Dry Reason Needs a Drink

By Swāmī Śrī Bhaktivedānta Tripurāri

Reason is the bouncer at the bar, where the heart sits and is served the holy wine of bhakti rasa in the form of the Bhagavata’s līlā narratives, a bouncer who throws us out into the street of so-called sobriety. As such, we lose the prospect of experiencing meaning that transcends the limits of reason and that should instead be served by it. Reason unto itself is dry. It needs a drink, and it says so if we listen to it. It cries out at its inability to accommodate the paradoxes of life and the sheer vastness of the world, from its subatomic realm to the boundaries of outer space, what to speak of its cries of desperation in trying to wrap itself around consciousness.

Does a seed contain a tree? Yes, it does. How it does we can say, but why it does we cannot. That answer lies in the imagination of God, who has included us in his dream where we have become accustomed to his magic as the norm as a result of losing sight of him. He is not our dream that we need to wake up from to a realm where reason presides and meaning is reasoned away. Such a realm is not worth inhabiting, nor does it really exist.

Līlā narratives are not meant to serve our intellect. They are intended to disarm it by their charm and expand the contracted heart where possibilities that transcend the limits of reason reside. Otherwise, if we bear down on the narratives with our intellect alone and submit to its demand that ultimate reality must answer to the court of reason, we lose the opportunity to experience the fact that life transcends logic. Reality does consist of paradoxes and possibilities that reason cannot explain.

The Kṛṣṇa līlā narratives are the meditative experience of Vyāsa, more than they are a feature of the limited objective world. Is it not more reasonable to listen to a fully controlled meditative mind as to the nature of mind and the reality that transcends it than it is to listen to the modern rational yet uncontrolled mind as to the nature of ultimate reality?

Gaura līlā is of course more relatable, but it is a portal into understanding Kṛṣṇa līlā. Bhaktivinoda’s testimony as to his conversion says as much. It is through Gaura līlā that he understood the significance of the Bhagavata’s līlā narrative. After all, the beauty of Gaura līlā is driven by his preoccupation not with reason but with the charm of Kṛṣṇa līlā. Thus the road to Kṛṣṇa līlā runs through Gaura and the method to his divine madness in the form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa saṅkīrtana.

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