We Must Increase Our Trust to Turn Anxiety into Dust


( – We Must Increase Our Trust to Turn Anxiety into Dust

oṁ ajñāna-timirāndhasya
cakṣur-unmīlitaṁ yena
tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto my Spiritual Teacher who has opened my eyes from the darkness of ignorance with the torchlight of knowledge.”

I’ve had a very emotional week visiting the ISKCON New Govardhana community and feeling so much love and appreciation from devotees who I’ve not seen in a decade or more. This article will certainly reflect that sentiment, which I think is a good thing for myself and anyone who cares to read. This morning, I thought that if my life were to end today, I would be very satisfied if these were my last words to those I’ve been blessed to have in my life. Here goes.

Kṛṣṇa (or just “God” if you’re more comfortable with that language) does not much reveal Himself to those who haven’t fallen in love with His devotees. This doesn’t just refer to the eternal devotees of Vraja; but to all of our comrades who are struggling beside us to progress in a life of bhakti with the aim for developing love for God. It also doesn’t just refer to the devotees we’re told we are meant to love, but all of them: the ones suffering from mental health issues, the ones struggling with addiction, the ones who keep their distance from the institutions, the ones who are honest with their gender or sexual diversity. Kṛṣṇa loves them all so dearly that we best learn how to interact in such a way that pleases Him.

Anyone who is just coming into or, more likely, reviving a previous life of devotional progress should be reminded and taught this in the beginning of their education in spiritual life. Kṛṣṇa is not nearly as concerned with His own flattery as He is with sweetness amongst His beloved. His focus is on serving His devotees. In this way, He is so naturally attractive. If we want to appreciate Kṛṣṇa deeply, then we must align ourselves with appreciating and serving those devotees. That’s what He does.

My great-grandfather in spiritual lineage, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, advises us not to strive to see Kṛṣṇa, but act in such a way that Kṛṣṇa will want to see us.

Sometimes we can have some rough exchanges with devotees. This is to be expected as our hearts are still not perfectly clean. A deeper understanding, guided by sacred scripture and the examples of saintly people, would provide the anxietyless state where we have the vision to see such conflicts as opportunities to grow in love. Does a mother react vindictively when her toddler pulls her hair, screams at, or even vomits on her? No. That behaviour is expected, and her love envelops that child far beyond the circumstance. Similarly, we’re all works in progress. We have to learn to make things right with others when things don’t go as expected. Love isn’t at our beck and call waiting to follow our demands. Rather, we have to go where She wants us to go, even if that means sometimes taking an apologetic position. Kṛṣṇa sees our intention. We have nothing to fear.

Śrī Gaurasundara instructs:

tṛṇād api su-nīcena taror iva sahiṣṇunā
amāninā māna-dena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor but is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.

Looking more closely …
amāninā – expecting no respect for ourselves
māna-dena – giving respect to everyone

… and what do we get for our efforts?

kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ – we can easily and always chant the holy name of the Lord.

Why is this? Because Kṛṣṇa gives Himself to us, actually feels indebted to us, and allows us to experience Him in His sweet name. Chanting becomes so much more than a mechanical discipline. Some mystics have even been so absorbed in this chanting, that they’ve left behind everything else and completely depend on divine arrangement for their bodily needs, such as food and clothing.

Back to Earth.

I look inside myself to see what is getting in the way of this opportunity that Kṛṣṇa is eager for us to have. For me, it’s this annoying social anxiety. Sometimes, for the slightest reason, something triggers this fear of being underappreciated, unwanted or even outright rejected. An unreciprocated affectionate gesture to another devotee can send me into a spin. It’s really dumb, and I even know this at the time, but it still happens. “I tried to be so nice, but they didn’t even notice.” I’m pushing myself here to expose my embarrassing position.

So I look at the saints I’ve heard about in my life. First, I learned about Lord Jesus Christ who, while being tortured publicly on a cross, prayed for those who were persecuting him. Imagine someone not only publicly ridiculing you, but whipping you in front of your dearest companions, nailing you to a cross for all to see, and condemning you to death, all for sharing a message of God’s love. Then, despite the deep injustice, your feelings are not indignant, not even reactive, but prayerfully concerned about the fate of those doing that to you. “Forgive them father, they know not what they do.” It boggles the mind.

Fifteenth century saint Ṭhākura Haridāsa was so loved by the people in his area of Bengal at the time that the government authority saw him as a threat. After several unsuccessful attempts to blacken his name, he was dragged through twenty-two marketplaces and beaten viciously in front of all. The guards that were administering the beating began to plead with him to die so that they would not be accused of holding back and only giving him a light beating. Hearing their anxiety, he complied by using his yogic power to suspend his life airs so that his body appeared dead. After being thrown into the river, he floated downstream for some time, then emerged chanting:

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu loved him so much that, when Haridāsa departed from this world, he personally begged the shopkeepers in Jagannātha Purī to donate for a feast in his honour that Śrī Gaurāṅga served out himself.


Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally buried the body of Ṭhākura Haridāsa into his samādhi tomb.

So it seems in these examples of Lord Jesus and Haridāsa that reacting to extreme misfortune by taking shelter of God is part of a saint’s job description. Why, then, can some of us get so bent out of shape over little things like not being offered the ghee lamp in our individually imagined pecking order of seniority? Why do we react to being slighted with the disrespected feeling, “Do you know who I am?” I think it just comes down to a whole lot of unnecessary fear. Simple.

Rather than letting ourselves get reactive, it’s better to keep reminded of how dear devotees are to Kṛṣṇa and sometimes just “take one for the team”. Kṛṣṇa will put things right if we take confidence that He will look after us. He assures us in Bhagavad-gītā that his devotees have nothing to fear.

We are loved. We are loved. We are loved.

I pray for the courage to truly honour everyone without expecting any honour for myself. Something about even articulating that here sounds liberating.

May be a doodle


Kṛṣṇa lifts the chin of Kubjā, transforming her from a hunchback into a woman of dazzling beauty.


Image courtesy of Radhesyam Dasi

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These words were not generated with or augmented by artificial intelligence; just “flawsome” human thoughts here … with, of course, due homage to The Algorithm that abides over us all.

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