Failure and Destiny

Atmananda Dasa - December 10, 2018 3:04 pm

Haribol Dear Sabha,

I am stuggling continuously for many years trying to keep my career together and regularly face set backs. My career always seems to devour my life and my sadhana and then I find myself unable to go on and get burned out at work. I am always searching for a cure to my troubles and have tried many things but nothing makes a solution. Lately I have been thinking that maybe Krishna wants me to pursue a different career path or work part time so that I can focus more on devoting my attention to him directly. Maybe the fact that I have faced a lot of personal failures is because I have not really adequately embraced my destiny to become a sadhaka.

Anyone have any thoughts to share about this or maybe some indication from sastra as to my position on the path or where to turn?

Atmananda Dasa - December 10, 2018 3:05 pm

Looks like Sanga autocorrected to Sabha.

Shyamananda Das - December 10, 2018 4:58 pm

My wife is shy, so she's asking me to write:

"I've had experiences with people for many years as a therapist. First of all, Krishna doesn't give us trouble, but we are in certain situations because of our karma and if we are in those situations it means that we have to learn something. Learning something does not mean to escape from the problem. In order to better enter into bhakti and understand at least a part of it we first have to solve our material issues. Otherwise we will just see (as you wrote in your comment to the Upadesamrta-thread) the reflection of our own emotional needs in bhakti. Anyone can start any kind of spiritual practice, but if we have material eyes it will simply be a material practice. At this stage philosophy can help with the guidance of a good teacher. But primarily you should simply solve your material issues. For sure they won't be solved by changing external things. They will be solved by changing internal things. Many devotees begin devotional life hoping that this practice will solve their material problems. I guess you can see for yourself how many people are leaving this path. Krishna didn't cause this. It's because we see things as material through our material lens. We're not looking to serve Krishna, but for Krishna to serve us. Briefly, my advice is to keep going on the spiritual path, but focusing more on your own blockages and try to solve them, because this is the karma you were born with. It's important to take responsibility for our own selves in order to enter bhakti properly, with clear vision."

Madan Gopal Das - December 10, 2018 8:19 pm

Knowing you fairly well and your situation fairly well, my first reaction on reading your question was as Sakhya-rati did - reference another recent post of yours here on TV. I feel like your answer is in this verse you quoted: 

sthane stitah sruti-gatam - stay where you are and go on hearing, from sat-mukharitam - the mouths of pure devotees.

Maybe some adjustments are needed; full-time, part-time, maybe even a change in career (VERY gradually!), but I tend to think as we get older in our bodies and in our practice we should settle more and more into what we've got arranged for our material situation and go on hearing. The ups and downs will become less noticeable as will our tendency to think we're going to go somewhere, to become more of something, and we'll become sadhana-stha - firmly situated in our practice. The complexity of how we embrace and live out our lives as sadhaka's in whatever situation we are in is where the real growth happens - a super adventure!

Madan Gopal Das - December 10, 2018 8:22 pm
3 hours ago, Shyamananda das said:

My wife is shy, so she's asking me to write:

haha - if you say you're writing for her we still know she said it - now she can't be shy anymore! 😁 

Glad to hear there is yet another therapist in the sangha 

Atmananda Dasa - December 10, 2018 9:49 pm

Thanks for the replies. This is one of the questions on the path that seems to come up over and over again. I think it must indicate a stage on the path. It seems to be the prevailing wisdom that most of the time we must stand and fight as the situation has been arranged for our purification. Resistance is futile and usually counter-productive.

Madan that was so painless... :) your affection is an effective anesthetic. 

I really do think that my karma has been erased by the Nama and Krishna is arranging everything in my life for my purification. I am comfortable with the idea that Krishna may chastise me and cause me to suffer due to Nama aparadha because He is my shelter and there is no other. Sometimes the father may embrace the child, sometimes he may beat him. But it is all His love. If I did not suffer sometimes I would forget Krishna because my attachment to Him is not so strong.

I am feeling grateful to have such kind friends. As many times as I have asked this question and brought my distressed mind before them they have so affectionately and patiently given me the same answer again and again. 

Krsna Caitanya Das - December 10, 2018 10:20 pm

In addition to the fine points already given, I would like to share some approaches that have been helpful to me. Maybe you will find something of value in the following. 

I think there is something to be said for having a less-than-full-powered job. My job is a speed that I can handle. I have the education and experience to get a full-time teacher position, but I know I would be stressed out and overwhelmed by such a job. Instead, I have a kind of 50% Teacher Assistant/50% Outdoor Educator position. It doesn't pay quite as much as I could make with a more stressful job, but we have learned to live more-or-less within our means. I know others that have also chosen a similar route. Kanurama left a stressful city paramedic job for a slightly less-paying, but much less stressful rural paramedic job. He says it has been good for him. I believe Madan has found a job within his chosen field as well that works out better than others he did beforehand. 

Here's a couple of verses in support of the above idea. I'm sure you know of these:

SB 1.2.9 — All occupational engagements are certainly meant for ultimate liberation. They should never be performed for material gain. Furthermore, according to sages, one who is engaged in the ultimate occupational service should never use material gain to cultivate sense gratification.

Bg 6.17 — He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. 

So that's one side of it: having a job that pays the bills, but doesn't overwhelm you. 

I think that we can also apply a similar attitude towards our sadhana. Sometimes, we may try to do more sadhana than we can handle comfortably. This can also stress us out. I used to sometimes stress myself out by learning too many slokas too fast. Our Guru Maharaja has talked about taking one's own temperature. If we pay attention to ourselves and our practice, we can craft a sadhana routine that is absorbing, inviting, and do-able. With a job, a wife, children, household responsibilities, etc., that only leaves us so much time for sadhana. If we carefully pick items of sadhana that we are attracted to, a little can go a very long way. 

You most likely know all of this stuff and have tried it. But I have found that it is sometimes important to go ahead and say those things that often "go without saying."  I have really found having a little less of a job and taking my own temperature in relation to sadhana to be two items that have helped me to position myself to better accept the mercy. 

Atmananda Dasa - December 11, 2018 1:22 am

This is truly so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I think the wealth of our little corner of Gaudiya Vaisnavism is so great! I do not hear any high and mighty judgement here. Just very humble and affectionate words full of caring and delivered with grace.

Kishore Krishna Das - December 14, 2018 5:55 pm

Very nice comments above!  I especially appreciated Krsna Caitanya's reply.  This may not work for everyone, but one thing that has worked for me is taking solitary retreats.  Spending 1-3 weeks alone, with minimal "work".  It can be really difficult at times (really really difficult if you are struggling through something) but I often find I am able to work on struggles and get deeper insights into my nature, emotions, and relationships with others and my environment.  It is certainly not a space I can live in, but taking a retreat into solitude every now and again, allows me to step back into my life with great appreciation, and a different perspective on things, so I can adjust myself or the environment as needed. it is also a very humbling experience, and I find this invaluable.

Ramakesava - December 16, 2018 4:44 pm

I can very much sympathise with this post, Atmananda prabhu.  I fell into my career (police staff) very much by accident, and at times it has been quite consuming.  

I would echo the call for _gradual_ change.  I have made radical changes in my life before, but to my cost.  In my case, there is the additional problem of bipolar disorder, but I think the advice generally holds very well to make small changes.  

That said, I have recently turned down the opportunity to go for a job that would give more money and less commute!  Why?  Because I'm feeling it's better to stick to what I know and what I can handle, as Krsna Caitanya says.  

At the same time, I am still acutely aware of my failings in sadhana, and do wish for an existence where work didn't play such a role and bhajan played a greater role.  I watch the comments with interest.  

Krsna Caitanya Das - December 21, 2018 7:27 pm

I heard this verse today while listening to a lecture by Niranjana Swami:

"Devotional service rendered to the Supreme Lord is spiritually so potent that simply by hearing about such transcendental service, by chanting its glories in response, by meditating on it, by respectfully and faithfully accepting it, or by praising the devotional service of others, even persons who hate the demigods and all other living beings can be immediately purified."

(SB 11.2.12)

I thought it might be an encouraging one to contemplate in relation to the topic of this thread. I find it encouraging. 


Krsna Caitanya Das - December 21, 2018 7:29 pm

I accidentally cut off the first word of the verse. The word "pure" should be before "devotional service." 😊

Krsna Caitanya Das - December 21, 2018 8:08 pm

Here's a quote from Srila Bhaktisiddhatna Sarasvati Thakura that I also came to know about from Niranjana Swami:

"We should see this material world and everything in it as full of ingredients for the Lord’s service. Everything in this world is meant for Krsna’s service. The day when we can look at the world like this and become liberated from the material conception, we will be able to see the material world as the spiritual world, Goloka. We should treat all women as Krsna’s beloveds. They are to be enjoyed by Him. Do not look at them with an enjoying spirit. They are meant to be enjoyed by Krsna, never by the living entities. Treat your father and mother as Krsna’s father and mother. Instead of considering your children your servants, treat them as friends of child Krsna. Then you will not see the material world everywhere but Goloka." 

(Amrita Vani, Section on "A Devotee's Vision", Part 3)

Maybe these quotes don't directly address the topic at hand, but I felt like they were somehow applicable. These ideas have helped me. 

Atmananda Dasa - December 22, 2018 11:21 am

I think this is where I would like to get to.

SB 1.2.10

kāmasya nendriya-prītir
 lābho jīveta yāvatā
jīvasya tattva-jijñāsā
 nārtho yaś ceha karmabhiḥ


kāmasya — of desires; na — not; indriya — senses; prītiḥ — satisfaction; lābhaḥ — gain; jīveta— self-preservation; yāvatā — so much so; jīvasya — of the living being; tattva — the Absolute Truth; jijñāsā — inquiries; na — not; arthaḥ — end; yaḥ ca iha — whatsoever else; karmabhiḥ — by occupational activities.


Life’s desires should never be directed toward sense gratification. One should desire only a healthy life, or self-preservation, since a human being is meant for inquiry about the Absolute Truth. Nothing else should be the goal of one’s works.



Krsna Caitanya Das - December 25, 2018 3:52 pm

Below is an excerpt of CC Madhya Lila Chapter 15 It includes a nice example of a devotee doctor. Bhaktivinde Thakura says that a good way for us to follow "sato vritteh"  (following in the footsteps of the previous acaryas) is to follow the examples of Mahaprabhu and his devotees. There is also a nice discussion about how devotees of all types (householders, monastics, preachers) can be equal surrendered servants of the Lord. This whole chapter 15 is full of all kinds of things that I have found inspirational in relation to household life and many other items of interest. It is a glimpse into the life of these devotees as they go to the festival to visit their guru and then how he interacts with them as they prepare to go back home at the end of the festival. 

CC Madhya 15.112 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then turned His attention to three persons — Mukunda dāsa, Raghunandana and Śrī Narahari — inhabitants of the place called Khaṇḍa.
CC Madhya 15.113 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the son of mother Śacī, next asked Mukunda dāsa, “You are the father, and your son is Raghunandana. Is that so?
CC Madhya 15.114 — “Or is Śrīla Raghunandana your father and you are his son? Please let Me know the facts so that My doubts will go away.”
CC Madhya 15.115 — Mukunda replied, “Raghunandana is my father, and I am his son. This is my decision.
CC Madhya 15.116 — “All of us have attained devotion to Kṛṣṇa due to Raghunandana. Therefore in my mind he is my father.”
CC Madhya 15.117 — Hearing Mukunda dāsa give this proper decision, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu confirmed it, saying, “Yes, it is correct. One who awakens devotion to Kṛṣṇa is certainly the spiritual master.”
CC Madhya 15.118 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu became very happy just to speak of the glories of His devotees. Indeed, when He spoke of their glories, it was as if He had five faces.
CC Madhya 15.119 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then informed all His devotees, “Please hear about Mukunda’s love of Godhead. It is a very deep and pure love and can only be compared to purified gold.
CC Madhya 15.120 — “Mukunda dāsa externally appears to be a royal physician engaged in governmental service, but internally he has a deep love for Kṛṣṇa. Who can understand his love?
CC Madhya 15.121 — “One day Mukunda dāsa, the royal physician, was seated with the Muslim King on a high platform and was telling the King about medical treatment.
CC Madhya 15.122 — “While the King and Mukunda dāsa were conversing, a servant brought a fan made of peacock feathers to shade the King’s head from the sun. Consequently he held the fan above the King’s head.
CC Madhya 15.123 — “Just by seeing the peacock-feathered fan, Mukunda dāsa became absorbed in ecstatic love of Godhead and fell from the high platform onto the ground.
CC Madhya 15.124 — “The King, fearing that the royal physician had been killed, personally descended and brought him to consciousness.
CC Madhya 15.125 — “When the King asked Mukunda, ‘Where is it paining you?’ Mukunda replied, ‘I am not very much pained.’
CC Madhya 15.126 — “The King then inquired, ‘Mukunda, why did you fall down?’
CC Madhya 15.127 — “Being extraordinarily intelligent, the King could understand the whole affair. In his estimation, Mukunda was a most uncommon, exalted, liberated personality.
CC Madhya 15.128-129 — “Raghunandana is constantly engaged in serving Lord Kṛṣṇa in the temple. Beside the entrance of the temple is a lake, and on its banks is a kadamba tree, which daily delivers two flowers to be used for Kṛṣṇa’s service.”
CC Madhya 15.130 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu again spoke to Mukunda with sweet words: “Your duty is to earn both material and spiritual wealth.
CC Madhya 15.131 — “Furthermore, it is the duty of Raghunandana to always engage in Lord Kṛṣṇa’s service. He has no other intention but the service of Lord Kṛṣṇa.”
CC Madhya 15.132 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then ordered Narahari: “I wish you to remain here with My devotees. In this way the three of you should always execute these three duties for the service of the Lord.”
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu set forth three duties for three different people. Mukunda was to earn money and follow the religious principles, whereas Narahari was to remain with the Lord’s devotees, and Raghunandana was to engage in the Lord’s service in the temple. Thus one person worships in the temple, another earns money honestly by executing his professional duty, and yet another preaches Kṛṣṇa consciousness with the devotees. Apparently these three types of service appear separate, but actually they are not. When Kṛṣṇa or Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the center, everyone can engage in different activities for the service of the Lord. That is the verdict of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.


Atmananda Dasa - December 26, 2018 2:02 am

Yes this is very nice. Thank you. Madhya chapter 15. I will read it. 

Atmananda Dasa - December 29, 2018 5:16 pm

SB 4.19.34

māsmin mahārāja kṛthāḥ sma cintāṁ
 niśāmayāsmad-vaca ādṛtātmā
yad dhyāyato daiva-hataṁ nu kartuṁ
 mano ’tiruṣṭaṁ viśate tamo ’ndham


mā — do not; asmin — in this; mahā-rāja — O King; kṛthāḥ — do; sma — as done in the past; cintām — agitation of the mind; niśāmaya — please consider; asmat — my; vacaḥ— words; ādṛta-ātmā — being very respectful; yat — because; dhyāyataḥ — of him who is contemplating; daiva-hatam — that which is thwarted by providence; nu— certainly; kartum — to do; manaḥ— the mind; ati-ruṣṭam — very angry; viśate — enters; tamaḥ — darkness; andham — dense.


My dear King, do not be agitated and anxious because your sacrifices have not been properly executed due to providential impediments. Kindly take my words with great respect. We should always remember that if something happens by providential arrangement, we should not be very sorry. The more we try to rectify such reversals, the more we enter into the darkest region of materialistic thought.


Sometimes the saintly or very religious person also has to meet with reversals in life. Such incidents should be taken as providential. Although there may be sufficient cause for being unhappy, one should avoid counteracting such reversals, for the more we become implicated in rectifying such reversals, the more we enter into the darkest regions of material anxiety. Lord Kṛṣṇa has also advised us in this connection: we should tolerate things instead of becoming agitated.

Brahma Samhita Das - December 29, 2018 7:15 pm

SB 10.14.8

tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
 bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
 jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
tat — therefore; te — Your; anukampām — compassion; su-samīkṣamāṇaḥ — earnestly hoping for; bhuñjānaḥ — enduring; eva — certainly; ātma-kṛtam — done by himself; vipākam — the fruitive results; hṛt — with his heart; vāk — words; vapurbhiḥ — and body; vidadhan — offering; namaḥ — obeisances; te — unto You; jīveta — lives; yaḥ — anyone who; mukti-pade — to the position of liberation; saḥ — he; dāya-bhāk — the rightful heir.
My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.
This verse is often quoted by our Acharyas and has been a great help and inspiration for me...
The one that never becomes bitter in the face of lives adversities, but feel gratitude and offer namaste to the Lord externally and internally, has the right to claim his/her liberation! (to serve the lord with love and devotion )!