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  • Suffering or Happiness: Matter of Perspective

    Chiang Mai 2016 - Suffering or Happiness: Matter of Perspective

    Author: Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Cycle: Chiang Mai 2016 Uploaded by: Priyanana Created at: 7 September, 2017
    Duration: 01:17:53 Date: 2016-12-21 Place: Gupta Govardhan Chiang Mai Downloaded: 220 Played: 502

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    Goswāmī Mahāraj: You have some question?
    Devotee: We got a similar question from Chinese devotees and Russian devotees.
    [Goswāmī Mahāraj: Oh, really?] Devotee: The Chinese question is from Lakshmirani dd in Chongqing.
    Goswāmī Mahāraj: Hare Kṛṣṇa.
    Devotee: So, her question is, we know that this life is full sufferings and miseries, especially because of illness, aging, and death. How can we live happily in the mist of this suffering and fear? [Goswami Maharaj laughing] And, how can we... I want to do service to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but how can I do it while I'm working or staying with families? And the Russian question is, once you said that although, all living beings are in this world are suffering, this world still look beautiful. Why does such contradiction take place?
    Goswāmī Mahāraj: Well, toward the latter part, that question I believe... perhaps, in the introductory section of the book Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, published by Gauḍīya Maṭh, authored by Professor Niski Kanta Sanyal. In the beginning is an introduction from Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur. And there's... like.... I don't know if it's 64, but a list of so many things Kṛṣṇa is, and one that... how do you say?... all contradictions are harmonized in Him. And maybe... I'll get back to the first question. It's a question of understanding, first and foremost, always who is Kṛṣṇa and what is Kṛṣṇa. So, Guru Mahāraj... the first book that we published was called, The Search for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Reality the Beautiful. So, he's saying, Reality −the ultimate... reality means the ultimate reality, actually, or we say reality proper. Think, He's beautiful. Satyam, śivam, sundaram, this is the vedic aphorism... that... like truth, auspiciousness, and beauty. But Guru Mahāraj says, “The parallels are ṣaṭ cit ānandam”. So ānandam and sundaram, these things will always be together. Beauty, ānandam means happiness; ecstasy implies, loving ecstasy, loving affection. So, it's very important to understand who Kṛṣṇa is and what He represents. So, He's reality the beautiful. Everything about Kṛṣṇa is beautiful and loving and charming and sweet. The vedanta says, ānandamayo ’bhyāsāt (Vedānta-sūtra), the Absolute is by nature joyful. He doesn't have to do something to achieve It's happiness. Meaning, He's in an unhappy position. Then He has to move from the unhappy position to achieve happiness. No, He's ānandam-mūrti, happiness personified, akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrtiḥ (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta: 8.142) . And, you can say, there's... how do you say?... infinitely. So, there's no room for more, He's infinitely that, yet, He's expanding that position. It's already at an... you know... the maximum; infinite maximum, yet, He's expanding the joy; ānandam. And, Raso vai saḥ (Taittirya Upanishad 2.7.1) , He's full of rasa, that means taste. Everything that we want, that we aspire to... the... sundar rūpa, the beautiful form, the beautiful sound. As Guru Mahāraj says, “Sound enhanced with beauty is music, movement enhanced with beauty is dance.” Taste, touch, smell, all the aspiration of the senses are realized in coming in connection with Kṛṣṇa.
    So, Jayadev Goswāmī writes, viśveṣām anurañjanena janayann ānandam indīvaraśreṇī-
    śyāmala-komalair upanayann aṅgair anaṅgotsavam (Śrī Gīta-govinda: Kṛṣṇa, it's like His form is a cupid festival. It's hard to translate, but he saying, “Everything about Kṛṣṇa is seductive and attractive. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa; Kṛṣ-ṇa, He's attracting everyone to Him. Kṛṣ, that's what Kṛṣ means. He's attracting everyone to Him by his beauty, charm, and sweetness. And ṇa, nourishing them with ānandam; happiness, pleasure. So, Prabodhānanda Saraswatī Ṭhākur has written in one place, viśvaṁ pūrṇa-sukhāyate (Śrī Chaitanya Chandramrita. 5), viśva means the universe. And what he's saying, “It's pūrṇa-sukh.” Like the name Guru Mahāraj would say, “Pūrṇānanda.” That's also described... Caritāmṛtam. So, he's saying, “The universe is just... is full of joy.” Then we might think, “What universe is he talking about?” [laughing] Because, in the Bhagavad-gītā we hear these general spiritual principles discussed. Kṛṣṇa is saying, janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam (Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 13.9,3-4). That, what's to be seen about this world, the darshan, the perspective on the material existence, different types of duḥk not sukh... as in viśvaṁ pūrṇa-sukhāyate, not sukh; happiness, but duḥk; unhappiness, misery. What are they? Here they're briefly, and she alludes to this in her question; birth, death, old age, disease. These things are inescapable in this plane. So, it's not possible to make a program here based upon... a sort of happiness that is absent, these recurrent miserable conditions; birth, death, old age, disease. Every day in the news we hear of some famous person, a movie star, or someone from long ago. Like females, women particularly, someone who is such a beautiful woman considered to be one of the most beautiful, attractive women in the world, some years ago. And, now age, illness, and at last death. So, one English poet, Thomas Nashe, he wrote a poem called Litany in the Time of Plague. You know there was a plague in London. And was it east London or everywhere? East London and other parts of London. Maybe some people think east London is a [laughing] plague. You can erase that part. [laughing] But, anyway there was a plague in London and it was no laughing matter and it was so many years ago. And he wrote in this famous Litany in the Time of Plague, each line ends with like, Lord, have mercy, we must die, I'm ill, I must die, Lord have mercy. But one of the line there he says, “Beauty is but a flower, wrinkles will devour, brightness falls from the air, Queens have died both young and fair.”
    It's similar to... Guru Mahāraj liked to quote Gray's Elegy. … “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Awaits alike the inevitable hour. The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” And I've mentioned also, the Russian chanson, this type of song you hear on the Russian radio sometimes. [laughing] And, these songs are saying basically, however nice things maybe going today, tomorrow you could wake up dead −in that case, not waking up, but wake up dead−, be under arrest, investigation, you've lost everything. So, whatever... however nice things appear right now, it's uncertain. Full of uncertainty we are, so, Kṛṣṇa is saying, “Wait, the material world is filled with inescapable suffering.” But, then... Prabodhānanda Saraswatī Ṭhākur is saying, “It's full of ecstatic joy.” So, then how can we harmonize these two things, but to understand a perspective. So, as Lakshmirani is saying, these things are inescapable and how are we to have happiness? The devotees, they like to present themselves as being relatively happy within a suffering existence. So, how is that possible? By a change of perspective. We're told the other day, the famous Bhāgavatam śloka,
    samāśritā ye pada-pallava-plavaṁ
    mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
    bhavāmbudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
    padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām
    (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.14.58)
    Vatsa-pada, means a calf foot; hoof. They're saying this material world, kaler doṣa-nidhe rājann (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: , it's oceanic in it's... a... inauspiciousness. We hear the ocean of nescience, bhavābdhi; the ocean of suffering; material suffering. An inescapable ocean of suffering. Inauspiciousness, oceanic magnitude, these sort of things are there, that means insurmountable, we're surrounded by that at every step. But then it's saying, but, if you take shelter of the Lord, which means through His devotees, then what was oceanic is reduced to a drop. How is that possible? That what is ocean now looks like a drop. Perspective, a change in perspective on how it is seen. So, in Bhagavad-gītā... Guru Mahāraj makes this parallel between the Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhāgavatam. In Bhagavad-gītā, after mentioning these different miserable conditions... or earlier Kṛṣṇa says, mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya, śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ (Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 2.14.1-2), like now, we're wearing sweaters and scarves... because the seasonal change. So He's saying in Prabupād's words, the non-permanence of period... appearance of heat and cold, happiness, distress... he said they're like seasonal changes, āgamāpāyino ’nityās, tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata (Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 2.14.3-4). So, Kṛṣṇa's telling Arjun, “Since, these things are inevitable, My advice to you is to tolerate them.” So, we put on the sweater and the scarf, we're tolerating, making small adjustments. That's one way to approach, is tolerate the situation, and try to make the best use of a bad bargain to progress from that position. But, the parallel Guru Mahāraj draws in the Bhāgavatam, he's saying, tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo, bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam:, that, samīkṣa means to examine, su-samīkṣa means to examine with great scrutiny. So, he's saying, “If you look... yes, that's the situation. But, if you look deeply into these circumstances, into the background, you'll see the friendly hand of Kṛṣṇa.” That the world, the so-called world of suffering, it hasn't been arranged, in this way, just to make you're life miserable.
    What kind of a God would that be? One who lives in isolation, who has no friends, associates... and has nothing better to do, then to... these so... these living beings that He's created to make them suffer. That's a type of sadistic portrayal. Yet, at the same time, we're saying, well is that not our situation? It depends on the perspective. So, the Bhāgavatam is saying if you look deeply to these karmic circumstances that we're surrounded by, apparently inescapably, so, then we'll have to consider and knowing, bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ, sarva-loka-maheśvaram (Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 5.29.1-2), that Kṛṣṇa is in control of everything. So, I'm in circumstances that I deserve −for every action there's and equal and opposite reaction− I've generated these karmic circumstances. Kṛṣṇa is ultimately controlling everything. Is He... everything He does, is it friendly to me or unfriendly to me? Is He friendly to me or antagonistic to me? And, not just in some philosophically abstract way, but the very circumstances that I find myself in. Are they meant to take me down or to promote me? In school, there's the examination; the test. And sometimes I remember, the so-called, flash quiz which was dreaded by the students. That means, the teachers instructing them, their books are open, and suddenly without warning the teacher turns and says, “Everyone close all your books, we're... you're going to have a quiz.” And, usually there's a collective groan for the students, like, ohhhh. Because the teacher's thinking, “This instruction is going on, and you seem to be listening, and you have your book open before you, but I wonder to what degree you're actually grasping what I'm trying to tell you. So, now close the books, flash quiz.” This happens to us. This happens also in the devotional line. Some test comes unexpectedly. And then... and there's some... apprehension on our part; anxiety. But... and we might even think that the teacher is being cruel. That the teacher is not benevolent, thinking of our welfare. We're thinking, “Why they're testing us in this way, trying to make us fail.” But, actually the teacher is not trying to make the students fail. The test is not unfriendly. It's actually meant to help the student make progress. That's why they're being tested and examined. And, so the same thing happens in life and in the life of the aspiring servitor. So, we need to understand, you know, two things are before us. There's the material world that is characterized by inescapable suffering, sooner or later in one form or another, janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi; birth, death, old age, disease. These things are inescapable. We may think, “No, science, they're working on this.” Or...and through technology, that still they're inescapable. It's just shows up in another form. We're saying that's this world, so shall I seek my happiness in a world that... as someone said, you know, being caustically humorous... he said, “Life is full of suffering and then you die.”
    So, Woody Allen said... “Life is full of suffering and it's so short.” [laughing] To show the paradox, the predicament that we're in. But, that is inescapable, so that means this world. So, is the... what's the word?.. to seek happiness just in principle, is that some sort of delusion, an impossibility? The poet, I believe, Vidyāpati says in one of his songs, “It's like looking for water in the desert.” So, the looking for water in the desert, does not mean that there's not someplace where water flows nicely, or extensively, expansively. This means not in that place. So, the happiness that we seek is... I'm trying to think of the word.. that impulse is doomed to failure in a world, that is also in the words of Bhagavad-gītā, anityam asukhaṁ lokam (Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 9.33.3) , there it is again. Asuk means unhappy. But, add to this, anityam; temporary. So, that means even if you arrange for everything to be in your favor, for some time, the world is temporary. It has to come to an end. So, one way or another we're brought to the position of lamenting. We hear the word śūdra and Guru Mahāraj he once said, “It means”... it actually means one who is wailing or crying, lamenting. So he said, “Who is a śūdra? One who has accepted this world as all in all, will inevitably have to lament.” Because, “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” We're living in the world of mortality, yet we're seeking immortality. So, to seek immortality in the mortal world is doomed to failure. So, the option is to redirect ourselves towards the immortal world. That means, internal culture, spiritual culture. And, from that perspective, Prabodhānanda Saraswatī Ṭhākur can say the universe is full of joy and happiness. Because, that's the world as he perceives it; the spiritual world. So, it means internal culture. We're told the Vaiṣṇavas, kṛpāmbudhir yaḥ para-duḥkha-duḥkhī (Vilāpa-kusumāñjali: 6.3), their only unhappiness is seeing the suffering of people for want of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. So, they very mercifully extend Kṛṣṇa Consciousness to others. So, back to the original point, to understand Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa's by nature full of joy and ecstasy. It's in forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa and our relationship with Kṛṣṇa that we come to suffer. So, it means the cure is remembrance. Just as in the Gopī-gīta, their unhappiness as feeling separation from Kṛṣṇa. This is so-called unhappiness that is categorically different. So, what do they say is the cure?
    tava kathāmṛtaṁ tapta-jīvanaṁ
    kavibhir īḍitaṁ kalmaṣāpaham
    śravaṇa-maṅgalaṁ śrīmad ātataṁ
    bhuvi gṛṇanti ye bhūri-dā janāḥ
    (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.31.9)
    They're saying, “Talking about You, talking about Kṛṣṇa; His pastimes, His qualities.” They were saying, “This brings your relief to suffering that we're experiencing.” So, we can say, that in both cases, they're suffering and the suffering of the people here, it's on account of the general heading of separation from Kṛṣṇa. In our case, forgetfulness of our relationship with Kṛṣṇa has brought about this kind of separation. The cure is the same cure that is being recommended by the vraja gopīs, that's also the cure for us, śrotavyaḥ kīrtitavyaś ca, smartavyaś cecchatābhayam (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: To hear about, chant about, and remember Kṛṣṇa and His devotees. So, from that position, being in connection with Kṛṣṇa through divine remembrance, and Kṛṣṇa who is happiness personified, then even in this world one can experience real pleasure, happiness. Rūpa Goswāmī says,
    īhā yasya harer dāsye
    karmaṇā manasā girā
    nikhilāsv apy avasthāsu
    jīvan-muktaḥ sa ucyate
    (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: 1.2.187)
    Jīvan-muktaḥ sa ucyate means, one can become liberated from suffering in this life. How? Karmaṇā manasā girā, if one's activities, mind, speech are Kṛṣṇa centered, then it's possible. How to do that in a family situation or work situation? Well, what first comes to my mind, is Mukunda the physician [drinking] in Mahāprabhu pastimes. He was the royal physician to the Muslim governor, I suppose. And, they had appropriated the divine paraphernalia. So, one morning... which means like, peacock fan and other things, they're like fanning the governor with it. So, they're on a veranda balcony, the sun is shining down, so they're shielding the governor with a peacock fan. Right?.. we know what the peacock fan is... where is our peacock... [Devotee: against the wall] OK, there... [laughing] Looks like the fan of a peacock tail... so many peacock eyes. So, while Mukunda, he's a vaidya, a physician, he's giving medical advice to the governor. And the governor's attendant is shielding him from the sun with the peacock fan. And, so, Mukunda while speaking to him, he sees the peacock feathers. And, even though, he's assumed the persona of an ordinary person, of an ordinary physician, and he's keeping his devotional position concealed, when he sees the peacock feather, it brings about this intense remembrance of Kṛṣṇa. This śloka is there,
    barhāpīḍaṁ naṭa-vara-vapuḥ karṇayoḥ karṇikāraṁ
    bibhrad vāsaḥ kanaka-kapiśaṁ vaijayantīṁ ca mālām
    randhrān veṇor adhara-sudhayāpūrayan gopa-vṛndair
    vṛndāraṇyaṁ sva-pada-ramaṇaṁ prāviśad gīta-kīrtiḥ
    (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.21.5)
    The description from the gopī vision. The gopīs, how they see Kṛṣṇa and Balarām. We could hear this śloka, it's describing Kṛṣṇa and Balarām and cowherd boys as they enter the forest in Vṛndāvan. So, we can think, oh, perhaps its emphasis is sakhya-rasa or friendship. But, actually it's from the vision of the vraja-gopīs, how they see Kṛṣṇa. They're on there verandas and looking at Kṛṣṇa while He's... playing His flute, and they're all singing and dancing, that's how they go herding the cows into the forest. And what they describe says, barhāpīḍaṁ, He's wearing the peacock feather, above Kṛṣṇa's lotus eyes, and the smiling lotus face of Kṛṣṇa is the peacock feather adorning Him. And is a naṭa-vara. He looks like a movie star. He's so... all His movements are perfect. His confidence, naṭa-vara-vapuḥ karṇayoḥ karṇikāraṁ. And He's wearing... He has flowers behind His ears. And He's wearing a vaijayantī-māla, which means like a rainbow colored garland, due to all the different Vṛndāvan forest flowers that's presented there. It is very colorful. And what is that saying... randhrān veṇor adhara-sudhayāpūrayan, and, He's sounding the flute and from Kṛṣṇa, the nectar from Kṛṣṇa's lips is entering the flute. Which is making the flute shiver in ecstasy but, then the flute is streaming nectarean sound into the air. And, everyone, as we know, they're saying, “Two ears... what... this Brahmā's a fool, two ears are insufficient, we need millions of ear to capture all this nectar. Two eyes are insufficient, we need millions of eyes to look at the beauty of Kṛṣṇa.” So, there's a shower of nectar in the air, and it says, vṛndāraṇyaṁ sva-pada-ramaṇaṁ prāviśad gīta-kīrtiḥ (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: And, vaikuṇṭhera pṛthivy-ādi sakala cinmaya (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta: Ādi-līlā, 5.53.1), the soil of Vṛndāvan is also, conscious.
    Everything is conscious in this realm. The birds, the trees, the water, all personalities, all consciousness. Just like in a play, someone can play... like, sometimes the children they come home to their parents from school. And their parents hear they're in a play. So they ask the child, and what part do you play? And the child saying, “I'm a flower.” [laughing] And, saying, “Oh, that's very nice, you're a flower, lotus flower.” So, you can play the part of a flower, a tree, a river, it's like that, vṛndāraṇyaṁ sva-pada-ramaṇaṁ. So, Kṛṣṇa is playing the flute, the environment is being showered with inconceivably beautiful nectarean sounds, maddening everyone. But, His... as they're dancing the lotus feet are touching the ground. And, we're told, the earth is a female, at the touch of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, is shivering in conjugal ecstasy. So, what is not possible in the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa? In that world, viśvam pūrṇam, where everything is... not only blissful and ecstatic, and happy, but ever expanding, ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaṁ prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ, sarvātma-snapanaṁ paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam (Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka: 1.3-4) So, Mukunda, just by seeing the peacock feather, it reminds him of this. And what is the affect? He loses consciousness of this world. So, we'll say, “Oh, he fainted, he fainted.” But, this is not... regular fainting means to lose consciousness. This type of fainting is on account of losing consciousness of this world and being overwhelmed of the Kṛṣṇa Consciousness world. So, he's in the upper world of ecstatic joy and he's lost his senses in this plane; he's fainted. So, the governor and his attendant, they... they start... you know... put the cold towel, water, fan him, and gradually he comes back to consciousness. And they say, “Where does it hurt?” And, he says, “It doesn't hurt anywhere.” [laughing] And, then he said, “Oh.”... then he... the great devotees, they always want to keep themselves concealed. So, he says, “... I suffer from epilepsy. Every now and then I have an epileptic seizure, but I'm ok now.” So, we can say, well that is the great devotees. Are you suggesting we'll be in the work... I'll be in the work place and have some remembrance of Kṛṣṇa, and then I'll be fainted at my desk. [laughing] No, it won't be like that. The one man... came to see... remember śaṅkhya yoga, the Bengali gentleman would come on the veranda in Dum Dum Park. Always saying about śaṅkhya yoga. And so, he was saying the reason he didn't want to take harinām, because... it inevitably... it came up because he was like a regular. The reason he didn't want to take harinām because, Mahāprabhu says, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ. I'll be taking harinām incessantly and then I won't be able to live in the world. And nothing... you know I said, yes, the planes will fall out of the sky if the pilots start chanting kṛṣṇa-nām. [laughing] So... but, let us understand what the superior devotees are like. So, then this is telling us, what we can extract from that. Is that, it means if we're sincere aspiring servitors, practitioners, then even when performing ordinary activities, it's possible, from time to time, to have some remembrance of Kṛṣṇa, that's all. This is an example of how high that sort of culture can go. But, after all, there should be some, we call this Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, some improvement in our consciousness. We're seeing, observing so many things. Gradually we'll see them in relation to Kṛṣṇa conception. That's not impossible. We're not talking about becoming in a fainted position, not now, at least. But, gradually how we view the world... we're... we say the primal guru mantras,
    om ajñāna-timirāndhasya
    cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena
    tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ
    Cakṣur means the eyes. Saying our eyes are cataracted by acquired prejudice, acquired tendency. It's like cataracts over the eyes. Spiritual knowledge, spiritual illumination, what we hear from Sādhu, Śāstra, Guru and Vaiṣṇav is removing the cataractic eye of ignorance and restoring proper seeing. So, what we're learning, is the... and cultivating is how to see things in relation to Kṛṣṇa. Śāstra-cakṣur, how to see through the eyes of scripture. And, we shouldn't think this is impossible. We go to school, we have our family. Through your family, they're teaching to see things in a particular way; mother and father, sister and brother. Then there's society, society is teaching one to see things in a particular way. You go to school, they're teaching how to see things in a particular way. None... it's not... the knowledge is not being given in a neutral way. That is... how do you say?.. devoid of a world view. All of this comes with a world view. And the modern world particularly is... at the basis, is Humanism. Different varieties of Humanism. Sayings that human beings... we're... man... human being is at the center of existence. And everything will be measured against this standard. So this is... this is moving from egocentric view of the world of life and everything to theocentric; God centered. What's the first verse of the Īśopaniṣad, īśāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ, (Iso mantra 1.1). Īśāvāsya, God centered; theocentric. A theocentric view of the world and circumstances. So, not to trouble others, if someone has to live in a family situation, the work situation... you know it's like being a secret agent of the Absolute. [laughing] Because, as they get, yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāṁ, tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī (Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 2.69.1-2), what is the time of awakening for one, morning point, is night to another. So, for those who live in an egoistic, humanistic centered existence, theo-centrism is anathema, they feel threatened by it. As much of those pursuing theistic culture may feel somewhat threatened by Humanism, it's natural. So, what is required is faith and dedication, how seriously we pursue Kṛṣṇa culture. Just like the Olympians... [drinking] olympic athletes, say the swimmers or the gymnast. This pursuit dictates all aspects of their life; of family life, social life, their diet, what time they wake up in the morning. This sole pursuit dictates all other interactions. So, that means, they have to get up early, they have to not eat certain things, to eat certain things, to be disciplined, it dictates their social life, even their family life. Why? Because, they're pursuing a very high goal. They want to get a gold medal, or medal. And, so, how do they achieve this? They have a coach, and a team, and teammates. What does it mean? They understand we need to get all the people together who have this similar pursuit, because they will help one another by their association. Very difficult to do this by oneself unless you're extremely motivated. What we see time and time again, they have a team. That means, it's another word for association. So, all the people say, “Yeah, that's my goal too. I also share your goal.” They may not have known each other previously, but the mutual pursuit of this goal has brought them together. This is... this sort of arrangement is inescapable for people who want to make progress and do something... achieve something extraordinary. So, they have the team, which means an association. And, what do they have also? The coach, who in this... parallels the Guru. So, they're there... to coach... they're coaching the individual members of the team, this association, to achieve this goal. With the olympic, it's easy to understand. But actually, this principle, is employed everywhere, for every type of serious pursuit there is.
    So, as Guru Mahāraj might say, “So, for spiritual culture, or the pursuit of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, should it be equal to that, or greater than that?” Like, they're making certain sacrifices as well. So, this sacrifice and the pursuit of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness be an equal sacrifice of an olympian or a greater level of sacrifice? When the end result, is that, the Infinite comes under the control of the finite, is the outcome of the pursuit of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. Not that, that is the desire of the devotee, but the experts like Rūpa Goswāmī, have made this observation, śrī-kṛṣṇākarṣiṇī ca sā. So, we.... we are pursuing something that the spiritual experts have said, the ultimate outcome of this pursuit, as the Infinite Supreme Lord come under the control of that devotee. So, what sort of sacrifice would be appropriate for that. In fact, it doesn't seem... what's the word?.. like commensurate or... fair. The finite, even sacrificing the whole of the finite, shall get the infinite, and that this transaction... it's lopsided. On one one side is the infinite, the other side is the finite. And we're... and we're hesitant, saying like, “And I'll have to sacrifice everything.” Name this everything that you have, so much everything you have, Mr. and Mrs. Finite.” “I'll be giving up so...” What are you giving up? “I'm giving up my, you know, my position in the line, the queue for mortality. In the mortal world, I've accumulated a lot of stuff here.” [laughing] mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham (Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 10.34.1), one way or another, you have to give it up. That's Bhagavad-gītā where said, “If in no other way, you can realize Me, at last you'll realize Me as death, when everything is taken away.” So, be... even we know this, without you know, theistic culture, that the point will come, even from a material point of view, when everything −you know they say you can't take with you− everything will be taken away from you. So, it means, you have between now and then to do what, voluntarily relinquish that position. That is what tapasyā is, to voluntarily relinquish... and all it is, ego. Ahaṁ mameti, the assertion that something is mine or that something belongs to me, when in fact, nothing does. So... what does it say?.. ramante yogino ’nante, satyānande cid-ātmani (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 9.29.1-2), spiritual pleasure, happiness is there, but it's achieved through dedication to internal culture. As oppose to the type of pleasure that is achieved from exploiting the environment and others.
    As Guru Mahāraj said once, “There's a joy that comes from stealing.” −like when the thieves take inventory of what they've stolen... there's that, there's a type of happiness there. He said, “But there's another joy in giving.” That we're told is a superior type of happiness. So, one sort of happiness is sought by [coughing] envisioning oneself [coughing] as an exploiting agent. Establishing oneself as an absolute center and trying to expand this circumference of one's exploiting capacity, as a means of self-fulfillment, self-realization, and happiness. And the other is a shift towards theo-centrism. To understand that we're part of the infinite, of the perfect. Śrīla Guru Mahāraj said, “It's as if, a part of the perfect appears to be imperfect.” So, that's realized and reviving our Kṛṣṇa conception. And, we're told, that can be done... you know... in the home, gṛhe thāko, vane thāko, sadā 'hari' bole' dāko (Sri Gitavali: Sri Nama.2). Van means forest or sannyās. It means... whether gṛhastha or sannyāsī. Narottam says the same thing, gṛhe vā vanete thāke, ‘hā gaurāṅga’ bale ḍāke, narottama māge tāra saṅga (Savarana-śrī gaurāṅga-mahimā: 4.3) But, it's how to keep connected to that plane; to that ecstatic plane. Means, by service and association to Kṛṣṇa's agents; Sādhu, Śāstra, Guru and Vaiṣṇav. And, what I was saying with regard to, it's the world of suffering, is that, all these different life forms... Manu says, tamasa bahu rupena veshtitah karmahetuna (Manu-saṁhitā: 1.49.1). We're all these forms, bahu rupena, an ignorance of one's actual spiritual identity, veshtitah karmahetuna, he said, “We're in our karmic dress.” One type of karmic dress is human being another karmic dress is an aquatic, an animal, a bird, an insect, a plant, or a tree. So, it's all different forms of karmic dress. So, in one sense, I was just pointing out, and this is on the basis of something I read in a purport of Śrīla Prabhupād in either the third or fourth canto, I can't remember exactly where. He's saying, “How astonishing it is these living entities are suffering in these karmic circumstances, but it looks so beautiful.” Beautiful trees, beautiful flowers, beautiful animals. So, it's something astonishing. But, if we go back to the center... and I'm saying, ultimately everything that comes from Kṛṣṇa, we see... we will trace it back to the central conception of Reality the Beautiful; Kṛṣṇa conception.
    Devotee: Another question. Is Kṛṣṇa mentioned in the scriptures of other religions?
    Goswāmī Mahāraj: Well, when Mahāprabhu was making His way from Bengal, trying to go to Vṛndāvan, and so many people were following him. And Rūpa Goswāmī at the time was again employed in the service of the Muslim governor. Reports were coming to the Muslim governor about this mystic personality who was ecstatic, singing and dancing kṛṣṇa-nām, tears were pouring from His eyes like the Gaṅgā stream, surrounded by lakhs of people, hundred of thousands of people following Him. And he pointed out, and they were not being paid. They were not on payroll. That governor, getting the support, asked Rūpa Goswāmī, “Who do you think this is? What's your opinion about this?” And, interestingly, Rūpa Goswāmī said, “You're... the position you have you've achieved by the grace of the Lord. So, ask your heart, ask yourself, in the deep core of your heart, who it is. And accept that answer.” And he said, “I think this is that person who's described in our scriptures as Divinity. I think it's that person.” So, he had a highly evolved level of sukṛti to understand his scriptures, what was being described as Divinity, he got the sense, this is that same person what's been described here. So, other scriptures, they're presenting partial representations of Divinity of Kṛṣṇa. The majestic aspect... how else... not.. it is not very specific regarding the personality of Godhead. But, they're dealing in essential theistic concepts, like God is great, or the greatest; Parabrahman, in the words of Gītā, Bhāgavatam, and elsewhere. So, you can say, by inference they're making reference to Kṛṣṇa, but, in a partial way. It's not fully expressed there. What to speak of other scriptures or other religious traditions.
    When the vraja-gopīs... when Kṛṣṇa played a trick on the vraja-gopīs by hiding from them. They thought they say Him hiding in a kuñj, the kuñja. And, He to fool them, He pressed, pushed out two more arms. So, that when they arrived, Rūpa Goswāmī said, rāgodayaḥ kuñcati, their rāg, what they're feeling in their hearts, it was crushed. Their heart sentiments were crushed by seeing Nārāyaṇ, Vaikuṇṭha Nārāyaṇ. So, what is Kṛṣṇa conception? They're seeing the Lord of Vaikuṇṭa, Nārāyaṇ, and they're disappointed. What will be their reaction to other religious ideas, if they were disappointed Vaikuṇṭa Nārāyaṇ? And their standard is what we aspire to. They accept no substitute, that is gopī-bhāv. There is no... Dwārakā Kṛṣṇa is a disappointment. … Vaikuṇṭa Nārāyaṇ, Dwārakā Kṛṣṇa is a disappointment to Rādhārāṇī and the vraja-gopīs. And he looks like Kṛṣṇa, more or less. [laughing] But they're saying, “What kind of Kṛṣṇa is it without a flute?” And not... “Where's His gopa-veś, why is He dressed like a king and no flute to be seen?” What is in the heart of the vraja-gopīs? What is gopī-bhāv? So, if they will not be satisfied with Vaikuṇṭa Nārāyaṇ, or Dwārakā Kṛṣṇa, do you think they could find some satisfaction in these other, more or less, impersonal descriptions about Divinity, or... you know... looking at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? I don't think so. [laughing] Is that clear? [laughing]
    They're our leaders. They set... call the tune, they set the standard. Nothing there for them; no Rādhā, no Kṛṣṇa, Nanda-Yaśodā, no gopa, no gopī, no cows, no Jamunā, no Vṛndāvan, no flute, no prasādam. So what is there? Some vague description about the greatest. Not untrue, look in the pages of the Caritāmṛtam, in the beginning Kṛṣṇadas Kavirāj Goswāmī is saying −when he's explaining− “There's Kṛṣṇa then there's Balarām... but it... I mean the word 'then' is misleading. You can say, Balarām is the first other then Kṛṣṇa. But it's not like Kṛṣṇa was alone and then He thought up Balarām. No, they're just explaining to you, there's Kṛṣṇa, Balarām... you know, Mahā-Saṅkarṣaṇ, the Caturvyūha, Kāraṇodakaśāyī, Mahā-Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣnu, Ananta Śeṣ. From Śeṣ Ananta so many avatars are coming out in the world. And, so, Kavirāj Goswāmī there says, “So, if someone says...” And mentioning that... like we say in the song, avatāra sār gorā avatāra. Mahāprabhu and Kṛṣṇa they are both all the incarnations. Avatars are within them, merged within them, are within them, particularly, when they appear. So, they can show many different things, but... so Kavirāj Goswāmī says, “If someone says that Mahāprabhu is Kṣīrodakaśāyī-Viṣṇu...” He is saying, “It's not untrue... he said, but is that like a glorification?” With all due deference to Kṣīrodakaśāyī-Viṣnu, whose a part of a part of a part, is that... So, it's not untrue, that's... but, that is not add to His glory. So, he was trying to help... Kṛṣṇa Kavirāj Goswāmī... trying to help us understand properly who is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabu, who is Nityānanda Prabhu. What does it say in the song? Vrajendra-nandana jei, śachi-suta hoilo sei, balarāma hoilo nitāi (Iṣṭa-veve Vijñapti, 2). But, when the avatars come and appear in this world, there's a channel through which that is done. He saying, “According to the bhāv of a particular devotee, they're seeing the Lord in a particular way. So, if we wanted to be generous... because, we'll say first of all... and that's why someone... Kṛṣṇa akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti means, He's Rāmacandra and Balarām is Lakṣmaṇ. That's not untrue. So, he's showing that, also, Vaikuṇṭa Nārāyaṇ. But... ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ, kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: But, Kṛṣṇa is svayam bhagavān, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, from which all the others have come. So, if we want to be generous, we can say, well, on some level... this is how the Lord is being represented to someone, they're following that, or appreciating that. In principle, that is a good thing. But then it needs to be developed from partial to a full representation; Brahmā, Paramātmā, Bhagavān.
    We're told, just like the sun; there's the sunrays, the sun. But, from a vedic perspective, there's the sun planet, the sun god, the denizens of the sun planet. So, from one perspective, like that Upaniṣad śloka, hiraṇmayena pātreṇa (Īśopaniṣad: Mantra 15.1), they're blinded by the effulgence. But, those with pure devotion, they're not blinded by that effulgence. Just as in the aftermath of daily bhāv of Mahāprabhu in house of Chandrashekhar, we're told the house, after this divine play, performance, the house was glowing like the brahma-jyotir for days. And, when some people would come by, they couldn't see anything. But, that's not the case for the devotees. Because, of devotion they can penetrate the light and see the form and the personality is there. So, for the devotees, even that light is not so called, impersonal. That's a perspective on Brahmā. The devotees are seeing everything in relation to Kṛṣṇa; Brahmā, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān. Why is repeatedly when kṛṣṇa-bhakti is described... and is... from Kṛṣṇa... and Mahāprabhu, is always mentione,d four types of liberation or sometimes referred to... saying why the pure devotees are not interested in them. What is it?... sālokya, sāmīpya, sārṣṭi and sārūpya mukti, not the fifth, like, sāyujya, which means merging. Never that idea, notion cannot be entertained by a devotee proper, because, there's no... devotee means sevā; service possibility, they want to serve the Lord. As they conceive the Lord properly, they want to offer themselves in service. Merging or impersonalism, it does now allow the possibility of service. So it's what, kaivalyaṁ narakāyate, Narottam Ṭhākur says, “Hellish.” That's hellish from the perspective of the devotee; no... no... no one to serve, no concept of someone to serve, to offer yourself to, to serve, to love. Means the absence of love and affection and devotion. Not possible. So, any description of God that is vague or tending toward impersonal, doesn't allow for loving service. And, that's not appreciative, appreciated by devotees proper; pure devotees. But, it may be accepted as a general theistic principle of like going in a particular direction. I remember, flying to Tomsk in the winter time, like around this time. And the plane arrives, like maybe, six or seven o'clock in the morning, but there's this snow everywhere. [laughing] But... so, weṛe flying in the darkness the whole time. Then how do you first perceive the city? You just see light from a distance, light. So, someone were asked you to described what you see from that position, you would describe light. And, it wouldn't be inaccurate and it wouldn't insincere on yur part. You'd be saying, “This is what I can see, I'm describing that to you.” But as we go nearer, gradually you start to see forms appear. The city lights and city landmarks and things like that. Then when you land on the ground, you meet the people. So, it's something like that. From a distance we can expect some vague description about divinity. Comparable to light, non-personal, impersonal, but by definition it means a distant realization. And... and it does not allow for the opportunity to serve. You can not serve the light. Or embrace the light, or have a loving affection relationship with the light. So, it disallows devotional interaction. But, coming closer, it starts to become localized and differentiated. And then, landing there, everything is revealed. So, Brahmā, Paramātmā, Bhagavān.
    And what we hear further, in Caritāmṛtam, Kṛṣṇa Kavirāj Goswāmī is giving some insight into the candid position of Kṛṣṇa. Where he's saying that, “If someone's consideration of Me is predominated by aiśvarya-jñāne − means knowledge of His opulences, His majestic aspect. He saying, “If that's constraining the natural flow of love from their heart, then I'm disappointed”, “bhāva-grāhī janārdan.” Kṛṣṇa is a bhāv consumer, a heart consumer. They're saying, “The very thing I want is being constrained by someone's being overwhelmed by My majestic aspect.” So, what is he saying? Is that, but those... my friends, those who see me as an equal, so much so that they challenge me. He's saying, “This captures My interest.” And, think about it. Here's God the infinite, divinity, and here's a tiny finite being, not out of arrogance or insolence, but out of love and affection wants to play with Him and challenge Him. Kṛṣṇa's saying, “This is heart melting to me.” And, I've mentioned this example that −and it's all divine and wonderful, but just for the sake of analysis with folded palms above head− we hear of Kṛṣṇa riding on the shoulders of Garuḍa, and how ecstatic Garuḍa is. … He has Kṛṣṇa riding on his shoulders... he's like... saying, “I couldn't be happier.” And, it's a beautiful divine image to see. And, we can certainly understand that. You know, his feathers must be like standing in ecstasy. [laughing] But, Kṛṣṇa says −speaking candidly in Caritāmṛtam, in the intro− “When I'm playing with my friends, we play these games, and the loser has to carry winner on his shoulders.” So, what are we told, devotion is the infinite being defeated by the finite, coming under the control of the finite, defeated by the finite. That's where devotion is detected. The infinite is defeated by the finite. So, what is the outcome? So, Kṛṣṇa has to carry that devotee on His shoulders. Now He's flying. And He's saying, “This I love. I got the devotee on my shoulders, he's in the superior position. I'm defeated by my devotee, I'm acknowledging the defeat. And how wonderful that is, I'm carrying my devotee on my shoulders.” And He goes further to say, “And if my beloved −the word bhartsana-priyā (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta: Ādi-līlā, 4.26)− bhartsan, if my beloved is cursing me.” And sometimes mān (anger), Rādhārāṇī she's, their loving pastime, for some reason angry at Kṛṣṇa. She's cursing Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa says, “That steals my mind away from the reverential hymns of the Vedas. That's more sweeter to my ear, it's capturing me.” These are Kṛṣṇa's opinions. Saying... so, Rādhārāṇī's cursing Him is sweeter than any prayer that any religion can make. That's how we can understand that. So, and here He mentions the Vedas. And, what are they saying? How great He is, and how wonderful He is. And she saying, “You're not so great and you're not so wonderful ...and right now.” [laughing] Like Guru Mahāraj said, “In one pastime, Rādhārāṇī's told her servitors, if Kṛṣṇa comes to my kuñja He should be forbidden entrance. And Kṛṣṇa comes, so what is the service of that devotee? What world is that where... your service... the service of the devotee is to tell Kṛṣṇa, You can't enter here. [laughing] Who's omnipotent, omnipresent, all omni, omni, omni, omni. Saying, I'm sorry, you're forbidden entrance at this time. Your call is important to us. [laughing] So, how sweet are those pastimes. And, even in this world, if we can have some remembrance of that, we can taste some happiness. [clapping] Hare Kṛṣṇa.