Signifying the Body
One of the primary spotlights of Vaishnava philosophy is to realize that we are not the body but the soul and that the body is just a garment/instrument for the soul. Then why do we waste time in signifying this garment with tilaka?
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Our reply: Yes, our body is our instrument for a lifetime, but it is a very special instrument. We can use it to realize Krishna and go back to Him. When we mark it with tilaka, we meditate on the fact that it is a temple where the Lord resides. Therefore we care for this instrument and use it fully in the Lord’s service.
By wearing tilaka we also help other spirit souls begin to remember the Lord in their hearts and awaken their lost and covered consciousness. When we wear tilaka and people ask what it is and why we wear it, we can tell them that this body is a temple where the soul and the Supersoul live side by side.
Our scriptures say that the Yamadutas, who come to punish the sinful at death, do not approach persons wearing Vaishnava tilaka and neck beads. Srila Prabhupada wanted his disciples to wear tilaka and neck beads, which he said made them look like they were coming from Vaikuntha, the spiritual world.
Losing the Connection
I used to feel a connection with Krishna, but now, not so much. I feel separation. And I feel that if I try to learn more about Krishna, I will just offend Him even more. How do I please Krishna and stop offending Him?
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Our reply: Lord Krishna is very kind, and He is pleased when we feel separation from Him and try to get closer to Him. You need not feel that you are offending Him by trying to get to know Him more.
We get to know Krishna by hearing and chanting His name, reading books about Him, speaking what He said, and serving Him and His devotees. If you have a humble service mood and show Krishna your desire and effort, even if flawed, to know Him, He will be pleased and gradually reveal Himself to you.
Feelings of separation from Krishna are good. They help us remain humble and aspire to get closer to Him. Feelings that prevent us from trying to serve and know Krishna are not genuine feelings of separation, but rather frustration coming from not meeting our own desires. For example, we may want to experience Krishna before we’ve developed the necessary qualifications. We have to be careful not to indulge in self-pity, which will prevent us from doing the work necessary to get to know Krishna. He is eager for us to return to Him and will respond to our efforts and spiritual desires.
Dealing with Our Karma
How can one control his past actions and transform them into something good.
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Our reply: Our past actions are finished and therefore out of our control. They have created the situations with which we must live-for example, our level of wealth, beauty, and intelligence, as well as the general amount of suffering and happiness we are destined to have in this life.
On the other hand, how we react to those situations creates our future. Our actions can bring upon us more material happiness and distress in our next bodies, or can assure that we will go back to Krishna and never take birth again.
At each moment, we have decisions to make: Will I serve my senses and those of my family and friends? Will I serve Krishna? Will those actions that please others also please Krishna? Will my guru be pleased? Are my actions in line with the recommendations of devotees and the scriptures? Should I do a thing that will apparently make me feel good but cause suffering in the future? We constantly choose our reactions to the circumstances we have already earned. Our choices will bring auspiciousness or inauspiciousness—or Krishna consciousness. It is best to put material attachments aside and think in a Krishna conscious way when we decide how to proceed in our lives.
Some people are rich but miserable, proud, addicted to sinful acts, and devoid of spiritual values. Some people are poor but religious and happy. We can make any situation in life good if we choose to react to it in a way that is in line with the instructions of Krishna and His pure devotees.