(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 01 July 2008, Durban, South Africa, Bhakti Yoga Society student retreat)

So we can see that there are unwanted qualities in our heart. How to become purified from such unwanted qualities? How to overcome them? There are two ways that we become purified from such obstacles in the heart: one is the automatic purification through devotional service and the other aspect is the conscious effort, meaning that we ourselves must try to change our mentality. We cannot just wait, “I’m doing my service now, I’ve done everything – I’m chanting 16 rounds, following the principles, I’m living like a devotee – everything! I’m doing devotional service, so now I’m waiting untill the heart’s pure…”  No, no. Still one more thing to do – now we have to try to give up the old habits that sometimes come back very strong, the urges that are there. “Yes, but I’m doing everything right! I am now following the process. So why are these desires coming?”  They will still come, but one must consciously say, “No, no! I know now that this is my lower nature. I know that within me there is a higher nature and a lower nature. The higher nature is the devotee and the lower nature is the materialistic person. And for this lower nature – I have to let it go, I have to say goodbye, I have to just say farewell… Can I? Do I really want to? I mean, we’ve been together so long, how can I leave my old friend?”  Yes, the animal within us. “How can I leave him? He’s been with me for so long.”  But we must leave this lower nature behind and we must make a conscious endeavor. So that’s a fight. So in this way there is an element of fight in spiritual life – a fight with one’s self.

I saw a straight-edge punk magazine which was called, “War on illusion”. War on illusion is a good slogan for a devotee, of what spiritual life is all about. It’s true. You can put it on your T-shirt – “War on illusion!”   It is a fact, you can put out in your university – the world is going for illusion. In my early days when I was getting involved in Krsna consciousness, I had not yet really joined, and on one occasion I was with this group of young people and we had guitars and we were taking turns in singing songs. So I was doing something and then someone else, who was a good musician, and he had a song, and people loved his song – except for me! The song was describing the miseries of this world – everything that can go wrong – and then the chorus was, “But fortunately I have the key to escape reality”,  smoking certain things – drugs. And I was thinking, “But that’s stupid!”, because the reality hasn’t really changed. You’re just taking something and then it looks good but nothing has changed. What’s that? That’s not a solution. So I hated the song. But many people liked it because in this world people want to be illusioned. “War on illusion”  is the motto of a devotee who is saying, “No, we accept the facts as they are”.

So war on illusion is not only outside of us; not only that we point the finger at others but war on illusion also means that the fingers come back, here at me! War on illusion inside – that’s tough, that takes more time and that goes through different levels. And we see that the association of devotees is where we need to be if we want to do that. We can’t do it alone; nobody is so strong that can on his own make changes, such drastic changes. It’s very hard. We grew up in a certain family, in a certain environment, but by being together with others who are also making changes, then we get the conviction and strength. So it is for that, that actually temples are there. It is for that, that we live together in temples – or if we don’t live in temples that at least we come together in temples. The temple is a facility for us to come together. Together we can do it, we can get some strength, we can understand better what to do. First we understand what to do, how to do, then we try to do and together we find strength. This is the meaning of the retreat; it’s not just about checking it out and having a good experience but it is also for the purpose to understand what is the deeper meaning of it all.

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