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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 10:15 AM
Original message
Hello everyone
I was invited to this forum by u4ic, whom I had the pleasure of meeting recently during my visit to Canada. Since this is my inaugural post, I think it would be appropriate to give a brief description of my faith. Please understand everything I write here to be prefixed with "we believe," although I will not write this every time because it becomes tiresome. None of this is meant as assertion, but merely as a description of our beliefs.

To be most specific, I have taken initiation in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya or line of disciplic succession, but it is sufficient to say I am a Hare Krishna. Many of you will have seen us out on the streets in various cities, although we are less frequently seen nowadays than back in the first great wave of the late 60s and 70s.

This is a line of spirituality that has been practiced since ancient times in India, but is relatively new to the west. Although preachers have come at various times, the first big impression was made by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, or "Srila Prabhupada" as he is affectionately known, who was ordered by his Guru to preach Krishna Consciousness in the west. Srila Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness or 'ISKCON,' an institution which continues to run many temples and facilities around the world to this day.

My own Guru, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja (known to me as "Srila Gurudeva") is a shiksha disciple of Srila Prabhupada, which means that he accepted instruction from Srila Prabhupada, although not initiation. Srila Gurudeva had already received initiation from a god-brother of Srila Prabhupada. My Gurudeva and his disciples are not affiliated with the ISKCON organisation, but nevertheless Srila Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada are in the same line of disciplic succession. What Srila Prabhupada preached and what my Gurudeva preach are not different, although some say otherwise.

We are theists. We believe in God, and that He is a real person, complete with a beautiful name, form, qualities and pastimes. We believe that He eternally resides in His spiritual abode and enjoys all varieties of activities with His eternal associates. We are monotheists, we believe that God is one, not many, but we give Him many different names according to His different activities. For example, when He is performing activities related to the material universes we call him Vishnu, when He is reigning in the spiritual world as the Lord of opulence we call him Narayana, and when He is the embodiment of sweetness we know him as Krishna.

We hold the greatest regard for this last aspect of Godhood, and this is why we are called Hare Krishnas. "Krishna" means the all-attractive one, and "Hare" refers to His energy or potency, that is to say, His power to accomplish things. Together "Hare" and "Krishna" form the complete whole, the Supreme Person and His potency. His potency has a personification, known as Srimati Radharani, who is the female aspect of Godhood. In this way both masculinity and feminity exist together, and everything that exists is emanating from Them.

Although Krishna's potency is one, we call it by many names depending on its activity. It manifests the complete spiritual world, which is the stage upon which His pastimes are enacted, and we call this potency Yogamaya. It also manifests the material universes, which are a distorted reflection of the spiritual world, and we call this potency Mahamaya. Everything that is seen around us in daily life, we understand to be a manifestation of Mahamaya.

His potency is also responsible for manifesting the individual living entities, that is to say you, me and all the living beings of the world, which we call jivas. The jivas emanate from the margin between the spiritual world and the material world, and they can enter into either. Some are eternally attracted to the spiritual world, and these beings exist in complete bliss there, without even knowing that such a thing as the material world exists. Others are attracted to the material energy with a desire to enjoy sense pleasure. These jivas are covered with subtle and gross material bodies and have to experience repeated birth and death during their attempt to enjoy material pleasure.

This material existence of repeated birth and death is called samsara, and it is a cause of continual suffering for the jivas engaged in it. Although they endeavour to avoid suffering, it keeps coming in the form of birth, disease, old age and death. Still, the measure of material pleasure that they receive keeps most jivas hankering for more.

Some jivas become exhausted with this samsara and start to desire liberation from it. The means they adopt to achieve this include renunciation of material pleasures and the cultivation of knowledge. This includes Buddhists, who wish to put an end to material activities and merge into sunya, void or nothingness, a state they call nirvana.

Some other jivas develop faith in the Supreme Person and become His devotees. These are called bhaktas, and the process they adopt is called bhakti. They wish to become qualified to serve the Supreme Lord and to this end they completely surrender themselves to Him.

All jivas have the same essential nature or function, which comes from our common heritage as parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. This nature is called dharma, and the original dharma of the living entity is to be an eteral servant of Krishna. The jiva is unique among spiritual entities in that he can become conditioned by Mahamaya, the material energy. This is because he is infinitesimal and possesses only minute power. In this way he can acquire a temporary dharma, termed naimittika or circumstantial, because it depends on circumstance. This is why different jivas appear to behave differently; why dogs, cats, horses and birds all act differently, and it is also the reason why humans have so many different kinds of faith. These are all temporary natures acquired as a result of their different circumstances.

Nevertheless, the jiva is an eternal spiritual entity, and his original dharma cannot be destroyed. When the conditions become right, his original nature as a devotee of the Lord manifests itself automatically.

We Hare Krishnas are so called because of the Maha-mantra that we chant, "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna/Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama/Rama Rama Hare Hare." We chant this mantra a certain number of times every day in private. Those of you who have seen the devotees on the streets probably heard them singing it out loud also. This mantra is comprised of sixteen names of the Lord. We believe that Krishna and His name are non-different, and that all of His power is invested in His name. This is why we chant His name daily, as a medicine that gradually reawakens our original spiritual consciousness.

I beg you please forgive the length of this post, and believe me when I say that this really is a very brief summary of our philosophy. I thank any reader who has had the patience to read it as far, and please excuse any mistakes or offences I may have made.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 10:41 AM
Response to Original message
1. This is really interesting.
I never knew much about it. Thanks for the information.
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 10:43 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. You're welcome
I thought you would want to know where I am coming from. :hi:
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. I always enjoy hearing about different viewpoints.
Yours sound wonderful.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 11:05 PM
Response to Original message
4. Welcome to the SOUP group billyskank
It's great to have you here. Thanks for the introduction to your faith. :hi:
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 02:07 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. Thanks Buffy
:hi:
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I Have A Dream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 12:30 AM
Response to Original message
5. Thank you for this post, billlyskank. I have always wondered...
exactly what Hare Krishnas believed.

How do Hare Krishnas differ from the basic Hindu faith? Is it eqivalent to being a Protestant or a Catholic in Christianity, or is there more of a difference?

How long have you been a Hare Krishna and how did you become one? Have you always been a spiritual person?

I'm not a Hindu, but I feel a real connection to Ganesha for some reason.

I don't usually come to this group much because I mostly hang out in the Astrology, Spirituality & Alternative Healing group, but this group really is a nice group. I hope that we hear more from you in reference to your beliefs.
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 02:06 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. There isn't a 'basic Hindu faith'
I have explained here things the way we understand them, but if you went to India and asked around you would easily be able to find many people who explained things quite differently. All would be called Hindus.

There is really no such thing as a Hindu religion. The term "Hindu" was given by foreigners to the people living beyond the Indus river. In practice, a Hindu is any Indian who is neither a Muslim nor a Christian. Indian spirituality does not work through organisations, with doctrine jealously guarded by a select group of people, as in Catholicism. There is no concept of heresy, although certainly there are opinions on correct and improper readings of scripture. There is no single core text that everyone adheres to exclusively, but rather a profusion of scripture aimed at all varieties of people in different conditions of life. Spiritual knowledge is preserved and propagated through guru-paramara, (pa-RAM-pa-RAA) the line of guru-disciple succession. Consequently there is no analogue with the Protestant/Catholic division of Christianity.

I have been hanging with the Hare Krishnas for about four years now. I took first initiation ("Harinama") in summer 2003, where I was given the Maha-mantra by my Gurudeva. I took second initiation ("Diksha") the following summer, where I was invested with the sacred thread and given the Gayatri mantras that are chanted three times a day.
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AirmensMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 12:18 AM
Response to Original message
8. That is fascinating, billy!
Thank you for taking the time to post it. :loveya: :hug:
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 02:11 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Hey!
You're welcome. :hug:

:loveya:
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AirmensMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 07:18 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. So, I have some questions ...
is samsara the same thing as reincarnation? And do jivas remember their past lives?

:hug:
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Samsara refers to material existence
It certainly includes reincarnation, and also the bits in between, i.e. life. Birth, growth, life, reproduction, disease, decline, old age and death. All these comprise samsara. Also all of the things we experience along the way: happiness, sadness, joy, laughter, suffering, misery, anger, hate, jealousy, love. Everything that is related to the mind, everything related to the emotions, and everything that is related to the body; all this is samsara.

One thing everyone should be able to agree on: if reincarnation is going on, the jivas do not remember their past lives. A few people sometimes say they can, and some of them may even be telling the truth, but the general experience is that we do not.

That is not to say that the experiences are lost - according to our philosophy, all our experiences make impressions on us, called samskaras. (Note that this is a different word to samsara). The samskaras from past lives may not be there in our memory for recall, but we still carry them with us. They are the cause of our various proclivities and talents, and also our likes and dislikes. Even the experiences of our dreams are suggested by previous samskaras.

Is that a sufficient answer? :hug:
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AirmensMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Yes, thank you.
That's a great answer! Maybe that would explain why some people are "naturals" at things they've never done before? It's all very interesting.

Thanks, billy. :loveya: :hug:
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-07-06 01:42 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. That is what I believe
Talent is actually previous experience. Genius is very extensive experience. :hug:
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elshiva Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:43 PM
Response to Original message
14. Welcome! Do you know much about Jainism?
Jains talk alot about jiva, too.

Also, Christians have a tradition about reciting the Jesus Prayer, which can be "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner" or just "Jesus." There is a famous book called "The Way of the Pilgrim" which tells of man who prayed this prayer while traveling in Russia. J.D. Salinger's "Franny and Zooey" makes use of this prayer, too. Ever heard about this?

Blessings,
elshiva
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-13-06 04:32 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Hello elshiva!
I do know something of the Jains. As I understand it, their philosophy is very similar to the Buddhists, in that they are impersonalists. They do not believe in God as a person but instead they believe in a kind of Supreme impersonal energy, or "brahman" to use a vedic term. If I understand the philosophy correctly, everything that exists is a manifestation of this Supreme energy.

:hi:
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u4ic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:58 PM
Response to Original message
15. Nice to see you here, billy!
Thanks for your explanation. Very informative. :hug:
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-13-06 04:32 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. Hi u4ic!
:hug:
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u4ic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-13-06 04:38 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. How are you today, my dear?
:hug:
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-13-06 05:18 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. I am okay, thanks sweetie
How are you? :hug:
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