THE ROLE OF THE INSTITUTION IN CHOOSING ONE’S SPIRITUAL MASTER

 

HH BVPS Maharaja: Something else? Yes, there is a hand, the unembodied hand.

Prabhu (behind a pillar): Recently we had a visiting sannyasi and the discussion went into who is qualified to be Guru and how do you choose a Guru. So the contention was from my side that the institution that we are part of, which Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati said, ‘Organized religion is a necessary evil,’ but the contention was that you have to ask sadhus who is qualified to be a spiritual master. But the contention of the sannyasi giving the class was that this is revealed in your heart who is actually your spiritual master. So in the discussion after the class I asked myself, well, suppose I see Bhakta Joe is very inspirational, so it seems that I wanna take him as my spiritual master. What is the role of the institution in choosing or helping the aspirant devotee choose a proper spiritual master?

HH BVPS Maharaja: Very knowledgeable pillar, I must say, very thoughtful. Yes, it even has an arm that it occasionally manifests. [Laughter] So, see it’s always important that all these different aspects…. Ok, now I get it, this is the meaning of “Talk to the hand” [Laughter] Now I get it. Ok.

The idea is that you have all these various aspects, that’s what vichara does, it brings out all the various aspects, and so all the aspects are seen together. Depending upon the particular context, one may take prominence, but it’s not that the others aren’t there. Just like in the explanation of Sankarshana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Vasudeva, so They are in these four different forms because of four kind of moods that They have: dhirodatta, dhira-prashanta, dhira-lalita and dhirodhatta. But at the same time, each one of Them has all four, it’s just a matter of for that taste Krishna comes as this form to taste this particular mood specifically. And then it’s not that any of them couldn’t do, but the point is is He being who He is then He sticks to those elements.

So in here you have that aspect of the prominence. That you have all these aspects, but the thing is is, ok, yes, it’s revealed in the heart, but you also have to know what’s being revealed. You have to know what you are dealing with, so there must be some training, therefore the institution. The institution is there to see that the kind-of regulated practices and regulated knowledge is understood and imparted. So “necessary evil” means that the necessity is because of the neophyte. The madhyamas don’t require it so much, they cooperate fairly well, the uttamas, it’s not necessary at all. I mean, we are talking on one level here. And so, it’s necessary because you are dealing with neophytes, the evil is the neophytes themselves. It’s not that the system itself is the problem, it’s the system how it’s used by the neophyte mentality. If the institution is used for one’s own purpose, that’s the evil. If it’s used for it’s actual purpose of uplifting, going back to Godhead, then that’s necessary. So you have to find the balance.

So in other words, based on what the Vaishnavas themselves feel is someone who represents the Parampara, then Bhakta José from within the heart then may choose one. But otherwise if we leave it up to just anybody, then it can come up with all kinds of things. That’s why the analytical science of the philosophy is there, otherwise people come up with all kinds of stuff very regularly. Just like here, I was thinking this morning about the point of that we are transcendental, we are not the body, therefore we are not controlled by that. And on one platform that’s correct, because the soul is liberated, so the soul is not bound by the rules of the body. But the point is is the body is bound by the rules of the body. That’s what’s left out of the equation. So the idea is, I am not bound by the rules of the body, therefore I am independent and I don’t have to worry about authority. Now, that starts to get just downright mundane. That’s just the conditioning of one’s background, that one has authority issues and has that independence issues. Because the point is is, yes, the driver is not the car, but when you drive down the street, because you are not the car, you don’t have to follow the rules that apply to the car? That’s just downright stupid. So we are not applying logic into the things.

So that’s the whole point is that the institution is to see that we actually catch these points, because otherwise then the mind, because we have been so trained as I am the controller and enjoyer, any loophole we find that proves I am, we are immediately gonna take it. So the institution is there to see that in a very serial, “seriatomic” way we go through all the different things. So does that make some sense, my dear Pillar?

Prabhu behind the pillar: Yes, that’s very good answer. I spoke with that devotee afterwards, and he was still into that Prabhupada said like this… how do we deal with that kind of logic? He had a number of quotes where Prabhupada said that it’s like this, it’s revealed in your heart.

HH BVPS Maharaja: It is revealed in your heart, but you have to know… But so many things are revealed in the heart, that I feel like eating is also revealed in the heart. So now, what do I eat?

That’s the point, without training, because you have to be able to combine, that’s the point of acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, you have to be able to combine these things that may be seemingly contradictory, but they are not.

Prabhu: But it seemed to be that he was preaching kind of anarchy, maybe something should be done, maybe a whistle blown or something. Because it just didn’t make sense in relationship to what I understood our society was about.

HH BVPS Maharaja: The point is is, who has established the institution? Means, we see that Rupa Goswami has established, Jiva Goswami formalized it, it went on in that way, Bhaktivinoda Thakura talked about formalization as Namahatta, that community development, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati formalized as a preaching machinery, Prabhupada put the two of those together as ISKCON. So who is creating institutions here? We are not talking about some corporate management here. I mean, of course, some are, but the real point is is who has put this together? So why would we not take advantage of the institution’s facilities in that natural, spontaneous attraction to Krishna? Because otherwise we have proven since time immemorial that we haven’t been spontaneously attracted to Krishna, and what has been coming up within the heart, hasn’t been of great value.

So that’s the responsibility of leadership, you see that who is there, let’s say what Gurus are there, then they represent the society. Now, from amongst those hundred, two hundred personalities then this person can get revelation. But just on their own, then where is the authority for that revelation? Just that it was revealed in the heart is not enough. It has to be backed up. Just like Prabhupada says, the incarnation is there, fine, but it has to be backed up by shastra. If the shastra doesn’t say that this incarnation is coming at this time and this is the name of His father, then he is not an incarnation. So it’s not enough.

Otherwise, if it’s that, that I feel like, so I feel like doing all kinds of things. What happens if I feel like, if it’s revealed in my heart that I will stand on my head and do the Mangala-aratik? Because standing on the head, then all the blood rushes to the head, the brain is really able to focus, so then I can really concentrate on the Deity when I am offering the aratik. So the difficulty is, it will come up like this, it will again give rise to the hippy element, we have to kind of remember this, that’s the background. Unless, of course, you are a little older, and then it’s the Bohemians, that’s even a little older. So we wanna avoid that, because that’s their whole thing, it’s all about what you feel, and the love, and this and that, which has a basis, it does have a correct element, but without the science then it becomes sentimental. So Prabhupada says, your philosophy without religion is mental speculation, and religion without philosophy is sentiment. So we have to be careful about that. We have to have the balance. Is that ok, my dear Pillar?

Prabhu: Yes, it’s very good, thank you, Hare Krishna.

 

(From Question and Answers after Class on Srimad Bhagavatam 5.10.19, 22 December 2013, Sri Mayapur Dhama)

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