APPRECIATING KṚṢṆA AND HIS DEVOTEE
By Bhakta Seged
To write about the devotee who corresponds with me is an honor and a humbling effort as I do not believe myself worthy to write and discuss Reverend Rambhoru. She is gracious, patient and has a heart of pure gold. Our very first connection by mail was of a familial tone and nature. Her letter was written to me as though I was a longtime devotee. This began a teacher/friend relationship over three years ago. Not so long, but spiritually and soulfully enriching.
At the time I was just finishing a Bhakti correspondence course and I was sad that it had ended. My response to Reverend Ram's letter was respectful, humble and the beginning of a new teaching/learning experience of understanding the modes of material nature and how our attachments bind us to them. Most important for me was learning that the teachings of scripture are both a guide and a mirror for me.
In my first letter to Rambhoru I pictured myself in terms of the introduction of the Bhagavad Gita, e.g., "I was born in the darkest of ignorance and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge." My letter began this way because I saw Rambhoru as a spiritual teacher and friend. At this time, I was also studying Buddhism so I asked Rambhoru if it was okay if I continued to learn from her at the same time. She said it was acceptable. In my mind at the time, the two doctrines were like brothers (twins). But, Ram set me straight. The similarities in doctrine are slight and the closest similarities are that they both emerged from India.
The most important question I asked Rambhoru was this, "Please make clear what the Absolute Truth is." Ram gave me an actual lecture to read, not just a text book, and also shared her realizations about trial, error, successes and failures of herself and others. The Bhagavad-Gita helped me understand that the Absolute Truth has several features. ‘The Absolute Truth is expressed as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. These are divine aspects that are similar to the sun. The sun planet, the sun surface and the sunshine. One who studies the sunshine is a preliminary student. Someone studying the sun surface is advanced further. And finally, one who can enter the sun planet is the highest. This is all expressed in terms of learning and knowledge. I, myself am still at the preliminary stage. A fault, a flaw of my own.
I am learning that the ‘seers of the truth have concluded that of the non-existent there is no endurance, and of the existent, there is no cessation. The seers have concluded by studying the nature of both.
My hope is to eventually become a wise person, as the Gita describes, who engage himself fully in devotional service by taking refuge in the Lord. In this way, I hope to free myself from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of my actions. In this way, I can attain a state beyond all miseries.
San Quentin, California
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