by Purujit Dasa
It is a very common and fashionable slogan to say: "everyone has his own way". Majority of people in our society have become totally disillusioned with absolutes. Absolute is just not cool anymore. As soon as science came on the scene with its new discoveries challenging the Bible’s teachings, the absolute went out of fashion. Science then completely replaced religion and unofficially brought a new absolute ideal –revolution, evolution, progress and technology. Science became the alpha-omega. The people(perhaps reincarnated) who used to burn a folk or two on a pyre for questioning the scripture just a while ago, now as scientists scoffed all puffed up at anything which could not be rationally, empirically proven in a lab or something. But because we live in a material world, where everything is temporary, this did not last forever either. Atomic bomb blasting shook us all in 1944 and shook the pride off the scientific man, who could no longer claim that he had things under control with confidence. Bummer.
So where are we now? We’re in post-modernism, man! There are no absolutes! Everyone is right! Everyone is wrong. Depends on who’s looking. We got like unlimited variety of options to choose from. Whoooo. No fixed rules. Forget the aim of life. Let’s undress everything from meaning and have fun! Definitions are illegal. Discrimination has been arrested. And the new top ten word is “whatever”.
Although people think they’re more original and more individualistic than ever before, they all ironically say the same thing: I have my own way. So the “own way” fashion is making it big. When we challenge them though and ask: “What if my way is not to follow my way but surrender to Krsna instead?”, they surprisingly do the most contradictory thing one can commit in the Postmodernia –they reject it as unacceptable and tell us to skate off. “Why don’t you do what everyone else is doing? Just be a so-called “yourself” like everyone else.” They complain…
Although such so-called liberated man proclaims boldly that he has his own way, we should question him about what’s at the end of this way. You have your own way –nice, but what if you are simply following the set trap of cookie-by-cookie filled pathway of someone else, and that someone else is cracking up on how you got caught on his bait? Cookies are good, but would that still be your own way? And that’s exactly the point -we don’t know what’s at the end. No one knows. The journey is the “It” as they say and yes, we’re very much limited, so how can we really know what’s at the end? One thing we all know though. We all are going to meet something really really not cool called “death” at one point. So ultimately, we do know our destination to a certain degree when you think about it. All our paths lead to the same –and it’s called death. Whatever path we choose to live our life by, ultimately we all have to die, whether we like it or not. We all are riding the train with destination death.
The natural feeling of every living entity though is that he does not want to die. Therefore the question to be raised is, why are we following a path which we do not want to follow –the path of death? At this point, many ostriches come out of darkness and try to pacify themselves by saying slogans like “death is natural”, ”death is just part of life”, “you just have to accept it and smile”, “think positive”, “don’t think about it”, or the esoteric “death is beautiful” and similar wishful hallucinations. An ostrich at the time of danger puts his head in the ground instead of dealing with a problem. Similarly such ostrich-like folks try to come up with all kinds of naïve, I- wish- it- was- true types of excuses in order to trickily, in a roundabout way, brush the death problem under the carpet and continue the brainless party about nothing. The fact remains though. We do not want to die.
ALL WE DO IS TRYING TO NOT TO DIE
When we carefully analyze our lives, pretty much all we do is that we are trying to preserve the body. We are not exactly zen about our body being smashed to pieces, right? But ostrich provokes: Yes, we are. Oh yeah? So how come we feed the body so we don’t die? We put warm clothes on the body, so we don’t die? We take the body to a doctor in case we have the new PP66 virus, so we don’t die? And of course, we work and save up money for later on when the body gets really really messed up, so we don’t…lol…die(?). Just see –even at the last stage of our life, when we should be so-called peaceful about the ever-approaching buddy death and welcome it with warm hugs, we still want to so-called “enjoy” on a Have-a-round, or have a hallucinatory feeling of being “cool” with the little help of plastic surgery. So, where’s the acceptance there?
Moreover, if we are still attached to all kinds of unnecessary temporary bodily pleasures and think we can’t live without them, it is quite logical that it will hurt like hell giving them up by force when death shows up all of a sudden unexpected. No person attached to the pleasures of the senses is free. Just look around. We are working to buy things we don’t really need. Why? Because we’re attached to them. Attachment is the mystery behind such absurd behavior resolved. The nature of how attachment develops is explained by Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita:
While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
This also we can see in real life. Different advertisements throughout the day take us to the first stage of attachment –they inspire us to contemplate the objects of sense gratification. When such contemplation is not checked by intelligence it matures and lust awakens. When our lust is not satisfied, we become angry. Just like there are so many cases when a husband kills his wife, or wife kills her husband. “What kind of thing is this?” - one might ask. A husband kills his wife? That’s insane! But yes, this is just one of many examples of unsatisfied lust in action. As confirmed by Krsna, it can turn a person into a madman:
From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.
When one looses his intelligence due to the push of lust, he’s defeated and becomes a puppet in the hands of nature unable to make any free decisions. And all this can come out of innocent contemplation of sense gratification - perhaps a little thought, a little idea. Now, just consider for a while- anything to which we’re attached materially becomes a source of anxiety. While we are in possession of a big sum of money, we always worry about loosing it and while we are not yet in possession of it, we hanker after it, which is also an anxiety of not having it. It is therefore not very difficult to imagine how much suffering the living entity must experience at the time of death being still attached to wife, husband, family, house, career, community, golf, TV, iPod, when all these things are taken away forever from him by force. It must be total madness!
ATTACHMENT CAMOUFLAGED AS DETACHMENT
Ostrich will try to camouflage himself by saying that although he’s enjoying sense gratification, he’s not attached to it, but the fact is that he can’t even control his mind. Otherwise how could he speak such nonsense? If he’s detached from sense gratification, what is the meaning of his engaging in it? These are all nonsensical propositions of hypocrites. If we’re still subjected to lust, anger and greed, it is a symptom that attachment must be there.
Furthermore, because the soul is by constitution ever pleasure-seeking, it is not possible to stop attachment all together. The attachment we’re always looking for but can’t find is on transcendental platform, in other words it is not limited and such transcendental pleasure can be reawakened by devotional service to Krsna, the Supreme Godhead a.k.a God. As opposed to service to lust it is however full of joy. This is natural and full of transcendental blissfulness by chanting, dancing and feasting about Krsna and one who is situated in this way will gradually loose attachment to pale material things without extraneous endeavor.
The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.
Therefore unless one is attached spiritually in the transcendental, unlimited and supremely blissful pleasure of Krsna’s service, he must be attached materially. Attachment is our nature. We can be attached either to Krsna or matter, because we’re eternally tiny. Although one might be hiding behind a façade of being “aloof’ for some time, ultimately his private life will give him away sooner or later. Whether he likes it or not, he will be forced to enjoy material pleasures by his constitution secretly. Srila Prabhupada comments on the situation of such a tricky pretender:
One who is not, therefore, in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, however powerful he may be in controlling the senses by artificial repression, is sure ultimately to fail, for the slightest thought of sense pleasure will agitate him to gratify his desires.
Bg 2.62 purport
If a slightest thought of sense enjoyment can agitate the mind, what to speak of when we enjoy live in action? Our mind cannot stay aloof. If the mind is not engaged in full meditation on Krsna, it must be absorbed in thoughts of sense pleasure. There’s no way around it.
Furthermore, the present materialistic trend is nothing, but creating more and more attachments and thus more and more distressful atmosphere for everyone at the time of death. We are basically living in an atmosphere of unnecessary attachments and temptations. It would need a little bit more than just saying “look, I’m detached” to convince us about you being a fully detached yogi in disguise of a total sense enjoyer, who simply “plays“ it in order to show how one can be spiritual and at the same time living a normal life. So cheap. LOL.
WE DON’T WANT TO DIE BECAUSE WE ARE ETERNAL
Another reason why we do not want to die is that in our original position as the spirit soul, we are eternal:
Our very existence is in the atmosphere of nonexistence. Actually we are not meant to be threatened by nonexistence. Our existence is eternal. But somehow or other we are put into asat. Asat refers to that which does not exist.
This too can be shown in practical life. No one is happy when he has to vacate his apartment all of a sudden. No one likes to break up with his new girl-friend or boy-friend. Similarly, when death takes places, it is not a very pleasant event. There’s much crying and distress involved. If we’re simply matter and nothing as eternal exists, why do we cry when our mother dies? Why do we create cemeteries, crematoriums, family tombs or insurance? Why don’t we just start killing each other without discrimination and be peaceful about it? If death is not a problem, why do we make such a big deal out of it and put murderers behind bars, organize funerals and maintain hospitals to save people from it? If we’re just matter and matter never vanishes, it only transforms into something else, what’s the big deal?
No one laments the loss of a certain bulk of chemicals and stops discharging his prescribed duty. On the other hand, in modern science and scientific warfare, so many tons of chemicals are wasted for achieving victory over the enemy. According to the Vaibhāṣika philosophy, the so-called soul or ātmā vanishes along with the deterioration of the body. So, in any case, whether Arjuna accepted the Vedic conclusion that there is an atomic soul, or whether he did not believe in the existence of the soul, he had no reason to lament. According to this theory, since there are so many living entities generating out of matter every moment, and so many of them are being vanquished every moment, there is no need to grieve for such an incidence.
Bg 2.26 purport
But obviously that is not the fact and we can see that the grief, the cry, the lamentation over death is very much here and majority of us are affected by it. If such lamentation is an illusion, we should ask where it is coming from. Why is this illusion here for God’s sake??? The ostrich is silent on this point. He cannot explain this unusual occurrence of such a contradiction in his Land of Hallucinatory Peace. His theory is therefore incomplete and as long as one has an incomplete understanding his mind must be disturbed and will hardly find peace with death.
Unless one is in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, there is no possibility of peace. So it is confirmed in the Fifth Chapter (5.29) that when one understands that Kṛṣṇa is the only enjoyer of all the good results of sacrifice and penance, and that He is the proprietor of all universal manifestations, that He is the real friend of all living entities, then only can one have real peace. Therefore, if one is not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, there cannot be a final goal for the mind. Disturbance is due to want of an ultimate goal, and when one is certain that Kṛṣṇa is the enjoyer, proprietor and friend of everyone and everything, then one can, with a steady mind, bring about peace. Therefore, one who is engaged without a relationship with Kṛṣṇa is certainly always in distress and is without peace, however much one may make a show of peace and spiritual advancement in life. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a self-manifested peaceful condition which can be achieved only in relationship with Kṛṣṇa.
ANIMAL DISGUISED AS A FREE THINKER
To say I have my own way is completely unnecessary btw and it simply shows our false pride. Why? Well, because we ALL have our own way. It is not a special qualification of the “chosen ones”. Even a soldier has his own way how to follow the orders of his superintendent. Even an ant has his own way how to get to a sugar cube. Even a brainwashed blind believer has his own way how to satisfy his so-called guru. This is because we’re living. Anything living has its own way. It’s called free will –intrinsic value of every soul. This is what distinguishes life from the insentient nature of matter. The real question is that if the free will is the nature of every life, then why do some of us want to make this unnecessary division –those who have free will and those who have not? And the answer is quite simple. If we make someone look like he has lost his free will, then we are automatically superior. Just like a madman. Because he’s mad, we have a right to lock him up in a sanatorium even against his will, because he doesn’t have any anymore. Whatever he says has no value. We don’t have to listen to his “arguments” or “logic”, because he’s mad. Lock him up. Similarly, it is way simpler to maintain big slaughterhouses, cause immense pain to the poor animals without restriction and make lots of $, if we spread a convenient propaganda that animals have no soul. It’s just matter and it has no free will. Kill it. Bas. Case closed. Similarly it is way easier to kick on someone’s face if we make him look brainwashed, controlled, fanatical or without free will. That in any way doesn’t justify our own position though. Quite the opposite, it shows that instead of dealing with the argument we try to protect our shaky pride of being freer than others through low-class technique of character assassination. When a puffed-up animal-like man’s so-called freedom is challenged by a higher philosophy of God, he curses the opposing party with many ugly words such as “brainwashed”, “cultish”, or “religious”, but unable to respond with valid logic and arguments, his barking is like that of a dog whose bone has been taken away. It is his way of defense.
Just like the animals, we are ultimately afraid of death. The fear of death manifests as the survival instinct. Although we live in a society, family, etc, in the end our primal concern is the satisfaction of our own body. The scary reality of our so-called love for others could be seen in the concentration camps during the 2nd world war. The massive executions of war prisoners were taking place by letting a poisonous gas into a locked chamber. The gas in the chambers would be put in the chamber from the bottom and then it would slowly fill up the space up to the ceiling killing everyone inside. When the execution was over, only a pile of bodies remained. Old men, children and women remained at the bottom of the pile, whereas “stronger” individuals were lying on the top. In other words, those who didn’t have enough strength to fight their own way up died first. This shows that in a critical moment our bodily identification and its preservation prevail and morality, compassion and ethics go on the bottom of the pile.
So, in conclusion, the modern man has his own way how to preserve the body. He has his own way how to be selfish and disregard the ways of others. It is he, who is the dogmatic. He’s just like a polished dog, which also cares about nothing except how to preserve his dog body. A dog is animalistic openly, whereas man does it in a suit and tie.
FEEL MY FEELINGS
When thus challenged, the ostrich tries to justify that his so-called spiritual way cannot be explained by words, it must be felt. It’s about the feeling, not about how to explain it to you. This however only further confirms that such men being on an animal platform are exclusively controlled by instincts and are unable to justify their animalistic life in the light of reason and logic, which are the special prerogative of a human. If we all go on the basis of our feelings, then why not rape, steal, or even kill? It feels good to me, why should I be concerned about the logic of how your feelings were hurt by me killing you?
Feelings and emotions related to the body cannot be taken as spiritual. Because of these feelings and emotions we are actually not following our own way, but are entangled in the tabernacle of material sufferings. Our feelings are triggered by the conditions around us and our being affected by such feelings will put us yet into another set of conditions. It is a vicious cycle. The Bhagavad-gita informs us that feelings are generated by the three modes of material nature –the gunas. Gunas means ropes and we’re bound by these modes in the cycle of birth and death. The mode of goodness, passion and ignorance are three types of psychological state and their various mixtures at the time of death create our next body. We do not like so many things which are decided simply on the basis of the limited material body. So how it is our own way? Quite the opposite, the more emphasis we give to the bodily feelings, animalistic instincts and direct sense perception, the more bound we’ll become. We will remain acting like puppets in the hands of Mother nature and suffer the consequences.
The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil amongst various species.
Human civilization begins when we try to understand, besides our own feelings, the feelings of those who might have a different point of view than us. This is what the animals cannot do and that is why they cannot have a philosophical discussion. Explanations, questioning and discussions are here to help us to come to common platform, where everyone is included regardless of which group he belongs to. On the other hand, bodily feelings and instincts simply divide us. I’m a man, woman, ugly, beautiful, Christian, German –all these things are illusory bodily feelings, which have no connection with our true selves, the eternal parts and parcels of the Complete Whole. This desire for world’s unity as opposed to animalistic selfishness is a great boon of human form of life and we should explore it. Animal-like men who are fully under control of their bodily needs simply cause disruption, arguments and chaos by “their own ways”. We can only remember the great rascals in history such as Hitler or Stalin, who disrupted the order of things just to satisfy their limited dogmas. This is the nature of demons. While the law of Krsna is meant to satisfy everyone, the demons create hell for everyone. There is no authority, no fixed rules, no one has the right to say what is wrong and what is right and then while you’re busy looking for the meaning of life, they cleverly get you under their authority and cheat you, exploit you and destroy you in the name of freedom. Just try to realize the cunning nature of demons.
They say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust. Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.
WATER THE ROOT
Selfishness many times takes on different noble names. We should note however that all endeavors are doomed to be selfish unless we satisfy the Complete Whole Krsna. The endeavor for satisfaction is in everyone, it has to mature however to a stage, when such endeavor pleases everyone and that is only possible if we please the Complete Whole Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead. When we water the root of a tree, automatically all the branches and leaves are nourished.
An ordinary man wants to work for his own sense enjoyment, and when the principle of sense enjoyment is extended from the individual to include the collective society, nation, or humanity in general, it assumes various attractive names such as altruism, socialism, communism, nationalism, humanitarianism, etc. These isms are certainly very attractive forms of Karma-bandhana, the bondage of one's own work, but the Vedic instruction of Sri Isopanisad is as follows: if you actually live for any of the above isms, make them God-centered. There is no harm in becoming a family man, an altruist, socialist, communist, nationalist, or humanitarian—provided all such activities are executed in relation with isãvãsya, the God-centered conception.
Iso Mantra 2
Krsna is the center of all existence, but in my state of forgetfulness I falsely think of myself to be the center and therefore I try to serve my family, my community, my nation, my species, my planet. No matter how big my circle of influence is, it will always remain MY circle and it will be crossing other limited circles, unless I reach the understanding of the Complete Whole –Sri Krsna.
Suppose a big political leader, in the beginning he is interested with his family, with his family members, but sometimes he takes to national interest, for all members of the country, or the society, community. And then there is fight between one community to another community, one family to another family, one nation to another nation, because that extended self-interest does not make the thing perfect. That extended self-interest must be up to Viñëu. Then it will be perfect.
Vrndavana, October 29, 1976
I and everything that exists is Krsna’s circle and I am simply a small part of it. If I satisfy Krsna though, my service to Him will be distributed to everyone, my tiny little circles included. The big circle never crosses the interests of the small circles because they are all within Him.
Here in the material world there is always a clash between different individual beings, because here the center of enjoyment is missed. The center of enjoyment is the Supreme Lord, Who is the center of the sublime and spiritual rãsa dance. We are all meant for joining Him, and for enjoying life with one transcendental interest and without any clash. That is the high platform of spiritual interest, and as soon as such a perfect form of oneness is realized there can be no question of illusion or lamentation.
Iso Mantra 7
…AND THE KNOWLEDGE WILL SET YOU FREE
In order to satisfy the Supreme Whole Sri Krsna, we need concrete information. It is not imaginary. Just like we perform many activities in our present conditioned life, the activity which is meant to satisfy the Supreme is a concrete tangible activity. It cannot be imagined or guessed. Our feelings or mental speculations are very much limited by our material body, whereas Krsna, the Absolute is unlimited and His body is spiritual. We cannot understand The Unlimited with our limited devices. The activity for the satisfaction of Krsna is called devotional service and in order to please Krsna, we have to perform it correctly. Just like in any other relationship, if we do not care about what the other person’s likes/or dislikes are and remain satisfied with our limited conception (I like football, so she must like football too!), then where is love? Similarly, if we are satisfied with our limited conceptions of the Absolute and never make the endeavor to understand Him on the basis of hearing from authorized sources, it does not speak very well for our so-called universal loving. Krsna, of course is not limited and therefore He very much welcomes if we serve Him in our own way - that is required. Everyone should serve Krsna out of love, not because of some artificial dogma. However, if by “our own way” we actually never get to the Whole and instead serve our limited and selfish circle of influence, what is the value of such a deluded endeavor? It is a useless waste of time. The only realization we can get from it is that we are simply being foolish. That’s all. It is therefore necessary to accept a little bit more than just my limited imagination about the universal love. We have to go beyond and inquire about the Absolute from someone who knows.
Bound by the modes of material nature, it is impossible for us to liberate ourselves on our own. The bound needs a helping hand of the unbound. Therefore, in order to free ourselves we have to accept help from someone who is already liberated. That is the real authority. No one can be more perfect authority than God. Because God is absolute, nothing can bind Him. Therefore the best is to hear about the process of liberation from God Himself and this is possible if we taste the nectar of His Song –the Bhagavad-gita As It Is as it is coming down by a disciplic succession. This is the only recorded scripture where God Himself is describing His transcendental nature in minute detail. It is not a man-made speculation about God. It emanates from the transcendental lips of God Himself and because in the absolute world there’s no duality, it is non-different from Him. God cannot be bound by our imperfect interpretations. We have to accept the message as it is. It is stated that if we merely hear this great knowledge of Bhagavad-gita, what to speak of accepting and applying the process described in it, we can be freed from the influences of material nature right away. Simply we have to open up to this great adventure and do it. Then we will be able to surpass the influence of death. How we do it and when is our own way.
The perfectional stage is to be engaged practically, not theoretically, engaged in the service of the Lord, according to his capacity. Not that everyone will be able to do everything, that is not required.
Kṛṣṇa is not stereotyped, that He has to be served in this way only. No, Kṛṣṇa can accept service in so many ways.
Vṛndāvana, October 31, 1976