Texas Faith 3: What’s the role of emotion in shaping religious faith?

Here is another new series,

Recently I was invited to participate in the Texas Faith Panel. This new column in the Dallas Morning News, William McKenzie/Editorial Columnist describes as follows ,

Here is another new series,

Recently I was invited to participate in the Texas Faith Panel. This new column in the Dallas Morning News, William McKenzie/Editorial Columnist describes as follows ,

Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

This weeks question.President Barack Obama has made it clear that he wanted a Supreme Court justice with a sense of empathy. Since then, a debate has ballooned up about what empathy means.

Some see it as a code word for judicial activism. Some see it as a trait needed to understand a litigant. The New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote last week that:

"People without social emotions like empathy are not objective decision-makers. They are sociopaths who sometimes end up on death row….But because we’re emotional creatures in an idiosyncratic world, it’s prudent to have judges who are cautious, incrementalist and minimalist."

I’m not looking for your views on whether Sonia Sotomayor would make a good justice, but I am interested in your thoughts about the role — and limits — of emotion in guiding individuals.

People of faith clearly have been known to be passionate about their beliefs. The joy they have in their faith often is seen as a positive, even by skeptics.

But here’s the question of the week: How much can anyone rely upon emotion in shaping their religious experience and the way they act in the world?
and here was the response:

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas

There is no possibility of personal relationship without emotion. Religion means to develop one’s loving relationship with God. Such a relationship involves emotion.

The soul is different from the body as a driver is different from his vehicle. Emotion is properly utilized when the individual acts upon the spiritual emotions of the soul, selfless service to God, rather than just the selfish motivations of the body.

There are 9 stages in developing ones spiritual perfection, a loving relationship with God. They are as follows:

1)Shraddha, Initial faith, then one seeks, 2)Sadhu Sanga, Saintly association, by such association one begins, 3)Bhajana-Kriya, Engaging in service with devotion, which causes, 4)Anarta nivritti, The unwanted tendencies in the heart to be eradicated, which is then followed by 5)Nistha, Firm faith which leads to, 6)Ruchi, Pure taste for devotion to God 7)Asakti, Actual attachment to God, 8)Bhava, Preliminary love of God, 9)Prema, Full in loving relationship with the Lord.

If one is governed by emotions that are motivated by the desires and needs of the material body and mind, one will be stunted in their spiritual growth. However if one purifies the mind, as in stage 4, from all lust, greed, envy, etc, then one can properly utilize ones emotions in spiritual growth.

As Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita Ch6.4-6,

"A person is said to be elevated in yoga when, having renounced all material desires, he neither acts for sense gratification nor engages in fruitive activities.

One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy."

Hare Krishna ­čÖé

Your humble servant,

Nityananda Chandra Das


  • Nity─ünandaChandra’s blog
  • 359 reads


Mon, 06/08/2009 – 12:59 ÔÇö PMC

It good to read

Prabhu ji its good to read but i want to ask that how can v control our mind, coz many a times it happens even if we are performing puja then also we are thinking of something else…

Tue, 06/09/2009 – 11:10 ÔÇö Nity─ünandaChandra

Abhyasena yoga yutena, it

Abhyasena yoga yutena, it takes constant practice.

Chanting is the most effective. Constantly chant the holy name of the Lord. Not just when the mind is giving you trouble, but always chant, kirtaniya sada hari.

Fri, 06/05/2009 – 15:41 ÔÇö zabi0079

I really enjoy reading your

I really enjoy reading your responses in the Texas faith articles.They have been very insightful and informative. Thank you for posting them.

Fri, 06/05/2009 – 09:43 ÔÇö Karnamrita.das

Honest assessment

I hope you don’t mind my honest assessment of what you presented. I appreciate that you talked about the spiritual platform, which no one else did. At the same time, I didn’t think you really answered the question about how much our emotions shape our religious experience and the way they act in the world. This is actually a pretty deep question. The whole body/mind question comes into play, as does levels of spiritual advancement. From my understanding it is really not an either or proposition, at least most of us. We are not completely on the spiritual path, and are not pure but mixed in our devotion. We often speak the ideal, which we should, though we don’t always–in my opinion–speak practically. That is all of our challenge–to speak according to our experience and realization.

Your friend in Krishna,


Sun, 06/07/2009 – 10:03 ÔÇö tekisui

What’s the question …

Frankly, I don’t understand what the question is actually asking.

How much can anyone rely upon emotion in shaping their religious experience and the way they act in the world?

What do they mean by "emotions"?

* * *

There is one more thing I wonder about – namely how to read the responses at that panel.

As far as I understand, Nityananda Chandra speaks there as an official representative of ISKCON, and in that sense, I would imagine he has to present the doctrine faithfully. So it seems it is not his experince and realization that would be decisive in what to say.

I mean – if I am reading his response there, am I reading it as said by "Nityananda Chandra das", or as said by "an official representative of ISKCON"?

There is a difference between the two.

Also, I think the questions they ask at that Faith Panel are loaded. I think Nityananda Chandra das elegantly avoided the traps connected with loaded questions.

Sun, 06/07/2009 – 14:16 ÔÇö Nity─ünandaChandra

The Editor apologized, for

The Editor apologized, for the the post title question and the question in the article were different. The title asked what is the Role of emotion, whereas the article asked how much can one Rely on emotion.

One thing that I am doing now is just reading the question first, before I read their political flavoring. It helps a bit

Fri, 06/05/2009 – 11:36 ÔÇö Nity─ünandaChandra

Thank you prabhu.

Thank you prabhu.

Wed, 06/03/2009 – 10:36 ÔÇö Dhama Rupini

Educating Others

Hare Krsna Prabhu,

I appreciated reading your blog entry. I’m very happy that you were able to explain beautifully the role of emotion in shaping religious faith from a Krsna Conscious perspective.Emotion, love is definitely important in developing faith. As you’ve explained our role is to love and serve Krsna not focusing on our material desires. Our goal is creating a loving relationship that is grounded with deep faith.

Keep up the good work.There is so much preaching that needs to be done to educate others, it’s wonderful to hear of your experiences.


Dhama Rupini

Wed, 06/03/2009 – 12:15 ÔÇö Nity─ünandaChandra

Thank you. This one was a

Thank you. This one was a little tough for usually they give us the questions a few days before it is due, I received this one last minute, but by the mercy of the devotees I was able to write something.

I always make sure to ask some devotees what they think before attempting to post a response. It is nice service, for so many people in Dallas get to read it, I pray that I may somehow be effective in presenting intelligent Krishna Conscious conclusions.

Hare Krishna