Goloka Dhama June 2011
For a few years now Gurudeva had not given a seminar in Goloka Dhama. This time, Gurudeva came for a Premiere. Indeed it was the first time Guru Maharaja was giving his seminar on the sacred space. Many devotees eager for the nectar came from foreign countries for that great opportunity.
"There is a sacred room inside our heart and although we are always walking in front of it, it is not so easy to enter it. To enter it, one needs a bridge. By connecting to Krishna as the paramatma in the heart, the bridge will be established. Krishna can take you into this sacred space." Gurudeva explained that 5 powerful pathways are leading us to the temple of the heart: sadhu sanga, bhagavatam shravanam, nama kirtan, Deity worship and living in the holy dhama. Every single day in the morning lectures and workshop, one of those pathways was developed in detail.
The secret of effective sadhu sanga
"We need so much this matih, this inclination to serve Krishna. When we have the proper association, firm determination will enter our heart and that is the necessary item to make steps forward on our journey. The quality of a sadhu will easily enter into our heart when there is closeness and affection between him and us. If the sadhu looks like Narasimhadeva we will not feel like coming close to him and we will not receive his sanga properly. This closeness is like oil that allows those qualities to smoothly enter our heart. In the art of giving gifts, the devotee is offering something useful to an advanced devotee and in exchange the vaishnava will give him back his maha, that he doesn’t use anymore. This is the sweet exchange between the Vaishnavas."
Revealing the mind
"The moment you express what inspirations are in your heart, you will keep them. This revealing of the mind is also very important in moments of difficulty. In this materialistic society people are very afraid of being betrayed when they open their heart to others. But that should not be the case in the association of devotees. When one can open his heart, it will become brilliant and wonderful. The devil hidden inside our self will be exposed and will need to fly away. Exchange means an exchange of energy. Therefore those three exchanges of gifts, revealing the mind and prasadam should be done with good devotees. When that is done with materially inclined persons, the exchange will be material and we will not be positively influenced. When those exchanges are done properly, the spiritual energy will flow very swiftly. Prasadam cooked and offered with love and devotion will have such positive influence on our journey."
During the workshop Gurudeva invited the devotees for a mind revealing experience and asked us to share with each other about troublesome times when devotees came to help us. Another workshop was dedicated to direct Krishna katha. Every devotee shared their favorite pastimes or qualities of the Lord. At the end Gurudeva reminded us about the importance of the quality of sound vibration we let come into us "When we learn to speak more about Krishna, we will hear more and thus remember Krishna more often. Through this remembrance we will like speaking more about Krishna and then we will remember him more and so on."
"We have to learn to value the vaishnavas. We have to observe carefully the devotees and their behavior. Whenever we see display of devotion, we know that this vaishnava is to be worshipped and followed."
During that morning Gurudeva challenged his audience: ³Are you connecting in your practice? Is the stream of energy flowing in between us and the object of our love, Sri Sri Radha and Krishna? This connection begins with the development of our awareness. The awareness of our nature, Krishna’s personality and the reasons of being in this material world will immediately establish this connection. In order to connect, one needs to first disconnect. Disconnect from what? Disconnect from the mind!² Later Gurudeva also spoke about the importance of chanting with a service attitude: "This chanting of the holy name is the easiest service we can render. We just need to move our tongue and we can do it at any time and in any circumstance." That evening, instead of the usual lila katha kirtan, a Nama Yajna was organized.
Hearing Shrimad Bhagavatam
Before the morning lecture, Gurudeva shared with us a thought he had during the nama yajna: "Suddenly my mind was saying: ’I am so tired, I hope this bhajan will soon stop.’" Then Gurudeva caught the thought and understood that this was totally against the principle he was teaching in the retreat. Then he made the switch: ³I need to sing for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha Madhan Mohan.² Keeping this thought in mind during the chanting brought to Gurudeva a wonderful experience and he could see the deities with a lot of clarity, even though he did not have his glasses.
"Why is the living entity suffering in this world. It is due to the absence of Krishna. Even great devotees will be sadly affected by the separation from Krishna. Therefore, when Krishna left this world he decided to stay here in the form of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Hearing is like eating something, reflecting about it is like chewing, and finally the digesting process is our prayer to be able to act according to the teachings of the Bhagavatam."
In the workshop, Gurudeva gave a very practical guideline for reading the Srimad Bhagavatam:
Make a decision what you want to read in the Bhagavatam.
Find an undisturbed place for your reading; switch off all other sounds devices
Make yourself comfortable and recite prayers.
When you find a jewel, stop and reflect.
End the session by praying for realization and strength to apply the knowledge in your life.
Everyone then received a sheet with a particular nectar inspiration. We worked in pairs and after conscious reading, everyone shared their realizations. This workshop was very powerful and the devotees were amazed by its outcome. At the end, quoting the brahmana, who burned his finger in sweet rice during his meditation, Gurudeva explained that service done from our sacred space is more real than whatever is done in this apparent world.
Gurudeva spoke about reciprocation and relationship between the deity and the devotee: "Even though Krishna is able to accomplish everything without any difficulties, he will ask his devotees to perform those services for him. This will increase the relationship between the devotee and the Lord. Darshan does not only mean that we will see the Lord, but rather that the Lord will see us. When the Lord is truly looking at us, all misfortune will disappear. Therefore it is important to be nicely dressed and clean before coming in front of Krishna; to apply some beautiful tilak on our forehead and not to speak with others in front of the Lord."
The workshop was again formidable and was held in the temple room. Gurudeva brought the devotees into a meditative state and then engaged the devotees in a deep praying session and free writing. To help us further, Gurudeva suggested to us to ask the Lord a question: ’What change do I need to make in my life to come closer to You? What should I change? During the workshop, Gurudeva also underlined a very important principle to receive the mercy of the Lord: repentance. "Even though one may have a lot of material qualities, if one feels that he did not serve the Lord with attention and love, he will get a serious connection to the Lord and he will be free from the clutches of maya."