Joy of Self cover

Joy of Self

Softbound, 70 pages, 5 1/2" x 4"

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This book is an introduction to the devotional Vedanta of Sri Caitanya. Sri Caitanya, the fifteenth-century Krsna avatara who personified a life of divine love, left in writing only eight Sanskrit stanzas. Yet his immediate followers churned these drops of nectar into an ocean of literature on divine love. This introductrion draws from their writings and the sacred literature of spiritual India such that anyone can gain a well-rounded acquaintance with the foundational philosophical principles of Gaudiya Vedanta and thus come to know of the potential for joy inherent in the self. Joy of Self is as simple as it is profound. It is an absolute must read for anyone with an interest in spiritual practice.


Table of Contents

Introduction

In Search of Joy

Affectionate Guardian

Revealed Sound

Conceptual Orientation

The Means

The Goal


Excerpt

In Search of Joy

As a ray of sun is separated from the sun by a cloud, we are apparently separated from our source by the cloud of illusion. The supreme sun1eternal joy and consciousness personified1is the source of both its own rays and the cloud of illusion. Thus, as rays of consciousness now illusioned by the cloud of ignorance, we must connect ourselves with our source and thus overcome the material illusion. In our search for joy we must find the reservoir of consciousness, with whom we are one, yet at the same time different. To comprehend out inconceivable nature we require help from beyond the limits of logic. We require more than human effort. We require grace, divine grace.

Affectionate Guardian

In the modern world, we have seen a good number of totalitarian regimes and less-than- spiritual religious leaders. From politicians to popes, gestapos to gurus, we have learned to be cautious about the claims of absolute knowledge. It is no wonder then that we are hesitant when Gaudiya Vedanta speaks about the necessity and utter dependence upon the guru. Who will mediate between humanity and divinity? Don't all souls have the potential for a personal relationship with God, without the need of a chaperon? In the language of love, 'Three is a crowd.' Furthermore, dependence upon another, it would seem, hinders one from standing on one's own two feet. Can one not think for oneself? Do the enlightened have gurus? If they had any such necessity at some point in their eternal progress, it would seem at best that such necessity was a relative one, rendering the principle of guru dispensable at some point. All of these doubts and misconceptions regarding the principle of guru must be cleared up if we are to be successful in our search, for guru is an eternal necessity for all souls.

The guru is, in the simplest of terms, a teacher. He is that soul who has emptied himself of all selfish considerations arising from material misidentification. As such, he is filled with the spiritual sakti, energy of Godhead, to do God's work in this world. His own angle of vision is that he is a servant of all, for all are but parts and parcels of God. He does not see others independently of their relationship with the absolute. His task is thus to share this vision with all whom he encounters.

Sri Guru is our bright spiritual prospect appearing before us to instruct us both through precept and his own practice. How shall we find such an affectionate guardian? Sacred literature charts our course, and in doing so, points us in the direction of Sri Guru, the captain of our ship. From sacred literature we can learn the qualifications of the agent of the absolute, and therein we are implored to take his shelter. With these two, map and guide, scripture and guru, on the boat of our human birth, fueled by the wind of our own sincerity, we are well equipped to cross the ocean of material suffering and reach the shore of eternal joy.

Conceptual Orientation

Krsna, the charming human-like Godhead, is the ultimate object of love, depicted by the Gaudiya Vedantins as an eternal youth, the rural cowherder of dark complexion resembling that of a rain cloud. As the cloud is pregnant with rain, Krsna is full in himself, yet showering love in all directions and celebrating his fullness, and in this way nourishing all. Krsna is the God of the Vedanta of aesthetics, not a dry philosophical principle, rather the ultimate person, infinitely beautiful, charming, soft-hearted, yet strong-willed. He has innumerable transcendental qualities and engages in pastimes with his eternal retinue. Flute-bearing, he charms his devotees with passionate love free from material inebrities. He is the perfect object of love because all potential for love in transcendence can be realized in him. Gaudiya Vedanta enables us to transcend the false proprietorship that has imprisoned us within time and space, leaving self-centered material consciousness forever and entering the land of love.

The Goal

The land, water, trees, animals, birds, and people in this transcendental drama (lila) are all supra-mundane. Nothing there is touched by material illusion, and one can realize this dimension of consciousness and experience the highest joy only when one is free from the selfishness that makes for a material life of unhappiness. While selfishness is the basis of the material plane of consciousness, selflessness forms the basis of the spiritual plane of consciousness Krsna consciousness. This is our highest prospect, within which lies the joy of self.