Need for a Spiritual Master
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
[Posted June 21, 2007]

Skipping School Straight into Unlicensed Medical Practice

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

15-yr-old surgeon Srila Prabhupada International Herald Tribune - June 21, 2007 - Associated Press 15-year-old performs surgery in southern India, sparking outrage

NEW DELHI: The 15-year-old son of two doctors performed a filmed Caesarean section birth under his parents' watch in southern India in an apparent bid to gain a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest surgeon. Instead, the boy's father could be stripped of his licenses and may face criminal charges, officials said Thursday. go to story

Okay, so the 15-year-old did undergo training under the auspices of his doctor parents, but although the parents were licensed to practice, they were not licensed to teach, and the whole arrangement apparently contravened not only the ethics of the medical profession but also the law. Below, Srila Prabhupada points out the need for training under the spiritual master, but also warns, "It is not that we are to search out a spiritual master whimsically."

In Need of a Spiritual Master
excerpt from The King of Knowledge, "Knowledge as Faith in Guru and Surrender to Krishna"
Via Medium

The Spiritual Master and the Disciple Hansadutta das

We cannot approach Krishna by exercising our mind, intelligence or senses. We can approach Krishna through Krishna's representative, the spiritual master, by our inquiry, submission and service. We may speculate, experiment and perform penance and austerity, but all we shall get is the labor we undertake. In Bhagavad-gita (11.53-54), Krishna confirms:
I cannot be known by penance, austerity nor by the study of the Vedas. Only by pure, unalloyed devotional service can I be seen as I am standing before you now.
The living entity begins the path of devotional service when he gets the opportunity to associate with a pure devotee of the Lord, the spiritual master. more

Krishna is a friend to everyone, but He is a special friend to His devotees. As soon as we become a little inclined toward Him, He begins to give favorable instructions from within our hearts so that we can gradually make progress. Krishna is the first spiritual master, and when we become more interested in Him, we have to go to a sadhu or holy man who serves as spiritual master from without. This is enjoined by Sri Krishna Himself in the following verse:

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprashnena sevaya
upadekshyanti te jñanam
jñaninas tattva-darshinah

"Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." (Bg. 4.34)

It is necessary to select a person to whom we can surrender ourselves. Of course no one likes to surrender to anyone. We are puffed up with whatever knowledge we have, and our attitude is, "Oh, who can give me knowledge?" Some people say that for spiritual realization there is no need for a spiritual master, but so far as Vedic literature is concerned, and as far as Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Upanishads are concerned, there is need of a spiritual master. Even in the material world if one wants to learn to be a musician, he has to search out a musician to teach him, or if one wants to be an engineer, he has to go to a technological college and learn from those who know the technology. Nor can anyone become a doctor by simply purchasing a book from the market and reading it at home. One has to be admitted to a medical college and undergo training under licensed doctors. It is not possible to learn any major subject simply by purchasing books and reading them at home. Someone is needed to show us how to apply that knowledge which is found in the books. As far as the science of God is concerned, Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, advises us to go to a person to whom we can surrender. This means that we have to check to see if a person is capable of giving instructions in Bhagavad-gita and other literatures of God realization. It is not that we are to search out a spiritual master whimsically. We should be very serious to find a person who is actually in knowledge of the subject.

In the beginning of Bhagavad-gita Arjuna was talking to Krishna just like a friend, and Krishna was questioning how he, as a military man, could give up fighting. But when Arjuna saw that friendly talks would not make a solution to his problems, he surrendered unto Krishna, saying, shishyas te 'ham shadhi mam tvam prapannam: "Now I am Your disciple and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me." (Bg. 2.7) This is the process. It is not that we should blindly surrender, but we should be able to inquire with intelligence.

Without inquiry, we cannot make advancement. In school a student who makes inquiries from the teacher is usually an intelligent student. It is generally a sign of intelligence when a small child inquires from his father, "Oh, what is this? What is that?" We may have a very good spiritual master, but if we have no power to inquire, we cannot make progress. Nor should the inquiry be of the nature of a challenge. One should not think, "Now I will see what kind of spiritual master he is. I will challenge him." Our inquiries (pariprashnena) should be on the subject of service (sevaya). Without service, our inquiries will be futile, but even before making inquiries, we should have some qualification. If we go to a store to purchase some gold or jewelry and we know nothing about jewels or gold, we are likely to be cheated. If we go to a jeweler and say, "Can you give me a diamond?" he will understand that this is a fool. He could charge us any price for anything. That kind of searching will not do at all. We first have to become a little intelligent, for it is not possible to make spiritual progress otherwise.

The beginning injunction of the Vedanta-sutra is: athato brahma jijñasa. "Now is the time to inquire about Brahman." The word atha means that one who is intelligent, who has come to the point of realizing the basic frustrations of material life, is capable of making inquiry. In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that one should inquire from a spiritual master about subjects that are "beyond this darkness." This material world is by nature dark, and it is artificially lighted by fire. Our inquiries should be about the transcendental worlds which lie beyond this universe. If one is desirous to find out about these spiritual worlds, he should seek out a spiritual master; otherwise there is no point in searching. If I want to study Bhagavad-gita or Vedanta-sutra in order to make material improvement, it is not necessary to find a spiritual master. One should first want to inquire about Brahman and then search out a master who has perfect vision of the Absolute Truth (jñaninas tattva-darshinah [Bg. 4.34]). Krishna is the supreme tattva, Absolute Truth. In the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita Sri Krishna states:

manushyanam sahasreshu
kashcid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kashcin mam vetti tattvatah

"Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth." (Bg. 7.3)

Thus out of many perfected spiritualists, one man may know what Krishna actually is. As this verse indicates, the subject matter of Krishna is not so easy but is very difficult. Yet Bhagavad-gita also indicates that it is easy.

Skipping School Straight into Unlicensed Medical Practice/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
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