An invocation for a conference on relationships among Hare Krishna devotees
Alachua, Florida, August 14, 1993
An invocation is “a calling for,” traditionally a calling for God, or these days more often a summoning forth of desired qualities within ourselves.
I wouldn’t suppose that you expect me to summon forth something valuable on my own. Rather, since this is a gathering of devotees–devotees of the sankirtana movement–I’d suppose my role should be to help us get started in doing that work of invocation together.
To that end, I’d like first to suggest that we call forth our remembrance of Srila Prabhupada, of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and of Radha and Krishna–because it’s only through them that we all have relationships with one another.
Our present relationships as friends, partners, and family members will last for some time–but they’ll all soon be cut and reshuffled. Only the ties we have through Krishna, as spiritual living beings, will permanently endure.
Next, I’d like to suggest that we invoke our sraddha, our faith in Krishna and the process of Krishna consciousness.
sraddha-sabde visvasa kari sudrdha niscaya
krishna-bhakti kaila sarva-karma-krta haya
We can automatically perform all supporting activities by rendering transcendental loving service to Lord Krishna. Firm, confident faith in that process of devotional service is called sraddha.
By performing pure devotional service, one automatically receives moksha, liberation from repeated birth and death. So what to speak of less valuable achievements like morality, prosperity, and satisfaction for the mind and senses.
Therefore, I’d like to suggest that we invoke our attitude of open acceptance and eagerness for everything favorable for Krishna conscious devotional service.
- the association of devotees
- the service of the Deity
- the chanting and hearing of the holy names of Krishna
- the study and discussion of Srimad-Bhagavatam
- and the desire to live in the atmosphere of Vrindaban
These five items can bring us everything we might desire in life.
Let us also invoke our rejection of everything unfavorable to Krishna consciousness. We can happily afford to protectively close our hearts to sense gratification and mental speculations.
anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady anavritam
anukulyena krsnanu-silanam bhaktir uttama
sarvopadhi vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena-hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate
For this we can make good use of healthy doubt and Krishna conscious skepticism, clear judgment and trained discrimination because these can help us distinguish between substance and illusion. And that understanding can uproot for us the threefold miseries of material life.
In particular, we can benefit by being careful to keep mundane ideas, mundane solutions, and mundane values from displacing Krishna’s ideas, Krishna’s solutions, and the eternal values of Krishna consciousness.
We can call our attention, especially, to the trap of confounding the mind with the spirit soul, and psychology with spirituality. For those for whom this trap is a way of life, therapy takes the place of sadhana [spiritual practice], psychologists take the place of the guru, and mental and emotional journeys take the place of progress on the spiritual path.
To illustrate what I mean, I’d like to mention a well-respected guide for many people of our generation. He’s a practicing psychiatrist, educated at Yale. And he brings to his work many qualities we think of as spiritual: openness, honesty, maturity, concern and respect for the people he works with, and a commitment to inner growth. He’s also extremely articulate.
One of his books is The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth. On page 1 of the Introduction, he tells us that as a psychiatrist he feels he ought to mention at the outset the assumptions that underlie his book. Here is the first of them:
I make no distinction between the mind and the spirit, and therefore no distinction between the process of achieving spiritual growth and achieving mental growth. They are one and the same.
By the grace of Srila Prabhupada, those of us here–the participants, the organizers, the presenters–do recognize the distinction between the soul and the mind. And we can keep in view the differences between methods meant for spiritual growth and those meant for mental growth. Methods meant for mental growth never get us off the material platform. They never factually meet the needs of the spirit. But the process we’ve been given for spiritual growth takes care of both the spirit and the mind.
So as this conference proceeds, by the grace of Srila Prabhupada and the grace of Krishna, we can strengthen our conviction that to soothe all distress, mend all fractures, heal all wounds, and bring about perfect wholeness, balance and harmony there’s no better method than the process of pure devotional service and the chanting of the holy names–Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.