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Why I Joined the Hare Krishna Movement

Page history last edited by Malati Manjari 11 years, 4 months ago

The following talk was given by Srila Acharyadeva in Alachua, FL at a morning program in the house of K. das on February 8, 2009.

 

Listen

 

I was not lonely and just looking for friends, and there were no material reasons. I was explicitly looking for God. By the time I was 16 or 17, I tried out to give a speech at a graduation when I was in High school near the Los Angeles Temple.

 

You are supposed to say all the predictable things. Everyone knows exactly what is to be said at a graduation speech and there is no way I could give one of those speeches. That was at a time where were the first rumblings of the new politics, the Anti-Vietnam and civil rights movements. I was in an educated, liberal community in Los Angeles and I wrote this speech with all the maturity of a 17year old male with a half-grown brain. It repudiated materialism and consumerism and said that the real test of a civilization is developing character, the character of the people, the cultivation of virtue etc. Of course, my speech wasn’t picked.

 

I went to the try-outs and saw that the other speeches were happy and I really got into it and gave all I had, and at the end I wasn’t picked because obviously that wasn’t what they wanted. I had that experience.

 

I suppose dialectically speaking, if everything is going fine, everything is perfect, you don’t really think that much. That was in early 1966 and things were changing in the world. So the next event I remember I was at a party at Venice Beach. I was a regular “fruitive worker,” about 18 years old. Suddenly I had the realization that I wasn’t the body, that the real person is not the body. I was unable to communicate that to the people around me, partly because they were in an abnormal state of consciousness. Then I went off to Berkeley, California. The world was just exploding, at least in Berkeley. There were all these political movements and everything was changing.

After going through all of that, I was in California, and as far as we were concerned, the absolute epicenter of the galaxy because at that time all the new cultural trends were coming from California, and Berkeley was world famous as a political center. There really was a powerful sense of being at the center of history, at the center of everything. I had all facilities, lots of friends and I experienced all the normal pleasures of the material world. At the end of it I was, of course, frustrated. This is going to sound like a Back To Godhead article you have read a thousand times...  I had one experience at a sociology of religions class at Berkeley. We visited different churches and temples, and we had to write a report. I went to a Buddhist temple and a Catholic church, a Protestant church and a Synagogue and the one that I found most ridiculous was a Hindu Swami. He just stood up there, he had a saffron robe and I remember that he kept telling everyone, “Relax, just relax. Everything will be all right. Don’t worry.” I just started laughing and was almost kicked out of the program.

 

I went to Europe with a college friend. In Corfu, Greece, I rode on a motor scooter that somehow went off a cliff and I survived, fell on the right place and I pulled myself back on the road. I had no idea how I got there; it was Krishna.  My friend broke her ankle.

 

I got held up at knifepoint in Morocco, slept under highway bridges in Spanish Morocco, and went to the Arctic Circle.

 

So after doing all of those things I was on a train coming back from North Africa, going back to Madrid, Spain, and I realized, that’s it, that material life really wasn’t worth it. I had gone to Europe originally because I was frustrated with life in California. I thought it was sort of sophisticated animal life and I had this epiphany, a realization one day, while walking across the Berkeley campus. I looked around and everyone looked like an animal because of the whole materialistic society. So I went to Europe and all over, and took a trip to the Arctic Circle, to North Africa and then on a train, I wrote in a little journal that I was keeping that I wanted to go back to Berkeley. I had to stay in school because of the Vietnam War and the Draft, so dropping out of school was not an option. I thought I just wanted to look for God, and that was the purpose of life. I wanted to find God. So when I got back to Berkeley in the new, fall quarter (of the quarter system), every morning I would consciously just try to understand what is God, what is higher consciousness, and who am I. Everyday, while I walked to campus, I would be meditating on these things, very intensely. Then after a few months Prabhupada came to give a talk at UC Berkeley. He spoke at the International House.

 

America was so different back then. When I was a kid we didn’t know the difference between yoga and yoghurt and I lived on the West Coast. It was very simple. At that time, all the international students at UC Berkeley fit into one little building.  In those days in the 60ies, everything was about experience. Prabhupada spoke at the International House. They set up the ballroom for him. So I walked in with some friends past all the folding chairs that were set up and I walk right towards the devotees who were sitting on the floor there, in front of the stage, and I sat down in the middle of the devotees. I thought I want to experience this. I had seen devotees chanting on campus and I saw their shaved heads. The first thing I thought when I saw their shaved heads was that I was a hypocrite because I also professed spiritual values but I knew that I was still vain.

 

One little experience: I took part in all these different demonstrations in Berkeley and in San Francisco. There was a park in Berkeley, five or six blocks from campus on Telegraph Avenue. It belonged to the University of California; it was one city block. The students and the young people, the hippies, took over this park and turned it into a “people’s park” where people started planting their own crops and everything. There was a real generation gap. Ronald Reagan was the governor and the university administration was conservative. So one night, in the middle of the night, the police came and they took over the park. They put chicken wire fencing all around the park, sealed it off, and started building tennis courts for their conservative students. So the students rioted and basically they shut down the university and the National Guard came in. So at that point, when I walked to the university from where I lived, we had to walk past National Guard troops-with fixed bayonets. So finally it came to a head where the students occupied Telegraph Avenue, which is the main street coming from Oakland into the campus. The students occupied Telegraph Avenue and so they brought in these goon squads. The Oakland police in those days were these big, non-thinking guys with all kinds of weapons. They formed this block of National Guard troops and Oakland police and started coming up the street. I have been in enough of these things before. At a certain point, as the students were all here and the guards were all coming up this way, so I just knew-it’s tear gas time. I was not into being tear-gassed at that particular time. I just went off into a little side street and then I heard the tear gas canisters going off and saw the smoke and everything and I sort of walked away. Then I ran into this devotee, Makanlal, who is a very wonderful, ethereal Vaishnava. The summer at Berkeley was like that. Makanlal was chanting with his karatäls. He got them at an Indian import store, these little dinky karatäls. He was followed by eight or nine or ten people, none of whom were dressed from the same century. There were hippies wearing Victorian gowns and some wearing Medieval costumes. It was extremely eclectic. They were not even all singing the same song. Makanlal was chanting Hare Krishna, but there were other mantras and songs going on. So I just followed. I had seen the devotees around, but the presentation was a little hard to decipher. At one point, after the kértan, someone asked Makanlal, “What do you see when you chant?” because it was the psychedelic age. I remember that Makanlal closed his eyes… (And right across street from the campus there was an old cigar store). So Makanlal said, “When we see the cigar store, we do not see a cigar store.” Then someone asked him, “Don’t you guys eat a lot of white sugar?” He said, “Yes, of course many of us will get diabetes but we are not this body.” It was like ‘68 or early ’69.

 

 I liked the Hare Krishnas and then Prabhupada came. I went to his lecture, I was sitting on the floor with the devotees and Prabhupada came in. I’d had that farcical experience with a so-called Indian Swami. I used to go to the Shambala bookstore, which was a big New Age metaphysical bookstore. I would always go there and look through the books.  There were mystic traditions, Sufism, yoga, this guru, that guru, but I could never find anything that seemed practical and got to the point. So I would always go there but never buy anything. Finally I thought after going to this store for so long, I’ve got to buy something. Because I didn’t like anything, I bought the cheapest book I could find, a little 25-cent calendar, which was Yogananda’s teachings on yoga. It taught meditation and moving the cakras.  It was entry level. I was 19 year old, so I was “legally insane”. I thought that when I do meditation, I need to be wearing an Indian kurta. I thought I wanted to really be natural, so I am going to make an Indian kurta (like I said, we now know that male brains don’t solidify until years later). I went into the store on Telegraph Avenue and bought some kind of Muslin cloth, and thread. In those days you could do anything in Berkeley. Even as late as 1980 when I was temporary GBC of Berkeley some of the devotees, two ladies, had a cow costume. One of them was the head of the cow and the other was the back. They walked down Telegraph Avenue as a cow, giving out invitations. And the funny thing is, literally not a single person even turned their head.

 

Anyway, my short project lasted for about 15 minutes and then I gave it to a girl I knew. Then one day after lunch – that was my big mistake - I went to this meditation. After three minutes I fell asleep and was snoring. I thought that’s it.  It’s not practical.

So I had all these experiences and then when Prabhupada came my first impression was that this person actually has authority to command, because in those days we didn’t take our parents that seriously.  The university, the government, was a joke because they were in Vietnam. So there was no authority that anyone took that seriously, at least among the young people. So my first impression of Prabhupada was, he is actually an authority. He came in, and he was walking very seriously and surrounded by, I think, Viñëujana and Tamal Krishna. They were all as if in military discipline. They were all so serious. They walked up on the stage. Prabhupada sat on the vyäsäsana and the kértan started. I was chanting with the devotees and then they got so ecstatic because Prabhupada was there. They were jumping and dancing. I had never seen ecstatic religious activity before.  I wasn’t a Holy Roller. It was almost disorienting to be in the middle and see all these devotees jumping and dancing. I wasn’t feeling that much ecstasy. Somehow in my heart I knew that the reason is that I am not practicing any discipline. I haven’t earned it. I understood that they earned the happiness they were feeling whereas I hadn’t earned it. Then Prabhupada got off the vyäsäsana and began dancing and jumping in ecstasy and the devotees went totally berserk. I remember getting so disoriented because there were bodies flying around me. They were on the floor, on the walls, on the ceiling; there were bodies flying everywhere, wild with ecstasy. I was in the middle of all of it.

 

Then the kértan ended and Prabhupada gave a lecture. I thought it was the best lecture I had ever heard in my life even though I couldn’t have repeated two words if you had asked me afterwards. Although I remember vaguely that he had said something like, if you just read Bhagavad-Gita, then you will understand all Vedic literature. I thought that was great, although I had no idea what Vedic literature was, but somehow it just resonated with me. After Prabhupada’s lecture I just wanted to spend the rest of my life chanting Hare Krishna. I didn’t know why. To show you what Berkeley was like back then. That was 1969. They were giving out souvenirs from the program, these little psychedelic “black light” posters of Närada Muni. They were bright blue, black and red and you had to put a black light on it (to see the effect). The first time I had seen the Hare Krishna mantra, someone just handed me a card as I walking in the park. It said just chant these names and your life will be sublime. When I read the word “Krishna” I felt spiritual ecstasy. But after seeing Prabhupada at different times, when I was walking home from some mundane encounter I suddenly started chanting Hare Krishna. It was amazing. In Berkeley, the last two days before everyone went home for the summer. I was leaving Berkeley too, going home to Southern California, Beverly Hills where my family was. I was just walking around Berkeley one day and this huge pick-up truck was snaking its way through the city and just inviting people to jump on the back of the truck. They were taking us to Tilton Park, this beautiful park at the top of the Berkeley Hills overlooking the city, where they had a huge; free Rock’n’Roll concert. So I just jumped on the truck with all these young people. We went to the meadows up there and they were setting up these huge speakers. They were as big as a seven-story building. It was a super hippie Be-In type of thing. So Makanlal got permission from one of the organizers to chant Hare Krishna before all the music started. They had all these sophisticated instruments and speakers and he just had his little karatäls and had definitely been blessed with more sincerity than musicality. So he stated singing and while he was singing they were tuning up their guitars. I thought this guy really has guts. He must believe in what he is doing because musically he was like … In those days no one knew the Hare Krishna movement. It was a super hippie New Age time. So after Makanlal chanted he was strolling through meadows in his dhoti and all kinds of people were following him like he was a pied piper, thinking he was some kind of sadhu. He was very “sadhuesque”. So I went up to him and said in the true spirit of the time, “Isn’t everything beautiful?” So then he said to me, “Just think how beautiful the source of everything is.” Just hearing those words, “the source of everything,” I was actually stunned and just stood there, thinking for a few minutes about what he said.

 

The last night before I was leaving Berkeley I just met this young guy and his wife. He had just come from the University of Virginia to do some kind of summer school program. So we became friends. In those days there were sort of like safe houses. You could tell just by looking at the house that it was a hip house, just by the fact that they had weird cloth hanging from the windows, sort of like curtains. We could tell. You could almost go into any one of those houses and just spend the night or eat or do anything. It was this completely free, open culture. You could go practically to any city in America, especially college towns, and there would be neighborhoods and places and houses where you could just walk in and live there. That was the mood then. So we became friends.  He was very open and the last night I was showing him and his wife or girlfriend around Berkeley. We ran into devotees, chanting. So I said, “come on, let’s do this.” I liked to chant. As we chanted with the devotees it was a very ecstatic experience. In retrospect it seems a little unusual, but somehow as I was chanting – I had no idea what the philosophy is – but somehow I understood that Krishna is this very attractive being that had come down into the universe in the form of His name to save everyone. I began chanting and dancing really ecstatically and when I finally stopped the devotees all came up and embraced me, one by one.

 

Then I went back to L.A. with my family for the summer and I told them, “Let’s go to the Hare Krishna temple” and there were no takers. Even when I was in Berkley, at least 10 times I had set out on Sunday to go to the Sunday program in San Francisco, but I never made it. We were just so spaced out at that time. Every Sunday I would set out to walk to the bus stop and take the bus to San Francisco. I got distracted every time, but in L.A. I was forced to be more regulated because I was living with my family. So I decided to join the Hare Krishna temple, and I couldn’t find it and then I ran into the devotees on Harinäm on sunset strip. Somehow they sold me a pack of lime incense, Spiritual Sky incense, which I immediately gave away to a friend. They had all these weird flavors. I ran into the Harinäm party twice. One time a cousin of mine, a teenage girl, was visiting us from the East Coast. All the relatives decided that I should show her around. I was deputed to show her around the city. I took her to sunset strip where all the young people hang out, and we ran into the Harinäm Party. I got her to chant and I was chanting and even then I wondered whether I should go into the ”chorus line” and chant with the devotees. Then I decided not to because then all these other people will think I am one of them, and somehow that will get them to chant.

 

Another time we drove out, with a bunch of my friends, past Malibu beach. We spent the evening there and on the way back we decided to stop on Sunset strip, and we ran into the Harinäm Party again. I think it was Garga Muni who sold me a pack of lime incense, against my will. So I wanted to go to the temple but couldn’t get anyone to go with me. One day while I was walking, I ran into the Hare Krishna temple, which was on La Cienega Boulevard before it moved to Watseka Avenue. There was another friend of the family, another teenage girl, and I was walking her home. So we stopped in. It was an old wooden church where you would walk in the back.  It was facing the street and you walk in and there was this little lobby, and then you would enter into the Sanctuary. So we walked in through these doors and I stopped in this lobby and looked out a little bit above the sanctuary. The devotees were all sitting there. Prabhupada was in Los Angeles at the time living in Beverly Hills in the same little neighborhood that I was. He was writing the Krishna Book. As he would dictate it, a devotee would transcribe it and the devotees in LA would get a copy of the transcription and they would read it to the devotees. I think they had just gotten literally the first chapter. I walked in, probably when they did the first reading in history of the first chapter of the Krishna Book. I was in the back and they read the story of the birth of Krishna and what struck me back then was that it sounded like Jesus in the sense that it was a sacred birth, but it was much more positive and opulent. Krishna had jewels on His body. So I listened to the birth of Krishna and then I left. The devotees never knew I was there because I was in the back and I left because the girl I was taking home didn’t want to stay. So I brought her home and thought I am not bringing her back here again.

 

So then I started going to the Hare Krishna temple and Viñëujana, Tamal Krishna and different devotees would preach to me. I still remember my first Simply Wonderful. It explodes in your mouth. One of the first times I went into the temple they were taking prasädam. I was just a 20-year old guy. The guys were sitting here and the girls were sitting here, and I just walked in and sat down in the first place I saw, and then someone came and tapped me on the should and said, “no, the guys are over here.”

The very first time I came to the temple, after that Krishna Book reading, everyone was gone out on sankértan except Umäpati, who was a brahmacäré. So he sat down and started preaching. He told me the story of “liquid beauty,” how the body is just stool and urine. So my first impression was, when I heard the words that you are not this body, I actually felt my material life collapse. Then, when he talked about stool I gave an argument, in a sense the same argument that Lord Chaitanya gave His mother when He was sitting on a trash heap (and eating clay).

I said to Umäpati that because of our conditioned consciousness we distinguish between things. Something is stool and something else is attractive, but actually it is all made of the same molecules and atoms. So from the atomic or molecular perspective it is all the same. It is only our consciousness that convinces us that it is different. To which Umäpati said, “that’s nonsense”. I remember thinking “whatever.”  I wasn’t sure that his argument was philosophically that sound – that’s nonsense – but I thought it probably is nonsense anyway if I worked it out. And also, because I really respected the devotees because I saw that they were really spiritual practitioners. So I thought it better to respect him, so I didn’t pursue the argument.

 

I once wanted to buy a bead bad and someone said, “We haven’t got any,” and then Keshava said, “Oh yes, we have.” Someone had just thrown one out in the trash and he went out and got it and sold it to me for a few bucks.

 

So I stated going to the temple and everyone was preaching to me. TKG, Tamal Krishna Goswami, he was The Closer – like in a car dealership. He was the temple commander and in those day the temple commander really was the commander. He was in charge of the temple.  Now it just means the “mandir gofer”.

 

I used to drive my mother’s car, a green Dodge Dart, which was a normal car back then. I used to go to the temple and drive Tamal Krishna, Vishnujana and other devotees down to Hollywood Boulevard to do Harinäm and back home. Visnujana would be preaching to me.

 

So TKG sat down with me one time and he said, “So, you are liking this Krishna Consciousness?” And I said, “Yes.” “So, you’re thinking of joining us? And I said, “Well, yeah, I guess. Maybe I will become a devotee.” To be perfectly honest, I was totally attracted to Krishna Consciousness but I was thinking that I really didn’t want to move into the ashram. So then TKG said, “So, and you are going to join here in LA, right?” And I said, “Well, I don’t think so.” Because I come from this very tight family and if I would have joined in LA it would be like this big mushroom cloud going up and I knew all hell would break loose. So I didn’t want to be the elephant in the water with the crocodiles.   So I thought I would go to back Berkeley and join there to get some distance. I didn’t want the full press from the family. So he was really upset by that because he was The Closer. I remember that was the first time I got chastised. Everyone else was giving me the royal treatment. He said to me, “That’s duality.” “Maybe it is duality, but I still don’t want to go through it.”

 

If you know me, I am not the biggest mystic in the movement. I am more the rational kind, but I did have these legitimate experiences. I started thinking that “I want to be a devotee, but I don’t want to move into a temple. Maybe I’ll just take my time before I formally join them and keep chanting Hare Krishna.” I also got a Bhagavad-Gita, As It Is. I just loved it. I used to study different philosophies and then when I read that Prabhupada said that we are qualitatively one with Krishna and quantitatively different, I just shouted out “Eureka!” I just knew, this is it, this is the Absolute Truth. I just knew it. So I kept reading the Gétä and my family started getting a little concerned because I was a little too interested in the Hare Krishna movement. So we took our last family vacation – at least the last I went on – to Lake Gregory, just west of Lake Arrowhead. It is a big resort area, about 70 miles eat of LA, 5000 feet up in the mountains. So we were driving up these mountains and you could see 30 or 40 miles down, and everyone of my family was saying, “Wow, that is really beautiful” and I was reading the Bhagavad-Gita in the back and I was saying something like “That is the inferior energy.” So I was thinking that I don’t know if I formally want to join because I like my freedom – I think I still do. Then I went to bed one day and then I woke up and I saw this effulgent jeweled crown in front of me. I said, “Krishna?” Then it became really, really glowing and I just thought, “Alright, I’ll join.” So that’s how I realized, ok, maybe I’ll join the Hare Krishna movement. Has anyone ever seen the movie “The Graduate?” It is about this guy who lives in Beverly Hills and then he goes to Berkeley. So my life is kind of like that. There is no Mrs. Robinson in my life, but I lived in Beverly Hills and then I went back to Berkeley. It was that whole lifestyle. So I was going back to Berkeley with this Volkswagen bus with all these friends from LA. We were about eleven guys, boys and girls. This was 1969. We were supposed to leave in the morning and left in the afternoon. I was sitting all the way in the back of the VW bus, just chanting japa. I did not stop chanting the whole way there. Even before then I would chant japa. I would go to the same parties and go out with my friends, but I would just be sitting there, chanting Hare Krishna, thinking, “You are all in mäyä”. One time I was driving with some of my friends and I just thought, “Stop the car, Krishna is over here.”

I was in ecstasy. I told all my friends, this is the highest philosophy. They said “Why?” and I said, “I don’t know yet, but I just know it is. I will tell you later.” So we were going back to Berkeley and I was just chanting for eight or nine hours. It was a six hour drive, but every 45 minutes or so, someone had to go to the bathroom and we were going 20 or 30 miles an hour, sometimes up hills. So when I finally got to Berkeley I just wanted to find the devotees, but it in was in the middle of the night. Someone knew someone, and so we went to a big old Victorian Hippie-House and all crashed out there. Before we went to bed someone brought out this brand new shipment of hashish, and I was just sitting there, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna…” I woke up around 8 o’clock and was mad to find the devotees. I went down the street and no one knew where the temple was, but then someone said that they were chanting down at the campus. So I ran down Telegraph Avenue, and just literally leaped into the Harinäm party. That’s how I joined the Hare Krishna movement.

 

The first day when I moved in, I was walking down the stairs of the temple. They had a picture of Krishna on the wall. I looked at that picture and suddenly Krishna gave me this incredibly ecstatic experience of Himself, so much so that I just became mad with ecstasy. I ran down the street and was stopping cars, telling them to chant Hare Krishna. The next day I started organizing preaching programs in the temple. You can see that I was very timid.

 

Question: What keeps you trying every day, what keeps you a devotee?

 

A: What keeps me a devotee is that it is true, the Absolute Truth. We actually are not the body. To me, ultimately and in my more lucid moments, it seems stupid to live life pretending you are something you are not. It is my own sense of integrity. Why do I want to be ignorant? Why do I want to see something that is not really true? These basic things you’ve heard so many times, like that the material world is temporary. So as you get older, and actually, it doesn’t take very long to get older... I am in my forth quarter now. I don’t want to fumble the ball in my forth quarter.

 

Krishna really is the Greatest. I have never met anyone that can compare to Krishna. Why do you (not) want to jump off abridge or cook your food in motor oil? Because it is stupid. What inspires me is, I think I have a higher taste. In my own conditioned, limited way I think I really do love Krishna and I really want to be with Krishna. I don’t want to die a shameless death, like a foolish animal, afraid of what is going to happen to me and what is it like on the other end? When I leave this body I already want to be on the other end. I am inspired by the example of Dadhéci Muni who made the ultimate donation to the Hare Krishna movement: He gave his body because they needed his bones to make a thunderbolt to slay Våträsura. (SB 3.6.9) I don’t know what kind of bones he had. It is said that when he gave his body he was so Krishna conscious, he didn’t even notice that he lost his body. Imagine you are in a really ecstatic kértan and when the kértan is over you realize that your chaddar fell off because you were dancing. In the same way Dadhéci Muni literally didn’t notice that he lost his material body because he was Krishna conscious. Prabhupada said if you are Krishna conscious, you don’t loose consciousness at the moment of death. So I want to make my passing with my eyes open. I want to be fully conscious. I already want to be there and I want to let go of my material body as you let go of an article of clothing. I don’t want to be like a frightened animal when I leave this body. After all my life experience, and growing up, in a sense, in the Hare Krishna movement.  I joined when I was 20. I have been doing this for forty years and I made up my mind. I know what I want, I know why I want it and I am going to go for it.

 

Everything that I can possibly desire is really in Krishna and everything is Krishna. I want to see Krishna and I want to be with Krishna because everything else is absurd, basically.

 

Q: Your advice?

 

Anyone of us can choose to become an enthusiastic, fired up Krishna conscious devotee and it is irrelevant what your present state of Krishna consciousness is. I don’t mean to say that we can artificially give up things that are crazy to give up. There is an amazing verse in the Bhagavatam, which is at first completely counter-intuitive and paradoxical, but if you understand this verse I think it unlocks the secret to having a great life: It is a verse Prabhupada often quoted from the 2nd Canto:

 

akämaù sarva-kämo vä

mokña-käma udära-dhéù

tévreëa bhakti-yogena

yajeta puruñaà param

 [SB 2.3.10]

 

Whether you are akäma, if you have no material desires, or sarva-kama, if you have every material desire, or mokña-käma, if you are a Salvationist and want to save your eternal neck, udära-dhéù, if you are broad-minded or thoughtful, then, tévreëa bhakti-yogena

yajeta puruñaà param with intense devotional service, you should worship the Supreme Person, Krishna. The obvious question is how can the Bhagavatam give the same instruction to people who are on absolutely diametrical opposite ends of the spectrum? The answer is quite simple: all that “surrender to Krishna” means is that you trust Krishna, that He is not a religious fanatic and He is not crazy, and that He will give you a practical program.

In the early days of the movement, to surrender meant to give up all your material things and a big chunk of your common sense and you moved into a Hare Krishna temple and placed your life absolutely in the hands of some young person who probably needed some form of medication. In the old days of the Hare Krishna movement, that was it, but that is not what surrender means. There is this urban legend, in Hare Krishna movement, that this dramatic act of giving up everything and putting yourself at the feet of the ecclesiastical authorities, somehow that act is the paradigmatic surrender. That was one form of surrender within a historical time and people may still feel a call to something like that, but that is not what surrender means. All it means is that you put yourself in Krishna’s care knowing and trusting that Krishna is very practical.

 He knows what your limits and talents are and He will create for you a customized, individualized perfect program for you life based on who you are, and that Krishna is not going to burn you out, He is not going to frustrate you so that you go back to the spiritual world grumbling and complaining. You can’t go back to the spiritual world thinking, “what if I would have just married her instead?” The idea is that Krishna does not want to bring you back to the spiritual world as a frustrated person who has suppressed all kinds of desires. He knows the only way to get you there is if you have worked through all your desires and you come to a mature, free decision that I don’t want this, I want that. The ironic thing is that people who don’t surrender to Krishna…are not thinking, because if you give yourself to Krishna your material desires will be satisfied more effectively and in a more interesting way than if you try to do it yourself. And you won’t become degraded and you will go back to Krishna. So to surrender to Krishna simply means you trust that He is not an idiot, He is not a religious fanatic. He knows what He is doing and if you give yourself to Him He will arrange to satisfy your material desires much better than you could. You will remain on the spiritual platform and become purified and Krishna Conscious. That’s all surrender means. It doesn’t mean moving here or there, giving up this or that. It just means trusting Krishna and allowing Him to create a program for your life.

 

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