“Swanning”

Swan drinkingNo it is not a new dance step, but a process. I first heard the term from my dear feathered friend Dr. Garuda (Ph.D Harvard) who used the term to indicate the process of taking the best from any situation–in his case his educational pursuits. Prabhupada gives the example of the swan that can draw out the milk from a mixture of milk and water. We have to look for the nectar or the essence which can be used for Krishna’s service.

A famous quote Prabhupada’s purport from the first Canto of the Bhagavatam [1.5.11] gives the same idea:

“It is a qualification of the great thinkers to pick up the best even from the worst. It is said that the intelligent man should pick up nectar from a stock of poison, should accept gold even from a filthy place, should accept a good and qualified wife even from an obscure family and should accept a good lesson even from a man or from a teacher who comes from the untouchables. These are some of the ethical instructions for everyone in every place without exception.”

In most cases we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but we can use what is already there. We have to use our intelligence to apply the Krishna consciousness philosophy to all our circumstances, looking for what can be used or not in our life of devotion.

There are six principles of surrender given by one of our great teachers, Rupa Gosvami. The first two we can apply for our current theme. To accept what is favorable, and to give up what is unfavorable for devotional service, or our spiritual life.

Most of us work in the world, and it is our challenge to connect our life, occupation, family and everything we do to Krishna. We do that by understanding what Krishna consciousness is by associating with advanced devotees, reading the books of Shrila Prabhupada and his disciples, chanting the holy name and so many other processes that we will learn.

There are so many rules which are favorable for the cultivation of Krishna consciousness. However, the first thing is to become attracted to Krishna and convinced that Krishna is a goal we feel is worthy to obtain. Otherwise why bother with so many activities?

Everything begins with faith, and the different stages of advancement all the way to love of Krishna (prema) are deepening of that faith. When we are really convinced that Krishna consciousness is our path, then we will naturally want to follow whatever can deepen our faith and help us make spiritual advancement.

Then we can strive to be in the world but know we are not of it (we are souls having a human experience), and we can employ “swanning” or finding a way to use everything to help us make advancement and facilitate our devotional service.

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