California, USA — Tuesday, June 7th
Kicking the bucket
Firefighters are battling a huge forest fire in Arizona right now. There is always a wildfire somewhere, it seems... Last year, when smoke from "the worst wildfire in Russia in 40 years" was choking the residents of Moscow, a reader directed me to this slideshow.
When you look at this picture with the caption, "A priest and women pray for rains to prevent new wildfire outbursts," how can you not be reminded of the first verse of Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakur's song, Sri Gurv-Astaka, that we sing every morning?
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
The confused and panic-stricken (lidha) inhabitants of this world (loka) are trapped in the blazing forest fire (dava-anala) of material existence (samsara). This uncontrollable conflagration defeats all their puny fire-fighting attempts; it can only be extinguished (tranaya) by a life-saving (karunya) rain cloud (ghanaghana-tvam) that draws its energy (praptasya) and life-giving water (kalyana) from the unlimited ocean (arnavasya). I offer my humble obeisances (vande) to the holy (sri) lotus feet (caranaravindam) of such a spiritual master (guroh), who has the same power and qualities (guna) of that rain cloud, and is thus the only hope for the desperate souls waiting to be rescued from this all-consuming, blazing inferno.
Srila Prabhupad elaborates on this verse in an interview with the Irish poet, Desmond O'Grady, in The Science of Self-Realization.
This whole confused world is just like a blazing forest fire. In a forest fire all the animals are confused. They do not know where to go to save their lives. In the blazing fire of the material world, everyone is confused. How can that blazing forest fire be extinguished? It is not possible to utilize your man-made fire brigade, nor is it possible to simply pour buckets of water. The solution comes when rain from the clouds falls on the forest fire. Only then can the fire be extinguished. That ability is not in your hands, but is in the mercy of God. So, human society is in a confused state, and it cannot find a solution. The spiritual master is one who has received the mercy of God, and he can deliver the solution to the confused man. One who has received the mercy of God can become a spiritual master and deliver that mercy to others.
And yet we who are about to be consumed in the conflagration still uselessly gather buckets of water or put our faith in demonstrably ineffectual firefighters instead of praying for help from above, instead of looking to the merciful rain cloud that is Sri Guru and His Grace:
So, guru is the divine messenger of immortal hope and joy in this mortal and miserable world. His advent is the most auspicious and happy event to the suffering animation, and can be compared to the rising of the morning star that can guide the traveller lost in the desert. A gentle touch of Sri Guru's merciful hand can wipe off the incessant tears from all weeping eyes. A patriot or philanthropist makes the problem only worse in his frantic and futile attempt to alleviate the deep-rooted pain of a suffering soul, as an ignorant doctor does in eagerly handling an unfortunate patient. O the day when this poor soul realizes the causeless grace of Sri Gurudeva!
When will I kick the bucket? When will I "throw away the bucket of knowledge that you are holding in your head" and put my faith in Srila Gurudeva?
Layout by iMonk — June 7th, 2011.