Exhortations of Father Zossima
From The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Srila Prabhupada has admired several Christians and non-Christians, such as St. Francis of Assisi, and Soren Kierkegaard, and Socrates, whom he said was Brahman realized. Of course, Srila Prabhupada said that Lord Jesus Christ is our guru. Srila Bhaktivinode said that we should not quarrel with other religions but appreciate “How nicely they are worshipping my Lord.” In this mood, I’ve been inspired by some passages from “Brothers Karamazov,” of which I feel that Dostoyevsky was inspired by Supersoul to write such moving and profound exhortations: The following passage is from the “Russian Monk” section of The Brothers Karamazov, the “Conversations and exhortations of Father Zossima.”
Exhortation 2 Humble love
Love a man even in his sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God’s creation, the whole, and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light.
Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. Love the animals:
God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble it, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it,
and leave the traces of your foulness after you—alas, it is true of almost every one of us! Love children especially, for they too are sinless like the angels; they live to soften and purify our hearts, as it were, to guide us. Woe to him who offends a child!
Father Anfin taught me to love children. The kind, silent man used often on our wanderings to spend the farthings given us on sweets and cakes for the children. He could not pass by a child without emotion, that’s the nature of the man. At some thoughts one stands perplexed, especially at the sight of men’s sin, and wonders whether one should use force or humble love. Always decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that once for all, you may subdue the whole world.
Loving humility is marvelously strong, the strongest of all things and there is nothing else like it.
Notes: Forgiveness is not an option. We can’t love every grain of sand, every ray of light, or a man even in his sin, or everything in god’s creation, when we are unforgiving. If we focus on the suffering we see everywhere, and we blame others for our pain, we will not get divine love. We are thinking it is “their” fault, they are the guilty ones for all my sufferings. But it is an “inside liability ” world, not a “they did it” world. It’s an inside job, it is my fault of past sins that reaps my present karma. They are only the agents of fructification of my karma coming back on me. Only when I forgive all others past and present and future, and ask them all to forgive me of my many sins and offenses, and by so doing, and by feeling the power of total unconditional forgiveness, given and taken, only then may I begin to love every grain of sand, every ray of light, every soul and child of god on this earth, and then all will be absorbed in a humble love of all living beings on God’s green earth. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful energies in this universe. As the Lord’s prayer says, “Lord, forgive my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.”
This is the essence of Srila Prabhupada and Jayananda and other exalted devotees, who exemplify the rare treasure of divine love for Lord Krishna and universal love for everything and everyone, a humble love, which was the strongest of all things, which subdues the whole world. It is hard to image how any of us can go back to Godhead without this quality of total forgiveness, and loving everything in Krishna’s creation. Loving Krishna means loving everything and everyone, for He is there in all His creation.
Original post is accessible on Vishoka's blog: