Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • aiyess yehrekuh yehntahrgeh vohr ouragh ou khahghah ahpress, uhzkaiyahseeroutioun, newtahgahn tzahngoutioun yehv pahrgoutioun

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  • The cause of anger is explained in the ancient Vedic literature.

    While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

    From anger, complete 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. (Bhagavad-gita 2, 62-63)

    Entrapment in the material world begins by not seeing things properly. When we look at an object without acknowledging to whom it may belong, we begin to imagine that we can control and enjoy it. Such thoughts are the root of material desires and subsequent troubles.

    We begin the subtle process of thinking, feeling and willing about the object. We first think about the qualities of the object. Next, we feel how good it would be to own and enjoy the object. Then, we make a decision of will that we must have the object to be happy. The psychological processes of thinking, feeling, and willing are the inspiration for performing action (or work). Becoming convinced that our desires need to be fulfilled is the subtle form of action.

    First, we hear about or observe an object. We acquire knowledge of the object. We, as the knower, undergo the process of thinking, feeling, and willing. Thus there is the knower, the object of knowledge and the knowledge of the object. These are called the impetus to action.

    As our contemplation of the object gets more intense, we evolve from desire to attachment and then lust or the obsessive desire to control and enjoy an object. Once there is strong attachment or excessive desire and attachment (lust), if we are in any way hindered or frustrated in our attempt to control and enjoy the object, we become angry. Anger comes right after frustration.

    Anger after frustration has definite symptoms such as, heavy breathing, tendency to use harsh language, possibility of violence, swelling of the chest and tensing of the muscles and facial expressions such as sharp eye contact, raising of the eyebrows or furrowing of the forehead, rashness of thought, increased heartbeat, and quick conclusions of retaliation, etc.

    From anger delusion develops. The state of delusion occurs when one believes to be true or real something that is false or unreal. The conviction: “I am the controller and I am the enjoyer” is the basis of the delusion. This requires explanation as it is difficult for most people to accept that such a thought is actually delusional.

    The basic concept of property and proprietorship determines the organization of society from the life of an individual to the entire population. For example, in modern day countries there are differences of social organization founded on a basic concept of proprietorship. In a capitalist country, the assumption is that the individual is the proprietor and the majority of laws protect personal property. In a socialist country, the state is the most prominent proprietor and most of the laws protect state ownership. In a monarchy, the king and nobles are the main proprietors. In a communist state, ideally the commune or the working class people collectively are the proprietor. In a dictatorship, the dictator, his family and friends such as his military, industrial, and banking cronies are the proprietors. Every one of these concepts of property ownership and the social institutions that protect such concepts are flawed.

    If I make a mistake at the beginning of solving a mathematical problem, I will most probably get the whole problem wrong. A mistake in the beginning will give me a wrong result in the end. Similarly, if the most fundamental concept on which an entire society is built (the concept of proprietorship) is wrong, then how can we expect the people in that society to be happy and eventually achieve the goal of human life?

    Today, we live in the United States of America. Did this country exist five hundred years ago? The answer is no. Will this country exist five hundred years in the future. The answer is we do not know! We can conclude that the existence of this great country or any country for that matter is temporary. The same can be said about anything we believe that we own. At most, we temporarily own something. Even during the period that we temporarily own something, we do not really own it. We can lose a possession at any time due to a variety of causes. If all the above mentioned concepts of proprietorship are wrong, then what is the right concept of proprietorship?

    Before we answer the question, first let us consider the following. If all the above concepts of proprietorship are wrong, then we must be in a state of delusion if we believe we are the proprietor. I might accept rather easily that I am not the proprietor of the state of Colorado. But, I am hard pressed to accept I am not the proprietor of my body or my bank account. The truth is that I am not really the proprietor of my own body because so many functions of the body are taking place that are completely out of my control. I may reside within the body, but it is functioning in mysterious ways that are beyond my comprehension and conscious determination. I don’t control my heartbeat, the blinking of my eyes, my entire digestive system, and so many other vital processes of the body. I don’t control the aging process and ultimately, I don’t control birth, disease and death. Then how can I pretend that I am the owner of the body when I do not really control its vital functions.

    Through honest self inspection one can understand that any claim to proprietorship is very temporary and always dependent on some superior authority such as the state or anyone with overpowering force, natural laws, and ultimately God. The person who controls nature and its insurmountable laws is the real proprietor of everything by virtue of his overpowering force. We see this force in hurricanes, tidal waves, earthquakes and any massive display of natural force. The strongest army in the world, the US Armed forces, with all its sophisticated weapons could not stop hurricane Katrina from destroying most of a modern American City, New Orleans. Therefore, no one and no nation can claim to be proprietor except the Supreme controller of everything or God Himself.

    At the most, our claims to proprietorship are temporary and always dependent on superior authority and ultimately God. If I believe that I am the absolute owner (or enjoyer) and controller, then I am in a state of delusion.

    From such a state of delusion, our memory becomes confused. We forget who we are, where we are, what the purpose of life is, what are our limits, what are our duties and responsibilities. From this confused memory, we lose our intelligence or our power to discriminate of right from wrong. Then we fall down into a whirlpool of frenzied activity that is ultimately destructive to ourselves and others. Unless we learn to see things correctly as owned and controlled by God, we become prone to developing material desires and acting in selfish and self destructive ways. God has made an arrangement by which He has set aside our minimum needs. However, when we take more than what we need, we become victims of our own greed by which others may be denied their minimum needs. We then become subject to the laws of material nature or the natural correction for our greed.

    Case Study 1:
    An immigrant from India, named Karthik Rajaram, committed a murder suicide of his family on October 7, 2008. The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

    “A Porter Ranch father of three, emotionally distraught over the economy murdered his family and then killed himself last weekend. From the article posted today:

    On Sept. 16, he bought a gun. He wrote two suicide notes and a last will and testament. And then, sometime between Saturday night and Monday morning, he killed his wife, mother-in-law and three sons, and took his own life.

    “This is a perfect American family behind me that has absolutely been destroyed, apparently because of a man who just got stuck in a rabbit hole, if you will, of absolute despair, somehow working his way into believing this to be an acceptable exit,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore. “It is critical to step up and recognize we are in some pretty troubled times.”

    In a letter addressed to police, Rajaram blamed his actions on economic hardships. A second letter, labeled “personal and confidential,” was addressed to family friends; the third contained a last will and testament, Moore said.”

    This tragic murder suicide is a classic example of how a person can lose complete control of the their rational sense of self-preservation and commit a horrible murder-suicide of himself and his own family. A friend of Mr. Rajaram wrote an interesting comment: “He is the product of the totality of his upbringing and initial successes in achieving the American Dream - he could not have imagined that he could lose $2 million in a few years, after having earned it over two decades. Having lost the money, his sense of control would have eroded rapidly.”

    Mr. Rajaram was educated in India at the prestigious University IIT and graduated with a a distinguished scholastic record. He attended UCLA and then began a career in stock market brokerage and investment. He became materially successful. But, with the economic downturn and the dramatic down swing of the stock market, he lost everything he had made. He was ruined financially. The frustration, humiliation and anger from such loss made him lose his mental equilibrium. He decided to kill himself and his entire.

    The materialistic education and goals of Mr. Rajaram left him bereft of any spiritual values that could have given him more substantial perspective in life than mere material accumulation. He became obsessively attached to material accumulation. When he lost his wealth, he could not imagine a life bereft of it. By being attached to something temporary causes anxiety and fear. Without spiritual knowledge of the our permanent soul and its eternal relation to God, we become vulnerable like Mr. Rajaram to the unavoidable changes of fortune in material existence. Material frustration leads to anger, delusion, bewilderment of memory, loss of intelligence and finally falling into whirlpool of self-destructive behavior.

    The allurement of the material world is the desire for sense gratification. Such gratification is necessarily selfish, self centered and often passionate. The progression of seeing an object and meditating on it, developing attachment for it from which lust arises. When the lust is frustrated, there is anger. From anger comes delusion. From delusion comes bewilderment of memory; then, loss of intelligence and finally falling down into irresponsible behavior. This progression can happen very quickly. It can occur in a few seconds or develop over an extended period of time.

    The important issue is whether a person has control of their senses and mind. There are four activities that render mind and sense control almost impossible. They are: gambling and philosophical speculation, meat eating, intoxication and illicit sex. These four material activities undermine truthfulness (gambling and speculation), austerity and humility (meat eating), mercifulness (intoxication) and cleanliness (illicit sex). These four principles are the universal principals of spirituality. Undermining these principles by the four material activities of gambling, meat eating, intoxication and illicit sex, a person becomes very prone to being a victim of the slippery slope of imperfect observation to loss of intelligence and destructive behavior. When a person can regulate material activities based on the universal spiritual principles, they become capable of self control. The intelligence exercises its discriminative powers and can project into the future to see the consequences of rash behavior. It acts to avoid the senseless dive into the abyss self destructive behavior and causing harm to others.

    There is an example of a man who is dreaming while asleep. He cries, “Tiger, tiger…It is eating me!” Another person who is awake witnesses the sleeping man’s emotional cries. He smiles and wonders “Where is the tiger?” The dreaming man is crying and moaning, “Tiger, tiger, tiger.” One does not have to be in a state of dreaming to be in illusion. An illusion is accepting something for what it is not due to either imperfect hearing or seeing. If we see water in the desert or mistake a rope for a snake, we may accept that the reflection of the sun on the hot sand is actually water when it is not or the rope is actually a snake when it is not. These are examples of illusions. When we believe that the illusions are really factual, we are in a state of delusion.

    Sometimes politicians claim, “This is my land. This is my country.” Another group of politicians claim the same land and say, “This is my land, my country.” The two sides begin to fight and kill each other. Both sides are in a state of delusion. The land does not belong to either side. It belongs to God. But they are claiming my land, my country. But how long will they live to enjoy their land and country? It is an illusion to accept God’s property as one’s own property.

    Without understanding our real position, we remain perplexed in the midst of the problems of this world which are all caused by false claims. The root cause of the illusion is the material conception of “I” and “Mine” or the false idea that I am the controller and enjoyer.

    Once a king was about to die. He ordered that a coffin be made with two holes. When asked why he said, “I am a most powerful king with untold wealth. But when I die, I want the people to see my hands protruding from the coffin. I want them to see that I left this world empty handed even though I was so wealthy and powerful.” “Dust thou art and dust thou shalt become,” is the Biblical saying. It rings true. Any claim to proprietorship (even of our own body) is a false claim. The only true proprietor is God. If we learn to use everything in the service of God, then we can escape from the chains of illusion and self destructive behavior. Most disputes and wars in this world are based on territorial claims. Individually we attempt to be the controller and enjoyer. This attempt is spread to an entire society or nation. Then one nation desires to control and enjoy another nation. All wars are fought for sense gratification. One nation wants to enjoy their senses in one way and another nation in another way and they fight for domination for their own brand of sense gratification. It is all false and illusory.

    Case Study 2:
    Another interesting example is a story about Hazrat Ali, the famous Muslim prophet who is the saint of the Shia Muslims. Hazrat Ali was fighting in a “holy war.” He knocked down an opposing soldier and was about to kill him with his sword. The soldier spit in Hazrat Ali’s face. The saint put down his sword. The soldier was shocked. He said, “Why don’t you kill me?” Hazrat Ali said, “Before you spit in my face I was going to kill you on behalf of Allah as a righteous act. But when you spit in my face, I became angry at you. I cannot kill you in a state of personal anger based on my own emotional state. Therefore, I have put down my sword.” The soldier was so impressed by the motives of Hazrat Ali that he converted to Islam and became a sincere follower. There is a difference between acting on one’s own personal motives and acting as a servant of God without any personal attachment or self interest. One is saved from the entanglement of reactive work by acting only on the order of God without any personal motive. This story illustrates how important the motive of the action is.

    During a war, a soldier kills an enemy combatant according to the rules of engagement. He is not considered a murderer although he kills. But, after the war, if the same man kills someone of his own accord, he will be prosecuted as a criminal. By acting under the orders of superior authority and following the rules of engagement, one is not responsible for the acts. Acting on one’s own selfish desires, one becomes responsible.

    Unless one sincerely understands the spiritual truth of our eternal relationship with God, we can never become free from the material influence which leads us on like a blind man into a ditch of confused, desperate acts. In truth, material sense enjoyment pales in comparison to the higher taste of spiritual enjoyment in the association of God. Tasting such spiritual pleasure in the presence of God is the beginning of freedom from material conditioning.

    Without control of the senses and mind through regulated devotional service to God, it is impossible to control lust, anger, and greed. By engaging all our human faculties and tendencies in unselfish acts of devotion, one develops the power to control the development of lust which, if unchecked, can easily turn into anger. The easiest and most direct means to control the development of lust and anger is to remember and worship God in the company of genuine believers.The association of genuine helps one understand their eternal relationship of service and love for the Almighty. By dedicating all things in life to the service of God under proper guidance, one can overcome the false attachments and concomitant development of lust that binds one to reckless acts that we will later regret.

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  • pahrgoutiounohv vohdkee gahnknoghuh vuhnahssohv guh nuhssdee

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  • geerkod tzahngoutioun, paghgoutioun yehv ahkayoutioun tuhzoghkee yehrek tourehr yehn

    Once, a husband and wife had a quarrel. It started when the husband told his wife he was thinking of buying a cow so he could milk it. He desired to benefit from the medicinal qualities of fresh milk directly from a grass and grain-fed cow. His wife said she would purchase three clay pots for the milk. The husband asked why three clay pots and not one.

    His wife explained that she would get one pot for their home use, another pot to deliver fresh milk to her mother and the third for her brother. The husband objected that he did not want her family members profiting from his cow’s milk. The argument became very heated. The wife became so exasperated that she threw a vase at her husband who ducked and the clay vase flew over the husband’s head and out the front door. It crashed and broke into many pieces outside the house. Their immediate neighbor heard the loud argument. He became alarmed when the vase broke and came running.

    On entering the house, he asked. “what is the matter?” After hearing their divergent points of view, He rushed out of the house and returned with a large stick. He menacingly swung the stick in the air as if to strike the arguing couple. They both recoiled and demanded why he was threatening to strike them. He explained. “The cow you are going to buy will eat the cabbages I am going to plant in my garden. Therefore, I shall beat both of you for letting it enter my garden.

    The husband and wife realized the futility of fighting for something that has not occurred. They looked at each other and then began to laugh. The neighbor threw the stick away and laughed heartily along with them.

    The argument that nearly resulted in physical violence seriously disturbed the minds of the husband and wife. They had disputes before, but this one was so intense and bitter that it could have resulted in serious injury. After they calmed down, the two decided to pay a visit to their village elder who was a very wise man. His name was Baron Sirounian. The villagers affectionately called him Sourp Siroun (saint sweet).He was a gentle and learned man of 94 years old who outlived his wife and even some of his children.

    The couple brought dried fruits and nuts as a gift for Sourp Siroun. He greeted them in his humble cottage. He offered them a place to sit and inquired about their well-being. They thanked him and revealed the purpose of their visit. They had quarreled over a hypothetical trifle and it escaladed to near violence. He looked deep into their eyes and said, “Let us take a walk down to the edge of the lake.” On reaching the bank of the lake, Sourp Siroun asked the couple to note the calmness and serenity of the lake. Ducks were floating quietly in the lake. A few birds were perched on a nearby tree branch. There were soft croaking sounds of frogs in the tall grass growing in the shallow water of the lake and on the its bank.

    Sourp Siroun requested the husband to pick up a pebble and throw it into the water. When the husband threw the pebble into the placid waters of the lake, the ducks took to flight as did the birds and the frogs stopped croaking.

    Sourp Siroun asked him, “What do you see?”

    The husband replied, “I see concentric circles rippling from the point where the pebble entered the lake.”

    “My son,” said Sourp Siroun, “Your throwing the pebble has caused many effects such as the concentric ripples agitating the calm waters, the ducks in the lake and birds on the branches of the tree were frightened away and the frogs went deeper into the lake water for safety. Perhaps the fish under the surface of the lake were also frightened to dart away from the pebble. You have caused multiple changes by one single act.

    The husband nodded his head in agreement.

    Sourp Siroun said, “Can you stop the ripples, bring back the ducks, birds, and frogs?”

    “I don’t think so,” said the husband. “If I try to stop the ripples by putting my hand in the water, it will only create more ripples.”

    “Yes, my son, now you are speaking wisely. When we make a mistake that impacts the lives of others, we must learn to stop as soon as possible to limit the damage we have done. Further, we must learn from our mistake by analyzing the cause, develop the self-restraint not to do it again and, most importantly, apologize to those who we may have offended or hurt and ask for their forgiveness and undergo any punishment or penance in rectification. Without acknowledging our mistake, we risk repeating it over and over again.”

    “We Armenians have a stubborn streak.” continued Sourp Siroun. “We do not like to admit a mistake nor accept rectification. The word for stubbornness in Armenian is hamahroutioun. A stubborn person is referred to as ahndegheedalee or one who refuses to give place. This stubbornness may be good if we adhere to the path of goodness and virtue. But, it can be disastrous if we stubbornly continue on a wrong path.”

    “Therefore, the mind absorbed or attached to sense objects is the cause of bondage to material consequences resulting from rash acts whose corollary effects were not carefully considered before the act. But the mind detached from sense objects is the cause of freedom from unwanted consequences. False attachment in the mind to sense objects even if theoretical as in your case of the cow and its milk became the cause of violent acts. The uncontrolled mind is the greatest enemy of man, and the controlled mind, the best of friends. As long as we cannot control the mind, we serve the dictations of lust, anger, greed, illusion, envy and the resultant madness or insane activity. The uncontrolled mind is dictated to by lust, anger, etc. But, the controlled mind accepts to voluntarily abide by the dictation of God’s word.”

    “We should have the equilibrium of mind to not throw the pebble in the lake, or more precisely, say unworthy and hurtful words that may begin interminable arguments and potentially lead to violence.”

    Both the husband and wife asked, “Oh reverend Sourp Siroun, how can we know what God’s dictation is in specific circumstances?”

    “That is a very good question. Asking questions and listening carefully to the answers is a valuable quality. We say in Armenian, Hahrtznohghuh guhlah kidtzoghuh, The one who asks questions, is the one who will understand. Serious inquiries directed respectfully to an elder will lead to receiving answers. The knowledge imparted to you will save much time and trouble. Humility, respect, offering service and asking important questions creates the right atmosphere for a fruitful exchange of questions and answers.”
    “It is also said in Armenian, Hahrtznehluh ahmoht chuhlah, chuhhahskuhnahluh ahmoht eh,– “Asking is not shameful, not understanding the answer or not following the advice is.”

    “God’s instructions or dictation to us is revealed to us as we become purified of lust greed and anger. When these negative attitudes and behavior subside, we begin to understand God’s messages in the Holy Scriptures. Our appreciation of the example of saintly people increases. We actively seek out the association of godly persons and listen carefully to their explanations of spiritual topics. We engage wholeheartedly in the service of God and His other servants.”

    “It is very difficult to understand the transcendental nature of God through materially contaminated senses. Only by engaging the senses and mind in the service of God can we develop the right mindset to receive the instructions of God. Mundane scholarship and mental speculation will not help one advance on the path of God realization. One must associate with a genuine servant of God to become one oneself. The symptom of a self-realized person is that he or she is satisfied by rendering service with a pure heart for the pleasure of God without any hankering for wealth, prestige, power, fame, knowledge, etc. Such a person is steadily engaged in service uninterruptedly regardless if the surrounding material conditions are favorable or unfavorable. Thus, one gradually develops unadulterated love for God and understanding by revelation. Spiritual knowledge is revealed to the sincere follower progressively as we surrender to the will of God.”

    “Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was. His answer is recorded in Matthew 22:37-40:

    Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38. This is the first and great commandment. 39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. 40. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

    “Such pure love is devoid of the desire to satisfy one’s own sense gratification. The material desires are dovetailed to spiritual aspirations by using all one’s resources to please the transcendental senses of God. The spiritual teacher who provides instructions to a sincere soul to rise to the platform of pure service and devotion to God becomes the spiritual mentor of the seeker. Through the guidance of the mentor, God reveals specific instructions how the seeker should act in specific instances. Even if the seeker has a strong premonition that God has given him a direct instruction, he should still confirm it with his mentor.”

    “Choosing a sincere and qualified mentor is of utmost importance. The following symptoms are useful to know. The mentor is affiliated with a bona fide spiritual lineage coming from God. He lives exactly according to the precepts he teaches. What he teaches is exactly the words of God in the scriptures without addition or subtraction. He manifests the six symptoms of surrender to the will of God. He accepts everything favorable for the service of God and rejects everything unfavorable. He considers God his only protector. He accepts everything that happens to him as the mercy of God. He has no other interests outside of service to God and he remains always humble and meek in the execution of service. Further, he never claims to be God himself, nor does he let any of his students say such a thing.”

    The husband and wife were thrilled by the saintly man’s answers. They bowed their heads and asked if they could kiss his hand. Sourp Siroun concluded with the following words. “My dear children, by practicing constant control of the body, mind and activities, the sincere aspirant can keep his mind always under the control of spiritual wisdom. Thus, he can attain real peace and spiritual fulfillment in this world and ultimately enter the kingdom of God.”

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  • lahv vohrohsoum - good decision
    lahv uhndroutioun - good choice

    A millionaire left a will. He had four sons. His will stipulated, “Each of my sons can choose one thing that he desires most of my estate. What remains shall be bequeathed to my personal slave who has served me faithfully.”

    The court appointed administrator asked the sons to choose the one thing they wanted most. One chose the father’s mansion, another a costly jewel, the third vast farmland.

    The fourth son chose to own his father’s personal slave. This seemed like a poor choice. But, on reflection it was the most astute one because by owning the slave, the fourth son became the owner of the entire estate remaining after his three brothers’ choices.

    Life always presents us with choices. The decisions we make are between short-term or long-term gain. We desire gain and then safety to protect our profits in order to enjoy them. All four sons had a choice to make for their gain. The first three chose the one thing they desired the most out of their father’s estate. Their choices were valuable material things. The fourth son chose his father’s trustworthy servant who would inherit all the remaining estate of the father after his son’s choices. This was a very astute choice because the father apparently appreciated and trusted his servant who served him faithfully for many years.

    This story has an important message. On one level, it conveys the message that becoming a faithful and competent servant can endear the master to the point that he may favor him over his own family members. A good servant can win the heart of his master. In Biblical history, we have examples of Abraham, Noah, and Jesus who all served God faithfully and were bestowed immortal blessings. Joseph served the Pharaoh of Egypt and was rewarded with royal status although he began as a slave.

    The fourth son’s choice of the slave has a deeper meaning. The crucial choice in life is between material gain or spiritual enlightenment. I experienced this earlier in my life when I had to make an important decision between furthering my material achievements in life or pursuing a spiritual path by humbling myself to a genuine servant of God and learning how to also become a servant. A successful person in this world is one who gains mastery over material possessions and uses them to gain power and fame and eventually adoration. In spiritual life, however, one can gain mastery over oneself by becoming the humble servant of God’s faithful servant. It is said,
    “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”(BG 4.34) One must approach the true servant of God with a submissive attitude, ask important questions and offer service. Such behavior by the student creates a favorable atmosphere to ask questions and get the correct answers from a genuine seer of the truth or spiritual master. One learns to be a loyal servant of God by serving the genuine servant of God.

    There is a proverb that says, “The mother teaches the new daughter-in-law by instructing her daughter.” Similarly, God instructs the world through the humble and dedicated behavior of His genuine servant, who acts as the spiritual master of aspirants to the truth. One who approaches the spiritual guide by submissiveness, inquiries and service will be blessed to understand the following: “Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are Mine.” (BG 4.35)

    When one is enlightened by a bona fide teacher of spirituality, one learns to see all living beings as belonging to God’s eternal family. The sense of existence apart or separated from God is illusion. Just as in the family there is a mother and father, God is the original father of everyone and everything. He expands His infinite spiritual and material energies and manifests the spiritual world and the material world. Those eternal souls that are surrendered to God reside in the spiritual world. The material world is the place where rebellious living entities are placed to be gradually reformed like prisoners in a jail. The jail is the temporary material body and the shackles are the forces (or modes) of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance) forcing the body to gradually grow and deteriorate all the while being subject to happiness and suffering.
    The dualities of happiness and suffering, cold and heat, riches and poverty, love and hate keep the living entities bewildered. Only a very few living entities are able to take advantage of a genuine teacher and free themselves from reactive work by developing genuine love of God and all living entities. By such love and dedicated service to God such liberated souls are able to help others to enlightenment.

    Everything that emanates from God is eternal. Only the activities of the living entities are not eternal. The material nature, time, the living entities and God are all eternal. When an eternal living entity decides to separate himself from God, he leaves the spiritual world and comes into the material world where he can attempt to imitate God by controlling and enjoying a part of the material energy. But such a futile attempt only leads to frustration after experiencing temporary success. The material body of the living entity is subject to birth, death, old age and disease and eventually it withers away and the living entity is forced to take another body to continue his escapade in the material world. It is only when he becomes self realized by associating with a genuine teacher or servant of God that he can liberate himself from such illusory entanglement and return to the eternal world.

    There has always existed a contrast between what is permanent and impermanent, or permanence and change. Most people are concerned with the impermanent and hope desperately to make it permanent. This desire is impossible to achieve. Although the material energy is permanent, the transformations of it by man will always remain impermanent. No amount of intelligent adjustment can transform the material creations of man into something permanent.

    In the ancient wisdom it is said, “Those who know the truth understand that of the impermanent (the material body and all things material) there is no endurance and of the permanent (the soul and all things spiritual) there is no change. They have concluded this by studying the nature of both.”

    The ancient Greeks discussed permanence and change. The Greek philosopher Heraclites propounded the theory that everything in this world is in a state of flux or change, “”Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers .” Plato interrupted Heraclites views as “Everything changes and nothing remains still.” In contrast the Greek philosopher Parmenides set forth the doctrine of permanence. He explained, “reality is one, change is impossible, and existence is timeless, uniform, and unchanging.” Parmenides considered the material world perceived through the senses as illusory appearances that deceive the common man.

    Parmenides believed that the ultimate eternal reality is an unchanging, ungenerated, indestructible whole state of existence that may be described as an undifferentiated oneness. The world of appearances (the material world) in which there was movement, change and duality was an illusion and only the state of static eternal oneness was real.

    Both Heraclites and Parmenides had significant partial realizations of the truth of existence. But, their understandings were incomplete. The following story illustrates this point.

    Once there was a town that was connected to the railway line. The designated day arrived when the first train would pull into the town. Many villagers from surrounding villages excitedly dressed up in the their best clothes and came to town for the festive occasion. They had only heard of the train, but never seen it. They waited with excited anticipation at the train station.

    From the distance of at least a half a mile the townsfolk heard the train whistle blow a shrill high pitched note that scared the wits out of everyone. All eyes turned toward the distant approach of the train. One group of spectators from a mountain village near the town heard the whistle and saw a black cloud of smoke.” They reported back to their family and friends in their village that didn’t come that the train was a dangerous black cloud like a tornado. It made a horrible noise that scared everyone.

    The train continued its approach to the town. Just outside the limits of the town, the train spewed a thick black cloud of smoke from its boiler. Sparks and occasional flames jumped from its chimney. The engineer of the train continued to blow the train whistle without stop. The spectators could feel the ground vibrating like an earthquake. A second group of villagers became so frightened that they also hurriedly left in a state of panic just before the train pulled into a full stop. They were convinced it was a black, iron demon spitting flames and smoke and so heavy it was could cause an earthquake.

    The remaining spectators were frightened by the spectacle of the arriving train. They didn’t know what to expect. Many stepped back as far as they could from the train station waiting to see if they should run away like the other villagers. When the train came to a full stop, they were amazed to see that there were many people like themselves waving to them from the train. They observed that the train was a series of different vehicles connected by metal hinges. There was an engine car with a furnace and a smiling engineer with black faced assistants. The other cars were filled with passengers, cargo and mail. The atmosphere became festive as the passengers poured out of the train cars. The townsfolk and remaining villagers mounted the train and looked in amazement at the metal and wood construction that seemed so frightening from a distance. They welcomed the passengers and questioned the engineer and his assistants. Their fears were dissipated and they realized that the train was a useful invention made by intelligent men.

    The ancient Greek philosophers had realizations of the truth of the universe, but it was incomplete. They were like the villagers that observed the train from a distance. The limits of intellectualism are due to four fundamental defects every human being has. They are,
    1- mistakes - due to imperfect hearing or seeing
    2- illusion - accepting a mistake as the truth
    3- imperfect and limited senses
    4- tendency to cheat.
    These four defects disqualify a human being from arriving at perfect knowledge either by intellectual or experimental means. The ancient Greeks depended entirely on observation and reasoning to arrive at knowledge. In the story of the train and the townsfolk, observation led to three levels of knowledge. The group of villagers that left first thought the train was a dangerous black cloud like a tornado. The second group of villagers that left thought the train was a black, iron demon spitting flames and smoke and so heavy it was could cause an earthquake. The third group observed that the train was a series of vehicles that were connected. There was an engine car and passenger cars, and cargo cars, etc. And there were many passengers or people like themselves.

    The first group had an impersonal realization. The second group had a nebulous personal realization and the third group had a definite personal realization of the train. The impersonal realization remains blind to the fact that behind every manifestation there must be a person who is the prime mover or creator. A nebulous personal realization can discern someone behind the phenomenon but cannot see clearly who it is. The personal realization knows without a doubt that behind every movement or organized structure there are intelligent persons.

    The third group had more knowledge of the train than the first two groups, but their knowledge was still incomplete. Although they knew more about the train, they still did not understand all the technology that produced the train. Such knowledge would require many years of training by expert teachers to fully understand the functioning of the train and the depth of organization by intelligent people required to create and manage the useful functioning of it.

    The Vedic knowledge states that there are three levels of understanding God: impersonal, localized presence of God in the heart of every living being and the Supreme Personality of God who is the origin, controller and maintainer of everyone and everything. The impersonal understanding of God can be attained with personal endeavor. Just as we see sunlight that is the source of energy and potential in this world, we can understand that there is an all-pervading spiritual energy that supports and sustains all life. Beyond the impersonal realization, we may attain the awareness that there exists a localized presence of God in the heart of every living being and even in every atom of the universe. Beyond these two levels of understanding, it is impossible to access the understanding of God as the Supreme Person from whom everything emanates and yet He remains perfect and complete as the infinite source. His individuality and personality are always perfect and complete and everything that emanates from Him is also perfect and complete. Without help from an expert and perfect teacher it is impossible to understand the transcendental nature of the Supreme Person as the cause of all causes, omnipotent and possessing all fame, wealth, knowledge, power, beauty and renunciation. The name Krishna indicates in Sanskrit the person who possesses these aforementioned six opulences. Only one who is completely dedicated to God with love and devotion and pleases Him is such knowledge revealed. It is impossible to understand the transcendental nature of God by using the blunt senses or imperfect reasoning. Revealed knowledge is the ultimate mercy of God to his sincere devotee.

    Returning to the story of the deceased millionaire and his four sons, the last son that chose his father’s servant and thus inherited all the remaining assets of his father was the wisest of the sons. Similarly, in life each of us chooses what he desires the most. Some choose wealth, others knowledge, or family, fame, etc. But the person that chooses the loyal servant of God and accepts to learn from him how to serve God purely is the wisest of all. Such a person will inherit the
    greatest assets of the God the Father, namely eternal life in the spiritual world.

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  • Anger wounds blindly, hurts all in its path
    Nor deigns ponder the future good or bad
    Even a bond of friendship of long date
    Can anger burn, torment and turn to hate

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