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Above the Clouds 01 - SB 5.19.24

Welcome to our new podcast series »Above the clouds«. We will discuss here each Sunday morning essential teachings from the Bhagavatam that contain principles for immediate application. In this way we can lead a Bhagavatam inspired life.

Today we have chosen text 24 from the 5th canto, chapter 19. It informs us about three essential points that we can import into our lives. I am quoting: “An intelligent person does not take interest in a place, even if that be in the topmost planetary system, if the pure Ganges of topics concerning the Supreme Lord’s activities does not flow there, if there are not devotees engaged in service on the banks of such a river of piety, or if there are no festivals of sankirtana-yajna to satisfy the Lord.”

In the purport Srila Prabhupada speaks about this ideal place and he makes a very thought-provoking point. He says: “The Krishna consciousness movement has established its center in Mayapur, the birthsite of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to give people the great opportunity to go there and perform a constant festival of sankirtana-yajna, as recommended herein and to distribute prasada to millions of hungry people hankering for spiritual emancipation. This is the mission of the Krishna consciousness movement.”

Please listen carefully: I am happy that we can deal with this point right in the beginning of our series. Here is a statement that seems to say: go to Sri Dham Mayapur! But is that really what Bhagavatam and Srila Prabhupada have in mind? Do we all need to go right now to India? When you read the Bhagavatam and when you read the purports – it is very important that you recognize the principle, like 2+2=4! A principle is true in all circumstances. If, for example you take two oranges and add two oranges - you will have four. If you take two cars and put an extra two extra cars there you will also have four cars. The principle is: 2+2=4. So, what is the principle here that we can apply whether we go and stay in India or not? This principle is explained very nicely by Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. He says: “An intelligent person concludes as follows: in life there should be the nectarian topics of the Lord. There should also be persons who depend on the Lord, - devotees in other words who take shelter in these topics. And finally, there should be chanting of the Holy Name. The intelligent people worship the Lord by chanting”. And he quotes another verse from the Bhagavatam. So, the principle is: wherever you are – have regular Krishna-katha, devotee association and singing of the Holy Names in your life! That will be very, very good.

I guess most of us have minds that are nonstop active from morning till evening. Our minds are constantly on high speed. Now – Krishna-katha stops the material flow of the mind – that means going to material subjects, shopping lists, relationships, uncertainties of the future. This Krishna-katha has power to relieve our mind from negativity. Even the scientists have found out that most of the times our minds are engaged with negative thoughts. Negative thoughts immediately come into the long-term memory, because negative thoughts are more impactful and therefore they involve or keep us busy much longer. So bad thoughts are stronger that good thoughts! The scientists have also found out: when you dwell on positive thoughts for more than 10 seconds, then, and only then these good thoughts can also go to our long-term memory and to our unconscious mind and to our whole personality. So, formulas like the Bhagavatam offers - where we are engaging for good amount of time with Krishna - are necessary. In other words, stay with them a little bit longer, keep them and hold them in your heart a little bit longer and they will go to our long-term memory, our unconscious mind and our whole personality. There is an old saying: a good day is the day when there is Krishna-katha and a bad day is the day when we do not hear anything about Krishna.

The devotees have themselves have a hidden power of bringing our thoughts directly in contact with Krishna. It is however important that we discuss with devotees those subjects which we can not discuss with other people. Let us recognize the unique value of devotees in our life. They have dedicated their life to Krishna and therefore they can talk about the path that leads to Krishna, and how to overcome obstacles. They can give us tips on this and bring Krishna into our mind.

The last item is the chanting the Name. The Holy Name is Krishna and when we chant the Lords Holy Name, we are in contact with Krishna immediately.

There is the thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who said, that bringing God or Krishna into our mind will be a significant and historic moment in the life of mankind. He says: “Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tide and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, mankind will have discovered fire!“ This is the gift of the Bhagavatam: it brings get us towards love of God, so that we can absorb ourselves in the love of God. This is the purpose of the human form of life. The Bhagavatam echoes this point again and again. For instance, in the first canto chapter five where we hear: “Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wondering from the topmost planet Brahmaloka down to the lowest.” What’s that? Krishna consciousness!

Now, I would like to share something very personal with all of you. Each year for 25 years now I was going to Vrindavan to enter my personal retreat where I would chant more and read more. Last year was the only exception since a long, long, long time. One year - I wanted to talk with you about - I had a serious physical problem that needed to be eventually removed by surgery. The pain was so great that it was not possible for me to focus on chanting. My body would constantly give these painful signals….pain, pain, pain, pain, pain…. In this situation I discovered my greatest friend. I had taken a lot of literature with me, but I made a point to stay with only one book – the Bhagavatam. And when I read the Bhagavatam “I discovered fire again.” In other words, I became so inspired, my mind went away from its absorption in pain, and focused itself on Krishna. Afterwards the chanting was much, much easier and went very nicely.

Let me end by suggesting an exercise for the coming week based on this verse. The exercise is: each day take out at least five minutes of your time and read about Krishna – Krishna-katha.

Next: call a devotee and discuss with the devotee things that you can only discuss with devotees not with other people. Make it, in other words, a spiritual conversation, you can even speak about things that are confidential for you.

And the third exercise is: improve your chanting! As we said – the Holy Name is identical with Radha and Krishna. So, as you chant remain aware that you are in the presence of Radha and Krishna and keep them in your mind. This will help you to stay above the clouds!

I will end with the quotation of Srila Prabhupada. He says: “Keep yourself always in the bright sunshine of Krishna consciousness. When you go by plane above the clouds you will find simply sunshine, no darkness. In the same way material existence will disappear, you will be above it, without being affected. That is the process!”

Have a wonderful week!

Sacinandana Swami

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