Ups and Downs in Krishna Consciousness
by Vishoka dasa
This is the first of a series of writings on the phenomenon of how spiritual consciousness will sometimes fluctuate from divine to mundane, sometimes slightly and sometimes up and down like a yo-yo. All neophyte devotees generally experience this. Even some great devotees may have been recorded to have a temporary cloudy period of life, and I'll give some examples of that later.
Jayananda said one time, "You know, things don't always go just right in Krishna Consciousness, You have to keep chanting.” He said this to Karandhara, as we read:
“At the time, Karandhara couldn't imagine how anything could go wrong in Krishna's service. Years later, however, as he found himself still remembering those words, Karandhara could appreciate the real potency of what Jayananda had said. "So many things may come and go. Just have faith in the Name." (From “Remembering Jayananda” by Kalakantha Dasa.)
It is not so amazing that this happens. If I were not irregular to some degree in devotional service, then I would be a pure devotee. Pure devotees are fixed in constant devotional service without any lapse in service or memory of Lord Krishna. Pure devotees are not sometimes nil in Krishna consciousness and sometimes solid in Krishna’s service, they are always steady in spiritual consciousness.
Some of us have some ebb and flow in our devotion, and are therefore struggling while striving to become pure in devotional service. Sometimes the struggle of the material world really gets to us, like the pain of distress from the body or mind, or sometimes it's petty desires not dovetailed with bhakti-yoga. As householders the problems of raising children, and paying rent, and disappointments in life, with friends, relatives and so on, can be hard on our Krishna consciousness. The pain of the troublesome things that have happened in the movement can distract us from the pure goal. We are advised to follow the example of the gopis, who did their household duties, but only meditating on Lord Krishna while going through the motions of domestic life.
We are hard on ourselves, we judge ourselves severely, especially when we are in a down period of life, which is inevitable for neophytes. Our Krishna consciousness may turn off and on until we become pure devotees who are unalloyed and fixed in consciousness upon Lord Sri Krishna every moment of the day and night.
Until we reach this exalted platform, we may be caught up in some degree of wavering consciousness. If we were all pure devotees, then we would solve our Krishna consciousness social problems in a few days and the movement would expand like it did in the seventies, because pure devotion breeds pure desires to cooperate and serve Srila Prabhupada and his mission, and we would be thus empowered by Lord Krishna and Srila Prabhupada to execute the mission.
We read about Krishna in Srila Prabhupada's books, as much as we can, but mostly it's like a remote viewer. It's like seeing the pastimes from a distance, having perception of a spiritual reality out there in another world. Reading can be sort of like being there, experiencing it, and sometimes I have wondered what it would be like to actually be right there with Krishna in His lila, living the spiritual reality of His holy dhama, and seeing His pastimes first hand, and the following passages are examples of these kind of meditations.
One morning I was listening to a recording of harinama, and hearing the ever-sweet holy names of Radha and Krishna, and somehow I was feeling some deep mood of sentiment, feeling some bliss. Probably feeling some kind of attachment in my mundane life, and some lamentation over my wretched material condition, and was shedding some tears, which seemed to be some kind of transcendental ecstasy.
At that time I was thinking how very nice it would be if I was actually experiencing transcendental bliss from these tears, not from material reasons, and that I was actually hearing and chanting the pure names of Radha and Krishna, suddha-nama, and all Their sweetness of sublime pastimes and forms and qualities were all being manifest within my heart and I was transported to the spiritual world and being engaged in ecstatic service to Their lordships under the expert superintendence of Their exalted servants.
Thus I was relishing the pretending that I had reached the goal of life, tasting the pure name and pastimes and service of Sri Sri Radha Krishna, right there in Their divine abode of Goloka Vrindavan, far far away from the mundane world of illusion.
As such I felt a shadow attachment to the bliss of pure bhakti-rasa, by pretending to be in that divine state of service. It was as if I was actually there, doing the real service. How wonderful was the feeling! But alas, as I plummeted down out of the meditation, down back into the reality of sometimes remembering Krishna, and sometimes not remembering Krishna, it became painfully manifest.
Then, at another time, I was reading the Krishna Book, and for a while I was pretending that I was also there, right there in the pastime of Lord Sri Krishna, with His cowherd boyfriends, in sankhya rasa, playing with balls of amalika fruits in the forest of Vrndavana, and tending His transcendental Surabhi cows, who were decorated with jewels and mineral paints from the minerals of Govardhan hill, and gold plated horns, and bells hanging around their necks by suspension of silk neck ties.
The cowherd boys were running after Krishna, some saying, “I will touch Krishna first,” and another saying, “no, I will touch Krishna before you do.” They were all exquisitely dressed in colorful silken dhotis and waist cloths with buffalo horn and small flutes by which to call the cows, and Sri Krishna would call every single cow by his name, saying “Oh dear Hamsi, dear Candani, dear Mukta, please come with us along the path of the Vrndavan forest,” and Krishna blew His flute and buffalo horn.
Then after a while I was relishing the bliss of Sri Krishna pauganda lila in the forest of Vrindavan and a short while pretending that I had made it to His abode, to Lord Krishna’s eternal road show, traveling from one universe to another, that I had completed my course of bhakti-yoga here on earth, and was successful in my vaidhi bhakti program as given to us by our dear Srila Prabhupada, and I had overcome the klasas and aparadhas and anarthas and had amassed heaps of pious activities by participation in Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement, and thus I was promoted to the next universe where Lord Krishna had moved His dhama and entourage and paraphernalia, and the planet where He had advented to perform His scheduled pastimes, there for the deliverance of those souls who were rotting in material existence.
Thus while pretending to be there and doing that sankhya rasa with Sri Krishna and His friends, I was swimming in pure un-adulterated bliss of Krishna prema, love of Godhead, far far away from the mundane affairs of this material world of Devi-dhama, and after some while the influence of time caused the strength of my pretension to waiver and slacken, and once again I found myself in the doldrums of hackneyed affairs of the hard struggle for existence, in competition with other jiva souls to squeeze out a few drops of pleasure in the harsh desert of this material world.
So, like Jayananda said, it can be hard sometimes, things don't always go the way we like sometimes, but we "have to keep on chanting." And somehow, by the causeless mercy of my divine master Srila Prabhupada, may I have a hope to pray to him and the previous acaryas, may I pray to Jayananda Prabhu and to Lord Nityananda Prabhu, to please help me reach steady Krishna consciousness before time fades away.
praying to be your eternal servant,