QUOTE (Aran @ Jul 28 2010, 07:46 AM)
The reason being, by the time I became interested in Bhakti, I had become almost totally disinterested in so-called 'Enlightenment' - a term which even back then (before I became so incredibly advanced and astute) sounded thoroughly ambigious and, I felt, suspect.
Love was what mattered then, and what matters now.
I chased enlightenment for about a decade before becoming a devotee through the advanced practice of the TM organization, and with time I began to see that very few people within that system exuded any type of enlightened symptoms or even very many nice qualities outside the leadership lectures, telling everyone that one day it will come and that if we meditated in groups we would create world peace.
I was involved in a 3-month group peace coherence initiative on the Israeli/Lebanon border, where 3000 meditators from around the world practiced TM and the Sidhis in order to create peace in that region. It all happened months before the first peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed, so the TM organization took full credit for making consciousness possible for the event to take place. During that course, the Shah of Iran was deposed and the Ayatollah took over, plus the Jonestown Massacre happened too, but we wonít think too deeply about how the 3000 peace meditators may have effected those events through their refined consciousness, or how eventually the leaders of both Egypt and Israel would get assassinated. Though at the time I believed that I was having an effect on world consciousness, it did not take too much time to see that all was not well in the TM land of OZ either.
When I became a devotee, I really thought I was joining a mature community of spiritual practitioners, the ISKCON F.A.T.E. museum artists convinced me, but they were a small liberal subgroup of artist devotees who did not really reflect what was happening in the greater community of 1981, for all hell was about to be let loose in the organization in only a few more years. As a devotee, I was not really going after enlightenment anymore, but Bhakti, Love of God. What I found shortly was that there was no time for Love, just a scramble for money to support the system by selling stickers, buttons, paintings and once in a while an actual book. Infighting within the temples concerning service activities and access to the guru, territory disputes and zonal gurus on the march, it all seems like an activity blur with no time for contemplation or going deep within to see what was there Ö it was all so outer.
There were times of sanity and a feeling of devotion, like at the early morning mangal artiks, where the feet hit the cold marble floor in the darkness of 4 AM, while bodies assembled in front of closed curtains, then the sound of the blowing conch shell with light streaming out from the alter as the curtains finally opened. The deities seemed to be effulgent emerging from the smoky haze of burning incense which smelled so heavenly, then the singing and chanting, that was so nice and peaceful until someone from the kitchen or temple office tapped you on the shoulder.
Accosted from the possible morning bliss, you were asked to do service, cutting veggies, washing pots, running to the airport to pick up flowers or some VIP carrying a stick, then of course if you worked on creating books like I did, there were always deadlines and marathons to get those pages and art out the door and to the printer on time. There was very little time to smell the roses in ISCKON, there was little time for development of the love for God you came there for and which was preached to you from the Vyasasan Ö at least that was my experience in the years I was involved. Devotion to God was called service, service was work, the more menial and hard, the longer the hours the better I was taught, the more selfless you were, the less you complained and did the needful, the more you would be rewarded in the end, but the reward never came, unless seeing people get sick, stressed out and feeling stretched to their physical and mental limits was the bliss that was promised?
Now, I see every day life as enlightenment, every person is a teacher, every problem, conflict, crossroad, realization, experience is the path, itís all here right now and how we play with the clay, mold or cast it, itís what we make of ourselves, helping others when we can and expressing love to best of our ability ... that has become my spiritual program, be it with a guru or God or without, mine mostly without. it is endarkened and enlightened all at the same time Ö well at least for now, anyway