Q. How to control mind from work stress?
A. The only way to do that long term is to work for Krishna’s pleasure and not for our own. We can learn to do all our activities in such a consciousness that we would like to please Krishna. We must learn to find the balance in our lives where we can carry out our material and our spiritual responsibilities. A dangerous tilt on any side can spoil both aspects of our life.
Q. Some people claim that what is to happen in this life is already determined by God (i.e. fate). Their idea is that we do not have much control on our life. We are under the illusion of Maya. Others think that only because of our intelligence and our carefully executed efforts, we achieve desirable ends. My question is, do our efforts really matter?
A. Yes, we create our own destiny but the scope for doing so is quite restricted or limited. We have our desires and free will but they are supervised by the Supreme, according to natural laws. Thus, our freedom to ‘create our destiny’ is VERY restricted! We really have not so much control, ultimately. With unrestricted freedom, we can choose if we are going to act according to God’s laws or not. That is within our control. But ultimately Krishna is the supreme controller and actual doer.
Q. How can I do my duties if everything is predestined? I want to do them and I want to follow the teachings of Bhagavan Shri Krishna, but circumstances prevailing at certain times sometimes push me to take any optional decision which ultimately proves to be disastrous.
A. It is the mode of passion that forces us to take up a course of action that opposes our deepest convictions. Therefore, we must carefully cultivate a live centered in goodness. Bhagavad-gita teaches us so clearly what will help us remain centered in a life of goodness. However, because we have entangled ourselves so much in this material condition, it is very perplexing how to make the right decisions, even if we learn about the Lord’s teachings. Therefore, it is essential that we need to take guidance from advanced devotees, ultimately taking shelter of a bona fide guru, who can help us progressively align ourselves with the Lord’s instructions and not commit blunders, which will only entangle us further
Q. I would appreciate if you can elaborate on why we should not consume or eat either onion or garlic. Is it stated in any Sastra? Please help me this question will be helpful for my preaching purpose.
A. In Bhagavad Gita (17.9) Krishna states that ‘Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.’ Onion and garlic fall in this category. They excite the baser instincts and make it difficult for one to control the senses. The prohibition on onion, garlic etc. is implicit, by virtue of their characteristics.
Q. Please help me solve one of the mysteries that panic me often. I do wish to be in the service of the Supreme Lord. But I am often disturbed by the sufferings like poverty that exists in the world. Should we just leave all this saying that it is the result of karma? And how do you preach a person, who is not getting even a meal a day about Krishna ?
A. A devotee is compassionate by nature.However equipped with the higher truth, he tries to provide ultimate relief – relief from material existence. If one is disturbed to see people starving, then he should try and feed them Krishna prasada. The food will alleviate their material distress and the fact that is sanctified food will also provide them with spiritual relief. Similarly hospitals, orphanage, schools can be operate that take care of the material and spiritual needs.
Q. I have very strong faith in Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy. but I am scared that too much spiritual involvement will affect my material life unfavorably. What should be done?
A. It is natural that with the awakening of attachment to Krishna, one will gradually develop detachment from worldly things. However this does not mean that a devotee will give up his worldly responsibilities; rather he would do those same duties more meticulously as long as they are not detrimental to the cultivation of devotional service but he would do them as a service to the Lord and without attachment for profit and recognition.
There are innumerable examples of great Vaisnava devotees who were householders and held very responsible social positions. Bhaktivinoda Thakur was an ideal example, he was a magistrate and had ten children! But he used all his position, wealth, family and abilities in the service of the Lord. When we take up some spiritual activities even if in small incremental steps in the beginning, we will find that the Lord gives us more time and ability to perform our duties nicely and to take further steps.
Q. I have a confusion regarding whether bhakti can be spread freely among masses. Although Srila Prabhupada demonstrated practically, my doubt relates to observing the lives of simple minded villagers in the dham, who have a simple living and great dependency on guru and Lord. It is practically not possible for me to live such a simple, spiritual life (due to present obligations). So is it to be concluded that Srila Prabhupada wanted to lift us to certain level, before we could take pure devotion (in next life in dham) or with the present practice, the same can be achieved?
A. Srila Prabhupada taught that you should stay in your present position, and purify your existence by hearing and chanting about Krsna. Gradually, higher and higher spiritual qualifications will come. You must learn the art, gradually, of dedicating your God-given talents and assets to His service. This is also wanted. In this way, the masses can take part in the process of bhakti with incredible success.
Q. Why do you call this theology a science?
A. Krishna consciousness is a science because it has to do with observable reality; it is not based on blind faith.
One can perceive the reality of Krishna consciousness by following a method similar to the scientific process: hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion. Here’s an overview:
1. Reality is not reducible to mathematical equations. Those equations fail to account for two aspects of reality: consciousness and complex biological forms.
2. Reality includes consciousness, which falls into two categories. In one category is Krishna, or God. In the other category are we finite conscious souls.
3. Point 2 cannot be proved by empirical methods of investigation.
4. Point 2 can be proved when the soul becomes aware of his higher cognitive functions.
5. The process of Bhakti yoga is an experiment in which the body and mind are the apparatus, and in which rules of behavior are necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for success.
6. To practice Bhakti yoga requires guidance from a spiritual master who is Krishna’s pure representative.
7. Bhakti yoga centers on chanting Krishna’s name, which is spiritually identical to Him. Chanting thus puts one directly in touch with Krishna, purifying one’s consciousness. When one’s consciousness is purified, Krishna reveals Himself.
8. By bringing the soul into personal contact with Krishna, the process of Bhakti yoga enables one to understand reality at the deepest level.
Q. Why is there suffering?
A. The soul, although originally pure, is covered by illusion and ignorance when he comes to the material world. In this condition he forgets his eternal, blissful position with Krishna in the spiritual world and identifies with the material body.
When the soul thus identifies with the material body and material existence, he experiences the suffering inherent in matter. Here in the material world there is suffering from the body and mind, suffering from others, and suffering from nature. For the body there is birth, old age, disease, and death—all suffering conditions foreign to the soul.
Q. A man who most of his time is engaged in maintaining his family, running business, who acts in the atmosphere of material life and cooperates with people for whom spiritual life makes almost no sense – can such a man consider approaching a guru?
A. Spiritual life is one of internal intentions. If you “really” want to serve Krsna then Krsna will give you such intelligence that you will be able to make spiritual progress from whatever position you happen to find yourself in. So we should try to cultivate this kind of sincere determination, that so long I have been serving Maya… this one life time I want to serve Krsna. If we have this mentality then Krsna will help us in every way including sending us to a bona-fide guru.