I don’t like the idea that Krsna Consciousness is “easy.” Why? Because it makes me feel like a retard. “If it’s so easy, what is wrong with me?” I hope to get this off my chest now.
You say, “Vraja, I wish I had a million dollars.”
I answer, “Oh, that’s easy!”
Me: “All you have to do is x, y, z and you’ll have a million bucks.”
At this point you should be thinking, “Wait, Vraja only has like $300 in his bank account at most. So how easy could it really be to make a million?”
If Krsna Consciousness is easy to get, how much of it do you have in your “account”? Is this pessimism? I don’t think so. I think it’s factual. But…
You can say, “A pessimist is an atheist.”
That statement works only in one specific context. In another equally valid context, An optimist is also an atheist, because he or she ignores the fact that the Supreme Lord enforces the restrictions of karma and it is impossible therefore to achieve some aspirations.
A theist is a realist – neither and both optimistic and pessimistic.
This must be the conclusion any sadhu is driving at when making statements that, “A pessimist is really an atheist.” For as far as I meagerly understand the Upanishads, they say that we need both optimism and pessimism – because the absolute truth is beyond both. “Necience and science are to be cultivated side by side if one is to obtain the supreme realization of truth. For the absolute truth is beyond both.”
Having established that pessimism is as useful in self-realization as optimism, lets return to the main discussion.
“Krsna consciousness is easy. Actually, being in ignorance of Krsna is what requires effort.”
In my opinion (which is worth… whatever) this statement is correct. However, although it is correct, it is not applicable. It applies only to persons who have attained at least the seventh level of bhakti, asakti (addiction to Krsna). I am only on the fourth level of bhakti, and even that is a very optimistic assesment. Yes, Krsna consciousness does eventually become effortless, natural, and spontaneous – but at my current stage of development it most certainly is not.
“True – Maya is very difficult to overcome, but only for those who don’t turn to Krsna. Krsna can effortlessly overcome your maya.”
If this is true, where is the proof? How much maya is in your bank account? How much Krsna? Is there even one of us at the 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, or even 5th level of Bhakti? Is anyone here on the fixed level of bhakti (nishtha, stage five) to such an extent that they tirelessly make all efforts to submerge their minds in deep and constant contemplation of Krsna? Please raise your hand. 🙂
Since there is no proof that it is easy to overcome maya by turning to Krsna, I don’t find it reasonable to accept the proposal.
It is correct that Krsna is the one who removes our maya by bestowing the shakti (power) to realize pure love of Godhead. That much is true. What is “out of context” is to over-extend this truth to mean:
Krsna is the doer of our self-realization.
Krsna is not the doer of my self-realization. I am. Krsna’s shakti is the power which empowers my self-realization, but I and I alone am the doer. Later in Gita, after the 12th Chapter, I think maybe the 15th or 13th, we will hear Krsna explain this. Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti also discusses this in the opening chapter of Madhurya Kadambini. He says, “Bhakti does not come from Krsna’s mercy. Bhakti does not come from Krsna’s causeless mercy either. Bhakti only comes from Bhakti.”
The argument in that book runs as follows:
If Krsna is the one that removes maya, Why are most people in maya while a few are not? Krsna must be selecting some people to bless, and ignoring most others. This means he is partial and whimsical, not fair and just, which is unacceptable and against the scriptural definition of Godhead.
“Well, then it is Krsna’s “causeless” mercy -vwithout any thought or decision – which removes maya and bestows bhakti. In this scenario there is no partiality from Krsna.”
Vishvantha discounts this as amounting to saying that Bhakti results from a roll of the dice.
“OK, then Bhakti comes from the mercy of a Bhakta.”
At this point Vishvanath begins to agree. But still, why would a bhakta bless one person and not another. Isn’t that wrong and partial? The answer is that Bhakti only comes from the Madhyama Adhikari Bhakta. The Madhyama Adhikari gives the blessings of bhakti to those who want to deserve it, not to others, and not in quantity more or less than what they deserve to want.
So the point should now be clear: Attracting Krsna’s energy, which establishes Bhakti in my heart and dispells maya, depends upon my efforts.
“My efforts” = sadhana. Sadhana is synonymous with “bhajana.” This is why the stage of removing maya (anartha nivritti, the 4th stage of bhakti-yoga) manifests as a result of executing bhajana (the 3rd stage, bhajana-kriya). Anartha-nivritti (aka “getting out of maya”) doesn’t result from wishful thinking, or from accepting a personal savior, or anything like that. It results from our own personal efforts to engage in devotional acts (like putting our fingers on beads and chanting, etc.). It is not a mechanical thing, a robot cannot chant in sankirtana and get raelization of transcendental prema. It is whatever little heartfelt conviction (shraddha) we have in the merit of loving Krsna that inspires us to make the effort to practice devotion (bhajana-kirya), and generates the result of getting us out of maya (anartha-nivrtti) by attracting more of the same heartfelt conviction in bhakti to grow within our hearts.
The point I have beaten to a pulp is that it is up to me, not you, not guru, not Krsna. It is up to me to increase my desire to love Krsna and thus eventually become Krsna conscious.
I have not found this to be an easy task. I have been avoiding Krsna for… I guess there are not enough numbers to count how many lifetimes I have envied and avoided Godhead. Momentum is real. You can’t make a locomotive stop on a dime.
Though it is not an easy task, I am fully convinced that there is no task more worth the effort.
There is value to optimism and positivity. I don’t mean to discount it, just to present an alternative viewpoint. “Krsna is so very attractive.” “Light dispels darkness.” These are valid optimisms. You can be extremely optimistic and describe the process of self-realization as being “easy” as a result of these facts. To me, though, without these facts self-realization would be outright impossible. These optimisms make Krsna consciousness a real tangible possibility for us to achieve in this lifetime – In comparison to impossible, possible is “easy.” But I wouldn’t personally stress on how easy it is, for fear of alienating realistic people by making them feel like they must be inadequate for not being able to tangibly realize what others say is “easy.”
Of course there are quotes from our gurus which stress optimism very heavily. And there are quotes that are very grave and pessimistic. Because, as the Isa-Upanishad advises us, both optimism and pessimism must be cultivated side by side to reach that goal with is above and beyond both.