By Venugopal Acharya (Vraja bihari dasa) - 4.4 2018

Everyone is like a play toy in the hands of the illusory energy and is acting as she moves him. One should come to Krishna consciousness to release oneself and also to release others” Srila Prabhupada (in Srimad Bhagavatam purport 6.2.36-37)

Chanting and other spiritual practises (sadhana) is one reality of our life and the illusory energy, maya is another. You can’t wish away maya simply by your sadhana. We need to work on making the right choices of saying ‘No’ to maya as well. Both- saying ‘Yes’ to Krishna and saying ‘No’ to maya are independent realities of our lives. I have performed good sadhana one day doesn’t mean the next day-in fact the very next moment- maya won’t provide me with a choice of choosing her over Krishna.

She’d be relentless in her pursuit and attempts to take me away from Krishna. In fact as I perform excellent sadhana, my situation is akin to a batsman who hits sixers and fours and is nearing a fast century. Maya, like the agitated captain of the opposing team would get desperate to seek my dismissal. As she unleashes her best ‘bowlers’ and attacks me, my hitherto excellent bating does no good. If I thought the opposing team would submit to my spiritual prowess, and acknowledge my spiritual achievements, I am sadly mistaken. She’d do none of those things.

On the contrary, she takes the position not of a sporting opponent but a vicious enemy who is hell bent to pulverise my spiritual existence. I need to face each new ball thrown by maya with alertness. She has many temptations and distractions up her sleeve. These two realities could often bewilder the best of the spiritual practitioners. A devotee may expect his chanting to help him avoid maya but when he sees that doesn’t happen he’d get discouraged. Little do we realize that maya gets more vindictive when we perform nice sadhana. In fact good sadhana means greater tests and stronger choices need to be invoked. Remember no one has scored an easy ‘century’ in this match. A cricket captain has limited bowlers to get your wicket, but maya has amazing, innovative ways to take us away from Krishna.

One of her most lethal tricks is ‘sledging’. Like the expert Aussie team that is famous for ‘sledging’- discouraging the opposite team’s batsman by speaking provocative and disturbing language, maya weakens us emotionally after her attacks. If we make one wrong choice we do have a chance to fight back and score a ‘boundary’ of the next delivery, but she grabs us when we slip, and instead of supporting us, she hits us hard when it hurts the most. At that moment, she attacks us through our mind and intelligence. She chides, “Oh, what’s the use? You did such nice sadhana, eh? Just see I have pulverized you? You are puny! Forget it! You can’t do it” This way she ensures I lose concentration as I face the next ‘ball’; she gets my  past mistakes to affect my present choices and that in turn weakens me for the future. Thus I am tightly enwrapped in a vicious trap of maya. What’s the solution to this? How do we ‘bat’ well in the face of deadly attacks by maya?

The best way out of this is to let go-‘Release’- the past. I need to be detached from all the past nonsense that I was. All the wrong choices I made yesterday have no bearing on my future. Yes, my present would be affected due to the past ‘wrong’ choices. But that only means I need to make the ‘right’ choices now and be positive. This doesn’t mean maya would keep quiet. The moment I make the right choice of saying ‘yes’ to Krishna she offers an instant offer to pull me away. This tug of war would go on perennially; until the moment I die.

Even at that moment, don’t be surprised if she softly whispers, ‘Oh my friend, please stay back in this world, I am there for you’. Sounds scary? That’s ok. Let me enjoy this game now; today let me make the right choices. It’s difficult to make the right choices, but then nothing good comes easy. And the rewards of Krishna conscious choices are fulfilling. The moment we chose Krishna our spiritual deposits have soared; so let us be happy. But how maya gets us usually is ‘sledging’- reminding us, “All these deposits are of no use because in the past you have wasted all you hard earned spiritual money on sense gratification and this too would be soon gone” 

Her wicked smiles and arrogant confidence is intimidating. But we need to focus on our present game and not get bogged down by maya ’s attempts to get us out in new and cheap ways. If she hurls a lethal bouncer through her best bowler, the internal censor, you strike back with affirmations. If she says, “forget it; it’s not going to work. You are a hypocrite” you need to humbly duck and avoid it, and immediately rise and hit the next one to the fence with positive affirmations like, “I am now successful in my spiritual practices; I now chant attentively; I now chose Krishna; I am happy and enthusiastic to serve Krishna” Easy; just affirm and move on to make the next right choice. Recognize the internal censor as a formidable enemy.

He is strong and aggressive but that doesn’t mean the abuses he hurls are true. Just because someone is loud and bombastic doesn’t mean he’s right. Yes, the mind screams aloud for sense gratification. So what, let the mind do his job, and let me do mine! And my job is to stay focused on my innings. Bat well- and that means, chant, study, serve, write and all the other good things. And in case you do slip, rise and move forward immediately. Don’t let maya attack you when you are down. She loves to hit hardest when you are helpless. Her attacks with external temptations and distractions are not as damaging as her internal rhetoric and hate speeches; these negative statements attack your self-worth and confidence.

Remember you are essentially good. You love Krishna. Your mistakes are not you. If you have made bad choices in the past, that doesn’t mean you are bad. Let’s now remember Krishna gratefully, and move forward happily. Let’s be small and alert like a forest animal; the predator of maya is round the corner. Only Krishna can protect us, and let us seek His protection. Let’s thank Krishna and perform positive spiritual activities now. Let’s come closer to Krishna now and today.