Monday, February 25, 2008

Is there love in this world? Our doctrine and traditional Sahajiyaism

If there were no love in this world, there would be none in the next either. But nobody would be able to doubt the existence of love in this world if they were not busy trying to find love apart from God. Krishna says, "I am the source of all. All things begin with me. Those enlightened persons who know this, worship me with love." (Gita 10.8)

The very fact that we can conceive of an "ideal" is the beginning of the ontological argument. In this sense, it is connected to other arguments for the existence of God, like those of first origins or of teleology, i.e., the purposefulness of existence, both of which point to God. So, God as Person is the truest result of understanding, as it is Personhood, capable of the highest love, that stands at the pinnacle of creation.

But when I say that love is the result of the discovery of God as a Person, it is because of the connection of the two, i.e., the personhood we encounter in this world, which is given value and sacredness by the fact that God is a Person.

This is perhaps where I differ most from traditional Sahajiya ideas, which still seem too fixed on sexual mechanics and an impersonal framing of the nature of Deity, like the Tantriks. I don't doubt that I am not entirely right about this, but in certain respects, from their writings, we find such ideas.

This is why I often talk about the importance of the "Other" as a concept. By "other" I mean another person. [This is "I-Thou" thinking.] You cannot love an object, as such. Or at least, such love must be considered on a lower plane, somewhere in the realm of admiration. Admiration (or pleasure) is an element in love, as Jiva Goswami's definitions in the Prīti-sandarbha show, but the true numinosity or sacred character of love comes from the full realization of the presence of another spiritual being, who is wondrous.

So when I talk about the sacred character of sexual love, it is not to say that the physical sex on its own constitutes the entirety of the sacredness, as I would venture to say it is for many Sahajiyas and older-style Tantriks. The real locus of the sacred is in the loved person and the energy produced from the contact with that person in mutual wonder.

Now that recognition of the "other" as person exists on two dimensions. One is as the person (sādhaka or sādhikā) with whom one shares the love relation; the other is the ultimate relation with the Divine Person, whom we know as the Divine Couple, Radha and Krishna. For these two relations we may use the traditional Sahajiya terminology of bāhya and maramī, respectively. Nevertheless, we should not get distracted by ideas that accord purely superficial importance to the worldly or physical relationship between devotees who are engaged in cultivating prema together.

This is why I insist on the comparison of the sādhaka-sādhikā relationship to one of mutual guru-discipleship. In fact, this is something that is quite clear in traditional Sahajiyaism also. This knowledge assures me that even though it sometimes seems underdeveloped in the male-centered texts that we have available to us, it is not entirely absent and confirms the intuition that I have been putting forward since the very beginning of this blog, namely that Srimati Radharani's primacy means a primacy of the feminine in the culture of prema.

From M.M.Bose's Post Chaitanya Sahajiya Cult, p. 115:
...Socrates went to a woman, Diotima by name, in order to be instructed in the secrets of love. This shows that in the matter of love, women reign supreme. The Sahajiya doctrine also is practically based on the theory that the secret of love is to be learnt before a woman or in the company of women. Chandi Das going to enquire of [the goddess] Basuli about the mystic doctrine of love was instructed by her to go to Rami, a washerwoman for this purpose:

hāsiẏe bāsulī kẏa śuna caṇḍi mahāśaẏa
āmi thāki rasika nagare |
se grāme debatā āmi tāhā jāne rajakinī
jijñāsa ge yatane tāhāre ||
Basuli laughed and said, "Listen Chandi, sir. I live in the city of the rasikas. I am the goddess of that village, and the washerwoman knows this. So go and inquire carefully from her." (P.E., song 764)
Moreover, the woman is here placed in the position of a guide in the culture of love, and this is the prevalent custom with the Sahajiyas also. Passages like the following are abundant in Sahajiya literature.

antare pīriti yaje prakṛti āśraẏa |
prema rase prakṛtira anugata haẏa ||
"In order to cultivate love within, one should take shelter of a woman. In the matter of obtaining prema-rasa, one should become the follower of a woman."
Perhaps it is the result of coming from a culture where individualism has developed to a greater degree than in most medieval societies that I wish to stress this personal aspect of Sahajiyaism. The authors of these old Sahajiya texts can talk about "type" with much more impunity than we would today. For them, "woman" is something generic, and "love" something more of an impersonal force rather than an encounter between two individuals. Nevertheless, even though I put the accent on the sacred character of the individual encounter, you have to accept that universals are involved. And indeed, it is the relation to these multi-levelled universals in sādhana that deepens the consciousness of that sacredness.

This is why there is merit to the Sahajiya position that the ultimate goal is the culture of the internal or marmī relationship, i.e., that which the orthodox Vaishnavas of our tradition would recognize as being their goal also, i.e., that of Rādhā-dāsya. In other words, both partners in the Sadhaka couple are seeking Rādhā-dāsya. Their own love, powerful as it may be, is made more powerful by living together in the frame of reference created by the concept of Rādhā-dāsya. The sādhana is thus not a sādhana of material love, but a sādhana of divine love. If it were devoid of this frame of reference, it would ultimately degenerate into nothing more than a matter of sophisticated mutual pleasure seeking, even if that were in the mode of goodness.

The kinds of Tantra or Sahajiyaism that put the accent on the mechanical aspects of sexuality, with the complex system of Kundalini awakening, chakras, sarovars and so forth, all have their place, but it is secondary or supportive to the essential one of recognizing the sacred in the presence of the Other. The system of āropa that I talked about earlier in this blog is really meant to promote the consciousness of this sacred character on different levels. The sacralized sexual act simply furnishes the optimum occasion for the culture of this consciousness.

The mechanical view promoted in some Sahajiya texts treats women interchangeably, their bodies are the important thing, not the individual person in the body. Thus many Sahajiya texts emphasize the physical characteristics of the sādhikā rather than the inner character of the ideal partner in sādhana. Those qualities are (1) devotion to the Divine Couple, (2) the commitment to yogic discipline, and (3) an indefinable visceral and spontaneous attraction. The relationship with such a partner is as profound as that between guru and disciple and must be treated with even greater reverence and care.

A Sahajiya text called Prema-vilāsa (different from that of Nityananda Das) illustrates the utilitarian position:

madhu āni madhumāchi cāka kare yabe
nānāna puṣpera madhu yoga kari tabe
bahu puṣpe haite madhu kare āẏojana
sei puṣpe punaḥ tāra ki praẏojana
When the bumblebee has collected honey and brings it to the hive, then he brings together the honey from a wide number of different flowers. Once the honey has been gathered from many flowers, what more need has he of the flowers?
dīpa haste kari yadi prabeśaẏe ghare
timira kariẏā dhvaṁsa dīptimāna kare
yekhāne ya drabya tāhā haẏa bartamāna
paścāta pradīpe āche kona praẏojana
When one takes a light into the room, it destroys the darkness and allows one to see what is inside. But once one has found the things one needs, what further use has he for the lamp?
These two verses illustrate to me a kind of impersonal indifference that contradicts both the concept of one's partner as guru and of the principle of love itself. Love that is defined simply in terms of some mechanical "gathering of honey" seems dreadfully superficial and unacceptable. If one's concept of God were purely impersonal, then perhaps this kind of attitude would be understandable, but where the idea of God as Person is fundamental to the understanding of Love, it is unforgivable.

It is no doubt here that the real difficulties between Orthodoxy and Sahajiyaism lie. The nature of love, furthermore, is such that it is not attained at a finite moment; nowhere more than in the sādhana of love is the sādhaka/sādhikā partner an end in themselves, an inexhaustible entry point to the Divine Truth, not different from it. If one has not realized the inexhaustible divinity of the spiritual person through whom the channel of prema flows, what realization of anything beyond that can possibly be aspired to?

The inconceivable oneness and difference of the guru and God is the operative principle in the culture of Divine Love. Love itself is the mysterious confluence of oneness and difference.

Another area where this above-stated distinction needs to be made is in the area of pārakīyā and svakīyā rasa. The Sahajiyas place many arguments for the pārakīyā rasa that in principle follow those of the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi and Caitanya-caritāmṛta, etc. I assume that most of my readers will be familiar with some of the basic ones, namely that the difficulties, obstacles and uncertainties of the pārakīyā relationship create increased anxiety and determination, etc., in the lovers, all of which test the strength of their desire, the purity of their resolve and enhance the pleasures of union, when it comes.

People are likely less familiar with Jiva Goswami's arguments for svakīyā-vāda, and I will not give a thorough-going summary here. As you probably know, Jiva emphasizes something that all Gaudiyas will agree on, namely that Radha and Krishna are eternally One and that therefore, there is no question of "belonging to another" (pārakīyā). Therefore, he envisions the prakaṭa-līlā manifestation of pārakīyā rasa as serving the function of a demonstration. Radha and Krishna's eternal svakīyā, which cannot always demonstrate its depth and power, does so when placed in the pārakīyā conditions of the prakaṭa-līlā. It is like an elephant, which left free to roam does not show its brute force, but does so when shackled to a stump against its will.

In terms of love's human manifestation, such an example is applicable. There are two kinds of pārakīyā--three actually. They are the kanyā, the paroḍhā, and the sāmānyā. The unmarried daughter under the protection of her father is, in most societies, the acceptable object of romantic interest. The paroḍhā, married woman, is not. The sāmānyā, or "common woman", does not really count in this scheme, though there is no reason why she couldn't in the right circumstances.

In India, it is interesting that the common system of marriage, named prājāpatya by those who name these things, is almost entirely devoid of madhura-rasa. Many Sanskrit plays, written for and about royalty, had to invent complex situations of misplaced identity in order to turn a prājāpatya situation into a gāndharva one; the gāndharva relationship or marriage being the one that is most full of rasa, precisely because the arranged marriage lacks rasa. This is even stated in the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi:

gāndharva-rītyā svīkārāt svīyātvam iha vastutaḥ
avyaktatvād vivāhasya suṣṭhu pracchanna-kāmatā
Since Radha and Krishna were married according to the gāndharva rite, they were factually svīyā or married lovers. But since their marriage was hidden, the characteristics of the pārakīyā relationship, such as hidden desire, were manifestly present. (UN 3.16)
Even Rupa Goswami in Lalita-mādhava has followed the royal plot of hidden identity when he shows Krishna falling in love with the unrecognized Radha in the form of Satyabhama, who was given to him by Satrajit in the Shyamantaka incident. She is given (svīyā), but unrecognized (pārakīyā).

Now in terms of social commentary, bringing all this to the worldly realm, where indeed we MUST bring it, this is telling us quite clearly that the problem with the svakīyā relationships is precisely that they are not controlled by the individuals involved. Though the calculations of those who control the bride and groom's decisions may be very accurate and astute, they are nevertheless calculations, i.e., vidhi not rāga. And, even in our present day world of free mingling and choice, we often internalize similar calculations that make us choose, for better or worse, in a svakīyā manner. A relationship that is based purely on physical desire is sāmānyā, and though this is accommodated somewhat in the person of Sairindhri in Krishna's lila, it is barely considered worthy of analysis.

Just as finding a sat-guru cannot truly be done by conventional or purely rational means, the finding of the sat-sādhikā or sat-sādhaka cannot be done by purely conventional or rational means. The considerations of qualification have to be internalized through self-culture (pravartaka stage), after which recognition of what is an eternal (svīyā) relationship comes about spontaneously, like a revelation. It may or may not hidden behind obstacles, i.e., revealed within pārakīyā circumstances, but if it is, those obstacles will only serve to strengthen the commitment, the conviction and the meaningfulness of that specific relationship. Indeed, it may be said that the obstacles are a special gift to lovers, just as Bharata Muni and Rudra Bhatta did, approvingly quoted by Sri Rupa.

Srila Jiva Goswami's testament to this is the Gopāla-campū, in which he still gives a certain priority to pārakīyā rasa by structuring the entire story of Radha and Krishna's prakaṭa-līlā, from their first meeting until their eventual marriage after Krishna's return following the death of Dantavakra, in the framework of a storytelling session in the nitya abode of Goloka. By hearing their own story, now somehow separated from themselves as myth, Radha and Krishna experience a refined version of their own immortal pastime of self-rediscovery. They relive it as spectators experiencing rasa, albeit with the same kind of vested interest that anyone has when hearing their own story as distilled experience, sculpted for effect.

Though this is not about improving divorce rates, there may be a secret hidden here, who knows? Not only in terms of shaping the stories of our own loves (as successful lovers tend to do anyway), but by recognizing that these stories of our own loves are microcosms of the eternal lila of Radha and Krishna that is playing out in so many forms throughout the cosmos, often contaminated by thick layers of tamo-guṇa and rajo-guṇa, but sometimes in forms that are purer in nature, even where they break the rules.

And where they are combined with spiritual knowledge and the culture of bhakti, they can push one to the pinnacle of human experience, Prema.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is your best writing ever.

I'm really glad that you shared this and did not "dumb down the curriculum" for us.

I believe I totally understand what you are saying here and I think I can agree with you here most of what you are saying, if not all.

I also appreciate all of your references from past precedents from a variety of sources.

It's interesting that some of what you said is precisely what some radical spiritual feminists have said also: that basically women are better than men because of the simple scientific fact that women are XX and men are XY.

The radical spiritual feminist position is that the XY person is missing something: namely the little bit of genetic information that was lopped off one of the Xs to make a Y.

And "As above, so below".


Also, another tenet of radical spiritual feminism is that basically there are two kinds of men in the world: men [ugh] and men who are "honorary women".

That is, men who are "honorary women" are the men that feminists invite to their conferences, even may sit on the dais with them, and may even be a guest speaker.

Because they understand the plight of women, and are doing all that they can in their power, in this lifetime, to assist all oppressed people in this world, in their own way, according to their own ability.


Anyway, thank you for sharing this information. Now I understand what you are talking about. I think. And to take it further than the scope of XX vs XY, I would daresay that we are saccidananda by nature.

We are covered by 36 tattvas. As such it is difficult to be completely transparent in this world, so completely are we covered, similar to the skins of an onion.

But I believe there is a concealing grace of the Divine and also a revealing grace. And there are things we can do to make ourselves more open and eligible for those moments of revealing grace come more frequently.

As the saying goes: "Luck is opportunity PLUS PREPARATION".


Thanks for this venue so we may fully integrate our past experiences and keep on advancing. The irreverent things that are sometimes said here, and not censored, remind me of a pajama party at a family reunion, of siblings who have had parents who gave them incredible gifts, but also exhibited some majorly severe dysfunctional behavior.

And the only way the kids can keep on progressing and not get "stuck" in one developmental phase of hating their parents and blaming them for so many things...

...is to be able to poke fun at the dysfunctional things, identify the dysfunction things, be able to explain in modern terms exactly what the dysfunctions were [using the language of psychology, sociology, or science for example] with each other.

Then the kids can laugh, have an "aha" moment, and be open for ever new information. And not be "stuck" as in spiritually constipated because of holding onto so much old baggage.


At any rate, women can easily be exploited in the tantric model. But I do like the idea of having a deep feeling of solidarity and empathy for women. Most "honorary women" aka sensitive men do have this empathy.

Then from this empathy, develops most of the subject matter you seem to be expounding in this essay. I think there is a very fine line between using and exploiting women in the name of "learning their secrets" to being open and sensitive enough to learn from others in general.

i.e. not only from women but able to learn from all other cultures: their strengths and weaknesses. And to be able to learn from other disciplines so that we can monitor and self-assess our progress.


All in all, I think I understand what you are saying here. The teachings that I follow now say the same thing: prema is something that can happen between souls even on this earth plane of Bhuloka.

Because our essence is saccidananda. Therefore saccidananda interacting with saccidananda is prema. Prema is like the currency of the soul.

As the 36 tattvas cover the soul less and less, due to the revealing grace being exhibited more and more, then so many beautiful things happening on the prema side of the continuum.

May it ever increase!

Our mortal coil is basically a food-based body [anna-maya kosa] comprised of tattvas in the form of sariras and kosas [sheaths and subtle bodies] that cover the soul body [ananda-maya kosa].

So actually we already live in both worlds simultaneously.

But the jiva covered very heavily by the concealing grace cannot perceive it. So to the degree the jiva is covered, is the degree to which love exists--or does not--in this world.

Is like underneath the Sistine Chapel was Michelangelo's original work. It was covered over by centuries of dust, dirt, ash from candles and incense smoke, and pollution.

Then when conservators restored to the original work, people were surprised that his colors were much lighter and not so morbid, dark, and heavy.

So we are also covered by the 36 tattvas. And the more we do our various practices and sadhanas then the revealing grace is like the solvents used to uncover what what the Sistine Chapel looked like
when Michelangelo first painted it.

So it was already there, but covered. And people could perceive it, but not in the more light, pure, subtle pastel colors as when it was restored to the original.

So there is love in this world, we can perceive it, and keep on doing your sadhanas you will perceive it even more and more, by the solvent or revealing grace of the Divine.

Anonymous said...

Great article as always. Can i ask, who is the nityananda dasa you refer to whenever there is a consideration of a similarity between orthodox vaishnav mat and vedanta? thanks

Anonymous said...

If you learn about astrology in depth, you will also have a different sense of "lovers being a microcosm of the Divine".

While that is true on one level, on another level if you become expert in astrology, you will become humbled by how very little has to do with "us" and more is all about the demigods are arranging everything.

For example, there are so many different combinations of love with the planets of Venus and Mars in a chart: where they are placed in what signs and what houses. It's also important to see how that changes over time [progressions and transits].

Next you look at the synastry between two people: and if you study astrology deeply you can discern how long it will last and where things will go. And what is the primary taste or rasa between the two parties. As well as if both individuals are indeed capable of love or are simply narcissistic.

You can learn about obsession and versus duty if you check out the outer planets like Pluto and Saturn. You will learn about Cupid personified for you in the guise of another person if you check out asteroids and/or fixed stars like Eros and how they interact with Venus.

You will learn about a love that never ends even if everything is there to make it end if you learn about asteroids/ fixed stars like Anteros. You will discover what life lessons are there for you to learn with another person if you check out the sign and house of the North Node.

You will learn who invokes in you so many different things straight from the collective unconscious if you study the Arabic parts. And if you do that for decades, then suddenly you see what was so mysterious is not that mysterious at all.

You sense the hand of the Wizard of Oz behind everything, behind the curtain: the veil of illusions. You learn how to read his secret codes and everything.

In some ways these archetypal stories are both a carrot and a balm. Joseph Campbell was adamant that the soul is saccidananda: eternity, knowledge, and bliss. He said that he was not sure if knowledge would lead him to the soul. He also was not sure how he could find eternality. But he felt convinced that if he would follow his bliss, then that would lead him, eventually, to ananda. And there he would find sat and chit.

So many of these stories are blissful to some people. And to share them with others a form of bliss. To hear the bhajans a form of bliss to others. All: a source of ananda or bliss.

Then as people get older and change, some of the stories may not be so blissful anymore. So then they need to look elsewhere until they find their bliss again.

Or some who looked for it in the scriptures and in "doing all of the right things" get a big surprise when they find the bliss in the form of another sadhaka as you have mentioned.

The road may twist and then turn some more. Krsna is crooked.

But after you have caught a glimpse of the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, then it is very, very difficult to ever think of another person as "all of that" anymore.

Then a person develops a more universal love for others and an affectionate detachment, and moves higher up the chakras. The muladhara chakra is sealed off to maintain this state.

But until you have at least caught a glimpse of the Wizard of Oz in person, pumping away at the gears that run the whole show, and learn how to discern the code of his handiwork, then indeed everything seems so "wondrous" and "magical".

"Our" stories and narratives seem so special. "The story of our love" seems so wonderful. And for some people that's the topmost they will ever experience in this lifetime.

But beyond all of that is the people running the show. And once you have seen that then is impossible to become fully enamored by the "others" of this world anymore.

You want to get hooked up more with the ones who are running everything. You want to be in harmony with what is happening behind the curtain, and up in the projection booth: not what is being project on the movie theatre screen.

You want to know more about the director and screenwriter. You want to know what the actors and actresses are like in real life.

This world and all of our "loves" while certainly "special" and "unique" and amazing as far as timing, coincidence, divine arrangement, providence, unconditonal love, devotion, and all the good stuff that it brings out in us are just part of a bigger picture.

"Following your bliss" in the form of reciprocal dealings with significant others is, at best, a river that leads to the ocean of bliss. Maybe there will even be spectacular waterfalls along the way: the stuff of myth and legend.

But once you get to the ocean and surf its waves, even wipe out a few times and nearly drown in those waves, you will never, ever be the same again. You will always want to be a transcendental beach bum or porpoise or timingila fish or anything to stay immersed in that ocean of bliss.

And while the rivers are enchanting, and indeed can carry us to the ocean, anyone who has had a taste of the Divine is never going to confuse the love of a significant other with being hooked up to the source of it all.

You become like drug addict. And after awhile is just alot easier to just shoot up by yourself and enjoy the bliss of the high directly by yourself.

You no longer want to waste your precious time waiting for Prince Charming/ Ms Right to come along help you score the dope and shoot up.

Cuz maybe they will just going to disappear with your drug money.
So best of all is learn how to find it all within yourself. Become self-realized, not "other" realized. It's all inside of you.

Aum Tat Sat

Bill Morgan said...

No huggin huh Who ya lovin huh

shiva said...

Jagat I want to comment on the last 3 paragraphs you wrote, you said:

"Just as finding a sat-guru cannot truly be done by conventional or purely rational means, the finding of the sat-sadhika or sat-sadhaka cannot be done by purely conventional or rational means. The considerations of qualification have to be internalized through self-culture (pravartaka stage), after which recognition of what is an eternal (sviya) relationship comes about spontanously, like a revelation. It may or may not hidden behind obstacles, i.e., revealed within parakiya circumstances, but if it is, those obstacles will only serve to strengthen the commitment, the conviction and the meaningfulness of that specific relationship. Indeed, it may be said that the obstacles are a special gift to lovers, just as Bharata Muni and Rudra Bhatta did, approvingly quoted by Sri Rupa.

Srila Jiva Goswami's testament to this is the Gopala Champu, in which he still gives a certain priority to parakiya rasa by structuring the entire story of Radha and Krishna's prakata lila, from their first meeting until their eventual marriage after Krishna's return following the death of Dantavakra, in the framework of a storytelling session in the nitya abode of Goloka. By hearing their own story, now somehow separated from themselves as myth, Radha and Krishna experience a refined version of their own immortal pastime of self-rediscovery. They relive it as spectators experiencing rasa, albeit with the same kind of vested interest that anyone has when hearing their own story as distilled experience, sculpted for effect."

I find all of that to be confused. You write about Jiva Goswami's "Gopala Champu" as if what is described there between Radha Krishna can be somehow experienced by people practicing the sahajiya path. What I see is a lack of understanding of the metaphorical import of Jiva's writing, and then using that (mis)understanding in trying to advance a type of theological premise for sahajiya practictioners. You try and make the so-called microcosm in accord with the macrocosm.

But there is a significant problem with your proposition. First off is the idea that what is described as rasa relations between Radha and Krishna in lila can somehow be a template of some kind for people who are on the path towards liberation (or prema or whatever you want to call the final stage of god consciousness). That is simply speculation. While sahajiyas or tantriks of whatever variety may disagree, when it comes to sastric verification, it is simply not there.

Secondly, people who are not on the highest stage of liberation (or whatever you want to call it e.g. jivan mukta etc) do not really truly understand Radha Krishna, nor their lila, from an objective viewpoint. They don't understand that lila from the viewpoint of someone who is experienced with it, their viewpoint (whether correct or not) can only be speculative. Due to a lack of experience their speculations should not be taken as authoritative. An example would be prepubescent children playing with each other at being married. They may be able to go through the motions, they may be able to imitate what they see adults doing, but your average prepubescent child is clueless as to what a real marriage between adults is really all about.

A person who has not ever even talked with God, has never gotten to know God person to person, cannot really understand what God's love life is like. If a person was really advanced enough to use sexual relations in a sacred sense (in the sense you use it as) for communion with God, then there would be no reason for God to not be directly involved. Just like when children are old enough to appreciate and be involved in adult relations they no longer play at being in those relationships, they actually have those relationships. The same applies to bhakti. When a bhakta is actually advanced enough to utilize the sexual relationship in his bhakti practice, at that time it is God who will be there for you. As long as you think you need another jiva in the place of God, then you are not really ready for God. That "sacred sex" sadhana utilized as a "prema" enhancer, is really no such thing. Jivas may be able to "love" each other, or even think that their love is somewhat cognate with the love between Radha Krishna, but those jivas are mistaken. It's like comparing the dream state with the fully awakened state. The dream state is experienced semi-consciously i.e. you don't really understand what is going on, your conception of reality is askew, your version of reality is sorely lacking. When you are fully awake you can function properly, you can deal with reality awakened to the nature of reality.

Then in your last paragraph you wrote

"Though this is not about improving divorce rates, there may be a secret hidden here, who knows? Not only in terms of shaping the stories of our own loves (as successful lovers tend to do anyway), but by recognizing that these stories of our own loves are microcosms of the eternal lila of Radha and Krishna that is playing out in so many forms throughout the cosmos, often contaminated by thick layers of tamo-guna and rajo-guna, but sometimes in forms that are purer in nature, even where they break the rules. And where they are combined with spiritual knowledge and the culture of bhakti, they can push one to the pinnacle of human experience, Prema."

Prema is not something which can be attained through any type of interaction with a jiva. I don't mean to minimize the importance of jnana coming from a jiva (e.g. from a guru of some sort), but to suggest that prema can be attained or aided from the type of relationship which you speak about, is simply not possible. Prema is really about rasa and bhava. Just like you may "love" someone at first sight, or you may "fall in love" with someone whom you don't really know. You may have seen that person, heard about that person etc, but never really gotten to know that person, yet still you may "fall in love" with that person, or so you think. This is common in human society. People, for whatever number of reasons, "fall in love" with people they don't really know. In the same way many if not most bhaktas think of prema in the same type of way. They feel some type of emotional feeling for God, and think prema is like that emotion. They consider their feelings of gratitude and appreciation, awe and reverence, all mixed together, to be what prema is all about. But it's not. Prema is what is experienced in a relationship with God. Just like real love is what is experienced by people in a real relationship as opposed to "love at first sight" or love from afar. You may think you love someone before you have a relationship with them, but that love is not real love of that person, it is love of an ideal. Prema is real love only experienced by jivas in a real relationship with God. No type of sexual relationship with other jivas can lead to prema because prema is not about learning to love or appreciate God, it is what happens after you meet God, it is the love that is developed based upon your bhava and rasa with God after meeting God person to person.

shiva said...

Maybe you've heard the story about Jayadeva, how Sri Devi incarnated as his wife Padmavati to teach him about rasa, so that he would be able to write Gita Govinda?

Gita Govinda 1.2

vag-devata-carita-citrita-citta-sadma
padmavati-carana-carana-cakravarti
sri-vasudeva-rati-keli-katha-sametam
etam karoti jayadeva-kavih prabandham

Dost said...

Talking is pain. Lie down and rest,
now that you’ve found a Friend to be with.

Others have many things and people they love.

This is not the way of Friend and friend.

Oh friend, fly toward the Friend.

-Rumi-

Anonymous said...

Even Socrates, who lived a very frugal and simple life loved to go to the market. When his students asked about this, he replied, "I love to go and see all the things I am happy without ..."
- Jack Kornfield
...Socrates went to a woman, Diotima by name, in order to be instructed in the secrets of love...