Finding Our Personal Mission and Potential Power—Part 2

Karnamrita Das - July 23, 2015 5:33 pm

This is the 2nd part from my last blog and the last one of my specific writing on staying the course of bhakti for our whole lives. I have other writings that may be useful as well, and although not many devotees are reading them, they will remain here for a later time. I realize I write long pieces and the many demands on everyone's time. Still, this is my offering to you, and I will continue. My hope was that devotees would share their thoughts, or at least think to themselves, about what they have experienced was helpful to them on the path through the many tests and trials we all have to face. In a broad sense I am saying: "Find a way to stay the course! You can do it. I believe in you! I am here to help if I can!"




One of my main points over many months of writing is that personal growth can be very favorable to our steadiness in spiritual practice. Such work is certainly not an end in itself, but can be helpful along with our sincerity of purpose and prayer in sorting out our life issues, and accessing our personal power for our service to Shri Guru and Gauranga (our spiritual teacher and Lord Chaitanya), and for the people in general. We can judge a thing by its results (phalena pariciyate) and if through such personal growth work one is more enthused in bhakti and in one's life, this is proof of its value.


All change begins with knowing we have a problem, sometimes the most difficult awareness. However, this still isn’t sufficient to create change without working and praying to remove our shortcomings, and replacing them with better qualities or habits. Expert guidance in doing this work is indispensable. My understanding is that assisted introspection (as I have coined it) with experienced mentors will be helpful in rising to the stage of nistha (steadiness), an interim goal on the long road to prema (pure love of God).


The Gita teaches us that to not follow our nature is artificial and unsustainable. So our spiritual practices should be in sync, not just with our work (as important as that is), but with our sense of personal mission. Our power, or empowerment, in life comes from connecting our personal mission to our spiritual mission, making them one, if you will. Some teachers today say that just doing our personal mission, or being a balanced human being, is spiritual. While this is a crucial part of the equation, it is only part of it, and remains incomplete without addressing the needs of the soul.



Another understanding I have of how to use, or uncover our personal power, is to find our authentic voice/mind/heart which supports both our spiritual life and personal mission. To do this many of us have to sort out the competing voices of self-doubt, dysfunctional, and/or unbalanced parental voices, etc., with the voice of our best material self informed by our spiritual practice and wisdom. Yes, we are a soul, and not the material body/mind, yet we have to engage in spiritual practice and live in the world using the body and mind, so ideally by living in mode of goodness (sattva), we live through what my wife and I call, with a bit of humor, but to make a point, "our authentic illusory self," playing off the concept of our "authentic self." We could also think of our best material self as our "core self" in goodness, and those less than ideal tendencies, as parts—the anger part, lusty party, selfish part, etc. This can help us identify the various voices and develop a positive view of who we are and who we can become in the world.


Our personal mission isn't necessarily to help save the world or some grandiose idea. It may be being the best parent we can and being an advocate for children in our devotional community. Or it could be any number of activities, such as sewing for the temple Deity, being a life long renunciate, an editor of our guru's books, or an entrepreneur who earns enough to give donations to projects that inspire, give spiritual nourishment, or help others. I am not speaking of just a mental idea, but a deep calling that is consuming and absorbing, and gives us enthusiasm for living. Even in fulfilling a guru's order or instruction, exactly how one does it, depends on our nature, and the timing of our life. There is "emergency devotional service," and making sacrifices in service that are good for all, yet most of us can't do this full time--unless this is part of our spiritual calling. The effect of finding our personal mission, and being accordingly empowered, is that while keeping our goal and highest ideal as prema, we will be settled, peaceful, and fulfilled in our life when we have the sense that we are doing the right thing and using our full potential.




In accessing and managing my personal power in relationship to my mission or life's work, I found studying the chakras, or the yogic analysis of our energy system in the body helpful, at least conceptually. This is a different language then devotees are used to, but please bear with me. When I took up the path of bhakti I was energetically "not in my body," or in terms of the chakras, I was disconnected especially to the lower chakras that “ground” us into our body. Frankly I think many devotees of my era were in a similar position, though with different details. A lot of denial and repression were in play as a culture in those days. At the same time we got a taste for the spiritual dimension and progressed in bhakti—though most of us couldn't maintain it, and had to integrate with the world. In a sense we were temporarily acting at a much higher level than we were actually on by the shakti or spiritual energy of Prabhupada, our guru.


I found it especially interesting reading and thinking about the 3rd chakra, located at the solar plexus, which represents the center of self-esteem, personal power, honor and ethics. Some consider it the seat of personal strength, healthy psychological boundaries, and self-sufficiency and when it’s healthy, gives us the ability to make decisions, to handle crisis, and to take risks. In many ways this chakra is considered the most influential for us to create a happy, fulfilled life, because without good self-esteem one can't have an inner sense of freedom and well-being, and will be shut off from their inner guidance. We will tend to be socially and spiritually disconnected, focused on externals rather than inner power, and full of fear and self-doubt. How is that for a recipe for personal and community disaster?


Our spiritual life is centered on praying for grace and to please Krishna, or God, yet both physical and spiritual self-esteem are important. Spiritual self-esteem is feeling our connection to Krishna and the realization that we are lovable and valuable as part of him. Yet that doesn't preclude acting with confidence that by the grace of God we can live in the world and realize our full potential—which is really what I am talking about in manifesting our personal power.



I am not saying that spiritual life shouldn't be our main focus, yet being balanced human beings primarily influenced by goodness, while not spiritual in itself is very favorable and essential for our long term standing in bhakti. I speak from personal experience of the problems that ensue from trying to practice spiritual life without being grounded, or fully present in our body.


We see that great teachers, like our Prabhupada or GM, live(d) that way—fully present and yet always remembering Krishna, or seeing his hand everywhere. I am speaking about making our body and mind the most conducive for running the energy of Krishna that flows through us. We are only instruments and so we want to have a "clean machine" (well-oiled with good maintenance) so to speak, to be able to used in the best way for living our mission in the service of the Supreme Power. To me, life is about balance with a spiritual focus that takes into account where we are spiritually and materially. Much of a successful life is our attitude, and to a large extent our attitude toward life and God determines how happy or miserable we are.

Here is a good exercise to end this blog with:


What would you do as your personal service-mission if you didn't think you could fail, or you didn't think of all the reasons you can't do it because of financial, social, political, or family reasons? Personally, it has only been the last 10 years and especially now, that I could answer this query. So timing for such life changes is crucial. To quote a religious/personal growth figure of the last decade: "I would rather attempt the impossible and fail, then do nothing and succeed." Not that I think my life mission is impossible, yet it’s out of my comfort zone—often a formidable enemy in using our personal, God given, power. Again, we live by grace and prayer, and our work is to be best person we can, doing the best service we can in the pursuit of bhakti, or love of Krishna. In general, this is everyone’s mission, and you have to add the specifics, or how this will look in your life--your personal mission. What do you think?