Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Status of naiveté

It's been quite some time since I visited GD, perhaps 4 or 5 days. I got a little bored with it considering that a good number of the regular contributors were away in Vraja for Karttik and the activity was reduced to perhaps 2 or 3 posts per day. I didn't really fancy loging onto the site just to read references to Sridhar and Narayana Maharajas so I just thought the best thing to do was avoid it for a while. stil have some stuff on Ekadasi I'd like to write. Considering that this Sunday is Utpanna Ekadasi, it might be a good idea to write it up. If only I wasn't so busy...

Anyhow I've been thinking lately about how useful naiveté can be in a spiritual quest. Obviously it is impractical to be naive in matters of selecting a guru, discriminating about certain Vaishnava sanga, and so on, but I think it can be useful to keep 'fresh' while on one's own individual spiritual path.

It has been my experience in the past that whenever I've reached a stage where I know "too much" about something, or perhaps "everything" about it, it then becomes boring and tedious to familiarise oneself with the concepts every time an issue comes into view. Granted, it is impossible to know God fullybut this is obviously a practical consideration. With all of the major (spiritual) experiences that originate with advanced and direct interaction with divinity that Gaudiya Vaishnavism provides, and with all the references to the experiences of Krishna being "ever new", nava-nava-rasa and so on, these are all obviously practical things that can hardly be touched by a beginner.

I have an idea that it is possible to know "everything" in a theoretical manner. This can be afforded by reading the same books again and again until one has memorised the entire text and is capable of verbal repetition of it as well as engagement in debate. Theoretically speaking, it's possible to know God and the entirety of Gaudiya siddhanta.

Is it possible, then, to become "bored" with Gaudiya siddhanta when reading/hearing the same things repeatedly? When likened to the process of harvesting rice, it becomes obvious that the theory is the husk and the practicality is the edible kernel. It is the grain of rice that we eat and enjoy and get nourishment therefrom; the husk is essential only for the growth of the kernel and once it's purpose has been served, it can be cast away. Therefore it is most important to pay due attention to the practical aspects of Gaudiya Vaishnava belief; hearing and chanting with devotion, japa, kirtan, authorised smaran, and so on. The theoretical aspects perhaps exist to maintain and nourish the inner sprout of bhakti and can be "discarded" or significantly minimised at the appropriate time. After all, the CC does say that knowledge of Krishna's aisvarya shrinks the devotee's prema.

But where such knowledge is concerned, I'm beginning to think that it is important to observe a certain limit of naiveté in order to prevent "boredom" and too much rehashing of theoretical concepts while not paying enough attention to the practicalities. We do not need to know everything right away. Oftentimes we discover a new aspect of siddhanta that we previously didn't know about, or perhaps we had heard of it before but hadn't paid much attention at the time. It is this joy of discovery that needs to be maintained and upkept at all times, the sheer delight of experiencing the broadening of one's schema, the constant presence of the "WOW!" factor.

I feel that such an abiding feeling of joy and discovery is essential for the sadhaka's journey into raganuga-bhajan. Greed is mean to present of course, but what is greed but an increasing extension of the joy of discovery that existed at the beginning of the journey?


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