Illuminations 81 – Discipleship

 
Below is an article by His Holiness Varsana Swami. I liked this article so much that I wanted to share it with everyone, so I decided to send it as this month’s newsletter. I trust you will find it insightful.
May you always remember Krishna,
Mahatma Das

By Varsana Swami

The efforts, austerities, and practices involved with the acceptance as a disciple do not end with initiation.  Rather they begin, in a formal sense, at that point. Whatever outer challenges or inner demons we have, will be overcome by Krishna’s grace for those who persevere in their vows.  It is only those who quit who will suffer defeat.

Even as the connection and dependency between the words “disciple” and “discipline” are obvious, some devotees tend to be more attentive to the fruits than the root.  Disconnected from her root, the bhakti-lata will wither.  However much we may balk or resist the concept, it is discipline  that forms the soul of vaidhi-bhakti and reveals the heart of raganuga-bhakti in due course of time.

Discipline applies to four levels of spiritual development, each successively deeper and subtler: body, mind, words, and emotions. Herein lies the comparison of the outcome of a disciple’s life in contrast to the undisciplined one.

Disciplined life Undisciplined life
Character development Controlled and enslaved by emotions
Choosing the right course, though it may be challenging Going with the easy, convenient, and comfortable route
Setting priorities Following moods
Practicing selflessness Pursuing selfishness
Service attitude Enjoying propensity
Seeking solutions Making excuses
Driven from within Influenced from without
Walking the talk Lip service alone
Overcoming obstacles Procrastinating or quitting
Satisfied with necessities Addicted to niceties
Focused on the goal Whining along the way
Yearning to hear the master say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Content with the approval of worldly souls
Approaching the dawn of suddha-nama Lingering in the shadows of nama-abhasa
Honoring the rules and regulations which award and protect our freedom Whimsical freedom which means spiritual bondage
Committed relationships Uncommitted partners
Fixed on the long-term goal, graduating from the school of material life Distracted by diplomas awarded by worldly institutions
Firm in commitment Swayed by feelings
Awakening of spiritual sentiments Lingering of mundane feelings
Fixed in the self Drifting with circumstance
The hope which looks upward Despair which turns downward
Faith which leads forward Prevailing uncertainty due to circumstantial influences

The humility worthy of a servant of Krishna, acknowledges that discipline alone is inadequate to elevate us substantially in spiritual life.  Rather, discipline attracts grace and protects it in its tender growth as it reaches for the sky and blossoms into love of God.

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