Monday, February 11, 2013

don't try to pretend to be something that you are not

Verse 2.11: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.

As soon as Arjuna seeks shelter from Krsna as his student, the relationship changes. Although the love and affection is still there, Krsna immediately takes on the role of teacher and spiritual guide. And what is his first words? A chastisement.

Krsna immediately identifies the root of Arjuna's confusion and anxiety- his identification with the material body and not the eternal spirit soul. Note how Krsna does not waste any time. Interestingly, Krsna is also subtly scolding Arjuna. Arjuna is posing himself as a learned man spouting off all kinds of philosophy and Krsna is saying, "Why are you posing yourself as someone who is learned when you yourself are in anxiety? A learned person is one who knows the difference between matter and spirit."

This is actually a very important point, not just for anyone who wants to share spiritual knowledge but for one who is looking for guidance and a teacher to learn under. In this day and age it is very easy to propound oneself as an expert or guru. All you need to do is a little research, have some charisma and boom! You're revered.

Krsna is warning Arjuna of that here: don't try to pretend to be something that you are not. This requires some introspection and a warning that you may not like what you find. Most of us would like to think that we are honest and genuine. However, as aspiring bhakti yogis, it is not sufficient to just assume that we are filled with good qualities. The path of bhakti is one that actually reveals to us our shortcomings and gives us the process by which we can overcome them.

Upon introspection, one may find that sometimes the tendency does come up to embellish one's own qualities. I mean, who doesn't like to be asked for their opinion? There's nothing wrong with giving an opinion or advice in and of itself. It's the mood and consciousness that really matters. If anyone is in any position to give spiritual guidance, it is always the most important thing to give credit where it is due.

Although I try to write something on the Gita everyday, I always try to do so in the mood of an instrument. On my really good days, I'm overwhelmed with the feeling of feeling very tiny and incompetent. It's wonderful because I finally can realize the import of a beautiful prayer that is oftentimes spoken before a speaker gives a discourse on bhakti yoga:

mukam karoti vachalam
pangum langhayate girim
yat-kripa tam aham vande
shri-gurum dina-taranam

The translation to this verse is as follows: "I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual teacher, the deliverer of the fallen souls. His mercy turns the dumb into eloquent speakers and enables the lame to cross mountains."

This attitude helps to put one in their rightful place. That of an instrument. Any spiritual understanding or realization we may experience only comes from the blessings of one's spiritual teachers' and Krsna. We ourselves can't do anything, but with the power of blessings we can do anything.

Similarly, the sincere student should always look for the appropriate qualities in a teacher. Don't let yourself be fooled by a vibrant and eloquent speaker who glorifies their own self. A true lover of God will always look upon themselves as a recipient of God's grace and feel themselves to be very low. Despite their humility, their actions will always reflect their true dependence on God and his empowerment. Practically, the manifestation of that empowerment will be felt by how they inspire and empower you.

That is a real bhakti yogi and a true teacher who can help us to not only love God but teach others to love God as well.

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