In other words, the goals and worldviews of a devotee following the path of bhakti are different from a person aiming for a happy life in sense gratification. In fact, they may be as different as day is from night. This day-night principle accompanies us through all aspects of our spiritual journey – what comprises success in spiritual life is undesirable in material pursuits. And what is seen as success in material life may very well turn out to be the lowest when it comes to our devotional practice.
Naturally, this fundamental truth is also reflected in married life. We can imagine mundane family life being on one end of the spectrum, and family life as an ashrama on the other. And in between is a broad range of all kinds of mixtures, shades and grades, depending on how much we aspire to embrace Krishna’s recommendations to shape our life as a householder.
If we aspire to become true spiritualists and desire to experience family life as a powerfully purifying journey in cultivating pure bhakti, then those values, habits, priorities and goals of mundane family life, aiming at merely enjoying sense gratification, will have to eventually become our night. This process of Krishna consciousness is meant to bring about such a paradigm shift. It is meant to transform our lifestyle, worldviews, tastes; our likes and dislikes, and our habits and patterns of behaviour – ultimately our very heart, so that it becomes a suitable sitting place for pure devotion to Krishna.
If this change of heart does not take place, our spiritual practice may remain shallow and superficial – just external. It will not bring about pure bhakti. In fact, we’d be committing the tenth offence to chanting the holy name: to maintain material attachments even after hearing many instructions on this matter. Through such a practice, we cannot receive the full benefit of chanting Hare Krishna. And let’s be honest, we feel comfortable in our mundane habits and lifestyle, tightly hanging onto that culture and unwilling to let go of it.
Nonetheless, such transformation is a gradual process and may take many years, even generations, in order to arrive at the point where most devotees’ family life is an ashrama – a lifestyle fully conducive to developing pure bhakti. We are only now embarking on this gradual, transformational journey within our society of devotees.
Vaishnava culture is Krishna’s culture – the culture of the spiritual world. Even in Goloka Vrindavan, the associates of the Lord act according to the nature of the transcendental bodies they have been awarded, and follow the Vaishnava etiquette and culture. Krishna exemplifies this when dealing with His seniors, equals and juniors in loving exchanges. Therefore, we should be keenly interested in learning how our philosophy is meant to be lived in our daily life – naturally and spontaneously. After all, we are not only meant to learn and repeat our philosophy, but also apply it in our practical life. Only then will it have a transformational effect on our heart, and will eventually qualify us to enter the spiritual world.
On the 31st of May I moved on to my next destination - the Rupanuga Vedic College in Kansas City...
Your servant, Devaki dd