Turning to Swamiji in the Here and Now
Now Prabhupada is descending the stairs to the storefront, about to give the Wednesday evening Bhagavad-gita class. He's barefoot and wearing a silk dhoti. He's smiling more radiantly than we have ever seen him smile. He is glowing with health. He is coming straight from the spiritual world, just as Narada Muni does.
What would I ask him if this scene were occurring today, with me at the foot of the stairs? A real disciple loves his guru through thick and thin. He should have deep appreciation for what his spiritual master has given him, as is summed up in this verse, "I was standing in darkness with my eyes shut and my spiritual master came and opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. Therefore I offer him my repeated obeisances." So what would my questions be? Do I need to ask him anything? Before I asked, I would want to fall at his feet and thank him and praise him. Then:
“I want to always be your devotee. I know I make many mistakes. You know that I made mistakes when you were present and maybe I make even more mistakes now.
“To you, I must admit I don't know what is best. If I come before you in a self-defensive way, I'm not honoring your right to be my preceptor. As you wrote of your Guru Maharaja, ‘You hold the mace, you have the right.’
“I know you haven't come today to hear me explain myself. Is there anything you wish to instruct me about?” I should leave it up to him. “Please tell me what you think and want of me.”
“How can I improve my japa? I know the answer. But . . .”
“How should I proceed? Should I continue my writing life and the kind of preaching I do?”
“What about my relationship with my Godbrothers?”
“Why do I aspire for something more when I can't even practice the preliminary stages?”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Do you know me now, who I am?”
“Have I failed you? And if so, please tell me what I need to do so I can be pleasing to you again.”
“Please give me the strength to serve you.”
“You have written in your books that the spiritual master is always right; the genuine disciple follows his guru explicitly and implicitly.”
I don't think I can fill in Prabhupada's words in this imaginary dialogue. By writing out my own words to him, however, I feel even stronger that I know what I must do. I have to serve in the absence of Prabhupada's direct words; that's how it actually is. That's what serving in separation is about. You remember the orders he gave you, both generally and specifically, you look constantly in your heart, you use your intelligence, and you consult with Godbrothers while being obedient to the society of devotees. There is no simple formula. You can't just "ask Srila Prabhupada." Why should I have the privilege of asking him if others don't? We have to struggle. And he is with us, informing us, according to the degree of our surrender.[ meditations ]