(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Australia 2010)
Transcribed by Matsya das
One should not be too quick about initiation. In the beginning, one takes instructions from the various exalted and experienced vaisnavas, who then give many relevant inspiring instructions. Initiation is really not the order of the day!
In due course of time, one does need to go further and develop a deeper relationship, not just as a casual form of instructions, but also one needs to make commitments to those instructions. It’s really lots of fun that someone gives far out instructions, but one still sits around thinking:
“This one I like…..but this one not so much. So that one I don’t take.”
In this way one takes only instructions that one likes. That is in the beginning. The next stage is when one starts to make commitment and says:
“Ok, now I’m going to commit to the instructions of one particular spiritual master and promise to follow what he says.”
So then we have another good look at all the instructing spiritual masters, and at that point one asks:
“Well, which one do I want to commit myself to?”
At that point, one begins to realise what it takes to make such commitments. It takes some trust which must be there. Somebody can give a great class, but you don’t know how he’s going to instruct you outside of the class. The class may be absolutely fabulous, and then one asks:
“What should I do with my life?”
And the next thing is, that one gets the instructions to move to China and preach:
“But I don’t want to go to China.”
It has been said that one must follow the order of the spiritual master. So therefore, one must test the waters. One must also see:
‘There are so many inspiring instructors, but there are a few whose nature and ways appeal to me. I have some confidence and trust in them.’
One should then ask them some questions, either in writing, or one may speak to them personally, and ask for some advice about their life. Don’t ask them general questions. Ask them questions such as:
“Well, this is the situation in my life. What do you think? How should I react? How should I progress?”
Because it is still ‘siksa’ so one is not bound. One can test to see if it works, and if it starts to fit then one feels:
“Yes, I’m inspired by this person. I can see that the practical instructions that this person gives is something I can deal with.”
If one feels that the spiritual master is instructing in the way that one can relate to, then the relationship maybe comfortable.
At one point, one can make this commitment and start aspiring to become a disciple. Sooner or later, one will get a little more personal with some instructors than with others and they become candidates. Maybe someone would have two or three candidates. Test them, test them all on how the relationship works on a practical level. It is important to test!
One cannot test everything – like how advanced they really are. One cannot really test that, but there is another mechanism to make sure the chosen one is really spiritually advanced. And that is, when one has a particular interest in a spiritual master, then they should ask senior devotees for blessings, who will be able to look on a deeper level. When they start to give blessings, then that is the protection one has for the qualification of the spiritual master!