Instructions to the devotees of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement.
New York City, March 31, 1974
by His Holiness Viṣṇujana Svāmī
His Holiness Viṣṇujana Svāmī, joined the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement in San Francisco in 1967. He has recently returned to the U.S. from India, where he sailed down the Ganges, stopping at towns and villages along her banks to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, distribute food first offered to Kṛṣṇa and preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
"One may artificially repress the desires of the senses, although the taste for sensual enjoyment remains; but by ceasing such enjoyments, experiencing a higher taste, one is fixed in consciousness." (Bhagavad-gītā 2.59)
When one experiences ruci, which, means a taste for Spiritual life, he can rise above the attraction of the illusory energy by the mercy of the Lord. Then he is able to feel vairāgya. Vairāgya is the strength that protects us, even when we are neophytes in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, from breaking the Kṛṣṇa conscious regulative principles and being attracted to the flickering sensual enjoyments of the mundane world. Ruci, and vairāgya–the taste for spiritual life and the strength to maintain it–are rarely achieved.
If you had a huge diamond and were carrying it around with you on the street, people might flock to see such a diamond. Ruci and vairāgya, however, are much more valuable diamonds. But although you are all walking through the streets with these valuable gifts, unfortunately no one is interested, in following you to take advantage of them. Ruci and vairāgya are such wonderful gems, however, that if you give them away to others, these gems will still stay with you. No one has everseen diamonds you can give to everyone and still keep with you at the same time. But that is the value of ruci and vairāgya, the taste for spiritual life and the energy to be protected from the pull of māyā.
One can achieve a spiritual taste and spiritual strength by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, and to understand how this works is a great science. By the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, one gets the association of a guru. Kṛṣṇa is living with us–with all living entities, or jīvas–in the form of the Paramātmā, the Supreme Soul. This Supreme Soul accompanies every living entity as he wanders throughout the 8,400,000 species of life in his vain search for happiness. This Supersoul is a great friend–actually the only friend– of the living entity, and He arranges to fulfill the desires of His friend, the tiny living being, regardless of whether they are perverted or pure.
This Supreme Soul, however, is always waiting for the small jiva soul to turn to Him in love and affection, leaving aside the false happiness of the material body. He knows that some day the tiny soul will want to get out of material entanglement. This may happen because of frustration with painful experiences, because of a desire to achieve financial stability, because of curiosity, or because of wisdom (these are four major reasons why one turns to Kṛṣṇa consciousness) ; but when the Supersoul sees that the tiny jīva soul is turning towards Him, towards the Absolute Truth, He gradually directs him, purifies him, and gives him the association of a great bhakti-vedānta, or devotee of the Lord.
As soon as one gets the association of the bhakti-vedānta, the pure devotee or spiritual master, and hears from his lips the nectarean waves flowing just like the wonderful River Ganges, these waves enter his ears and his heart and purify him. Thus he is freed from the seeds of contaminated material desires. When he hears sufficiently, his intelligence becomes satisfied, and he agrees to act on the instructions of his bona fide spiritual master. The more he acts on these instructions, the more he becomes freed from past bad habits and the conditional responses of this material world. Thus his conditional association is completely vanquished. This, of course, is where he achieves a spiritual taste (ruci) and spiritual strength (vairāgya).
When one develops a taste for associating with pure devotees and carrying out their orders, one is able to see things as they are. In the beginning, the spiritual master instructs the disciple about the misery of this material world.
We should never minimize the importance of hearing how miserable this material world is. Bhagavad-gītā explains that one should always hear about the flickering nature of the mundane world. One should constantly remember how much suffering is here. Otherwise one may be attracted again, if one is not sufficiently aware of the miseries of material existence, one might still be attracted by its false beauty. But when one can actually see the plain fact of material saṁsāra, the cycle of birth and death, this acts as a great stimulus for spiritual life. This is why, whenever Śrīla Prabhupāda lectures, he always tells us, "This world is full of miseries. Even the body causes you misery. You may serve your senses like a dog or an ass, but the senses are bad masters that won't give you any payment for your service." He reminds us over and over again. Why? Because this is a stimulus for spiritual life.
One might think, "Well, I don't need to hear this any more. I've heard it over and over again. Let me now just hear about the superior, spiritual energy of the Lord." If one makes this error, he will also mistake the spiritual pastimes of the Lord for material pastimes and fall down again into material activities, thinking that they are equal to the activities of the Lord. Unless one hears about his precarious position as a tiny spiritual being in this material world, he will actually continue his propensity to think himself as good as the Lord, and to think his activities and pastimes equal to the Lord's. Therefore one should never fail to hear sufficiently, daily, about the miseries of material existence.
There is no happiness here in this material world. Whatever is taken as happiness but is not connected with the Lord has no value. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says, "Know it to be only a shadow of reality, only a shadow of happiness." Śrīla Prabhupāda gives the example that a foolish animal runs away from an actual reservoir of water to chase a mirage in the desert, and thus it dies. Similarly, all of us have left the nectarean pastimes of the Lord, and now we are trying to enact perverted pastimes in this material world. Thus we are simply stranded in the dry sands of material life, and we are suffering. Our suffering is so acute that it dulls our senses, so much so that we cannot even perceive that we are suffering. The material energy is so cruel that it will make one think that suffering is happiness.
Therefore it is our duty to travel and preach about the material energy, the spiritual energy and the controller of both–Kṛṣṇa. Hearing these descriptions, people will gradually be able to see their position. The material energy will force them to see their position, and then they will remember, "Oh, this was told to me long ago by the devotees of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement. I should have listened to them then." At that time they will come to us. When the material energy forces them to remember what we have been telling them for so many years, what they have read in Back to Godhead for so many years–when it forces them to see this truth of material suffering–then they will come to us. Śrīla Prabhupāda has said that the time is coming in the world when there will be so much chaos that people will be forced to come to us. Then we must be able to gradually turn them towards Kṛṣṇa consciousness and engage them in Kṛṣṇa's devotional service.