Prabhupada explains that as humans when we look at stars in the sky we naturally wonder and inquire whether there is life out there. Afterall even Nila Madhav (our 2.5 year old) sings, “How I wonder what you are”. Infact, this ability to inquire is what differentiates us from other beings. When the inquiry is directed towards our own existence and when we ask questions such as who am I, what is the purpose of my life, who is God, what is my relationship with Him, etc., spiritual quest begins.
Personally, we both have been blessed with spiritual knowledge and practices from various teachers. Our primary source of inspiration, knowledge, and practices are from the teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his disciples, the philosophy of Krishna consciousness.
The essence of Krishna consciousness is to develop and experience pure, genuine love devoid of selfish interests towards God and fellow beings. To love and be loved, without aspirations for profit, adoration and distinction.
In daily life Krishna consciousness helps us to live with a deeper sense of reality; work on purifying our desires, thoughts, actions, and relationships; understand and deepen our relationship with God.
Deeper sense of Reality:
Unlike the story of the person who took care of a beautiful cage and neglected the bird within, we don’t want to gain the world and lose our soul. One might consider subject of the soul esoteric, but the soul can be perceived by inquiring into the difference between a dead body and an alive one. The difference is the presence of consciousness, which is a symptom of soul’s presence. Presence of the soul is what gives life to the body, and what keeps our identity as the body changes from that of a baby, to youth, to adult, to old age, and eventually into another body after death. Intuitively we say, My body, My eyes, My ears. But we need to also consider if it is all mine, then Who am I?
We believe in the soul, in life beyond this body, and eternal existence of the soul. Hence, our life is centered not just on the activities related to the body, but spiritual activities related to the soul as well.
We believe that the basis of a peaceful, calm, happy and progressive life lies in cleanliness of desires, thoughts, actions, and relationships. Desire, when fulfilled often leads to fear, greed, pride. When unfulfilled, often leads to frustration, anger, envy. How can one be peaceful or truly happy with envious heart or a greedy one. So our lifestyle includes practises to purify our desires, thoughts, actions, and relationships.
Relationship with God:
Understanding about and deepening our relationship with God is an integral part of our daily life and intertwined in every thing that we do.
God is one, though He may be referred to differently by different people. He has many names according to His different qualities and activities, much like the sun has different names in different parts of the world. In our tradition, God is called Krishna, the all-attractive one.
Some traditions emphasize God’s all pervasive nature, some as our constant companion, some as the supreme Person residing in a different realm. Krishna consciousness teaches that the same God that pervades everything, and resides within one’s heart as the constant companion, exists also as the supreme person with spiritual form, name, qualities, activities, and associates in the spiritual world. Understanding the sun’s rays and the sun disc provides only partial knowledge of the sun, but knowledge of the sun’s globe completes our understanding of all the three aspects. Similarly Krishna consciousness gives us a complete understanding of God, the Absolute Truth.
The simple and sublime way of connecting with Krishna is through chanting His names (also called as japa or mantra meditation) – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare | Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Three names – Hare, Krishna and Rama are the seeds of the mantra. Hare, refers to the name Hari in the vocative (He who steals away all distress and anxiety and lovingly robs the heart of His devotee), Krishna (all-attractive one), and Rama (source of all pleasure). Hare, also refers to Hara, the feminine energy of God, in the vocative.
The names of God are spiritual and transcendental. The word water is different from the object water and hence one’s thirst will not be quenched by saying the word water. However, God’s names are non-different from Him. Chanting the names of God cleanses our heart of all unwanted desires, invokes auspiciousness in our lives and re-establishes our loving relationship with God, Krishna.