Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

Q. In a previous Sanga you mentioned how great souls may lie for the benefit of their students. Are all the promises Guru and scripture give only for a greater benefit (e.g., by chanting the holy names sinful activities are destroyed)?

A. The scripture speaks in veiled language to those, who like children, are attracted to material benefits, to things that are not good for them. While the real purpose of the scripture is to facilitate liberation from material life, the scripture offers fruits for adhering to its injunctions just to get people involved in religious life. Just as a parent offers candy to a child to induce him to take medicine, so the scripture offers material benefits to child-like persons to induce them to follow its injunctions. The spiritual benefit of this adherence far exceeds any material benefits that may result from following scripture.

While this same principle may be applied when the Guru instructs his disciple, this should not cause one to doubt his guidance. After all, he has our ultimate good in mind. With regard to the glory of the holy names, their is no exaggeration involved.

Q. I became sad after reading the descriptions of the Lord’s ecstatic symptoms in the second chapter of Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, especially verses six and seven. I can only imagine the anguish of the Lord’s closest associates when this was happening. How are we to understand such rough symptoms of Lord Caitanya’s ecstatic love?

A. This is answered in Madhya, 2.50, bahye visa-jvala haya, bhitare ananda-maya, krishna-premara adbhuta carita. The idea is that spiritual life looks foreboding on the outside, but it is heartening within. Whereas material life looks good on the outside, but it is rotten within. Even the sadhaka’s life looks shocking to ordinary people. He shaves his head, gives up worldly dress and its accompanying social life, etc. Ordinary people can not understand the joy of his inner experience. This principle holds true for bhava bhakti and even more so prema bhakti.

The section you are reading describes Mahaprabhu’s prema, the wonderful characteristic of which is that while disconcerting in appearance, it is full of ananda within. Furthermore Mahaprabhu’s prema is that of Srimati Radharani’s mahabhava. He is Krishna trying to experience the ecstasy of Radha. This is a problem for him. This ontological problem manifests in the extreme conditions of ecstasy described in the section you are reading. This section is a synopsis of the Antya lila, which should not be read by anyone and everyone without proper guidance.

According to tattva, Mahaprabhu is all right and there is nothing to worry about. However, your sentiment is very nice. It is said that Sri Radha, knowing the difficulties Krishna would encounter in his attempt to experience her mahabhava, accompanied him in his appearance as Mahaprabhu in the form of her effulgence to protect him when he crashed to the ground. Nityananda Prabhu also accompanied Mahaprabhu, as did Gadadhara, to protect him from his own ecstasy.

Q. I dreamt about my Guru last night. He appeared in the forest chanting japa. Is this real?

A. If we dream about our Gurudeva we are very fortunate. This kind of dream is either a special visitation or a composite of our own attempts to remember Sri Guru in our waking state. The former is much more rare and of greater significance. The latter is a sign of our sincere efforts, a blessing. Your dream is an instance of the latter. I had a dream like this before I met Srila Prabhupada, and it had a profound influence on me. Yes, in either case you can consider that Sri Guru is actually present when we dream of him as long as such dreams are not in opposition to siddhanta.

Q. Isn’t it possible that the cultivation of Krishna consciousness could become a kind of brainwashing?

A. Not if we practice under proper guidance. We should study the philosophy with our head and practice with our heart. Then we should look to see if our practice and heart experience corresponds with the philosophy. This will save us from our imagination. Before we look for the awakening of spiritual emotion, we should look to see if as a result of our practice bad habits are disappearing. The first stage of the chanting is cleaning the heart.

Q. I was talking over the email to a girl here in my town about Krishna . She was very interested. Her Mom had been secretly reading her email and sent me a letter of concern. She doesn’t believe in God because she could never get a feeling that God loved her. She told me unless I can give her the feeling that God loves her I should leave her daughter alone. Is there anything one can say to such a person?

A. It seems that she is not a serious person to insist that you “give her the feeling that God loves her.” There are many good arguments for and against the existence of God in the history of humanity. Some will like one side and others will be inclined towards the opposite side of the argument. My suggestion is that you talk less about God to her and address the question of what we are. Are we matter or are we consciousness? Consciousness experiences whereas matter is experienced. Try to convince her that she is a unit of consciousness and thus endowed with will and living. This being so, it is unfortunate that she is absorbed in matter, all manifestations of which will not endure. She should be concerned with herself and come to know the basic underlying reality of her existence. From there one can talk about God.

She wants to feel something, but is unwilling to feel herself. Ask her to listen to herself. What does she want in life? Ask he to analyze her thoughts , follow them out, and when each one ends up dissipating yet she remains to contemplate, tell her to try to turn her thoughts to herself. The mental function of making plans only obscures the nature of that which is already going on. It hides her from herself. She is that thing that endures, the constant observing factor of the endlessly mutable material experience. All material manifestation up to and including the entire universe itself have a duration. Thus all material manifestations can objectively be considered ultimately unreal, here today gone tomorrow. Consciousness, however is that which cannot be dismissed as material manifestations can, for the act of dismissal itself requires consciousness.

Try to explain this to her. Furthermore, if there is no God, why is she so concerned about her daughter believing in one? He concern implies that there is indeed an ultimate meaning to life, a truth. So what is it? Let her tell you what the nature of reality is. Let her enlighten you and her daughter about this and if she is successful in convincing the two of you that is fine. But if she is not, and her theory is logically proven faulty (as all arguments can be) she should give up her insistence that you leave her daughter alone.

Q. There is a drought in India and people are collecting donations for a relief fund. Should I contribute? Doesn’t mundane charity bind one to this material world?

A. Charity is good, but it is best when given to the best person with the proper understanding. If you have deep sraddha in the efficacy of bhakti, you will not be involved in social welfare. We should be under the care of a param Vaisnava, directly serving him as much as possible, and indirectly serving him with whatever donations we can afford. This is best. If we are engaged in this way, we will have no time or money for other causes. Of course, there may always be exceptions. Otherwise, if you’re not in that situation, you may give money to other causes.

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