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Become a master first

Updeshamrita-Nector-of-instructionOur philosophy is to selflessly serve all; become the ‘servant of servant’ of God, Krishna. However I am now beginning to realize that we have to first become a ‘master’ of our own selves before we become a servant of God and other living entities. Without being a master of one’s own mind and senses, one cannot be a servant of God.

Srila Rupa Goswami has explained this in his upadesamrita, the Nectar of Instruction, verse 1:

“A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.”

The book ends with the instruction of being situated as an eternal servant of Srimati Radharani, and taking bath in her Radha kunda, the sacred lake. But the first verse is a significant reminder about the basics in spiritual life; have control over your mind, tongue, genitals, and then aspire to be the pure servant of Krishna. Of course we could also simultaneously endeavour to serve Krishna and also control our minds. Yet the principle is we need to take responsibility of being the master of our mind, as we try to become the servant of Krishna and devotees.

The first step in controlling the mind and senses is to take responsibility for all our situations in life. However, it’s easier to play the ‘blame game’ in life, and most people in this world are expert at this game.

“I am miserable because she makes me mad” is a classic example of not taking responsibility for our lives. We can truly begin to have control over our lives when we stop this dangerous internal dialogue and focus on our own needs and feelings that prompt us to say and do certain things. Take the above sentence for example, and consider the mental state of the person making it. He is ‘miserable’ by his own confession, and worse ‘irresponsible’ and lost control over his mind and senses. He is risking destroying a relationship and is very likely to lose many friends. How could he avert compounding his misery and better still, be happier in life?

Begin by acknowledging that you are mad because ‘you’ expected certain things and that didn’t happen, and now ‘you’ are miserable. “I wanted her to do certain things and she didn’t do them, and I am now feeling miserable”. What you have done by thinking and speaking like this is you are now sharing the blame; you are accepting that you are also responsible for your misery, because ‘you’ wanted a certain situation, and ‘your’ desires have been thwarted. By this confession, you are allowing the opportunities to explore different options to ease your misery; one of them being the possibility of changing ‘your’ own desires, and expectations.

Many who refuse to take responsibility for their feelings and situations do so because they are fearful; some fear they will lose control over others, and others are afraid to face their own desires and ambitions which may be less holy than they would like to believe. Many prefer to be in the illusion that they are wonderful and the world revolves around them. And when things don’t work the way they would prefer to, it’s more convenient to blame all others who are ‘out to get me’ rather than work on their own individual needs, feelings, abilities, and desires.

If we can increase the ‘awareness’ of our mental state, and then ask honest and painful questions to ourselves-about our own needs, and desires-we’d be more peaceful. Besides, we’d achieve a great degree of self-confidence, and mastery over our own inner self. And then we can truly serve others, because this service is now ‘my own offering’ of love rather than forced. We’d ‘purchase’ everything we do in life as ours; and would feel happy serving others. And ultimately a ‘happy servant’ is better than being simply a ‘servant’.

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