Thursday, 25 July 2013

Quality of a Devotee - Simplicity

Srila Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati, the beloved spiritual teacher of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, emphasized that the foundational quality of a true devotee is simplicity. Without this, bhakti cannot be real or deep.

What is simplicity? In one sense it means we don’t need a lot of things to be happy. We are content with simple things. Watching the sunrise, and then waiting some time and watching the sunset. These are very simple joys in life. Hearing the birds singing in the trees, sitting on the banks of a river contemplating messages and the wisdom of nature. Simple relationships – affection is a simple thing. A child by nature is quite simple, especially when they are young. They just want to be loved and to love. Doesn’t cost money but just the simple gifts of life.

Ultimately, when we connect to our love for God and actually realize God’s love for us, there is nothing more satisfying and we can find that satisfaction in whatever situation we are in, and we can be happy. When we are agitated, lonely or bored from within, then we need all sorts of distractions to cope. But the distractions only divert our attention from that emptiness within. They can’t fill the need that we have, and this is a serious problem. Instead of understanding what the real problem is in human society and what we really need and want, we try to find distractions to somehow or other occupy our minds.

In an evolved human society, people love people and they use things. But unfortunately how the world is today, all too often, people love things and use people to get them. That is a symptom of a shallow life. Simplicity can be found in the natural gifts that God has given us. We have developed simplicity when we are happy and we want to share those gifts with others. Experiencing that God consciousness within us and the desire to share it with others through compassion and integrity is true satisfaction because it is receiving love and giving love. When our relationships with each other are based on those principles that is a simple life.

So as technology is spinning and spinning to higher and higher dimensions we have to balance that with what is actually required to have quality in life. Things alone cannot give us quality in life. Appreciation, gratitude for natural gifts, for each other and for God’s grace—that  gives quality in life. And when we use our education and the incredible resources that are available in the world with that spirit we can be instruments of enormously positive change within the world. And making that inner connection to the simple essence of life can be fulfilled by sincerely chanting God’s names. —Radhanath Swami

Devotee Association

SB 4.24.59: The devotee whose heart has been completely cleansed by the process of devotional service and who is favored by Bhaktidevī does not become bewildered by the external energy, which is just like a dark well. Being completely cleansed of all material contamination in this way, a devotee is able to understand very happily Your name, fame, form, activities, etc.


As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.25):
satāḿ prasańgān mama vīrya-saḿvido
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati
Simply by the association of pure devotees one can understand the transcendental name, fame, quality and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has repeatedly said:
'sādhu-sańga', 'sādhu-sańga' — sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-sańge sarva-siddhi haya
(Cc. Madhya 22.54)
Simply by associating with a pure devotee, one becomes wonderfully advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sādhu-sańga, or association with a devotee, means always engaging in Kṛṣṇa consciousness by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and by acting for Kṛṣṇa. Specifically, chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra purifies one, and this chanting is therefore recommended by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam: [Cc. Antya 20.12] by chanting the names of Kṛṣṇa, the mirror of the heart is cleansed, and the devotee loses interest in everything external. When one is influenced by the external energy of the Lord, his heart is impure. When one's heart is not pure, he cannot see how things are related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Idaḿ hi viśvaḿ bhagavān ivetaraḥ (Bhāg. 1.5.20). He whose heart is purified can see that the whole cosmic manifestation is but the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but he whose heart is contaminated sees things differently. Therefore by sat-sańga, or association with devotees, one becomes perfectly pure in heart.
One who is pure in heart is never attracted by the external energy, which urges the individual soul to try to dominate material nature. The pure heart of a devotee is never disturbed when he executes devotional service in the form of hearing, chanting, remembering, etc. In all, there are nine processes one can follow in the execution of devotional service. In any case, a pure-hearted devotee is never disturbed. The bhakti-yoga process must be carried out by avoiding the ten offenses one can commit while chanting the mahā-mantra and the sixty-four offenses one can commit while worshiping the Deity. When a devotee strictly follows the rules and regulations, Bhaktidevī becomes very much satisfied with him, and at that time he is never disturbed by anything external. A devotee is also called a muni. The word muni means "thoughtful." A devotee is as thoughtful as a nondevotee is speculative. The nondevotee's speculation is impure, but a devotee's thoughts are pure. LordKapila and Śukadeva Gosvāmī are also called muni, and Vyāsadeva is addressed as Mahāmuni. A devotee is addressed as muni, or thoughtful, when he purely understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The conclusion is that when one's heart is purified by the association of devotees and by the avoidance of the offenses committed when chanting and worshiping the Lord, the transcendental name, form and activities of the Lord are revealed by the Lord.