Krishna's Mercy

Hare Krishna

Archive for the ‘government’ Category

A Forgotten Influence

Posted by krishnasmercy on September 29, 2014

[Vedic library]“It is a fact that there are two classes of men – those who are obedient to the laws of the Supreme Lord and those who are atheists or agnostics, who do not accept the existence of God and who want to create their own laws. They want to establish that everyone can create his own laws or his own religious path. Without tracing out the beginning of the existence of these two classes, we can take it for granted that some of the living entities revolted against the laws of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.5 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

In rebellion against the dictates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan, man thinks their approach is more enlightened. Rather than fix the mind on a person they consider to be imaginary, whom they identify in derogatory terms such as “magic sky wizard,” they choose their own path. They won’t be told what to do. But in fact it is seen that laws exist anyway. Instead of following God’s laws, man creates their own. The very same rebellion they offer to the author of all good things gets returned to them with the passage of time. Their influence gets forgotten entirely, showing that they are not anything like God.

[George Washington Bridge]You can take something as simple as a bridge to see how this works. To get to New Jersey from New York in America, you can take the George Washington Bridge. There are other options, but this is a popular one, especially for trucks. As this passage is important for commerce, it is not surprising to find the George Washington Bridge crammed with traffic on a daily basis. It takes only one time of being stuck in this traffic to swear off the bridge forever.

“I’m never taking that bridge again. Don’t even mention the name George Washington to me. It brings up bad memories. I’ll never forget that time I was stuck on that bridge for three hours. It was a nightmare. I’d rather take any other route to get to New Jersey. Or better yet, I’ll avoid going to New Jersey altogether if I can.”

In another instance, you have a school called Thomas Jefferson High School. The children who pass through it thus associate the name with an important time in their life. Whenever they hear the name “Thomas Jefferson” they immediately think of school, which then conjures up either good or bad feelings.

If you get enough generations removed, likely the people won’t even know who Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are. Yet at one time both were very important. They helped to create a new nation, lending support to two very important documents: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Though both were very much believers in God, through their adventures we see that new laws were created. A new system of government emerged.

[Thomas Jefferson]In fact, that is the case everywhere, since time immemorial. Great leaders made laws for their communities, and these leaders were considered very important. Even the biggest atheist must follow some laws. Since they don’t identify with an authority source like a sacred text, they try to make their own rules. And yet with enough time passing, their influence gets diminished. The same way that they discounted the Supreme Lord in their own time, after a while others forget about them. Future generations associate their name with a building, a highway, or some landmark. This means that the laws created are not perfect. If they were, then the creators would always get the credit. They would always be remembered for what they did. Instead, the opposite happens. The laws always change, and so in the name of progress the original authors have their statures diminished.

The laws coming from the Supreme Lord never change. One law is that there must be death after birth. If you want to know why people die, look no further than birth. As soon as you emerge from the womb of your mother, you must die. It usually happens many years later, but it will happen nonetheless. Another law says that the living entity is born into delusion, bewildered by the dualities of desire and hate.

icchā-dveṣa-samutthena

dvandva-mohena bhārata

sarva-bhūtāni sammohaṁ

sarge yānti parantapa

“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)

[pizza]Desire and hate fluctuate. They are never fixed. One day I love pizza and the next I don’t even want to see it. One day I love someone and the next I’m running away from them. This law has applied since the beginning of time. It will continue to apply into the future.

Another law states that the escape from the dualities of desire and hate comes from purifying consciousness. No more distractions. No more hankering after things you want and lamenting over that which you don’t have. No more calling one person your friend and another your enemy. No more wondering why you were put on this earth. No more thinking that you can solve every problem yourself, that you have the answers through your limited experience in life.

anta-kāle ca mām eva

smaran muktvā kalevaram

yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ

yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.5)

[Lord Krishna]The purity in consciousness gets measured at the time of death. What you think of while quitting the body is what you’ll get in the next life. Sort of like the life flashing before your eyes concept, your consciousness configured through the experiences of the present lifetime dictates where you will end up next. If you think of God, you don’t take birth again. Without birth, there cannot be death. Without birth there cannot be duality. You don’t have to make up laws anymore, looking for perfection that is impossible to find without the hand of the Divine.

The Bhagavad-gita gives access to these perfect laws of God and more. Those laws withstand the test of time, and so any person who adheres to them, understanding them through the help of someone who follows them, will get the benefit of remembering the person whose influence never diminishes.

In Closing:

Against laws of God defiance,

Then on flawed mind reliance.

 

New laws from leaders famed,

With time known only by landmark named.

 

Supreme Lord’s influence never to diminish,

His laws remaining valid from start to finish.

 

Wherever mind, following laws a must,

Better if in flawless being to trust.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in government | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Seeking No Truth

Posted by krishnasmercy on November 19, 2013

Krishna holding His flute“The Absolute Truth is true for everyone, and the relative truth is relative to a particular position. The relative truth depends on the Absolute Truth, which is the summum bonum. God is the Absolute Truth, and the material world is relative truth.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Quest for Enlightenment, Ch 6b)

Download this episode (right click and save)

How does one expect to be happy if the person they invest full faith in has no interest in the truth? Under the system of vox populi, winning is all. It is the most important thing. It is what determines greatness. The person who can win election to office time and again is known as a great politician, while the loser is embarrassed over failing to gain the approval of the protected citizens. In the Vedas the truth is the immediate focus of interest. That truth is not defined through an institution or a central authority figure who reached their post through a vote. Therefore the integrity is not tainted, and the truth has principles that cannot be violated. As such, one who abides by the truth gets the real benefit that life has to offer.

The tendencies of politicians operating in a democracy are not a secret. Take a look at any popular film or book and you will surely find instances of politicians lying to get what they want. When there is trouble, they look to cover up what happened. Depending on which side the journalists fall, there might even be praise for the politician because of their expert ability to survive the scandal. Never mind their willful assault on the truth. Never mind the damage they did to one or many other people through their nefarious behavior. As long as they continue to remain in office, they are considered adept.

ElectionsPerhaps it is difficult to grasp this analysis when considering existing political structures due to partisan lines that are already drawn. We can take a much simpler example to see the same principles in effect. Let’s say we have a household with five people. They are five friends of around the same age. They decide to elect one president of the household. This person will manage all the affairs. They will determine how much each person pays to stay in the house. The gathered money will be used for all the expenses, which include rent, television, utilities, etc.

Only two of the five people want to be president. We’ll call them candidates A and B. Candidate A is all about principle. They want each person to pay equally. Since they all live in the house, the rent should be divided amongst the five. Every person has equal access to the amenities in the house, and they each have the same size bedroom. Candidate A wants only limited interference from the president, just basic management. Make sure the bills are paid on time, make sure everyone pays the rent, take care of repairs when something should go wrong, and keep everyone generally informed. Most importantly, the household should run smoothly.

Candidate B says all the right things, but they have a different plan. They are very good friends with two of the three people not running for president. Therefore, Candidate B wants the rent for those two people to be significantly less. This is inherently unfair. Any rational person can realize this. What should the candidate’s friendship have to do with how things are governed? If the same tactics were used by Candidate A, then the other person in the house not running for president would gain benefit over everyone else. And then that wouldn’t be fair. Therefore Candidate B’s position does not make everyone happy, only a few.

In this election, which side will win? The side of truth, principle and fairness, or the side of favoritism? And by the way, Candidate B is going to use every tactic in the book to try to win. They will accuse Candidate A of being cruel-hearted. They will say that Candidate A has an alliance with the other member of the house, who will have to pay more in rent under Candidate B’s plan. They will say that Candidate A only wants to help their friend, and that this friendship is the only reason they support the system of equal rent. They will say that equal rent will put a huge burden on the three members of the house supporting them. They will say that the other member of the house can afford to pay more rent since they earn more.

Take this same practice and extend it to the national scale, and you get the system of politics in a land of democracy. In order to survive, the side of Candidate A will eventually have to play ball, so to speak. They will have to abandon principles and go to the side of favoritism. The opponents in every election thus only differ on whom they favor; there is no truth. Truth will lose out in an era of sound-bite news. Truth has no place in a time when the ad hominem attack determines the voter’s mood. Truth has no place in an arena where the players have no interest in it.

In the Vedas the truth is described as absolute. It is not created through trial and error. The principles associated with finding and remaining with that truth were not crafted on paper first and then edited. There is no rough draft of the Vedas. They come directly from God, the original person. Since He is the Absolute Truth, the principles coming from Him for man to follow are without flaw and far reaching. Indeed, from following those principles one can see with the eyes of shastra, or scripture. These eyes are both microscopic and telescopic, making sense of both the physically manifest world and all that has passed and will pass in the future.

The need for inquiring into the real truth begins at the time of birth, athato brahma-jijnasa. This phrase means that one should inquire into the real truth and not settle for the degradation of principles, as is wont to happen from players in a popular vote system. With the Absolute Truth, winning is not all, because it is understood that winning and losing are only temporary. There is the ultimate loss of death which applies to everyone. Therefore what is anyone really winning by abandoning the truth?

Lord KrishnaThe Absolute Truth is blissful, knowledgeable and eternal. It is a male who has a spiritual form that is incomprehensible in its greatness. The Absolute Truth is the complete everything. This means that one who is trying to understand that truth is also part of it. The inquisitor truth is vastly inferior to the all-knowing truth. Nevertheless, the qualities are similar, which means that the two belong together.

When seeking no truth and taking winning as all there is a split in the relationship. The smaller copies of the Absolute Truth think they can figure out everything on their own. They believe that they can live without staying conscious of the origin of matter and spirit. The knowers of the Truth think differently. They choose to always remain with the Truth, basking in His glories. They follow this path without considering outside opinion, without worrying over popularity. Whether in peril or pleasure, in tyranny or liberty, the soul connected with the Absolute Truth is protected by that Truth.

The connection gives rise to the term “yoga.” The mood in love gives the term “bhakti-yoga.” This is the ideal occupation for every individual, including those in the other species. Only the human being has the opportunity to intentionally practice bhakti-yoga and remain faithful to it. Therefore the human birth is the most auspicious. Through the favor of the Supreme Lord and His representatives, the seekers of the real truth can find it. They then liberally distribute it through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

Seeking no truth, winning is all,

What feels good principle to call.

 

On their personal whims set,

Concern only on how victory to get.

 

Real truth up for vote cannot be,

Origin of all past and present can see.

 

Avoid the lying and cheating politicians injurious,

Find real truth and make this human birth glorious.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in government | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Better Today

Posted by krishnasmercy on November 4, 2013

Calendar“The mahatmas (great souls) receive transcendental messages from the realized devotees and thus gradually develop devotional service in Krishna consciousness and become so absorbed in transcendental service that they no longer desire elevation to any of the material planets, nor do they even want to be transferred to any spiritual planet.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 8.15 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

“Elect me and I will make things better. I will do everything better. I will do everything smarter. What we’ve had the past four years hasn’t been good. Look at all the turmoil. Look at all the strife. Look at all the despair. We can’t continue down this road. How many of you are happy today? If you’re not, then you should give change a chance. Elect me, and things will most certainly be better in the future.”

Four years later…

“Things are still tough, but we’re making progress. It was a big mess when I assumed office, and I know right now the economic indicators seem to show that things are worse today than on the day I took office, but know that we’ve made a lot of progress. We just need more time. We’re going to get things right. Things will be better in the future. The oceans will stop to rise. Poverty will be gone. People will have good jobs. People will be able to afford the necessities of life. Just give it some time.”

Four years later…

“Just see all the promises the previous politician made. They didn’t come true, did they? They were lying to you the whole time. Their friends and donors made out well, but the rest of the citizens did not. They kept promising you a better future, but none of it panned out. Now we need a change. Elect me and I will solve all the problems. We will do things the right way. No more will we have to settle for mediocrity. We can soar to new heights.”

ElectionsThe winds of change sweep in, as each politician promises to make a better life for everyone. “Everything is to come in the future, whereas right now you must suffer in misery.” Even in supposedly religious circles, the promise for hope pertains to the afterlife. “Accept such and such as the Lord, and you will be saved. You will not have to suffer eternal damnation. You won’t have to constantly burn in the fire that is hell. Save yourself today for a better tomorrow.”

One discipline does promise a better today. It does require changes to behavior and a specific authority figure acknowledged as the leader, but one doesn’t have to wait until many years after to see the returns. The better life comes today, and since the conditions for that improvement can be replicated day after day, it means that a better tomorrow is automatically in store.

This discipline is bhakti-yoga. When it is explained, it is the scientific basis for worship of the higher power. Instead of blindly following this leader or that religious path, in bhakti-yoga one learns who they are while simultaneously getting a slight understanding of the higher power. If we’re in trouble we may pray to the Lord. “O God, how did I get in this mess? Help me out of this one, please.” If He comes through then our faith increases, but what if He doesn’t? Does not the person next to me deserve success in their ventures? Should they not be helped out of a jam? Especially in a realm where there is competition, there is no proper way for a higher power to reconcile the different desires and keep everyone happy.

In bhakti-yoga we learn that indeed the higher power has no direct interest in such affairs. The world we live in is considered miserable and temporary, duhkhalayam ashashvatam. The root cause of the misery is the separation from the Supreme Lord in His direct interest. He is the only all-attractive being, and so when He is not in the picture, defects arise. There are other attractive objects, but they are flawed to some degree. The beautiful woman is seen as the source of enjoyment one moment and the source of pain and suffering the next. The pizza pie fresh out of the oven satisfies the taste buds immediately and then causes indigestion later on. The victory in competition is glorious for the praise and attention it brings today, but it is then an albatross of pressure and expectation the next time around.

PizzaIn bhakti-yoga we learn that each of us is inherently linked to the higher power. We are not so much linked to the temporary achievements, successes, victories, defeats, and heartaches of this miserable world. We are not even related to the body, which we mistakenly identify with from the time of birth. Since we make all these mistakes, we are constantly in illusion, which is known as maya in Sanskrit. God is truth, or reality. He is the opposite of maya.

Without rekindling the eternal relationship with God as a person, the only option is to hope for a better future. Think about it. If I achieve a temporary gain today and I’m still left wanting, what is another temporary gain in the future going to do for me? And mind you, this only addresses the successful. What about those who are currently unsuccessful? They will constantly long for success, which then puts them in the previously mentioned category, which is always in misery.

In bhakti-yoga one connects with the real God today. Not a God who is an old man looking to punish others. Not a God who demands worship of Him. Not a God who only helps one group of people to the exclusion of others. This connection is with the all-attractive God, who is always loving. He is so loving that He stays with the individual wherever they go. He is the safety net, but only for those who wish to use it. He is the best friend of every living entity, the original proprietor and the supreme enjoyer.

Just describing Him in this way makes one so happy; provided they are not envious of Him. Enviousness of Him persists in a land that is separated from His interests. In the higher power’s permanent and original home there is no such envy. Every day one remains in His company, and since that association is guaranteed the next day, the future is always bright; a better today leading to a better tomorrow.

Maha-mantraA better today starts with the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” It continues with hearing about the higher power from the Vedic texts, the oldest works in history. The original works are in the Sanskrit language, which is the oldest language in existence. Oldest in this case does mean best, as the language is meant exclusively for describing and glorifying God. Describing in this way is known as kirtana, which always takes place when chanting the holy names.

It is the soul’s dharma, or essential characteristic, to have a better today. The desire to serve exists in everyone, and God is the ideal match for that service. Since the spiritual master, or guru, teaches one how to properly chant, hear, read and worship, service to Him is a way to further extend the greatness of the day. Best of all, since these activities are spiritual, they are the opposite in nature of matter. Instead of temporary and miserable, they are permanent and blissful. They can be repeated day after day, lifetime after lifetime, thus leading to the brightest future. It all starts with a better today, which is provided by the all-attractive Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

Politician better tomorrow to give,

No more in hopeless to live.

 

Then when the tomorrow does come,

Happiness still there is none.

 

Better today when finding God that is real,

Chant His names for His presence to feel.

 

Then same practice daily repeat,

For pleasure in future also to meet.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in government | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No Consent Required

Posted by krishnasmercy on September 29, 2013

Lady Justice from ...And Justice for All cover“Every living being, whether a man or an animal or a bird, thinks that he is free by himself, but actually no one is free from the severe laws of the Lord. The laws of the Lord are severe because they cannot be disobeyed in any circumstance. The manmade laws may be evaded by cunning outlaws, but in the codes of the supreme lawmaker there is not the slightest possibility of neglecting the laws.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.13.42 Purport)

When you’re working with truths that are absolute, the consent of anyone else is not required for approval. The truths speak for themselves. Whether one person accepts them or a thousand others, there is no difference. Accepting these principles surely represents the greatest gain, and conversely one who ignores them has lost the most valuable thing in life.

“Tulsi emphatically says, ‘O mind, hear what I am saying and always take it to heart, for this will benefit you. Remembering Shri Rama’s holy name is the greatest profit, and forgetting Him is the worst loss.’” (Dohavali, 21)

Lord Rama's handThe foundational truth is the original spiritual entity Himself. He is beyond duality. He is neither right nor wrong. He is neither black nor white. He is neither up nor down. The conditions in duality are present in a realm where the truths are not absolute. With an absolute truth, you get only good. In Sanskrit this type of good is described as shuddha-sattva, or pure goodness. It is unlike any other.

Absent consciousness of this absolute truth, man will try his best to avoid the dualities of life. He will try, through his mental speculation, to rise above heat and cold, light and darkness, and happiness and sadness. And yet the best he can do is reach a state of ordinary good, which isn’t guaranteed to last forever. This is because the realm in which he finds this good is itself destined for destruction.

Bhagavad-gita, 9.8“The whole cosmic order is under Me. By My will it is manifested again and again, and by My will it is annihilated at the end.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.8)

The ConstitutionIn creating truths that are not absolute, there is some compromise involved. The Constitution of the United States is a revered document by many. It was preceded by another respected document known as the Declaration of Independence. Both documents were created through trial and error, through bouncing around various ideas and then revising them. Though so many profound statements were made, still there were conditions. The freedoms designated to men did not apply to women. They did not apply to the slaves. The first ten amendments to the Constitution were very anti-government, limiting the powers of the newly formed Congress. And yet that same Congress was given so many powers, for that is inherent to legislature. Legislature passes legislation, which can thus cover any scope. The behavior that the framers of the Constitution previously loathed can be easily enacted through legislation in the future; something which has happened many times already.

The truth of aham brahmasmi was not created by any man. It was not revised or reworded. It is an eternal truth. It was true millions of years ago and it will remain so millions of years into the future. The translation of the Sanskrit is “I am Brahman.” Brahman is truth of the absolute variety mentioned previously. “I” refers to the individual. Every single one of us is truth originally. We collectively belong to the spiritual energy known as Brahman.

Another absolute law is achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, which means the individual spirit soul is simultaneously one with and different from the Supreme Spirit. This relationship is inconceivable to the mind, though one can still act on it. The individual is Brahman, while the Supreme is Parabrahman. In the different ages the relationship between the two is best reestablished through a specific channel. In the first age of the creation the recommended channel is meditation. Not just five minutes of sitting in a quiet room, this meditation is in an austere setting and can last thousands of years. In the second age the channel is elaborate religious sacrifice and in the third deity worship. The present time period is the fourth age, and since dharma stands on only one leg, the channel for finding the Supreme Absolute Truth is much simpler. The path is through the chanting of the holy names, such as those found in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

Whether one chants, meditates, worships, or completes a sacrifice, the beneficiary should always be the Absolute Truth. Otherwise the work will not yield the desired fruit. At best it can bring one to ordinary goodness, which always has conditions. The newly formed nation that followed the drafting of the Constitution brought the happiness of freedom from the control of the British, but in the course of time new obstacles would arise. The same British would be an enemy soon again. Indeed, without the pure goodness of connection with the Supreme Absolute Truth, there will always be some misery. The cruel hand of time is guaranteed to make that happen, as time eventually eliminates everything.

War of 1812Time does not kill the divine consciousness, however. This is another principle that is always true. One who thinks of the Supreme Absolute Truth at the time of death no longer returns to the world of birth and death. They attain a nature identical to the Supreme Absolute Truth. In that state they live the achintya-bhedabheda-tattva relationship all the time; thus they no longer have to live by rules and regulations.

Dharma means religiosity but it is also the essential characteristic of the individual. Dharma only requires explanation in a land where pure goodness is hard to find. Dharma is the constitutional state, so one who is in the company of the Supreme Absolute Truth has no clue of a distinction between dharma and adharma. If you’re always right, how can you know what wrong means?

For the conditioned souls who have difficulty finding even regular goodness, dharma is passed on by the Supreme Absolute Truth. The works which describe dharma are known as the Vedas, which mean knowledge. The summary of Vedic philosophy that is most famous today is the Bhagavad-gita. In addition to being concise, this work is spoken directly by the Supreme Absolute Truth in His original form. That form is worshipable for one and all regardless of what spiritual tradition was inherited at the time of birth. Indeed, since the speaker of the Gita is the origin of life and knowledge, all systems of religion ultimately trace back to Him. As He is the source, taking a straight line to Him is always the best option. He never came up with dharma; it is the way to get back to Him, who is eternal. As there are no compromises in His teachings, there is no possibility for defect. As He is the Truth, He is perfect in all regards, including His words of wisdom.

In Closing:

Challenge of writing document to take,

Despite words, some compromises to make.

 

To women and slaves not to apply,

Thus defect no matter how hard to try.

 

Absolute Truth above life’s duality,

Applies to more than just nationally.

 

For God required not is compromise,

In real religion no need to democratize.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in government | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Discovering New Worlds

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 15, 2013

world map“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)

Bhagavad-gita, 10.8“We’re fed up. We’ve had it here. We can’t stay here for another minute. The government is out of control. They take upwards of fifty percent of our income. They don’t let us practice our religion. There are no jobs anywhere. They just unilaterally passed a law where they can take ten percent of our bank account balance. There was no debate period either. This is blatant confiscation of property. Let us discover a new world, where we can live free.”

Indeed, such situations have been the cause of the discovery of new lands since time immemorial. In an ancient work called the Shrimad Bhagavatam, even simple village girls mention how citizens leave a country when the government stops offering protection. The human being is a free spirit, so its natural reaction is to flee when freedom is encroached upon. What’s forgotten in the heat of the moment, however, is that the same negative conditions gradually emerge in the new area, nullifying the prior difficult journey and subsequent discovery. The key ingredient that is missing is God consciousness, and when it exists any area can turn into the cherished panacea.

“It is very natural and psychological that a prostitute does not care for her paramour as soon as he loses his money. Similarly, when the citizens find that a government is incapable of giving them full protection, they leave the country. A student, after finishing his education, gives up his relationship with the teacher and the school. A rich man, after taking his reward from his worshiper, gives him up.” (Gopis speaking to Uddhava, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 46)

Why is God consciousness so important? Isn’t religion about faith? If I’m travelling to a new area, isn’t that putting faith in God? Why is that bad then?

Since it is believed that the truths of religion can’t be proved in a scientific experiment, the whole exercise is considered one of faith. Indeed, that is one of the ways to discount any of the things said in scriptural works. “Oh, that’s just what your faith says. My faith says something else and that person’s faith says something entirely different. Who are we to reconcile? Therefore let’s keep religion out of this. Faith has no business in public policy or in guiding human behavior.”

As it is an integral aspect of all relationships, faith does not make religion unique at all. Real religion must be scientifically based for it to be valid. Real religion consists of nothing more than laws and guiding principles aimed at achieving a better destination. There is always religion, though the ones that are manmade go under the umbrella of secularism. In secularism, some of the sins are discriminating against the races, failing to recycle, and not paying enough in taxes. In secularism, the aim is to exploit the material nature as much as possible without feeling guilty about it. Make the successful feel guilty, but the rest can be considered victims. In secularism, there are distinctions made between race, gender, ethnicity and nationality.

In real religion just the opposite conditions are present. The rules and regulations are not created by man. They are passed on since time immemorial. Man can’t even figure out when the original transfer of information took place. The laws passed down are applicable to any time period as well. Two plus two equals four. That is true today, it is true tomorrow, and it will be true a thousand years into the future. It was also true one million years ago. The same goes for the law of gravity, the properties of nature, and the tendencies of the different species.

the changing bodyThe central truth of real religion is aham brahmasmi. This is a Sanskrit aphorism that means “I am a spirit soul.” There is no reliance on faith here; this is a truth understood through basic observation. We know that we look different today than we did when we first emerged from the womb of our mother. Yet our identity has not changed. Our body, therefore, cannot identify us. The body has completely changed and yet we are the same individual. Thus the vital source inside is what identifies us; not any external factors. To take identity only from external factors is thus a fallacy.

The individual is considered alive when there is a free spirit inside of the body. And we can tell the free spirit is there through involuntary movement and also through the presence of consciousness. And consciousness is never tied to any external condition. Think about this. Say that you work hard and achieve all your goals in life. At an old age you sit in your living room and watch television. How are you any different at that point than the person who didn’t really go for all of their goals but sits in the same situation? You have two people of an old age who are alive and generally in the same health. If they both took different paths in life but ended up in the same destination, it must mean that the paths relating to material acquisition are not that important. The rich man and the poor man both die. They also both grow old and contract disease. Therefore distinctions made off of opulence in terms of beauty, wealth, strength and fame should not be used for identification.

In real religion the ideal aim is pure God consciousness. No one will ever be happy without this condition achieved. Real God consciousness is the soul’s dharma, or essential characteristic. It is like the heat and light properties of fire or the wetness of water. You can’t take this property of the soul away, though you can mask it. The shade can somewhat hide the brightness of the lamp and the clouds can cover the sunlight. The light still exists in these situations, but to external objects there is some covering.

lamp with krishnaThe situation with the conditioned living entities is similar. When the spirit soul is placed in a temporary and perishable body, the original dharma is covered up. While this has no bearing on the soul, it does influence the way the individual in the body acts. That effect is seen in consciousness. We get glimpses of the original consciousness when there is a desire for freedom. Thus the drive to discover new areas at least confirms the notion that without God consciousness one is not in line with their essential characteristic.

If that God consciousness is not created in the new area, the same unwanted conditions are sure to crop up again. Think of it this way: The place you’re desperate to leave was once not so bad either. But through time, with enough cheating and malfeasance, which were spurred on by the lack of real God consciousness, the place went from desirable to undesirable. The same thing will happen anywhere, even if the residence is in outer space.

Radha and KrishnaOn the other hand, if there is real God consciousness, any place can turn into Vaikuntha, or a realm free of miseries. Shrimati Radharani lives in Vrindavana in apparently unpleasant circumstances. The person she loves the most is not with her. He stays within her mind, but externally she must remain with people who are against the love of her life. And yet through constant thought of Him, which is known as yoga, she is always consumed with affectionate feelings. These are transcendental feelings since they relate to God. Radharani is always in complete God consciousness, so nothing can mask her immeasurable love for the Lord.

Shri Hanuman, another person who loves God without motivation and without interruption, finds happiness in a solitary cave. He doesn’t have a fancy house or a large bank balance. He doesn’t even have so many people around him for company. He simply chants the name of Rama over and over again and reads from the Ramayana. Rama is a powerful and descriptive name for God and the Ramayana describes the Supreme Lord’s pastimes on earth from an ancient time when He appeared as a pious prince named Rama.

In the present age of Kali, real God consciousness is virtually absent. New religions, or systems with guiding principles, are constantly created, with some even saying that sex between the same genders is a way to reach a good end. And one who argues against such a practice is considered intolerant. If what is wrong is considered right and what is right is considered wrong, how is anyone expected to be happy? The God consciousness that is inside all of us can still be reawakened, though. Through chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” our immediate surroundings can slowly turn into Vaikuntha. And with the improved surroundings we acquire the wisdom that allows us to maintain that peaceful existence wherever we go.

In Closing:

“That our government becoming oppressive we know,

So let us leave, to a new land we’ll go.

 

Religion in freedom can practice there,

For general welfare everyone will care.”

 

Before going stop for a moment and think,

How present land into oppression did sink?

 

Through historical accounts backtracking,

Understood that God consciousness lacking.

 

In new area maladies the same to arise,

If to God consciousness citizens not to rise.

 

Like Radha and Hanuman holy names take,

And into Vaikuntha your surroundings make.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in government | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

United in Peace

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 30, 2012

Chanting the holy names“Free from all contaminations of material desires, the distressed, the inquisitive, the penniless, and the seeker after supreme knowledge can all become pure devotees. But out of them, he who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth and free from all material desires becomes a really pure devotee of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17 Purport)

“I don’t want any more war. Why should one country send soldiers to fight soldiers of another country? We don’t fight to the death with our neighbor, and the country is just a collection of communities, or large groups of neighbors, so why should there be conflict? It would be great if the entire world were united in peace. No more fighting; just sharing and caring.”

To want world peace is certainly noble, but how does one actually go about achieving it? Many organizations have been formed, but instead of increasing the peace, there is only more division, which automatically leads to more strife. If I think that I am constitutionally different from someone else, how are my desires ever going to square with theirs? And if desires clash, then surely someone will get frustrated. If someone is frustrated, they are bound to get angry, and as a response to that anger they may take to violence. Only when I and others know that everyone is equal constitutionally is there any chance for peace.

Let’s look at a practical example of where a peace solution goes wrong. There is the United Nations, which was formed in response to World War II. Never do we want a repeat to the second world war, which saw millions die in a struggle for sovereignty over various lands. In the United Nations, the many nations around the world come together to talk things out, to resolve their disputes diplomatically, in a peaceful way.

But what kinds of disputes are there? One country wants to take over another country. They believe that the land in question belongs to them and not the current occupiers. How do you settle this dispute? Do you just hand over the land to the country that wants it? What about the people that currently live there? Well, you can always ship them off to somewhere else, but as soon as you do this, you are setting the precedent that one governing body, an authority figure if you will, has the ability to decide who can live where.

If an authority figure can determine that land belongs to a specific country, why can’t it do the same for my country? Who is to say that I can’t have the entire world as my playground? Why should I listen to this authority figure anyway? Who are they? Are they beyond vice? Do they not have flaws? Just because they earn majority support in an election doesn’t automatically make them infallible. In an election the primary objective is to receive the most votes, which can be accomplished in many ways that are not admirable. The victorious party could have used every fallacy of argument in the book. It could have purchased votes by promising certain favors once elected. Actually, these things take place all the time already in democratic elections.

As long as there are conflicting interests, there will always be division, which in turn makes peace unstable. The more nations you add means that you’re only creating more points for conflict. However, the human race can unite under a common thread: knowledge of the individual’s constitutional position. This position is hinted at in the Vedic aphorism athato brahma-jijnasa, which means “Now is the time for inquiring about Brahman.”

What time does this refer to and what is Brahman?

This aphorism applies to the human birth. This means that as soon as we emerge from the womb, our time has come for inquiring about Brahman, which is the Supreme Absolute Truth. In the United Nations and other governing bodies there are relative truths. What one country wants isn’t necessarily in the interests of another. What brings peace today may not tomorrow. These truths are based in duality; they have two sides. The Absolute Truth is that which is beyond duality.

Can such a truth exist?

Only the human being can make the inquiry into this. Notice that the aphorism doesn’t say, “Now is the time for surrendering to such and such personality.” It also doesn’t say, “Now is the time for adopting this faith so that you’ll avoid eternal damnation.” For real surrender to take place, one has to have full faith in the object being surrendered to. And real faith only exists when there are no doubts. And the easiest way to dispel doubts is to be confident from knowledge.

The human being learns about Brahman to dispel doubts. The learning ideally begins at an early age, in the same way that we learn the alphabet, grammar and mathematics while still under the age of ten. The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, exist for the purpose of understanding Brahman, and one who knows Brahman fully is known as a brahmana. By occupation the brahmana can be likened to a priest, but from their position in knowledge they are more than just a figure dressed in religious garb. From their knowledge of Brahman, they can impart wisdom to any person in society, whether that person is Brahman realized or not.

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)Bhagavad-gita As It Is

The person who is realized in Brahman no longer hankers or laments. In that superior position, they take up devotional service to the Personality of Godhead. Again, this figure is not sectarian and neither is He an abstract concept conjured up by the speculative mind. He is the very source of Brahman, which can be likened to a collection of individual spiritual fragments. Spiritual means not material, which means that it is not riddled with the defects of mutability and impermanence. That which is spiritual is immutable, unchanging, and ever-existing. The individual thus does not die at the time of death and does not come into existence at the time of birth.

“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.20)

I am Brahman and so are you. In fact, so is the dog and the cat, but due to their material coverings they are not able to understand Brahman. If I know that every person is equal on a spiritual level, I will treat them better. I will not unnecessarily be violent towards innocent creatures, both human and nonhuman alike. I will not need to collect more than I should because I know that my true identity is as spirit. All spirit emanates from the Supreme Spirit, or God, and so there is an inherent relationship we all have to Him.

Krishna with cowA Brahman realized soul takes the next step into devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. In this discipline, there is still desire and relevant activity, but they are dovetailed with the interests of the Supreme Lord. Just as we are above the dualities of the material nature, so is God. If my identity is not rooted in place of birth, bank balance, or physical relationship to another object, the same holds true for God. As a result the many temporary problems we create are not in His scope of interest.

What does interest Him, however, is connecting with the Brahman sparks, the individual spirit souls. Thus one who is in full knowledge of Brahman and the source of Brahman takes to activity that is pleasing to the highest authority figure. His gifts in the form of material opulence, whether large or small, are enough to continue on in life with peace. In bhakti-yoga, division between the living entities, at least in thought, is eliminated. Thus desires no longer clash as well.

As long as I continue to think that I am different from someone else at a constitutional level, I will have desires that are sure to clash with another person’s. In bhakti-yoga, the uniform goal is pleasing the Supreme Lord, whose qualities and instructions are described in the ancient Vedic text, the Bhagavad-gita. The devotees of God unite in peace by chanting together the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. The supreme authority figure gives each person their allotment, and whatever is provided is fair for continuing on in service, which unites others who are around in the mission of serving God in a peaceful way.

In Closing:

World peace is what we seek,

But conflict when nations meet.

 

Desiring to take over a certain land,

With ease they’ll raise conflict’s hand.

 

Desires guaranteed to collide,

When in ignorance of spirit we reside.

 

From the Vedas Brahman know,

And straight to enlightened state go.

 

Worship of universal Lord from there,

And automatically for all creatures care.

 

To find God for every person is the plight,

In chanting the holy names let the world unite.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in government | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Planning Commissions

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 12, 2012

BhagavadGita_asitis“Those who are not actually philosophers, scientists, educators, administrators, etc., but who pose themselves as such for material gain, do not accept the plan or path of the Supreme Lord. They have no idea of God; they simply manufacture their own worldly plans and consequently complicate the problems of material existence in their vain attempts to solve them. Because material energy (nature) is so powerful, it can resist the unauthorized plans of the atheists and baffle the knowledge of ‘planning commissions.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 7.15 Purport)

“The government should help out the little guy. There are people really struggling out there, and I’d have no problem with my tax dollars being used to help them out. What is the alternative? We should let them starve to death? The same goes for healthcare. Do we want people to die? Are we going to deny them coverage if they don’t have the money to pay for it? This seems cruel and heartless. We should avoid the pain by relying on government action, if possible.”

This opinion seems logical enough, and it will always win majority support against the argument that says government should not take money from one group of citizens for the purpose of giving it to another. The philosophical explanation required for the latter argument also doesn’t play well in the era of the sound bite, where news is consumed through short clips. Also, when using video technology, if you want to get your message across, it is better to appeal to emotion rather than intellect; you will make a better case in illusion than through reality.

A quick review of the common sentiments which call for government intervention to redress societal inequities shows that other issues are missed which actually cause the same pain to the constituents. The call for governments around the world to end poverty is a call to avoid pain, after all. Being poor is not fun, especially if you desire more for yourself. To give someone food is to help them avoid the pain of hunger. To give them medical treatment is to save them from the effects of disease.

But what if the beleaguered party doesn’t accept government handouts? What if they refuse to go to the doctor even if their medical care is paid for? “Oh, well then that’s their fault. If we’re helping them and they refuse that help, they deserve the pain that comes their way.” Really? Is not the pain the same regardless? If one person suffers from hunger because they can’t afford food and another person suffers because they’ve spent the money given to them for food on other things, are they not both in the same situation?

With a government or planning commission, there is only so much that can be done. The pains in life come from many different areas. For instance, the person who drinks alcohol and then drives their car puts their life at risk. They also jeopardize the lives of the innocent drivers on the road who aren’t drunk. Should there be a government administrator in charge of following every citizen around and making sure that they don’t drink and drive? There is also pain in losing in gambling. There is pain from rejection in an amorous relationship. How is any person, whether in government or not, supposed to prevent such pain from occurring? And remember, the pain is the same regardless of the original circumstances. Whether help is available or not, the pain from loss, hunger, despair, dejection, disease, etc. hurts all the same.

The flaw in the recommendations of the planning commissions is rooted in the denial of God’s existence. Accompanying that denial is the ignorance of His features, one of which includes full control over the material energy. Pain is the result of a material existence, and more specifically doing something the wrong way. That which goes against the established guidelines is known as sin, and it is tagged as such specifically for the negative reaction it brings. No matter what one does in a material existence, despite how hard they may try to adjust their lives, there is never perfection; misery will always be the result.

The Supreme Lord controls the material nature, so by surrendering to Him, the pain is transcended. And this devotion also insulates one from the greatest trouble, that of not knowing what to do with one’s life. In the scenarios mentioned above, there is something lacking materially. There is poverty or the inability to pay for medical resources. In the case of the drunkard there is the temporary and illusory escape from the senses which brings damaging results.

“All men are forced to act helplessly according to the impulses born of the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.5)

Lord KrishnaBut what if you got everything you wanted materially? You succeeded in all your ventures, you married the person of your dreams, your family is with you all the time, and you don’t have to work another day in your life if you don’t want to. Ah, but you must work. Otherwise you will go crazy. You need something to do. In bhakti-yoga, that something is available from the time of birth all the way up until the time of death. It is so pleasurable that one doesn’t want to give it up; they want to continue their devotion into the next life. And since the object of their worship is the Supreme Powerful, He makes that desire a reality.

How does this work exactly? Surrender to God means to abandon the hope for perfection in a material existence. Surrender is relinquishing the fight; throwing in the towel. This doesn’t mean that you stop working. On the contrary, you keep working but just change the objective that you’re working for. The people of Vrindavana some five thousand years ago worked very hard during the day and slept soundly at night. And yet they were in complete yoga because they thought of their beloved Krishna all the time.

Krishna is God. He is the detail behind the abstract conception touched upon in the many spiritual traditions of the world. One way He is known is through His control over the material energy. But He is more than just an impersonal administrative force. He is the reservoir of pleasure, and His transcendental body is full of sweetness. Surrender to Him is to think of Him all the time in a mood of love. To love someone is to serve them in such a way that they are pleased. With Krishna, just the desire to be with Him puts a smile on His face, so through something as simple as chanting His names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, one offers perfect service.

The pain is the same regardless of whether or not the higher authorities and their planning commissions act to redress the perceived ills in society. The rich man and the poor man are both suffering; a fact easily understood through steady practice of bhakti-yoga. The person who is fully immersed in serving Krishna, who never stops thinking about Him, who wishes only to continue in that service, never has to worry over material pains, as these don’t get in the way of their service which brings so much pleasure.

In Closing:

Material nature very difficult to overcome,

Applies to all, not only to some.

 

Plans the commission in power will make,

To bring needed aid for the people’s sake.

 

Yet pain for all will still unfold,

For complete control no one holds.

 

This world Supreme Lord did create,

Our pain instantly away He can take.

 

Yoga in devotion is the only way,

So Hare and Krishna always say.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in government | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Laying The Groundwork

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 29, 2012

Krishna's lotus feet“If the common people are not receptive, it is very difficult to impress upon them the necessity of spiritual enlightenment. Austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness, the basic principles of religion, prepare the ground for the reception of advancement in spiritual knowledge, and Maharaja Parikshit made this favorable condition possible.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.17.45 Purport)

No matter how hard you try, how persuasive you may be, sometimes if the recipient is not receptive, they will not follow through on the instructions you give to them in the utmost kindness. Imagine telling a child who is completely immersed in a video game to go clean their room or do their homework. Their mind is elsewhere at the moment, so they likely aren’t even hearing what you are saying. But if the game should be shut off, the same words, echoed from the same distance away, will resonate and be acted upon. For the benefit of society at large, laying the proper groundwork through the efforts of the higher authorities proves to be beneficial in enabling as many as possible to march towards the destination of spiritual emancipation, where the inhibiting forces of material nature no longer pose a threat.

Spiritual freedom is more important than any concocted system of liberty in a place marked by birth and death. Liberty is itself a vague concept; hence we see documents and movements that restrict the actions of government. The despised tyranny of the governments leads to a charter of negative liberties, which leaves man to his own devices, to figure out for himself what he should do and what he shouldn’t. In this arena, piety becomes a relative concept, wherein one person’s definition of sin differs from another’s.

If there is no guiding principle for action, the natural course of following the dictates of the senses is allowed to take hold. With the satisfaction of the senses, one person’s pursuit is as justifiable as another’s. If one person chooses to earn their living honestly, following kindness and respect for others, are they any better than the person who begs, borrows and steals to get ahead? You can’t look to the government to arbitrate because they are hamstrung by restrictions imposed in the founding document. Therefore they alone cannot make any moral judgments; they must base their actions off the will of the majority of the people.

The ConstitutionIf both the impious and the pious can get wealthy, what is the point to codes of conduct? Personal liberty is therefore the ultimate determining factor, and whichever way that liberty can be maintained becomes the pious route for the individual. Thus the rules of propriety will differ from person to person and what you’re left with is constant strife and turmoil. One person is stealing from someone else, so others can take that as a license for theft. “Get yours before others take it.”

This predicament makes it difficult to teach the real principles of religion, as they are laid out in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. In those sacred texts there is no mention of liberty or government tyranny. Rather, there is dharma, or occupational duty. Every living being has the same original dharma, or defining characteristic, and since it never changes, it is known as sanatana, or without beginning and without end.

The intelligentsia and the administrators are to teach about and institute principles conducive to the practice of dharma in society at large. It is not expected that everyone will be receptive to religious principles right away, for willful forgetfulness of the nature of spirit is the cause for the initial descent into the material world. By constitution the spirit soul is knowledgeable, blissful and eternal. In that wonderful ideal state there is a corresponding entity of interaction. He is most often referred to as God, but since He has countless glorious features and attributes, in the Vedas He is addressed by many names. Krishna speaks to His all-attractiveness and Bhagavan references His possession of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge and renunciation to the fullest degree.

When there is forgetfulness of the constitutional position or a desire to imitate Krishna’s superiority, there is a fall to a temporary world, sort of like sending children into a playroom to host tea parties and mock adult functions. The problem is that the playroom isn’t real; it is only temporarily manifest. In addition, there can be clashes, as sometimes a new person wants to run things or the other people in the room may not like the outcomes to action. There is every chance of constant strife and turmoil, all rooted in forgetfulness of the fact that the adults are superior.

“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)

Lord KrishnaWhen real knowledge of God is distributed to the citizens, the foundation is laid for the path back home, back to Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said by Lord Krishna that one who knows the nature of His appearances and disappearances doesn’t have to return to the cycle of birth and death. That is they don’t have to remain in a lower realm where ignorance pervades. Knowing Krishna’s nature is to know that He never accepts a material body. He never takes birth nor dies and He does everything at His own sweet will, as He is the Supreme Controller.

One who knows these facts will follow dedicated service. That service will ideally please Krishna, and to make sure there are no doubts on the matter the service takes place under the guidance of a spiritual master, a teacher who follows in a chain of disciplic succession that originates with Krishna. The primary recommendation for the wayward soul is to regularly chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, follow regulative principles, and in this way always stay connected in consciousness with the Supreme Lord.

But what if people aren’t receptive to hearing these truths? Certainly the statements of the Bhagavad-gita are profound and can change someone’s life in an instant, but if there are mental distractions borne of habits formed through the many days spent in the material land, how will anyone properly receive the message of divine love so nicely given by Shri Krishna and His devotees?

There are always higher authorities in life, people who wield control over large groups of people. In times past they were kings, and in modern times they are local administrators who are typically elected to their posts. By instilling four principles within society, an atmosphere can be created which is conducive to the reception of the real principle of religion, namely devotion to God. Austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness are not sectarian principles, so they can be taught to any person, even if they are not religiously inclined.

Austerity is already important in so many areas of life. The person trying to lose weight will automatically impose austerity, limiting their daily caloric intake. This is an austerity measure because the previous inclination was to eat more, to consume more calories. The student refrains from behavior that will damage their chances to do well in school, and the worker makes sure not to do anything that will hinder their performance at work.

Cleanliness is equally as important, as without a clean body we will not be presentable to others. In addition, if the mind is polluted with dirty thoughts, behavior towards others will be negatively impacted. An impure consciousness is at the root of all strife and anger in society. Conflicts occur when the otherwise sober man is taken over by lust, anger and greed.

Krishna with cowMercy shows that you have compassion. When you are compassionate towards others, they will be more apt to be kind to you. On the other hand, if we think we can just kill other creatures when no one is looking and get away with it, eventually that same violence will be inflicted upon us. The laws of nature are quite fair in this regard, so by showing mercy, it is easier to realize that every other living entity is in the same boat that we are. They are also struggling with the material nature to find happiness.

Truthfulness helps to advance along the proper path. If you are not honest in your dealings, you will hurt others. Imagine if we get on an airplane slated for a particular destination and the pilot suddenly changes course for no reason. What if we give money to a cashier and they don’t give us our item in return? Thus truthfulness is a bedrock of voluntary transactions and the interaction with our fellow man. When there is rampant dishonesty, there is no chance for anyone to live peacefully.

Famous kings of the past like Maharaja Parikshit imbibed these four principles into society by the actions of government. Austerity measures are easy to implement; simply refrain from harmful foods and fast on certain days for religious observance. Cleanliness is taken care of by limiting intake of alcohol; thereby avoiding intoxication. Regular bathing and other practices pertaining to hygiene also help. Mercy is fostered by giving protection to the innocent animals. The human being is the elder brother of the other species, so when the brother protects the younger siblings, there is automatic compassion created. Truthfulness is increased by limiting gambling. If there is rampant gambling, cheating will be the way to go, as the competitive fire causes one to lose sight of the larger picture.

These four principles are followed to some degree or another already. They prove to be beneficial every time they are implemented, so if they are expanded to a larger scale, then the society will be more receptive to the message of divine love, which is the elixir for the ears. Shri Krishna is the fountainhead of all knowledge, and so even the four regulative principles emanate from Him. He allows for any person, from any stage of life, to make progress along the proper path, so that one day they can find the happiness that they have long searched for.

In Closing:

Peaceful society built on foundation of trust,

So telling the truth in dealings is a must.

 

Austerity measures in the beginning do sting,

But to proper destination they eventually bring.

 

When you’re out in public by others to be seen,

Important to be presentable, for body to be clean.

 

Mercy, compassion for all creatures important too,

Be nice to others if you want kindness for you.

 

These principles to divine love are conducive,

Makes ears for Krishna’s message more receptive.

Posted in government | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Providing Comforts

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 14, 2012

Krishna with cows“If water is poured on the root, the leaves are enlivened perfectly and automatically, but if water is poured on the leaves only, the whole energy is spoiled. Maharaja Yudhishthira, therefore, was constantly engaged in the service of the Lord, and thus the parts and parcels of the Lord, the living beings under his careful administration, were perfectly attended with all comforts in this life and all progress in the next. That is the way of perfect management of state administration.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.12.4 Purport)

Based on the way life presently operates, the common conception is that if you want comforts in life, you have to work hard for them. The “work” in this case involves industry. Some business venture is producing a good or service and selling it to the public for a profit. There wouldn’t be much issue with this practice if there were only a few businesses and a few products. As freedom is concomitant with residence in a playing field conducive to the pursuit of sense gratification, everyone has the same chance to chase after profit. Hence there is stiff and constant competition, requiring the businesses to regularly retool and look for new ways to continue earning a profit.

Caught in the fever of this competition, the good citizen of the state thinks that to find comforts in life one has to either start their own business and enter the competitive field directly or at least offer service to an existing company, acting as an integral member of a production unit. In reality, however, the comforts of life are provided by nature. That nature is not partial to anyone, as who can say that the nearby lake exists exclusively for their benefit? Is the sunshine only meant for me? Do not the countless trees and plants around the world derive nourishment from the splendorous sun?

Recognizing nature’s superiority is difficult when the necessities of life are currently acquired through purchases at a local market. The money used in those purchases is earned through work in industry; hence the obvious chain of causation. “If I don’t work at a business, how am I going to earn money to put food on the table?” In times past, more of the workforce was involved in agriculture, so they were directly responsible for producing the items that they would consume to keep life going.

Yet even in agriculture there must be conditions conducive to fertility. The soil must be right, there must be a certain climate, and there needs to be ample amounts of water. These factors cannot be controlled by the human being, no matter what they may falsely think. The inquisitive mind, reaching the conclusion that nature is ultimately responsible for the living being’s sustenance, can delve further into the matter. Where does nature come from? Who gives the clouds the water they need for rain? Who controls the heat?

“O Arjuna, I control heat, the rain and the drought. I am immortality, and I am also death personified. Both being and nonbeing are in Me.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.19)

Lord KrishnaIn the Bhagavad-gita, a sacred text of the Vedic tradition, it is said by Lord Krishna that He is the controller of heat and the rain. Krishna is purported to be God. Followers of the Vedic tradition know that God is not a sectarian figure. The Supreme Absolute Truth is beyond duality, so He is not favorable or applicable to only a certain set of people. There may be different viewpoints, varying levels of clarity in the vision of the Absolute Truth, but His fixed position as the savior of all surrendered souls never changes.

In the Vedas, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is described as all-attractive. To attract in such a way, there must exist a form, and if that form is real, it must have features which are somewhat identifiable. Depending on your angle of vision and your mood of worship, the features you are attracted to will be different. Looking at God in a mood of reverential worship, you may only know of Him in His form of Vishnu, which has four hands and is opulently adorned. If you are attracted by protection of the most innocent, who have to unjustly absorb the attacks of superiors, you might be attracted by the half-man/half-lion form of the Lord known as Narasimhadeva.

The Bhagavad-gita is spoken by Krishna, Bhagavan in His ultimate feature. Krishna’s activities and transcendental qualities are attractive in so many ways. The Gita contains His direct instructions, so anyone interested in high philosophy and rational thought can worship and honor Krishna as the smartest person in the world. If you’re attracted to sweetness in vision, then the same Krishna as a child roaming the sacred land of Vrindavana will be your preferred deity. There is also Krishna the transcendental lover and Krishna the protector of the cows and the devotees. In this way, through so many of His opulences, one can be attracted to God and learn their true position as His servant.

Lord Krishna with cowThrough the realization of God in His personal form one can take up bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. A benefit of this highest engagement is that it automatically takes care of other responsibilities. I offer service to the proprietor of the business and I may earn a good living as a result. At the same time, I am dependent on entities that are not all-controlling. Your boss cannot guarantee that you will always have a job because you can’t be assured that his business will always be profitable.

Relying on the field to grow food is the next-best option, but again the conditions are controlled by higher authorities, namely nature and its component elements. If you worship inanimate nature, you’re not guaranteed of anything good happening. Torrential downpours, earthquakes, tornadoes and the like can strike at any moment. And since nature has no way of responding directly to your pleas, acknowledging your allegiance, for you that worship will be difficult to continue.

On the other hand, with worship of Krishna, not only are your prayers heard and acknowledged, but the benefactor in this case can make the conditions auspicious for both you and your dependents. A great example of this fact was seen with Maharaja Yudhishthira. Krishna had directly intervened on the good leader’s behalf to ensure that he would be successful in a great war. As the victor, Yudhishthira regained the throne of Hastinapura that rightfully belonged to he and his brothers. If not for their devotion to Krishna, the brothers would not have survived the many prior attacks from their enemies.

Yudhishthira provided all the comforts in life for his citizens not by promoting industry or setting up fiercely competitive ventures. Rather, simply through his direct devotion to Krishna, nature made sure to supply enough comforts so that everyone was satisfied. Whether you had a little or a lot, you could get whatever you needed from the water, minerals, grains and fruits that abounded in Yudhishthira’s kingdom. From those commodities the cows were pleased, which in turn allowed for society to flourish.

The question remains: how to water the root of the tree? How do we worship Krishna in the same way that Yudhishthira did? The king had the good fortune of having Krishna by his side, but what about us? In pure devotion, the desire is to simply connect with Krishna. That is actually the tie that holds everything else together. What this means is that if your sincere wish is to think of God, be by His side mentally, and never forget Him, the person being worshiped will make sure that the conditions around you will always remain conducive to that remembrance.

King Yudhishthira and his brothersThis doesn’t necessarily equate to a one hundred percent success rate in fruitive ventures. If you get distracted through the pursuit of profit, perhaps the Lord will purposefully make you unsuccessful to keep you on the straightened path, which in the end is the best thing for you. So many devotees of the past have been favored in this way, and there is no blame to be put on Krishna for this. His rescuing the bhaktas from a hellish life they mistakenly took to be heavenly is equally as kind as His delivering good fortune to the materially struggling devotee.

Whether in Krishna’s presence or not, chanting His names always keeps Him within the heart. Reciting the sacred formula of, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, is the way to create a miniature replica of the famous Hastinapura within our immediate surroundings. Krishna is the root of the tree of material existence, so by watering the root the living being can start to relish fruits that no longer cloud but instead further purify consciousness. By knowing Krishna and His position, one acquires the greatest comfort in life in being able to always find the Lord by their side.

In Closing:

Bow to the feverish competition of industry,

Then worry constantly about money and property.

 

But know that on nature’s gifts we depend,

On sun, crops, and rain that the clouds send.

 

These elements have a higher controller,

Of every opulence He is the exclusive holder.

 

Shri Krishna, the Supreme Lord of all,

Worship Him through holy name’s call.

 

King Yudhishthira protected by Krishna’s grace,

Follow bhakti and avoid illusion’s chase.

Posted in government | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Scarcity

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 4, 2011

Lord Krishna “By proper utilization of thoughtfulness, one comes to the stage of thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one becomes free from the contamination of the faulty association of the material world, and thus one becomes peaceful. The world is in a disturbed condition because of a scarcity of such peaceful devotees in human society.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 34)

Aid to struggling African nations seems to always find itself among the top causes adopted by the well-wishers of humanity. The kind gestures offered to the down-trodden are certainly noble and worthwhile, as the inhabitants of poverty ridden areas lack basic necessities such as drinking water and shelter. While providing remedial measures to areas which have a scarcity of necessary resources is a worthwhile activity, a better solution would be to tackle the root of the problem. Why are these sections of society disadvantaged to begin with? The dedicated welfare worker may retort with, “Well, I’m not concerned with that. These people need help right now. Who cares how they got to where they are?” Actually, finding out the source of the problem is far more important than offering temporary solutions, especially when playing in the field of material activity, where bodies and situations constantly go through cycles of creation and destruction. Indeed, you can feed a man for a day by providing him a hot meal, but by giving him the necessary tools to provide for himself, he can have food for the rest of his life.

iPadSome will say the root cause of scarcity is greed. “Too many have nots and too few haves. The greedy take to hoarding all the resources for themselves, thus limiting the potential for production by others.” While there is no doubt that greedy businessmen are interested in only one thing, profit, their behavior alone doesn’t explain rampant poverty. From studying the most successful businesses in the world, we see that the majority of them can source their wealth to support from the common man. For instance, computer and software companies get rich off of people buying their products and using them. Apple Computer makes millions of dollars selling music players, computers and portable entertainment devices that aren’t necessarily inexpensive. Their latest high tech product, the iPad, is overpriced in the estimation of many, yet the device still sells extremely well. The truth is that a key factor in making millions of dollars is finding a product that appeals to the common man, producing it at a low cost, and then selling it at a price that will garner a profit. So in this sense, the greedy businessman has nothing to gain by forcing his customers into poverty. He is not benefitted by mass starvation and famine.

The other credited source for poverty is tyranny. This idea certainly has more validity, but again, there is a root cause for the iron-fisted behavior of a ruling tyrant. In a system of totalitarianism, land and property are confiscated by a higher authority, one that assumes absolute power. The producers are punished for no other reason than their success. With an overarching government, the rulers view the wealthy citizens as their enemies, for they are providing for the common man better than the government ever could. As an example, giant superstore chains in America are often hated by government officials and their attached lobbying groups. The purported justifications for this hatred range from the companies not offering sufficient health benefits to the fact that the laborers at such stores are not unionized, but the real reason for the gripe is that the common man, the average citizen, is hugely benefitted from patronizing such institutions. For those who take government officials to be God, or the ultimate order supplier, other free individuals cannot exist who supply the majority of the needs to the ordinary man. Being soundly defeated by their competitors in the private sector, the government officials vying for supremacy are left with no other option but to confiscate property and land. They are able to get away with their unseemly behavior by invoking class envy. Indeed, this is the major cause of poverty in the suffering African nations, where private property rights are nonexistent due to government intervention.

Is the cure for scarcity the removal of tyrannical regimes? After all, an area where goods are freely produced and traded will surely see an economic boom. This was indeed the source of the first great harvest seen in the New World by the Pilgrims. After implementing a new competition driven economic system, the Pilgrims’ harvest was so bountiful that they decided to hold a grand feast and give thanks to God. This feast subsequently became the annual tradition known as Thanksgiving. Yet simply removing tyranny is not the answer, as even the unpleasant, oppressive behavior of powerful governing bodies has a root cause. Simply instituting a competitive system driven by private property rights will not do the trick, because there is every chance for greed and corruption leading to the increase in power of the almighty government in the future. Those who are successful in a free market system are often its greatest enemies. The successful capitalist will have no qualms about lobbying government to grant favors to their specific industry, thereby crumbling the very system that allowed for prosperity.

The solution to the scarcity issue can be found from studying the very nature of freedom. Throughout the course of history, there have always been struggles between liberty and tyranny. Who wouldn’t agree that being free is better than being oppressed? Yet the history of the world is that of oppression, showing that people have chosen to be put under the control of governments that weren’t concerned with their interests. The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, clue us in as to why such behavior takes place in spite of the natural preference of man for uninhibited movement. The spirit soul, the individual autonomous spark within each life form, is the basis of identity. Though the soul is imperceptible to the human eye, it can be recognized through outward symptoms, namely, the movements of the body. We know that a soul is inside of a particular form if the body is moving, breathing, or talking. When these functions cease, we know that the soul has left the body.

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

Lord KrishnaThese perceptions indicate that the soul is very powerful, but where did it come from? Where does the spiritual spark go upon exiting the body? What are its properties? At the core, the soul has an affinity for God. Divine love is built into the spirit’s makeup; it is a property that cannot be removed. In fact, the desires to affectionately embrace the Supreme Soul and seek out its pleasure are the most dominant features of the individual soul, even trumping its properties of full knowledge and eternality. Just as fire is known by its heat and light properties, the soul is known by its pure loving propensity manifested through the service attitude. In order for there to be love, there has to be a beneficiary, an entity to whom affection can be directed. Since the soul is always in a state of existence, the ideal recipient of its service must bear the same property. Not surprisingly, that ultimate reservoir of pleasure is Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just as the soul wants to act upon its transcendental affection at all times, its loveable object must be capable of accepting service and subsequently providing the greatest pleasure. It is in this area that Krishna stands out amongst all other benevolent masters and objects of interest. The name Krishna is Sanskrit for “all-attractive”, so it serves as a much better appellation for the original Divine Being than does the word “God.” Krishna is the original Godhead, the same person everyone in the world worships, despises, adores, or fails to acknowledge.

Lord KrishnaThough everyone, including the atheist, believes in God, they may not know who He is, what He looks like, or what their relationship to Him is. How can the atheists, who outwardly deny the existence of a Supreme Being, who despise every aspect of divine love and the worship of any entity aside from matter, be servants of the Supreme Lord? When the intrinsic loving property pushes activity towards Krishna, the soul remains in a purified state. Due to the resulting connection, which is known as yoga, all knowledge and proper behavioral characteristics are acquired. It is said that the soul is like a self-illuminating lamp of knowledge; therefore it never has to actually acquire any information. The education that individuals are subjected to in terms of schooling and instruction from higher authorities merely serves to remove the covering of nescience that envelops the spiritual fragment, which is resting comfortably within the heart.

Birth is a time of great importance because this is when the covering of ignorance surrounds the soul. When trying to see through the dense fog of illusion, not only is the eternal knowledge clouded, but the aim of activity goes off center as well, causing the natural loving propensity to miss its target. Not surprisingly, the Vedas, the oldest scriptures in existence, refer to the living entity faced with this predicament as conditioned. The conditioned living entity, a pure spirit soul residing in a temporary covering composed of material elements which are deemed inhibiting, redirects its loving propensity towards worldly objects and temporary relationships that fall short of providing happiness in every way. The atheist is simply a lover of God who has directed their natural affection towards objects of matter, including the senses. The fruitive worker, who is a bit more advanced than the staunch atheist, directs their service mentality towards acquiring and enjoying the fruits of their labor, such as the home, car, family, children, etc., through regulated activities based on some system of piety. One step above the fruitive worker is he who loves saintly people, the poor. and the exalted living entities in charge of the material creation. Such individuals attempt to help the disadvantaged and the victims of scarcity.

“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.16)

Lord KrishnaOnly when the burning desire to perform service is directed at the Supreme Object of Pleasure can the right system of knowledge be revealed. One may question that since everything is created by God, what is wrong with worshiping matter or other temporary objects. The answer is that the Lord’s influence is certainly seen in everything, but direct service, one that leads to perfect yoga, can only be offered to His personal self or one of His representatives. The feet, hands and legs are different parts of the human body, but if we want to feed ourselves, we have to go through the mouth and eventually reach the stomach. If we offer food to our foot, nothing will come of such service, regardless of how devoted we are. Indeed, such a method of worship is rooted completely in ignorance. In the same way, serving matter, which is Krishna’s external energy, does nothing to further our knowledge, enhance our bliss, or purify our behavior.

When the penchant for loving service misses its intended target, what results? Revisiting the issue of liberty, tyranny is nothing more than the misuse of freedom. You cannot have tyranny without liberty; therefore the primary objective is not to simply root out oppressive behavior, but rather, to find a proper use for liberty. If we have freedom and don’t know what to do with it, we will naturally offer our service to worldly objects, those things which are temporary and bear no direct relation to Supreme Spirit. The resulting service, since it is neither natural nor authorized, will eventually lead to tyranny, even if there was a peaceful condition to begin with. For example, the greed exhibited by politicians is simply an outgrowth of the staunch devotion to matter. A businessman has a strong affinity for money, so he’ll do whatever he can to acquire as much of it as possible. If he sees the opportunity for increased profits through partnership with government officials, he will most certainly take hold of the chance. The politician who is after fame and worship from the common man will then violate the laws of nature by confiscating the property of others.

Lord KrishnaThis output of effort is actually a waste of time, as the Supreme Lord is capable of providing for simple acquisitions of matter and much more. History has shown Bhagavan to be the greatest benefactor, bestowing kingdoms upon the most downtrodden who had the good sense to chant His name regularly. Yet when one ignores Krishna’s helping hand and instead worships matter, they are essentially searching for tiny food grains within heaps of garbage. A grain is typically an abundant commodity, so it is not very valuable. Searching amidst rubbish for something as ordinary as a food grain isn’t a very wise use of time, but when deluded by ignorance, the conditioned entity takes the grain to be more valuable than the eternal kingdom capable of being bestowed by the ruler of all worlds material and spiritual.

When the service mentality is directed at Krishna, the opposite behavior is seen, i.e. instead of trying to hoard material resources, the predominant desire is to increase everyone else’s happiness. The pure lover of God is known as a bhakta, or devotee. Through engaging exclusively in acts of chanting, hearing, remembering, worshiping, offering prayers and the like, the devotee remains in constant contact with Krishna. Behavior following bhakti automatically solves the scarcity problem because it leads to the highest form of knowledge. Goswami Tulsidas, a celebrated Vaishnava and devotee of Lord Rama, remarks that evidence of God’s existence can be seen in the price of worldly objects. Those things which we actually need, like food grains and water, are readily available and inexpensive. Those things that we don’t need, such as valuable jewels, palatial mansions and fancy cars, are expensive. Understanding this dichotomy and the purpose behind it, the devotee automatically avoids the greedy mentality, voluntarily adopting a meager lifestyle and taking only what is required to continue their standard of devotional excellence. Only through a purified vision acquired through divine love can the uncontrolled competition that results in lying, cheating, stealing and lobbying the government for favors be eliminated.

Lord ChaitanyaWhat about the food problem? How does worshiping God remove the fears pertaining to putting food on the table? In the conditioned state, man lives to eat, sleep, drink and be merry. On the other hand, the purified devotee lives only to perform bhakti. Hence they automatically acquire the knowledge necessary to provide for their sustenance. Whatever food is procured in the home is prepared and offered to Krishna first, with the results turning into prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy. Lord Chaitanya, the greatest preacher and most merciful saint the world has ever seen, kindly informed one of His disciples one time that the devotee’s body belongs to God. Therefore the bhakta takes special care to maintain the body for Krishna’s service. Where there is worship of the Supreme Lord in pure goodness, without any impure motives, there is always an abundance of life’s necessities. Water, food grains, milk and other bare essentials are always available.

The devotees can solve their food problems, but how does that help others who are suffering right now? Not only do the bhaktas reveal the potential for happiness brought on by utilizing the loving propensity properly, but they are also kind enough to teach others how to evoke their natural love for Supreme Spirit. In addition to showing love to everyone equally, a saint is someone who is able to evoke the highest loving sentiments in any type of person, irrespective of their religious affiliation or standing in society. By helping others arouse their natural love for God, all the problems in the world get solved. Good behavior, the proper use of liberty and the reduction in conflict are all measly, insignificant byproducts of bhakti-yoga. Rewards pertaining to comfortable outward conditions are considered paltry in comparison to the loving emotions exchanged between the individual and the Lord of their life, Shri Krishna. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to say that the only scarcity in this world is that of Krishna consciousness. The more bhaktas there are in the world distributing the mercy of the Lord, the less problems there will be.

Sankirtana What is the quintessential act of bhakti? What is the one activity we can take up that will aim our natural loving propensity at the right target? Which engagement will help us make the best use of our God-given freedom? Shri Gaurahari, Lord Chaitanya, inaugurated the sankirtana movement, the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord, to save the fallen conditioned souls of this age. God is the same for everyone, but explicitly reciting His names found in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, proves most effective at evoking transcendental, loving sentiments both in the chanter and in the hearts of those who are within audible range of the transcendental sound vibrations emitted. The sound of Krishna’s name is so powerful that it immediately creates the greatest motivation to maintain life. When there is motivation, a fire in the belly, there is no scarcity in production. The most abundantly produced products are the ones that sell very well, so when introduced into the marketplace of ideas and philosophies, the ancient art of bhakti immediately becomes the most demanded commodity. The more people that chant the Lord’s names, the more devotees there will be. The more bhaktas there are, the greater the influence of bhakti in the arenas of philosophy and metaphysics will be. When the natural loving sentiment towards God takes hold of society at large, the only remaining scarcity will be ignorance, a shortage we can all live with.

Posted in government, karma | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »