Hridaya-Parikrama: The Spiritual Pilgrimage Within One’s Own Heart – Part 3

By Sajjana, see also Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4.

Third ‘Pada’ — The Invitation to Staying in Love

Having been invited by our eternal Beloveds Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga-Radha-Govindasundara to enquire within ourselves: ‘How can one live from the ongoing recognition of one’s true nature as unborn Spirit in the midst of the numerous distracting events which inevitably occur in routine day-to-day life?’, we may perhaps begin by ascertaining the foundational root-cause of not recognising one’s ever-present true nature as the Ever-Contented Existence of Consciousness (ananda-sat-chid). In other words, instead of asking ourselves ‘How do I become enlightened?’ (so to speak), we may rather ask ourselves: ‘Since whatever is real and permanent is always right here right now, what am I doing at this very moment to ‘unenlighten’ myself?’

We have already mentioned a number of factors in the previous article, such as strong attachment to and identification with the body/mind instrument and to the profusion of thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and physical sensations which it comes into contact with at every moment over the course of one’s lifetime. By such identification with temporary and ever-changing objects and conditions, it is nearly impossible to avoid feeling some sense of being in a state of lack and thus feeling the need to invest all of one’s valuable time and life-energy in the acquisition and maintenance of things which inevitably have ‘an expiration date’. 

Yet one level deeper below the surface of all of the aforementioned is the sense of being separate from the totality of Life—of being segregated, so to speak, from the indivisible wholeness of Existence as an autonomously-functioning entity or ‘pseudo-self’, and it is this firmly-held and seldom-questioned outlook which produces all inner and outer division along with all of the internal and external conflict and turmoil in both oneself and the world as we presently know it. Tremendous effort and struggle is required to perpetuate the facade of any false ego-self, whereas to simply be one’s true Self is effortless since one already is, has always only been, and shall always only be nothing other than that Atman, the pure ‘Godness’ which even transcends the material component of goodness (sattva-guna), yet is perceived through a body/mind instrument by means of it. In this regard, Sri Krishna states in Bhagavad-Gita verses 18.20-21:   

sarva-bhuteshu yenaikam / bhavam avyayam ikshate
avibhaktam vibhakteshu / taj jnanam viddhi sattvikam

That manner of perceiving
whereby one sees one imperishable Existence in all beings,
undivided within the diversity—
You may understand that perspective 
to be of the nature of clarity (sattva).

prithaktvena tu yaj jnanam / nana-bhavan prithag-vidhan
vetti sarveshu bhuteshu / taj jnanam viddhi rajasam

But that manner of perceiving whereby one sees
separate different existences in all beings, 
Each of them functioning independently—
Please understand that perspective 
to be of the nature of distortion (rajas).

When the timeless universal truth of achintya bhedabheda tattva (inconceivable simultaneous unicity with diversity) mentioned in the first verse above is either overlooked or forgotten, or if one’s focus of attention is out of balance due to mesmerised captivation by the diversity aspect—by a one-sided perspective of ‘others’, of ‘us and them’—then, as we have observed throughout the course of human history, this situation has abundantly created the breeding ground for all types of fear, hatred, violence, competition, exploitation, and subjugation, both in the world at large as well as in most of the world’s religious institutions. 

Perhaps we may reflect for just a moment on the recorded documentation that since ancient times, even those who were viewed by society as being the most extremely elevated intellectual scholars and religious leaders would challenge those holding a different philosophical viewpoint to a public debate, argue and verbally fight with them, and then the victors of such debates would claim possession of all of the defeated person’s students or disciples. Therefore we may justifiably ask ourselves if this is in any way different from an ambitious political leader going to war with the military commander of another country and making an aggressive effort to defeat him in order to take possession of all of his property and citizens. Is there really anything other than challenge, combat, and craving for conquest going on in either endeavour?  

It seems as if many (yet not all) of the religious ideologies that have been inherited from previous generations had been designed for more primitive, barbaric, tribal-minded populations which also included those persons who received quite extensive educational or religious training. Fortunately, however, the expression of Consciousness has evolved from where it was one hundred or five hundred or two thousand years ago, and balance can be restored within oneself by resolving one’s own ‘arguments with life’ which inevitably arise in the course of routine daily living by offering some genuinely interested attention to Bhagavatam verse 11.16.38, wherein Lord Krishna rather strikingly reveals to Uddhava:

mayeshvarena jivena / gunena gunina vina
sarvatmanapi sarvena / na bhavo vidyate kvachit

Except for Myself—
Who am the Supreme Lord and the living being,
The repository of all virtuous, auspicious qualities
and the qualities themselves,
The essence of all that is as well as all that is— 
There is nothing to be found existing anywhere.

Krishna also states in Bhagavatam verse 11.16.9: 

aham atmoddhavamisham / bhutanam suhrid ishvarah
aham sarvani bhutani / tesham sthityudbhavapyayah

O Uddhava, I am the Self of all created beings, 
their Lord, well-wishing friend, and longed-for objective.
Indeed, it is I who appear as all sentient beings
throughout the entire duration of their lives,
from their becoming visible to their vanishing.

It can be understood that what becomes visible and vanishes are the imagined dream-figures or reified thought-forms within Krishna’s infinite consciousness—or within Krishna (Consciousness), the parentheses in the latter case indicating synonymy.

If contemplated deeply in a concentrated manner, each of these verses has the potential to irrevocably transform one’s heart/mind network in such a way that we may begin practising more forgiveness, gratitude, cooperation, and flexibility in all life-situations by completely ceasing the speaking ill of others, the comparing, judging, and looking down upon others, the polarising and marginalising of others, and instead genuinely honour every being’s unique individuality (the bheda) along with their inviolable divinity (the abheda), as Krishna instructs Uddhava in Bhagavatam verses 11.29.12-15: 

mam eva sarvabhuteshu / bahir antar apavritam
ikshetatmani chatmanam / yatha kham amalashayah

With a pure heart,
One should view only Me, the true Spirit-Self, 
Within and outside of all sentient beings
as well as within one’s own body—
Unconstrained like space. 

iti sarvani bhutani / mad-bhavena mahadyute
sabhajayan manyamano / jnanam kevalam ashritah
brahmane pukkase stene / brahmanyerke sphulingake
akrure krurake chaiva / samadrik pandito matah

O radiant Uddhava,
Wholly and solely living by this way of perceiving, 
Those who are considered to be learned
thus regard and honour all sentient beings
as an expression of Myself,
Viewing equally both ‘the sun and the small spark of fire’—
The priests and teachers as well as the tribal barbarians;
The pious supporter of religious culture as also the thief; 
Those who possess a gentle nature
and those who possess a harsh, cruel disposition.

nareshvabhikshnam mad-bhavam / pumso bhavayatochirat
spardhasuya-tiraskarah / sahankara viyanti hi

Characteristics such as rivalry, jealousy, 
intolerance, and abusiveness
Assuredly soon vanish
along with the sense of separate independent selfhood 
From the person who continually reflects upon My presence 
in all human beings.

Hence, it would seem that the more we can understand that diversity of perspectives, opinions, and feelings is not a problem to be solved, and thus genuinely respect and appreciate what everyone ‘brings to the table’, the more we may indeed find ourselves ‘staying in love’ with life at every step of our spiritual journey.

Srila B.R. Sridhara Maharaja has stated that when one is seeing from the highest angle of vision, no ‘opposition party’ is to be found anywhere; one feels that ‘the whole environment is friendly towards me.’ And on another occasion he has said: ‘Sacrifice, dedication in its highest degree, will be of such a nature that it can accommodate and tolerate all differences. Therefore by toleration harmony will increase. The highest type of harmony can tolerate any type of opposition. It is all-accommodating. In this way, the highest conception of dedication means that there is the accommodation of an infinite quantity of variety within it, and thereby its sweetness will increase more and more.’

Unconstrained Infinitude Willing, perhaps on the next ‘leg’ of our journey we can continue conjointly exploring the nature of glaringly conspicuous Consciousness with the question: ‘When one begins to get some sense that one’s own limited, conditioned mind is not the final ultimate authority on anything, how can one then ‘dethrone’ that mercilessly maniacal tyrant?’ Until then, I wish you a moderately ecstatic day (because moderation is really important in everything, isn’t it?), and any Harmonist readers wishing to contact me with questions or comments are most welcome to do so at alandi108 at gmail.com.    


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