Saturday, April 30, 2011

Radhanath Swamy on Mirror of the Mind

The mind is like a mirror. It is meant to reflect the glory and effulgence of the soul and of God. If we put a mirror in the sun, the mirror reflects the light of the sun. But if that mirror is full of dust and dirt it cannot reflect anything. God is within our heart, but due to that dust and dirt based on material misconceptions, due to material attachments, it cannot reflect the glory of God within us. Nor can we even perceive our real self on the mirror of our mind. When we look at the mirror, we expect to see ourselves. But if the mirror is covered by dirt, all we see is dirt; we are completely obscured. So our mind has to be cleansed, and the process of cleansing the mind is chanting the name of God. The name of God is all pure, it’s non-different from God. In every religious scripture in the world, the chanting of the name of god is not only recommended, but demanded. When we cleanse the dust from the mirror of our mind then the true glory of the soul is revealed.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Radhanath Swamy on Spirituality Makes One More Productive

A mother will work twenty-four hour shifts for her little baby. How many men will work twenty-four hour shifts for their boss? Some may but they won’t be very happy about it. But a mother is on call twenty-four hours a day, not only on call but usually busy. And when babies cry mothers don't sleep for days, what to speak of cases where one has twins or triplets. The mother does not get paid anything, but she experiences full satisfaction because she is motivated by love and affection. So this is a nonsense theory that if I become spiritual, if I become dedicated to a spiritual path, then I will become unproductive. No, you become more productive but for the right cause, for the right ideal. Love is a more powerful force than greed or egoism. That is what spirituality is about. That is what the Bhagavad-Gita teaches.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Radhanatha Swami on Austerity - Doing the Right Thing

Austerity means to be willing to accept inconvenience for the purification of one’s heart and in the service of God and humanity. Unless one is willing to accept sacrifice or inconvenience, nothing great can be accomplished in life. Often, people take religion to be very cheap. When it comes to making money to provide for oneself and
family, one is willing to accept tremendous sacrifice, but when it comes to spiritual life, some people say that spiritual life is very difficult. But life very difficult anyway. The question we have to ask is not whether something is difficult or not but whether it’s right or not? If something is true, we should be willing to do anything and
give everything for that purpose.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Radhanatha Swami on Critical Faith

It is not about the future or the past. We should be convinced, “Yes, God is here and He’s accepting what we are doing". When we have that conviction we can put our complete heart into what we are doing. Because devotional service is about offering our love in whatever we do. How could we actually offer our love with substance if we are not convinced that God is right here at this moment watching and accepting? So this faith is very critical. Great saints say that we gain faith by associating with devotees and especially by hearing and chanting with them. And if we find that our faith is not so strong, we really, seriously need to develop it by associating with devotees who have faith, by serving people who have faith, by hearing from people who have faith, by practicing what’s favorable for developing that faith and avoiding those things that are unfavorable for cultivating that faith. Because at the time of greatest need we are going to call out for God with the faith that He hears us and that He is with us. Otherwise, what kind of calling out will that be? It will be an envelope with nothing inside or with an illegible message.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Radhanath Swami on The Real Question

Most of the terrorism in this world is in the name of religion. But it really has nothing do with religion. It’s only about sectarianism and ignorance. Real religion is universal. According to Srimad Bhagavatam, religion is based on four principles. These four principles are called the four pillars of religion. Austerity, cleanliness, mercy, and truthfulness. Whether we call ourselves a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Christian, or a Sheikh, that’s not so important. The real question, and the real message to answer the question, is how we are developing our love for God through the process of following these four principles.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Self Realization for the Uncertain World

This world is full of uncertainties and the fact is we can never change the condition of this world. We can make so many arrangements to change and adjust the environment. And we must as far as possible create an environment that is conducive to peace, prosperity, and happiness. But ultimately this environment is beyond our control. Therefore intelligent people, rather than simply trying to adjust the environment, try to adjust their own consciousness. The real solution is to change ourselves. We have to learn how to live harmoniously within this environment. And for this reason, throughout history, the process of self realization has been explained by great saintly persons, by great philosophers, by great persons of various religions.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Radhnath Swami on God sees the Intent

Some people ritualistically chant thousands of prayers every morning, as part of their routine of beginning their day. That’s very good. But the prayers are only the package by which we send a message to Krishna or to God according to our religion. Even if we have an envelope we may not have the right address on it. As we understand from disciplic succession, through the spiritual master, saints and scriptures putting the right address is still not what people are impressed with. When we send the letter, people open the envelope and throw it away. They are concerned only with what is inside. What is inside is our bhava, our feelings, our intent. God accepts the intent of a devotee, the intent of his actions and words. And the devotee has full faith that God will save him.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Radhanath Swami on The Beauty of Deity Worship

Sometimes people wonder, "Why are you worshiping God in wood or stone?" The reply is, "Is God not everywhere? Anyone who believes in God must accept God everywhere. He is in everything so is He not in this wood or stone?" But the difference is we are recognizing Him here, we are worshiping Him here, we are focusing our attention in Him here. It is explained in the scriptures that when an advanced devotee invokes the presence of the Lord in a form that is particularly designed as explained then out of causeless mercy and kindness the supreme God appears in that form to accept our love. If we approach the deity as stone, the deity appears to us as stone, if we approach the deity as God, the deity will reveal Himself as God; of course, at the beginning our vision is material so we cannot see the spiritual. It is for that reason that God allows us to keep our attention on Him on a material form that we can perceive.

People say that God is spirit so how can you see Him with material vision? The fact is, we cannot; therefore out of His mercy God appears in matter so that we can see Him, we can keep our attention on Him, we can dance before Him, we can repose our affection on Him, we can cook for Him, we can serve Him, we can do so many wonderful services twenty four hours a day. And most of us can come together to glorify Him. This is the beauty and sweetness of the worship of the deity of God.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Radhanath Swami on For the Pleasure of God

We are not speaking about the aspect of God regarding His wrath and punishment upon sinners. We are speaking about the essential glory of the Lord in the spiritual world as the all-attractive. When He enters our hearts, He steals our love by His unlimited beauty, sweetness, and His own love. That is the ultimate experience. But there is only one way to achieve that love and that is by the mercy of the Lord. That mercy comes in proportion to our service attitude, our desire to give to God and to give to others without selfishness, without egotism. When a devotee chants the names of the Lord, the aspiration should not be to simply accumulate wealth, to enjoy the pleasures of the senses, or to gain popularity and fame. It should simply be an offering of love for the pleasure of God.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Who is Dear to the Lord

Our elevation to spiritual world is not attained by our memory or mastery over various subjects. It is not attained by strict austerities or by giving grand donations. It is attained by the mercy of the Lord. When the Lord is pleased with us then He promotes us to His personal abode. When God brings us back to the spiritual world then He has to live with us for the rest of eternity. Do you think He just wants some egoistic person who is just chanting mantras a day to come back to Him, do you think He wants an egoistic person who is performing austerities such as not eating or not sleeping? No. He will only take back those people who are dear to Him. And who is most dear to Him? Those who are dear to His devotees. So the formula by which we can become intimately dear to the Lord is by assisting Him in giving His message to others and by making sacrifices to that purpose. But we cannot give something that we are not committed to ourselves, therefore we must follow our vows. How can we give the Holy Names to others unless we are addicted to the Holy Name ourselves? So we must cultivate deep attachment in chanting, deep attachment in hearing God's pastimes and God's messages, and to the degree we become deeply attached to these principles we will be empowered to give the mercy of parampara to the suffering souls of this world. That is our life. That is our purpose. That is what will make us dear to God.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Radhanath Swami on True Love

Even in this world real love is not selfish – it’s selfless, willing to make sacrifices for the beloved. That love actually satisfies the heart because there’s some reality to it. Why? Because that’s the nature of love in its perfect state - the soul’s love for the Absolute Truth, the supreme soul, or Krishna, the origin of love. Krishna is all-attractive. He is the source of all beauty, all knowledge, all strength, all wealth, all renunciation. Thus he is the ultimate object of everyone’s love. To surrender to Krishna is the expression of true love, it’s actually the source of the greatest shelter and the greatest happiness.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Love the Diseased, Hate the Disease

One who understands God sees every living being with equal vision, whether he be a man or woman, rich or poor, from any caste, from any community, from any religion, from any species of life. We see that these are all temporary designations that the soul is passing through. When we understand God within our own heart we can perceive God within the heart of every living being. And then we can hate the disease but spontaneously love the diseased. We can see every living being as our brother or sister on the spiritual platform. This is reality - the spiritual platform - to see everything in relation to Truth, in relation to the Supreme Lord. And this realization can be easily obtained through the same process that caused us to be conditioned to forget the Truth - our association. If we associate with people who say that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is revealed in the holy scriptures, who is loved by all the great saints and Holy people, who is within our hearts, in between every atom and that we can serve Him and love Him, then we naturally see Krishna everywhere.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Time the Terrorist

By nature, this material world is a place of chaos and misery, because here everything is temporary. By the force of time everything is in the process of destruction. Time is terrorizing everyone’s life. Very soon after we are born the heart starts beating. And every beat of the heart is like every tick of the clock. The power of time is swallowing the duration of our life. Even during the times of peace and freedom in a nation, everyone has to face the ultimate conclusion of life - old age, disease, and death. Krishna describes in the Gita: it’s due to the temporary nature of this world that there can be no real happiness, no real peace.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Auspiciousness in Suffering

From apparent inauspicious circumstances is born the most auspicious opportunity to devotional service. Because this world is a place where suffering is imminent, the Lord teaches us this lesson again and again.

The problems we face in life are the greatest opportunities for self realization. That is one of the reasons this age of quarrel and hypocrisy is the best time for God Consciousness. Actually in every age, the chanting of the holy name can awaken pure love of God. But the necessary qualification for achieving love of God through chanting of HIs holy names in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy is to attentively cry out the name like a child crying for his mother. If everything is very nice in our life we don’t cry out, we just chant ritualistically. However, because the modern age is so full of sufferings, it’s the best possible situation - it’s so natural in that condition to just helplessly cry out for the mercy of Lord by chanting His name.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Real Self Respect

Respect for the true self rather than the temporary false self is real self-respect. The real nature of the self is to be the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. When we actually strive to live by this principle, that is real self-respect because that is respecting the nature of the self. That is respect to God, that is respect to all living beings. If you respect others, you get much greater satisfaction than trying to respect yourself. In respecting others, in giving to others, we receive the greatest benediction - that is love. So, real self-respect is not being selfish; real self-respect is to respect God within our heart, to respect our own real nature, and to respect all living being selflessly. And that may seem like a very impossible, theoretical idea, but it is natural for all of us. Just a little purification is required to realize it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Festivals Unite Us

When you water the root of the tree every part of the tree is nourished. So when our consciousness is connected to Krishna, when we see Krishna being bathed with flowers, to the degree our consciousness is like a branch connected to the tree, to the root of Krishna, to that degree we will derive the greatest ecstasy and pleasure seeing how Krishna is enjoying. And to the degree our consciousness is elsewhere, disconnected from the root, we don’t realize the ecstasy that is coming. So this is real pleasure, this is supreme pleasure - to give pleasure to Krishna, the reservoir of all pleasure. And this is real society when we all come together united for one purpose - to give pleasure to Krishna. How nicely Krishna has arranged so many magnificent, exciting and dynamic festivals all unique in their own way so that we can continuously come together to love Krishna, to serve Krishna, to chant His holy names.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Dirty Water

When water falls from the cloud, it’s pure and transparent. But when it comes to the ground, it becomes muddy. The dirt is not the water, it’s just mixed with the water and therefore the transparency of the water is lost. The name of God is pure. By associating with what is pure, we become purified. By developing a proper attitude we become purified, and our original nature can be realized. We are originally full of love and full of bliss. This is not just theory; it can be directly perceived and experienced by anyone and everyone. It has nothing to do with our social status, financial status, educational qualification, nationality, caste, or sex. All that’s required is sincerity and simplicity.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Getting out of Prison

Success in life has nothing to do with making a comfortable happy situation in this world. Success in life is getting out of this world. There are first class, second class, third class and fourth class cells within the prison. No doubt elevating yourself from a fourth class, dirty, filthy cell to a first class, nice, clean cell is improvement. But that is not the goal of life. With the same amount of energy that you’re using to buy the different prison officials to get an elevation in your cell status,
you can contact your lawyer and make a real solution to get out of prison. Similarly, people are very much eager to try to create a nice situation in a world of suffering, a place where death will be the final blow to diffuse all of their dreams. But if they invest the same energy with which they’re struggling and toiling to try to be happy in this world into God consciousness, they are making a permanent solution to their problems.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Cleaning the Mirror

The Lord’s name cleanses the mirror that is the heart. When a mirror is covered by dust, we don’t see ourself - that is what ahankara (false ego) is about. We look in the mirror, but if the mirror is covered with dirt, all we see is dirt. We identify ourselves and live according to that impression of ourselves. But if we cleanse the mirror and simply remove all of the external foreign contaminations, then we see ourselves as we are. This is the process of chanting God’s names. It simply brings our consciousness back to its original, natural state of being a loving servant of God.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Idol Worship

We find that in many religions of the world there is great aversion to this idea of worshiping of deity in the temple; they call it idol worship. Idol worship is one of two things - when one simply concocts one's own superstitious imaginary reasons for some form and concocts a method of worship, with no scientific scriptural guidelines; or, when one worships simply for material ambitions to be fulfilled. This is idol worship. In the western countries, 40 years ago, the general population was ignorant of Vedic principles and there was no conception of the beautiful scientific method of prana pratistha, of calling the Lord to accept our love and service in His holy form of the vigraha, the deity. Therefore the imaginary, speculative, superstitious process of idol worship was projected on the scientific process of deity worship. But that principle of focusing the mind on a form of God is always there and even the practitioners of religions which condemn so-called idol worship, are doing it themselves; they have to have a focus. For the Sikhs, their whole focus is their work; it is their worshipable deity - a form they can experience God in. The Muslims, where ever they are in the world, bow down towards Mecca; that is their deity, that is where they are reaching out for the essence of God. It is a physical place, a form. And the Christians, in every church, they stand before the crucifix, the cross, and they kiss it, they kneel down before it, they pray to it, they beg mercy from it. The Jews have their Torah which they keep on the altar and on certain days they decorate it with crowns and jewellery, and they kiss it, bow down before it and worship it. In this way every religion sees the great need to gather together around a form which they perceive as the essence of God. We find that every religion is doing it, every religion is performing deity worship. But in the Vedic religion it is a very scientific process which has been given by God Himself and which has been followed and amplified by all of great previous saints.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Service Attitude Reveals the Lord

We cannot understand God with our blunt contaminated mind and senses. Only when our consciousness is saturated with a serving attitude do our senses become purified. According to that service attitude the Lord reveals to us the truth. For example, when we chant the names of the Lord we can purify our entire consciousness simply by properly utilizing the facility of our tongue. When we chant the names of the Lord, we are invoking His divine presence. The Lord reveals Himself according to how we approach Him. So not only do we try to chant the names of the Lord, but we also try to chant in a service attitude that will please Him. It’s this service attitude that really attracts the Lord to actually reveal Himself through his Holy Names.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Success in Preaching

Who are any of us to preach to anyone? What is our right to take such a position to teach someone else about their real welfare? The only right we have is the power of the disciplic succession empowering us. We should never ever think that "I am a good preacher". Acharyas (saints who teach by personal example) don't think in that way! Following their example, we should pray to be a puppet controlled by the strings of spiritual master's and God's mercy. We should know that people understand our message and our words only if we are empowered. As preachers we cannot change people's hearts by our scholarship, by our charisma, by our beautiful features or by any other means; a real preacher is one who awakens the real inclination to love God in everybody, who awakens the soul. If we repeat the words of great souls, rather if we let the great souls speak through us and become instruments of their mercy, then we can actually succeed in the purpose of preaching.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Radhanath Swami on What is Love?

Love is defined in the Caitanya Charitamrita (the most acclaimed biography of Lord Chaitanya). The affection in which we try to enjoy for ourselves is called kama or lust. It’s the material principle. It’s just like a blazing fire that can never be satisfied. As long as we keep feeding the fire of the burning desire for enjoyment by trying to enjoy for ourselves, the hungrier it grows. But, what is prema or love? It’s the complete giving of the heart for the pleasure of the object of our love. Even in this world, the most satisfying, loving relationships are not the romantic affairs that we see in the movies, because that kind of love or relationship does not last. The real pleasure of the heart comes through real love - through sacrifice and dedication.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Radhanath Swami on The Uniting Power of Deity Worship

You should worship God by decorating Him with flowers and let everyone see the beauty of God as He is decorated with wonderful flowers. We are all interested to see something beautiful - men want to see beautiful women, women want to see beautiful men, we want to decorate ourselves with so many wonderful ways so that people look at us, and in this way there is an endless competition of trying to be beautiful, trying to see something beautiful, and especially trying to possess that which is beautiful. But all of this material consciousness is transcended when we learn to appreciate the beauty of God. The beauty of God is not a beauty that we possess, it is a beauty that we serve.

Suppose I want to possess a beautiful car, or beautiful clothing, or beautiful jewelry. Now, when I come to the temple, God is mine, but God is also everyone else’s. When we come before God in the temple we think that God is mine personally - everyone is thinking like that. Does anyone think that way about your nice car? Does anyone think that way about your nice jewelry ? Does anyone think that way about your nice house furniture? In this way we keep thinking, "This is mine and this is not yours, this is yours and not mine." But God is everyone’s. In the temple who does not feel that God is their own? Everyone feels this way. They think, "This beautiful form, He is mine, I can come any time and see Him, serve Him, chant for Him, dance for Him, cook for Him, He is mine". But everyone is thinking that way. There is no competition. In this way the presence of God is uniting us all.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Radhanath Swami on To Love and Be Loved

The Srimad Bhagavatam (a Vedic Text) explains that the supreme occupation for all humanity is loving service to the Supreme. Such love must me unconditional and unmotivated to completely satisfy the self. Every living being is looking for, longing for, and searching for one thing in every aspect of their life - pleasure. There’s pleasure for the senses and there’s pleasure for the mind, but there’s only one thing that can give pleasure to the heart - the sitting place of the self or soul. And that one thing is love - to love and to be loved.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Radhanath Swami on Forgetfulness

The definition of a Vaishnava (devotee) is para dukha dukhi, one who is concerned with the spiritual welfare of other living beings, who feels great pain seeing other people suffer. People suffer due to the varieties of reactions to acts of ignorance of their constitutional positions as eternal servitors of the Lord. Due to such ignorance a person repeatedly performs sinful acts even after atoning for the sins performed previously. The analogy of an elephant can be given here. An elephant goes to bath but due to his foolishness comes out and rolls again in the dust. Similarly, even if we atone for our sins, but if the seed of desire for sense gratification is still in the heart, then it is just a matter of time till it impels us again to engage in sinful activities.