“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before-more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle”
Motivational speakers would assure you that it’s bad to feel bad. Yet in Bhakti school, there are many stalwarts who cried feeling the pain of separation from the Lord. They also lamented at their disqualifications and condemned themselves for being sinful and wretched. Before you declare them to be a case of ‘acute depression’ consider the following fact.
For all their ‘negative’ talks, these devotees were spiritually blissful. The celebrated six goswamis of Vrindavan of the sixteenth century considered themselves as fallen. Yet they were kind to all, and served more than twenty two hours a day, and hardly ate anything. Their deep inner ecstasy of devotion nourished their souls. Thus they were popular with both the gentle and the ruffians. Their being highly evolved in consciousness is proven by their actions. The goswamis’ love for Krishna overflowed as an expression of humility. Tears shed for God and others are not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of pure heart.
A newcomer to spiritual life may misunderstand the deep inner ecstasy of these devotees and think it’s advisable to feel lowly and fallen. Being not connected to Krishna internally and then feeling meek would only accentuate a miserable existence. If you have faced failures in life and are feeling low, you need to first feel loved by Krishna.
We feel loved by our spiritual practices of chanting the Lord’s Holy Names. Along with this if we meditate on the gifts we have repeatedly received from the Lord, we’d be grateful. As we cultivate appreciation and gratitude to God, love would grow in the heart. A natural result of love is one examines his or her own inadequacies in relation to what the Lord is doing for them. Therefore if one feels lowly because his heart is filled with gratitude, then that feeling bad is healthy. However if one is full of himself and is constantly complaining and comparing himself with others, he’s diseased. When such a person claims he’s worthless, he’s seething with anger or depression and therefore it’s not humility but frustrated false ego. It’s advisable for such a person to somehow connect to Krishna by chanting His Holy Names and hearing His loving pastimes with His devotees. That would purify his heart of these contaminations.
One of Krishna’s closest associates was Uddhava. Even as a five year old boy, he’d play with Krishna’s dolls and ignore his mother’s calls for breakfast. As he grew older, his services only increased. The Srimad Bhagavatam describes Uddhava’s inner mood after Krishna left this world and he was visited by Vidura, another great devotee. Uddhava was grief stricken at Krishna’s departure and after Vidura enquired about the Lord, Uddhava remained silent for some time. He entered into a deep trance of remembrance of Krishna and then slowly came back to external consciousness and cried in separation from the Lord (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.2.3). Although he was old his service never slackened, and even as he externally cried and felt weak, internally he was remembering Krishna with gratitude, and therefore he only grew stronger spiritually.
Therefore real humility is not to feel fallen but to feel grateful to the Lord. Feeling ‘bad’ because God is doing so much for us would only increase our happiness, and we’d not trade this ‘bad’ for all the ‘good’ this world can offer. That’s because it’s God’s special reward to a sincere practitioner.