San Jose, California — Sunday, January 21st
A chance contingency
After reading the following paragraph in The eye to see guru, where Srila Sridhar Maharaj says,
In this world there is evolution, and in the higher domain also, there is evolution. So the guru is something like saktyavesa. There is the "chance contingency" saktyavesa — who is deputed according to a particular time, place, or circumstance — and there is also the permanent saktyavesa...
a reader sent me an email asking: "Why does Srila Sridhar Maharaj say 'chance contingency'? He could just say 'contingency,' and it would be quite clear, but he says 'chance contingency'... Is this done on purpose? Is there any special reason for using both these words together?"
"Chance" is the possibility of something happening.
A "contingency" is a future event or circumstance that is possible, but cannot be predicted with certainty: a chance happening or occurrence.
It would seem, therefore, that "contingency" is redundant, but as we all know, Srila Guru Maharaj was a renowned wordsmith — a skilled user of words — so this cannot be so. There must, indeed, be some special reason for using both words together.
In philosophy, contingency is "the absence of necessity; the fact of being so without having to be so." Contingency is opposed to necessity. A contingent act is an act that could have "not been": an act that is not necessary.
So I think that Srila Guru Maharaj is emphasizing "the sweet will of the Lord." Whatever Krishna wants to do, He will do. We have no say in the matter. We cannot predict or depend on His actions. If the Lord, on a whim (sudden desire or change of mind, especially one that is unusual or unexplained), wants to empower somebody (saktyavesa), He will do so... or He will not. It all depends on His sweet will.
Srila Guru Maharaj often spoke about the "sweet will" of Krishna:
So Krishna's divine movements are kept in reserve by His sweet will: "All Rights Reserved." We want to search for some law above His sweet will, but this is inconsistent, self-contradictory. On the one side we say that Krishna moves by His own sweet will, but on another side we try to find some law governing His movement. This is a contradiction.
—Loving Search For The Lost Servant
Why does Srila Guru Maharaj always say, "Krishna's sweet will"? Why not just say, "Krishna's will"?
Besides its pleasant associations, sweet has another connotation: the unpredictable individuality of someone's actions. ("He took his own sweet time.") So although "Krishna's sweet will" does mean "Krishna's kind, benevolent, gracious will," it also emphasizes "the unpredictable individuality of Krishna's will."
We can therefore interpret "'chance contingency' saktyavesa" as: an individual who may or may not (chance), whether it is necessary or not (contingency), be empowered by Krishna (saktyavesa) — depending on His sweet will.
But thinking about this a little more, it occurred to me that even grammatically, 'chance contingency' is correct, because although chance and contingency both mean "the possibility of something happening," the latter has a more subtle meaning: a contingency is something that can happen, but is generally not anticipated. (Since anticipate means "to be aware of and deal with beforehand," you cannot prepare for a contingency — like you can anticipate and prepare for a chance occurrence — because it is inherently not obvious.)
We can also, therefore, interpret "'chance contingency' saktyavesa" as: an individual who may or may not (chance), whether we anticipate it or not (contingency), be empowered by Krishna (saktyavesa) — depending on His sweet will.
Of course, we must always remember that, like Krishna, gurudeva is infinite (acaryam mam vijaniyan), so everything he says is infinite. As our consciousness evolves — as we dive deeper and deeper into reality — we will receive an infinite number of newer, fresher realizations, by his grace, but we will never completely understand everything that he says: we will always be his students.
Tags: About Guru
Layout by iMonk — January 21st, 2007.