Wisdom from the son of Armenia.
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- Alert (for danger)
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- Bride and her wisdom
- Cause and Effect
- Character Flaws (Fatal Flaws)
- Choose a wife
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- critics (criticism)
- Curse on Armenian People
- divided we fall
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
- Evil Eye
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- Follow the crowd
- Foolishness and Blind following
- Forgiveness (Paying For)
- Fortune (see Misfortune)
- Fox (and and his loyal followers)
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- habit and tendenacy
- Hearing (Learning)
- Honesty(Honor one's promise)
- Hovhaness Toumanian
- Human nature
- Initiative (lack of)
- Insulting phrases
- Learning (See Hearing)
- living within one's means
- Meat (eating)
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- Old age
- One in a thousand
- Oneness (real and false)
- Peer pressure
- Science and Religion
- Self control
- Self realization
- Service to God
- Shameless people
- Stingy (see Miser)
- Temporary pleasures
- Think for yourself
- Turkish Massacre of Armenians
- Two faced people
- Ungrateful people
- United we stand
- Useless Labor
- Vetch Hazaria – Six thousand secrets of wisdom
- The mystic perfections one may attain by reading parts of the Vetz Hazaria
- Six thousand secrets of wisdom – Vetz Hazaria
- Vetz Hazaria – Questions and answers
- Control the following three things to live happy and peaceful; sensuality, material desire and anger.
- Milk nurtures a child to become healthy,strong, grow and develop good intelligence. But if you give milk to a new born snake, it will turn it into a dangerous and poisonous creature.
- When a rascal is given good instruction, he becomes angry.
- Who fears to suffer, suffers from fear
- The greatness of a person is estimated by his ability to tolerate provoking situations
- Fenugreek – get the sludge out of your bulge
keetdzadzeet mahseen khosheh vohr cheekitdzadzeet hahsguhnahs
A young man (18 years old) who was one week away from starting college listened to a talk I was giving about the existence of God. He asked an impassioned question, “How can you prove that God exists? How can you convince an atheist that there is a real God? How can you convince a man who is an expert of material science that there is a supernatural God?
I asked the young man three questions that I considered important to establish a foundation on which I would base my answer. He answered them all in the affirmative.
“Do you believe that there are phenomenon that exist that you cannot see or hear?”
“Yes, I do. There are radio waves or electromagnetic waves that can transmit information. A human being does not perceive them unless there is a radio antenna which can pick up the radio signals along with a radio tuner or resonator that can tune in to a particular frequency. There are also television waves and many other wavelengths and frequencies that can transmit images along with information.”
“Would you admit that your senses of perception are limited in their ability to receive information?”
“Yes, I know that the senses of a human being have a limitation on their range of perception. My eyes can’t see what is on the other side of a wall. Human ears have a limited range of perception of sounds in the range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.”
“If a tree falls down and kills someone in a foreign country, how can you know that such an event actually happened?”
“If the evening news reports the event, I can know it happened.”
“Can you verify if it happened?”
“Most probably not, I won’t have the time or desire to travel to the foreign country to verify the event.”
“Then the only way you have knowledge of the event is by trusting the authority of the
news organization that reports it.”
“Therefore, we can assume that most of the information that we receive is based on trust in the authority of a person which can be a news anchor or news agency, a university professor, an author, a relative or anyone we accept as a trusted expert.”
When I attended a science class in elementary school, I learned that the sun is 93 million miles from the earth. To this day, I have never verified on my own if the distance from the earth to the sun is truly 93 million miles. In order to pass a science test, I was given a multiple choice question: “How far is the sun from the earth?” The choices were 93 miles, 9,300 miles, 93,000 miles or 93 million miles. I answered 93 million miles. I received an A on my test for the correct answer. Yet, I never verified if the sun is actually 93 million miles or 92.5 million miles or 93.5 million miles away from the earth. I will never know for sure. It is also a fact that scientists may improve their instruments or techniques of measurement and later say that the sun is 98 million miles away.
The question of verification is crucial. “How does one really know that something is true or false. One may receive knowledge from a trusted authority, but how can one verify that it is factual. Sometimes even authorities make mistakes or they may mislead others for their own purposes.
An authority is a person who has knowledge of a subject. There are two main categories of knowledge which are mundane knowledge and transcendental knowledge.
Mundane knowledge of this material world based on human observation, measurement and experimentation is always evolving because of the four fundamental defects of every human observer. The defects are: man makes mistakes; he is easily subject to illusion; he has imperfect or limited senses of perception; he has a cheating propensity. Material knowledge is often seen to be true in a limited frame of reference, but when the frame of reference increases, it is no longer true. Therefore, it is relative to certain conditions. An example is Newton’s three laws of motion that form the basis of classical mechanics.
Transcendental knowledge concerns knowledge of what is beyond this material universe. The eternal spiritual world is beyond the capacity of observation, measurement and experimentation of man’s limited senses. Man cannot even observe and measure the full extent of the material universe, then how can he understand the spiritual world which is beyond the range of normal observation? Therefore, it is necessary to take assistance of the Vedas, which are coming from the highest authority Krishna, the Supreme Lord of the spiritual and material worlds.
The Vedic knowledge is not experimental knowledge arrived at by men with imperfect senses. It is the truth that can be verified by men with imperfect senses by acceptance and practical application in their life. There are three criterions or conditions that are required to be sure that a statement of transcendental fact is true. First, the fact must be stated in the Vedas of which the highest threshold of authority are the Upanisads, the Srimad Bhagavatam, and the Bhagavad-gita. Second, authorized Vaisnava acaryas (saintly teachers) confirm and exemplify the same principles given in the Vedas. The acaryas come in the line of disciplic succession of Brahma, Sri Laxsmi, the four Kumaras and Lord Siva. The four Vaisnava lineages accept that Lord Krishna or Narayana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although the four sampradayas affirm the same truth, the lineage of Brahma in which Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared has preserved the most evolved representation of the transcendental reality. Third, the statements and actions of the present teacher or guru is in accordance and confirms the first two. There is a triangle of confirmation with three points that must concur: sastra (Vedic scripture), sadhu (previous saints in disciplic succession) and guru (the present teacher). When these three conditions are confirmed, one can be assured that the transcendental knowledge one receives is true for all time and in all conditions unless there is a caveat that the particular knowledge is limited to certain conditions.
Mundane knowledge is always conditioned by the three modes of material nature and thus is full of imperfections and limitations. Transcendental knowledge is free of any taint by the three modes of material nature.
If we accept transcendental knowledge from the Vedas confirmed by previous acaryas and the present bona fide guru, then we can directly acknowledge that God exists and is real and eternally the Supreme Personality. If someone does not accept the authority of the Vedas, then we can use the method of speaking about the known to understand the unknown.
We begin with the most simple and direct presentation by asking a skeptical person if they believe they are a person. Most people will admit that they are a distinct person. I have, however, met people who deny that they are a person. In those cases, I ask them what they would do if I urinated on them or beat them with a stick. They invariably say, they would resist or protest or protect themselves or fight back. This proves that they are a distinct person because a chair or wall would not protest. Next, I ask, “Are your mother and father persons and their mothers and fathers and so on back in your family lineage.” If they answer yes. I then ask, “Do you think anyone one of your previous relatives was a non-person?” Most of the time, they answer no. Therefore, the original person is God. Once a person admits that they are a distinct individual, it is not difficult to prove the existence of God, the original person or ancestor.
In some cases, people argue that they believe that their original ancestor might have been a monkey or a single celled bacteria, etc. They insist that God is a character out of a fairy tale and that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution explains the origin of all species without any need or reference to God. The following six steps of logical thought will help an atheist accept that there is a superior intelligent being in the universe that is the author of universal laws that govern all movements.
1. Descartes, a French philosopher, eliminated everything in his thoughts of which he could not be sure of its existence. H arrived at the following conclusion after eliminating everything but one: “I think, therefore I am.” Cogito ergo sum which means in French – “Je pense donc Je suis”; English: “I think, therefore I am,”is a philosophical Latin statement proposed by René Descartes. The simple meaning of the phrase is that someone wondering whether or not he exists is, in and of itself, proof that he does exist – at the very least, there must be an “I” who does the thinking. The phrase became a fundamental element of Western philosophy, as it can form a foundation for all knowledge. While other knowledge could be a figment of imagination, deception or mistake, the very act of doubting one’s own existence serves as proof of the reality of one’s own existence, or at least that of one’s thought.
2. I can understand from the above that I exist as a thinker and observer. I observe things and thus there is a difference between the seer and the seen. I see objects. Therefore, there is a difference between the objects I see and myself as the seer. For example, I see my arm. If my arm is detached from my body, I continue to see it. It is obvious that there is a difference between the seer and the seen. Whether my arm is attached to my body or not, I still am the seer and I am different than the object I see.
3. The objects I perceive, the organs I use to perceive and the process of
perception have all been supplied to me. I did not create them, nor do I understand, control or maintain them. Therefore, I am not independent in the process of perception. For example, I use the internet. I did not create the internet, I do not control or own the internet, nor do I understand how the internet works. Yet, I am able to use the internet. My use of the internet depends on many other people and organizations that control it. I am dependent on them to use it. The same applies to my ability to perceive.
4. My power of seeing or perception is limited. Every human being is born with four fundamental defects: we make mistakes, we are subject to illusion, our senses are imperfect and we have a cheating propensity. Thus we are conditioned by our body and the forces of nature that influence our body. We are dependent and limited. We cannot see around corners or through walls or at a great distance. We can’t hear radio waves unless we have a radio. We can’t see television waves unless we have a television. Our senses are limited. Even with powerful instruments to help us extend our perception, our senses are still limited.
5. The seer is fundamentally different than the seen by virtue of the fact that the seer feels dissatisfaction due to the limitations of conditioned material existence. For example, a golfer is about to putt the golf ball into the hole. He carefully putts but the ball misses the hole. He feels dissatisfaction and frustration. The golf ball, however, feels nothing because it does not possess consciousness like the golfer. The consciousness of the golfer expressed by his dissatisfaction at missing the putt indicates that the golfer is different than the golf ball. The golf ball is made of a combination of matter but does not possess consciousness. The golfer is dissatisfied because he has consciousness.
Consciousness is more than a combination of matter. The golfer’s body like the golf ball is made of matter, but there is another dimension in the body of the golfer that is not a product of material combination. That is his consciousness. Feelings of love, attachment, dissatisfaction, etc. indicate that a person has a non-material dimension that perceives and feels experiences in the material body. These conscious feelings can radically alter one’s behavior and expressions.
The fact that consciousness is not a product of material combination is evident at the moment of death. Right before death, a person is still conscious. When the person dies, the body loses consciousness. After death, it becomes evident that consciousness is not merely a combination of matter because the same material body is still present but it is lacking consciousness. If the body and consciousness are both merely a combination of chemicals, then why can’t the doctors revive the body by injecting whatever chemicals are missing? The answer is that consciousness is not a product of material combination. In fact, why don’t scientists carefully measure a body before and right after death to determine what chemicals are missing so that they can inject them into the body of the deceased and revive him? Obviously, they have tried but they cannot succeed in manipulating chemicals to stop death or bring a dead body back to life. Therefore, the golf ball is simply a combination of matter, but the golfer is matter animated by consciousness which is the symptom of an individual non-material soul.
6. Something cannot be animate without an intelligent person behind it. Intelligence gives direction like a higher authority. A living being cannot see or move or eat or do anything without the use of intelligence. Everyone is dependent on their own intelligence or that of a superior being.
For example, a boy purchases a scale model train set. He assembles it at home. He connects the electrical control panel to an electrical outlet and begins to enjoy running the train. The train moves forward or backward and comes to a halt by the will of the boy. The boy did not create the train set. The boy purchased the set that was created and manufactured by other persons who had the superior intelligence to design and manufacture it. The boy simply assembled the train set according to instructions by the manufacturer and then enjoys running it by his will.
There are three things to note: there is matter that can be organized and manipulated, there is the intelligence of an individual living being (the boy in this example), and there is the superior intelligence of the person or persons that conceived and made the train set.
Similarly, there is a superior intelligence that has ordered this world that we live in. Due to the incredible engineering of this world, we are able to function in it and use the many facilities that seem to be automatic. Like the boy and the train set, or the user of the internet, we do not understand how the world works, but we are able to use it or order a small part of it according to our will. There is the law of gravity, the principles of aerodynamics, thermodynamics, the precise movement of planets, tides, etc., that are studied by scientists who then produce different conveyances based on the pre-existing laws and principles that govern the universe. The scientist abstracts the architectural designs and universal laws he sees in nature; then, by using his intelligence he collects the raw materials existing in nature and transforms them to make an airplane, car, or computer. In summary, he studies the amazing ingenuity of the superior intelligent being in the universe and attempts to imitate it on a much smaller scale. It is evident that there is a superior scientist with superior intelligence that has ordered the universe and is maintaining it in a wonderful way. The scientists of this world simply imitate what they observe.
Without intelligence nothing can move. For example, I purchase all the materials for building a house and then store them on an empty lot ready to build it. But, if I follow the Darwinian principles of natural selection, genetic mutation, trial and error and random combination and permutation and hope that my house will be built by chance, it will never happen. Do you think the house will be built on my plot of land like Darwin claims the species evolved or modern followers of him claim the world was created by chance? Unless there are superior intelligent persons to direct the construction of the house and the workers to do it, it will never be built. It certainly cannot be constructed by the building materials themselves or by chance occurrence of events! Matter can only move because of superior intelligence moving and guiding it in a precise way.
We can safely and logically conclude that something cannot be animate without an intelligent person behind it. Therefore, there is a supremely intelligent person behind the entire material creation that is guiding it and his subordinates at every step. Just as there are so many intelligent people in this world guiding and molding matter into many conveyances for their purposes.
Let say I walk into the Microsoft campus and declare that the computer software company began by accident and developed by itself and that no intelligent individual(s) was behind its creation, development and continuation. What do you think the response would be? It is obvious that a psychological evaluation team would be called to determine whether I was a mentally disturbed person making such outrageously false statements. It is obvious if you visit the Microsoft Campus that it was begun, developed and continuously maintained by a group of highly intelligent persons. There is no other explanation for its continued success until today. But Microsoft is insignificant in comparison with the complexity, grandeur, and incredible technology manifest in the universe.
A man is considered crazy to express the thoughts that Microsoft started by accident and is continuing without any intelligent persons ordering and guiding it. Similarly, anyone who claims the universe with its incredible complexity and perfect movements happened by accident and that there is no intelligent superior person behind it, should also be considered crazy.
The earth revolves on its axis about 1200 miles and hour. The earth also revolves around the sun at about 2000 miles per hour. The sun also revolves on a universal orbit at another incredible speed. All these movements are going on in a synchronized manner. The movements are so perfect that we don’t feel any shaking or discomfort. Due to the exactness of these colossal movements we are able to keep time in a precise way. These movements are ordered and maintained with a regularity that seems mysterious. Is this all going on randomly? Obviously not!
As there is intelligence behind the movement of a car, airplane, bicycle, etc. so there is a superior intelligence behind the movement of the sun, moon, earth and all things.
The above logical development of thought can be accepted by any honest thinker.
To understand more specifically about the Supreme intelligent person behind the creation and maintenance of the material world and its innumerable entities, one must take guidance from Vedic authority because it is transcendental knowledge beyond our range of experience with material senses. However, we can speak of the known to understand the unknown.
For example, we can analyze our clothing like a cotton shirt or dress that is printed with multiple colors and designs. One must first start with raw cotton which grows in nature. Humans did not create the cotton plant. We may cultivate and harvest it, but we did not create it. The raw cotton is made into thread and the thread is woven into cloth. The cloth is cut in a specific pattern and stitched. It is dyed either before the stitching or after and may also be printed with multi-colored designs. Not one step in this process is random. Now compare the complexity of the shirt to that of nature. Any sane person can understand that nature could not have been created by a random process. Thus we start by the known to understand the unknown.
A lonely person once met a holy man. He begged the saint to teach him wisdom by which he could overcome his loneliness and become content with his life. The saint advised him to love God with all his heart and soul. The lonely man said, “How can I love God when I have never seen Him. I don’t know anything tangible about Him.”
The saint asked the lonely man if he loved anyone. He answered, “I have no one in my life that I love. My only comfort is the companionship of a little lamb that I care for because its mother was killed by wolves. For some unknown reason, the wolves left the lamb unharmed.”
The saint said, “Love the little creature with all your heart and soul, and remember that God spared the lamb. The saint left.
The lonely man pondered the words of the saint. He tended the lamb with care and affection convinced that God spared the life of the lamb to fill the void in his life. After five years, the saint returned to find the lonely man again. He was curious to know if he was satisfied with his life. The man greeted the saint with a contented smile and warm greetings. He honored the saint with kind words and offered him food and drink. The saint noticed that the man seemed transformed. His eyes were no longer sad. He spoke with a joyful tone.
The man explained he was no longer lonely because he followed the saint’s instructions. He cared for the lamb as he would his own child and meditated on the miracle of how the lamb escaped the fate of his mother. He thought about the mysterious ways God arranges events in life. Eventually with his changed temperament he developed faith in the protective hand of God. He began to thank God everyday for filling the terrible void in his life. His continual recognition of the grace of the Almighty evolved into a genuine feeling of love for God. After all, it was God who provided him with the helpless lamb which opened his eyes to the Divine’s mysterious ways.
ahsduhdzoh ahckuh vohr kaghtzur leehnee, madaghee kahruhn eerahn vodkov goukah tourrut
geghdzuh soud guh khoseh vor juhstmahrdoutioun dzahdzgeh. Paiytz juhstmahrdoutioun vehrchahbehss geghdzoutioun guh haiydneh
A man who always lied was asked “Does truth exist?” He said, “Yes!”
A man who always told the truth was asked, “Does truth exist?” He said, “Yes!”
The liar was asked, “Do lies exist?” “You may qualify your statement for clarity sake.”
He replied, “Yes,” “Lies exist for the purpose of hiding the truth.”
The truthful man was asked, “Do lies exist?” “You may clarify your statement for clarity sake.”
He replied, “Yes,” “Lies will eventually reveal the truth.”
Both the liar and the honest man answered yes to both questions. The second question, however, revealed that the liar said yes to the first question to mask the truth rather than tell the truth. The motives of the two were revealed by their qualifying statements to the second question. Although they both answered yes to the second question, they had differing points of view about the outcome of a lie.
The liar sees the lie as a way to hide the truth. The honest man considers that a lie will eventually reveal the truth.
There is proverb in Armenian that says, “The clouds will never completely hide the sun.” The proverb reveals that the truth will eventually come out just as the sun will eventually shine through the clouds.
An sad example of the above is the Turkish government that adamantly refuses to recognize that their predecessors, the Young Turks committed a government organized genocide against the Armenians of Turkey from 1915 to 1918. The present government of Turkey should learn from Turkish proverbs the timeless wisdom that says, “A candle that truth kindles is not extinguished though the whole world tries to blow it out. (Bir sem (mum) ki hak yaka, dunya uflese sonmez)
Rather than attempt to rewrite history by denying the Turkish government sponsored the genocide
of Turkey’s Armenians, the present Turkish elected officials should admit the truth knowing well that “The sun cannot be plastered with clay.” (Gunes balcikla sivanmaz) What is so obvious cannot be hidden; truth will always prevail.
There are many governments of the world that have recognized the Turkish massacre of the Armenians. The government of Turkey reacts by threatening economic and political reprisal to those governments. But Turkish wisdom says “The eyes of a bat are hurt by light.” (rencide olunur dide-i huffas ziyadan)This proverb implies that the guilty and the ignorant dislike the truth.
At their best, proverbs contain pearls of universal truth. Turkish proverbs are no different. More wise men of Turkey must step forward and rely on their own ancient proverbial wisdom to admit the butchery of the Armenian people was instigated and organized by the Turkish government with the goal of eliminating the Armenian from Eastern Turkey. The truth is that up until 1915, there was a slow and relentless genocide of the Armenians in Anatolia. In 1915, the Turkish government decided to finish the job by carefully organizing a genocide to finally rid the interior lands of the Armenians. It is said in Turkish, “The hangman does not know the word “mercy.”" (zalim merhamet bilmez) The Turkish government showed no mercy to the Armenians in 1915.
It should be remembered, “Do not provoke the curse of the oppressed; it will take effect sooner or later.” (alma mazlumum ahini; cikar aheste, aheste)
One of the greatest Muslim philosophers, named El Ghazali, wrote “The Revival of Religious Sciences” (Arabic: Ø§ØÙŠØ§Ø¡ Ø¹Ù„ÙˆÙ… Ø§Ù„Ø¯ÙŠÙ†â€Ž Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din or Ihya’ul Ulumuddin). In this book he speaks about a Muslim companion of the Prophet Muhammed named Hudhayfah. He had three qualities which particularly impressed the Prophet Muhammad; his unique intelligence, quick wit, and his ability to keep a secret even under persistent questioning. The Prophet Muhammad was to utilize the special strengths of each companion. A primary problem the Muslims encountered were hypocrites who had superficially accepted Islam while simultaneously plotting against the Muslim community. Because of Hudhayfah’s ability to keep a secret, Muhammad told him the names of the hypocrites, a trust not bestowed upon others. Hudhayfah was commissioned to watch their movements and follow their activities. The hypocrites, because their secrecy and intimate knowledge of the developments and plans of the Muslims, presented a greater threat to the community than external enemies. From this time onwards, Hudhayfah was called The Keeper of the Secret of the Messenger of Allah, remaining faithful to his pledge of secrecy.
Hudhayfah said, “at the time of the Prophet Mohammed, there were things which made the man who repeated them a hypocrite as long as he lived. Now, however, I hear these same things repeated ten times a day, and no one seems to mind.” A certain learned man said, the person closest to hypocrisy is he who deems himself free thereof. Hudhayfah also said, hypocrites are more numerous today than they were at the time of the Prophet. At that time they used to conceal their hypocrisy; now they are not ashamed to reveal it. Such hypocrisy militates against the reality of belief as well as against its perfectness. It is something concealed and subtle: the farthest removed from it are those who are constantly afraid of it, while those who deem themselves free of it are they who are nearest to it.”
El-Ghazzali relates a story of a man who told Hudhayfah, “Verily I fear I am a hypocrite.” To which Hudhayfah replied, “Fear not. If you were a hypocrite you would not have feared hypocrisy. Verily hypocrisy does not fear hypocrisy.”
The attempt by the modern Turkish government to deny the massacre of the Armenians of Turkey was a genocide or planned and organized systematic extermination is the example of detestable hypocrisy. There are educated Turks who also find such hypocrisy disgusting. Yet, if they voice their opinion, they will be prosecuted for denigrating the Turkish people and government.
Turkish wisdom says, “The candle of the tricky person is soon burned out.” (hilekarin mumu cok surmez) Yet, the Turkish government has maintained its innocence of genocide for over 90 years. In fact, Turkey accuses the Armenians of treasonous activity that justified Turkey’s “population transfer” of Armenians that results in the murder and forced death of 1.5 million Armenians. It is said in Turkish, “The crooked person who is not caught is more upright than the bey (nobleman).
(tutulmayan ugru (hirsiz) beydan dogru)
Material prosperity, military strength, fear-mongering and other forms of intimidation, false scholarship that attempts to alter the truth of historical record will not make a wrong right or exonerate the responsibility of genocide. The modern Turkish government must recognize and accept its responsibility for the past crimes against the Armenian people who were brutally massacred. The few survivors were forced to leave their ancient homeland of Western Armenia.
The Turkish government should learn the wisdom from the ancient wisdom, “The ship of a liar does not sail or literally, if you descend a well with the rope of a liar, you will remain in the well.” (yalancinin ipi ile kuyuya inen, kuyu dibinde kalir)
Object Oriented Process for Software (Development) – OOPS
It is said in the Bible that man is made in the image of God. This statement implies that by carefully studying ourselves we can understand many things about God. We can use such a process to begin to understand the mystery and complexity of the universe. A question that has always fascinated man is “How did this universe come about? There are many speculative theories about the origin of the universe. One that is invoked today is called the Big Bang Theory. Rather than imagine something that we can never prove definitively, it is better to begin with our own experience and rational sense to understand the mystery of creation. One glaring anomaly of modern scientific theories that attempt to explain the origin of the universe is that they claim there is no intelligent person guiding it.
Man is developing new inventions every day. One example of this is the creation or development of a computer program. A popular methodology used by major software corporations for computer program creation is Object Oriented Programming also known as OOPS. A careful analysis of this methodology will reveal that creation is not something that takes place by accident or without superior intelligent guidance. No one who knows about OOPS would dare say that the creation of a computer program happens randomly without the guidance of an intelligent person. With this said, we can analyze all the complicated steps required to create a computer program.
The purpose of OOPS is to employ a rational methodology that can avoid or quickly correct mistakes of logic or design in the process of program development. OOPS requires that each stage of development must be rigorously verified to be free of mistakes of logic or design before going to the next stage.
The creation of a computer program begins by defining a problem. When there is a problem, there is a desire to find a solution. A project manager will consult experts in different disciplines that are related to the problem. The expert consultants will brainstorm possible solutions and present their conclusions to a core group of programming experts under the guidance of a project manager. The project manager is responsible to create a functional specification for the features of the product.
Each of the proposed solution is evaluated and one is chosen around which all the team of experts rally to make it operational.
The creation of a computer program begins by defining a problem. When there is a problem, there is a desire to find a solution. A program manager will consult experts in different disciplines that are related to the problem. The expert consultants will brainstorm possible solutions and present their conclusions to a core group of programming experts under the guidance of a project manager. The project manager is responsible to create a functional specification for the features of the product and each proposed solution is evaluated based on the following factors:
-the feasibility of solving problems based on computer science
-resource constraints such as manpower, money, time
-review of competitors
-study existing market competition, determine how to differentiate the new product,if necessary hire an outside company to do market research to determine what specifications of a new product will appeal to public demand
-make sure the new product aligns with the overall strategy of the company.
The solution that best corresponds to the above factors is chosen to produce a new product. Then, the expert consultants concentrate their efforts to make it operational.
1- The first step after the determination is to define the functional specification for all features of the solution. The team comes up with a “high level” design of the solution. The program manager or team leader creates a plan how each particular feature of the solution will work.
In other words, the OOPS process begins with intelligent people who define a problem and use their rational powers to find a solution. Right from the beginning of the creation or development, there is guided intelligence without any trace of accident, hazard or random combinations. Each step is guided by intelligent decision making of a team of experts.
In a typical software program there may be from 3000 or more functions or features. Let us examine just one feature of the Internet Explorer (MS). In this program there is the Tool option. When you mouse over it there is a drop down window that shows a menu option called the pop up blocker. If you mouse over or click on it, you will see two options from which to choose. The first option is the turn on or off the pop up blocker. If you turn it on, you can proceed with the second option. This feature permits you to choose a particular website whose pop up you can accept whereas all others are blocked. There are many features like the pop up one in the Internet Explorer (MS).
Once the functional specifications are created, there will be a review meeting where all the stake holders of the product will examine the function’s specifications. The meeting will be attended by the product manager, software architects, the development manager, the development lead, the test manager and senior developers.
The program manager’s responsibility is to convince all the stake holders that this feature or functionality should be implemented as part of the final product. This is an example of a very minor feature of a program.
2- In the next step, the development manager or lead will work with a product architect to create an architecture and design document. These are technical documents. The architect already has an overall product design which is the “big picture.” He knows the product’s “eco-system,” or how everything works together. He understands how the feature will impact the entire system. The architect updates the architect’s document or creates one. Once this is completed, the software development or lead will create the design of that particular feature.
Now the architecture document (or specification) and the design document are both ready for review.
3- A meeting of the stake holders will be called to make a review of the design and architecture. It will go on until everyone is convinced. If necessary #1 and #2 can be repeated again for other features that integrate with the one in question. After everything is done and everyone is satisfied intellectually that the feature or features are ready for the next step, the implementation phase begins.
4- In the implementation phase or stage, the developers take the design document and start coding using computer language. Once the coding is completed , there is a code review of the implementation which is a very rigorous and tedious process. Even though this system of checks and balances is so thorough, any software consultant will admit that there has never been a new system that has been launched without “bugs.” In fact, there has never been a “bug free” software. Every man-made program is only near perfect. Software companies continually upgrade their programs to eliminate defects. But, the upgrades often create new defects and unforeseen issues.
After the code review is completed, the test phase begins. The test or quality control engineers will perform many different types of testing such as functional, integration, performance, stability and reliability. These are called high level categories. If the tests certify that the feature is ready for launch, then it goes to the next phase. What we have detailed is the process that is followed for only one feature. There can be a minimum of 3000 features in a typical program.
5- Once all the features are completed, they are “bundled” into the “build” which means the features are grouped together to form a product. DVDs are created of the “build” and given to manufacturers who will label or brand the product with a catchy name and “obfuscate” or confuse the arrangement of the internal structure of the binary files so that the other software pirates cannot do reverse engineering of the programs. When this step is completed, the advertisement, business deals, marketing and launch date are organized to go public with the product.
After every launch of a new product, there is a post-mortem evaluation of what went well and what did not. This evaluation examines the resource, service and process gaps.
In conclusion, OOPS is a structured approach to solving a problem by creating a software program. It has many checks and balances in place to insure that the program functions exactly the way the end user would like it to perform. At every step of the process, intelligent persons are required to advance it. Nothing is left to hazard or random combinations and permutations. In other words, the whole process from start to finish is intelligence driven by highly educated persons whose conscious intervention keeps the process moving coherently and according to a design plan.
Creation of a system that orders matter with function and design requires intelligence and guidance at every step. It is not a random process that happens haphazardly without the intervention and guidance of intelligent persons. Anyone who has engaged in a creation and development project knows irrefutably that chance, random permutations and
combinations would never result in a finished product that satisfies the end user and functions in a predictable way.
However, when educated persons speak about the creation of the universe, they develop a selective amnesia and make claims that the universe developed without the intervention of s supreme intelligent being. Their own experience in life contradicts such a conclusion.
Man is made in the image of God. He is a secondary creator. God creates the primary elements and man can rearrange them to create functional objects. Both types of creation, primary and secondary, require an intelligent being to produce a functionally designed object that works predictably.
ahstvahdz ahmehn shnorhk mee mahtoun chee dahr
ahstvahdz mehg tuhruh guh pahgeh, hahzahr tuhruh guh patzeh
Ahsdoudzoh ahckuh vohr kahghtzur ullah, ahrkelknehruh guh patzveen jahmpout vuhrah
Ahnohkouhteen hohkuh ahstuhvadz guh hohkah
One day the mosquitoes spoke with God,
“Lord, you have given us a stinger nose to suck blood. You have created man with fresh blood. You gave us little bodies with wings so we can fly away when we are in danger. We can quickly fly from one man to another to bite and suck blood as much as we want. We have been truly blessed by you. But we have a terrible enemy. Why did you ever create the cruel wind. For no reason, the wind blows us away when we are drinking the tasty blood. We are pushed away helplessly. We are no match for the wind. Please eliminate the wind so that we can live peacefully.”
God said, “All my creation is dear to Me. I cannot eliminate the wind without giving him a chance to defend himself. I’ll call him to come and explain his actions. Perhaps, we can find a solution to suit everyone.”
As the wind approached God, all the mosquitoes were blown away. God could not make a decision because now the mosquitoes were not present. God told the wind that the mosquitoes complained about him. However, He could not proceed with the case until they came back. The mosquitoes could not come back as long as the wind was with God.
An elder mosquito organized a meeting with other bugs and flies to find a way to destroy the wind. When they all assembled, the mosquitoes spoke first.
“Dear brothers, thank you for assembling together today to discuss our common interest. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. It is in our interest to help each other to overcome our weaknesses so that we can thrive in the face of life’s challenges. We mosquitoes have an enemy, the wind. We need your help to get rid of the wind. We can’t peacefully suck the blood of man without the wind blowing us away. Please make your suggestions how we can eliminate this wind.”
The bugs spoke. “This life is full of illusions due to our imperfect senses. The distant sound of a drum seems pleasant only because it is far away. The grass is always greener on the far hill. A businessman thinks that the life of a teacher is better than his because the teacher has several months vacation. And our brother mosquitoes think that we bed bugs are better off. Actually we are much more miserable. Listen to our tale. We don’t have a stinger like you. We have many sneaky tricks so that we suck man’s blood without causing any pain. Man sleeps soundly as we quietly suck his blood. We hide in holes and cracks, in the mattress, under the sheets, wherever we are unseen.. If we are seen or caught, we remain motionless and pretend to be dead. But cruel man crushes us. There is no way for us to escape. You mosquitoes are fortunate to have wings to fly away to safety. If we talk to God, we will ask him either to give us bugs wings or make man without eyes. Then we will be happy and have no more complaints.”
The flies spoke up next. “Brothers, in our opinion you are much more fortunate than we are. The mosquitoes hardly make any noise when they land on man’s skin to suck blood and the bed bugs move about unseen and unheard. But, God has made us flies with strong wings and sturdy bodies that make noise. When we land on man’s body to get a taste, he drives us away with a good slap. If we are fast enough to get away, we may go for many days without even a drop of blood. Let us pray to God to create man without hands.”
Imagine how difficult it is to be God. So many prayers and requests are directed to God that benefit one and disadvantage another. God must make hard decisions based on the ultimate welfare of each entity. There are lessons to be learned and blessings for which we can thank God. The lessons are just as valuable as the blessings. In fact, the lessons are blessings in disguise. We can be thankful for both the lessons and the blessings. Then we will be on the fast track to return to the eternal kingdom of God.
Our life on this earth has some conveniences and inconveniences. Good and bad are always present as day and night, happiness and distress, riches and poverty. When one is
not content with his destiny, he becomes restless and considers himself unfortunate like the mosquitoes, bugs and flies. As hard as we try, we cannot escape our allotted happiness and distress in life. We have earned both by our actions in previous lives. The most materially successful person and the most destitute both suffer and enjoy based on their actions from previous lives and in this life. We determine our own destiny by the choices we make and the actions we choose to perform. Whatever I decide to do today, I will receive the reaction some time in the future either in this life or a future life. Similarly, whatever I am experiencing today in terms of happiness and distress, I can understand as the reactions to acts I performed in the past either in this life or previous lives. The Vedas affirm the individual soul has full eternity before birth in a material body and after death. There was never a time that the soul did not exist, nor will it ever cease to exist. Therefore, the soul can be either eternally liberated or eternally in the material world of birth and death. This is the reason why it can transmigrate from one body to another in this material world and be subject to the laws of karma until it awakens and does the necessary to escape from this vicious cycle.
I may complain about my fate, but I must understand that I am the cause of my happiness and distress. No one else can be blamed. But how do I know this is true? It is confirmed by the Bible and the ancient Vedic scriptures and, in particular the Bhagavad-gita.
The Bible says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7 KJV); “and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” (Revelation 2:23c KJV)
BG 13.20: “Material nature and the living entities should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature.”
The Bhagavad-gita (Bg) gives very detailed information about causes of the suffering and enjoyment of the living entities. In verse Bg 13.20, it says that both living entities meaning everything that lives including plants, insects, birds, reptiles, mammals and human beings have an eternal and individual soul that is temporarily covered by a material body. All the souls are equal in their potential to achieve love of God and return to the eternal spiritual world. However, the temporary material body limits their potential. It is only in the human form that the soul can liberate itself from material entanglement. All living entities gradually move up to the human form by the process of evolution of consciousness. There is no evolution of bodies like Darwin theorized. All the different species of material bodies are created with the creation of the universe. The evolutionary process occurs when the living entity transmigrates from one species to another according to the type of consciousness for enjoying the material sense pleasures. Among the species lower than human beings the evolutionary process is systematic elevation or progression to the human form. It is only in the human form that limited free will is exercised and one can go up or down according to the type of consciousness developed and the merits or demerits one accumulates by his actions during the lifetime.
The material nature and the living entity are both eternal. They existed before the creation. The material nature goes through two stages, manifestation and non -manifestation. It continues to exist even when it is not manifest but it goes into a dormant stage wherein the time factor and the modes of material nature do not interact. At the same time, the living entity continues to exist. As long as the living entity maintains material attachments at the moment of death, it must remain in the material creation in a dormant stage waiting for the next manifestation to continue its entanglement. Every manifestation is a chance for the living entity in the human form to free itself from material entanglement and return to the eternal spiritual world. The destiny of the living entity is to understand that it does not belong in the material world where there is illusory happiness and much suffering.
The living entity is originally the spiritual part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, but due to his rebellious nature, he is conditioned within material nature. One can fall even from the spiritual world due to the living entity’s limited free will. It is possible that the living entity becomes attracted by the allure of the material world. The allegorical story of the Adam and Eve gives an indication how such a thing is possible. Eve was convinced by the Devil that God was hiding a greater pleasure than she had ever known before. He convinced her to disobey God’s instruction and eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and evil. Once she did so, she became ashamed and then convinced Adam to do the same. God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to suffer in the material world. Later, Jesus came to redeem mankind by teaching them to resist the temptations of the Devil and submit to the will of God by following His instructions. Thus, they can again return to the heavenly paradise of eternal life without suffering.
All the transformations that we see in the material world such as the changing of our body from youth to old age, or the changing of seasons, etc. are produced by the material nature and its three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance under the influence of the time factor. Everything in the material world is a mixture or blend of these three modes. A man may be good with his children. Then, he may become passionate with his wife. Later, he may become addicted to ignorant activities like drinking and drugs. At every moment these modes are influencing us to act in one way or another which binds us to material life. It is only under the influence of the mode of goodness that one can understand what is happening and attempt to free oneself from the cyclical chain of birth and death. Our soul is eternal but it is chained by the illusory allure of the material world very similar to a thirsty man seeing water in the desert and walking into the desert seeking water. There is no real water in the desert but he sees a mirage and walks into the hot sands to his death.
Once we come to the material world, we receive a material body which is controlled by the forces of nature. We think we are the controller, but the truth is that we are forced to do everything by the laws of nature acting on our material body. For example, we get hungry. Did we choose to get hungry? No. Then we are forced to eat and drink water not because we want to eat and drink but because we are forced. We are forced to sleep, to work, to get old, get sick and die. All the time we believe falsely that we are the doer. The truth is that the body we have and the destiny attributed to the particular body by our previous karma forces us to enjoy and suffer. Enjoyments and suffering come by the force of destiny.
Our free will is limited to either accepting the instructions of God and living by them and eventually attain liberation or rejecting them and becoming entrapped by the laws of material nature of action and reaction until we come to our senses. Adam and Eve similarly remained in the Garden of Eden as long as they voluntarily chose to follow God’s instructions. When they disobeyed, they were forced to leave and come under the laws of nature which are controlled by God. Jesus, the son of God, according to the Christian belief, gives a chance for humankind to free themselves from this entrapment by again following the instructions of God and believing in the redeeming power of Jesus. I use the example of Adam and Eve and Jesus Christ because most people in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic tradition know the Biblical history.
The Bhagavad-gita continues,
BG 13.21: Nature is said to be the cause of all material causes and effects, whereas the living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world.
Birth in a particular body, disease, old age, and death during our life are all caused by material nature which is acting under the control of God. However, the happiness and distress we experience is caused by our desires and acts. God is not responsible for the happiness and distress we encounter. We have the free will to accept or reject God’s instructions. If we accept, we are protected by God. If we reject, we are put under the control of the laws of action and reaction in nature until we realize our folly and rectify our behavior.
In the material world, everyone is struggling hard to acquire different kinds of pleasure for the body. One receives a body and senses which are instruments for gratifying desire. The living entity is blessed or damned according to past desire and activity (karma). Once one is placed in a particular body he receives suffering and enjoyment due to his past deeds and desires. If one is put into the body of a dog, he must act like a dog. That is the law of nature. For example, if I buy a plane ticket to go somewhere and board the plane. My destiny is tied up with that of the plane. If it goes down, I go down with it.
God always accompanies the soul of the living entity as the friend and overseer. If we decide to surrender to God, He takes care to help us break our unwholesome attachment to temporary material pleasures and suffering and free ourselves from the cycle of birth and death.
The Bhagavad-gita continues,
BG 13.22: 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 among various species.
During our lifetime, we experience an amazing mysterious transformation. We change our body dramatically from a tiny embryo in the womb of our mother to a baby, then childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age and death. We change our body but remain the same person witnessing all the changes. This is a mystery. Where is the body we had when we were in the womb of our mother. Where is our body during our childhood. In truth, we have had many different bodies in this lifetime while remaining the same person. This is a mystery that we do not reflect upon seriously. What does it mean? It means that the witness is different than the body. The witness is remaining the same while the body is changing. This is one fundamental indication that the witness is an eternal soul represented by consciousness and the body is like a material covering that is constantly changing. The last change is death during which the soul discards a used and wasted body.
The Vedas explain death in the following way. There is no death for the soul just as there is no birth for the soul. It is a part and parcel of God and is fully eternal. (This is affirmed in the BG 2.20) What appears as death pertains only to the body. However, there are two material bodies that cover the soul’s eternal spiritual body. The gross material body is made up of the five primary gross material elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether or space. The subtle material body which is the second covering of the soul is made up of mind, intelligence and false ego.
At the time of death, only the gross material body dies. The subtle material body, which is the repository of the soul’s material desires and memories of past deeds, is much more durable than the gross material body. It will last as long as the soul remains attached to dominating and enjoying the material nature. The goal of Vedic education is to purify the mind, intelligence and the false ego from the misconceptions that keep the soul bound up to the unnecessary cycle of birth and death.
The subtle body carries the soul at the point of death to its next material body which is determined by higher authorities according to the actions one has performed during life and the reactions one deserves as well as the unfinished desires one has at the moment of death. One receives a suitable body to continue the quest for illusory sense enjoyment and its concomitant sufferings. Therefore, the change of gross material body is due to attachment to material existence. As long as one remains captivated by the illusory allurements of material happiness, one continues to transmigrate from one temporary body to another. Because the soul is eternal, this transmigration can continue eternally if the individual does not wake up and understand the reality of his situation.
The false ego that drives the individual in his folly of illusion is the desire to dominate or lord it over material nature and enjoy it.The more he enjoys the more he becomes attached to temporary material pleasures. Thus, he is placed in various circumstances that invariably end up as misery under the influence of material desire. The eternal soul is sometimes a heavenly being, sometimes an earthly member of mankind, sometimes a beast, a bird, a worm, an aquatic, a saintly man or a bug. In every incarnation or birth in a gross material body the soul thinks himself to be the master of his circumstances, yet, the truth is, he is being controlled by the forces or laws of nature. These laws are created by God just as a government has penal laws and builds a jail for the small percentage of criminal types in society. The laws of karma are the penal laws and the material body full of material desires is the jail.
The entrapment of the soul is explained in this verse BG 13.22. It is due to association with the modes of nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. For example, a child is born seemingly innocent. He or she does not manifest peculiar behavior immediately that can be classified as anti-social, psychopathic, murderous, drug addiction, thievery, sexual addiction, bi-polar, suicidal, etc. However, as the child grows older, he or she associates with the different modes of nature in the environment of the home, school, church,etc. This association can be real or virtual. For example, the child may become addicted to video games. Each game creates an environment of goodness, passion or ignorance, Usually, it is passion and ignorance. The child lives in that virtual environment and becomes seriously affected by it.
The purpose of Vedic education is to rise above the influence of the modes of nature and become transcendental to them or unaffected by them. Just as Jesus was able to resist the temptations of the Devil, so every person must learn to resist the temptations of the false material pleasures and dedicate oneself to the higher purpose of life.
There is no real pleasure in this world unless one is freed from the vicious cycle of birth and death. We can all admit that our hope is that modern science can stop inevitable death. That is the ultimate goal of science. Along the way to achieving this goal, science offers us increased facilities for temporary pleasures. This appears as a sort of incentive to keep our hopes up that science will one day stop old age and death which is our real enemy as seekers of sense enjoyment.
Vedic education teaches us to transfer our mental preoccupation from enjoying temporary pleasures and temporary objects of pleasure to the eternal reality of spiritual life and truth. This is called God consciousness or Krishna consciousness. Christians call it Christ consciousness. Becoming fully conscious of Jesus Christ, the son of God, and His ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of mankind is the meditative means for a Christian to rise above the influence of the modes of nature. Similarly, in the Vedic path, one meditates on Lord Krishna, the father of Christ, and the eternal instructions given by Himself and His representatives for elevating oneself from the cycle of birth and death. There are two operative elements, one’s personal endeavor and the causeless mercy of Lord Krishna and His representatives. The mercy of God prevails but one must still endeavor to follow because we have limited free will that we exercise at every moment to either follow or not. This is called Krishna consciousness.
Unless one is Krishna conscious, his material consciousness will oblige him to transfer from one temporary material body to another because of material desires. But such desires can be changed to transcendental desires to please Lord Krishna. That crucial change can only be effected by continually hearing this transcendental knowledge explained by genuine and authoritative persons who can repeat the words of Lord Krishna without adulteration. The paradigmatic example is Arjuna who hears the science of God from Krishna. Arjuna accepts Krishna as his teacher and submits himself to humbly hear the Vedic knowledge. Lord Krishna is the original teacher or guru of the Vedic knowledge. Anyone who claims to be a teacher of Vedic knowledge must precisely repeat the original words of the Lord without any change for the knowledge to be effective.
The result of hearing from Lord Krishna or His bona fide representative is one loses the immemorial desire to dominate material nature, and gradually and proportionately, as he reduces his desire to dominate, he comes to enjoy spiritual happiness. This is the real destiny of man. Not that he should rot forever in the cycle of birth and death chasing illusory happiness and suffering untold distress. His destiny is to be with God and his saintly servants and enjoy unending happiness in the spiritual world where there is no birth, old age disease and death.
All good qualities awaken in one who serves God faithfully.
keedoutiahn pohlohr pahree hahdgoutiounnehruh zahrkahnoum yehn nuhrah mohd, ohv hahsehl eh hahvahdahreem dzahraiyoutiahn ahsteejahnuh
There was and there wasn’t a poor Armenian family. The father’s name was Hampar (short for Hampartzoum which means the resurrection of Christ in Armenian). The mother’s name was Vehanouh which means the sweetest person you can meet. Their only son was named Krikor. He was named after the most famous saint of Armenia, Krikor Lousahvoritch (Krikor or Saint Gregory the Illuminator). They were loyal members of their church and attended the mass every Sunday. They prayed that Lord Jesus bless their child and also give them health to work hard and earn an honest living.
The father and mother toiled long hours on hand looms making kilims or oriental rugs. When Krikor was five years old, they also taught him how to work a small child’s loom. It would take three to six months to finish a rug and then Hampar had to struggle to sell it. After tens years, the family was able to save an adequate amount of money to build a small house on a plot of land in their ancestral village.
Hampar slowly built the house with the help of relatives. He used what little spare time he had to work on it. It took three years to finish it. The day the family moved into their new house, Vehanoush had an eerie premonition. That night she dreamed that the house would burn down. The dream reoccurred for three days. She discussed her dream with Hampar. He was horrified. They had struggled so hard and long to have their own house. What to do? His wife was very worried and her anxiety affected Hampar. He went to a village fortune teller. An old woman who was expert at reading the coffee grinds left over in a cup after drinking Turkish coffee. She concurred that the house would soon burn down.
Hampar decided to sell the house. It took one month to find a buyer and agree on a fair price. He was able to get back the money he spent to build it. The family moved out of the house and back into the small rented cottage they lived in before. Soon after a group of marauding thieves robbed the new inhabitants of the house and set it on fire. It burned to the ground. It was a shock to everyone except Hampar and Vehanoush.
Although they felt relieved at selling the house and retrieving their hard earned money, they both became anxious. They locked the door and closed all the windows of their cottage. They were frightened that the thieves might come to rob and maybe kill them because they had all the cash from the sale of their house hidden in the cottage. What if the family that purchased their house told the thieves that Hampar and Vehanoush had the cash from the recent sale? They couldn’t sleep all night. The next day, they both went to a wealthy local merchant who was known as an honest man. His name was Hrant Agha. They explained their fear of being robbed. Hrant Agha reassured them of his trustworthiness. They entrusted their savings with him and he issued them a receipt. They returned home feeling safe and relieved of their anxiety.
Several days later, during the darkness of night, the same group of thieves attacked the compound of Hrant Agha and forced him to open his safe and robbed him of all his money. Hearing this devastating news the next day, Hampar and Vehanoush ran to Hrant Agha’s house to find out about their money. The Agha had been beaten and was in no condition to see them. They worried about their money day and night. After a few days they were able to meet with Hrant Agha. He spoke slowly and gravely. He told them that they were very fortunate because he did not put their money in his safe. He had another safe in a secret place. He offered to return the money. Hampar and Vehanoush nearly fainted when they heard the good news.
Hrant Agha gave them their money back. The two thanked him and left to return to their cottage. Again they felt anxiety and fear carrying the money. What to do? Perhaps they were next on the robbers’ list of victims. The next day, Hampar went to see the Armenian priest Haiyr Gomidas. When Hampar explained how much he was experiencing fear and anxiety about having his cash savings hidden in his cottage, the priest comforted him with the following words.
“Hampar jahn, listen to me. We Armenians have always worked hard and stayed true to our Lord Jesus, our apostolic church, our forefathers, our mother tongue and its beautiful alphabet, our ancestral land and our honor. We have suffered many hardships as a conquered nation at the hands of the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Kurds and others who have all done horrible things to our people. Yet, we have somehow persevered and maintained our identity and self respect. Just as bad people are known by their cruelty, good people are known by their honorable and kind acts. We are born of the earth and we shall return to the earth, but our honor and good deeds will remain long after we are gone. Hampar jahn, you have always been an honest hard-working man. You have never been rich but yet, you have managed to live honorably and God has provided your minimum needs. Try to understand that your personal honor earned from years of honest work and good behavior is your real wealth.”
“There was once a bird of prey that swooped down and caught a fish with its claws and started to fly back to its nest. A flock of wild crows pursued the bird which tried to escape their harassment. But everywhere the bird flew it was followed by the flock of crows that cawed and screeched. The bird became exhausted and let go of the fish. The crows forgot the bird of prey and flew toward the fish. The bird lost the fish, but felt relieved that it was no longer followed by the disturbing crows. It realized that the crows were interested in the fish above all.”
“Hampar jahn, there is safety in humble living as long as you are able to secure the minimum needs for your family. We all have a certain destiny that we must understand realistically. Tigran the Great had the destiny to conquer and manage the great Armenian empire from the Caspian to the Black sea to Jerusalem. We also have our destiny which is given by our Lord Jesus and His Father. Regardless of the greatness or smallness of that destiny in material terms, we can still leave a lasting legacy by developing our character of self discipline, love, charity, kindness, and compassion. Think of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was mocked, dishonored, crucified. He died on the cross seemingly a poor and destitute prisoner of the great Roman empire. He was labeled by the priests of his own people as a fraud and an object of mockery. Yet, due to his faithfulness to determination to follow the Will of His Father, He resurrected from the dead and rose to heaven to the right side of His Father for eternal glory. He died to wash our sins. He is our Savior by His humility and faithfulness to His Father.”
“Hampar jahn, this is the real destiny of our people. We must follow the example of Jesus. We must not be afraid of living a humble life with just our minimum needs. God Almighty is the friend of the poor and the savior of the meek. Whatever we have over and above our minimum needs we should use in the service of the Lord. You are a father and your son lives with you fed everyday by your good wife and cared for and loved. Hampar Jahn, we have too many young children you don’t have a father or mother or whose parents are too poor to provide for them. Our village church needs to build a small orphanage for these poor children so that we can educate them, care for them and love them.”
Hampar and Vehanoush donated their savings to the church. A small but needed orphanage building was constructed and their names were posted on the building as recognition for their donation. By giving the donation, they no longer felt any fear or anxiety. They received respect and friendly esteem for their kindness. Hampar and Vehanoush also continued to make small but regular donations whenever they could for the maintenance of the orphanage. Sometimes one or two orphans would visit them and sometimes stay overnight in their small cottage. Haiyr Gomidas had taught them to say certain prayers before sleeping at night. They prayed to Lord Jesus,
“Dear Lord, thank you for your kindness and protection. We are orphans living in your house and feel safe and happy. May we always remain your humble servants. Also Lord, please protect and comfort Hampar haiyrik and Vehanoush Maiyrik and Krikor aghparig. Bless them in their goodness and humility.”
Hampar and Vehanoush had tears in their eyes hearing these innocent and sincere prayers. They thanked Lord Jesus that Haiyr Gomidas helped them to understand their real destiny. They understood how undue attachment to material things brings anxiety, fear and grief. They thanked the Lord that they were able to have the faith to do the Lord’s work without hesitation or resentment. They felt fulfilled and safe in their humble life of prayer, hard work and faithfulness to God and each other.
The man who always said, “Glory to God and His Wisdom,
Pahrk kehz Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun.”
There was and there wasn’t a humble man whose faith in God was staunch. He was never bewildered or shaken in his faith regardless of what happened to him or his family. He had a wife and two children. They lived in a small cottage. He earned his living by transporting goods on his donkey. He took good care of the donkey treating it like a member of the family.
Whatever he did, he first would give praise to God:
“Pahrk kez Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun.”
After completing his work he would repeat the same. When someone said hello to him, he would give praise to God. In fact, he would repeat his praise of God every opportunity he had. It was second nature for him to praise God.
He was a happy man who was satisfied with what God gave him. He never forgot to thank God for his meager existence with his family. His wife and children were poor but happy. They always had their minimum needs and enjoyed their family life.
The friends and co-workers of the humble man decided to test his sincerity. One day they stole his donkey and took it deep into the forest. They tied the animal near a basin of water and left him. When they returned, it was time to work. They all assembled with their donkeys. The humble man came on foot. They asked:
“Where is your donkey, brother? The humble man said:
“Pahrk kehz Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun – Glory to God and His Wisdom, I think someone has stolen my donkey.”
His friends said:”Ask your God to find the donkey!” They went on their way toward a neighboring village where there was work. The humble man prayed that day and stayed with his family.
That evening there were loud cries and noises coming from the village. The humble man went toward the commotion. He saw his friends who had returned from the day’s work. But, they were very distraught. He asked one of them, “What happened?”
“On the way to the next village, we were stopped by a large group of bandits. They made us dismount our donkeys. They whipped us and took whatever possession we had along with all our donkeys.”
“Parhk kehz Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun, Glory to God and His wisdom.”
“tzahvut dahnem, May I take your suffering on me,” said the humble man.
“Ahstvahdzuh vohghohrmeh tzehz muhgheetahroutian yehv bahstbahnoutian meechohtznehrov uhntmeest, May God bless you by consoling you and protecting you always,” he added.
The victims looked at the humble man and said: “You have nothing to worry about because Your God has blessed and protected you. We stole your donkey and hid it in the forest as a joke. We’ll show you where it is. The joke is on us.”
There was and there wasn’t a king who was very generous. He had a minister who was a sage whose understanding of spiritual truth was profound. The king’s adviser would often repeat the following words of wisdom, “everything that happens is the mercy of God.” The king became annoyed by the minister repeating this statement. He challenged the minister, “It is absurd to say that everything that happens is the mercy of God. How can that be when there are so many tragedies in life. Are the miseries of life the mercy of God?” The king was not pleased by the minister’s conviction.
In that kingdom, there was a custom that the farmers followed. Before selling any harvest, the farmers would bring the first fruits of the trees to the king for his pleasure. It was the beginning of the mango season. A farmer brought his finest mangoes and offered them to the king. The king asked for a knife to cut the mangoes to share them with his minister and family members. When the king cut the fruit, he accidentally cut his little finger very badly. Blood gushed out of his finger. The minister quickly stopped the bleeding by applying pressure with a cloth. The finger was washed and tightly bound with a clean cloth. The minister inadvertently said to the king, “You are very fortunate.
Something good will come from cutting your finger. It is surely the mercy of God”
The king became very upset by the minister’s words. He said, “I am really disturbed with your senseless repetition. In what way am I benefited by cutting my finger and losing blood? There is pain and discomfort and it will take some time for my finger to heal. What good or divine mercy is there? I think you are very stupid to continually repeat this thought for everything that happens. It is not appropriate. Stop it!”
The following day, the king ordered the minister to make preparations for a hunt. They left in the morning. They went into a dense forest to hunt wild deer. At one point they tied their horses and went on foot. It was a hot day. They finished their ration of water and later became very thirsty. They came upon an abandoned well. The minister tried to go down the well head first with the king holding his feet. They hoped the well was not very deep and perhaps they could find good water. But the king’s injured finger made his grip lose strength and he loosened his hold. The minister fell head first into the well. Fortunately, the well was not more than 12 feet deep and the water at the bottom was four feet deep. The minister was injured but not mortally. He was able to stand up in the water shaken but alive.
The king apologized. He told the minister he would return quickly with something to help him out of the well. The king began to look for a branch of a tree or anything to help pull the minister out of the well. But destiny had another plan for the king. While searching in the deep forest, he was captured by a tribe of cannibals. They took the king to their head priest who was eager to find a good human specimen to offer as sacrifice for their gods. The priest ordered his men to keep the king tied up overnight so that they could prepare him for sacrifice the next morning.
That night the king prayed that God may help him in this hopeless situation. He thought of the minister trapped in the well. Ironically, he became convinced more than ever that everything that happens is not always good and certainly not the mercy of God.
Early the next morning, the priest ordered the king stripped for examination of his body to make sure that he was a suitable offering for their gods. The priest noticed the injured finger of the king. He unwrapped the finger and saw the deep cut and some blood. This sight was very disappointing for the priest. The king was unacceptable as an offering because his body was not perfectly clean of imperfections. The cut finger and the blood made the king’s body unfit for sacrifice. The priest ordered the king released and warned him to immediately leave their forest and never to return.
The king was stunned and perplexed by his odd change of fate. He rushed back to find the well. When he finally reached the well, he called for the minister. His minister answered in a feeble voice that he was still alive. The king found a broken branch and used it to pulled the minister out of the well. They both rushed out of the forest to find their horses.
When they were safely back in the castle, they discussed their strange experience. The king was visibly shaken and very thankful. He said to the minister, “I understand your statement that everything that happens is for some good purpose. If I had not cut my finger, I would not have been saved from being offered as an human sacrifice.” The king added, “But I am sure that your falling in the well was not the mercy of God.”
The minister smiled and said, “If I did not fall into the well, I would have been sacrificed by the cannibals because I have no cut or imperfection on my body.” The king was dumbfounded by his answer. It was true. The minister continued, “There is more to this ordeal than meets the eye. I fell into the well and stayed all night in that dark and damp hole. But in every tragedy there is some blessing. I felt strange objects in one corner of the well. I could not make out what they were in the darkness. When daylight came, I saw that they were very precious objects made of gold. I cannot estimate now how many objects were there, but I think we should go back there with your soldiers and see for ourselves. The king was intrigued.
The next day they returned with a large contingent of soldiers. They discovered many objects made of pure gold. In fact, they began to dig deeper into the well and found hundreds of more golden objects. It was a veritable fortune of gold. When they returned safely back to the palace, the king asked the minister to talk in private. He confided in him that he never thought that he would become convinced like the minister that everything that happens whether good or bad is the mercy of God. He said, “My dear friend, I want to give you half of my kingdom. Let us live always in friendship. The minister was very grateful. He said, “Dear King, I don’t need to own land or dominion. I am very satisfied being your servant. In fact, all the gold that we have discovered is yours. My only request is that you should use it to glorify God and help all the citizens of your great kingdom.”
The king was humbled by the generosity and good wishes of the minister. He commanded the minister to take charge of his treasury and dispense the new found wealth for the benefit of his subjects so that no family or person be bereft of the necessities of life. He instructed him to build wonderful houses of worship and schools so that his people have spiritual and material education. In this way, the kingdom became prosperous and the people developed spiritual qualities of goodness.
The king, minister and the people had their dreams fulfilled. May you also find fulfillment in life.
Direct experience of God is not a difficult goal. The first question is whether you are qualified to recognize God if you see him. There was once an antique dealer who attended an antique dealer’s fair. He stopped at one table and noticed a straw basket with old coins in it. There was a a card with $60 written on it. He asked the dealer, a lady, if she would accept a counter offer on the basket with coins. She said she was ready to hear his offer. He proposed $ 20 for the basket. She scoffed at him saying it cost her more money than that to buy the basket full of old coins. He scuffled the coins in his hand and observed them. He offered$ 35 and not one penny more. She said, “I’ll take $ 40 or nothing.” He said, “Sold.” He paid the money and went home. Sometime later there was a newspaper article with the headline, “Antique dealer finds rare coin worth $ 100,000. The question is how come the antique dealer recognized that there was one coin in the basket that was very valuable and the lady antique dealer who owned the basket could not? He obviously had the training and experience that permitted him to recognize the coin whereas the lady antique dealer could not.
If you want to recognize God you need some training so that you don’t just walk past him. When a scientist publishes his experimental findings, he publishes in such a way as to permit other scientists in other parts of the world to duplicate his experiments so that they can verify the same results. If the results are not verifiable, then there may be grounds to refute the work as unscientific. The research scientist must explain under what conditions the experiment was performed, the ingredients, the temperature, the control groups, the observation techniques, etc., etc. If a scientist in another part of the world can duplicate the experiment and get the same results, then the original work is deemed valid scientific research. In the same way, finding God is an explicit endeavor with verifiable steps and conditions. If everything is followed correctly you are sure to see God. The beginning stage is clearing away all obstacles to seeing God. There are don’t and do’s that are required to create a favorable environment for the experience. Just as the research scientist explains the conditions, materials, ambient temperature, ingredients, etc for performing the experiment successfully, one needs to eliminate four things and accept four things in order to prepare oneself to see God. The dos and don’ts for clearing obstacles follow:
Don’ts: no meat, fish or eggs; no intoxication including coffee and tea; no sex out of wedlock; and no gambling or mental speculation.
Dos: Chant the names of God everyday at least two hours a day, eat only vegetarian food that is first prepared for and offered to God on a home alter, read daily holy scriptures that explain the reality of God’s presence, offer humble service to God’s servants.
These four don’ts and dos create a favorable atmosphere for realization of God’s omnipresence.
These are the pre-conditions for the experiment to see God. What is noteworthy is that the experiment to see God is not an academic process. It is not an ascending process like everything we normally experience. If I study such and such and pass a test I get my certificate. Seeing God is a descending process. When we develop the proper attitude and qualities, God reveals Himself to us at His own sweet will. The difference is that in the material world we first desire something and then work for it. In spiritual life we first deserve and continue to work to please God. If He is pleased then He may choose to appear before us. He is not obliged. He will, however, feel obliged if we develop genuine love and devotion. He is attracted by pure love.
The dos and don’tsâ€™ importance cannot be emphasized too much. There are four universal principals of spiritual life: truthfulness, austerity, cleanliness and mercifulness.
Truthfulness is destroyed by gambling and mental speculation.
Understanding what mental speculation is and how it differs from bona fide philosophical speculation is instructive. Everything is known by the psychological action of the mind. Mental speculation is the random or haphazard activity of the brain to understand everything and making theories with hypothetical “if” and “maybe’s.”
Villagers in Southeast Asia noticed that baby scorpions came out of rice paddy fields at a certain time every year. They speculated that scorpions are born from rice paddy fields. They did not notice that the mother scorpion first laid her eggs in the paddy fields and the heat and fermentation in the fields was and ideal environment for hatching the scorpion eggs.
By mental speculation we propose different theories and explanations that are not based on any facts but seem plausible to our imperfect mind. There were once two fish looking at the moon.
First fish: Hey, what’s that up there.
Second fish: It’s a fish.
First fish: Why is it shiny?
Second fish: Because it is a shiny fish.
First fish: Oh, now I understand.
This is an example of speculation. It is assuming something as true that has no factual basis. The speculation may seem plausible because we have no information of the real facts. It is said,
“Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.”
Because our senses are imperfect it is impossible to arrive at true knowledge by a process of mental speculation. Seeing, hearing, tasting smelling, touching are all imperfect ways to acquire information. We may try to perfect them by using instruments to amplify our perception. We are still limited and imperfect even with the scientific instruments. When I observe an airplane taking off and I follow it with my eyes as it rises into the sky, at a certain point, it disappears from my vision. Can I conclude that the airplane no longer exists because I saw it disappear from my vision? My vision is imperfect. The airplane continues to exist. I just can’t see it with my imperfect eyes and limited position. Even with the best telescope I will eventually lose vision of the airplane.
There are many things I cannot perceive, yet they exist regardless of my perception. Right now there are radio waves everywhere. Unless I have a radio I cannot perceive them. It is only when I have the proper instrument that I am able to perceive them. There are many things that are present right now but I cannot perceive them. I need to purify or perfect my senses so that I can perceive them. Most of the things I perceive are within three dimensions. Yet, there is reality in 4 or more dimensions that, for now, I cannot perceive. Should I deny their existence because I can’t see or hear them?
If I claim I will not accept any knowledge that another person gives me either through direct contact or through books, rather, I will only accept knowledge that I perceive through direct experience myself. Then the only solution is to perfect your senses. The abovementioned dos and don’ts are a proven way to improve our senses and powers of perception.
If we reject this process saying that it is unrealistic or that anything spiritually inspired is bogus then what option do we have? The only option will be mental speculation. There is really no other “effective” way to perfect our powers of perception than the above mentioned dos and don’ts. I say this for the following reasons: The four rules of no meat eating, no gambling, no illicit sex, and no intoxication are essential for elevating the mental powers which include the physical senses. The don’ts are necessary for the cultivation of progressive qualities which are:
Mercifulness - which is destroyed by intoxication
Truthfulness - which is destroyed by gambling and mental speculation
Cleanliness - which is destroyed by illicit sex
Austerity - which is destroyed by meat eating
In order to experience God in a sustained and practical way I can strive for these four qualities by avoiding those habits that destroy them and performing those activities that nurture them to fruition such as chanting the names of God daily, (Ex. The Hare Krishna Mantra, or other bona fide names), reading holy scripture (Ex. Bhagavad-gita or other bona fide scripture), offering vegetarian food to God and eating only after the offering, and performing unselfish acts of devotion without any expectation of pecuniary return that are prescribed by the teacher. By following these simple guidelines one will very quickly develop the qualification and strong desire to see God face to face.
These four qualities are the universal principles of progressive spiritual life. One must develop them to be qualified to recognize and see God.
After reading your response to my last letter I realize that you set up straw man arguments by referring to people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson and others like the Fundamentalist Christians.
Lumping me in with these people is convenient for make points that seem to undermine or refute my thoughts, but, in truth, it is inaccurate. Pointing to hypocrisy or inconsistencies in other people who claim to be religious leaders or some sort of enlightened prophets of modern adherents of Christianity is a straw man argument. You set up a person who has obvious problems, knock him down and claim this justifies negating everything I have written. I am not Falwell, Robinson, or a fundamentalist Christian. What is interesting is that these persons would attack my ideas much more vehemently than you. They would reject most of what I am saying. If you are going to set up a straw man argument, then at least choose people that would first agree with my thoughts and then show that they are hypocrites.
When I write to you, I do so as a friend and confidante who I have a lot of affection for and remember from my youthful days. Epithets and third party associations are useful tools for trying to win an argument. If I say, “You look exactly like the man that robbed my car.” That is equal to saying you are a thief. If you make allusions to Falwell, and Robinson as if to say “all you religious guys are like these two bigots,” then there is a “fog of pre-conceived assumptions” that preclude rational thought of the points made.
khorourt mahrtgan, gahmk astoudzoh
(Literally, mystery for man, God’s will)
How the universe is working remains a mystery to most people. This is because people are unaware of certain essential facts of life. Two such important facts are:
(1) There is a Supreme God who is the ultimate creator and controller of everything, but He remains a neutral observer meaning He does not love or hate anyone. He simply gives people what they deserve without prejudice.
(2) Men suffer due to their own actions performed in the present life and previous lives due to the misuse of their limited free will.
These two points can be summarized by “Man proposes and God disposes.” Man desires a particular situation and God facilitates his obtaining his desire. The following discussion will try to elaborate on the exercise of man’s free will.
God has endowed every human being with limited free will. We cannot “will” the sun to come up or go down, or death to stop, or the planets to stop moving. But, we can “will” that we give up certain types of behavior, or regulate our activities to attain a goal, or save money to purchase a gift, etc. Our free will is limited, but it is never stopped or prohibited by God.
What are the limits of our free will?
We are limited to either accept God’s instructions to guide us in life, or reject those instructions and live our life as if independent of God’s will.
If God is all powerful, then why doesn’t He force us to follow His instructions?
The nature of relationship with God is one of pure love. Love cannot be attained unless one has the free will to choose to love. If it is forced or programmed, then it is not real love. We are endowed with free will so that we can develop love and affection for God and He can reciprocate with His love.
What happens if we choose not to follow God’s instructions?
By refusing to follow God’s instructions we become subject to the laws of material nature or karmic laws. This happens because we become a competitor of God who is the ultimate controller and enjoyer of everything. By ignoring or rejecting God’s instructions we attempt to become the controller and enjoyer of material nature. The false ego is based on the conviction, “I am the controller and I am the enjoyer.” The laws of karma act on us to remedy our rebellious nature. Because we have an eternal soul, it is possible to remain rebellious eternally. But, a human being at any time can choose to accept God’s instructions and become free of the binding effects of karma and repeated birth and death.
How does false ego originate and what is it?
The mind is the center of all the activities of the senses. When we hear or see desirable sense pleasures, the mind becomes the reservoir of desires for sense gratification. As one contemplates these possibilities for sense pleasures, the mind and senses become agitated with lust. Lust is the excessive or obsessive desire for sense gratification and especially sexual pleasures and its concomitant needs of profit, distinction and adoration. The intelligence becomes seized by such lustful desires. Intelligence refers to the power to analyze things in their proper perspective. The mind records and stores in the memory information from the other senses. The intelligence determines the beneficial or detrimental effects of those experiences or thoughts. If the intelligence is corrupted by lusty desires, it can not correctly analyze whether such experiences and desires are good or bad for oneself. By the influence of lusty intelligence the soul is influenced to acquire the false ego and identify itself with the mind and senses and bodily pleasures. The soul becomes addicted to enjoying the material senses and mistakenly accepts this as true happiness.
The ego of the individual is “I am.” The contaminated ego is “I am the lord of all I see. I am the enjoyer.” This world remains a place of strife because every living being thinks that he is the lord (controller) and the enjoyer of the material world. This inevitably leads to conflict. Material ego (false consciousness) has two psychic divisions. One is that I am the creator (controller), and the other is that I am the enjoyer. The following logical thought will help to understand our real position.I
If we, the living entities are the controller and enjoyer, then we would not be controlled by anything. But, the truth is that we are being controlled at every step. For example, we are forced to eat due to hunger, then we are forced to evacuate. We are forced to sleep, then wake up and work to maintain ourselves. We are forced to breathe, to blink our eyes, etc. We don’t know how we digest food, yet it is essential to maintain our life. We are not in control of our own heart beat. We work to be happy, yet suffering is forced on us despite our every effort to avoid it. We are forced to get old, sick and die. We did not chose to be born. Every material function is forced on us and these functions are going on without our conscious control. The movement of the sun, earth, the change of seasons, rains, currents of rivers, wind, etc., are all vital functions on which our existence depends. They are being conducted without our control or understanding. Thus, we are neither independent nor are we the controller or creator. Yet, due to our false ego, we think we are the controller and with this misconception we continue in material existence attached to the temporary body and its miseries.
It is evident that we are not the controller and we are in every circumstance controlled and dependent. If we understand these facts, we can begin the process of gradually surrendering to the will of God and following His instructions. This will immediately release us from the cycle of self-inflicted suffering due to ignorance. Suffering in life is caused by not accepting to follow the instructions of the Supreme Controller. By acting either in defiance or ignorance of God’s instructions, we become responsible for our acts and the resultant reactions. Thus, suffering in life is due to our own actions.
There are many seeming contradictions in life when one does not understand that man has limited free will and is never independent of God’s will and the laws of nature, which act under God’s supervision. The two most frequently cited are:
1. Why is there so much human suffering and evil if God is the Supreme Controller and all good?
This question is addressed by two verses in the Bhagavad-gita 5.14-15,
The embodied spirit, master of the city of his body, does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does he create the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the modes of material nature. (Bg 5.14)
Nor does the Supreme Lord assume anyone’s sinful or pious activities. Embodied beings, however, are bewildered because of the ignorance which covers their real knowledge. (Bg.5.15)
According to the Vedic knowledge, a living entity is a soul who is placed in a material body according to the laws of karma. This is determined by the activities and desires of a living being. Each person gets what they deserve.
The temporary body is the cause of varieties of activities and their resultant reactions. As soon as we enter a particular body, we are obliged to act in certain ways as determined by the body and the forces of nature (modes of material nature, goodness, passion and ignorance) which act on it.
For beings who have the human form of body, they suffer or enjoy the results of activities of the body by wrongly identifying with the it. It is due to ignorance that is the result of many lifetimes of false identification with the body that is the cause of bodily suffering and distress. This is called material conditioning.
The sojourn of the living being in the material body is figuratively referred to as living in “the city of the body.” While in the body, one think he is it’s master. The truth is one is not the proprietor or the controller of the body’s actions and reactions. An embodied living being is always struggling for existence, which means the laws of nature are continually imposing limits on one’s range of sense pleasure and he is continually struggling against those constraints.
If the living entity can become unaffected by the activities of the body, he becomes free from the reactions as well. This is possible only in the human body. The beginning of spiritual understanding is differentiating between the material body and the conscious soul, who is temporarily placed in the body. Thus, it is possible for the conscious soul within the body to become aloof or unaffected by the activities of the body.
Animals are completely controlled by instinct. They do not have the developed intellect nor the limited free will of a human being. They must wait until the evolutionary process of consciousness brings them to the human form which is endowed with intellect and free will so that they can understand their real position.
The Supreme Being or God is undisturbed by the sinful or pious activities of living beings. He is equal to all living beings and does not create a particular situation for anyone. It is the living being who desires to be put into certain conditions of life, and thereby the chain of action and reaction begins. The living entity cannot fulfill his desires without the help of the omnipotent Supreme God. The individual human being has limited free will. But many facilities must be supplied in order for the living being to satisfy his desires. For example, one needs to have a body capable of movement (legs, arms and strength, eyesight, speech, etc.) All these and many more facilities are supplied by God so that the individual can fulfill his desires.
If the living being is bewildered in his desires, God allows him to fulfill those desires because He does not interfere with man’s limited free will. However, God is never responsible for the actions and reactions of the particular situation which may be desired. Bewildered by false identification with the body, the individual mistakenly identifies with it and becomes subjected to the temporary happiness and misery of life. For example, there are so many men in the world. If a woman becomes attached to one particular man and decides to marry him, she shares his happiness and misery in life. By identifying herself as the wife of a man, her husband, she becomes affected by his activities in life. Later, she might decide to disassociate herself from her husband and eventually remain unattached and no longer affected by his activities. In the same way, it is possible to become aloof from the activities of the body (eating, sleeping, mating, defending) which are in truth forced upon us. Then one is no longer affected by the happiness and distress of the body.
God is present in the heart of every living being as the witness and permitter of every act. As the witness, God can understand the desires of the living entity. Material desire is a subtle form of conditioning. If the living entity persists in his material desires, God facilitates him to fulfill them as he deserves. This can be summarized as “Man proposes and God disposes.”
The individual is not independent in fulfilling his desires. God does not interfere with the exercise of the limited free will of the living entities. He remains neutral toward everyone. God neither hates nor likes anyone, although it may appear He does. The embodied soul causes his own bewilderment by his desire to avoid God’s advice coming through the holy scriptures. In every stage of existence the living entity remains dependent on God for the fulfillment of his desires..
When the living being becomes frustrated and miserable, he often blames God for his plight. This is a mistake. God remains neutral so as not to interfere with the limited free will of a person. Otherwise, there would be no possibility of real love. God simply gives each person what they deserve based on their actions in this life and previous lives. He is not the cause of a person’s suffering. If someone chooses to forget God, then the Lord helps him do it. If someone wants to remember and approach God, then the Lords helps him. In every case, God remains neutral in order to give everyone a chance to exercise their limited free will. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, “Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Bg 18.63) Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna all the intricacies of action and reaction (karma), then He leaves it up to Arjuna to decide what course of action he will take. Thus the material destiny of everyone is determined by their own desires and actions. But, the spiritual destiny of a person is never predetermined. God gives everyone the freedom to choose Him at any time regardless of his material destiny. By correct use of our free will we can end our cycle of birth and death
The laws of karma can be bewildering because one may receive reactions to acts they performed in a previous life for which they have no way of consciously remembering. This causes confusion because a person cannot see a causal relation between a previous act and the present reaction. It is essential to understand that the soul is eternal and it is changing bodies from one life to another. The reactions to one’s activities in a previous life may be forwarded to the next life and one suffers or enjoys accordingly.
We can understand the above point in the following way. Every normal person is working with the goal to be happy. They hope for peace and prosperity so that they can be happy. In spite of every precaution, still misery comes as old age, sickness, death, accidents, natural catastrophes, etc. Also, we sometimes have good fortune even though we did not expect it. This should convince us that happiness and misery are experienced by us in a way that we cannot always predict. According to the Vedic knowledge, this is because happiness and misery are preordained due to the activities we performed in a previous life. What is not preordained is our ability to accept God’s instructions, follow them and change our destiny.
Disregarding God’s instructions due to ignorance can be corrected. But willful disregard of God’s instructions is the beginning of evil.
When a person becomes outright envious of God and tries to destroy belief and worship of God, he begins to perpetrate evil acts that hurt others and himself. For example, a child that rebels against his parents’ authority can sometimes become so disturbed that he may kill them or himself. Evil begins by disdain of authority. The supreme authority is God and His instructions.
2. If God knows everything past, present and future, then how can there be free will?
We are being controlled by outside forces. As in any organization, there is always one controller over another in an hierarchical organizational structure. Because I am being controlled, I can understand that there is an organized control system acting on me and this implies that there is an hierarchical organization with an ultimate controller running the show. Otherwise, I could not be specifically controlled. My digestion, breathing, heart beat, the changing seasons, the tides, the movement of planets, and all observed phenomena are proof of specific control because everything is being orchestrated in a precise and organized system.
In any town or city there are controllers for traffic, police, taxes, water and electricity, health, education, courts, garbage collection, city government, etc. If there are so many controllers for a little town or city, how can we say that there are no controllers for the gigantic universal affairs. Just as in the city there is the mayor, who is the chief controller overseeing all the other controllers in the city government, so in the universe there is an ultimate controller overseeing all the subordinate controllers.
From this reasoning, I can understand that I am being controlled, I am not completely independent and that there is an elaborate organizational structure with an ultimate controller in charge. If this is so, then how can anyone claim that we exercise free will. Further, it is said that God is all-knowing, all powerful and knows past, present, and future. How can anyone have free will if God already knows what will happen and is ultimately controlling everything? The answer is the following.
There are many situations where we act under the control of an external authority, yet we exercise our free will. For example, when I drive a car, I drive under the control and authority of state and federal authorities who have built the roads and made so many laws regulating cars and driving. I must pass a test to get a license to drive. I must pay fees and follow the codes of safe driving. I must respect all the signs and specific lights such as stop lights, stop signs, speed limits, etc. If I comply with all the rules, I am free to go anywhere I want. If I disregard or break the rules my freedom of choice will be curtailed progressively until I either comply or all my rights to drive will be taken away. If I egregiously break the law I can be put in jail and forbidden to drive. Even though I act under the control of an external authority, my freedom of choice is not hampered as long as I follow the rules of driving. I can drive anywhere I want as long as I follow the rules. Indeed, following the rules gives me the widest range of free will to drive. When I choose not to follow the rules, my freedom to drive is progressively diminished and eventually canceled completely.
Our free will is not removed because God knows our future nor is our future predetermined without any hope of change. Someone may be sitting on a branch of a tree and sawing it off where the branch meets the trunk. Seeing this, I know that the person will eventually saw the branch off and fall down. I know the future of that person. Such knowledge does not preclude that person from continuing to saw off the branch and fall. Nor does my understanding of the probable future preclude that person from heeding my advice and saving himself from falling. Every person has two possible destinies. One destiny evolves by following the laws of society and learning the merits of good conduct and prudent action and the other by disregarding them. More profoundly, by following God’s instructions, one can change destiny; or, disregarding them, one becomes subject to the laws of material nature and is entrapped in reactive work or karmic destiny.
When a company manufactures a machine like a washing machine, they also print a manual of instruction how to operate the machine so the user can get maximum use and satisfaction from it. If I purchase the machine and ignore the manual of instruction, I may not get the full use of the machine’s potential as well as perform some function in ignorance that may damage the machine. God created this world and has given His manual of instruction, the holy scriptures, how to live here and achieve our maximum potential. At any time, I may choose to follow His instructions or ignore them. If I follow His instructions, then God knows my future. If I don’t follow them, He also knows my future. In both cases, my free will is still intact and enables me to choose between the two options. God knows the future in either case.