The premise that man can extricate himself from material nature all by himself is a farce that clearly doesn’t apply to the realm of spiritual knowledge for a multitude of reasons. I shall outline some of them here. Even materially we require some form of formal teaching at some point of our lives. Our auto-didactic natures are an acquired trait and it follows from the availability of information. Conversely, in order to navigate the spectrum of spiritual experience, a bona fide spiritual mentor is indispensable. A spiritual master coming from an unbroken chain of succession from Krsna Himself frees us from our karmic burden by his spiritual mettle, initiates us by giving us a spiritual seed which we will have to nurse, giving us entrance into the transcendental realm.
The transcendental nature of the spiritual experience runs counter to mundane experience and this is directly an import from the spiritual worlds. Whenever we experience the spiritual through a mantra, meditation or any form of communion, we have established a connection with that realm. This spiritual realm is cognizant, ecstatic and eternal and we have been wrought into these triple natures. This is why in this world, devoid of spiritual experience, all of us are like “fish out of water”. This is essentially because we experience ignorance, suffering and temporality which are anathema to our natures.
Much of the Guru-business in this age is a scam and this explains our frustration with spiritual guides for, at the present moment, the world is full of spiritual artists trying to romanticize, be it: yoga, meditation or even the scriptures. Much of spiritual knowledge exists to slash the chords of ignorance which keep us fettered into this realm of frustration and establishing a spiritual connection is only facilitated through a transparent via medium – the very role enacted by the bona fide spiritual master. Many initiates receive a constant stream of spiritual vigour from their spiritual masters. This is why a constant stream of gratitude flows back up that chain.
So how to navigate the uncharted territory of the spiritual path? On one side, we have our inexperience and on the other side, we have spiritual conmen. The surest way is to foster an in-depth understanding of the science of God as pointed out in the Vedic literatures. Reading spiritual literature that is authoritative will immediately place us in the direction of knowledge which can serve us greatly, which will be a mainstay for us throughout our lives and preclude us from being misled. It also behoves us to understand that we are in search of a guide, not of someone who will serve us everything on a silver platter. If I were to do over things, I would definitely place much more importance on finding a genuine Guru and taking shelter as soon as possible. Genuine gurus can accelerate the growths of their serious disciples.
It is said in spiritual circles that a form of the Supreme Guru or Caitya Guru lives within your heart and that He sends you His bona fide representative when you are sincerely seeking Him. The Caitya Guru, Supersoul or Holy Ghost is God Himself for no one but God can disseminate pure spiritual knowledge. For those who are serious on the spiritual path, having a genuine initiating Guru is something that transcends the present birth. At the time of initiation, the Guru promises to deliver the disciple even if this means he will have to take repeated births to succour him from samsara, the cycle of birth and death.
One authoritative lineage is extant to this day. It is the Brahma-Madhava Gaudiya Sampradaya. Through this lineage is being propagated the science of Krsna Bhakti as well as the chanting of the Mahamantra. Additionally, bona fide English translations of several scriptures recommended for the awakening of love of God in this Age are available through this Sampradaya. However, this is not immediately apparent. At first sight, it would seem that there is nothing special going on in what is today called the Hare Krishna movement, but for those who have a keen eye to perceive, the treasure house of the touchstone of love of Godhead has been opened and all the confidential ways of how to dovetail our consciousness in devotional service is being taught and practised by those who appreciate the value of what they have received.
Like I have previously mentioned, the process of repeating the mantra is instrumental to getting a taste of the bliss and happiness which we are supposed to experience. Then again, there is much more to it than just bliss. It is a manner of dovetailing one’s consciousness, mind and activities such that a true revolution occurs within one’s heart. As one cleans the dust on the mirror of the heart, one will find that one’s nature is indeed one of unadulterated, unalloyed eternity, joy and knowledge. So, in other words yes a spiritual master is necessary but if one is not within your reach for some reason or another, then chanting the Holy Names and associating with the teachings (vani) of A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami, a pure devotee, can tremendously help.
By Krishna Leela Prakash ©