Hridaya-Parikrama: The Spiritual Pilgrimage Within One’s Own Heart – Part 5

By Sajjana, see also Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, Part 6.

Fifth ‘Pada’ — The Invitation to Deepening in Love

[Scene: Directly in front of the New York City Supreme Court building, where radiant young Sri Karttikeya attentively stands holding his vel-spear. A burly policeman saunters slowly up the steps from the sidewalk and approaches him.] 

NYPD Officer: Excuse me, pal, is that your four-foot-tall peacock out there blocking traffic half a block down from here?

Karttikeya: Yes, indeed it is, officer. Please excuse him. [He whistles and the glorious creature immediately comes running, and the traffic resumes its flow.] And you are also absolutely correct about my being the pala, the protective guard here.

O: Uh huh. Do you have a permit to carry that weapon in public?

K: I do not require a permit. I am the military commander of all of the celestial denizens throughout the universe.

O: Yeah, that’s what everybody says. Well, I’m afraid I’m going to have to… [Looking around:] Christ, there must be five hundred pairs of shoes out here. What the hell is going on in there?

K: Actually, quite the opposite of hell, my friend. The divine Lord Bhagavan Sri Krishna is inside, and today is the very day that the entire case against God since time immemorial shall be completely and unceremoniously thrown out of court. The trial will begin very shortly.

O: Hey, no kiddin’? [He walks over to the door, opens it, and looks inside.] Wow, my wife will never believe me when I tell her that I’ve actually seen ‘the big guy upstairs’…!

K: No, I don’t imagine that she would.

[Inside the courtroom, every few minutes, an attractive young lady discreetly walks past the place where the indescribably beautiful and charming Krishna is seated. She places her business card on the table in front of Him and whispers: ‘Call me.’] 

…Etcetera. So in regard to our eternal Beloveds Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga-Radha-Govindasundara having invited us to enquire into the numerous ways in which we may perhaps take a deeper dive into the oceanic realm of divine life, this has been experienced by many to be both uniquely individual in nature, while at the same time containing elements which are common to us all, such as a certain deepening in trust and surrender. In his Sri Prapanna-Jivanamritam (‘Vivifying Nectar For Those Who Have Taken Refuge’), verses 1.39-40, Srila Sridhara Maharaja has written:

‘Only from devotional surrender
Comes the disappearance of all the various miseries of the relative world,
The ability to rescue others from those miseries,
The highest state of final beatitude,
And even the attainment of loving companionship with Lord Krishna.
Indeed, all spiritual fulfilment can be attained
by surrender unto Lord Hari alone,
Even by those with an inability
to engage in the various component practices of devotional worship
beginning with the hearing and verbal repetition of His names.’

In relation to what may be considered an aspect of jnana-shunya bhakti (‘knowledge-free devotion’), Sri Krishna had this to say to His dear companion Uddhava in Srimad Bhagavatam verse 11.19.6:

jnanavijnana-yajnena / mam ishtvatmanam atmani
sarvayajnapatim mam vai / samsiddhim munayogaman

By worshipping Me as the true Self within oneself
And offering all acquired knowledge and realisations
to Me who am indeed the Lord of all types of sacrifices,
Inspired sages have arrived at the perfected state of being.

One may justifiably enquire why the offering of all acquired knowledge and realisations is also included in one’s sharanagati, taking full refuge in the Lord, and the answer to that is found in verse 9 of the Isha Upanishad:

andham tamah pravishanti / yevidyam upasate
tato bhuya iva te tamo / ya uvidyayam ratah

They enter into blinding darkness and illusion
who, lacking spiritual knowledge, value what is illusory;
Yet in a certain sense,
Into greater darkness than that do they enter
who are addicted to knowledge.

The word upasate in this verse, referring to those who value what is illusory, presents us with an opportunity for some healthy self-introspection by way of objectively looking within ourselves and simply seeing, in a non-judgmental way, what it is that we truly value, and what our life-orienting values are based upon. It has been experienced by many that such courageous self-investigation has led to some appreciable inner transformation towards the type of conscious and compassionate living which Krishna encourages in His teachings to both Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita and to Uddhava here.

Regarding vidyayam ratah, being addicted to knowledge, within Bhagavad-Gita verse 14.6 Krishna states: ‘Because the clarifying component of Nature (sattva-guna) is pure and illuminating, it binds one up (badhnati) through one’s affinity for knowledge (jnana).’ This occurs because the maintenance of any knowledge within the aggregate cognitive faculty is dependent upon maintaining the perspective of an apparent inner division between the knower, the function of knowing, and the known, and this is generally accompanied by an acceptance of what is temporary and dreamlike to be lasting and real. One identifies oneself as an autonomous entity/doer of action who is doing the acquiring, analysing, assessing, and archiving of information, and one’s perception is further ‘darkened’ by any pride and arrogance which may accompany one’s possession of extensive knowledge or expertise as a scholarly pundit. 

However, a nice example has been offered by those who are awake to their unborn true nature that one who is living unconsciously, afflicted by the ‘thorn’ of lacking knowledge of one’s true nature, can skilfully utilise a second ‘thorn’ of acquired spiritual knowledge to remove the first thorn, and then both thorns can be discarded. In this way, without the inner division and self-misidentification produced by addiction to acquired knowledge, one can then simply derive its purifying and illuminating benefits without falling into the greater darkness mentioned in the aforementioned verse from the Isha Upanishad.

Everything which we think we ‘know’ was learned, including our own names and who our parents were. There are only three things which we never learned from any external sources: that we exist (sat), that we are conscious (chid), and that we feel natural causeless contentment (ananda) when we do not reflexively refer to any memories of what we learned from external sources regarding what that contentment must look like or feel like, or what we must acquire or achieve in order to experience that ever-available unqualified contentment. 

Depending upon one’s sociocultural conditioning, one will experience all of life’s various situations from a particular perspective which will determine whether one feels happiness or despondency in those situations. For example, it has been observed that if people have been enculturated in a social environment where a certain level of financial assets and possessions are considered to represent true success and fulfilment in life, they feel great disappointment if they cannot reach that standard. Yet those who were raised in an environment with little more than the bare necessities of life feel themselves to be extremely blessed to be living so luxuriously with but a fraction of the same standard. And this principle pertains to all the pairs of opposites; not just in relation to finances, but also in regard to consensually-agreed-upon standards of who is beautiful and not beautiful, intelligent and not intelligent, right and wrong, worthy and unworthy, etcetera. When we view ourselves based on certain standards that we’ve been taught to believe in—what should or should not be—we almost always become our own most scrutinizing judges and harshest critics, and thus we miss the natural joy inherent in what simply is.

Prior to all that one learns through sociocultural conditioning is the primal innocence of not knowing what is supposed to bring happiness or disappointment, and so there’s no basis for measuring or judging, exalting or condemning. It is observed, for example, that the very simplest little toy received with utter delight and satisfaction by an infant is generally viewed quite differently just a relatively short time later in the child’s development. Moreover, a careful overview of the Bhagavad-Gita‘s teachings reveals that although there are undoubtedly some verses which encourage an interest in ‘upgrading’ to a better erroneously-assumed self—to one that is sattvic rather than tamasic or rajasic—the Gita‘s most prominently-recurring themes do not promote renovation of the pseudo-self but rather the complete deconstruction of it. This is especially clear from Krishna’s final instruction to Arjuna in verse 18.66, wherein He requests Arjuna to simply surrender with trust, letting go of all of his previous ideas even about what is religious and what is not.

Affectionate Guardians Willing, perhaps on the next ‘leg’ of our journey we can continue conjointly exploring the nature of wondrous, awe-inspiring Consciousness with the question: ‘How might one most efficaciously proceed in authentically embodying and expressing the recognition of one’s timeless unborn nature in a world where we see death occurring all around us on a daily basis and any moment could unexpectedly be anyone’s last?’ Until then, I wish you an unequivocally equanimous day, 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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