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Thread: Spiritual confusion

  1. #1
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    October 2014
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    Spiritual confusion


    I was wondering if any of you had a confusion regarding the specific path you follow? Again some feelings of confusion are rising within me. I thought I was ok with some things recently but seems like they are still bothering me.
    I'll try to be as concrete as possible, I'm asking for advice or your own experience because spiritual confusion brings unpeaceful heart.

    For the most of my life advaita philosophy was how I used to see things. At the same time I had a personal relationship with God.
    When I was 12 I was attracted to vaishnava bhajan and in some mysterious ways there was Krishna who was slowly, in different ways coming into my life- through the book by David Frasure, through art by artist Ananda and while going through some inner purification and tough period in my life I came across devotees and by time found a guru who saw me as I am and initiated me in Krishna mantra. That was no Iskcon, but is also a gaudiya vaishnava tradition.
    His words and presence were feeding me spiritually and I felt that was it (I'm writing in past tense because unfortunately last time I saw him was last year, he's Indian and with the current situation he can't be here although he was supposed to visit next week.) I heard him speak about spirituality the way I feel it, unlike any other vaishnava guru I saw, and I saw many of them- both from India and European Iskcon, coming from gaudiya math, babaji lineage etc.

    Mantra is in my heart and I've always been connected to it, but I have great conflict towards gaudiya vaishnava philosophy. I can't relate to it. Except for mantras I can't relate to the tradition, the way the teachings are explained, the whole bhakti language where we are servants, humble, unworthy, the stories about gopis, cowherd boys, the whole concept. It's just not my mood.
    When I think of God, I think of the Absolute, I think of the Whole Manifestation, All-pervading Power. I can't relate to God who steals butter or who plays with friends. I don't know if others can, but it seems to be that most of devotees are very happy listening to hari-kathas and being surrounded with other devotees.

    On the other hand I enjyoy reading advaita Vedanta teachings, I feel fulfilled and calm while reading Tattvabhodah or Upanishads, chanting also Lord Shiva's name whom I can't consider a demi-god like in gaudiya Vaishnavism, but I see him as another aspect of the Supreme Reality. I read a lot of Advaita swamis and I feel it is giving me answers and inner peace. I yearn for yogic practices, Veda studies and I also heard from devotees sentences like:"Why do you want to read Vedas, vaishnavas don't do that", "that's mayavada" etc. Same people who were telling that seemed to be out of space in this or that way, whereas people who learn Advaita seemed to be pretty much rooted in life, in both material and spiritual way, stable and happy, and never in a preaching mood (which is also something I can't relate to).

    I spoke with a friend of mine who is a born hindu, Advaita practicioner who doesn't see conflict in teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Advaita. But I feel much closer to the way Advaita is presented, to jnana combined with bhakti than bhakti path alone. I'm either not on that level or it's just not something for me. I am not difining myself as vaishnavi or anything, if asked I say that I practice Sanatana dharma (at least in some ways). Before I used to read Srila Prabhupada's books, but in last year or so I get irritated when I tried so I just stopped. Some other books like Chaitanya Caritamrita I haven't even tried because it was something far from me, call it my level, my mood, my spiritual plane.

    This all is making some kind of mess within me. I'm not relating to devotees much except for a family who's also directly in the same tradition, but they also are missing some aspects of yoga in bhakti yoga here in our city. They are combining their practice with Chinese tradition because they also think western bhakti yoga lacks yoga.
    Maybe it's the west, maybe it's because we cannot feel that bhakti as we were never born in that tradition, maybe it's something else.. I don't know, but my mind likes to analyze too much and I feel I'm again in the middle of confusion. I can also relate to Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, I'm learning with Advaita school Sanskrit and that is making me happy. I found too much "do's" and "dont's" in gaudiya tradition, too much preaching, too much organized religion stuff which I don't like and too much judging everything else, even rejecting the word Hinduism. That also brought much impact on how I feel, I believe.

    Anyways, I wanted to share this because I don't know whom to talk to. I don't want more preachers nor new agers giving me advice. I tried to get some answers before in meditation, but didn't really get them.

    If somebody has a similar experience or has gone through some kind of inner confusion like this, please share.

  2. #2
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    July 2015
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    Re: Spiritual confusion

    Namaste Ametyst

    All you wrote could have been written by me! I also had this confusion. But it was a confusion because I thought only one path can be the right one, that there is a must for choosing one path only and I have to decide to be a Shaiva or a Vaishnava.

    Like you I was attracted by Shiva, the Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta. I joined various groups, but none satisfied me. They were interested in so called Yoga to heal body problems and/or in so called Vedanta to heal psychic problems. There was no interest in Vedic scriptures.

    Then suddenly Krishna came into my life and turned it upside down. His gift was mythology and the epics. I never would have read Mahabharata, what would I have missed. For me Advaita is the most exalted scripture for the spiritual path, Mahabharata for life in samsara.

    I joined a Gaudiya group and made the same experience as you did - spiritual dictatorship. Dispraising all other ‚Gods‘ and all other modes of thought.

    I see no conflict in combining Advaita and a personal God. Advaita does not deny the world of names and forms, it only sets them to their right place in the overall context.

    Thus don’t worry about the butterthief … the butter is a metaphor. Krishna is a thief, stealing the hearts of His devotees. The butter is the metaphor for the heart. The Gopis are the souls longing for their source. I never met anyone who is able to decipher the myths. I am sure this knowledge and ability have been lost.

    It was a long process to realize that I have to go my way alone, because my needs and my understanding are different to others and destiny did not let me find someone who has the same approach I have.

    And I realised that there is no need for one path only. Sometimes I am in the mood to read wisdom, sometimes I am in the mood to read myths. Ganesha, Shiva, Krishna … they are the One, named with many names.

    Krishna guided me to get a broad overview on Hindu wisdom. In the West we find more or less only ISKCON/Gaudiya literature, they are just a particle of the vast ocean of Hindu wisdom, poetry, myths … may be you like the Alwars or the Nayanars or Tulsidas or Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda or Gyaneshwar’s Changdev Pasashti, an Advaita work. Shiva Svarodaya, Ribhu Gita, Basavanna’s Vachana Sahitya, just to mention some. Endless variety of gems … one more beautiful than the other.

    And yes, we lack what Hindus get with the mother’s milk. But I never forget the words of a priest long, long ago: ‚To come in touch with Hinduism is a grace.‘ I am so grateful for this grace. Be grateful too and enjoy what others can not even dream of!

    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

  3. #3
    Join Date
    July 2010
    The Holy Land - Bharat
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    Re: Spiritual confusion


    Transcend, transcend, transcend!
    Transcend all the labels - advaita, dvaita, tri-veta, quad-veta and all else.
    Latch on to the deity(ies) and the scriptures that help you with your spiritual advancement.
    When walking the spiritual path, carry a big shovel with you. When you find some BS on your path, use the shovel to clear your path and keep marching.

    On a side note, one of my delightful/memorable experiences in Zagreb was when we were walking from the train station towards the center of the town on a random street, we heard the Hare Krishna mahamantra being chanted in a residential building. We found the entrance to the building, pressed the button with a spiritual sounding name, got buzzed in and ended up at the ISKCON center. It was surreal to hear Krishanji being glorified in a remote city, so far away from Vrindavan

    Best wishes.

    Last edited by Believer; 22 May 2020 at 07:24 PM.

  4. #4

    Re: Spiritual confusion

    Namaste Ametyst

    I can understand and sympathise with your post, and its not always a good place to be when these types of confusions come about, i have seen it many times, the most simple advice is to stick with what inspires you and hold onto that, only you know what makes your spiritual clock tick and by doing this at least your not in denial of your own evolution .

    When i first joined ISKCON at London Soho Street it was known as the crack unit of ISKCON, sometimes dubbed as the SAS wing because it was so strict and because of its placement, right in the centre London, smack bang in the eye of kali yuga and what they would call as Maya's kingdom, and devotees were trained to be at war with the material energy, even if one wanted to call home to their parents one had to make the call with a senior devotee present, and often the conversations would be listened to on another line, such was the tight ship to make sure the devotees mind was not influenced by maya and the material energy.

    It was quite an extreme place on the inside and very fundamental to what would be known as the core of ISKCON teachings, this never sat well me, but i was still attracted to the friendships and other things. I'm just giving some background to why devotees think in the way that they do and why some people are suppressed and controlled by ideology and have a hard time breaking these beliefs and the pressure that given to them just to belong to something, which is a natural tendency, some are innocently lead and others are not so innocent and know what they are doing, and it can be hard to define who is who.

    Sometimes devotees are trained to only see Srila Prabhupada as the true teacher of Krsna Consciousness, and they are intellectually trained and emotionally tricked to defeat false teachings which hampers the mind to expand and see truth in any other source than their own group, by their own standard they are limited, within this there are many hidden agendas, the consequences that i have seen over the years have gone from one extreme to another, and how the extremes within the extremes are met with other extremes to try and erase the extremes, even if one is not extreme. Some peoples lives have benefited but there are many peoples lives that have been almost irreversibly damaged. This can get very confusing if things are not seen in the original light of the teachings, some of the key issues that people struggle with are, personal and impersonal and why there is some sentiment to be against impersonalism , mayavada teachings, why a certain type of mental bowing down and not feeling one with or on the same level of God, and the teachings of considering oneself to be lower than the lowest or why gaudiya vaishnavas do not identify themselves as hindus.

    All of these have a place and there is a perfectly good answer to all of the above when the right context( consciousness) is found and what the original teachings are behind these statements, but sadly they are mostly all out of place and are often used in the wrong way, and have become overly literal, these have causes and conditions, and the above are some of areas that defines ISKCON and certain parts of Gaudiya Math as the primary identification within their spiritual tradition.

    If one is troubled by these things or if one relies on the sangha or association of Gaudiya Vaishnava devotees its not so simple to walk away, because over the years we develop friendships or a relationship with a certain guru or set of devotees or a place/places where we did seva and sadhana, we have real life experiences based around these teachings and groups, its not just a simple change of philosophy or converting to another spiritual path because of attachment in memory. I have had friends where they were like family but because of belief and difference of view that friendship gets damaged, most of my devotee friends always saw me as a mayavadi, or an impersonalist due to my interest in Buddha Dharma and interest in Adi Shankaras teachings and generally being open-minded to Self realised traditions and Gurus , and although i never saw any conflict it became impossible to even talk about any form synthesis, when there is true insight into the One reality that is revealed in one's own mind one will naturally see that same truth within all genuine teachings and traditions and on a more deeper and profound level within oneself, whats more damaging about difference in view is in the separation of the friendships based on belief. This can take time to get over, and if its time that some people need then they should allow themselves that time.

    If one is learning about spiritual life through books or choosing a guru from youtube it maybe different scenario.

    I could if i wanted call upon some quotes and give textual evidence to what people know as advaita ( not two) is not separate or different/conflicting with Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta or Chaitanya Bhakti, but i seldom use the texts for intellectual proof, they are not meant to be used in this way, the origin of the texts and teachings was not discovered or realised in this way.

    In the easiest analogy there is no difference or no conflict between bhakti and Jnana, and the perfection of yoga is to find the balance, some modern jnana (advaita) traditions lack bhakti and the understanding of its importance claiming it is somehow sentimental and often claim superiority, and within some of the early stages of Bhakti sadhana there is the claim that Jnana is impersonal and lacks devotion and does not lead to Prem, there is truth both ways in this in some early stages but the essential understanding is to balance both Bhakti and Jnana and when that combination is found within ones own consciousness that is advaita~
    kaivalyam .

    So there is no need to reject one or other, Bhakti is devotion to and Jnana is cognitive awareness of the Ultimate reality, which far exceeds any mundane view, belief or being limited to sect. When there is unity with between these two powers of the absolute thats when the beauty of full expansion happens.

    All the sadhana's which come down directly from the higher realms are divine in nature, they are not man made techniques and when there is right application with these techniques it will lead to natural awakening, when there is natural awakening Truth is self evident, it wont need any external verification ( although it comes through perception) and ones mind will be changed forever, there will be no reverse. So whatever ones engages in Sankirtan ( congregational chanting in groups ) Japa both verbally or mentally, dhyana meditation all are connecting to the Supreme, each has its purpose and all are absolute, both in the ascent of mind and in the descent of the divine powers into mind for its release, it is only our minds that makes divisions or beliefs or bias that says one is higher than the other or separate and one can enjoy all the manifestations of that one unlimited absolute, form and formless are not in duality, sound and silence are in union with one another, only the tattva jnani who is absorbed always in bhakti knows this by dint of experience.
    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; 23 May 2020 at 05:22 AM.

  5. #5
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    October 2014
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    Re: Spiritual confusion

    Thank you all for very nice replies on this thread. I kept going my own way, reading books I like and connecting to practices that are good for me.

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