How we should conceive of transcendence within the world.

By Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj

We shall not try to attain anything that is food for mind or food for senses. We must hanker for food for the soul.

nivrtta-tarsair upagiyamanad
bhavausadhach chhrotra-mano-’bhiramat
ka uttamasloka-gunanuvadat
puman virajyeta vina pasughnat
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.1.4)

Of course, the Lord’s lila is sweet, but that sweetness and mundane sweetness differ. They are not one, and we must always be careful not to mix the two together.

archye visnau sila-dhir
(Padma-purana)

When we look to the Deity, we must warn ourselves and be very cautious not to identify the stone with the Deity. The same goes for Ganges water and charanamrta. We should not identify the experience of our senses with these holy things. They are separate. They are separate things and beyond my sense experience. “I can’t understand. I can’t see.” This should always be our feeling. “I can’t approach the reality. It is there, but I can’t understand it. If it happens to make me understand, then I will understand it, but otherwise, it is all unknowable and unintelligible. It is there, but I can’t see it.”

In this way, we must not identify transcendental objects with our sense experience. We must try to approach something beyond the senses. Transcendental objects cannot be amongst what I can command with my senses. They may appear in that mood, in that colour, in that show, but they are not that. What are they? “I can’t feel. I can’t understand.” They are aprakrta. They are transcendental. They are not one with the things of my sense experience. We should always have this sort of feeling when we attend to any transcendental object.

They are always on the subjective side, the super-subjective side, not the objective side. They can never be experienced by our senses, our mind, or even our intelligence. They are higher subjects. There is matter, the senses, the mind, the enjoyer, the intelligence, and then the soul, and on the other side is the Supersoul. He is the knower, the feeler. We should try to trace the symptoms of that higher subject. Transcendental objects are on that side. They are all subjective, and not on the objective side. Only to remind us do they come in some symbolic form, but they should not be identified with that form. The outer form is only there to help. A watch is not time itself. A watch can show us some conception of time, but time is not contained within a watch. A watch may be wrong or disordered, and we may be frustrated. So, what we can feel here, that can help, in some sort of corresponding way, to remind us of the higher thing, but that higher thing is not this lower thing. We should always have this sort of feeling.

Source

Spoken 26 February 1983

References

nivrtta-tarsair upagiyamanad
bhavausadhach chhrotra-mano-’bhiramat
ka uttamasloka-gunanuvadat
puman virajyeta vina pasughnat
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.1.4)

“Glorification of the Lord is constantly sung by those who have overcome material desire, is the cure for material existence, and is the delight of the ears and heart. Who could give it up other than those who slaughter animals?”

archye visnau sila-dhir gurusu nara-matir vaisnave jati-buddhir
visnor va vaisnavanam kali-mala-mathane pada-tirthe ’mbu-buddhih
sri-visnor-namni-mantre sakala-kalusa-he sabda-samanya-buddhir
visnau sarvesvarese tad-itara-sama-dhir yasya va naraki sah
(Padma-purana)

“Those who consider the Deity of Visnu to be stone, Sri Guru to be a man, a Vaisnava to be a member of a particular caste, the wash from the feet of Visnu or the Vaisnava, which destroys the contamination of Kali, to be water, the Name of Visnu and mantras for worshipping Him, which destroy all contamination, to be ordinary words, or Visnu the Lord of all lords to be equal to others are doomed.”

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj is the foremost modern exponent of the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the school of Srila Rupa Goswami. Subtle and profound yet vivid and practical, his representation of both the broadest and deepest spiritual truths has and continues to fortify and nurture the faith of spiritual aspirants the world over. For more information on Srila Sridhar Maharaj, please visit his biography page.
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