śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 8, Issue 13
Posted: 29 January 2016

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Uniformity - Part One

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda

(Portrait of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda)

In spiritual endeavour proper, there is a division of external and internal practices. But this division is not one between the physical and the mental. Neither the physical nor the mental functions are activities of the ātmā (soul).

Activities in the preliminary stage of spiritual endeavour, prior to the awakening of spontaneous attraction, constitute the external aspect of spiritual conduct. During that stage, the neophyte displays a decisive inclination for following the injunctions of śāstra under the guidance of the spiritual preceptor, who belongs to the class of inner devotees. Obedience to the spiritual preceptor prevents this kind of endeavour from degenerating into lifeless ritualism and rigid orthodoxy.

Nevertheless, there is an observable and striking uniformity of practice during this preliminary stage. This uniformity should not, however, be mistaken for the lifeless standardization of physical and mental activity that is sought out and imposed by the sanctions of worldly organizations. One who receives the mercy of a true spiritual preceptor simultaneously obtains eligibility for practising spiritual activities under his direction – activities that transcend the plane of our body and mind.

Such a person may be freed from the bondage of his physical and mental adjuncts and environment to the extent that he chooses to avail himself of the opportunity. The continuance of apparent physical and mental activity in his case no longer possesses the non-spiritual, mundane quality. Any lingering trace of mundanity in his conduct can be likened to the inertia that is exhibited by an inanimate moving entity after it has been cut off from any of the forces that would increase its momentum.

During the preliminary stages of spiritual endeavour, the neophyte practices spiritual activities on the strength of spiritual energy that has been imparted to him by the spiritual preceptor. He does not yet put forward his own complete initiative in receptivity, which awakens by the impulse of spontaneous attraction. And this again is due to the inertia of the lingering obstruction of habits that have lost all real hold on him. That inertia is bound to be wholly stopped by the practice of the new activities made possible by the awakening of his spiritual nature.

And yet these new activities are still external in the sense that the principle of spiritual love has not yet made its appearance. So long as his activities are not prompted by love, the neophyte is not fully identified with his real function. At this stage there is also the chance of one’s relapse into the state of utter self-forgetfulness if one fails to endeavour for the fullest possible state of receptivity in his actions.

The sentiment that supplies the seat of love in the undeveloped stages of spiritual endeavour is that of reverence and faith in the transcendental truth ofśāstric revelation. It is, however, only a distant glimpse of the Truth that remains unavailable. There is true light from inner guidance in the initial stages, but it is very dim light. It must be pruned by constantly practicing whole-hearted, active subservience to the spiritual preceptor. If this is not done, the nascent spiritual function is liable to be suppressed by the resurgence of physical and mental activities.

Adapted from The Gaudiya, Volume 45, Number 6
by the Rays of The Harmonist team

Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year 8, Issue 13, "Uniformity - Part One" by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available. You may redistribute this article if you include this license and attribute it to Rays of The Harmonist. Please ask for permission before using the Rays of The Harmonist banner-logo.