Whirlwind—Right, it's definitely a great up-sell. For the average narcissistic hipster, this is honey to their ears. Controlling god... oh the possibilities. Wonder if anyone up there could put in a word and make god stop world hunger and suffering in general.
But this notion of God being controlled by the love of his devotees is not some modern-day idea. It's actually a foundational concept of most devotional cults in India.
Never mind the fact that in healthy human relationships the goal is never to control the object of one's affection. Can you imagine a dating website advertising that you can find an ideal match/partner and even get to control them eventually if you love them enough? Again, these are just simply all unnatural ideas. In a time when pastoral Romanticism was high in the air and these devotional cults were taking shape, it was sort of a pleasant form of religious entertainment not subject to the rigor and ruling and elitism of brahmanism. So it had a great appeal. And in this day and age especially in the fifties and sixties when Catholicism and Christianity had a very restrictive effect on people's lives, it was a ripe time for this type of group to take hold of the imaginations of young drug-fueled hippies.
Ultimately all these ideas are based on a type of Romeo and Juliet fascination. They are trying to capitalize on the natural biological reality of humans always wanting to experience/relive these initial moments of new budding love. Definitely, a novel concept as far as theism and religions go. But like with all spiritual pursuits, it deserves substantial amounts of questioning and explanations. For me, after all was said and done, and after investing years and seeing others investing many more, it just didn't add up.
The thing is, the ancients toyed with these ideas and they are all valid spiritual realizations. Take achitya bedha bedha, which was not first posited by Chaitanya BTW. It spells out the notion that we are one/nondifferent from brahman/existence/awareness/consciousness/krishna, yet, we are also qualitatively different. So this becomes a shakti argument. And Shaktism is a valid school of Indian philosophy. Everything has an energy and potency of sorts. Advaita believes there is no distinction between it all and the perception of difference is an illusion and false. Dvaita believes there is a vivid distinction between us and the Source. This can be brahman or a made-up god that is a stand-in for Brahman or a universal reality/substrate/consciousness. These are all ideas and valid in assorted ways. Perspective/perception and imagination is all that is needed to realize that any number of these hold water as possibilities. However, a true spiritual endeavor/inquiry will usually span the gamut of these and result in a realization that all of these may have some truth. This is what makes the open-ended musings of the vedas so appealing—it's implied pluralism of possibilities. Religion usually forms when a group of people take specific fancy with a line of thinking and mostly out of laziness, hang their coat up and call it a day. So effectively, religion tends to be the end of our active, living spiritual journey.
A lot of times religious people get really offended by philosophers like Dawkins or Neitzche for suggesting that God is dead or that there is no god, but what they are effectively saying is that religion often stops us from continuing our inquiry, stimulating curiosity and allowing for organic, personal, realizations and growth. When we say, "God looks like this, acts like this and these are his words!". We are boxing in our thinking. Do that enough times and it does have a negative impact on our spiritual journey and the process of true self-realization. We tell ourselves that all we have to do is just chant this, read that and believe this and everything will be miraculously "revealed". The focus then becomes a series of external rituals, myths and child-like dependency on specific personages/gurus/gods/saints etc.
Even the last cantos of the Bhagavatam spell this out clearly in the Uddhava gita where the krishna god explains that we must ultimately use the environment and the world around us as our teacher (guru tattva) and garner authentic realizations by observing nature. They are largely monistic texts: [en.wikipedia.org
And this interests me because it's actually a pattern of a lot of post vedic texts. They culminate almost unabashedly telling you that this god, these stories, etc etc—they are all just parables and stand-ins for the overarching vedic offering of Brahamavidya. They are like stepping stones to comprehend the human psyche, stimulate discourse and finally, ask us to continue our inquiry, keep going. So it's aim is to orient us and give us support, not to spell out the final word and lets just all jump around and mindlessly chant and delude ourselves we'll miraculously wake up in a gopi body.
I definitely feel the major drawback to Gaudiya Vaishnavism is their proposition that the Chaitanya saint was some sort of incarnation, secretly mentioned in some obscure verse and blah blah blah. He was a Bhakti convert and preacher. He did ot claim divinity. What he practiced/preached was his personal path and realization. It was so personal to him that he did not even bother writing any major commentaries or directive works as to how to get to his "level". The Goswami's attempted to do this but much of it devolves into dogma and religious fanaticism. And I mean that with respect. They were undoubtedly scholars, unbelievably devoted to their path and intelligent. They gave a more vivid shape to an otherwise unstructured religious movement. Much like Joseph Smith gave shape to Mormonism. He gave his realizations and visions a blueprint so people could in the least have a semblance of what he was on about. Bravo. I applaud the effort. Absolutely a phenomenal achievement to be able to effectively convey complex concepts and ideas using language. But as I've mentioned, upon reading them without the rosy glasses of a hardcore religious convert, I can see the flaws and am not so convinced.
DeWatcher, you say tomato, I say tomato. You get the idea. I understand that there is nuanced specifics about the different radha-bhakti Sampradayas etc. Everyone claims their unique approach to one-up the last guy. It's a spiritual pissing contest to me. I'm not sure what you mean by "Nobody said that the spiritual body corresponds to the nature of the feelings manifested in the relationship with God.", but alas, I can't muster the energy to care about the explanation as it's akin to discussing the color red of santas coat. I would venture to say that the answers are not too "advanced" as you gave the benefit of. It's that there are no answers At least not scripturally based. They will simply be made-up answers based on made-up ideas of religious fanatics.
NDE/OBE ad other disturbances of time perception have been shown to be directly related to brain and neural activity disturbances. There is nothing spiritual about it. During anesthetized surgery or comas, many people report seeing themselves or feeling people enter the room. These have been shown to be based on primitive centers of the brain that allow us to have a sense of location in relation to space, forms and sounds. It's how we perceive that there is someone looking at us or that we are being followed or that there is a presence in the room. It's an orientation mechanism of the brain that is part of how we evolved for protecting ourselves. When our consciousness is subdued do to coma or near death, these very primitive responses are the last to go. There are many studies on this. Not to mention your personal OBE and other consciousness disruptions are not proof of krishna, gopi bhava or anything really. They are simply highly subjective personal experiences that have possible merit and value only to you, and no one else. I'm not sure what you are mentioning them for. These experiences certainly do not prove anything regarding the beliefs of the gaudiya faith. And the fact that you write that you experienced such things is indicative that it was squarely in the realm of perception and awareness—hence consciousness. To say that you experienced something as being "below the level of consciousness" is a physical impossibility. If you experienced anything—it's within the field of awareness, hence consciousness is there.
My wife is a rational person, but even she has a hard time shaking an experience she had many years ago where she awoke at night, frozen, and hearing some deep tribal chanting and noises that got louder and louder. It affected her and she felt she had some sort of metaphysical experience. But factually, sleep paralysis has been reported and studied and explained very clearly as to why this phenomenon happens. It's a mild malfunction of the brain and usually lasts only moments but results in auditory and visual hallucinations. As a youth, I recall hyperventilating and having a friend knock me out by forcefully squeezing the rest of the air out of my lungs. I remember in this state having very vivid and detailed dreams, when in reality I only lost consciousness for several seconds—hardly enough time to generate that much mental content. Point is that consciousness is a very pliable and interesting thing and we know a lot about it, but we also don't know a lot about it. And we also know that without a brain it ceases to function in any meaningful and visible/measurable way. So the rest, after the lights go out, is and always will be pure conjecture and speculation. It's important to use our critical thinking when analyzing experiences like this and simply labeling them as "spiritual" or somehow transcendent and profound. Life is already profound enough. We need not give extra weight to things that can be easily explained by science and simple and thoughtful deduction and consideration. If we make a big deal of a dream or a lucid dream-like state and are that easily hoodwinked into thinking it was some amazing revelation, it's really no wonder why we gobble up wholesale such utter nonsense as the krishna religion. Critical thinking stipulates that phenomena can be explained—yet this does not detract from its wonder and fascination. The experience you are having right now, that
is a spiritual experience. When you see that and can appreciate it as a fact, then it becomes very apparent that we have been fooling ourselves with all this other stuff as being some sort of higher spirituality. At least this is my personal experience. And it's very liberating to not have to believe in a bunch of woo woo to genuinely feel that.