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Feb 2008

A Newsletter from His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami


1 The Devotee Is Unaffected by Calamities
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

2 Going Beyond the False Ego


by His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami

3 The Inferiority Complex of False Prestige


by Bhuta Bhavana dasa

4 Devotee Spotlight: Balarama Candra dasa A Devotee Is Unaffected by Calamities


by the Editors by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

This material world is certified by the Lord in the Bhagavad-


gita as a dangerous place full of calamities. Less intelligent
persons prepare plans to adjust to those calamities, without
knowing that the nature of this place is to be full of calamities.
They have no information of the abode of the Lord, which is
full of bliss and without trace of calamity. The duty of the sane
person, therefore, is to be undisturbed by worldly calamities,
which are sure to happen in all circumstances. Suffering all
sorts of unavoidable misfortunes, one should make progress
in spiritual realization, because that is the mission of human
life. The spirit soul is transcendental to all material calamities;
therefore, the so-called calamities are called false. A man may
see a tiger swallowing him in a dream, and he may cry for this
calamity. Actually there is no tiger and there is no suffering;
it is simply a case of dreams. In the same way, all calamities
of life are said to be dreams. If someone is lucky enough to
get in contact with the Lord by devotional service, it is all
gain. Contact with the Lord by any one of the nine devotional
services is always a forward step on the path going back to
Prahlad Maharaja remaining fixed in meditation on the Lord. Godhead.

Teachings of Queen Kunti: Chapter 8


1
in the world, is the perfect stage of Krsna consciousness…
Real desirelessness is desire for the satisfaction of Krsna,
not an artificial attempt to abolish desires. The living
entity cannot be desireless or senseless, but he does have
to change the quality of the desires. A materially desireless
person certainly knows that everything belongs to Krsna
(isavasyam idam sarvam), and therefore he does not falsely
claim proprietorship over anything.
Bhagavad-gita 2.71, Purport
Going Beyond the False Ego
by His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami Srila Prabhupada explains above that we do not become
So many people on the spiritual path never go beyond desireless or free of identity, but it is a matter of reclaiming our
the false ego and, therefore, they can only access a certain actual, genuine identity. However, to claim our real identity,
level of God consciousness. The false ego is still a part of the we have to lose our false identity. These false identifications
mahat-tattva, a part of the imprisonment, and it prevents a distract us from claiming our real identity. Along these lines, I
person from really experiencing their highest manifestation. would like to discuss the importance of losing oneself to gain
The false ego has so much to do with misidentification and oneself or acting with the end in mind as a way to address the
selfishness. It deals with aham mameti—what I desire, what I false ego. It is not such an unusual notion because, if we look
want, what I feel I should experience. In its essence, false ego closely, we will see that we do this for our own priorities, but
is unequivocally the most difficult problem for any spiritual we have difficultly doing it for the Lord.
seeker. To the degree that one transcends false ego, to that Consider the behavior of a musician. If such a person is
same degree one will develop awareness of their divine, just caught up in thinking about what other people are thinking,
original nature. about how he looks, about every single note or finger, he will
False ego is so difficult that most spiritualists do not not be able to perform properly. However, as such a person
break through. If they did, then we would not see so much gives up his identity and instead identifies with the music as a
falling down, regardless of the tradition. If you look closely, whole, he can then perform and absorb himself in the music.
you will find that there are more deviants than those who Later he may come back to his own self-centered identity,
genuinely honor their theology—even amongst leadership. but while performing, he will simply become confused if he
It is not that they do not know or understand; rather, it is a thinks about each note and each chord individually. He will
matter of how much they have broken through those particular cause a problem for himself and for others. Rather, he must
barriers. visualize the success and merge himself in that experience.
vihaya kaman yah sarvan By losing his identity, he will ultimately gain the victory of a
pumams carati nihsprhah higher identity.
nirmamo nirahankarah In our spiritual acceleration, it is so important that
sa santim adhigacchati we move away from the insignificant details of being a man,
being a woman, being an American, being an Indian, being an
A person who has given up all desires for sense gratification, African, being a doctor, being a child, being an adult, etc. We
who lives free from desires, who has given up all sense of have to give up some of that stuff in order to develop a sense
proprietorship and is devoid of false ego—he alone can of who we really are—not as a form of denial, but as a way to
attain real peace. see all of those details as a part of something much greater.
Bhagavad-gita 2.71 So, as the musician becomes a part of something greater, he
is not just thinking of each note or beat even though those
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport to this verse: aspects are a part of the reality and the experience; rather, he is
thinking of the whole picture. Therefore, he offers something
To become desireless means not to desire anything for of depth. The spiritualist may be involved in all types of work,
sense gratification. In other words, desire for becoming all types of professions, all types of political considerations,
Krsna conscious is actually desirelessness. To understand and even in all types of religiosity, but he or she has to move
one’s actual position as the eternal servitor of Krsna, higher than that and grasp the deeper sense of identification,
without falsely claiming this material body to be oneself of reality.
and without falsely claiming proprietorship over anything 2
As we do that, we then begin to move away from the The Inferiority Complex of False Prestige
false ego. People may see me or address me according to how by Bhuta Bhavana dasa
they knew me in the past or know me in the present—John,
Johnny Boy, Shamby, Ghanasyama, Swami Krishnapada, or I once had a friend who always wanted to be “someone”.
Bhakti Tirtha but, at the end of the day, I must step out of He wanted to augment his identity
that. People may address me as a spiritual mentor, but, at the by achievements that would boost
end of the day, I have to move out of that as well. People may his sense of self-worth. I always
address you as such and such a person who is expert in this saw him as someone who was
profession or who is good at that activity, but you must lose suffering due to trying too hard
that to acquire a higher sense of your true identity. Otherwise, to prove himself. I felt he also
the ego settles in different ways and begins to imbibe so much internally resented having to
of that temporary stuff that causes one to have to come back achieve to be accepted, and deeply
into the material universes and into material bodies. However, wanted to be accepted as he was,
as we realize that we are beyond that, we will realize that we for who he was, unconditionally.
are all eternal residents of the spiritual world and that we have His desire for false prestige was
eternal relationships in dynamic spiritual association with the based upon suffering, neediness,
Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. and was a bitter burden to carry. But are we any different?
We want to keep that eternal identity in mind and In the classic story of the ugly duckling, we hear of a so-called
begin to reflect on the people who have risen out of their false ugly duck who is forever trying to be accepted by the other
identity. What do they do and how do they act? We want to ducks. He is constantly being rejected. One day he finds out
begin to tune into such personalities, identifying more with that he is a swan, elegantly superior to the very ducks who
the great acaryas and prophets. We want to move outside of constantly rejected him. Likewise we are constantly trying to
our temporary identities while simultaneously doing what be accepted by the material standards of society, taking our
we have to do in these bodies with expertise so that we do worth based upon what we have rather than what we are, a far
not have to be distracted by our duty. It doesn’t mean that more important factor. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita:
we begin to act on the physical level according to our higher
reality because we do have these physical bodies and we do “O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy
have a certain profession, gender, race, and place of residence. of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are
But just as we do have a car, we do have a house, we do wear exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.”
black or brown pants, none of these are our identity! If we
don’t take care of the externals, that is just negligence, but if Unfortunately, it’s worse than that. We don’t simply
we embrace or put all or most of our energy into such, then want to exploit material nature. We identify with that inferior
that false ego will manifest in so many different ways. nature, and just like the so-called “ugly duck”, we therefore
There cannot be serious love coming from people who feel rejected.
are thinking too much about themselves and others based on The devotee is to be free of false prestige! Srila Bhakti
what they can get from other people and other environments. Tirtha Maharaja once spoke on leadership saying that as one
But as we lose ourselves in thinking so intensely about our becomes more influential, one must become more and more
beloved, less and less of what is for ourselves becomes humble, or they’ll start to think themselves the doer. When this
important. It is very powerful when there is reciprocation. Yes, happens, Krishna will step away and let them take the karmic
people are afraid to love deeply and they are not so sure that burden of their so-called achievements…which is a burden no
the other person is going to reciprocate, or they are afraid that one but the Lord can handle! In one lecture, he spoke of how
they might get exploited. Consequently, people are a little shy he would wash the clothes of the other brahmacaris he was
about the degree to which they lose themselves in such ways. serving with as a way to remind and fix him in the mood and
However, by not losing ourselves, we cheat ourselves. The consciousness of a servant even in spite of such high results
more we hold onto the temporary identity, the more we cheat he was achieving in book distribution.
ourselves from our higher expressions and pleasures, and from
our chance to have a deeper sense of union and dedication.
3
This statement got me thinking about the dynamics of false naturally endear him to others.
prestige. The devotee is free of this false sense of taking the Balaramacandra first met the devotees in the Winter of 2000.
credit for Krishna’s achievements that He mercifully manifests He tells his story below:
through others. Why do we claim so many achievements as
our own? The fundamental dynamic of the conditioned soul During that winter, I went to the Govinda’s restaurant in
is towards insecurity. We try to hide our vulnerability with Tucson, Arizona and received Srila Prabhupada’s mercy
material shields that are all to be destroyed in time. They give through his book, Raja Vidya, or The King of Knowledge.
us no protection. We also feel attraction to the things of this I went home, sat on my front porch, and read the entire
world, a natural phenomenon. We forget however that the book in one sitting. I agreed with everything Srila
things that attract us are attractive because Krishna’s potency Prabhupada had to say. He said that one should chant
is in them. The beauty of the sunset is only attractive because Hare Krishna, so I wrote the mantra on my hand and
Krishna’s potency is in it, making it attractive. The elegance started to chant. Soon after, I purchased the Bhagavad-
of nature is only elegant due to the potency of the Lord within gita. The first time I went to the temple, Indradyumna
nature. In other words, it is Krishna within anything that Swami was there with Sri Prahlada prabhu. After
makes that thing work and attractive. We think it’s the material meeting the two of them, I was convinced that I should
possession or achievement, but really, we want Krishna. dedicate myself to the practice of bhakti. Everything in
Prestige is defined as illusion brought about by magic. my world naturally shifted to focus on Krishna. Soon
Illusions means it’s not real, or substantial. Therefore, when I finished reading the Bhagavad-gita, started to chant
we see a magic trick, it is interesting until we know how it sixteen rounds, and moved into the asrama. All of these
is unreal. Then it is just a trick, something to captivate the events happened within six months.
uninformed.
How do we give up the burden of false prestige, the Since that time, Balaramacandra’s life has revolved
burden of false love? By cultivating real prestige. Real prestige, around service to his spiritual master, His Holiness
which can never be taken away from us, is the understanding Radhanatha Swami, and service to the New Vrindavana farm
that we are eternal servants of the Greatest, and the activity of community in West Virginia where he has lived since 2002.
serving that Supreme Person. All things come and go, except During the months of June to August every year, he travels
the eternal value of being the servant of the Supreme Lovable. with Radhanatha Maharaja as his servant. From September to
In that service, we are no longer vulnerable to the rejection of November and again from January to May, Balaramacandra
our beloved. This is the certain, strong, and unconditional love engages in college outreach programs at Ohio University
we all seek. Hare Krishna. during the week and temple service on weekends.
Balaramacandra leads a very successful preaching
program at Ohio University, which can provide each one of us
Devotee Spotlight: Balaramacandra dasa with new and innovative ways to reach the youth, especially
by the Editors those in university settings. Balaramacandra leads many
programs during the week while at the university, but the
Vegan Cooking Workshop is undoubtedly the most dynamic:

We arrive Tuesday evening after a two and a half hour


drive from New Vrindavana to facilitate the Vegan
Cooking Workshop (VCW). This workshop is a
dynamic event that has developed a strong community
of participants. Each week, approximately 120 students,
professors, and community members come together to
prepare, cook, and serve each other an amazing organic,
vegan meal. We meet there at 7 pm and return to our
Those of you who know Balaramacandra dasa must student center by 10:30 pm to take rest around 11 pm.
certainly have come to appreciate his natural humility and
sincerity in devotional service. He is a simple brahmacari who
does not draw attention to himself, but his devotional qualities
4
Local university students even filmed a video on the Vegan We stay enlivened by associating with sincere devotees
Cooking Workshop due to its popularity. Please visit http:// and just performing our services. Our service is what
www.krishna.com/node/1246 to view more details about the gives life! When we serve others, Sri Guru becomes most
weekly program that attracts so many visitors. Perhaps others present. When we serve the Deities, we do so on behalf
with the interest and proximity to a university could also of Sri Guru. Worshiping the Deities and speaking about
implement similar programs. Krishna are two potent ways to always see Sri Guru in your
Balaramacandra concludes with his humble life. Without the guidance and blessings of Sri Guru, we
realizations that have developed during the course of his could not do either.
services:

We have been blessed by the Lord’s most merciful


incarnation Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Somehow or
another we now have Krishna and His associates in our
lives. There is nothing else to be achieved or sought after.
We can only grow to appreciate what we have been blessed
with. There is no way to repay back something as great as
this gift of Krishna consciousness. All we can do is try to
share Krishna’s love with others.

Copyright © 2007 Hari-Nama Press

All rights reserved. No part of this newsletter may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
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Hari-Nama Press gratefully acknowledges the BBT for the use of verses, purports and photos from Srila
Prabhupada’s books. All such material are © Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.

Designed by Tamal Krsna dasa


Edited by Lila Katha devi dasi

Photo of Bhakti Tirtha Swami: © 2005 Lawson Knight/Laksmivan dasa ACBSP