Advanced Insignificance

“For my personal sense gratification, I never reject any kind of sinful activity. I am not at all merciful, and I see only to my personal interest. When others are suffering I become very happy, I am always speaking lies, and if someone is suffering, that is very pleasant to me. Now in my old age, with no alternative, I have by force become very humble and meek. Thus Bhaktivinoda offers this sad statement of his life’s activities at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord” (Amar Jivan, “My Life”, By Thakur Bhaktivinoda

These are the spontaneous outpourings of a great saint, perfectly recounting the debauched temperament of a wayward soul. Not simply poetic words, mind you, but a genuine lamentation from the core of their heart. Their humility is our reality. Amazing as it sounds, the greatly advanced souls truly see themselves in this way. How is that possible? Are they not aware of their spiritual stature? How can they avoid becoming depressed by such feelings of lowliness?

From faraway a mountain looks relatively small. As one draws closer, however, its greatness and enormity becomes more and more apparent. In relation to that, one feels themselves smaller and smaller. In front of an ocean we realise how tiny we are! In the same way, as one advances in their relationship with God, their genuine appreciation and admiration of His character and qualities grows exponentially. Thus, one feels increasingly inadequate in their attempts to reciprocate with that greatness. Although they have actually come closer to God, they simultaneously feel themselves more and more insignificant.

This, however, does not depress them. Since their feelings of lowliness are in relation to their realisation of God’s greatness, life is filled with positivity, hope and incredible enthusiasm. Despite our shortcomings, to know we are connected to an unlimitedly generous spiritual powerhouse is indeed an empowering and hope-giving thought. We can survive for three weeks without food, for three days without water, but not a moment without hope; it keeps our spiritual journey alive. Thus, another great saint of the highest caliber prays as follows:

“O my Lord, I do not have any love for You, nor am I highly qualified in spiritual practices. I do not possess mystic powers, scriptural knowledge or pious activities. Nor do I belong to a very spiritually refined family. On the whole, I do not possess anything at all. Still, because You generously bestow Your mercy on the most fallen, I have an unbreakable hope that is constantly in my heart. That hope is always giving me pain.” (Asa Bandha, “Hope against Hope”, By Sanatana Goswami)

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