Q&A: Once initiated, how does one further develops and maintains a strong and proper relationship as a disciple with the Guru?

Thank you for your question. However, it is not an easy question to answer but nevertheless I’ll try to offer some of sastric advice and some of my personal experience of whatever little value that may be. First of all here is an straightforward and excellent explanation which summons it all up by Srila Bhaktissidhanta Saraswati Thakur in his Amrita-vani “immortal instructions”:

33. Can one be attached to sense gratification even after taking initiation?

“The process of attaining transcendental knowledge is called initiation. We should know that the Supreme Lord is the transcendental Absolute Truth, we are His eternal servants, and we have no duty other than to serve Him. Knowing this is actual initiation. The absence of this understanding is ignorance. At present, there is a controversy about the word “initiation”. People proudly claim that they have taken initiation from a bona fide spiritual master, but how can they maintain material attachment even after taking initiation? How can they desire to make advancement in material life? If they don’t learn about their relationship with the Lord, independent and proud people uselessly brag about their initiations. Rather than treating their spiritual master as if he were as good as God, they treat him as their disciple, fit to be their order-supplier. Considering the guru an ordinary mortal being, these persons become offenders at his lotus feet. read more

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur on Christianity

Thinking about the virtues and faults of this world, some moralistic monotheists concluded that this material world is not a place of unalloyed pleasures. Indeed, the sufferings outweigh the pleasures. They decided that the material world is a prison to punish the living entities. If there is punishment, then there must be a crime. If there were no crime, then why would there be any punishment? What crime did the living entities commit? 

Unable to properly answer this question, some men of small intelligence gave birth to a very wild idea. God created the first man and placed him in a pleasant garden with his wife. Then God forbade the man to taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Following the evil counsel of a wicked being, the first man and woman tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge, thus disobeying God’s command. In this way they fell from that garden into the material world filled with sufferings. Because of their offense, all other living entities are offenders from the moment of their birth.

Not seeing any other way to remove this offense, God Himself took birth in a humanlike form, took on His own shoulders the sins of His followers, and then died.  All who follow Him easily attain liberation, and all who do not follow Him fall into an eternal hell. In this way God assumes a humanlike form, punishes Himself, and thus liberates the living entities. An intelligent person cannot make sense of any of this. read more

Historical Overview Of The Development Of Modern Science

The worldview of modern science is based on the belief that living beings are simple arrangements of matter.

Thus modern educators and scientists do not accept the fact that living beings are non-physical spiritual sparks (atmas residing within physical bodies) and therefore they believe that we are the physical bodies we live in, that all of our feelings and perceptions can be explained as electro-chemical reactions within our bodies, and when these bodies stop functioning, the living being is finished.

Furthermore, they believe that matter organized itself into simple living organisms which later evolved into all the life forms of earth today — hence they do not believe that the physical bodies were designed by God, essentially they do not believe that God exists at all. Hence in their worldview everything is matter, there is no atma, and there is no ultimate purpose to life. read more

Pope Francis’s Light, Alito’s Footnote 7

Dear Friend,

Can it really be just a coincidence that Pope Francis releases his first “encyclical” reiterating the Church’s timeless teaching about marriage the same week Justice Anthony Kennedy released what I called his “fatwa” against opponents of gay marriage?

I called Justice Kennedy’s opinion a fatwa for two reasons: first, he refused to engage any rational argument; he simply dismissed our whole marriage tradition out of hand, without discussion. Second, he declared half the American people simply “enemies of the human race,” as Justice Scalia put it, for our commitment to the idea that marriage is the union of husband and wife.  He made a Constitutional religion out of gay marriage, whole cloth, without any textual support at all. read more

Adam and Eve

Christians often muse how different it would now be had Adam and Eve not tasted fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Had they not succumbed to this temptation, they could have dwelled perhaps forever in that idyllic garden of Eden created for them by the Lord God. Alas, such thoughts are no more than wishful thinking. Neither Adam and Eve, nor it seems, anyone since them has been able to exercise such stringent self restraint, nor avoided suffering the consequences. Who is to be blamed? Should we fault Eve alone, or Adam as well? Or, does every individual who subsequently erred bear responsibility? Or perhaps we should accuse the serpent? Certainly this third option is most tempting, because it frees us of personal guilt,. But beware of temptation! Behind this serpentine allurement lies a deadly trap which may severely test our faith. For if we blame the serpent we may as well blame the serpent’s master. And, having gone so far, we may as well ask why an all-knowing and all-loving God made such a crafty creature at all. With full knowledge of human foibles, why did God set in motion such a doomed cause-and-effect situation which has led today to “suffering, inequality and injustice, disaster and death,” in short to the “human hurt and wickedness that confronts us on every hand?” To continue on such questioning may even lead one to doubt the very existence of God. Yet human reason impels those thirsting for the truth to seek answers to these questions. Those who take such risk may find the tender creepers of their devotion strengthened by the ordeal that reason demands.

Let us join M. Peterson, et al as they explore these issues in Chapter 6 of Reason and  Religious Belief. We shall examine the logical and evidential forms of the problem of evil, and the typical theistic approaches to theodicy. Finally, we will look at the ancient texts of India which may help Christians and those of other persuasions to reconcile the reality of evil with the existence of God.

Any precise definition of evil will tend to favor one particular theory of evil over another. To avoid such prejudice, we may specify two broad categories of evil: moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil includes the wrongful acts and bad character traits of free human beings, while natural evil covers the physical pain and suffering resulting from either impersonal forces or human actions. With these commonsense notions in mind, let us now proceed to compare and contrast the logical and evidential problems of evil. read more

That is the best book!

I was on sankirtan with Mangal-Aarti on a bitterly cold winter afternoon at Eaton Centre and had spoken to a few people and was just recuperating from the snow and rain a little, standing in the shade.

A man walked by and I asked him,”Have you tried yoga or meditation, sir?” He stopped for a while, as I showed him some pictures, but I could tell he wasn’t going to buy a book. He walked away, but from the corner of my eye I spotted a thin, tiny man with an old, torn jacket and a little hat and a cigarette in his hand.

He pointed to the Bhagavad Gita with the finger that was looped around the cigarette and said, “That is the best book!” He had a thick, raspy accent I was unfamiliar with — maybe from Australia or Africa — so at first I didn’t know if I’d heard him correctly. But when he came a little closer and repeated himself, now touching the pictures, I understood. I immediately broke out laughing and said, “Yes! Have you read it?” read more

The Materialistic Demeanor Revisited

Our eighth year of “primary education” passed in an American Dependent School in Okinawa. During that eventful year we heard that we would have to decide for ourselves what had caused our existence, that the average man used less than one fourth the potential of his brain, and that God was never to be discussed in school.

Our studies of physical science had culminated in the visualization of the fleshy structure of the human brain. Electrical impulses flashing on the circuitry inside a man’s head are supposed to be responsible for all thinking, feeling, and willing. Life, memory, and the living zone are strange. The head is filled up with thoughts. The mind projects itself outside the body. We wondered, “What would we be thinking if we were using all the power of the brain?”

We had encountered sectarian religionists whose shallowness had turned us toward the camps of the atheists. We passed amidst the “humanists” and received many promises which were never to be fulfilled. Burning in despair we went past childhood’s end. The prospects for enjoyment which had been pointed out to us by our teachers proved inadequate. After exhausting many the sauri of philosophy, we realized we had been deceived all along, from the earliest beginning. We felt doomed, not for not knowing answers, but for not even being able to frame proper questions. read more

Whose Worship is Idol Worship?

Difference between idol and vigraha. An article from a 1975 Back To Godhad by Jayadvaita dasa.

Are the Hare Krsna devotees idol worshipers? A senior member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness resolves this question by explaining the authenticity of the Deity form of the Lord.

It’s natural for us to want to know what God looks like, just as it’s natural for a child who’s never seen his father to want to know what his father looks like. And just as such a child may imagine, “Maybe my father looks like this” or “Maybe he looks like that,” so we, too, speculate about what God must be like. The artist Michelangelo, for example, knowing God to be the original person, speculated that He must actually look old, with white hair and the features of an aged man. In this way, perhaps all of us have at one time or another formed at least some mental picture of God from whatever little we knew of Him. read more