Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Initiation

I liked the following lines on initiation
“This is a very serious commitment, not to be taken lightly. Instead, really look deep within your heart and seriously consider the nature of the commitment, and the surrender, and the spiritual benefits of taking initiation. And see if it’s something that you want to do. Remember, Srila Prabhupada got initiated when he was thirty-six years old, and Bhaktivinode Thakura when he was in his forties. So there’s no rush.”

“As a generation, we’ve often been ‘fair weather’ devotees,” says Manorama. “We turn up when everything’s fine and dandy, at festival times or Sunday Feasts, maybe when there’s a kirtaniya in town we like. Personally, after a while I found that not getting initiated was becoming an excuse to not surrender, to never actually promise to chant sixteen rounds a day. I loved kirtan—we do as a generation—and I had no problem with the four regulative principles—but japa was hard for me. Some days would be good, some bad, and sometimes there’d be weeks or months of slacking and neglecting my rounds. There would always be something else that came up. Finally I thought, no more excuses.”

At the same time, Manorama began reading Srila Prabhupada’s purports to the Bhagavad-gita and Chaitanya Charitamrita more, and was struck by how many times taking shelter from a guru was mentioned as a foundational principle, and as the proper medium through which to surrender to Krishna.

A few years later, he began attending japa retreats led by Sacinandana Swami to work on his chanting, and reconnected with him for the first time since the guru had visited his house and introduced him and his parents to Krishna consciousness in Germany when he was just six years old.

Now that he is initiated, Manorama feels like he has undergone a complete spiritual renewal.

“It’s a deep commitment,” he says. “I’m no longer serving Krishna whimsically, I’m actually committing and taking responsibility. My relationship with Krishna has to become my number one priority. Now I don’t just chant when I feel like it—the first thing I do every morning when I wake up is prioritize my day so that I can fulfill my initiation vows. And in doing so, my respect has grown tremendously for all of the other devotees in the world who are able to do that every day.”

For Manorama, initiation means going deeper into Krishna consciousness, and trying to rearrange his life in a way that prioritizes Krishna’s pleasure, rather than his own.


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