The other day at ‘Yoga School’, we received a visit from the Hare Krishnas. We had roughly a 2 hour seminar with them where they sang and played music, led us through a short guided meditation, talked philosophy, had a Q & A session and then finally, we all danced around like happy idiots while they played some more music and sang. It was actually a pretty good time. As you may have discerned from my previous post, I am not the most spiritual person. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I saw on our schedule this ‘Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita with Hare Krishnas’. I mean, I had heard of Hare Krishna’s before, but I really had no clue what exactly they were. I was surprised to find myself engrossed in this lesson, as we discussed philosophy, the meaning of life, transcendentalism, and other easy, breezy topics that are always great to discuss post-prandial in 90 degree heat (that’s 30 degrees for you Celsius people, as in the rest of the world). Jokes aside, it was actually really interesting and I would like to share a few takeaways that I managed to scribble on paper.
A short synopsis of the Hare Krishna Movement (source: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness [ISKCON] website): ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradāya, a monotheistic tradition within the Vedic or Hindu culture. Philosophically it is based on the Sanskrit texts Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhagavat Purana, or Srimad Bhagavatam. These are the historic texts of the devotional bhakti yoga tradition, which teaches that the ultimate goal for all living beings is to reawaken their love for God, or Lord Krishna, the “all-attractive one”. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root Yuj which means to link up with, or combine. Bhakti is derived from the Sanskrit word bhaj, which means – loving service. Bhakti-yoga means to connect to the Supreme by means of loving devotional service. The Bhagavad Gita, the core spiritual text for ISKCON, describes a variety of yoga practices. Among them are karma-yoga (the practice of conscious action), jnana-yoga (philosophical study and contemplation), and hatha-yoga (the practice of yoga-asanas and breathing exercises).
So there! Now you know a little bit more about these funny, happy people. Obviously, there is a lot more to the movement and the people than this brief summary, but I wanted to give a little background info as to what they believe in and what the mission is.
Now to the if-I-had-a-mustache-I-would-twirl-it-and-ponder-life’s-mysteries takeaways:
- The mind has 3 functions: Thinking, Feeling, Willing.
- All people must have a purpose or a goal, and to self-realize this is one of life’s birthrights. Everyone has this potential, whether they utilize it or not is up to them.
- The mind can make a heaven a hell, or a hell a heaven- it just depends on your training (or how you were raised).
- There is so much misery below the clouds, a real yogi transcends the clouds.
- We are not here for selfishness but first you must save yourself and get yourself to solid land before you can throw a rope to help others.
- Can you change your karma? Karma can change if you change the things you can, and accept the things you cannot.
- The past is gone, the future is unknown, so live in the present.
- For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction- not only does this summarize Newton’s Law but it summarizes what Karma is.
- The purpose of life is to enjoy ourselves. The problem with that is that most people get caught up in the material world, which is short-lived. Real happiness can be found serving Krishna. (So basically like any other religion with that point.)
It’s still a real mystery on how to attain such wisdom, and transcending the clouds, but I suppose that’s what these people dedicate their lives to discovering. I can get on board with my life’s purpose to be about enjoyment, but I’m not really capable at this point of doing it by serving God, Krishna, Jesus, whomever. Not to say that I can’t ever be that person, but I am a HIGHLY SKEPTICAL person. So in the mean time, I am just going to keep on keepin’ on, doing what I think it right, being a good person and trying to have good karma by being compassionate and helping others, and for now, that is enough.