We all have to make some decisions. At least we need to decide what our next meal is going to consist of. A lot of times, however, we are in great lack of information about important details in regards to our eatables. We might purchase something in our local grocery store and think “Oh, what a nice pack of raisins I got here. The package is in my favorite color scheme, there is a smart zipper to keep the product fresh and even the price makes sense. But as soon as we check the ingredients (if we are smart enough) we will notice that beside raisins, the product contains all kinds of different rubbish which have nothing to do with what I was interested in purchasing. In my case, recently instead of a nice pack of golden raisins, I got egg, fish shells, raisins mix trail combo. For some of you I'm sure it must be very funny. Who could be possibly concerned about such an insignificant so-called problem and the proof is right there, right on the shelf. This particular item is available at this particular store because there must be someone else who, as opposed to me, is actually interested in a fish shells raisins combo. Perhaps someone in this particular moment might be actually looking for this delicious mix in his own local grocery store but has a hard time finding it, because for some reason this particular company couldn’t think of giving a more suitable name for their product to fully express its ingredients.
Anyways, the raisins accident that happened to me is just an analogy for something that I think has much more importance in our society and that is to acknowledge what kind of responsibility we take when we decide to act on a certain platform.
So as we already pointed out and agreed acting or performing work is not a question of choice.
Lord Sri Krishna proves this in the Bhagavad gita :
na hi kascit kasanam api
jatu tisthaty akarmakrt
karyate hy avasah karma
sarvah prakti jair gunaih
“All men are forced to act helplessly according to the impulses born of the modes of material nature therefore no one refrain from doing something not even for a moment”
We are eternally active as spirit souls. As His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada says in the purport to the text above,” It is not a question of embodied life, but it is the nature if the soul to be always active”. And with that work or activity, there is some responsibility. And what are those modes of material nature? It is everything that has to do with our body- our family, job, nation, friends and eatables. By those different designations we inherit willingly or unwillingly different habits, ideas, qualities bodies and etc. Why should we accept anything unwillingly? Why not to challenge our designations? We could, but making progress in this battle with limited and imperfect instruments is almost impossible, and that’s the origin of our conditioned problem- the condition itself. Me myself, the company and the manager of that grocery store are naturally conditioned by the energies of material nature:
Bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh
kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me
bhunna prakrtir astadha
"Earth,water,fire,air,ether,mind,intelligence and false ego- altogether these eight comprise my separated material energies.”
The identification with the senses and the sense objects including the mind is our false ego(ahankara). And on the account of thinking that we are the lord and master of the body, the senses and our senses objects (such as the raisins in my case) we get very much frustrated not getting what we want or feeling so-called satisfied for the time being. As it said so nicely by Krsna Himself :
gunaih karmani sarvasah
kartaham iti manyate
"The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature”
Carrying different labels of material nature we come out and associate among our friends, families, co-workers and so own, thinking our self to be the main boss, the origin of all, and the cause of all causes.
In his purport for the above mentioned text Srila Prabhupada says “ The person in material consciousness is convinced by false ego that he is the doer of everything...the person in false ego takes all credit for doing everything independently, and that is the symptom of his nescience.”
It’s not just that we are confused about who is the self, or who are we, but we think and are sure that our beliefs, habits and so called individuality are unique and independent from anyone or anything else. In fact we are totally absorbed in this temporary world .
“anityam asukham lokam” BG 9.33(this world is temporary and full of miseries).
Instead of guiding each other through the ocean of nescience, we cheat and are cheated on and on from time immemorial. Just like Sirla Prabhupada says,” teaching without knowledge is cheating”.
Repeatedly, we have been misguided by those different labels of our association and yet we fail to recognize our position. Our conditioned state doesn’t allow us to have much choice to decide under which label we should be categorized by or even influenced by. But we can start from emptying our own cup of nescience by accepting our subordinate position of a conditioned soul.
As an eternally conditioned soul we are constantly in a battle to regain our consciousness. Just like in the ocean, it doesn’t matter how big and fully equipped your ship is, while you are in the ocean, you can never be safe. And similarly, the ocean of material suffering means danger. So until we reach the shore, we can never really relax and enjoy the view of the sun set, or full moon, or a nice cocktail because, as we have noticed before, we are in a constant battle for our consciousness.
So until we reach the shore, why not to make our chances higher achieving that purpose? Choosing a nice professional crew is good but not enough. As we have noticed before, we all are sometimes baffled by our association. We make mistakes, lie to each other and are forgetful. To sum it up, we are imperfect. So without expecting a proper guidance, or a navigator, we might have a nice operating ship but where the shore is we don’t know. Again baffled. That navigator, or the spiritual master, who guides through the material ocean needs to be already realized and he can’t be bewildered by the ocean, in other words he needs to be liberated. Association on the basis of accepting the spiritual master will save us not just from biting each other or fighting among ourselves like cats and dogs but will bring us on a successful path of spiritual cultivation and realization:
mac-citta mad gata-prana
kathayantas ca mam nityam
tusyanti ca ramanti ca
"The thoughts of my pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are surrendered to Me, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss enlightening one another and conversing about Me.”
If we associate with alcoholics, or people that are addicted to different types of intoxication, we ourselves will become addicted to different intoxications. As it was mentioned before, we are not under control of how we are being influenced by our circles of association. But we can definitely decide to have enough of that friendship and understand that we need to change our desire on how to truly become situated in eternal bliss and satisfaction.
In our present society, there is no knowledge about the main ingredient of our life, the spirit soul, the activity of the soul and the supreme proprietor of our existence. In order to get an actual relief from this dangerous position of being cheated and cheating others we must jump into a crew of sincere people who just like us are tired from sinking in the ocean and who want to come to the shore for ultimate satisfaction. No more happy hour cocktails and lunch break snakes, but actually try to understand the value in every moment, habit and association, and thus overcome the material nescience of death and suffering from material existence. Because ultimately if we are not going to be inquisitive and ask ourselves those questions, no one else can inquire for us.