Hare Krishna Yoga, Karma, Reincarnation

Sunday, 24 February 2013

What is the Goal of Life?

Finding a purpose in this human life is something most people strive towards and is regarded as a vital aspect to a persons well being and sense of success and progress. Setting goals is a beneficial exercise to practice in order to be successful. To start with it acts as the first step towards success, giving you a point of focus and motivation. You wouldn't get into a taxi and not know where it was you wanted to go, the taxi driver will require your destination or you won’t be going anywhere. Goals are inner desires that you wish to manifest. They also encourage positive thinking and aid self improvement. 

Spiritual Goals

As spirit souls dwindling through the material world taking one birth after another, it is easy to feel lost and without a meaningful goal or direction in life. When lost it is wise to ask for directions and so by inquiring submissively to a spiritual master who has already found the path to self-realisation and seeking guidance from pure devotees of the Lord, one may find answers. His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is a spiritual master and founder of the Hare Krishna movement. From his books he tells us that the ultimate goal of life is to attain the highest perfectional stage of devotional service to the Lord. As God is the source of all happiness and love the essence of spiritual life is to develop love for God. Our goal is to rekindle that lost connection with Lord Krishna.  

Srila Prabhupada says: According to the Vedic principles, there are three stages of spiritual advancement, namely, sambandha-jñāna, abhidheya and prayojana. 
  • Sambandha-jñāna refers to establishing one's original relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, 
  • Abhidheya refers to acting according to that constitutional relationship
  • Prayojana is the ultimate goal of life, which is to develop love of Godhead (premā pum-artho mahān). 
If one adheres to the regulative principles under the order of the spiritual master, he very easily achieves the ultimate goal of his life. A person who is addicted to the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra very easily gets the opportunity to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly.

Goal Setting exercise.

  1. Fold a piece of paper in half.
  2. On the left hand side of the paper write down your goals, they can be both spiritual and material goals. (e.g. Chant Hare Krishna, read Srila Prabhupadas books, get a promotion at work.)
  3. Now on the right hand side of the paper write down in detail everything you did yesterday, from waking up to going to sleep.
  4. Now connect with a line each activity you did the day before that corresponds to a goal. The connection must be an activity that was conducive to achieving that particular goal.
  5. How many connections did you make? 3 or 4? Great, then you are on your way to achieve your goals. Fewer? Then try and re-evaluate your priorities in order to be more successful and act in accordance to your goals. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

What is the meaning of life?

From the last post, in the video people are asked what they would do if they only had 24 hours to live? The response was ultimately something that would make them happy, which suggests that the meaning of life is to be happy and seek enjoyment. Yet, in previous posts we have established that spiritual happiness is superior to material happiness and so there must be a higher purpose and meaning to life.

Understanding why we are in the material world.

Scripture tells us that we are fallen souls. We were once enjoying eternally with God in the spiritual world, however selfish and lusty desires caused us to fall as we desired to enjoy separately from God. Being envious of Krishna we desired to be God ourselves and serve only our own desires. Therefore Krishna has given us independence from him by creating the material world and allowing us to live by our own free will. This includes giving us the free will to worship God or not, as real love is not forced. However, as the absence of light is darkness, the absence of god is ignorance and so the material world is full of suffering.

Srila Prabhupada says: The meaning of life is to enjoy. But now you are on a false platform of life, and therefore you are suffering instead of enjoying. Everywhere we see the struggle for existence. Everyone is struggling, but what is their enjoyment in the end? They are simply suffering and dying. Therefore, although life means enjoyment, at the present moment your life is not enjoyment. But if you come to the real, spiritual platform of life, then you'll enjoy.

Nourish the Soul.

In this material world, the body, mind and soul all need nourishment in order to be balanced and happy. The body requires energy from food to sustain the body, the mind requires entertainment and the food for the soul is love. If the soul is neglected, then there is no sense of real enjoyment. Krishna is the original source of Love, which is the highest form of happiness and so the essence of spiritual life is to develop love for God. More coming up in the next post...  

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Most Wonderful Thing in this World

If you had 24 hours to  live, what would you do?

Yamaraja once asked Maharaja Yudhistira, “What is the most wonderful thing within this world?” Maharaja Yudhishtira replied (Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.116):

"Hundreds and thousands of living entities meet death at every moment, but a foolish living being nonetheless thinks himself deathless and does not prepare for death. This is the most wonderful thing in this world."

The truth is, we don't know when our time will be. We don't like to think about it and we don't see the urgency to do anything about it. An intelligent person will always prepare for the future. Waiting till we are old to take spiritual life seriously can be regretful as old age is not guaranteed. The only thing that is guaranteed in life is that one day we will leave this body. Imagine how much more difficult spiritual life will be in old age, both mentally and physically? Those that do meet old age will have habits that are already deep routed and harder to change. Therefore while a person is young, fit and active is the ideal time to be practising spiritual life.

So like a pension fund, savings made now will benefit a person at the point of retirement, likewise any spiritual activity done now will accumulate to something that will benefit them in their next life. Putting effort into something that is only temporary is wasteful, however engaging that same energy in devotional service and offering all endeavours to the Supreme Lord Krishna will reap eternal benefit that will carry over to your next life, like a spiritual bank balance. So why not prepare now, start now and secure your future interests. 

There is no time like the present.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Eggless English Pancakes

This Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day! So today I have for you a tried and tested eggless English pancake recipe. Now Pancake Day is the time for Christians to use up certain ingredients before the fast of Lent begins, however as a Vaishnava, it is a great excuse to prepare a tasty offering for Lord Krishna and relish eggless pancake prashad with the family. 

Pick up these simple ingredients to make a batch of delicious Eggless English Pancakes to serve 8 

100g Plain flour

100ml sweetened condensed milk (egg replacer)

200ml Milk

Butter or olive oil for frying

  • Sift flour into a large mixing bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and add condensed milk .
  • Wisk together and gradually add the milk to make a smooth, runny batter.
  • Place a none-stick frying pan on medium heat & add butter or oil.
  • Poor a full ladle of batter into the frying pan and quickly tilt the pan to create a evenly thin and round layer.
  • Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until golden brown.
  • Use a palette knife to carefully flip the pancake and cook for a further 20 to 45 seconds.
  • Slide pancake onto a plate and serve with sugar and lemon, folded into triangles or simply rolled up.

Srila Prabhupada's Books for Amazon Kindle Review

I was suprised when I saw how little it costed to have the complete collection of Srila Prabhupada's original books, conversations, letters and classes available for the Kindle. It is available here at an insignificant £6.21 (at the time of this post) reduced from £12.45 and that even includes the 18 canto Srimad-Bhagavatam! However don't for a second think that these books are cheap, they are certainly PRICELESS and it is the pure causeless mercy of Srila Prabhupada that they are so available for all to read. 

It is such a delight to be able to have all of Prabhupadas books with me all the time. The Kindle is easy to use, smart and light-weight. You can easily add notes and bookmarks so you don't loose your place and It also has added features including a dictionary and search function. The screen is really clear and the Paperwhite version has an adjustable light feature which is great for dim rooms. I've also found that I read for longer and more often than I did with the regular hardback books as its compact, always with me and the pages are so quick to navigate through. If you like reading on your commute to work, lunch breaks or when travelling, I highly recommend the Kindle or any type of e-reader. My Kindle has now become a sacred piece of paraphernalia on par with the holy books and scriptures that I keep on my alter. I often wondered, what would Srila Prabhupada have thought about his books being on the Kindle, and then I came across this passage in The Nectar of Devotion - Chapter 14. 

Srila Prabhupada Says One should not give up anything which can be utilized in the service of the Lord. That is a secret of devotional service. Anything that can be utilized in advancing Kṛṣṇa consciousness and devotional service should be accepted. For instance, we are using many machines for the advancement of our present Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, machines like typewriters, dictating machines, tape recorders, microphones and airplanes. Sometimes people ask us, "Why are you utilizing material products if you condemn the advancement of material civilization?" But actually we do not condemn. We simply ask people to do whatever they are doing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the same principle on which, in Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa advised Arjuna to utilize his fighting abilities in devotional service. Similarly, we are utilizing these machines for Kṛṣṇa's service. With such sentiment for Kṛṣṇa, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we can accept everything. If the typewriter can be utilized for advancing our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, we must accept it. Similarly, the dictating machine or any other machine must be used. Our vision is that Kṛṣṇa is everything. Kṛṣṇa is the cause and effect, and nothing belongs to us. Kṛṣṇa's things must be used in the service of Kṛṣṇa. That is our vision.      

Remember most kindle covers are made from leather and so if you are using your Kindle to read scriptures then go for a synthetic material to avoid causing offences. FYI I got mine from ebay. It is made from PU 'leather' which is polyurethane, a synthetic material.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Arjuna's Chariot

The chariot of the body. The five horses represent the five senses (tongue, eyes, ears, nose and skin). The reins, the driving instrument, symbolize the mind, the driver is the intelligence, and the passenger is the spirit soul. 

In the last post we find that the soul is covered by layers of the subtle body and gross body. Each layer covers or alludes the soul in disassociating with its true self. This is called ego or thinking that we are the body.

Arjuna's chariot is an analogy which illustrates the roles each layer of the subtle and gross body plays. The chariot carries the passenger (Arjuna) in the same way that the material body is the carrier of the soul. The chariot can only be driven with the presence of the charioteer which is the intellect. The battle ground is the object of the senses. The 5 horses are the 5 mighty senses which are tamed only by the reins (the mind). The mind is superior to the senses and even higher than the mind is the intellect or the charioteer that grips the horses reins. 

The soul teamed with intellect drives the body and instructs the mind to control the senses. If the intellect is weak and unable to control the mind, then the senses will run wild like untamed horses. 

Srila Prabhupad says Intelligence is supposed to direct the mind, but the mind is so strong and obstinate that it often overcomes even one's own intelligence. Such a strong mind is supposed to be controlled by the practice of yoga, but such practice is never practical for a worldly person like Arjuna. And what can we say of modern man? The simile used here is appropriate: one cannot capture the blowing wind. And it is even more difficult to capture the turbulent mind. The easiest way to control the mind, as suggested by Lord Caitanya, is chanting "Hare Krsna," the great mantra for deliverance, in all humility. The method prescribed is sa vai manah krsna-padaravindayoh: one must engage one's mind fully in Krsna. Only then will there remain no other engagements to agitate the mind.

The soul or Atma sits besides the super-soul or Parmatma who is an expansion of Krishna himself. The super-soul is the divinity within that acts as the witness to all our endeavours, thoughts and prayers and our eternal best friend that gifts us with intuition and guidance. Krishna in the form of super-soul is within the heart, sitting patiently until the day that the soul breaks through the layers of the gross and subtle body and realises his true self, remembering his eternal relationship with Lord Krishna.  

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Subtle Body

The Bhagavad Gita is a scripture that is over 5000 years old and its knowledge and wisdom is still as relevant today as it was when it was first spoken. It is revered as the highest authority, as it is one of the only scriptures that is spoken by God himself. So who better to explain who we are than our eternal father, the Supreme Personality of Godhead! From my last post, we concluded that we are the soul and not the body, but where does the mind and intelligence fit in? Are we not the thoughts and feeling in our mind? Lord Krishna further elaborates and explains in Bhagvad Gita chapter 3 text 42 the following. 

The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence. (BG 3.42)


Subtle body and gross body

As illustrated in the diagram above, we see that the Gross body is a construction of physical elements. However the Subtle body is invisible and intangible. How can we prove or understand something that we cant see? 

Srila Prabhupada Says: Just because something is invisible doesn't mean we can’t know it exists. The subtle body of mind, intelligence, and ego is also invisible to you, but you know that the subtle body is there. We have two kinds of bodies: a gross body of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and a subtle body of mind, intelligence, and ego. You can see the body of earth, water, and so on, but can you see the subtle body? Can you see the mind? Can you see the intelligence? Yet everyone knows you have a mind and I have a mind....Anyway, you accept that the subtle body exists even though you cannot see it. That is my point. Similarly, the soul exists even though you cannot see it. The soul is covered by the subtle and the gross bodies. What is known as death is the annihilation of the gross body. The subtle body remains and carries the soul to a place where he can again grow another material body just suitable for fulfilling the desires of his mind.