Why Baseball Hats are Worn Backwards And How Not to Shoot Yourself in the Foot While Hunting the Rhino:  A Two Part Look at Positive and Realistic Vision

Part 1 : There is a phenomenon amongst Canadians; we do not like to be identified as Americans. I have to admit that I too am infected by attachment to my place of birth. In my travels, people often ask if I am from the US, but I am quick to interject that, no, I am from Canada. Despite my nationalistic identity I have to admit an admiration for the US constitution, a remarkable document that attempts to ensure citizen’s rights and religious freedom. Its founders were men who saw the importance of enshrining the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, they did not grant a right to happiness, but rather the right to pursue it according to one’s free will, with the understanding that the fruits accrued are one’s responsibility. Just as time erodes mountains, that noble principle has faded.

In the US and around the world, especially in the last 50 years, the of pursuit happiness, änanda-mayo ‘bhyasat, has morphed into a sense of entitlement or the right to happiness. Prior to 1950 the religious, community and family values gave people a purpose in life that largely eclipsed selfishness. Today the picture is much different. If my right to happiness is impeded I’ll blame and criticize the weather, blame my health, blame and criticize the government, blame and criticize the temple, blame and criticize my spouse, and blame and criticize you; after all I am entitled to happiness!

The media created images of fairy tale marriages, promises of instant porridge, instant coffee, instant credit, instant internet access, instant love, fast food, fast cars, fast service, faster downloads, and if you do not meet my expectations then move over and get out of my way, I’ve had it with you and your………………. Whoa! Let’s turn that guy off. It’s a little scary and we’re all at least a bit infected by that mentality. How much time are we spending in entitlement, blame, criticism and negativity? Srila Prabhupada often quoted the verse,

tat te ‘nukampāḿ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaḿ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk  (SB.10.14.8)

.. , describing how a pure devotee sees adversity as the mercy of the Lord and is thankful. He sees that the Lord is arranging circumstances and individuals to be the instruments of his karma for purification. Prabhupada elucidates how one who patiently executes his duty in this consciousness inherits a ticket back to Godhead just as a son, simply by remaining alive, lawfully has the right to inherit the estate of his father.

Let’s place on one side the attitude of an advanced devotee, seeing adversity as the kind hand of the Lord and on the other the other the mindset that the world owes me contentment. Which outlook would be pleasing to Krsna? Which actually brings me happiness? Which is the real me? That begs some questions. Am I a helpless victim or do I have a choice in the matter? If I’m blaming and criticism will my ticket back to Godhead be valid?

Waiting for the rest of the world to improve can be very dis-empowering. Improvement of my life becomes dependent upon others changing. On the other hand no matter what the situation I can always improve myself. When I see through the eyes of entitlement, blame, criticism and negativity am I adding value to my life and the lives of others or am I devaluing others to create an illusion of importance and satisfaction in myself? Am I a reincarnation of Ramachandra Puri? That’s a really scary thought! Maybe wearing a baseball hat backwards has significant meaning! Perhaps it means that my vision of privilege is wrong, my head screwed on backwards.

Wrenching my head around I suddenly see the world through the eyes of service, patience, love and compassion. I see that my wife is not “my servant”, but rather a special soul entrusted to me by Lord Krsna with a responsibility to ensure that she feels valued, loved and secure. I see my home is not an impediment to spiritual life but an ashram for producing devotion. I see the irritations and pains of this world are not obstacles but helpful reminders that this is a temporary world, a blessing to help me focus on the Holy Name. I see others with different opinions as unique individuals whom I may not agree with, but can honour.

Standing back for a minute, I recognize that I have a choice to either improve the lives of others and myself by living my true values or the option to live in an illusion of worth, by devaluing and controlling others by self centered values. I have a choice to expect my marriage to bring me happiness on a silver platter or to take the responsibility of working to nurture a loving devotional relationship with my spouse. I have a choice to see through the eyes of humility, love and compassion or through the eyes of pride, blame, criticism and negativity in their many subtle and gross manifestations.

Looking forward, I discern a sacred duty to add value to this world and those in it by connecting with my true values, by appreciating all that Krsna has given, improving the moment I live in and not to serve the sycophants of entitlement, pride, blame, criticism and negativity.

Part 2: Shoot the Rhinoceros

In his books, Srila Prabhupada presented the highest ideals, noble benchmarks we all aspire for. Sometimes in our neophyte stage we may become idealistic and shoot ourselves in the foot while aiming for those targets. Here’s one of the more bizarre examples. Srila Prabhupada had said that a yogi passes stool once a day, a bhogi twice and a rogi thrice. It was mentioned to Srila Prabhupada on Feb 27th, 1976 in Mayapur that some devotees had been artificially trying to pass stool only once a day based upon Prabhupada saying that a yogi passed stool once a day. They were somehow holding it in until the next day. Prabhupada told a funny story to illustrate the foolishness.

Prabhupäda: “This is called makñé maëòa kanani. (?) A clerk was making a fair book from the rough book. So he went to the toilet room and he was… Like this.(making a commotion to catch a fly) So all of a sudden his boss came: “What you are doing here?” “Sir, I am trying to capture one fly.” “And why?” “No, I am making the fair copy of the book, but in the original book, there is a fly smashed. (laughter) So I have to paste one fly.” There are such fools. Makñé maëòa kanani. “There is a fly, paste. So in the fair copy, there must be a fly, paste.”

Krsna consciousness is a lot more work than quickly cutting and pasting quotes on our foreheads like the fly in the above mentioned book without maturely understanding the real meaning and intent of how we should live our lives. As indicated by Srila Prabhupada in the purport to BG 18.63, introspection is recommended. “Before surrendering, one is free to deliberate on this subject as far as the intelligence goes; that is the best way to accept the instruction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

We can easily see, by studying the life of Srila Prabhupada, how he applied sastric knowledge with love and compassion according to time and circumstance to help souls to advance. With a little introspection we can see that we may apply the same knowledge with immaturity, frustration, anger, or ulterior motive in the name of Krsna Consciousness. For a moment, think of a time when you applied sastric knowledge with love and compassion from your heart and reflect on how that felt. Now, think of a time when you applied sastric knowledge in an idealistic way, with the mood of frustration and control and reflect on how that felt. Which felt better? Which was the real you? Srila Prabhupada set many elevated ideals or bench marks to guide us on the path to pure devotional service. Getting to that goal depends upon shooting for the rhino with a mature, thoughtful, positive and realistic application of Krsna Consciousness.

END NOTES: We are all hankering after pleasure. Änanda-mayo ‘bhyäsät (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12). The living entities, like the Lord, are full of consciousness, and they are after happiness. The Lord is perpetually happy, and if the living entities associate with the Lord, cooperate with Him and take part in His association, then they also become happy.

tat te ‘nukampāḿ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaḿ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk  (SB.10.14.8)

“My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.”
Srila Sridhara Swami explains in his commentary that just as a legitimate son has to simply remain alive to gain an inheritance from his father, one who simply remains alive in Krsna consciousness, following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, automatically becomes eligible to receive the mercy of the Personality of Godhead. In other words, he will be promoted to the kingdom of God. The word su-saméksamäna indicates that a devotee earnestly awaits the mercy of the Supreme Lord even while suffering the painful effects of previous sinful activities. Lord Krsna explains in the Bhagavad-gétä that a devotee who fully surrenders unto Him is no longer liable to suffer the reactions of his previous karma. However, because in his mind a devotee may still maintain the remnants of his previous sinful mentality, the Lord removes the last vestiges of the enjoying spirit by giving His devotee punishments that may sometimes resemble sinful reactions. The purpose of the entire creation of God is to rectify the living entity’s tendency to enjoy without the Lord, and therefore the particular punishment given for a sinful activity is specifically designed to curtail the mentality that produced the activity. Although a devotee has surrendered to the Lord’s devotional service, until he is completely perfect in Krsna consciousness he may maintain a slight inclination to enjoy the false happiness of this world. The Lord therefore creates a particular situation to eradicate this remaining enjoying spirit. This unhappiness suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic reaction; it is rather the Lord’s special mercy for inducing His devotee to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead. A sincere devotee earnestly desires to go back to the Lord’s abode. Therefore he willingly accepts the Lord’s merciful punishment and continues offering respects and obeisances to the Lord with his heart, words and body. Such a bona fide servant of the Lord, considering all hardship a small price to pay for gaining the personal association of the Lord, certainly becomes a legitimate son of God, as indicated here by the words däya-bhäk. Just as one cannot approach the sun without becoming fire, one cannot approach the supreme pure, Lord Kåñëa, without undergoing a rigid purificatory process, which may appear like suffering but which is in fact a curative treatment administered by the personal hand of the Lord. iii Impractical person. a perfectionist who rejects practical considerations

We seek to support, strengthen, educate and enliven the individuals, couples and families who are or will be involved with the grihastha ashram.

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