Making progress in spiritual life.

By Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj

Student: When you get stuck and feel you are nowhere in spiritual life, when you see the same things all the time and feel yourself to be just an ordinary person, when you are full of doubts, when you can’t see, hear, or understand Krishna, what can you do to progress?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: This is a very nice question, and it is very important for everyone—all practitioners. Many are practising but not progressing, and the vital point is: why are they not progressing? Many are trying to practise Krishna consciousness, and many have already been practising for a long time, but feelings do not come to them in the proper way. So, everyone has to think, “Why is the real feeling not coming?”

In this regard, there are two feelings. One is very perfect, and if it is within you, then you have no problem at all: really you are progressing. But the other type means that really you are not progressing.

Sriman Mahaprabhu said,

na prema-gandho ’sti darapi me harau
krandami saubhagya-bharam prakasitum
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 2.45)

[“I do not have even a trace of love for Krishna. Still, I cry to show others I have a great fortune.”]

And in the Siksastakam He said,

namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 20.16)

“O Lord, You appear as the Name of Krishna and many other Names: Govinda, Madhava, Hari, Mukunda, Murari, and so on. You gave many of Your Names to this world, and Your full power is within Them. I am chanting Your Names, but really I am not getting the association of Your Name. Why? I do not know. It is My great misfortune.”

If the real Name of the Lord is revealed in our heart, then we will immediately get the proper feeling, but we are not getting that. When Mahaprabhu speaks this verse, then we must think, “Mahaprabhu has full feeling, and He is getting full association with Krishna. But He needs more and more; He is not satisfied with that revelation. He is very unsatisfied with what He is getting and thinking, ‘It is My misfortune that I could not get the real thing, I could not get more.’”

Mahaprabhu is speaking in this way, but for ourselves also, because we are also not getting the proper feeling. We are worshipping Krishna, we are chanting Krishna’s Name, and we are thinking that we must progress, but it is not happening. How are we to understand that? Joy is not coming into our heart. Our mind is not feeling fulfilled by the mood of devotion. We are not developing strong faith. In this condition, what should we do? This is the question. And the answer is that we should try to get the association of a good Vaisnava. We should search for a real practitioner who is practising Krishna consciousness twenty-four hours a day and try to get their association.

dadati pratigrhnati guhyam akhyati prchchhati
bhunkte bhojayate chaiva sad-vidham priti-laksanam
(Sri Upadesamrta: 4)

Associating with them means getting their advice, talking with them, giving them things, and so on. We should try to associate respectfully and affectionately with a good Vaisnava in the same way that we associate with our relatives in this mundane world. By the mercy of a good Vaisnava, we can understand and feel why we are not getting inspiration.

Everyone is worshipping the Lord. At someone’s house there may be a Deity, at someone else‘s house there may be Tulasi Devi, and somewhere else someone may be simply chanting the Holy Name on beads. Everyone is trying to progress, but the real feeling may not be coming into their heart. This is not good for us, and the cause of it is  some sort of offensive mood within us. But with the association of a good Vaisnava, it must be washed away. Then feelings, happiness, and detachment from mundane attraction will come to us.

bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir
anyatra chaisa trika eka-kalah
prapadyamanasya yathasnatah syus
tustih pustih ksud-apayo ’nughasam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.2.42)

When someone eats, they first feel some happiness, and then, as their belly is filled, their hunger goes away. As we progress in spiritual life, hunger for this mundane world will leave us, feelings of Krishna consciousness will be revealed in our hearts, and devotional activities will happily develop within us. Then we can feel that we are progressing. Otherwise, we cannot feel it. It is necessary to get a good practitioner’s association. That must be good for us.

An egotistical person may say, “I am a devotee. I have been practising Krishna consciousness for fifteen years.” Somebody may say they have been practising for twenty years, somebody may say twenty-five, and somebody may say forty. But the association of such persons will not be good for us. The association of someone who, with humility, tolerance, and honour for others, is practising Krishna consciousness under the guidance of a sadhu must be perfect for us. If you try to get their association, that will be good. If you cannot get that type of Vaisnava’s association, then you can read the questions and answers given in the books of Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj. If you read carefully, you will get strength within your mind, and that will be very helpful for you.

Source

Spoken on 28 June 1992 in San Jose, California.

References

na prema-gandho ’sti darapi me harau
krandami saubhagya-bharam prakasitum
vamsi-vilasy-anana-lokanam vina
bibharmi yat prana-patangakan vrtha

“I do not have even a trace of love for Krishna. Still, I cry to show others I have a great fortune. Without a glimpse of the face of that Flute Player, I carry on my meaningless, insect-like life.”

namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah

“O Lord, You have manifested Your many Names, put all Your power in Them, and made no rules regarding the time for remembering Them. Such is Your great mercy. My misfortune, however, is that I have no attachment to Your Names.”

dadati pratigrhnati guhyam akhyati prchchhati
bhunkte bhojayate chaiva sad-vidham priti-laksanam

“Giving and accepting gifts, discussing and enquiring about confidential matters, and giving and partaking of foods are the six forms of loving association.”

bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir
anyatra chaisa trika eka-kalah
prapadyamanasya yathasnatah syus
tustih pustih ksud-apayo ’nughasam

“As one who eats feels satisfaction, nourishment, and relief from hunger with each mouthful, so a surrendered soul simultaneously develops devotion, realisation of the Supreme Lord, and detachment from all else.”

Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj is the foremost modern representative of the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Both definitive and progressive, his exemplary life, practice, and teachings brilliantly illuminate the path of divine love. For more information on Srila Govinda Maharaj, please visit his biography page.

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