I wanted to ask about following the regs that are laid down in the blueprint table.
I would be interested to hear whether other people have the same experience as me, that chanting is the easy part of the whole process and that what is most difficult and so disheartening at times, is following the other regulations.
In this regard I have made alot of progress over the last few years, but it has been monumentally difficult to be quite honest.
For those lucky enough to be born into a vegetarian, tee total , clean living society or family I would imagine that this part is not so difficult. For people who live temple life this must be easier, because their is no opportunity to not follow the regs and the regs become engrained in them like a habit that cant be broken.
But for those of us who are unfortunate to be born in a culture of meat eating, drug taking and general pro debauchery attitudes, it is soooo hard to change from that because those are habits we have learnt just as the devotees have learnt to be clean living and so would find it so hard to change that.
It has taken me over 10 years to become free from all my bad habits and even now it seems like it is just the beginning. I wonder how long it will take to develop and have engrained in me the new habits, the ways that are laid down as law in the scriptures.
It is like losing your coping mechanisms and although it sounds easy to just say no to one thing and replace it with another, in truth it is very difficult as without the old coping mechanisms, it becomes increasingly hard to cope with the material world.
In the West most people use so many props to help them cope. Alcohol, drugs (prescription and non prescription) illicit sex etc, meat eating, all the no nos of the regs, they use in order to cope and what is hard is that when you give up these coping mechanisms you realise that you dont have the inner resources to help you cope and so life becomes increasingly difficult and it is increasingly difficult to be part of the society you have been brought up in because if you are not following their regs, generally you are not accepted.
So it seems that for those of us in this situation, we have to go through this transition period that can be very lonely, the time when you are not really strong enough in your resolve to follow the regs to be able to associate with those hell bent on getting you to take alcohol and drugs and meat etc, but you are also not worthy of the devotees association because you have not yet learnt coping mechanisms to replace the old bad habits.
It is really difficult to be in a situation where you dont eat eggs onion and garlic, dont drink alcohol or take drugs and to be socially acceptable to others in a culture where those are the done things. It is ok to talk to those people about why you are doing it, but at the end of the day you still have to put up with them preaching to you about their values and their ways and it gets so tiring having to constantly hear those same old arguments again and again and to be socially frowned upon because you dont want to buy into their way of life.
I know that if I drank alcohol, took drugs, ate meat etc I would have a whole host of frinds and associates, but i dont want to give up on the regs ideals just in order to have friends it would seem to be a cop out.
I wondered if anyone else has experienced this transition and how they dealt with it. Is there light at the end of the tunnel, is there any hope to have any kind of social life unless you go and live in the Dhama where others are doing the same thing and have the same ideals.
Any of the other mathajis or prabhujis that have experience about this and have any advice they can give me i would be really happy to hear.
Thank You very much for posting Your article which makes me not to feel alone while struggling with this empty society full of senseless enjoyment and destruction of our own bodies. I absolutely share Your feelings and views, I am in the period of a transition too. Altough I am just 23, I passed already through all the bad habits so usuall for our society, which don't make you even think about the fact that you are doing something wrong and destroying your body. We are parts of a very big social mecanism which enprisons us from the very birth and make us acording to it, no as we want but es "they" want....
Thanks to God I was able to realise with the time that I was just a slave and decided first to give up smoking. It was two years ago and not easy. Especially when I was living together with smokers and practically all my friends are smokers. But I won and wow. If the others could only knew how relieved I was feeling. It pushed me and while in the meanwhile I started to meditate I tried to fight slowly against my addiction to alcohol too. This was even more difficult for me. All my friends, all the parties, all the occasions, my daily life - always in connection of alcohol. I was able to give it up thanks my motivation for meditation. Because all I was gaining in couple of days vanished with the next hang-over, I realised that it was a big obstruction and I was also fed up already with it. I started to realise that it doesn't give me nothing...
I was starting to be succesfull in that case too and my life started to look different. No parties anymore, staying rather at home in the evening, reading spiritual literature and just relaxing, thinking, etc... Feeling a little bit alone to be honest. Like You. But at the same time satisfied, satisfied with myself, my victory. I don't mind what the other people, my friends think about me. If they are real friends then they will accept. My life is more important. And I fell that I am doing it well and if the others can't understand, pity for them. They are not aware of their slavery. They consider freedom when they can take anything and do anything. It's just a prison nothing else!
The only thing to fight against which is remaining is lust. I think You will agree, that it's too much in our society. Open and at the same time empty again. "They" want us really to live an animal live. We are slowly becoming just the animals who are paying taxes. And this is what counts for "them". So sex, the strongest attachment, at least for me. But again thanks to God and the mantrameditation, there are positive changes. Slowly, slowly I pray to God the last slavery will disappear, the time when I can think just about Him.
At the end I'd like to thank You again that You've opened this topic. We, devotees, should stand to each other, give strength and hope to each other. We are few, lonely many times, but our relations can be more pure and worthy in comparism with the other empty relations of nowadays.
At the same time I'd like to thank to our Dear Swami Gaurangapada and all the devotees who make efforts for the preaching and enabling this forum thanks to which we could exchange our feelings, doubts, ideas, sorrows, etc...
One thing more I want to tell You. You are worrying if there is any hope for having some social life. Yes, there is! I believe, God knows Your desires, just make a wish! He sent me very nice friends couple months ago, I could never imaging before. Spiritual, better than all my previous friends together. It requires patient, yes, but the results will certainly come.
Spirituality is everything!
If we have to pay for it, let us pay for it! I believe, that it's worthy.
Your friend, Matus ===========
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!
Dear Chandrika Gauranga dasi,
You're making a valid point here. It indeed isn't easy to just switch our habits, let alone our eating habits. True, the chanting and the reading is the easy part. As a grhastha (householder), it can be hard to convince the children to eat things like tofu or dhal. I don't use ghee-butter anymore, and have cut the amounts of spices significantly to make them accept my 'new cuisine'. Kurma das will be giving a cooking course at the beginning of July in Radhadesh (Belgium). A nice learning opportunity for me to serve an even better tasting prasadam.
As long as one tells one has become a vegetarian for reasons of "health" using the magic words like cholesterol, diabetes and IBS the idea is rather accepted. But you're right: if one tells one follows these regulations out of religious principles, one is socially frowned upon and everyone will try to prove how wrong you are!
For me the answer lies in the article "The Spiritual Duties of Householders" by Swami Gaurangapada. I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me to overcome the situations you just mentioned.
Yours in the service of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna,
Damodara Svarupa dasa =====
Dear Chandrika Gauranga Dasi,
Nityananda Gauranga Hare Krishna! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and to Swami Gaurangapada.
I thought to briefly write what little I may be able to contribute as your article is very honest forthright and raises important points. The term " coping " comes up a lot and I immediately thought . . .Coping with what? And of course it's really about this dark Kali Yuga age in which we are in. So I feel if we go back to basics as it were, Lord Gauranga tells us in no uncertain terms that offenseless chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare is not only our only hope of " coping" in this age but of being freed entirely from the vicious cycle of birth and death. So, for myself, I find what helps is at the start of each day to try to have faith in Lord Gauranga in that this chanting will give me complete protection from all these negative influences, it is the only practical defense and the only way to cope. A final point, why worry about being accepted by those still in undesirable habits? By chanting the holy names with faith they will surely come to you for acceptance. His holiness Swami Gaurangapada has given us the priceless gems of the names of Gauranga and Nityananda as means of unlocking the Hare Krishna Mantra to be chanted offenselessly. So even if we do fall short of the ideal sometimes, we can call on the mercy of Lords Nityananda and Gauranga and surely they will shower us with their glorious grace in good time. It is our sincere efforts about the "regs" and all else on this path that attracts the Lord's grace. As an unqualified and unworthy devotee I hope this imperfect article in reply helps just a little.