California, USA — Saturday, May 7th

Things fall apart

With all the secular infighting and subterfuge going on in the Math right now, as ambitious parties jockey for position and clout (ignoring or trying to circumvent Srila Gurudeva's explicit instruction that Srila Acharya Maharaj should be his successor), it is easy to be pessimistic about our future.

The other day I found myself reciting these dispiriting lines from The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats' gloomy prognostication of the new world order, penned in the wake of the Russian Revolution and World War I:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...

But one of the things that Srila Guru Maharaj stressed over and over again is that the environment is always friendly. No matter where we may be, no matter whom we may have for association, no matter what circumstances or difficulties we may find ourselves in, we should always try to see the friendly hand of the Lord behind everything:

We should not think that the environment is our enemy. We must try hard to detect God's grace in whatever comes to us, even if it comes as an apparent enemy. Everything is the grace of the Lord, but we can't see it; rather, we see the opposite. The dirt is in our eyes... We have to think that God's will is everywhere. Even a blade of grass cannot move without the sanction of the Supreme Authority. Every detail is detected and controlled by Him. We have to look upon the environment with optimism. The pessimism is within us.

Search For Sri Krishna

While it may now seem that the environment is anything but friendly, if we look at the history of what happened when our previous acharyas left this world — the opposition Srila Gurudeva faced after Srila Guru Maharaj, the Iskcon GBC squabbles after Srila Prabhupad, the breakup of the Gaudiya Math after Srila Saraswati Thakur — we get an inkling that maybe we 'can't see the forest for the trees'...

When I first came to Krishna consciousness, when I joined Iskcon in the aftermath of Srila Prabhupad's disappearance, this instruction of their founder-acharya brought me to the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math:

"For spiritual advancement of life, we must go to someone who is actually practicing spiritual life. So, if you are actually serious to take instructions from a siksha-guru, I can refer you to the most competent of all my godbrothers, B.R. Sridhar Maharaj, whom I consider to be even my siksha-guru, so what to speak of the benefit that you can have by his association."

And in the wake of Srila Saraswati Thakur's departure, if there had not been so much contention and litigation over who would lead his mission (similar to the situation in our Math now), Srila Guru Maharaj would not have left the Gaudiya Math in disappointment — and there would have been no Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math to go to!

So if our spiritual lives fall apart, if the center cannot hold (if we cannot adhere the central tenets of the Krishna consciousness ideal), it is only because, like the wayward falcon, we have spiraled too far away to hear the instructions of our master. And when we no longer recognize or obey any spiritual authority, unadulterated anarchy must surely be loosed, unfettered, upon our nascent Krishna consciousness.

In moments of despondency it may seem that

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity...

but if we view these tribulations as a test by Srila Gurudeva, "come to train us to go in the right direction," we won't have time to indulge in any morbid fantasies, or waste time looking for a scapegoat

What rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards [West Bengal] to be born?

because when we look within we will see, quite clearly: "There is no scapegoat. The beast is within me!"

Tags: Introspection

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Layout by iMonk — May 7th, 2011.