Author: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Publisher: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Eleven Lessons in the Ancient Science of Bhakti-yoga Across five centuries and half the globe comes this compact guidebook of essential spiritual teachings. How to choose a guru, how to practice yoga, even where to live — you'll find it all in this invaluable work originally written in Sanskrit by Srila Rupa Gosvami, the greatest spiritual genius of medieval India. Now translated and illuminated by Rupa Gosvami's modern successor, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Nectar of Instruction is the key to enlightenment for all seekers on the path of spiritual perfection.
Author: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Publisher: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
We cannot be happy without satisfying our fundamental desire to love. Discover all the intricacies of spiritual love, bhakti, in this devotional classic. This is a summary study of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, the Vaishnava classic written by Rupa Goswami that analyzes the various stages of bhakti (devotion) as a methodical practice resulting in love of God. Rupa Goswami uses a metaphor comparing an ocean (sindhu) to a devotional relationship with God. The title of the book conveys that loving relationships are enjoyable like sweet nectar and deep like an ocean. However, devotion is truly only meant for the supreme beloved, Krishna. Srila Prabhupada has written this summary study to show the essential understanding of the practices and ideals of Krishna consciousness, and to introduce the Western world to the beauty of devotional concepts. The spiritually thirsty can develop their relationship with Krishna by drinking from the unlimited reservoir of The Nectar of Devotion. Drink deeply.
In the summer of 2002, the SRV staff, supporters, writers and contributors all come together once again for another exquisite expression of Advaitic Truth — that unique and quintessential quality which is at once a salubrious tonic for the body, a lustral lenitive for the mind, and a soothing balm for the soul. Applying a generous dole of this nepenthe of Nondual Nectar to life and mind will transport the spiritual aspirant into heretofore unforeseen and unimaginable heights of insight and perception, giving rise as well to an upsurge of abundant divine attributes lying fallow in the subtle soil of the human subconscious. It is no wonder that countless luminaries have taken unremitting recourse to this superlative divine domicile, this nonpareil sanctuary of refuges, finding an abiding solace and succor in Its boundless expanse. The theme of this issue is peace — individual, terrestrial, mental, and spiritual. Health for the body, preservation of the earth, healing for the emotions, purification of the mind, inspiration for the intellect, inner guidance for spiritual life — all levels of the human life-experience must be consciously catered to with sensitivity and devotion based upon knowledge. For, it is obvious that the many proffered “healing” systems current today which profess integration of body, mind and spirit fall ridiculously short of doing anything beyond mere physical therapy, ignoring almost completely the mind and soul of mankind. Though claims of holistic healing run rampant over the pages of contemporary magazines, the real orientation, directed grossly at gathering, storing, and protecting wealth, is most ponderously placed upon physical health and exercise combined with cosmetic solutions and techniques. These are duly predicated on man’s external existence alone, and designed mainly to satisfy the voracious and vulpine vanity of the body-oriented person inhabiting a materialistic society. Regarding the mind, if it is ill, bored, or imbalanced, a pill is supposed to suffice to put it right, or an extended period of study among the dry, dusty and philosophically anemic volumes of “higher learning” comprising our much vaunted and over-rated fields of Western secular knowledge. For the spirit, the “soul,” there is the growing popularity of overpriced, undernourished seminars, retreats or intensives, designed to bring a being face to face with oneself. Unfortunately, that “self” is, again, the body, for if one can relax it, stretch it, fill it with good food, massage it, steep it for hours in healing waters, run it around the grounds, engage it in sports, and indulge it in some dancing in the evening, the spiritual criterion of “holistic healing” is deemed satisfied and the “spirit” is considered rejuvenated.
Have you ever wondered what happens to us when we die? What if you really HAD to know? When tragedy strikes the family of young Jobran Winter, he is forced to confront these questions directly. Undertaking a feverish "Quest," he explores various branches of Christianity; Judaism; Islam; Hinduism; Buddhism; Sikhism, as well as the religions of China and Japan. His search encompasses the New Age, Reincarnation, Spiritism and Psychical Research. Attending channeling sessions and sances, investigating haunted houses and Near-Death Experiences, he examines spiritual traditions ranging from Swedenborg to Scientology, from Jodo Shinshu to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Finally, the Quest brings him into direct contact with Hospice work; physical disability; child abandonment; abortion; suicide; euthanasia, and even cold-blooded murder. Encounter the doctrines of Purgatory & Predestination, Universalism & Annihilationism, as you journey in a novel that will make you reexamine your ideas about religion, skepticism, love, death and LIFE.
The Spring issue of Nectar of Nondual Truth is duly and devoutly dedicated to sacrifice and spiritual disciplines. How do these two timeless principles relate to each other? In many ways, but the three most obvious are on cosmic, collective and individual levels of existence. It is the last of these that is the focus of Nectar’s philosophical and religious spotlight herein, for in the personalized body/mind mechanism lies all the secrets for divine life and realization of our inherent perfection. Many do not believe in the innate divinity of mankind. Some are verily antagonistic to the very idea. Others, who have even allowed such a sententious thought room in their minds, only default to a position of eternal separation wherein they admit human beings capable of doing good but judge them all intrinsically fallible by nature. Thus they conceive human beings as ever disparate or dissimilar with God, who is perceived as being somewhere outside of them or, at best, only occasionally entering into the human condition under miraculous conditions. Thankfully, there are also the nondualists, who have experienced indivisible Awareness within themselves and have rendered even this universe blissful by gazing through the “Single Eye of Truth.” Jesus of Nazareth was one such, stating, “I and my Father are One.” Out of the antiquitous Treta Yuga, Sri Ram was another: “The embodied being is actually all-pervading and endless. It is one without a second, unaffected by anything, eternal, pure, and of the nature of Consciousness.” Lord Buddha of India took the nondual view: “Freed from reckoning by the material shape, feeling, perception, or consciousness, is the Tathagata; he is deep, immeasurable, unfathomable, as is the great ocean.” From among the greatest of Christian mystics, Meister Eckhart explains: “Those who would see God must see as God sees.” More currently, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa of Bengal states: “When the mind merges in Brahman the individual soul and the Supreme Soul become one. The aspirant goes into samadhi. His consciousness of the body and knowledge of the world disappears. He does not behold the many anymore. His reasoning stops.” Included in the pages of Nectar’s Spring issue are articles to inspire us on towards practice and attainment of all things noble that we cherish and seek after. From unassailable truths to heartfelt devotions, from fervid aspirations to unwavering probity, from refined emotions to words of well-considered reformation, from sedulous and sincere striving to the selfless sacrifice it entails — it is all here in Nectar. May all beings imbibe the nectar of nonduality, and feel the salubrious effects of its revivifying presence.
To know Religion is to know Truth, for that is its basis. And who knows the Truth? Those who have realized It through the unique and specific ways and means leading to It. The enlightened souls and the honest oral and written records they left behind should become the recourse of the wise seeker. Such a seeker hears the Truth contained within the nondual revealed scriptures, then gets the transmission of Truth directly from a realized soul, then practices intensely with dedication and perseverence to realize that Truth. This triple combination produces sages and seers. Reading a few books; giving a few talks; leading a few classes on relationships; fasting, dieting, breathing, and posturing the body; fascination with occult powers; indulging all the many modes of pretended spirituality; intellectual study devoid of any direct experience — when did any of these ever produce an authentic luminary?
As we take stock of all that this Winter issue of Nectar contains, it is the theme of suffering which stands out the most and begs for attention and inspection. Whether this suffering is of an emotional nature, a matter of physical ill-health, a case of mental unrest or of intellectual unsurety, it is a constant and nagging consideration on the minds of all beings in relativity. And it is just for this type of reason that teachings of the kind that appear in Nectar are so important and so necessary, for they are brought to bear upon the presence of suffering in healing fashion by the words of illumined souls such as Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Sri Sarada Devi, and others. It was this latter, the Holy Mother, who stated, “Misery, suffering, and pain — where will they go, my child? They are our companions in life.” Such admittances on the part of holy beings bring both relief and clarity to the situation, acting as a soothing lenitive to both body and mind. Moreover, the soul may also need amelioration at times, and teachings of a higher order are in store for that end. As one Christian mystic was reported to have said, “If you knew the purpose and benefit of your suffering, you would not ask that it be taken away,” leading us to conclude that suffering plays a role in both neutralizing the effects created by us on the field of action, and weaning us off of all of its causes so that we strive for higher existence.
The universality of world religions is certainly a subject of interest in these engaging and pivotal times, and one that is treated multi-dimensionally in this issue of Nectar. Nectar of Nondual Truth has, for three years, attempted to present this principle by offering articles from writers and practitioners who are deeply ensconced in and in love with their chosen path and ideal, and can therefore express the one indivisible Truth via their own deeply cherished stream of Wisdom. This is crucial — the practice of one tradition until realization through that single pathway has been achieved — in order to avoid confusion, contradiction, misperception and the surface understanding that usually accompanies a mere eclectic point of view devoid of penetrating and longevitous spiritual practice. The well-guided expansion of the limited human mind is likened to raising a family, wherein different children must each be given special attention based upon comprehension of their differing needs, capacities, and temperaments. But before all this is attempted, the first-born must be attended to, and then all the resultant growth in terms of challenges, mistakes, successes and valuable insights into child-rearing can thus be applied to the raising of those who come after. Wherever the first-born is neglected, or followed too soon by other siblings, thus falling into the background of the overburdened parent’s full attention, malnutrition on several levels occurs, and the valuable developmental stages of early growth are stripped of their power and purpose, resulting in a stunted condition — a life shorn of its fullest possibilities and potentials. This unfortunate outcome in the individual family unit is mirrored by the undernourished spiritual life of contemporary living beings in general, due not only to their own debilitating complacency around purificatory practices, but also due to their lack of appreciation, their ambivalence, and even their hostility towards the sacred traditions of the world — religions adhered to by the same-selfed brothers and sisters of the multifarious but inseparable family of mankind. On the other hand, after sincere and one-pointed commitment to Truth is attained, followed up by a firm dedication to one’s path, a sedulous practice, and an unswerving devotion to God and Guru — all constantly cultivated — the onset of spiritual maturation will occur as a matter of course.
The Fall issue of Nectar of Nondual Truth is graced by articles from teachers and practitioners of the different religious traditions of the world, all offering knowledge and approbation of their especial path and ideal. And since application is more beneficial than approbation, the various verses and views expressed cogently herein should compel us to implement the important lessons and teachings into our everyday existence — not merely as transitory experiences, but as transforming transmission. As God exists both with eyes open and eyes closed, so too do all walks of life abound with the possibility of divine communion. As is said in our Vedanta tradition: To Labor is to pray, to conquer is to renounce, to have and to hold is as stern a trust as to quit and to avoid. Life itself is religion. The farmyard and the field, the workshop, the study, the studio are as true and fit scenes for the meeting of God with man as the cell of a monk or the door of a temple. Art, science and religion are but three different ways of expressing a single truth.
“V” is for Victory! In Vedanta, and in spiritual life per se, this equates to achieving success in maintaining the intimate and singularly meaninglful contact with Brahman, the Source of all Existence — even and especially in the midst of our daily life and routine. This is effectively brought about, as the timeless rishi, Vasishtha, relates, through mastery of the life-force (pranajaya), control of the mind (manojaya), attenuation of desires (vasanakshaya), and neutralization of karmas (karma-nirodha) — all penultimate to acquiring that special ability to focus upon Divine Reality to the exclusion of all else (samadhana) until the consummate inner connection (samadhi) is well-established. For this, it is necessary for the two forces of human aspiration and Divine Dispensation to work harmoniously together. To facilitate this in the timeless and time-tested Vedic tradition, advised and available to all, the aspirant utilizes Vedanta (the eternal path) to activate Vichara (self-inquiry) to increase Viveka (discrimination) to deconstruct Vivarta (false superimposition) to remove Vikalpas (mental projections) and destroy Vasanas (root desires) in order to establish Vairagyam (detachment) to become a Vidvan (wisdom-knower) and attain Vijnana (supreme realization). Thus, “V” is for Victory! With such salubrious teachings well-considered, we offer our current helping of Wisdom-Nectar, mainly of or based on the Vedanta. In past issues we have highlighted many of the world’s religions, thereby rendering heartfelt service to the excellent principle of Universality and the harmony of all religions; a timely theme, considering the state of the world and its affairs. But we, as Westerners — videlicet, temporarily embodied souls appearing in a Western setting but espousing no personal or permanent location other than the all-pervasive Atman — feel an inborn affinity with the timeless and eternal Vedanta and feel it has an especial message suited for these times. We thereby and herein emphasize it in a series of intriguing and galvanizing articles designed to preserve yet percolate our precious consciousness, keeping it pure and pellucid.
This compelling study of the Ri-me movement and of the major Buddhist lineages of Tibet is comprehensive and accessible. It includes an introduction to the history and philosophy of the Ri-me movement; a biography of the movement's leader, the meditation master and philosopher known as Jamgön Kongtrul the Great; helpful summaries of the eight lineages' practice-and-study systems, which point out the different emphases of the schools; an explanation of the most hotly disputed concepts; and an overview of the old and new tantras. Jamgön Kongtrul the Great (1813–1899) is a giant in Tibetan history, renowned for his scholarly and meditative achievements, but also for his energetic yet evenhanded work to unify and strengthen the different lineages of Buddhism. The Ri-me movement, led by Kongtrul and several other leading scholars of the time, was a unifying effort to cut through interscholastic divisions and disputes that were occurring between the different lineages. These leaders sought appreciation of the differences and acknowledgment of the importance of variety in benefiting practitioners with different needs. The Ri-me teachers also took great care that the teachings and practices of the different schools and lineages, and their unique styles, did not become confused with one another. This lucid survey of the Ri-me movement will be of interest to serious scholars and practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism.
There are innumerable ways of cultivating life’s many abundant harvests, but none more fruitful, fulfilling and freeing than a regimen of sedulous striving in the realm of spiritual practice. Why is this so? Assuredly, nothing other than purification of mind can facilitate the most subtle and sought after freedom that the human being longs for, either consciously, secretly or unconsciously. And this purification is achieved via sadhana, spiritual disciplines prescribed by an adept and esteemed religious preceptor according to revealed scripture, which cuts every man and woman in the image of abiding perfection inherent in each individual. Every man, Shiva incarnate, desires to break free of all the binding fetters of life and mind, but life itself is predicated upon a duality-fraught existence created by the manifold mind. Each woman, Shakti in manifest form, dreams of a life shorn of its weights and limitations, but the restrictive modes of nature and the constricting conventions of church, family and society unwittingly fashion the very chains that bind existence into painfully predictable scenarios and boring rounds of sleepy and sterile routine. Given this conundrum, it is no wonder that the key of innate spirituality and its superlative aim is held out again and again, from age to age and lifetime to lifetime, by truly compassionate beings who have tasted freedom and spare no efforts in order to share it with suffering humanity. And they often initiate the process of its discovery in seeking and suffering beings by pointing out the need for an intense yearning to be free. “Cry, oh mind, with a real cry,” sings Ramprasad Sen, “and the Mother of the Universe will not be able to withhold Her sweet Presence from you any longer.” “Beings cry jugs of tears for mates, money and materials,” states Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, “but shed not one tear for God.” Furthermore, our intense yearning to be free must lead us straightaway to the path, the teacher and the specific formula for the attainment of divine life which best suits each individual’s karmas, abilities, and capacities. The thorough breakdown of all that impedes — doubt, fear, misconception, inordinate desire — is brought to bear in life by the cultivation of spirituality via hands-on practice. Without it, there adheres in the mental body a whole host of various forms of attachment, call them what you will, many of them masquerading meekly as freedom. As Sri Shankaracharya poignantly puts it: “When I was a baby I was attached to my mother’s breast; when I was a young man I was attached to a young woman; when I was old I was attached to anxiety; but to the Supreme Brahman, alas, I was never attached."
Islam, Vedanta, Yoga, Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism — one finds all these and more represented in Nectar of Nondual Truth. And never mind that there are points of difference with regard to practice and approach. You will find a nearly unanimous agreement around the Essence. On the cover, in the scriptural quote for this issue, we find the rishis of ancient India referring to this nondual Reality in terms of “something hidden.” It is indicated by religious traditions as the Pearl of Great Price, the White Dove Ascending, the Bourne of Freedom from Fear, the Ultimate Quest and other expressions which indicate both the beauty of and the difficulty involved in finding this Treasure, and infer the huge amount of self-effort that will have to be undertaken to succeed in this most excellent endeavor. But purity, practice, patience and perseverance — what can stymie the aspiring soul who approaches Divine Reality with such resolve? If one wants to see patina exude from a copper penny, one places it in a damp atmosphere and watches for days, weeks, even months, until that green substance finally issues forth. What a huge amount of work and effort is involved in gaining a few drops sesame oil from hundreds of seeds! Reality is “hidden,” then. Nature is Its sporting-ground, the universe Its Cosmic Mind, thought-force is Its power to create, revealed scripture is Its revelation, and forms and objects are solid reminders of both Its power to create and Its transcendent and unlimited nature. Yet, all of these are reflections, are insentient material principles. The one Spirit, though It pervades them, is independent of them, and they all get their existence and their ability to shine with reflected light from That. It is Svarupa, to quote the ancients, Essential Being, and everything, everyone else, is Svarupavishranti — always resting in this one essential Being.