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Transcending Nature


Question

 I’ve read your recent letter about acting according to one’s nature. Should we accept and act according to our nature or should we transcend our nature? I joined the movement in the beginning and the general mood was to ignore one’s nature and just do whatever was needed, but now I understand that it’s not really possible to do that, so I feel a little cheated.

Answer

H.D. Goswami Profile Picture

I appreciate your concern. I believe the solution will be clear if we understand what it means to transcend our material conditioning. Krishna clearly teaches in the Gita that we must transcend lust, anger, greed, and other conditioned contaminates of the pure soul. In general, we must transcend our tendency to exploit the material world, physically, intellectually, or mystically.

We transcend our vocational propensities through the process of yukta-vairagya, as all the Acaryas teach. As we know, in the earlier days of ISKCON, young and immature devotees believed that a sincere servant of Krishna should pay no attention at all to one’s desires, needs, propensities etc. We now know that this was an immature, and even dangerous, misunderstanding. Atma-nivedana, offering oneself to Krishna, means to offer who you really are, by engaging who you really are in Krishna’s service.

You and I both had the privilege of serving ISKCON in its early days. But we paid a price for this privilege. A young society, like young individuals, tends to have an immature understanding of life. I do not lament my material or spiritual youth, despite all the immaturity and foolishness. Somehow, that is the way it was and now we have to move forward. We can look back to learn from the past, but we cannot be trapped or discouraged by the past.

With His perfect wisdom, Krishna chose to place us in a young, immature spiritual society that was still extremely sincere and even pure, in its own way. We should not be angry or sad because Krishna did this. He knows perfectly how to save us and we should let Him save us.