What is Your Problem?
Illuminations Newsletter 42
The problem, Prabhupada said, is that we all want to be God. Okay, we know this is a problem, but in particular, how does it manifest itself for you? What are the biggest obstacles in your path? What are the biggest problems between you and Krishna?
If we are to make sustainable progress, we need to regularly face our problems and address them. Do you act like this? Unfortunately, too many of us don’t.
People get into trouble when they ignore their problems. For example, people get into financial trouble when they ignore their financial realities. They spend more than they earn, but either don’t want to admit it or don’t realize they’re doing it. These “deviators” do not like to go into the details of their financial situation. And that usually leads to them getting into debt.
Similar things happen in relationships. Something is going wrong in the relationship, but one of the partners does not want to admit it. “No, we get along well. Everything is good”. However, the wife is unhappy and may even consider divorce. She wants to directly discuss issues that upset her, but she can’t convince her husband to talk about them. He either does not notice the problems, or is afraid to admit that they are. Often he simply thinks that this is a personal problem of his wife, which she should work on. Then one day he realizes with horror how big the problem is when his wife tells him she is divorcing him.
Do you do something similar with your spiritual problems?
How Krishna Conscious would you be?
To encourage you to deal with the biggest obstacles you face in your spiritual life, I want you to imagine what your Krishna consciousness would be like if these problems were no longer obstacles for you or if they did not appear at all? How wealthier would you be? How much easier would it be for you to become Krsna conscious? How much more inspired would you be? How much happier? And how much more Krishna conscious would you be?
If you don’t face your problems and solve them, it’s important to ask yourself why. Maybe you are afraid to look at them. Maybe you just don’t want to bother yourself because it’s unpleasant. Perhaps you think it will be too difficult. Maybe you think you can’t overcome them. Or maybe you are not aware of them.
Whatever the reason, Chanakya Pandit says that sickness, fire, and debt must be disposed of immediately. This is especially true for heart disease.
There is another reason why you may not be putting all your energy into solving your problems: you think that if you simply chant Hare Krishna and continue your devotional service, your problems will disappear. If you have been chanting and practicing sadhana for some time now and you still have problems that distract you from Krishna, your practice may be unstable or not of high quality.
You may be asking, “Won’t I overcome all my problems if I keep repeating and applying this process?” Yes and no. Yes, if you carefully weed out your anarthas, practice a sufficient level of detachment, and you will have a strong and steady sadhana. And no, if you don’t. I have seen many devotees become weak, doing little or nothing to solve their problems. This happens way too often. That’s why I’m asking you to identify your biggest obstacles and do something about them.
We all need to do more than just hope that the problem will go away in time. Of course, hope and prayer are part of the solution. But as I often say, pray as if it were up to God and act like it was up to you!
“But don’t these anarthas stay with me because of my conditioning? And is there anything I can do with them? Won’t they gradually disappear as I advance in Krishna Consciousness? Again, the answer is yes and no.
If you do nothing with them, two things may happen: in the future, you may not be in Krishna Consciousness to do something with them, or they may have such a detrimental effect on your Krishna Consciousness that your sadhana will weaken to such a degree. which will become ineffective in eradicating your anarthas. Weeding in your devotional garden is a sadhana that many of us neglect. And we are especially inclined to neglect this when we are spiritually weak. This is a vicious circle that needs to be broken.
Are you pretending not to understand something? What exactly?
As I mentioned, one of the reasons we don’t address a problem is because we’re afraid to admit we have it. For example, there are many people who are constantly working and providing for their families, but at the same time, they drink too much alcohol every night. Although such people are in fact alcoholics, they either don’t realize it or don’t want to take it. So look a little deeper at issues that are less obvious.
If you haven’t identified your problems yet, do so now. Take a close look at what you are facing – what is holding you back from being more Krishna conscious.
If you are hesitant to do this, know that it is much more difficult to live with problems and obstacles than it is to cope with them. So if you’re afraid to face your problems because you think it’s going to be difficult, or you’re afraid of failing, then know that you’ll be much better off in the future if you start working on them seriously now. Dealing with the obstacles that are holding you back over the years is much more painful and difficult than working to eradicate them.
What is your excuse?
Now that you’ve marked what you’ll be doing seriously, it’s time to look at your excuses for not taking full responsibility for solving these problems earlier. The following exercise will help you discover your own excuses. It also gives you the opportunity to become aware of problems that you have not yet noticed.
Highlight each of your problems, and then write down the excuses you find for either not doing them at all, or not doing them the way you should. These could be excuses you make to someone else or to yourself. At the same time, look for possible excuses that are so subtle you don’t even know you’re making them.
Here are some examples of why people don’t address their problems. This will help you get started on your own list:
It’s normal, everyone has this problem. I’m just human.
I’m just the way I am. I cannot change.
I never realized how much this problem affects me.
I never realized it was actually a problem.
I never really wanted to do anything about it.
I gave up on this many years ago after it began to recur.
I just thought it would eventually go away on its own.
I didn’t know how to deal with it.
I just don’t think about it.
See how each excuse activates and reinforces the problem?
So, write down all your biggest problems, obstacles, anarthas or weeds in your heart, and under them note the excuses you give for not taking full responsibility for overcoming them.
Or you can write it like this, which will help you see a few other issues that are also worth working on:
When I… it’s because…
When I am… it’s because…
When I do… it’s because…
When I don’t… it’s because…
When I become… it’s because…
I don’t make steady progress because…
I didn’t take the time to…because…
I didn’t pay enough attention…because…
I didn’t end my bad habit…because…
My failures are usually due to…
Excuses are useless ideas
As long as you think you have a good excuse, you have no reason to change. Read this list and accept that you need to take responsibility for these problems. Excuses are a losing idea. Your problems are your merit, and your success is also your merit.
“Freedom means responsibility. That’s why most people are afraid of it” (George Bernard Shaw).
Have you already done the exercises? If not, your ego may be resisting it. Maybe your ego can’t accept that you’re not as great as you thought you were. Maybe you find it hard to come to terms with the fact that you are not as great as you would like to appear in the eyes of others. I went through this too. But think about this: you may think this way because you enjoy feeling spiritual more than being spiritual. I know from experience that it can be difficult to admit that I am not as Krishna conscious as I think I am or others think I am.
sorry for the excuse
So if you didn’t complete the exercise, at least write down your excuse for why you didn’t write down your excuses.
I want to be clear about what these excuses really mean. So after every excuse, I would like you to write “return to Godhead” or “improve my relationship with Krishna” (or whatever suits you). So, for example, if your excuse is “I don’t want to take the trouble…” it would now sound like this: “I don’t want to take the trouble to go back to Godhead” or “I don’t want to make the effort to improve my relationship with Krishna.”
Now look again at your excuses from the exercise, or your excuses for not doing this exercise, and ask yourself, “Am I going to let these stupid excuses get in the way of my relationship with Krishna?”
Realize that your problems are not the real problem. Your excuses are the real problem!