in case you don't know, when you become an initiated disciple of a guru in hare krishna world you make five promises. for the most part they seem reasonable and don't sound so difficult to follow - but in reality, in the material world, they can be quite a challenge.
in the interest of coming clean and being real, I've decided to discuss my position with the promises I made to my guru and krishna over a decade ago.
|getting my beads and the initiation fire, where promises are made for life|
chanting 16-rounds: when you get initiated your guru hands you a set of japa beads - which are essentially prayer beads - like a rosary. in the ISKCON tradition, you promise to chant 16-rounds of the hare krishna mantra every day. one round is saying the mantra 108 times. so basically you say the prayer 1,728 times. it takes roughly two hours. the purpose of saying this prayer is to become closer to krishna - to focus on his name and his form and to become more "krishna conscious".
personally, I stopped chanting my vowed number of rounds after my first daughter was born 10 years ago. I've chanted on and off since then, but for the most part it's been a lost cause. chanting for me (at least on beads, which for me feels different then singing in kirtan/bhajans) is not enjoyable. it feels like burden. I'm not focused on krishna and I spend most of the time thinking of a million other things. so what's the point? I've been told that if I just keep doing it, I'll eventually get a "taste" for it. I just don't have the patience for that. at least not now.
other than chanting, when you get initiated you promise to abstain from four other things... this is called following the four regulative principles.
no meat-eating: this means being vegetarian - no eating of meat, fish, or eggs. I've never waived from this purposefully. yes, I've had my fair share of accidental situations (like eating something and not knowing it had something nasty in it until later). but this is something that no matter what I think I will always follow. the only thing I can confess to here is that I hardly ever (almost never!) offer my food to krishna - which devotees are supposed to always do. and also I have no problem eating somewhere that serves meaty stuff. I've known people who are adamently against 1. eating out and/or 2. eating at places that serve meat. personally, my opinion is that if you eat anything that is factory processed, it has the same chance of being contaminated as if you eat somewhere that cooks meat. and I guess I just don't care that much. whatevers.
no gambling: for the most part I follow this. I don't buy lottery tickets and I don't go to casinos on the regular. though a few years ago my husband and I saw norah jones and fiona apple (separate occasions) at the borgata in atlantic city and we certainly did play the slots. we figured what was the difference if we spent $50 playing slots and lost the money, or just went out and wasted it at the movies? it's all still maya. again, I don't quite see the big deal about it.
no illicit sex: I've heard so many definitions of what this means. but the most extreme was that this means no sex unless it's for procreation purposes. yea, I pretty much never followed this. but the best part about this principle is that I know so many people who never followed it! and then there were a few people who said they did follow it and told me they thought everyone else was following it! honestly, I really feel like if you're married and you're having sex with your spouse it's not a big deal. you're married! sex is important for connecting to your spouse. honestly, my opinion on that will never change.
no intoxication: this one includes smoking, drugs, alcohol, and caffeine. basically anything that will alter your natural state. can I give this one a big sigh? SIGH! ok, smoking and drugs, check - I agree, bad news. caffeine - ugh! can I just say that for years I took this to the extreme and didn't even eat chocolate (the love of my life!). but here it is: I know dozens - dozens of devotees who drink caffeine - coffee, soda, tea, whatever. and nowadays it's like no big deal. honestly, I don't think it's a big deal - but here it is - the next thing I'm about to say people would think is a big deal...
I started drinking alcohol about six months ago. I only drank a handful of times before I became a devotee, and then spent 15+ years clean and sober. and all of a sudden I just decided I wanted to experiment. and not that I'm drinking like every day or even weekly, but I feel like, ok, I'm 33 years old and wait, why can't I do this?! and shhh, here it is - there are other devotees out there that do it too! and while I respect people's privacy, I just feel like I don't want to pretend to be something that I'm not. or feel or think things that I don't. so why not just be honest?!
so here it is. this is where I'm at. I suppose that all of these things combied technically make me "blooped" - I freaking HATE that word, by the way. but here's the real deal: I love krishna. that will never ever ever change. I know that he is god. it's this process that I doubt - and mostly because I have seen so many people fanatically practice it and fall from it. and I have practiced it and not advanced - no matter how hard I try.
where does that leave me now? I don't feel blooped - I feel confused mostly. I had an intensely scary dream about my guru the other night and it made me want to worship and serve him so badly. but... but there's something in me that's not there right now. this is why I feel so confused and like I don't know who I am anymore. I spent 15 years of my life dedicated to wanting to be a true hare krishna devotee. I wanted to serve and love my guru, krishna, and the devotees. and all of a sudden I just lost it. ok, not all of a sudden - over time - but it feels very all of a sudden. sometimes I think I would give anything to roll the clock back two or three years and be the me of then. but I wonder who that girl was - is that who I really am? how do I figure this out? how do I reconcile my past with my present with my future and what is in my head and my heart? I don't know. really.
so yea, there it is. judge me if you want. hate me, disown me... whatever. but if nothing else, I am honest.
|in vrindavan. this picture always makes me think of the cover of that 'vraja lila' book.|