God as One's Guru?

Question: God as One's Guru?

Do scriptures permit having God as one's guru?

Answer: Yes, Both Internally and Externally.

We must accept Krishna or God as our guru because He is the supreme authority. He orders us in the Bhagavad-gita to surrender to Him. He is manifested within our hearts as the caitya guru, the guru within. And when He brings us into contact with His external manifestation, the guru without, He orders to also surrender to that guru, the bona fide spiritual master. So if we decide that we will only surrender to the guru within and not the guru without, we are guilty of the logical flaw known as ardha-kukuṭi-nyāya, half-hen logic.

The farmer had a hen who laid very nice eggs. But he was unhappy that the hen ate a lot of feed. So one day he got a so-called bright idea. He decided the cut off the end of the hen that he did not like (the head) and only keep the end he liked (the rear end). He was so dull that after cutting out the hen's head he could not figure out why the hen stopped laying eggs.

So if we accept the guru within, while neglecting the guru without, we will find ourselves with a hen that does not lay eggs. In other words we will find that we are without any access to that wondrous spiritual sky. Therefore let us not be half-hen logicians. Let us intelligently both the guru within and the guru without, the internal guru and the external guru.

Are We In Danger Always?

Question: Are We In Danger Always?

You have explained that we are eternally emanating from the Supreme Krishna. Then do we merge with Krishna finally and become one with the source, or do we continue to exist independently in Goloka dhama as His eternal servants? If we do not merge, is it not then that there exist always a real danger of ourselves again falling by some play of our independent will?

Answer: After Returning to Godhead We Are Safe

After achieving perfection we do not merge into Krishna. If that were to happen, there would be no scope for giving Krishna the pleasure of having a loving relationship with us. Therefore we keep our individuality and serve Krishna in a state of perfect harmony.

Since we maintain our individuality in that liberated state there is always the potential of our misusing it. But as it stated, "Once burned, twice shy", once we have experienced the difference between the material and spiritual worlds we will not make the same mistake of leaving the spiritual world again. A foolish child may stick his hand in the fire once. But will he be foolish enough to do it again? No, he will not.

All But Bhakti is Bogus?

Question: All But Bhakti is Bogus?

Are you saying that all paths but bhakti yoga are imitations and bogus?

Answer: For Perfection Bhakti is Required

There are different systems which contain varying degrees of the truth. Some are completely bogus and misleading containing practically no truth. And some of them contain certain degrees of truth and have some benefit for the gradual elevation of the living beings. But unless through these various systems one reaches the point of loving service to the Supreme Person he will be unsuccessful in his attempt to attain spiritual perfection. For example, if follows the path of jnana yoga, his endeavor will be unsuccessful unless he overcoats his jnana with bhakti. And if he practices astanga yoga his practice of astanga yoga will prove to be unsuccessful unless he overcoats it with bhakti. Since bhakti must ultimately added in order for any system to be successful, the intelligent person does not waste precious time. He chooses to practice bhakti from the very beginning so that he can attain spiritual perfection in the quickest and easiest way possible.

How to Avoid Difficulties?

Question: How to Avoid Difficulties?

You always say that this material world is a miserable place to live in and all the sense enjoyments here ultimately lead to miseries only. I understand your point. a devotee should utilize this human birth to escape from this cycle and reach God. But still on the path of Krishna consciousness, a devotee has to undergo various troubles and sufferings due to various reasons. All these frustrating situations produce a lot of depression and anger in some devotees. Please explain how should we avoid such things.

Answer: You Cannot. Tolerate Them.

You cannot avoid calamities and difficult situations in this material world. It is not possible. Do not live in dream state. This is a world full of calamities. Therefore Krishna says that you simply have to learn how to tolerate them without being disturbed. The secret of how to peacefully tolerate them is to see every circumstance as the special arrangement of Krishna to help you become more and more surrendered to Him. In this way instead of being devastated by calamities, you will learn how to appreciate them and take advantage of them. This is compared to a business who also advances the purposes of his business no matter what is the situation of the market. When the prices go up he sells. And when the prices go down he buys.

Leather Clothing?

Question: Leather Clothing?

I would like to enquire about the use of leather clothing (shoes). I often speak to my work colleagues about meat eating and more especially the consuming of the cow. The question that one of my colleagues asked was, "If it is wrong to consume meat then why do vegetarians still use leather clothing?" I am not able to answer him. Please help.

Answer: Avoid as Much as Possible

A Krishna conscious person will naturally try to completely avoid using leather products as much as possible because he considers the cow to be his mother. Actually there is no need to wear leather because there are many non-leather alternatives now available in the market place. Non-leather alternatives are becoming more and popular in increasing demand every day. There are many non-leather types of shoes now available. I personally do not wear any leather. And I advise you to do the same.


Shaivism is known as ‘the three’ because it discusses these three subjects:
♦ The nature of the Absolute
♦ The nature of the human being and contraction
♦ The method by which contraction is overcome

Shaivism holds that pure awareness and not matter is the basic stuff of the universe. This can be compared to the situation in a dream, in which the awareness of the dreamer is the fundamental substratum of everything that appears in the dream. The one Consciousness that underlies the universe can also be called God. Here we are referring to God as the Absolute, beyond any
specific form.

For reasons known only to Him, God decides to create a universe and become many. By means of His Power, which can be personified as His feminine aspect, He creates the universe in His own being, Himself becoming the individual soul by a process of contraction. Though it appears in
Consciousness, the created world is real. The universe is actually Consciousness vibrating at different frequencies, becoming more material and gross as it unfolds.

The human individual is nothing but God in a contracted form. When the individual looks at himself, he notices that he has the same qualities as the Absolute, though they are shrunken and vitiated. God has perfect will, perfect knowledge and perfect ability to do, while the human individual has all of these powers in limitation. They show up in him as three basic knots within his being. The first knot is limitation of will. The human individual experiences it in his heart as a painful sense of separation, weakness and grief. This is the fundamental birth trauma in which God becomes the individual. The limitation of knowledge is experienced in the mind. The human mind experiences darkness and confusion and strains to understand the truth. The third knot is experienced in the navel area and is felt as a sense of frustration and lack of fulfilment. Shaivism asks us to recognise our similarity with God and ultimately our oneness with Him. It minutely examines the human condition as a contraction that moves us from the divine status to that of a human being. It recognises a power of contraction and delusion that brings this about. The power is real but is actually an aspect of God. One of the ways it shows up is in language. The language that God uses in His true state expresses His ecstatic song of oneness, while human language tends to perpetuate separation and weakness. Having looked at the human situation, Shaivism now turns to the solution, a methodology for overcoming the woes and limitations of the human being. Shaivism proposes a comprehensive inner technology designed to restore the human being to his inherent oneness with God.

For this, he has to loosen the knots in his heart, mind and navel by means of three methods. To heal the contraction in his navel, he tries to act well in all situations and come into harmony with the higher power. To heal the contraction in his mind, having discovered its cause in the misuse of language, he tries to bring his thinking into alignment with his highest good. To heal the existential angst in his heart, he tries to transcend thinking altogether and merge himself in the oneness of pure Consciousness. Having profoundly practised these spiritual methods, the Shaivite seeker recognises the divinity within his own Self and also outside himself in the world and in other people. His main insight is that the subject, or Consciousness, is not separate from the object, or matter. In fact, he experiences directly that the object is contained within his subjectivity, that is, within Consciousness. He has now reached the culmination and the goal of the practice of Shaivism and he stands as a liberated being, fully free within himself, shining with divine wisdom and radiant with love.

Who Feeds the Bird or Polishes the Cage?

Question: Who Feeds the Bird or Polishes the Cage?

I would like to inquire about the example which is often given in our books about the bird and the golden cage. The bird is compared to the soul and the cage is compared to the body. The point of the example is that if we polish the cage all day long and neglect the bird inside, the bird will soon perish.

But in this example if I am the soul (the bird) and the body is the cage then who is there to feed the bird and polish the cage?
Please forgive me if the question is irrelevant.

Answer: The Self

Thank you very much for your very nice question.

The person who is either feeding the bird or polishing the cage is the self. If the living entity is polishing the cage, he is foolishly misdirecting his energy towards material sense gratification. And if he feeds the bird, he is tending to his real self interest by cultivating Krishna consciousness.

Why No Eggs?

Question: Why No Eggs?

I am a fervent reader of yours and I have really understood many things and I carry out many things like getting up at 4 in the morning, bathing, donning devotional clothing and chanting to the spiritual master. I am not yet initiated, I am an aspirant to be initiated, therefore I offer my obeisances to Srila Prabhupada and to the spiritual master I am aspiring for. In addition, I read daily a chapter of the book Self-realization, and when I am done with it I will continue with another one. I spite of the knowledge that I am acquiring through lectures and thanks to your wonderful movement in cyber space, there is something I cannot understand. I follow the 4 principles, no illicit sex, no gambling of intoxicating beverages, or drugs, chanting the holy names (at this time I am only chanting 2 rounds, my goal is to reach 16, no meat eating, or fish, chicken or eggs. In this last principle it is very clear to me why they should not be eaten. But I don't understand why not eggs if in this day and age there are specialized farms for producing eggs and as such they are not an embryonic product of the chicken since they have not been fertilized by a rooster.

Could you enlighten me and explain why one should not eat eggs?

I thank you in advance for your attention en reading this letter and giving me your answer.

Answer: Krishna Does Not Eat Them

We are not vegetarians. We are Krishnatarians. We only eat those foods that have been offered to Krishna. Since Srila Prabhupada, who has perfect knowledge of Krishna, has instructed us that Krishna does not eat eggs, we therefore do not offer them to Him, and therefore we cannot partake of them even if they are unfertilized.

Will We Fall Again?

Question: Will We Fall Again?

Earlier you told me, Prabhu, that once we go to Goloka Vrindavan we do not come back on the earthly plane. We live there for ever. All current individuals are destined to go to the spiritual sky. Please answer my following questions:

1. If we go to Goloka Vrindavan and again revolt or envy Krishna, will we come back to earth again?

2. If we merge into the impersonal effulgence of Krishna, will we come back to earth ever again?

3. If anyone in the past has talked to God or everyone has realized God in different aspects, why is there so much confusion regarding the nature of God?

Answer: Once Burned, Twice Shy

Once burned, twice shy. After having made the mistake of falling into material existence once and having learned our lesson, we will not make the same mistake twice.

The Srimad Bhagavatam states that those merge into the impersonal brahman effulgence fall back down into this material world. Therefore instead of trying to merge into Brahman we should become devotees and go the planet of Krishna from where we are guaranteed not to fall down ever again.

Many great pure devotees have established direct personal communication with God. The only reason the human society is confused about God is that people have stubbornly, proudly refused to hear about God from these great acharyas. If the people of the world can now agree to hear from the great acharyas, the whole world will become delivered. There will be no more confusion.

Cause of Our Fall Down

Question: Cause of Our Fall Down

In your 21 May 2009 edition of "Thought for the Day" you state, "We who through misuse of our free will have cast ourselves into the prison of this world of suffering." My question is, what form did our original misuse of free will take before our becoming embodied in the material world? In other words, if we are eternally existing as individual living entities emanating from the Supreme Cause, how and when did we first manifest our distaste for serving Krishna? Did we exist for a period each uniquely involved in some way in the pastimes of The Lord and then like spoiled rich children become dissatisfied with our state of privilege not realizing the alternative? Are we all guilty of individual acts of free will or was there an event of mass revolt against Krishna resulting in a collective banishment, like the story of Satan's fall to earth with his cronies in the Book of Genesis? Also, what is the nature of our eternality? Are we eternal in substance only, receiving our unique personality upon emanating from Krishna (as sparks from a fire) or is our unique personality itself coeternal with our spiritual substance? I have been curious about these matters for some time and have full confidence in your knowledge and guidance.

Answer: Hand in the Fire

Thank you very much for your deeply thoughtful questions. I can see and appreciate very much that you are person who is sincerely seeking the answers regarding our existence. Fortunately I have been blessed with enlightened wisdom from one of the greatest spiritual masters in the history of the universe, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Therefore in humble service to him and to you I will now explain to you what I have learned from him regarding the questions you have asked.

Your first questions is: "What form did our original misuse of free will take before our becoming embodied in the material world?

The answer is that the first manifestation of free will misuse is envy of the Supreme Person.

Then you asked: "If we are eternally existing as individual living entities emanating from the Supreme Cause, how and when did we first manifest our distaste for serving Krishna?"

The answer is that as the Supreme Person is fully independent and as we are part and parcel of him, we also possess a minute degree of independence. For independence to be real it must have the potential to either be correctly used or misused. When it is misused we fall into this material existence.

Your next question was: "Did we exist for a period each uniquely involved in some way in the Pastimes of The Lord and then like spoiled rich children become dissatisfied with our state of privilege not realizing the alternative?"

The answer is that we were like the curious child who stuck his hand in the fire because it looked so beautiful.

And then you asked: "Are we all guilty of individual acts of free will or was there an event of mass revolt against Krishna resulting in a collective banishment, like the story of Satan's fall to earth with his cronies in the Book of Genesis?"

The answer: It was individual.

And your final question: "Also, what is the nature of our eternality? Are we eternal in substance only, receiving our unique personality upon emanating from Krishna (as sparks from a fire) or is our unique personality itself coeternal with our spiritual substance?"

The answer is that we are factually eternal since we are eternally emanating from Krishna as unique individuals.

I hope that these answers have satisfied your intelligence. I can point out further that by diving deeper and deeper into the chanting of Hare Krishna you will be blessed with more and more profound realizations regarding the nature of the Absolute Truth, Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Question: Is "Chant and Be Happy" a Contradiction

ISKCON has a book called "Chant and Be Happy". And Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to Bhagavad-gita 2.38, "There is no consideration of happiness or distress, profit or gain, victory or defeat in the activities of Krishna consciousness." Isn't this a contradiction?

Answer: It Defeats the Competition

The Bhagavad-gita purport is referring to material happiness and distress. Krishna consciousness is completely transcendental to these dualities. It exists eternally on the plane of transcendental bliss. In other words in all conditions of material happiness and distress the devotee continues faithfully engaging in devotional service and thus he experiences ever-increasing transcendental bliss. So there is no contradiction.  Transcendental happiness defeats the competition.

What is the purpose of life? Is it spiritual practice?

Question: What is the purpose of life? Is it spiritual practice?

Answer: Yes! The purpose of life is spiritual practice. That is why we are here. But the truth is, it takes a long time for us to discover that purpose. Like rats in a maze, we have to get a lot of electric shocks before we find the right path.
Let us say that one day you wander into the middle of a strange game. You do not know the rules or the objectives. You have no trustworthy instruction manual. The other players pursue their own goals—career, money, family, fame—but seem as confused as you are. They are ready to lecture you about the game, but their understandings are superficial. This is how life is. You get what your culture says and you get what your parents say. Then you acquire other kinds of information. But how much of that is trustworthy? You see that the answers you have been operating from are not the ultimate answers. You have to go deeper. If you are fortunate, you start to ask questions that begin to awaken you. You become aware of a spiritual path. You also discover a certain pain in awakening: your family and friends are not necessarily awakening with you. Nonetheless, that awakening is a great blessing because you start to move along the path towards inner harmony, towards inner peace and towards understanding what your life is about. And, once you begin to awaken, there is no turning back. I have seen people of the ignorance-is-bliss school try to put themselves back to sleep, but it is only temporarily effective.

How to Know Krishna's Will?

Question: How to Know Krishna's Will?

You have mentioned that we shall be perfect when we are 100% surrendered to the will of Krishna. But with mundane imperfect senses, associated with a false ego and entangled with thousands of material desires and non important commitments at the family and professional front.. we are in complete dark to understand the will of God. Nor could we conceive the idea of thinking about the same.

Please do let us know how can we understand the will of Krishna and the real objective behind our life. His Grace please please bless us with your valuable advise.

Answer:  From the Spiritual Master

It is not difficult to know the will of Krishna because He fully reveals it in the Bhagavad-gita. He wants us to completely surrender ourselves unto His representative, the bona fide spiritual master. As a surrendered soul to the spiritual master we accept whatever order or instruction he gives us as our very life and soul. So to know how to execute the will of Krishna is not at all difficult. We simply have to mold our lives according to the directions we receive from Krishna from the transcendental via media of the bona fide spiritual master.

What Is Krishna's Origin?

Question: What Is Krishna's Origin?

One question, not sure if it is a question worth asking, but like my father used to say the only stupid question is the one not asked.

If everything in existence has origin and nothing can exist without it, then where from is Sri Krishna's origin? Must He not have has origin also. Or has he always just been? 

Answer:  Krishna

Since Krishna is the origin of all, Krishna's origin is obviously Krishna. In other words, He is self-manifested. So, as you have asked, He has always been.

Why Do You Ignore the Swine Flu?

Question: Why Do You Ignore the Swine Flu?

I am surprised that you who are up on current world situations haven't addressed the theme of the swine flu in Mexico and the rest of the countries including your own (since April 24th when all this started) and give us some words of encouragement both for Mexico as for the rest of the world which has been affected by this virus. I would appreciate from you some pastime of Krishna that could help all us spirit souls who inhabit this material world.

Answer:  We Focus on Curing the Maya Flu.

The swine flu is not as deadly the annual regular flu that goes around every year. And the most devastating and serious flu of all is the maya flu, the flu of material consciousness that has infected every man, woman, and child on the face of this planet. The mortality rate of this maya flu is 100%. And we have the medicine of Krishna's holy names that will cure everyone from this flu. Therefore we are focusing on curing this maya flu because curing it is millions of times more important than curing the swine flu.

Can We Pray to the Demigods for Our Material Needs?

Question:  Can We Pray to the Demigods for Our Material Needs?

If all the demigods are appointed by Krishna for maintaining this world order, then what is the harm in praying to Lord Mahamritunjya and Krishna simultaneously for curing disease? Can't I pray to Lord Mahamritunjya keeping this thing in mind that he has been appointed by Krishna to look over a particular portion of the universal affairs? Otherwise we will knowingly or unknowingly show disrespect to Krishna by not properly respecting His appointed agent for the management of this universe. Please clear my doubts.

Answer:  Because Krishna is the Ultimate Supplier of Everything, We Only Need to Pray to Him.

In the USA the citizens simply pay their annual income tax to the government. Then they are provided with services by the various governmental departments, which are all funded by the government. It is not that they are required to bribe the different governmental department heads in order to get service from those departments. I understand that in India there is a different system, that when an Indian citizen goes to any governmental department he needs to bribe the officials in order to get his work accomplished. While in India it may be harder for the people to understand only worshipping the Supreme God and getting all of one's necessities, those who are familiar with the American system can easily understand it. Krishna's system of universal government is that He directly and indirectly supplies everything required for the citizens of the universe. Those who do not worship Him, i.e. the non-devotees, receive their necessities indirectly through the demigod supply chain, while the those who worship Him, i.e. the devotees, are directly supplied with their necessities by Krishna Himself, who reciprocates with His loving devotees just like an affectionate father.

In conclusion, we can understand that Krishna is the ultimate supplier of everything material and spiritual and that it is more expedient and fruitful to direct all of our worship to Him. We don't need to beg him for any material boons because He knows the material needs of His devotees. Therefore we should simply beg Him for pure devotee. He will then personally make sure that all of our material needs are taken care of.

Free Will Under Krishna's Control?

Question: Free Will Under Krishna's Control?

As I have understood, we the souls are part and parcel of Krishna. Though we are one with him we are still distinct. If all souls emanate from Krishna and Krishna is the controller then how is it that we have a free will? How is it that we can choose between our own desires and Krishna? Isn't it Krishna deciding even that? How would desires take birth in our minds in the first place? Wouldn't it be Krishna's plan?

Also, I understand that we exist so that Krishna can enjoy a loving relationship with us. We don't exist of our own. All the yugas of this material realm will come and go as Krishna has wished. These pastimes of Krishna are eternal. So is it that the whole of existence is created by Krishna solely because Krishna wants to receive love and give love? Please forgive me if I have not been able to put any queries appropriately.

Answer:  We Can Choose Which Energy to Serve

Krishna has two different controlling energies: the material energy and the spiritual energy. We, the living beings, have the free choice of which energy we would like the serve: the material or the spiritual. Either way we are under the control of Krishna. This is compared to a person's choice of voluntarily following the laws of the state as a law abiding citizen or involuntarily following the laws of the state as a criminal who is sent to prison.

Krishna is always fully independent in His desires. And we, being part and parcel of Him, eternally share this quality with Him, just as a drop of ocean water has the same chemical composition as the entire ocean. This is why we always have the free choice to serve Him or to try to avoid Him.

Yes, everything is going on so that Krishna can enjoy unlimited loving relationships. This is the purpose of the existence that is being eternally manifested by Krishna.

Can Our Body Indicate God's Form?

Question: Can Our Body Indicate God's Form?

You have given the logic that since we humans who have come from God have a form therefore God must also have form. But our form that we can perceive is the body not the actual self. Then how can it be said that since we have a form therefore God must have a form?

Answer: It Is Shaped After Our Spiritual Form

Just as the form of your shirt is modeled after the form of your body, the form of your body is modeled after the form of your eternal spiritual body. And since your spiritual body has form, we can understand that God also has form.

Why Try for Impossible Peace?

Question:  Why Try for Impossible Peace?

Why should we attempt to stop evils, when they are inevitable? Evils occur due to effect of past actions. That is Karma phala of the subject. Don't we stay calm and strong even when we ourselves or others around is subject to some kind of troubles, which are inevitably the result of past actions?

After all its Kali yuga, and its period of maximum suffering to the dharmas and dharmishtas. Isn't it better to let things happen as they occur, instead of attempting to change the flow of nature and to create the 'impossible' peace in this Yuga?

Answer: Peace Will Remain Impossible Only As Long As We Consider It Impossible

Even if nothing can be done to stop the Kali yuga, at least a few people can be saved. I was saved by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. If he had not made the endeavor to preach, I would still be caught up in the clutches of maya. Let us try to save a least a few souls. According to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, this is the duty of every Indian, to become perfect in Krishna consciousness and try to spread it as far as possible for the deliverance of the fallen, conditioned souls. So without consideration of success of failure, you should sincerely try to execute your duty.

But it is predicted that there will a tidal wave of Krishna prema which will inundate the entire world in the midst of the kali yuga. Those who dedicate their lives for trying to make spread the science of Krishna are recognized by Lord Krishna as His dearmost devotees. So while peace may be impossible from the material viewpoint, from the spiritual viewpoint it is not only possible; it will indeed come to pass. Peace will remain impossible only as long as we consider it impossible.

Since Truth Is Beyond Words, How Can We Understand It Through Philosophy?

Question: Since Truth Is Beyond Words, How Can We Understand It Through Philosophy?

In today's question (13 May 2009) regarding the convincing of an atheist of the existence of God, the answer given was that the understanding of the theist needs to be philosophical.

I don't understand how this term is being used here.

Philosophy is an intellectual pursuit. How can our understanding be through philosophy? The Truth is beyond what words can express.

Answer: If Truth Is Beyond Words, This Statement is Not True.

Thank you for sharing your confusion over the use of the term philosophy. This gives me a chance to clarify things for not only you, but any of my readers who may have also been confused. Kindly consider the following points:

If truth cannot be expressed by words then the statement, "The Truth is beyond what words cannot express." is not a statement of truth because it is something which has been expressed by words.

Of course what you saying is true if we apply it to the speculations of the mundane philosophers. But when the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all existence speaks, His words are full of sublime unlimited meaning. What has been spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the Bhagavad-gita and by the great self-realized sages who have perfectly realized Him is the perfection of philosophy.

In conclusion true philosophy is to find the ultimate cause of existence, not by mental speculation and word jugglery, but by perfect transcendental realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Preaching to Atheistic Friend

Question: Preaching to Atheistic Friend

I have a Christian friend who has become atheistic of late. He doubts the existence of God and even the soul. After speaking to him he wants tangible proof that God exists and that Krishna is God. He also wants proof of the existence of the soul. He has this mindset that no-one can convince him that God exists. He says it all boils down to faith and belief. These two things are things he doesn't have. He doubts scripture, saying that man could have written it all. He also says that Krishna could just have been a man that people consider as God.

He also asks to why the soul inhabits material bodies like those of humans and animals etc and why it does not inhabit a curtain or a table as those are also material.

Please help me convince him that Krishna is God and that the soul exists.

Answer: Take Him Step by Step

This is the problem with sentimental religion. If one's convictions are based on sentiment instead of philosophy, one can easily turn around and become an atheist. While sentiments can change, deep philosophical realization does not. This is why we try to bring people to Krishna consciousness on the basis of deep philosophical realization instead of on the basis of sentiment.

If your friend has a mind-set that no one can convince him that God exists, he is just as fanatical as sentimental religionists. There is no arguments we can use to convince such a person who does not agree to be philosophical.

However, if he is willing to be open minded, you can reason with him as follows:

God simply means the origin of all existence. Even the atheistic scientists are trying to figure out the origin of the universe. Ask him if he is claiming that existence has no origin, and if it has no origin, how does he explain that it exists. Did existence just pop in from out of nowhere like popcorn without any kernels?

We do not immediately try to teach a child calculus. Rather we start him off with simple arithmetic that one plus one equals two. Similarly in presenting the science of Krishna consciousness we must bring them gradually step by step. It would be premature to try to convince this person that Krishna is God. First you must convince him that existence cannot be without origin. It must have an origin, otherwise it cannot exist. If he can understand this principle, you may write me again I will explain how to take him to the next level of understanding that the origin must necessarily possess personality. If he passes step two, then we can take him even higher. If he is willing to go with us step by step, we can take him all the way to spiritual perfection in which he can directly meet with God, face to face, eye to eye.

Our philosophical position is not believing in God. Our philosophical position is to know God by personally meeting Him.

There Is Nothing to Attain

Q: Is it conceivable we are born with Self-wisdom but we must be taught the process of awakening to tap into it?

S: That is a wonderful question. You are absolutely right. Next question! [Laughter from audience.] It is true—the Vedantic gurus say that there is nothing to attain. Zen also says that. In fact, Zen says there is no way to attain it anyway, so just give up the search and you are there. Of course, when we hear that, we may be nonplussed, but there is great truth in it. Baba wrote a book many years ago called, Getting Rid of What You Haven’t Got. Getting rid of what you haven’t got: what you haven’t got is ignorance and separation. So we have to get rid of ignorance and separation. Then we return to wholeness and connectedness. From the point of view of truth, that connectedness is the prior condition. From the highest viewpoint we are all connected. There is nothing but love, oneness and truth everywhere. We might say, rightly, that
we don’t know that. So the spiritual task is to get rid of the ignorance that creates the separation.

Yes, wisdom is innate. If it weren’t innate, then any quest for it would be impossible. Yoga is not like building something new, it is looking in and discovering what already exists. Even before you became interested in the inner quest, the Self was alive and well within.

In the sixties, it was fashionable to make movies that violated the heart. You would leave the theatre with a horrible pain in your chest, and the intellectuals (including me in those days!) would think it was a ‘deepening’ experience. But the heart wants peace, harmony and love. This is not a lust for feelgood movies—it is the natural disposition of the Self.

A part of us intuitively loves goodness and truth to prevail. In the movies, we are uplifted and we resonate with That. That is the Self. Sometimes art makes us contact—however fleetingly—the experience of the Self. It is intuitive. A great artist can tune into That and evoke it. The yogi is the greatest artist of all because he doesn’t create an object. He cuts right to the experience of Self, which is at the source of the aesthetic experience.

Michelangelo or somebody said, ‘The statue is already in the marble’. So in the same way we have to chip off the inner excess to find what is really true. It is good news when we discover it. We all have an intuition of a shining and pure part of ourselves. A lovable part of ourselves. We may have a feeling of being unlovable, and yet we know underneath there is something lovable about us. We may even have done bad things in our lives, still, underneath we feel a fundamental goodness or innocence. Some seekers think of the spiritual quest like body building: You work hard and you build new muscles, ‘meditation muscles’. You create new things that you never had before. I tried that for a while but I discovered that a better metaphor is a peeling away, like cleaning a dirty window. You wash a window and it becomes transparent.

I decided to start from the assumption that everything I sought is already here and now. In other words, whatever else is going on now, the Self—truth and joy—is here as well. At least potentially. That approach was fruitful. The work we do here flows from that point of view. If the truth is not here already, how will you ever acquire it? If it is not here now, it means it is not eternal. If it is not in this place, it is not omnipresent.

So, then, where is it? The scriptures ask, ‘Where is it that God is not?’ Every thought, every feeling, must be divine. And we are born in that condition. That is why people love babies—because the spirit is shining through so powerfully in an infant. The heart naturally opens when it sees an infant. Later, of course, the child becomes acculturated and, dare we say, less appealing. At puberty, its hormones shoot in all directions and he or she becomes cranky, cantankerous and miserable. Still, purity is there, but hidden.

Perhaps, a time comes when we consciously make a decision to find our essence, to recapture it. We enter the spiritual path, we become yogis. Or you might go to therapy or wonder, ‘Who am I?’ That is a great moment: the process becomes conscious and you take responsibility and say, ‘I am now on the path of Selfdiscovery’. I don’t care how that happens, what particular path you take, that is a great moment. You say, ‘Now I will discover, I will reclaim who I truly am’. That can only come about by grace, since the vast majority of humanity is not doing that.

Still, in teaching meditation over the last twenty years, I have witnessed a great awakening. I am sure that I am not solely responsible for it! That’s a joke. [Laughter.] In a sense the world is as you see it, so it is hard to know what is objectively so. Because I keep teaching meditation and people keep coming I think, ‘Oh, the whole world is meditating’. What is it really like out there? I
don’t know. But I’d like to think an awakening is taking place.

Question:  How Can There Be Free Will?

Can I know from where are you borrowing this concept of free will ? Any scriptures?

Let us assume this free will exists...
Who grants the free will to the Jivas? Who creates the desire?

As the Bhagavad-gita says:

"Deluded by ego (ahankara) a person thinks, 'I am the doer.'" (3:27)

So in reality it is not the jiva but the paramatma which does all the activities which appears to the individuals as either good or bad.

Answer:  By Krishna's Free Will

Since we are in possession of this knowledge, we do not have to borrow it. Krishna clearly describes free will in the Bhagavad-gita. After explaining this most sublime knowledge to Arjuna, He informs Arjuna that now he can use his free will to do what he chooses to do. Arjuna can either surrender to Krishna or not surrender to Krishna.

iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ
guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā
vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa
yathecchasi tathā kuru

"Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do."
-- Bhagavad-gita 18.63

I have seen time and time again how people use this idea that they do not have free will as an excuse not to surrender to Krishna. They say that when Krishna wants them to surrender that they will surrender. But this excuse does not work.

We advise such persons, "But Krishna wants you to surrender right now. It is due to misuse of your free will that you remain caught up in karma chakra where you are being dragged like a prisoner through the 8,400,000 different species of life."

As soon as we misuse our free will and rebel against the authority of the Lord we become puppets in the hands of the Lord's material energy and lose our ability to be the real doers of anything. But we always retain the right to cancel our contract with Maya at any time and come back to our original position of full freedom in the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

It is only when the jiva misuses his free will and rebels against the Lord's authority that he is no longer free and acts only as a puppet of the Lord's inferior energy. When he properly utilizes his free will by surrendering to the Supreme Lord, he enjoys a life of full freedom and becomes so powerful by dint of bhakti that sometimes the Supreme Lord becomes under his direction as He did when He played the role of being Mother Yasoda's son.

So what can the entrapped jiva do when he has lost his ability to be the doer by having misused his free will? If he is fortunate to come into contact with the Lord's pure devotee, he is given the option to accept the mercy of Krishna and revive his original life of full freedom.

In conclusion, the Lord's being the doer only applies to those who are under the stringent grip of the Lord's illusory energy. Those who opt out by taking advantage of the mercy of guru and Krishna, become fully empowered to act eternally as blissful, knowledgeable doers in the service of the Lord.

So it is not that good and bad are only relative perceptions in the minds of conditioned souls. Krishna clearly states in the Bhagavad-gita that He comes to annihilate the demons and protect His devotees. Do you think God is so cruel that He would punish persons who were not responsible for the wrongs they commit? So those who use their free will to serve the Lord are known as saintly, and those who misuse their free will and thus lose it are known as demoniac. Although our slogan is, "Free Will: Use it properly or lose it.", that free will can be regained by the mercy of the Lord's pure devotee.

How Is It Our Own Free Will?

Question: How Is It Our Own Free Will?

As I have understood we, the souls, are part and parcel of Krishna. Though we are one with him we are still distinct. If all souls emanate from Krishna and Krishna is the controller, then how is it that we have a free will? How is it that we can choose between our own desires and Krishna? Isn't it Krishna deciding even that? How would desires take birth in our minds in the first place? Wouldn't it be Krishna's plan?

Also, I understand that we exist so that Krishna can enjoy a loving relationship with us. We don't exist on our own. All the yugas of this material realm will come and go as Krishna has wished. These pastimes of Krishna are eternal. So is it that the whole of existence is created by Krishna solely because Krishna wants to receive love and give love? Please forgive me if I have not been able to put any queries appropriately.

Answer: Supreme and Minute Independence

Because we are part of Krishna we are qualitatively one with Krishna. And because He possesses the quality of independence, we must therefore also necessarily possess the quality of independence. The difference is that His independence is unlimited while ours is limited. His independence is supreme, and ours is minute. Our independence is that we can choose to serve either His spiritual energy or His material energy. In either position our identity as a servant remains the same. Just like a citizen of the state has one of two choices. He can choose to be law abiding citizen and enjoy a life of freedom. Or he can choose to be a criminal and be forced to obey the laws of the state within the prison.

If Krishna were deciding whether we choose the material energy or the spiritual energy, we would have no independence and we would not be qualitatively one with Him. But since we, as his parts and parcels, must be qualitatively one with him, we must also therefore possess independence by our very nature.

Our desire to leave Him was not His plan. It was our foolishness to decide not to co-operate with His plan by hatching our own independent plans to try to enjoy separately from Him.

It is a fact that everything and everyone exists by Krishna's desire so that He can enjoying unlimited loving relationships with the unlimited living beings. He gives us free will so we can love him or leave Him. If we were forced to love him that would not be love. That would be slavery.

Question: Why Divine Energy Creates Good and Bad?

What is the motive for the divine energy to create both good and bad?

Answer: We are the Ones Who Create Them

It is not the Krishna through His divine energy is creating good and bad. He is simply reciprocating with each living entity according to their desire. So, everyone experiences bliss or suffering according to their own desires. It is not that Krishna chooses to put one soul into suffering and another soul into happiness. Those who utilize their free will to serve the Lord enjoy an eternal life full of bliss and knowledge in the spiritual world. And those who utilize their free will to for trying to enjoy separately from the Lord come to this material existence and suffer the fourfold miseries of birth, death, old age, and disease. The Lord does not force one or the other condition upon us. It is totally up to us whether we will suffer material existence or relish eternal bliss in the spiritual sky.

Why Not Satisfied?

Question: Why Not Satisfied?

My question is: Why am I not satisfied with my life?

Answer: If You Don't Love to Krishna

The reason that one becomes dissatisfied with their life is that they are not engaging it in the service of Krishna. Krishna is the source from whom everything comes. He is our origin. Therefore in loving reciprocation for everything He is giving us we should fully engage ourselves in His service. If we do so, we will become unlimitedly happy. And if we fail to do so, we will never achieve true, lasting happiness.

How to Balance Bhakti with Worldly Duties?

Question: How to Balance Bhakti with Worldly Duties?

You are really a wonderful devotee as you take care of your worldly duties as well as bhakti path. I face much trouble in doing so. I face troubles in worldly duties and due to this my participation in Krishna consciousness suffers. Please suggest as to how I can maintain a balance in life.

Answer: Put Krishna First

If you want a proper balance between spiritual life and material life you must put Krishna first. You must offer your 24 hours to Him every day. Start by rising early every morning and chanting 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna Mantra on japa mala beads before the sunrise. You must also give up all sinful activities such as illicit sex, meat eating, intoxication, and gambling. You should only eat vegetarian foodstuffs from the category of fruits, grains, vegetables, and dairy products which have been offered to Lord Krishna with love and devotion. You should not waste your time watching television, going to the cinema, or reading mundane magazines and newspapers. You should instead spend your free time in studying scriptures and associating with Vaisnavas who are practicing pure bhakti.

If you will completely purify your life in the above mentioned ways, your activities of bodily maintenance such as eating, sleeping, and working will be 100% connected with facilitating your emancipation from the cycle of birth and death.  And you will swimming in the ocean of bhakti bliss 24 hours a day.

Question: Why Should You Deliver the World?
In the Bhagavad-gita it is mentioned that not even a blade of grass can move without the permission of the Lord. If that is the case, the world is moving towards destruction under His guidance only.  Why then do you feel that you should deliver the world? It is He who creates the sattvic, tamasic and rajasic individuals, and they are acting according to their innate nature under the guidance of the Lord. Also in one of the verses Krishna says for any activity to happen, the divine will must approve for it. So please explain why do you want to change this flow of actions which are according to the will of the lord?

Answer: Krishna Wants the World to Be Delivered

If a person was drowning would you just be a fatalist and think, "His drowning is happening under the guidance of the Lord. So why should I try to save him?" Or would you think that perhaps the Lord wants you to try the save him. It could be that your fate is to save him, and his fate is to be saved by you.

Since we are not the perfect knowers of past, present, and the future, how will we know whether or not it is our fate to save a person from drowning? We cannot know for sure. But there is one way we can definitely find out. We can try to save that person. If we are successful, we will know that this was our fate, and if we are not successful we will also know that this was our fate.

Similarly, it may or not be a devotee's fate to save the world. But when he is ordered to make the sincere attempt to do so by his spiritual master he dedicates his life fully for making this attempt. In this way he can find out for sure whether or not it was his fate to save the world.

According to the revealed scriptures it is already fated that this Krishna consciousness movement will save the world. Therefore, those devotees who fully dedicate themselves for making this attempt will be credited by future historians as the saviors of the world.

What is the difference between self-esteem and pride?

Q: What is the difference between self-esteem and pride?

Carrot In My Ear

Answer: I hear behind your question a certain kind of situation. In it, you don’t know whether you are sticking up for yourself in a healthy way, a dharmic way, in a proper way, or you are just being prideful and defensive. Do you recognise this duality? Sit down carefully and contemplate it. Examine the alternatives in your mind and in your imagination. Try to assess the feeling. Try to see which way there is movement, fluidity, grace, ease and upliftment. That is the best thing you can do.
In many of these cases, it takes a powerful discrimination to tell the difference between things like that. Baba gave one comprehensive answer: You will know it by how it feels. I call it the upward shift. Pride as ego feels a certain way inside, while speaking up for yourself, speaking from the dharma or from what is just and correct, has a totally different feeling. Pride makes us
inflexible, angry and uncomfortable. We try to justify pride with a host of internal arguments, but meanwhile inwardly we are burning. On the other hand, if you don’t stick up for yourself when it is just, when it is appropriate, then you also burn. Pride feels like being stuck. In such cases, we simply have to get off it. It is a very good question.

Most Important in Krishna's Service?

Question: Most Important in Krishna's Service?

What is the most important in Krishna's service: to engage the senses, the mind or the intelligence?

Answer: The Intelligence

The intelligence. Intelligence means that you must understand why to engage your mind and senses in Krishna's service. If you don't know why, after some time of engaging your mind and senses in Krishna's service, you will again engage them in Maya's service.

Why Am I Attracted to Yoga Principles?

Question: Why Am I Attracted to Yoga Principles?

Why am I attracted to some of the astanga-yoga principles, like complete brahmacarya (no marriage), saucam (purity), tapah (austerity), satyam (truthfulness), silence, ahimsa, and santosa (satisfaction)? Is such attraction favorable for practicing Krishna consciousness or unfavorable?

Answer: Transcendentalist in Your Previous Lifetime

The reason you are attracted to these yogic principles is that you were an aspiring transcendentalist in your previous lifetime who did not complete his process of self-realization. Now you are picking up from where you left off.

All of the items you mentioned are favorable for Krishna consciousness. However it should be carefully noted that for a Vaisnava silence means to only talk about Krishna. This is the perfection of silence. Other who try to practice the so-called silence of not saying anything end having to say something anyway. And because they are not Krishna consciousness whatever they do end up saying or communicating is usually nonsense.

Sukadeva and Suta Goswamis in Our Line of Disciplic Succession?

Question:  Sukadeva and Suta Goswamis in Our Line of Disciplic Succession?

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, it is said that Vyasadeva's son and disciple was Sukadeva Goswami, and during his narration of the Srimad Bhagavatam to Maharaj Parikshit, Suta Goswami received that knowledge.  But the names of Sukadeva Goswami and Suta Goswami are not there in the list of our disciplic succession. In that list we see that after Srila Vyasadeva comes Madhavacharya.  Why are Sukadeva Goswami and Suta Goswami not mentioned in our list of disciplic succession?

Answer:  ISKCON is On a Parallel Branch

Sukadeva Goswami presented the knowledge of the Srimad Bhagavatam received in disciplic succession from Srila Vyasadeva. And Suta Goswami presented the same that he received in disciplic succession from Sukadeva Goswami. And those who heard it from Suta Goswami and purely passed it on to others carried that disciplic succession on ever further. We do not have information on hand to sufficiently to trace out all these lines of succession. But there is one line of succession on which have very detailed information. That is the disciplic succession coming from Srila Madhvacharya, who is also in disciplic succession from Srila Vyasadeva. His line of succession is known as the Brahma-Madhva-sampradaya. After Krishna Himself in His most merciful incarnation of Lord Caitanya appeared in this disciplic line, the branch coming from Lord Caitanya became known as the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya.

Just as on a tree there are many, many branches and sub branches, similarly in the Krishna disciplic succession tree there are many branches and sub branches. This particular branch in which Krishna personally appeared only 500 years ago, the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya, is currently the most prominent branch on the Krishna tree. And the A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada branch of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya, known as ISKCON, is the most spiritually empowered branch of this disciplic succession for inundating the entire world in a tidal wave of Krishna bhakti.

That Sukadeva and Suta Goswamis are not mentioned in our disciplic line does not mean that they are not bona fide spiritual masters. It is simply means that the lines of succession coming from them are lost in history or have become non-existent over the course of time.

Are You Claiming to Be God?

Question: Are You Claiming to Be God?

1. When I asked you if it is it true that the guru is non different from God Himself, you said the answer was yes, and that this is confirmed in all the revealed scriptures. So does this mean that you are you claiming to be God?

2. Are you appointed therefore to be a guru? Best may not be good enough. And what if you fall from grace, then what?

3. Are you free from material desires?

Answer: The Spiritual Master is Not God.  He is God's Representative.

When the scriptures say that the spiritual master is non-different from God, this does not mean that he is God. Just as a policeman is an ordinary citizen like you and me, but must be respected as non-different from the government when he is on duty, because the spiritual master executes the duty of being God's representative we respect him equally with God.

Because spiritual masters are not appointed, my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, did not appoint any of his disciples to be spiritual masters. He simply ordered that all of us who were strictly following his instructions should become spiritual masters. So it is not that one is appointed to become a spiritual master. The disciple is ordered to become a spiritual master by strictly following the predecessor acharyas. And all those disciples who strictly follow are automatically spiritual masters. Those who strictly follow do not fall down. Only those disciples who are loose in their practice fall down.

I have made a vow at the time of my initiation in 1971 to never deviate from my spiritual master's orders. I have strictly kept this vow since I took it 38 years ago. My only desire is strictly follow his orders for all of eternity either in this material world or in the spiritual world. This desire is a spiritual desire. It is not a material desire.

How to Control Sex Desire?

Question: How to Control Sex Desire?

I am an engineering student and a follower of Krishna consciousness.  My question: How to control sex desire?

Answer: Transform It Into Pure Love of God

Sex desire is nothing other than pure love of God contaminated by contact with the material nature. If you will put yourself back in touch with the spiritual nature by regularly chanting the holy names of God at least 16 rounds daily and by giving up sinful activities, you can transform sex desire back into pure love of God.