempting is impossible. Why must we not give up?
BHARATI MAHARAJ: Give up. [LOL]
Actually, everyone should answer this question to themselves. There are many reasons. There is variety of reasons why we should keep on going. If we choose the way of reason then we understand that we can give up but there’re no options. If we give up striving onto the higher world then the choices of this world are left for us. As least, we can make attempts. The chances to achieve the higher world are zero but we can try because here there’re no chances at all. I mean this world of self-deception is contrary to over nature; we can live here for an infinite time but it is not of our nature, we feel it’s not our dreamland. Let’s say, prisoners are kept in a cage and there is a chance, though not big, to dig a hole and escape; but if you don’t try at all there’re no chances to leave this prison of self-deception. Krishna says, in Chapter 16 (of the Bhagavad Gita) The Divine and Demoniac Natures, that in this world you have to follow selfish and arrogant friends who tell you how to behave, what your goals are, what you should do, what your duty is, what is right and wrong. This is not a good choice for us. The djiva soul has no alternative, whether to follow the call of the higher land or the call of this mortal world. It’s difficult, of course, to dig the ground and escape from prison but there’s no choice. This is the way of reason but if we follow emotions you can say: I don’t give up because they promise me something, some perspective. Maybe, it’s better to follow emotions, not reason; it’s up to each of you to decide.
I’m not sure whether I answered your question. Why must we not give up? But we give up. Every minute we have doubts and that means we give up. We give up and take the path again, give up and take it again because we cannot see an alternative. The alternative is to get more power, money, prestige, etc. We can give up and try to find something else in this world. There’re many quotations from Holy Scriptures on this point but when we feel pessimistic we are not keen on reading, we just follow our emotions. They say the spiritual world is the Land of Nectar but I doubt it. If they show it to me then – okay, by my mercy, I will join the innumerable devotees of the Krishna consciousness but, firstly, show me the benefits I can obtain from being a servant. Is this kind of thinking familiar to the audience? Let me feel the nectar they distribute then I may follow them.
LISTENER: The problem is not about tasting the nectar. It’s easy to become discouraged.
BHARATI MAHARAJ: But how to taste it? Where is it? We chant, we dance, eat tasty food – and where is the nectar? The tasty food comes from the market; you don’t need to pray Krishna for tasty fruit, you just take your weekly wages and buy nice food. Where is the nectar? Does this sound too pessimistic?
This is all right to think every minute why I’m doing this, to contemplate, to meditate. Okay, I’m doing Harinam, I join the temple program, do the service. Why am I doing this? It shouldn’t be automatic; it should be conscious activity. We should not perform a duty just because everyone does it. You must always contemplate what you’re doing.
You can ask if there’re no chances why we don’t give up. This statement is closely connected with the conception of duty. In other words: why should I do something if the chances to succeed are very low? So, this ‘why should I do’ means ‘why should I perform the duty and what is my duty’. Here, we come again to the question Arjuna asked Krishna, at the state of personal disaster. Arjuna was a warrior and all his life he knew what to do and how to do his duty. It was vivid and quite clear for him: I am such a person, I have a social order, and my duty is clear. Now, between his relatives and Krishna, he can see that he has at least two contradictive duties and that is a disaster because never before he had doubts what to do. He finds out that one part of the world wants him to do one thing and the other part wants another thing; different sources tell him to do different things. That discovery was so sudden for Arjuna that his hands started shaking; he didn’t know what to do. And Krishna tells him that a person is always surrounded by different conceptions of duty.
In your life, you’re connected with different, so to say, partners: daughters and sons, parents; you’re connected with your husband/wife as a consort, to your servants as a master; you’re connected with a religious authority, and so on and so forth. You have very many ties with this world. There’s a common thing in these connections. What they have in common is that they’re temporary: no matter what relations you have (as a son, mother, wife, employer, etc.) they are all temporary. Every duty starts at one point and finishes at some other point. All connection in this world, Krishna tells Arjuna, including connections with your relatives or enemies (who you have to help or fight), are temporary; in a time, you will find out that there’re no enemies or friends, all will be finished in one second when you’re at the edge of death. All such connection are temporary, they don’t last longer than your life. But: there is one type of connections or, one duty which is permanent, the duty for yourself. Krishna doesn’t mention God or Absolute, He just tells Arjuna about one real thing among many objects which is duty to yourself and that type of duty never finishes because you are eternal. Of course, then Arjuna asks Krishna how He could prove that and Krishna narrates a whole chapter telling Arjuna that he is permanent, will never cease, and the duty for that eternal thing is also eternal. When choosing your duty among your closest connections (children, relatives, etc.) and the eternal thing it is better to choose yourself because it is better to live for your eternal self than for someone else.
Regarding your question, again, if we give up our attempts to find eternal life then we do not perform duty for ‘me’. If we give up trying to reach that ‘promised land’ – Krishna gives us the promise although He often breaks His vows but this time He tells us the truth. [LOL] We are so weak and helpless. How can He ever be cheating with such helpless souls? I don’t believe He is that cruel. He might cheat but His ambassadors do not, I don’t believe they are cheaters. If we try chances with that ‘promised land’ then we perform duty at least for ourselves. If we give up then we necessarily start performing duties for all what is around us. Those who want something from you will show up very quickly. Government, family, friends, bosses, employees, and what not; they will immediately want something from you. If you are ready to serve them you will find very many people to serve but you will not serve yourself. Among many different duties the duty to yourself is the best one, Krishna clearly says.
The conversation is developing: how to distinguish the duty for yourself and for the others because sometimes they combine. Sometimes it looks like doing duties for others but you do it for yourself; you cannot tell the difference sometimes. In physics, they say: set up an experiment. An experiment is the mother of proof. So, try to give up and see what happens. Why not? Our masters are merciful and they will not beat us or cut us out of the book of life
LISTENER: The problem is that you start to feel that you cannot go either side, you don’t make progress on any side, and you cannot give up.
BHARATI MAHARAJ: This is a very good sign of a personal advancement. Really, this is a very good sign. If you look back and don’t see any prospective that’s a very good sign. That means you’ve advanced so much that the material world still exists as a vague image but there is no particular place you can take shelter in. That’s a very good sign but means that the person in question is on the most difficult part of his/her way because the goal is still seen as a mirage, there’s nothing behind and nothing ahead as well. In his Sermons of Devotion Srila Sridhar Maharaj says that at that portion of your way you necessarily take shelter in those who walk along with you, i.e. our merciful guardians. Some ‘satellites’ walk along with us and some, those who already reached the ‘promised land’, come back to help us, and the third group of helpers comes from that land. These three groups are friends and beneficial guardians for us and the best ones of them are residents of the Land of Nectar. Though, if we don’t have choice we have to stick to those who walk along with us.
They also have doubts and can hardly walk but still try. Maybe, we have no chances but what we can surely do is help them. Even if there’re no chances for us we can help those who walk with us. As soon as we see there’re strong enough we can leave them (and go back to the world of illusion [LOL]) or accompany them up to the end. There is a Russian movie showing school children that have to run a marathon; as they prepare to start the grandmother of one of them appears and says she will help them on the way; they start running and she is running by the side giving them some water or snacks, from time to time she pushes on her grandson who is rather successful, and finally she overruns him and meets him at the finish line; a seventy-years-old lady helped her teenaged grandson to be the winner. We can help our dear devotees to walk along the distance but for us there’re no chances; at the finish line we can walk back. I know that all words of encouragement are useless if your heart is empty – then give up and see what happens. The only advice is not to offend vaishnavas. We can give up because we can get tired but don’t blame those who keep on going. Even if we stop, break, and go back we still have good feelings to those who keep on walking, and maybe some time some person of mercy will come and take us.
Krishna is merciful. Once Narada Muni approached Narayana saying: You are the truth, opposite to illusion, so can you show me what illusion is, can I experience it? And He told him to go to the river and bring some water in a pot. Narada Muni went down there, met a lady, was charmed, and forgot about his mission to bring some water to Lord Narayana. He married, they had children, built a house, and one day a flood happened and swept away everything, from children to cows and pigs. Narada Muni survived and climbed up to some bank. He was sitting there with nothing around and suddenly saw a pot full of water, and then he remembered he was there for some mission. His master Lord Narayana appeared then and said: Oh, thank you for bringing me a pot of water. When Narada Muni memorized everything the Lord said: Now you know what maya is.
I believe He never leaves us alone. Even if we lose the path, becoming a lost servant (the one who thinks he has no ability to serve), Krishna always waits for His lost servants and sends messages in one way or another that He is there waiting for us with a water pot. We have to believe that our merciful Master is always there for us. Even if we make mistakes and stop (stuck) He will give us a sign to come back. It is not a crime to lose power for walking on and on; not a crime at all. That is why a devotee, when his consciousness is clear, might say: Oh, my Lord, next moment or tomorrow I might forget what I’m saying now, but as long as I’ve got this clear consciousness never leave me alone, give me danger or difficulties but let me somehow always remember You. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, we can have many stories about relationship of the Lord and
His potential or real devotees and each and every story which ends up with the Lord revealing Himself is followed by a devotee prayer. When a devotee is given his/her word, starting from Kunti and the Pandavas to King Gajendra (Elephant), they always pray the Lord to not ever forget them; in any circumstances never let me forget You; I don’t ask anything but that, I don’t ask for wealth, benefits, nor calamities, sufferings or enjoyment, I just ask for one thing – whenever, in enjoyment or suffering, please, never let me forget You, and I’ll manage the rest. So, you might go away but do not forget there is a Guardian full of mercy always watching us. And mind that He is not looking at us to condemn or judge, He is waiting for us to turn back. He doesn’t judge because He knows how helpful we are facing maya that is always stronger. Never think that you can avoid her (maya) if she doesn’t want it; maya has millions of tricks in her sleeve and is able to do so that you will follow her like a donkey follows a carrot. The only weapon we have is remembering Krishna: I am in maya, Krishna, I am completely smashed by illusion, completely charmed, and if You are merciful, please, remove it. This is a prayer. Always pray Him. Let’s call it a one-way-dialogue because He never answers. At least He never answers to me, maybe, because He is too busy with other people.
We can never cheat Krishna but we can cheat the devotees; this is our advantage. We can make the devotees believe that we are of the same flock; we can dress like them, mumble mantras, and they will take us for devotees; then they might tell Krishna a few words about us and that will be a chance for us. He knows that we’re not real devotees but His devotees do not yet, and we might sneak into the Land of Nectar with them. In the London tube, you can follow someone checking his ticket and enter for free; actually, this is called sadhu sangha – you attach to a sadhu, follow him, and get through. [LOL] You can only follow the one with a ticket, you cannot jump ahead of him. Krishna knows that you cheat but in favor of His true devotees tolerates us. We haven’t got a ticket to Krishna Lila, although we might think we deserve it, but nobody dares to say they deserve it. How can we obtain such a ticket – by learning, joining activities, chanting mantras or else? There’s no way to become a deserving one for the Land of Love. But you might sneak in closely following a devotee, sticking to his back.
Imagine a party of billionaires. What are the chances for us to join that party? You don’t have a billion so you’re not allowed there. But if you make friends with a ‘party member’ he will tell the guards: This is my friend, he is coming with me. And this is called rupanuga sangha. As Sridhar Maharaj said: There’s no chance but if you DARE the chance might be given to you.
Any doubts? Maybe, someone wants to say basta, I’m fed up with your devotee talk? There’re so many chances outside. You can be a pilot of the British Airways and have much fun. Do you remember an American movie Catch Me If You Can, with Leo Di Caprio who pretended to be pilot being a teenager cheat; he just went to a laundry, picked up a pilot suit, and people took him for a pilot, but he ended up in prison. So, we might pretend being something important in this world and will end up in a bad place. No matter how high you fly you always end up on the ground. Our gurus say that we might make any career but there’s no reason to do that. You can give up the devotional path and try something else.
LISTENER: Thank you for answering my question, Maharaj.
Transcript by Elizabeth D.