In the Refuge
In the holy sanctuary of the temple of our Lord Sri Sri Radha Gopinath, the beautifully and sweet sound of water falling, the sound vibration of the rivers, oceans etc. have a natural effect of calming the mind and relieving it of tension & anxiety that is created due to contact with disturbing sound vibrations throughout the day. In the west people play tapes of water falling to soothe the mind of its pains and anxieties. The reason for this is that peace of mind comes into our life only when our consciousness is in harmony with nature. We see that wealthy people living in big cities occasionally visit resorts or retreat in the natural atmosphere of the country. It is said that if the city is made by man, but the country is made by God. Recently I visited some holy places in the west and saw beautiful cathedrals. Some of which took over hundred years to build. One of the most exalted features of these Cathedrals was the high domes over the main sanctuary. Large domes stretch out into the sky and when you look up at them you are filled with awe and reverence. You see men know the sense of awe and reverence, that sense of bringing the mind closer to God is awakened by creating such structures.
Krishna consciousness means to always be conscious of Krishna everywhere and in everything, and to keep ones mind always in harmony, in connection to him. So who would not say that the beautiful sounds of these waterfalls creates such a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere for the mind, because it brings our mind closer to the natural arrangement of God. On the other hand when we hear the honking of horns and the revering of motors. It has an opposite effect on our mind. Water being natural purifies and fumes from technological creations of man only pollute the atmosphere physically, mentally and spiritually. Therefore it is necessary to visit the temple of the Lord regularly to reorient our consciousness and to come in contact with our true nature. But what makes this beautiful waterfall so sweet, beautiful and charming to the heart is not just the sound of the water but for whom the beautiful sound of the water is being sung. It is being sung for Radha and Krishna.
Therefore it is like Kirtana, the glorification of Lord. In Vrindavan everyone is immersed in the Kirtan of the Lord. It is described that when Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu went to Vrindavan, when he was chanting, not only were all other human beings responding to his chanting, but the trees, birds and animals all reciprocated, according to their own capacity, according to their own natural existence, they were all glorifying the holy name. They were all taking part in the divine kirtans of the holy name. So when we come together in the holy place of the Lord’s temple, in the congregation of devotees who are truly seeking to glorify God, to put themselves last and Krishna and all his creation first, it brings the mind to its spiritual source. To be in harmony with our eternal nature. The sound of the birds, the wind, the waterfalls; it pacifies the mind because it brings us closer to nature. Therefore, even in the phase of the inevitable tragedies that come upon us in this world, Krishna is so kind that he provides us an access to his holy name.
4Need for the holy name at death:
Throughout the centuries, great devotees of the lord were under persecution, have been imprisoned and tortured but their consciousness remained peaceful and calm because of their remembrance of the natural sound ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare’. And at the time of death which is a great trial; it is described in the Bhagwatam that one’s body, becomes as hot as fire and as cold as ice and all of the different organs painfully in a sudden condition just start breaking down. To one who has lived in unnatural consciousness during life, this is the most painful and the most fearful experience. But for a devotee who has learned during life how to sing, seek refuge in the spiritual sound of our essential nature which is manifested in the holy name even death is a wonderful transcendental experience. So therefore this must be our great priority in life. How to seek peace, how to seek shelter of the sound vibration of krishna’s name. The great acharyas, have shown us the way. By visiting holy places, associating with holy people and in that atmosphere learn to absorb our consciousness in kirtan of the Lord.
Srila Prabhupada’s thought:
Srila Prabhupada would often say, “Places where sinful activities happen, like brothels or liquor houses, etc. are in the mood of ignorance. The cities with all the racing around, noise and the greed to earn more money get a better post, etc; what is all this? – It is an indication that the consciousness is calling out for help!! Therefore the city is in the mode of passion, and the country, the forests, the jungles, are in the mode of goodness Saptguna“. But the temple of the lord creates the atmosphere of Vrindavan where everyone is simply sharing their lives for krishna’s sake and everything is an offering for Krishna’s pleasure. There is cooking for Krishna, there is music for Krishna. There is so much work being done for Krishna. This is Vrindavan. And this atmosphere of the temple is neither in the mode of ignorance, passion or goodness but it is the spiritual world. It is very important that every one of us make a special concentrated effort to help create an atmosphere of the spiritual world of Vrindavan within the Lord’s temple.
To all of our senses; our ears, eyes, nose & taste, every aspect of our existence should be transported to Krishna when we enter into the atmosphere of the Lord’s home. And then of course we can take that state of consciousness with us wherever we go in this world. This is a great gift which Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given us and the mercy of great devotees. Srila Prabhupada, has established over hundreds of temples around the world which are like spiritual oasis in the deserts of material passion and ignorance; where people can take shelter of the beautiful sound vibration of Krishna. To establish the atmosphere of the spiritual world in the western countries which is plagued by the hunger and thirst for material things and in every town and village, there should be such an oasis, such a sanctuary where people can come to refresh their consciousness, to come back to our natural, essential meditation on Krishna. And in that consciousness where ever we go we will be able to see Krishna. Every experience of our life will be an experience of the mercy of Krishna.
Are there any questions??.
Answer: We must first begin by learning how to experience Krishna where he is personally manifesting himself. At the starting stages we learn through the guidance of great devotees of the Lord to approach the beautiful murthy, we can learn how to experience Krishna by meditating on his beautiful form. We can learn how to experience Krishna when in the presence of the Kritan we are chanting his name. Or when we are chanting japa, we are directly experiencing the personality of Godhead through the name. When we come to the temple to meet saintly people, we are directly experiencing the awareness of being reminded of Krishna. When we take prasad, not eat prasad but honour prasad in the company of people, who really have a state of reverence and devotion towards the holy prasad of the lord, we can easily experience Krishna. This is the beginning, before you can even hope to experience Krishna in the world of passion and ignorance, first you have to learn to experience Krishna; where Krishna is most mercifully manifesting himself in your life.
And to the extent you develop an attachment for the holy Murthy of the lord and the association of devotees, to the reading of the scriptures, to the chanting of the holy name, to that extent Krishna becomes first and foremost in our life and when Krishna begins to capture our hearts, then it slowly becomes easier and easier to remember Krishna to experience Krishna in every aspect of our life. Some people artificially and superficially think; if Krishna is everywhere, why do we have to go to the temple? If Krishna is everywhere why do we have to bow down in front of the murthy? If krishna is everywhere why do we have to chant the holy name? It is true that Krishna is everywhere, but to actually experience the ecstatic love of reciprocating with him everywhere is such an exalted and purified state of consciousness which is very difficult to attain. Therefore Krishna is so infinitely merciful and kind that he is coming to reveal himself in such a way that is easy for us in our fallen condition to perfect and connect our consciousness in his remembrances by associating oneself with devotees, coming to temple and chanting the holy names. Why be proud and remain forever in darkness. One of the signs of one who is actually spiritually advanced is that he becomes very humble. The more advanced you are, the more humble you become and you feel how much I need to be with Krishna. The great devotees of the lord, the really great devotees, they are chanting the holy names constantly.
If a sick man is too proud to take medicine, he will remain sick forever. This is the medicine to bring us back to our natural spiritually healthy condition where we can experience Krishna at all times everywhere. And when we actually experience Krishna at all times everywhere the natural reaction is we are so filled with joyful love that we simply want to glorify him at every moment. So therefore in Krishna consciousness the ends are the means. Someone asked Srila Prabhupad,”What you expect to get out of all this chanting of Hare Krishna. You start in the morning with all of your disciples and for two hours Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare and then after that every one comes to the temple beating drums and cymbals.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare. And whatever everyone is doing they are doing for the sake of Krishna throughout the day and at noon and in the evening coming together to chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare. What do you expect to get ultimately in the end out of all this chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare”. Srila Prabhupad said “the ultimate goal of what we expect in the end of our whole lifetime of chanting is to chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare. Thats all. We are not expecting, now I am so advanced there is no need to chant. At the beginning we chant as medicine but in a purified state chanting the holy name is the spontaneous expression of the soul’s love for God. Therefore we never want to stop chanting Hare Krishna”. “Kirtaniya sada Hari”-The goal of life is with every breath, with every heart beat our consciousness is in the glorification of Krishna’s name.
Question 2: When there is so much suffering in this world, thousands of chilldren dying of starvation everyday, wars, earthquakes, millions of animals being slaughtered, etc. how can we conceive of being happy in this world with all this happening???
Answer: To the extent you are aware that this is going on and you learn to truly feel sympathy and compassion for all those suffering and you do according to your capacity to alleviate that suffering to that extent you will experience the inner joy of spiritual consciousness. Those who simply want to put a wall between themselves and the sufferings of this world thinking by doing that I will find happiness; their so called joy is superficial and has no substance in the heart. It is just like a shadow of pleasure. But for those who face the reality of this world and understand that all this suffering is due to not living in harmony with God, forgetting our relationship with God, and actually feeling the grieving in our hearts for those who are suffering due to forgetfulness of their spiritual source. Do you think that the wealthy people who are living in grand material arrangements they are necessarily less suffering than the people dying in the streets? When I visited Israel and was talking to some Jewish people they told me many of their relatives were killed in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany and although they were being raped, exploited, tortured, etc. many of them were thanking God and chanting his names.
And the Christians, many of them chanted the names of the Lord as they were being stoned to death in the early days of Christianity. So there are millions of times more in peace, than the people persecuting them. If we are conscious of our spiritual essence in any situation in this material world there will be peace and joy. Inevitably we were explaining the pains of dying and each and everyone of us whatever our position is in this world, we have to meet that destiny. Krishna says in Bhagwad Gita, “A Wise man knows that the real problems in this world are the pains of birth, old age, disease and death and no one whatever your material circumstances or your power to control no one is exempted from that suffering”. Even if everything in this world was wonderful, there was no poverty, there were no earth quakes, there was no cow slaughter, still everyone will have to die and suffer. Therefore in living or dying to be in harmony with Krishna is the joy of the soul.
It is said that a really great devotee of the Lord, such a person his only suffering is to see others suffering. To the extent we empathise, we sympathise, and feel a sense of compassion and that motivates us to do something tangible in this world to help others who are suffering to that extent we come closer to God and feel the joy and the bliss of Krishna. In that condition, but to the degree we want to ignore it, to the degree we become careless to the sufferings of others and simply think of making ourselves happy to that extent you must suffer. Suffer the limitations of the realities of your own material existence.
Thank you very much.