Its a bitter pill to swallow - realising that after 5 years of initiation, I am not a better devotee. Rather than take care of the tiny creeper that was planted by my Guru Maharaja's mercy, I have neglected it, doing the bare minimum to make sure that it grows, albeit not strong and healthy enough to blossom.
And I have felt the repercussions. A feeling of disconnect, a lack of reciprocation, a sense of no longer being the recipient of Krsna's mercy. And if I'm not working for it, not hankering for it, why should I get it? A piece of maha, the Lords garland, some old jewellery - receieving these things in the past felt like such a personal exchange between myself and Krsna. And for the longest time - nothing!
Srila Prabhupada speaks the following words on Lord Nityananda's appearance day in Orissa in 1977:
"On the spiritual strength, the body moves. Suppose you have got a very good car, Mercedes car or Rolls Royce car. But when there is no petrol, how the car will move? It is not possible. There is spirit, petrol spirit. Similarly, real strength is spiritual strength.
That spiritual strength is Balarama. Bala means strength. Therefore we have to take shelter of the lotus feet of Balarama, guru-tattva.
Balarama means guru-tattva. Balarama represents guru. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. If we want to understand Caitanya Mahaprabhu, if we want to understand Krishna, then we must take shelter of Balarama.
Nayamatma bala-hinena labhyah. This bala- hinena labhyah, this Vedic injunction, means. Without the mercy of Balarama you cannot understand, you cannot realize your spiritual identification.
So that Balarama comes as Nityananda Prabhu. Balarama haila nitai. Therefore we must take shelter of Balarama. That is... This song has been sung by Narottama dasa Thakura. Nitai-pada-kamala, koti-candra-susitala. If we take shelter of Nityananda Prabhu, then we get peace.
Koti-candra-susitala. Just like in daytime, especially in the summer season, we become very much exasperated. But at night, in the evening, as soon as there is moonshine, we become very much satisfied. All days labor and fatigue is immediately moved. So nitai-pada-kamala, the shade of Nityananda Prabhu's lotus feet, is koti-candra-susitala, as pleasing as one crore of moonshine. One moonshine gives us so much pleasure. So if we want actually peace of mind, if we actually want to be free from this material fatiguement, then we must take the shelter of Nityananda Prabhu.
Nityananda Prabhu is the strength, spiritual strength. And without spiritual strength you cannot approach Krishna. Nayamatma pravaca... Simply by talking nonsense... Nayamatma pravacanena labhyah. If you are a good speaker, that does not mean you'll understand, yourself. Na medhaya: Neither by good brain. Because you have got very good brain you'll understand Krishna-no. Nayamatma pravacanena labhyo na medhaya na bahuna srutena. If you think that you are a very good scholar, university degree-holder, then you'll understand-no. This is not possible.
So we must have spiritual strength. That source of spiritual strength is Balarama, Krishna's next manifestation, prakasa- vigraha. Krishna is manifesting Himself through Balarama. So we have to take shelter of Nityananda Prabhu."
So I have been praying to my deities, to Lord Balarama, to give me spiritual strength. And for the first time in a long time I feel sincere. Or perhaps not sincere, but desperate. Desperate for the strength I need to be sincere. To be enthusiastic. To face the obstacles that stand in the way of being more involved here in this new country and emerge a better devotee for it.
After attending Yamuna Jivana and Siobhan's wedding at the Toronto temple on Sunday, too tired to dance, I sat down and enjoyed Bhaktimarga Swami's kirtan.
Mother Caitanya Devi, a sweet, sweet devotee, came up to and put something in my hand. A piece of bark. I looked up at her, a little confused.
"It's from Ekacakra," she shouted over the kirtan. "Lord Nityananda's birthplace." Then she smiled and gave me a few pebbles.
I was awestruck. A small piece of bark and some stones - all I needed to feel re-inspired.
Of course I have a long way to go, but this was just the boost my spiritual life needed.
I am eternally grateful to Lord Nityananda and His dear devotee, Mother Caitanya devi for their kindness.I pray that I may become stronger and stronger in my spiritual life and be truly worthy of the Lords' mercy.