The path of spirituality is very confusing in this fast-paced westernised world that we are living in today's times. Majority of people are mostly unaware of the inner search and hardly rare few ones care about finding the actual purpose of life, cause of pains and answers to the deeper meaning of life.
People are often entrapped in worldly affairs, live with depression, and fight so many battles on a daily basis that they don't really have time, energy or right guidance to ponder over inner questions (even though they want these queries answered deep down). Also, very few genuine people are there who can be trusted with the right answers as honesty is very rare in this commercial world that it has become today.
As inspired by Sri Vrindavan Dham and by taking references from Srila Prabhupada teachings, Rasika Vaishnavas and Exalted Saints of Vrindavan, I will attempt to pen a few points that have helped me and my peers in our spiritual pursuit and journey. If you feel inspired from within, you can analyse it in detail, and implement it for yourself as well if you are really seeking confidential aspects of the purpose of human birth.
Beginner's cheat codes in the spiritual path
Acceptance of the fact that I don't know is the eligibility of a sincere student.
Let's say that you are good at something, say computers. Somebody comes and tell his thoughts on the subject which are broken, inconsistent and incorrect. What will be your response? You will be laughing in your head thinking "No no that's not how it is."
Even for normal education or worldly affairs, you need a proper and learned guide (though sometimes it can be from within of course), what to speak of spirituality where you are connecting and searching for the very purpose of life!
Hence, acceptance of the fact that your knowledge is incomplete and inconsistent is the first eligibility for spiritual pursuit. Now comes finding the real answers after you accept that your knowledge is incomplete.
Reading Books from authentic sources
The foundation of spirituality is that we are spirit souls. The soul is Satchidananda (eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss). It can't be created, destroyed or burnt. Its size is 1 / ten thousand times the tip of a human hair! That's not what I am telling but it is directly mentioned in the Vedic Scriptures (precisely in Chaitanya Charitamrita- Madhya 19.140–41).
There are so many births that have taken place. Btw reincarnation is a proven principle in the scientific community and in the intellectual circles (not talking about pseudo-intellectuals). Ian Stevenson, one of the top physiatrist's globally and professor at the University of Virginia has studied more than 3000 cases of reincarnation and proven it scientifically about the transmigration of the soul from one body to other.
Mr William Barnes had a past life visual of a wreckage of a ship and wrote the book Thomas Andrew's Voyage into history. To the surprise of readers who might not believe in reincarnation, Mr Thomas Andres was the principal designer of Titanic and was reborn as William Barnes. In this book, he has written many aspects of Titanic which were not known to the public and were very confidential. All was verified later.
Similarly, there are thousands of cases of people who remember their past lives. It's nothing new as such. Though for the majority of seekers, they don't have an idea of it due to the poor education system where Bhagavad Gita, life's manual is not taught from an early age.
Acceptance of the fact that we are spirit souls is important. If you read Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2 is all about this! It's really beautiful and many new seekers just fall in love with Bhagavad Gita just in a few days of reading this.
My cousin Nikhil was a total atheist and had visited me back in 2014 while I was in Mumbai and yet in my engineering college (ICT Mumbai). This cousin of mine was talking with so much hate and hatred for religion and culture.
In fact, to be honest, I was also one prior to taking to Vedic Scriptures by the mercy of Sri Vrindavan Dham. I read scriptures with the intention of proving this all as a lie and a falsely made up story since I didn't have a strong spiritual foundation from my childhood and was apparently a rebel.
But along the search, I instead got convinced, and then on, the mercy of Sri Vrindavan Dham brought me here.
When I had given him detailed answers (that time I was a lot into research and readings. Now I just write as heard from Rasika Vaishnavas and as inspired from Sri Vrindavan Dham for personal meditation of Srimati Radharani, Krishna and Vrindavan), he took it all in a very positive spirit and took my copy of Bhagavad Gita to explore further. In a week, he calls me up and says that "he is dating the Bhagavad Gita."
Coming to present, this cousin on mine Nikhil had also visited me in Vrindavan recently in November 2019 for 10 days to do an internship here (He is pursuing his MBA currently from TISS Mumbai). This is the power of Bhagavad Gita!
The Vedic Scriptures are special. So many people globally have transformed their lives by digging deeper into our ancient knowledge of exalted saints. The books are endless. Thus it's important to channelise to right books. Srila Prabhupada carried the treasure of spiritual knowledge to the west way back in the sixties and has inspired a legacy all over the globe.
If you feel inspired, I have compiled a list of must-read spiritual books for sincere seekers.
These foundational books are must-read that will help you in the deepest crisis of your life even if you don't take to spirituality seriously.
Associate with pure devotees (difficult to judge) hence only books unless it comes from within
Once the foundation by slowly reading the above-mentioned books is made, you need like-minded people to practice spiritual life and inculcate it in your day-to-day life. Association makes or breaks people. Any transformation requires effort and going into the unknown. In Bhagavad Gita (18.66), Krishna says that "Surrender unto me and I shall protect you." He is assuring. He is always there so there is no question of fear.
However, to find like-minded devotees can also be tough indeed. Don't go by externality of dress and appearance to judge the right company for devotional life. It can't be judged by our limited understanding, hence pray to Krishna to come in the form of sincere premi-devotees so as to help you advance spiritually. Krishna reciprocates the bhav (consciousness) that one prays Him in. He is the most merciful. Pray and you can feel it realtime. It brings inner power.
Until you don't have a good company or Rasika Vaishnavas association, read Srila Prabhupada books and pray intensely to Krishna for right direction and guidance.
Don't look for the good (guna) and bad (avguna) qualities in others
In this material world, mistakes and faults are there in everyone (except for Rasika Vaishnavas). It is very difficult to get over the conditioning of many lifetimes, hence avoid looking for good and bad in others when we know well that we ourselves are full of faults, shortcomings, hypocrisy and make mistakes every other day.
Focus on own spiritual life and enhance the eagerness to know more about the confidential aspects of Vedic Literature, Prema Bhakti and Vrindavan. Pray to Krishna for direction.
Not associating with people who talk non-sense and act as a barrier in our spiritual life
We are whom we stay with. If you are around with people who talk nonsense, you are bound to acquire that. Anybody is the average of 5 people they closely interact with.
Thus, choose to be with Srila Prabhupada books, his lectures, and pure devotees so as to keep thinking about Krishna. Any other work that needs your attention, do it as a service to Krishna, thus you will be automatically giving your best efforts in doing that as you are now doing the same work to please Krishna (Bhagavad Gita 9.35) instead of just completing it for your sake.
Spirituality is simple for the simple.
Read Krishna book
It's very difficult to actually love anybody until you know that person. By reading the Krishna book, you can know Krishna and see how beautiful He is, what are His qualities, what makes Him special and who He actually is!
Once you know a bit about Him, you will understand the magnanimity of His mercy (kripa). It's very difficult to describe in words actually. One needs to read Krishna Book to understand this. It is not ordinary. I beg you to first read Krishna Book once if you haven't.
You can download the Krishna Book from here.
Don't get bewildered
This material illusion (mayadevi) is very strong. Every moment, Krishna makes you go on the transformational path. In your spiritual journey, you will definitely be made aware of weird and surprising facts that will really confuse you and will take you out of spirituality. Basically, there would be thousands of tests and the seeker's spiritual level and faith unto Krishna, and the acceptance of Krishna's very existence will also pop up in the seeker's mind.
Just don't get bewildered at any stage. Even if you get initial doubts, just close your eyes, chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra and pray with utmost sincerity unto Krishna to reveal you the inner reason behind all it. In fact, just focus on prema-bhakti as the more you try to understand the outer world, the more entangled you would become.
Intellectualism till a basic level is good, but as one dives spiritually further, it's all about pure loving reciprocation with Krishna and Radharani in Vrindavan where intelligence doesn't work. Do you use intelligence to live with your brother, sister, mother, father, wife? You are free around them and have a loving reciprocation, what to speak of Krishna who is our eternal father!
This is very difficult to understand for a person who lacks faith and doesn't have enough spiritual credits (karma) from past lives.
Do nama or Hare Krishna Mahamantra
In Kali Yuga, chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the conclusion of all. Every spiritual activity is just to engage us to give conviction that chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the sum and substance of human life.
Do read the internal confidential meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra here (All Vedic References are mentioned there). It will be definitely the most inner treasure that you will be guided to. Do read it whatever it takes!
Don't panic if trouble arises in this path and people criticise you
Every sincere seeker has to burn internally to go on any transformational path. This is a blessing as it will give one the strength to handle the inner treasure they are just inching closer to. Just think that Krishna is coming in this form of a small test. He will test your intent and conviction. Chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra will be a strength in this. Do not fear at all. Be fearless as Krishna is just right behind your back.
And the big secret is that all these tests are just to make us steady in devotion.
Following 4 regulative principles & eating right food (prasad)
The 4 regulative principles (no meat-eating, no intoxication, no illicit activities, no gambling) is the standard to be a human first, then later comes bhakti (spiritual life).
Be sincere and honest (man, vachan, karma)
For the material world, clever, cunning, planning and plotting is an important virtue. But in the spiritual life, being simple (saral) is the sutra and secret key to getting the inner treasure of Harinam (holy names of Divine Couple).
One should be simple, honest, sincere and be aligned in their thoughts (man), words (vachan) and action (karma). Their thoughts (mind), speech (words) and the action should be the same. Not that they are thinking non-sense in mind, but talking big philosophy and acting good in front of others but doing all restricted activities alone.
Talk only of Vrindavan
Talk only of Vrindavan as you advance in bhakti. Just speaking about Vrindavan purifies the consciousness, what to speak when you meditate on Vrindavan passtimes and Krishna by reading Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Krishna Book etc.
Kirtan in the room or travel at all times (Most Important)
This is the endpoint of all search, tapasya (penance), yoga, spiritual practice.
Listening to kirtan 247 is something which alone provides the perfection of devotional life. Read this post on how to benefit maximum by listening to only and only shudh harinam kirtan.
Not glorify or criticise others just by looking at fame and externalities
This material world is a very difficult place for any gentleman. These words are of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada, Guru Maharaj of Srila Prabhupada. Bhagavad Gita straight away tells that this world is dukahayam asaswatam i.e a place full of miseries.
Until and unless one has realised their individual eternal relationship with Krishna and Srimati Radharani (at the stage of prema), one can't be devoid of all anarthas (negative qualities of lust, anger, greed, ego, attachment).
Such exalted Rasika Vaishnav saints are very rare and to find them and seek their guidance requires a lot of mercy of Sri Vrindavan Dham.
Any pure devotee just can't resist talking about Krishna or His qualities in every second sentence. Stay away from seekers who are much into lifestyle, yoga etc. if you really want to dive in the actual vraja-prema-bhakti (what is the real prayojana or goal of chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra). Neither glorify or criticise others by just seeing how the world is appreciating them.
Our success lies when we have fully realised our eternal relationship with the Lord. At that stage, you will realise that it is all Krishna and you are not really on this bodily place at that stage. That comes by a lot of kripa (mercy) and lalsa (desire) for vraja-prema-bhakti. Chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra and listen to kirtan as much as possible rather than getting diverted in glorifying and criticising others.
Listening to the lectures of pure Rasika Vaishnavas who talk about Krishna, Radharani, Mahaprabhu and Vrindavan amplifies the spiritual growth. it destroys anarthas and vikar (negative qualities) troubling deep within. You can find many lectures of Srila Prabhupada and Aindra Prabhu on Youtube.
Vrindavanvas or Residence in Vrindavan
Residence in Vrindavan for sometime in the year (even if for 15 days or as many days you can manage). For those who are interested in shifting to Vrindavan at some stage in life, you must read this to further boost your desire to take Vrindanvas by 1000x. Just thinking or reading about Vrindavan is similar to staying in Vrindavan and helps in attaining prema-bhakti quicker.
Question and seek answers from Krishna
Whenever confused, stuck or if you are unable to get answers, ask Krishna with humility internally. Tell him in prayers, "Hey Krishna, I am fallen and not qualified to do bhakti. Please guide me. I am stuck. I am unable to understand. Please guide me to vraja-prema bhakti."
Surrender in 1 minute
Just accept that Krishna is mine. Radharani is mine. I am Radharani's. I am Krishna's.
Just this simple acceptance will bring magic to your life. Read this post which further elaborates the inner secret behind this big secret.
Srila Prabhupada straight away tells it just takes one minute to surrender and this is Krishna consciousness!
Removing the words disappointment (nirasha) and failure (parastha) from our vocabulary
Spirituality makes you go on a transformational path. You will see the actual face of the world on this journey. Change can be good or bad but the transformation is always positive!
Along this path, there will be moments your mind will give you immense pleasure and there would be immense low points as well. It will burn you literally at times and it will give you incredible bliss at times. Frankly, both are just part of the process until the stage of shudh (pure) prema-bhakti (as described in book Madhurya Kadambini).
Dissociate yourself from the mind. Don't worry as Krishna and Hare Krishna Mahamantra are right there with you and protecting you at all times.
There is no question of disappointment and failure for sincere seekers.
If the mind is troubling you, Rasika Vaishnavas here tell that it is better to sleep rather than falling to the stories and evil plans of the mind. Or if possible, take a trip to Vrindavan. If you can't, put kirtan on full sound and just chant along. An immense power would sprout within the heart right away.
Never feel afraid or dejected that this is not a path for you if the mind begins to trouble you.
Srila Prabhupada is an ocean of mercy. He lived with hippies and transformed them into happies. He carried the only weapon of nama (or Hare Krishna Mahamantra). This kali yuga concludes at nama.
P.S. I have written this article for my own bhajan (spiritual advancement) and as heard from Rasika Vaishnavas in Vrindavan. No way is it meant for anybody else. If you feel inspired by it, Srimati Radharani might be guiding you. Analyse and apply for yourself as Sri Vrindavan guides you internally.
Do not forget to check Advanced Cheat Codes to grow 1000x in spirituality or Krishna Consciousness if you are really looking to dive further in reaching the actual purpose of life.
Jai Jai Shri Radhe!
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