Four virtues and four methods
28th of January, 2008 - 18:58
The Buddha had some wise insights into the means for getting to know another thoroughly. While the text that inspired this blog entry is more of a chapter in general wisdom of life, the principles certainly apply in examining a prospective guru --- which has been the subject of many a discussion.
As for the misleading note
27th of January, 2008 - 9:34
My earlier note on misleading in the "Knocking on the Cocoon" entry led some to wonder what exactly I meant with that. Let's let that be clarified.
On the Siksa-guru Principle
26th of January, 2008 - 17:22
Some readers have wondered as to why one might accept a siksa-guru while the diksa-guru is still present. There are also a number of other considerations that are in place on the under-explored theme of the siksa-guru.
The Aparadha Issue
24th of January, 2008 - 15:37
With themes such as have been brought up in the last two blogs, the age-old issue of aparadha again raises its hoods. Let me clarify my position on this. First, I would like to acknowledge that I have read all the scriptural references on Vaisnava-aparadha as well as most, and have given due thought to them. When I write as I write, I write with knowledge of the said principles, making the choices that I believe are proper, truthful and righteous. I realize that not everyone may agree with my judgment calls.
TBI - Part 2 - Looking at the foundations
24th of January, 2008 - 11:40
I had initially thought of being much more reserved in over the depth in which I'd be writing of all this. However, as I realize there is nothing for me to lose in being more open, let's hear the full story. It'll certainly help people get an idea of where I'm at, and also learn of the route I've had to take. Writing is also a good form of processing the experience to ensure the removal of repressions from the subconscious. These entries seem to be becoming a bit elongated; I write as it comes. Read if you will, don't if you won't. Let's travel back in time to last spring...
The Babaji Incident - Part 1 - What blew it all
21st of January, 2008 - 14:42
Some were wondering about the details of my abruptly concluded stay with the babaji during Niyama-seva and a bit beyond. I was more than brief in my note after moving back to my own precious peace, after all. As I noted, the experience left me with many lessons in life. I have edited the earlier blog entry to remove references that would identify him by name to give me space to write more freely of the experiences, of which many may find something to learn. This is the first write-up in what I surmise will be an interesting series.
Application for 180 days of jail
18th of January, 2008 - 16:56
This is a translation of my letter of refusal from military and civil service sent to the Finnish civil service authority, should it be of interest.
Knocking on the Cocoon
17th of January, 2008 - 5:56
"Little late. You already misled many..." --- said the anonymous commentator on an earlier blog entry.
Asperin Philosophies
17th of January, 2008 - 5:31
Some of you have been missing philosophical writings. Here goes: Unity and difference of Atman and Brahman, doctrinal trouble with different strata of philosophy fused into a single doctrine, and God's creation of the chicken and the egg.
The Bodhisattva's Cocoon
16th of January, 2008 - 5:16
Some may have wanted to take a peek into my psyche for insight into the fundamental reasons of my present direction into solitude, the underlying impetus of my turn from the dim limelights of outreach. What has made the once almost all-permeating wish to help others subside? Is the bodhisattva now staring at the navel of his own fat belly?
About Sahajiyas, Ogres and Other Ominousities
2nd of January, 2008 - 15:46
This blog is here to clarify my views on sahajiyas, orthodoxies, ogres, blue flamingos and any number of other such subjects and entities people might be wondering about.
Difference between ISKCON and Gaudiya
2nd of January, 2008 - 11:03
Excerpt from correspondence.
Websites future - Input sought
1st of January, 2008 - 5:33
As a careful reader will have noticed, by sometime in the summer I will be dropping out of the GV internet scene altogether (occasional e-mails aside.) It is unlikely that I am to return, this transition off the world of internet has been a long time coming and is now nearing its definite final phase. Your input is sought.

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On the Siksa-guru Principle
Posted: 26th of January, 2008 - 17:22
Some readers have wondered as to why one might accept a siksa-guru while the diksa-guru is still present. There are also a number of other considerations that are in place on the under-explored theme of the siksa-guru.

Among the first five limbs of bhakti we find kRSNa-dIkSAdi-zikSaNam, "Initiation in Krishna-mantra and so on, and teaching." While the giving of the mantra is certainly also a kind of teaching, a dual necessity is indicated; otherwise, the mere mentioning of diksa would have sufficed. From that, one may understand that subsequent teaching is a necessity.

Sometimes the diksa-guru may fulfill two roles, that of the initiator and that of the teacher. Sometimes the diksa-guru may fulfill the task of the teaching in a more general manner, such as through public discourses not given specifically for any particular individual disciple. Sometimes the diksa-guru may not teach much at all.

There may be many reasons for why a diksa-guru may not assume a substantial and practical responsibility for individual follow-up with the initiate, tutoring him in his day-to-day bhajana, observing his progress and his shortcomings, holding him by the hand if you will in teaching the systematic methods of devotional activity. For example:

  • The guru may have a great quantity of disciples, in which case following up on each individual will turn into a practical impossibility in terms of the guru's time and mental capacity.
  • The guru may be old and fatiqued, and as such no longer possess the stamina to tend to the task.
  • The disciple may, observing either or both of the above two reasons, feel that he does not wish to add to the burden of the guru by detailed inquiries.
  • The guru and the disciple may be living far apart, or there may be a language barrier that makes communication difficult.
  • The guru may have departed before an adequate amount of teaching was given.
  • The guru may be so immersed in the ecstacy of his own bhajana as to be removed from the practical realities of life, and may assume that bhajana is as "free-flowing" for the disciple as it is for him.
  • The guru and the disciple may have differing mindsets, leading to cumbersome and even strenuous communications owing to the difference in temperament or cultural background.
  • The disciple may run into conflict with the senior disciples or the ashram management of the guru, and hence also end up with a distant relationship with him.
  • The guru may think of the disciple as unfit for detailed instruction, initiating with a view that the disciple may at least make some pious merit and continue in a future life.

Whatever the reasons be, if someone feels the need for further and more detailed personal teaching, and if he has concluded after persistent endeavors that it is not available from the diksa-guru to the desired capacity, the only logical option is to find a supplementary teacher for further guidance. If a student doesn't learn well enough in the public school for one reason or another, a private tutor needs to be hired. Each individual must assess his and her own personal need and act accordingly. Making judgments on others' decisions is not a skillful thing to do, as we generally lack the means to look into others' hearts, not understanding their stage of development and corresponding inner necessities.

In this vein, I'd also like to note that I am not too inclined to discuss in a public text my own reasons for having accepted siksa-gurus in the past. First of all, since the reasons are particular to me, knowing them wouldn't be of much use for others; it would only perhaps make for some good spiritual voyeurism. Second, there are many gurubhais who may have diverging experiences or opinions, and making any statements on this could easily lead to misunderstandings.

The relationship with the siksa-guru should be understood as being complementary to the relationship with the diksa-guru. In some cases this relationship may, in contrast to the diksa-relationship, become more dominent in its spiritual impact; if not for differing levels of the gurus' realization (which isn't something one ought to venture into guessing, anyway), just owing to the sheer volume of time and teaching available from the siksa-guru, which may be dozen-fold in comparison. One may also feel that the special attention of the siksa-guru, his commitment to one's progress, is a powerful aid and inspiration in devotional life.

The fourth among the five initial limbs of bhakti is vizrambhena guroH sevA, "intimate service of the guru", the rendering of various personal services that draw the special goodwill of the guru for the blessing of the disciple. Where spending more time in the personal company of the guru is a reality, evidently this limb of devotion is also more practicable.

Unfortunately in practice it is sometimes seen that an immature siksa-guru will turn to (often subtly) denigrating the diksa-guru to "be the king of the hill", to grab the whole pie of the disciple's devotion to enjoy the natural benefits that follow. Conversely, it may also happen that an immature diksa-guru may be jealous of another senior practitioner qualified to act as a siksa-guru. These are troubling matters that tend to raise their heads in communities where even many elders are yet to see the farther shore of devotional maturity.

One question is whether one should seek the approval of the diksa-guru for accepting a siksa-guru. There is no one size fits all answer to this, given that there are a myriad of factors that may weigh in. I'll not elaborate further on that in this context. When one ponders on one's own situation, it will be wise to consult other senior saints aside the siksa-guru who are acquainted with the situation, if any are available. A siksa-guru may be of the opinion that it isn't necessary (I've had this happen twice); adamance on this may be taken as a red flag. In general, beware people who are too eager to become your siksa-gurus (and be in awe of the myriads of subtle ways in which attempts are made).

Someone may ask, "Is it necessary to call someone a siksa-guru? Can't I just be in his company otherwise?". The Sanskrit word "siksa" means "instruction", and the word "guru" means "teacher". If you spent time in the company of someone who taught you, giving you varieties of instructions, wouldn't you call him "an instructing teacher"? "Well of course I would, that's what he does." Does it then make a difference if you say the same using a Sanskrit word? If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck... It's probably — a duckbilled platypus?

Of course one may also have many levels of commitment to the siksa-guru. It may be more casual "we dig this sadhu" relationship, in which the usage of the term siksa-guru isn't really completely justified, or it may be a relationship where mutual internal commitments and a relationship of guidance and following is established.

Many are the factors one needs to weigh with this delicate issue. For those practitioners who are happy with little and for whom progressive spiritual life isn't the most overwhelming urge of everyday life, and where the mindset is more about "I'm happy to have these bits of devotion integrated into my everyday life" rather than "I need to optimize my sadhana and reach to advanced levels of spiritual experience", it may never become an issue to worry about.

I've certainly had my fair share of siksa-gurus for now, and perhaps for many years to come. In my sorry case, both serious siksa-relationships have ended up in somewhat of a disaster. Great and grand lessons learned, and I wouldn't change them for anything, but it's very unlikely that those are the lessons the teachers wanted to teach! For the time, with due respects to all, I think I'll be tackling issues on my own just fine. At least I can then hold myself and myself alone responsible for decisions that have substantial ramifications in my life.

Please don't let my occasional cynicism discourage you in your pursuit, no commentary is intended on the validity of the principles and the ideals — but be mindful of your steps!
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