All glories to my guru, Srila B.K. Giri Maharaja and my param gurus Srila Govinda Maharaja, Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Swami Maharaja.
On our journey toward Krishna Consciousness, we are bound to take some wrong turns. New situations arise daily and old habits are sometimes seemingly impossible to break. Simply put, we will make mistakes. None of us are perfect. But what we must remember is that with every mistake comes an opportunity. The opportunity to learn, mature and grow.
Our guru is a strict father. But a loving father. We are his spiritual children. And like all children we want to run, jump, and play without restriction. We become distracted by shiny objects and glimmering lights. From time to time, our guru may observe our behavior and find it necessary to correct us. When he does, he may seem harsh, direct, and even sometimes unloving. But it’s because he loves us that he takes the time to correct and instruct us. We must be willing to take correction enthusiastically and accept instruction without question. However, the false ego may interfere.
At first our ears may burn and we may not like what he is saying. We may even take it personal or think to ourselves “My guru hates me!” We may lash out, argue, or even distance ourselves from our guru. Or perhaps we may feel compelled to try and explain or justify our actions. This is absurd behavior, much like a four year old trying to explain to his mother why he ate all the cookies. It is the result of a wounded pride and bruised false ego. Our guru is not interested in our explanations and excuses. He only wants to lead us home.
A wonderful example of the proper attitude a devotee should adopt is found in the second chapter of The Bhagavad-gita. Here, Arjuna exemplifies the correct mood of surrender. He admits his weakness and defeat and is prepared to accept any instruction offered without question.
pṛcchāmi tvāṁ dharma-sammūḍha-cetāḥ
yac chreyaḥ syān niścitaṁ brūhi tan me
śiṣyas te ‘haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam
kārpaṇya—miserly; doṣa—weakness; upahata—being inflicted by; svabhāvaḥ—characteristics; pṛcchāmi—I am asking; tvām—unto You; dharma—religion; saṁmūḍha—bewildered; cetāḥ—in heart; yat—what; śreyaḥ—all-good; syāt—may be; niścitam—confidently; brūhi—tell; tat—that; me—unto me; śiṣyaḥ—disciple; te—Your; aham—I am; śādhi—just instruct; mām—me; tvām—unto You; prapannam—surrendered.
Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.
By nature’s own way the complete system of material activities is a source of perplexity for everyone. In every step there is perplexity, and therefore it behooves one to approach a bona fide spiritual master who can give one proper guidance for executing the purpose of life. All Vedic literatures advise us to approach a bona fide spiritual master to get free from the perplexities of life which happen without our desire. They are like a forest fire that somehow blazes without being set by anyone. Similarly, the world situation is such that perplexities of life automatically appear, without our wanting such confusion. No one wants fire, and yet it takes place, and we become perplexed. The Vedic wisdom therefore advises that in order to solve the perplexities of life and to understand the science of the solution, one must approach a spiritual master who is in the disciplic succession. A person with a bona fide spiritual master is supposed to know everything. One should not, therefore, remain in material perplexities but should approach a spiritual master. This is the purport of this verse.
In order to transcend the confusion of the material world, we must cultivate a mood of complete surrender. It may take some practice and in some cases it will hurt. But we have to keep in mind, when our guru speaks to us, these are not the idle opinions of an ordinary person. We are fortunate to be receiving correction and instruction from a master, one who has conquered his desires and senses and is aware of the material dangers that obstruct our path. His words are carefully placed and loaded with deep meaning. It may be necessary to take some time and meditate on what he’s telling us. A period of “growing pains” may be in order. Then, we turn to the Lord and pray for the strength to accept correction and carry out the instructions of our guru.
In a personal letter to me, His Divine Grace Srila B.K. Giri Maharaja wrote the following:
“To reach that goal [the transcendental environment of Krishna seva, Guru seva and Vaishnava seva] we will have to endure some temporary pain in the form of severe blows to our false ego, the ego that must be destroyed if we are to find and harmonize with our true ego, the ego that causes us to realize we are nitya krishna dasa, eternal servants of Sri Krishna.”
After being corrected the important thing to remember is to not be afraid to make more mistakes. How else will we learn? As Srila Giri Maharaja states above, the false ego must be destroyed through a series of severe blows. Don’t allow a few taps on the chin to stop you from moving forward. That is merely the reaction of wounded pride and a bruised ego. We must not fear being wrong or shy away from chastisement. Instead we must embrace it and fully accept our faults. Then spiritual development can progress.
We are lost children full of pride and false ego who have forgotten our way home. The surroundings are frightening, dark and unfamiliar. We feel the cold loneliness of separation. Before us our guru patiently waits with a map, a compass, and the light of Krishna. He will guide us through the wilderness of illusion. Our guru will take us home.
I pray I have not committed any offense in writing this article.