Everything you need to become Krishna conscious at home

From The Lectures of Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta

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Notes transcribed by Woomapati Das Brahmachary (Wallace Sheffey)
From lectures given Sept. 5th and 17th, 1966.

There are different yoga systems, but they all have the same goal: realization of the Absolute Truth and re-establishment of our eternal relationship with Krishna. We have forgotten this relationship due to our association with material energy. Beginners in yoga should engage themselves in work for Krishna. It is difficult to keep the mind concentrated on the Super-soul without work. If a beginner tries to practice sitting in meditation, his mind will wander.

This is the age of Kali—an age of conflict. In this age, meditation is not recommended. Meditation was recommended for past ages when people were more virtuous and more religious. With each succeeding age, people have become less virtuous and less religious. This does not mean that nobody should practice meditation. If one is able to sit perfectly still and keep his mind completely concentrated on the Absolute Truth, he can successfully practice meditation. However, this is not possible for most people today.

Nowhere in the Bhagavad-Gita does Krishna tell Arjuna to sit idly while he works. Arjuna was Krishna’s friend. We can also be Krishna’s friends if we work for Him and keep our minds always fixed on Him. We should cease working for our own profit and always work for Krishna. We should be thinking of things to do for Krishna twenty-four hours a day. When our minds are fixed on Krishna, we become silent. In this way, whenever we sit still, we will be practicing perfect silent meditation because our minds will remain fixed on Krishna.

Work requires a purpose. We are always working, either for our own sense gratification or for Krishna. Practicing yoga means working without thought of personal interest, but solely for the mission of Krishna. What is this mission? To tell people about Krishna-consciousness, or God-consciousness. Lord Chaitanya told His disciples, “Preach this gospel that I teach. Whomever you meet, just try to inform him about the message of the Bhagavad-Gita.” We should inform the world about the message of the Gita. One who does this is on the platform of real yoga..

Man has the choice to elevate himself or to lower himself, in the spiritual realm as well as the material. We are the cause of our own happiness or suffering. If I try to elevate myself, I am a friend of myself. If I put myself into Hell, I am my own worst enemy. Other people can instruct us, but it is up to us to decide whether or not we want to follow the instructions. Heaven or Hell is our own choice. If I drive a car on the wrong side of the road, it is my own fault if I get into trouble.

The spell of illusion is strong. Even Arjuna balked at following Krishna’s instructions. Arjuna knew that only Krishna could enlighten him, but still he hesitated. Krishna never insists that we follow His instructions. He says that this is the way to happiness, but He does not insist. The choice is ours.

My mind is my friend when I can control it. It has been said that when we wake up and when we go to sleep, we should beat our minds a thousand times with a shoe. When the mind says things like, “Why sing ‘Hare Krishna?’ Why not take LSD?” we should beat it with the same shoe. However, if we always think of Krishna, no beating will be necessary. The mind will be our best friend.

Everything we have should be used for Krishna. We should use our tongue to speak of Krishna and to eat food properly prepared and offered to Krishna. We should use our eyes to look at pictures of Krishna, and our ears to hear a master speak of Krishna. We can use our feet to walk to Krishna’s temple, and our hands to hold the broom that sweeps the temple floor. We can use our nose to smell flowers offered to Krishna. We can use our genitals to produce children whom we will raise in Krishna-consciousness. Even if we cannot follow these suggestions, we can always chant, “Hare Krishna, Hare Rama.” We must divert the mind from its material engagements and put it into Krishna-consciousness. It is not recommended to meditate on formless void. The mind should be focused on Krishna.

The mind is restless, so we should chant the Name of the Lord. The sound vibration of the chant is not different from the Lord Himself. In the material world, the name of a person is not the same as the person. If I need Mr. Jones it will not do any good to go into a room and simply chant his name. Krishna, however, is not a material person like Mr. Jones. Krishna’s Name and Krishna are the same. Krishna stays with the devotee who chants His Name. He dances on the tongue that chants “Hare Krishna, Hare Rama.”

It does no good to absent-mindedly chant the Name of Krishna while your thoughts are elsewhere. Chanting will bring an uncontrolled mind under control. A yoga system is a process for bringing the mind under control, not a system for letting the mind wander unrestricted. We can control our minds by always concentrating on Sri Krishna. It is not necessary to go off to some lonely place and engage in difficult meditative practices. Not only is this unnecessary—it is impossible in this age. But chanting is easy and can be performed anywhere. Everyone can take part in it—women, children, scholars, black people, white people—everyone. Simply concentrate on Krishna. Listen to Krishna’s words with the ears and chant His name with the tongue.

We are Brahman, but not the Supreme Brahman. It is within our capability to become as good as the Supreme, but we can never become the Supreme Himself. We are Brahman, but we are covered. We must take the cover off. It is not a case of becoming Brahman; we are already Brahman, but we are entangled by illusory energy. The Supreme Lord is never caught up in illusion. A cloud cannot cover the whole sky. Even if the sky appears to be completely covered, we know that the covered part is only a small fraction of the entire sky. Similarly, the Supreme Lord cannot be covered by the cloud of illusion. When we are free from material entanglements we discover our real identity.

Living entities are in a material position. They can remain in the material world or they can realize their true identity and go to the spiritual world. People think that they can be happy in the material world, but they struggle day and night. They struggle on account of their perverted minds. The yoga systems are for purifying the mind. Meditation is too difficult. It is easier to be a devotee of Sri Krishna and to be always engaged in His service. One who continues in such bhaktiyoga becomes free from material contamination. As soon as he is free he knows that, “I am not this matter. I am Brahman.” As soon as he realizes this he feels the highest pleasure. He is filled with joy. Others may see him as poor and penniless, but he knows that he is the happiest man in the world. This realization has nothing to do with material wealth. A man in Krishna-consciousness can cheerfully accept poverty. One who is not in Krishna-consciousness, suffers even if he is wealthy. If one is in Krishna-consciousness, he is always happy. Poverty means nothing to him. In Krishna-consciousness, life is so blissful that any condition is a happy condition. This happiness is so great that nobody could ask for anything more.

Spiritual happiness is eternal; material happiness is temporary. For this reason, one who wants spiritual happiness must not eat too much nor indulge in unrestricted sex. When one feels this spiritual happiness, he has no need of material happiness. Material life is diseased life. Seeking material happiness is like seeking to prolong a disease because you think that you will enjoy the disease more than good health.

Spiritual life is full of knowledge and bliss, and is above death and ignorance. The spiritual man sees the Supreme Lord everywhere and in every living being. Because he loves Krishna, he sees Him everywhere. Every living being is situated in Krishna and Krishna is in every living being. The spiritual man does not see cows or men or women or fools; he only sees the Supreme Lord. A man in Krishna-consciousness does not walk around in a fog but does his work well, and with the touch of an expert. When one enters Krishna-consciousness he becomes a poet and writes hymns to God. A man of true learning is one who sees every woman except his own wife as his mother and treats her accordingly. He sees other peoples’ property as garbage, and he has unlimited compassion for all living creatures.

Krishna says, “He who sees Me everywhere and sees all in Me; I am not lost to him, nor is he lost to Me.” (Gita, 6.30) A person in Krishna-consciousness sees everything in relation to Krishna. If I use a tape recorder for sense pleasure, it is a material object; but if I use it to record a speech about Krishna it is spiritual. Krishna-consciousness means seeing everything in relation to Krishna and using everything for Him. Even money is spiritual if it is used for Krishna’s purpose.

Krishna says that when the yogi re-establishes his relationship with Him, then, “I will never leave his sight.” The perfection of yoga is to see Krishna everywhere. Even though the spiritual man sees Krishna everywhere, he still worships His form in the temple. He does not think that because Krishna is everywhere, it is of no use to go to the temple to worship. If Krishna is everywhere, He is also in the temple. Krishna is very kind to us. He lets us see Him everywhere and He lets us worship Him in the temple. The real yogi sees Krishna everywhere and still worships Him at the altar. The real yogi also spreads his happiness to others. Because he has become happy through Krishna-consciousness he tells others about it so they can become happy too. This is the true meaning of spiritual socialism. This gives the maximum benefits to the most people. Krishna Himself said that no man is dearer to Him than one who helps others.

When one enters the Kingdom of God he will know how unhappy he was in the material contamination. He will not want to go back. Returning to Krishna does not mean becoming Krishna. When a son returns home to his father he does not become his father. We can even become the father of Krishna, but we can never be equal to Him. We will always be subordinate to Him.

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