Becoming Spiritual Adults

Paramahamsa Vishwananda regularly reminds us of the importance of the Bhagavad Gita. From time to time we'll share insights into the Bhagavad Gita to help you learn and live its teachings. In today's post, we'll focus on Chapter 9, verse 21-22.

Written by: Vanamali

Having enjoyed this vast realm of heaven, once their merit is exhausted, they return to the world of mortals. As a result, those who follow the Vedic rituals and are motivated by desire, go to heaven temporarily before coming back. But then there are those who adore Me alone with undeviating concentration. For those who yearn for Me in this way, I Myself take charge of their prosperity and welfare.

Bhagavad Gita 9.21-22 

In chapter 9 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna compares the way He relates to His devotees based on their priorities and desires. The comparison Krishna draws is between the worshippers of the demi-gods, desiring to attain heavenly pleasures, and the devotees of Krishna, clear and undeviating in their desire only for Him. It almost paints a picture of a celestial competition playing out, between the familiar and attractive realm of heaven and the mysterious, unknown Lord of Vaikuntha - both calling to different parts of our being, pulling the mind and the heart in different directions.

If we bring this vision down into our reality, it is like the battle in our minds between the attractions and comforts of the world, and the bewildering, incomprehensible reality that is Guruji. Theoretically, devotees all know that it is no competition at all, but sometimes we underestimate the attraction of the ‘easy’ solution compared to the ‘real’ solution.

Most people would agree that we share many common needs – the need for belonging, the need for affection, the need to love and to be loved, the need for safety amongst many others. The path to meeting those needs ‘seems’ easier or at the very least visible and comprehensible in the material world. We create the sense of belonging through attaching ourselves to so many identities, like patriotism towards the country we’re born in, or loyal fandom to the sports teams we have been raised to support, or by joining various groups centred around our hobbies and beliefs, and the list goes on. We pursue the need for affection, love and safety in the comforting arms of our families, partners, friends, even pets. Sometimes we even avoid the problem altogether by numbing ourselves through drugs, alcohol, and the like. It all seems mapped out, logical and, comparatively, easily attainable. But there is an obvious issue, one that Krishna states in verse 21 – all these solutions are temporary, whilst we, and our ‘needs’, are eternal. So, in truth, as alluring as this road seems, in the end, it’s an illusion compared to the harsh truth that the world and its gifts, just like heaven and its gifts, do not solve anything.

With Guruji, things are different, just as they are with Krishna. In following Them, the road to having those needs truly met appears unclear, the path doesn’t always follow a logical progression and whatever progress we do make is difficult to see or measure. Sometimes it even seems as if we are moving backwards! It’s scary, and that fear often creates hesitation to proceed deeper into that unknown. But the fact is Guruji will not sit us down and justify nor explain His every decision. Even if He did, with us lacking His perspective, would we understand Him? When he scolds us to prevent our ego from rising, we see it as a harsh act of aggression towards us. When he doesn’t feed our ego’s wishes for recognition and acknowledgement for the same reasons, we feel ignored and uncared for. How can we rely on that mind that twists every loving act into one of rejection and hurt? He wants us to trust Him, and that we surrender our need for understanding to Him. He says in His commentary to these verses, ‘Only the ones who surrender attain God-realisation. The ones who surrender to the Feet of the Master are fortunate. The Master will carry them across the ocean of saṁsāra, lead them out of this delusion of birth and death, and make them realised.’

Paraphrasing Krishna’s assurances at the end of verse 22, Guruji says that for those willing to trust and Love Him, the spiritual master will carry them out of illusion and all its miseries. It’s so beautiful to see how ready Guruji is to literally shape us, protect us and carry us to our destination. But to do that we have to really let go, to really trust Him, definitively, sincerely, irrespective of the conditions He places before us. Again and again, I am reminded that the superficial circumstances people fantasise over – the ideal living conditions, the perfect job, even the dream external relationship with Guruji – are just distractions that make us prisoners, preventing the surrender and ‘undeviating concentration’ which Guruji and Krishna ask of us. We all have to take responsibility for the distractions we allow to creep into our minds and make the necessary changes. As Krishna says, we must adore Him and not let the superficial distract us from the eternal. But as this quote from Guruji shows, it is important to be understanding and forgiving to ourselves, because all this is natural in the process of growing up – and grow up we must.

God has placed men on Earth to advance towards Him and not to please the demigods or the entities of nature that have a low vibration. There was a time when all of you incarnated as animals, but that reality was finished a long time ago. When you grow up, you let go of your childhood, so you don’t keep acting like a small kid, do you?

Paramahamsa Vishwananda