Solution to life’s problems
geeiankee khuhnteernehroun loudzoumuh
SOLUTION TO LIFE’S PROBLEMS
The key to understanding the solution to all life’s problems is that human consciousness has the natural propensity for becoming attached to something. This cannot be stopped because it is innate or the constitutional nature of the soul. Consciousness is the symptom of the soul’s presence in the body, which is simply a vehicle used by the soul to achieve its desires. As stated before, the difference between a human being and a computer is the following: by contemplating the objects of the senses, a person may develop attachment to them. This causes a complicated net of entanglements to temporary objects and relationships which perpetuate the soul remaining in the conditional existence of repeated birth and death. We see the same tendency in domesticated animals like dogs or cats, but not in computers or machines. Although the material body of a human being functions like a machine, the soul residing in the body does not. Therefore, the human being develops strong attachments by which his behavior is altered in very dramatic ways.
REAL AND FALSE ATTACHMENT
A class of philosophers (impersonalists) insists that giving up all material attachments and living without any desires is the solution to life’s problems. But this is not a long term possibility for a living being. It is possible, however, to redirect our natural propensity to be attached to genuine, spiritual teachers who can instruct us about the ultimate goal of attachment, God. Attachment for material objects is the cause of bondage in material life, and the same attachment, when applied to holy teachers and God, opens the door of liberation.
Attachment should be transferred to self-realized persons or representatives of God who unflinchingly engage in the loving service of the Lord without any material desires. The real meaning of becoming desireless is not to desire anything for selfish sense gratification. The desire to sincerely serve God is true desirelessness. The ideal mindset of a God conscious person is to dedicate himself as the eternal servant of God without falsely claiming his proprietorship over anything in this world including his own body. One arrives at the conviction that God (Krishna) is the proprietor of everything; and, everything must be used in the service of Krishna. One lives without material desires by dedicating all material things to the service of God.
TRUE OR FALSE KNOWLEDGE
A genuine teacher can instruct the inquisitive student how everything has its use in the service of God. This is predicated on the basis of two fundamental truths: God (Krishna) is the creator, owner, controller and origin of all things and all living entities; and everything can and should be used in the service of God. By becoming fully convinced of these two fundamental truths, one can free himself from victimization of material consciousness by practically engaging everything in the service of God.
The impersonalist philosopher claims that God is not a person; therefore, He does not eat and does not have individual attributes like human beings. To achieve success through the impersonal path of realization, one must gradually renounce all things in this world including tasty foods so as not to develop false attachments. Contrary to the impersonal path is the devotion of a pure devotee of God who knows Him as the Supreme Person and Enjoyer. Lord Krishna says: “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” (BG 9.26) Lord Krishna gives an opportunity to His devotee to offer Him with love and devotion tasty vegetarian food. After offering the food to the Lord, the devotee relishes the remnants, which are called prasadam (the mercy of God). Thus everything can be spiritualized by learning how to use it in the service of God.
The devotee accepts the Lord’s prasadam (the remnants of sacrifice), whereas the non-devotee rejects it as material and a source of false attachment to this material world of illusion. The impersonalist cannot enjoy life due to his artificial renunciation. Even a slight agitation of the mind will divert him from the path of spiritual progress. The impersonalist believes everything in this world is an illusion and attachment to objects is the source of suffering. If one believes such a doctrine that everything is an illusion, then he should honestly accept that the impersonalist doctrine of illusion is also an illusion or false.
TRUE OR FALSE DOCTRINE OF ILLUSION
We can understand the real doctrine of illusion by hearing from Lord Krishna who spoke the Bhagavad-gita five thousand years ago to dispel all illusory concepts from the mind of his devotee Arjuna. He taught that it is not merely by stopping all actions that one may become free from reactive work, nor by renunciation of all material objects can one attain perfection. By engaging in the service of God, one frees himself from the results of work in the material world. Attachment to the results of work for oneself keeps one in the cycle of birth and death and subject to life’s miseries. Service to God free from the contamination of selfish activities and mental speculation is the path to freedom from all material entanglements.
While serving God one becomes friendly towards every living being; namely, friends and enemies, the pious and sinners, well-wishers and the envious, etc. God is the father of everyone; therefore, we are all related as members of the same family. Racial, ethnic, national and religious differences are designations based on the temporary material body. They are obstacles on the path to freedom when one considers them the real identity of the living being.
The material world and everything in it, although temporary, is not an illusion as the impersonalist philosophers claim. The illusion is to think that one can enjoy separate from God by exploiting things for selfish pleasure or rejecting them for attaining an imaginary impersonal salvation. Such enjoyment and salvation is like a fake Rolex watch that looks like the real watch, but on careful examination, one realizes it is a mediocre imitation.
Renouncing something that can be used in the service of God is false renunciation. Everything is owned and controlled by God. Therefore accepting or rejecting something that doesn’t belong to us is a false attitude. The only real possibility is to dedicate everything to the service of God.
The materialists accept things for their own sense gratification and ignore God. The impersonalists reject everything in their bid to attain salvation. Both are material, illusory goals because neither position is sustainable in time. One cannot usurp the property of God without becoming caught in the cycle of reactive work or karma; nor can one attain liberation without becoming the humble servant of the personal God.
The false concept of illusion purports that everything in existence is an illusion; thus, one should reject attachment to everything to attain liberation. In contrast, the correct concept of illusion stipulates that the material world is temporarily manifest and is owned and controlled by God, the Supreme Enjoyer. Therefore, the illusion is wrongly thinking that mankind can permanently own, control and enjoy some part or all of the material creation by its endeavors. Based on this illusion, there are family, ethnic, racial and national concepts of identity that pit one group against another on the false premise of personal or collective ownership independent of God.
If a person finds a wallet in the street and thinks it is his to use and enjoy, then his actions are irresponsible and culpable. But, if he looks on the wallet as the property of someone else and returns it to that person, he acts righteously and free of any negative reaction.
If I accept someone else’s property as my own to enjoy without their permission, the enjoyment I will experience will be accompanied in time by a negative reaction that will cause suffering. Therefore, education begins by acknowledging the proprietorship of God; and freedom from reactive work is attained by using everything with knowledge in the favorable service of God. Any other concept that contravenes the above is an illusion.
The effect of this illusion is to captivate the mind of the living entity with unlimited desires to enjoy this material world. Although the living entity is an eternal soul, by such illusory desires it becomes entrapped in the body under the influence of the three modes of material nature.
INFLUENCE OF THE THREE MODES OF MATERIAL NATURE ON HUMAN THOUGHT AND ACTION
The three modes of material nature are natural influences that condition living entities to behave in certain ways categorized as goodness, passion, ignorance and their myriad number of mixtures. The effect of these modes is to arouse unlimited desires to enjoy material objects and relationships. These desires may lead to three possibilities of action;
1. activities that are predominantly under the influence of the mode of goodness that favors material happiness and knowledge;
2. those that are under the influence of passion that promotes hard work to achieve sense gratification, material accumulation and lusty desires for wealth and power;
3. or ignorance which has the tendency toward laziness, foolishness, sleep and lack of knowledge.
Although the mode of goodness is more favorable for developing spiritual knowledge, it still conditions the living entity to remain satisfied with a higher level of material happiness and a mundane sense of morality. Thus, even in the mode of goodness one is not able to consistently control the senses. By engaging all the senses and the mind in the service of God, one can completely bring them under control and transcend the influence of the modes.
The influence of the modes of nature is omnipresent throughout the material world. Everything and everyone is dominated by one or a mixture of all three of these modes in varying degrees. This may be compared to the three primary colors (RYB) red, yellow and blue or alternately (CMY) cyan, magenta and yellow. The various mixtures of the three primary colors can produce an extensive palette of colors.
The three modes of nature compete with each other for prominence, ie: the mode of goodness may be more prominent than passion and ignorance, or passion may be more prominent than goodness and ignorance etc. The prominence of one mode over the others is manifest in the behavior of a person, such as in his inter-relational dealings, activities, eating habits, etc. In order to rise above the influence of the modes of nature, one can follow a gradual process by cultivating the mode of goodness to control ignorance and passion. One can rise above mundane goodness to pure goodness in which the mind is cleansed of all selfish desires by the help of a genuine spiritual teacher. In the state of pure goodness one rises above the influence of the modes of nature and evolves the transcendental consciousness by which he is free of all material entanglements. In that rare state, one is completely dedicated to serving God with love and devotion and is knowledgeable at using everything favorably in His service.
OVERCOMING THE INFLUENCE OF THE THREE MODES ON THE HUMAN MIND
The mind is considered the sixth sense because it receives information from the other five (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) and stores them in the memory. Unless the mind is controlled, one cannot achieve the goal of life. The natural tendency of the living entity is to follow the order of a superior. If the mind remains uncontrolled, one serves the dictations of lust, anger, greed, etc. For example, a man may have overwhelming desires for sex which he cannot control. He kidnaps a woman and rapes her. Because she resists him, he becomes angry and murders her. After he is apprehended by the police, he appears in court and makes a plea of temporary insanity. He claims that he was so overwhelmed by his lusty desires that he became temporarily insane and committed a horrible crime. In other words, he lost control of his higher sense of social responsibility. His rational faculties became blinded. Thus, he came under the influence of lust and anger and followed their impulsion to commit horrible acts without realizing their criminal nature. This is an example of serving the dictations of lust and anger.
However, when the mind is controlled, one may voluntarily agree to abide by the superior instructions given by God. Such a God conscious person manifests the following qualities of transcendental consciousness as explained by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita.
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O son of P?n?d?u, he who does not hate illumination, attachment and delusion when they are present or long for them when they disappear; who is unwavering and undisturbed through all these reactions of the material qualities, remaining neutral and transcendental, knowing that the modes alone are active; who is situated in the self and regards alike happiness and distress; who looks upon a lump of earth, a stone and a piece of gold with an equal eye; who is equal toward the desirable and the undesirable; who is steady, situated equally well in praise and blame, honor and dishonor; who treats alike both friend and enemy; and who has renounced all material activities — such a person is said to have transcended the modes of nature.” (Bg 14.22-25)
The practical way to transcend the influence of the three modes is to always remain engaged in the service of God with body, mind and senses. The constant engagement under proper guidance liberates one from the illusion of being the controller and enjoyer of material facilities. Rather, one uses material things in the service of God and shares the sanctified assets of the service (food, land, buildings, knowledge, etc.) for the spiritual benefit of all others.
The beginning of civilized behavior is recognizing a superior authority and voluntarily following their instructions. However, if the authorities such as parents, philosophers, politicians or others give advice just to help people attain material peace, prosperity and happiness, then it is simply mundane morality. These goals are temporary and inevitably accompanied by war, economic downturn and misery which are inevitable.
When one recognizes and accepts the authority of God and His instruction as given in authoritative scriptures, he can be trained by bona fide teachers (gurus) to transcend mundane morality which aspires to please oneself and attain transcendental morality which aims to please God. Because everyone is connected to God, by pleasing Him one can offer the results of such service for the pleasure and benefit of all people. Only those persons who are plagued by an envious nature due to profound illusion will oppose the authority of God and attempt to impose their own mundane standards.
EXERCISE OF FREE WILL
The mind naturally accepts and rejects ideas, objects and desires all the time. The ability to do so is inherent in the eternal soul of every living being due to the exercise
of limited free will. Every aspect of human life is limited. One cannot will that the sun not rise or the body not age. These things will happen regardless of our willing against them. However, we can make an act of will not to smoke cigarettes or eat certain foods, etc. The free will of human beings is ultimately limited to either voluntarily choosing to follow God’s instructions or rejecting them.
The Biblical history of the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden is also relevant to every living entity in this world. Because the eternal soul is endowed with limited free will by God, he can exercise it in the spiritual or in the material world. Every living entity in this material world chose to disregard God’s instructions while residing in the spiritual world; therefore, they are presently in this material world experiencing the four miseries of birth, old age, disease and death. The material world is like a prison where the inmates are placed in order to be reformed so that they can return to the spiritual world; or remain entangled by the four miseries in a continual cycle. The cycle of misery can continue indefinitely because every living entity is an eternal soul. If the soul repeatedly refuses to abide by God’s instructions, it remains in the cycle of birth and death and rebirth among the 8,400,000 different species of life. According to the Padma Purana, there are 8,400,000 million species of life: 900,000 aquatics, 2,000,000 trees and plants, 1,100,000 insects and reptiles, 1,000,000 birds, 3,000,000 mammals, and 400,000 humans. Each species has a different type of body suitable for particular way of perception of the material world for sense gratification. It is only in the human form of life that the living entity can exercise his limited free will to escape the cycle of birth and death whereas the animals are regulated by natural instinct which is the dictation of God.
As soon as the eternal soul is placed in a temporary material body, he is forced to eat, sleep, mate and defend. The body progresses through six stages: birth, growth, staying, byproducts (children), dwindling and death. Through these different stages of life, the living entity imagines he is independent, but the truth is, everyone is forced through them by nature and destiny. All the activities of the body are obligations imposed by nature such as the necessity to eat and drink which forces one to defecate and urinate; work and activity will force one to rest and sleep; after inhaling, one is obliged to exhale, etc. Whatever one experiences whether in happiness or distress, one is forced to do because of the bodily constitution. For example, one may think that acquiring a certain object is necessary for happiness. One is forced to work to obtain the object. One is then forced to maintain and protect the object in order to continue to enjoy it. By exercise of limited free will one may desire an object for pleasure; but, nature will force the living entity to work to obtain the object and to defend it.
The body is a machine, designed by God, to fulfill desires. The different types of bodies force a living being to act in certain ways to obtain the objects of desire. The body is given by God according to one’s unfulfilled material desires from the previous life. Because of these desires, one is put into different circumstances to suffer or enjoy. The self or the eternal soul within the body is aloof from all these bodily activities. However, it becomes entangled in the cycle of action and reaction due to false identification with the material body and thus suffers or enjoys in life.
No one wants to suffer. Everyone works to be happy, yet we encounter suffering despite all our efforts to avoid it. Thinking deeply about this and with the help of spiritual teachers, one can realize that happiness and distress are predetermined by the actions and desires of our previous life. What is not predetermined is our exercise of limited free will. We can at any time during our life choose to follow God’s instructions or refuse. By following God’s instructions in a consistent manner, we are gradually liberated from the cycle of reactive work. Because the sincere servant of God acts spontaneously according to the desire of the Lord, he is no longer forced by nature to act in certain ways. He can control his senses and mind to focus on the service of God rather than pander to whimsical material desires.
By refusing those instructions we get progressively entangled by which our range of exercise of limited free will is even more restricted. It is similar to a person put in jail after conviction of a crime. While in jail, the authorities try to rehabilitate the prisoner so that one day he may become free again. But, if the prisoner acts whimsically in prison and defies the authority of his jailers, his range of action can be so severely limited that he finds himself in solitary confinement with no privileges at all. Therefore, in the human form of life, if a person lives continually in defiance of God’s instructions, he may find himself in the body of a rat or tree or microbe in the next life. In such a lower form of body, the living entity’s range of limited free will is nonexistent until the day that he can again rise to the human form of life through the evolutionary process.
Whether a person decides to follow God’s instructions or not, God knows what will happen to him. Although God knows the future of everyone, He does not interfere with the living being’s exercise of limited free will. This is a fact because everyone has two possible destinies. One destiny is attained by following God’s instructions and the other by refusing to follow. In this way the free will is not affected by knowing the future of the living being. For example, when one passes their driver’s test, the state issues a drivers license which gives a person permission to drive a car. The purpose of the driver’s test is to make a person aware of the state laws that regulate the behavior of drivers in respect to following speed limits, stopping at stop signs, etc. In effect, the state knows what will happen to a driver if he follows the laws or not. If he follows, he will enjoy the freedom of driving his car anywhere on state roads. If he breaks the laws, the state has specific procedures in place to punish such offenders.
Whatever right or wrong action a person performs by body or mind is caused by five factors: the material body which is regulated by the laws of nature and the three modes, the soul which has limited free will to act according to God’s instructions or reject them, the various senses which are the instruments of action, the different kinds of endeavor, and ultimately God Himself who is the permitter and overseer of every action. God provides the body, mind and senses, the process of perception and the instruments of perception, the objects of perception and the ability to act, the laws of nature and the three modes, etc. The individual living entity chooses by limited free will to pursue his course of action and therefore is the cause of his own happiness and distress. The exercise of limited free will is only in the human body. Based on the choices one makes in the human form, one can go up or down in the evolutionary cycle or become liberated completely.
According to one’s desires and activities, material nature places one in various types of bodies. The person himself is the cause of attaining a particular body and the attendant enjoyment or suffering. When placed in a specific body one comes under the control of nature. Because the body is made of matter, it is forced to act according to the laws of nature. If one is placed in the body of a dog, he must act as a dog. He has no choice once he takes birth in the dog’s body which is completely controlled by the laws of nature. Again, it is only in the human form of life that one can exercise limited free will. However, if one is influenced by the mode of ignorance, his exercise of free will is more limited by the self-imposed ignorance. Similarly, the mode of passion also colors one’s free will. In the mode of goodness, one has the most clarity of vision to exercise free will correctly if one is properly educated by a spiritual teacher.
The Vedic process of education is designed to help one rise above the influence of the three modes of nature. Material consciousness will oblige a person to transfer from one body to another because of unending material desires. But, hearing regularly from a Vedic authority can help one effect a major change of consciousness. The best example is Arjuna who heard the knowledge of God from Lord Krishna who is considered the first and foremost spiritual master. By voluntarily submitting to the process of hearing, Arjuna and any person can be relieved from the long-cherished desire to dominate material nature. Gradually, as the desire to dominate and enjoy separately from God is reduced, one proportionately begins to enjoy spiritual happiness by ever deeper realization of the beauty and joy of Lord Krishna, His transcendental associates and His service.
The question may be asked, “Why did God endow all living beings with limited free will” ? The reason is that by exercise of free will one can establish a relationship of love for God. If God made creatures like robots and programmed them to love Him, it would be an artificial love. Love can only develop when there is freedom of choice. Voluntary acceptance of God’s authority by proper exercise of free will and affectionate surrender to His will, creates the dynamic of loving exchanges.
God always remains a neutral, unbiased facilitator of living entities. If we desire to establish a relationship, He makes access to Him easily available by sending genuine teachers to guide us. If we desire to reject God, He enables us as well. In both cases, we are completely dependent on Him.
Man proposes by his limited free will by desiring different material objects of pleasure. God disposes (sets in place) by providing opportunities for man to achieve his desires; and these are always accompanied by consequences. By correct exercise of free will, man can be liberated from the cycle of birth and death; or by injudicious use of free will, he can remain a prisoner by his continual wrong choices.
Universal principles of spirituality
There are four universal principles of spirituality. They are austerity, truthfulness, cleanliness and mercy. By understanding these principles and following them, one can attain real peace, happiness, love, and ultimate liberation as opposed to their false counterparts that leads one into a fool’s paradise. People can be taught to follow these regulative observances from childhood. Any philosophy of life or religion can be evaluated on its merit by the quality and content they possess of these four principles.
Austerity is voluntary acceptance of a behavioral pattern which may not be comfortable for the body, but is favorable for spiritual realization. An example of this is fasting which should be accepted for spiritual realization and not for any other reason such as political or social activism. There is austerity of the body, speech and mind performed under the influence of the mode of goodness that can help elevate a person’s consciousness.
Austerity of the body is performed by learning to give respect to superiors in an ascending process beginning from father and mother, spiritual teacher and holy men conversant in bona fide Vedic knowledge, to God or Lord Krishna who is the original source of the Vedas. This culture of respect is an austerity that leads to self-realization because it defeats the pride and arrogance of the false ego by recognition of superiors in Vedic knowledge and spiritual qualities leading to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Further austerity of the body is internal (mind) and external (body) cleanliness. Cleanliness of the mind is of utmost importance. It is accomplished by accepting that one is eternally subordinate to the Supreme God, and one should always hear about and glorify the transcendental qualities of God. People who reject the existence of a personal God cannot purify the mind of material desires and attachments. They may manifest many good qualities, but these remain tainted with materialism due to their missing the most important fact of life. We are all subordinate to the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
We must analyze life by the end result of human actions. Today, mankind is experiencing widespread dissatisfaction, stress and lack of mental peace. Why is this? It is due to the lying propaganda of atheistic scientists, politicians, philosophers and pseudo-religionists that has inflated the false pride of the masses of people who believe them. False pride spoils the beneficial effect of austerity and discourages people from engaging in voluntary self-denial of temporary sense gratification. A mundane example of this is of a student who must develop the good habits of self-control, regularity of study habits, good listening skills, and many more qualities based on self-discipline in order to attain the goal of graduating with a degree to get a good paying job. If a student lacks self-discipline and cannot focus his time and mind on his studies, he will not be successful.
Austerity of speech is speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others. This includes supporting one’s statements with Vedic scriptural authority.
Austerity of the mind consists of satisfaction, simplicity, gravity, self-control, and purification of one’s existence. Training the mind to be free of thoughts for sense gratification is real austerity. This can be done by always thinking of doing good to others. If the mind dwells on sense gratification, it will always remain dissatisfied because the senses will never be fully satisfied by selfish endeavors just as a fire is never satisfied no matter how much fuel is supplied to it. This explains why people are not satisfied in this age which is full of innumerable possibilities for sense gratification.
By always thinking of self-realization one is considered a wise person who remains silent and neutral when enticing temptations are present. Honesty and straightforward dealings help to purify the mind. Self control is achieved by not indulging in sense enjoyment more than necessary or permitted by the scriptures. By over-indulgence of sense gratification, mental focus and cleanliness are spoiled.
One cannot artificially stop the senses from material enjoyment. But, one can engage them in the service of the Lord and thereby receive God’s mercy which is experienced as the development of good judgment and attractive character traits: freedom from vanity and false pride, nonviolence, tolerance, simplicity, respectability, devotion and sincerity. One becomes pure in mind by purity in action.
All the above qualities develop by engaging the senses and the mind in the service of God. In a real sense one is liberated by such activity even while living in this world where everyone is envious of someone. But a person dedicated to the service of God is non-envious. He sees the connection of all living beings to God and indeed sees the presence of God in everyone. This universal vision of God and the connectivity of everything to Him encourage the servant of God to remain dependent on His mercy. In material life, people depend on other fallible people or material conditions. This is due to forgetfulness of God. Once the original memory of the living being is revived it is easy to renounce one’s dependence on material relationships and situations. Thus one becomes completely dependent on the mercy of the Lord. One becomes independent of material conditioning by developing complete faith in the mercy of the Lord without any false hope of dominating material nature to make favorable conditions for sense gratification. This is the perfect stage of a life of devotional service.
The ability to maintain austerity for spiritual progress is undermined by pride which can be real (based on actual achievements) or artificial (due to bluffing and deceit). Pride develops from illusion. A person is born, stays in this world for a brief period, and then goes away. During this time, he entertains the foolish notion that he is lord of the world (or some part of it). He lives in a deluded state of mind due to pride stemming from material accumulation of wealth, power, material knowledge and prestige. His life becomes complicated due to unending lusty desires and he experiences continual anxieties due to attachment to impermanent objects and relationships for sense gratification. He acts whimsically according to his own desires and artificial standards and refuses to recognize any bona fide authority. A person who knowingly violates scriptural rules acts in lust. He knows something is forbidden, but he still does it. This is whimsical action by which one lives a very risky life.
False pride leads to many negative attitudes such as arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness, carelessness or risky behavior and ignorance. The proud materialists divide the earth into different countries and nationalities and other temporary designations under the false impression that man is the proprietor of the world. These illusory associations bind one to this material world full of duality and misery.
The basic principle of spirituality is truthfulness by which one can work for the satisfaction of God. That is the ultimate goal of life. Truthfulness means that facts should be presented as they are, for the benefit of others. The truth should not be misrepresented or distorted for personal interest. To understand the truth, one needs to learn the Vedic knowledge from a bona fide spiritual master. By hearing from an authority, one avoids trying to construe some interpretation for personal interest. Lord Krishna recommends this to his disciple Arjuna. “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”
Lord Krishna is the original spiritual master. He established a disciplic succession to convey His message without alteration. A bona fide spiritual master is in the line of succession from Lord Krishna. He or she doesn’t add or subtract one word of the original teaching. No one can become a spiritual master by formulating his own spiritual process.
Mental speculation, philosophical argumentation and independent study are not the means to progress on the spiritual path. The sure path to success is hearing submissively from the spiritual master and asking important questions coupled with offering menial service. Once the spiritual master sees the sincere dedication of the student, which creates a favorable atmosphere of exchange, he reciprocates by teaching the original message of Lord Krishna in a straightforward way without adulteration. The result is both the spiritual master and the disciple engage in the unalloyed and uninterrupted service to God.
The bona fide spiritual master is free of lusty desires and false attachments. This is of utmost importance because lusty desires are considered a disease of the heart. If they are unfulfilled one must continue in the cycle of birth and death. But such desires can never be satisfied and the result of following such a path is loss of one’s spiritual identity. Then every valuable asset of one’s life such as the mind, body, senses, spirituality, patience, intelligence, shyness, opulence, strength, memory and truthfulness is tarnished. Due to lusty desires, one cannot properly use his good assets for the satisfaction of God and others.
No one can stop desiring and entertaining ambitions. These can be purified so that one has spiritual desires and develops spiritual ambitions without selfish material motives. The laws of nature punish those who cannot purify their desires and ambitions. They will be subjected to miseries of birth, old age, disease and death. The time tested method to stop these miseries is to engage one’s senses in the service of God by learning from a bona fide teacher. By sincere service one is freed of material, temporary designations and one’s senses, mind and intelligence are purified of lusty desires.
Another source of falsity is the gold standard for currency. It is based on a falsehood because governments print much more paper currency than the reserved gold. This artificial inflation by government authorities encourages the prostitution of the state economy. Commodity and land prices become artificially inflated. Eventually people lose faith in the paper money and economic turmoil prevails. The cheaters encourage intoxication, prostitution, envy and enmity to divert the attention of the population and mask their perpetual falsehoods.
To make matters worse, the United States ended the gold standard to back their currency and switched to fiat money (paper money) which is any money declared by a government to be legal tender. It is money without intrinsic value. This increases the ability of a government to maintain larger scale falsehood for temporary economic development followed by periodic economic downturn which is inevitable due to over-spending.
Gambling is the major reason why truthfulness is diminished. The desire to gain money by gambling or by any form of speculative business such as day trading or commodities trading is detrimental for advancing spiritually. When gambling is encouraged by the government, there is gradual disappearance of truthfulness.
Modern politicians claim that they want to banish corruption from government without knowing how to do it. They issue licenses for gambling casinos, bars and other intoxicating drug establishments, brothels for prostitution, sexually explicit movie theaters and permit industrial slaughterhouses for over a billion animals a year, etc. They accept bribes and other remunerations for political favors and at the same time claim they want to drive out corruption from the state. It is not possible to protect society from degrading influences and, at the same time, give license to the very activities that influence people to stay mired in passion and ignorance.
During the British colonial rule, a powerful British politician name Lloyd George visited India . He was asked by someone, “Why are you not truthful?” The politician answered, “Truthfulness is the qualification of an ass.” In the Vedic culture, truthfulness is the quality necessary to begin the spiritual path and maintain oneself on it. Without truthfulness one cannot make spiritual progress. Another British politician named Lord Ponsonby made the following statement, “When war is declared, truth is the first casualty.” He authored a book entitled, “Falsehood in Wartime.” In the preface, he wrote,
“Falsehood is a recognized and extremely useful weapon in warfare, and every country uses it quite deliberately to deceive its own people, to attract neutrals, and to mislead the enemy. The ignorant and innocent masses in each country are unaware at the time that they are being misled, and when it is all over only here and there are the falsehoods discovered and exposed. As it is all past history and the desired effect has been produced by the stories and statements, no one troubles to investigate the facts and establish the truth.
Lying, as we all know, does not take place only in war-time. Man, it has been said, is not “a veridical animal,” but his habit of lying is not nearly so extraordinary as his amazing readiness to believe. It is, indeed, because of human credulity that lies flourish. But in war-time the authoritative (governmental) organization of lying is not sufficiently recognized. The deception of whole peoples is not a matter which can be lightly regarded.”
A famous saying in France is, “Il faut dissimulee pour regner – One must hide the truth to effectively rule.” From these statements we can understand why it is so difficult to have a progressive spiritual life in this age when the leaders of society use lies and misinformation to control the lives of the readily gullible citizens of the state. People are prone to accept lies because they are blinded by the promises of sense gratification and material success packaged into ethnic, nationalistic, social or economic propaganda that inflates their false pride.
Cleanliness (of Body and Mind)
Maintaining unclean habits that gradually deteriorate the resolve of people to live a moral life is the cause of a large segment of society becoming unruly. The effect of intoxication, illicit sex, gambling and meat-eating is to inflate the false pride of the people who imagine they can defy the authority of God. They become addicted to unclean habits and purport that enjoyment of the senses is the ultimate goal of life. They maintain this illusory belief until the end of life, thus wasting their vital energy and time on temporary pursuits that leave them frustrated in the end.
External cleanliness of the body can be achieved by bathing twice a day and maintaining good personal hygiene. Internal cleanliness of the mind and intelligence requires the simple discipline of avoiding four prohibited activities and following four permitted activities for spiritual advancement. The activities to avoid are: illicit sex, gambling, meat-eating and intoxication. Illicit sex spoils cleanliness; gambling spoils truthfulness; intoxication and meat eating destroy mercifulness; false pride or too high an estimation of one’s own values of life spoils austerity.
The activities to do are: regularly hear the glories of God by reciting and discussing prayers and passages of the holy scriptures; eating only sanctified food (prasadam – simple vegetarian food) prepared and offered for the pleasure of God; chanting the holy names of God (especially the Hare Krishna Mahamantra); engaging in the service of the Lord under the instructions of bona fide spiritual authorities.
The process of gradual spiritual elevation is necessary to clean and maintain a purified mind and intelligence for advancement on the path of spiritual life. This process is explained by Srila Rupa Goswami, one of the greatest Vaisnava saints of modern times who wrote the Nectar of Devotion (1.4.15-16). He writes:
“In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, ?r? Kr?s?n?a. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Kr?s?n?a consciousness, which is matured in bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life.” This is a slow or gradual process guided by bona fide spiritual authorities that help a person free themselves from material attachments and false designations of self, impersonalism, anxiety, fear and frustration due to selfish materialism. One progressively reorients his priorities from serving oneself to serving God and sharing the blessings of God with all others.
We live in an age of quarrel and hypocrisy. The root cause of this is the deplorable fact that low class men have assumed the helm of the state and are mismanaging and misleading the people. The symptoms by which one can recognize low class men are the following:
1- They are not interested in promoting brahminical culture which is described as:
“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness — these are the natural qualities by which the br?hman?as work.” (Bg 18.42)
They pay lip service to these principles, but support activities that undermine them like prostitution and use of women as sex symbols, legalized intoxication and gambling, maintaining slaughterhouses for animals, legalizing abortion and euthanasia, maintaining institutions of materialistic education by which the population is misled to believe in scientific and economic solutions to life’s problems and thereby ignore spiritual practices.
2- They support the wholesale slaughter of cows and bulls for meat. This is most egregious and is considered by Vedic authorities as the cause of anxiety, and pollution of the society that results in war, pestilence, famine, and many other unwanted calamities. In general, when a person commits a murder, he or she is judged on the basis of a life for a life. The death sentence is pronounced to help the murderer purge himself of the drastic karmic reactions that await him in the next life if he isn’t punished in the present. In the Vedic law book entitled the Manu Samhita, the author, Manu has codified civic and religious codes to help the general populace prepare in this life to return back to the spiritual, eternal world. Manu insists that the killer of an animal is to be considered a murderer because animal food is not meant for civilized people. To organize massive killing of animals for meat, there is a large group of reprobate persons who conspire to kill the unprotected animals just like the conspirators who plan to murder innocent people. Manu writes: “He who gives permission, he who kills the animal, he who sells the slaughtered animal, he who cooks the animal, he who administers distribution of the foodstuff, and at last he who eats such cooked animal food are all murderers, and all of them are liable to be punished by the laws of nature.” (Manu Samhita 5. 51-52) Thus, the state in which its leaders permit massive animal slaughter will continually suffer dire consequences. Advocating nonviolence to human beings and at the same time maintaining slaughter houses for billions of animals is the devil’s work. The animals are feeling anxiety and misery in the cruel industrial system of exploitation of their life and eventual slaughter. The plight of the poor animals is being forced on human society by the laws of karma and, therefore, there is threat of war with enemies, rampant violence in the society and even in the family.
3- They allow four things to become prominent in society: pride in ethnic, racial and nationalistic identification based on the bodily concept of life; attachment to women for sense gratification; intoxication in its many forms such as coffee, tea, cigarettes, drugs and gambling in many forms.
4- They continually mislead people with false promises of economic development, social welfare, material happiness through scientific advances, and many other materialistic formulas that always end up disappointing.
5- They use war as a means to mask their failures to provide the people with positive results of their speculative theories.
6- They engage in deceitful financial schemes that inflate money and prices. To maintain their cheating, they increase taxes that oppress the people and cause them continual anxiety.
With low class leaders there is virtually no possibility for the people to be happy, peaceful, or make spiritual progress.
Mercy and Compassion
Mercy is defined as compassionate treatment of those in distress. When a person sees another suffering in a helpless condition, he acts out of compassion to help out the distressed man. This is an act of mercy offered by a person in a superior or better condition to the one suffering. This is referred to in Sanskrit as daya, giving service to one less fortunate than oneself.
There is another type of mercy called seva, which means to give service to the superior. In the Vedic tradition, one is obliged to approach a spiritual master and offer humble service, ask important questions about spiritual life and gradually surrender oneself to following the instructions the teacher gives. The humble service is seva. By service, questions and surrender to the bona fide guru, the disciple creates a favorable atmosphere for the teacher to bless him with transcendental knowledge of God and the glories of devotional service. This blessing is the compassionate mercy of the guru to the disciple. The mercy is descending from God through the guru to the disciple. It is an act of divine favor or compassion. The sincere disciple who strictly follows the guru’s teaching can be liberated from the cycle of birth and death in his lifetime, live a spiritual life in the present free of unnecessary material entanglement and serenely remember God at the moment of death. Thus, he attains the standard of eternal life in the spiritual world from the moment he surrenders in the present in this material world. The following explains this amazing fact.
The ultimate goal of spiritual knowledge is to surrender to the will of God and engage wholeheartedly in devotional service offered to the Lord. Through sincere service one can favorably develop love of God by providing comfort to His transcendental Body. The Vedas speak of dharma, the occupational duties one performs as service to God. The codes of dharma are established by God Himself. Religion means to obey these God-given codes. Man cannot manufacture these codes by imagination or mental speculation. Man-made codes are different than Divine codes in that they will support religious activity meant to please man’s senses. All sacrifices and penances meant for economic, political, or sensuous gain in the name of religion is considered cheating and is referred to as kaitava dharma in Sanskrit.
People will go to the church, mosque or temple and ask the priest for a benediction for success in business, education, marriage, health, peace, etc. All these material benedictions are different forms of cheating because one is obliged to take birth again in the material world in order to receive them. The end result is that one believes that by paying a priest to perform a ceremonial sacrifice or ritual, one can be successful in material pursuits which are categorized by the following four goals: dharma – mundane religion for material prosperity, artha – economic development and material success, kama – gratification of the senses, moksa – a so-called liberation wherein one is elevated to superior planets than the earth to enjoy a better standard of material enjoyment; however, on the superior planets in the material universe, one is still subject to birth and death although the duration of life in the material body is much longer than on the earth. This materialistic concept of liberation can be described as vastly enhanced sense gratification on heavenly planets in the material universe.
Materialistic liberation and benedictions are public relations tricks offered by religious teachers to entice sense enjoyers to become followers of religion. The materialist believes he can attain sustained sense gratification through science and the pseudo-religionist believes he can attain it by following a religious path that promises heavenly rewards for piety. Both the materialist and the pseudo-religionists’ desired goal is their own sense gratification.
In every one of the major religions there are two tendencies explained in their scriptures. One is the attainment of heavenly pleasures and the other is development of pure love for God through sacrifice and service. The heavenly pleasures are attained after the completion of a pious life as a reward; but, they are temporary. Pure love of God, however, can be attained in this life by dedicating all one’s thoughts and activities to serving God. This is factual liberation from the materialistic goals of sense gratification in this life and forever. Pure love for God transports a person from material to spiritual consciousness by which one is liberated to always engage in pure acts of love of God and share the results with all others.
By pure love of God, the genuine seeker is not attracted to any kind of material success through religion, economic development, sense gratification or liberation. In other words, he does not want any material rewards for his service. The only desire is to continue eternally in the service of God by following His instructions and executing His will. There is not a hint of personal sense gratification. The sincere servant of God desires only to please the senses of the Lord.
The ultimate instruction of Lord Krishna to his disciple Arjuna is the following:
“Because you are My very dear friend, I am speaking to you My supreme instruction, the most confidential knowledge of all. Hear this from Me, for it is for your benefit.
Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
This confidential knowledge may never be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service, nor to one who is envious of Me.” (Bg 18. 64-65-66-67)
When Lord Krishna says “abandon all varieties of religion,” He is referring to kaitava dharma or religious practices that are performed to achieve enhanced sense gratification. The genuine spiritual teaching instructs the seeker how to become a lover of God by which one directs all his activities to pleasing God without any motive of personal benefit in return. A person that does not have love for God will always question, “Why should I do this and why should I do that? What benefit is there for me?” So many questions will be asked. But when there is love, the only question is “How can I serve the Lord better ?”.
The lover of God understands the essence of the spiritual quest: to become a pure servant of Lord Krishna, always think of Him and act for Him free from the contaminations of selfish motivated activities and mental speculations. By mental speculation one gives imaginary meanings to the word of God to support one’s own material goals rather than pure service and surrender. The proof that one engages purely in the service of God is demonstrated when the devotee is friendly to all living beings. This is due to the practical vision of seeing God present in the heart of every living entity. This universal vision of God is a result of always thinking about Him and continually engaging in His service according to the instructions of bona fide teachers.
Everyone experiences the struggle for existence. At present, the humanistic educational institutions focus exclusively on training people for skills in increasing their economic development for sustained sense gratification. The people are subtly programmed to reject belief in a supernatural, intelligent being at the origin of creation. They are lead to believe that man can solve of the problems of life by personal and collective endeavor based on science and social activism. But the people are unhappy. They struggle in a highly competitive world to minimize miseries and increase happiness. The type of happiness they experience is only the temporary relief from misery. It can be compared to a man who purchases a pair of shoes in the style that he likes but are too small for his feet because the size he wanted was not available. After walking all day with his new shoes, he develops a headache and, of course, his feet also ache. On arriving home, he immediately takes off his shoes and sighs in relief with a smile, “Oh, it feels so good!” He smiles because he feels some happiness due to the relief of his misery. Temporary relief of misery is not real happiness.
It is impossible to be successful all the time in a competitive environment. When two people want the same thing for their selfish desires, there is competition, struggle and frustration. Therefore, any happiness in the material world is accompanied by misery due to the unending competition of selfish people. Ultimately, selfish people are competing with God because He is the ultimate proprietor of everything. It is impossible to defeat Him. Thus, frustration is inevitable even if one succeeds in defeating all human beings. This is the fallacy of humanistic education.
Real happiness is not a mixed bag of happiness and distress in a competitive world. This mediocre concept of happiness is due to misrepresentations of false teachers whose fundamental understanding of life is flawed due to their ignorance of man’s eternal soul and its relationship with God. They teach that “life is full of dualities; one must suffer to enjoy; one must know evil to appreciate virtue.”
Duality is a symptom of entanglement in the modes of material nature. One wants to live a moral life, but is attracted by sensual pleasures. Such dualities can continue throughout life as long as there is a lack of spiritual knowledge of one’s relationship with God.
In the material world, activities motivated by material gain cannot result in sustained happiness. But if we actually want unalloyed happiness, then we have to be advanced in spiritual consciousness.
One of the most important qualities of God is daya which means “intolerance of other’s unhappiness” in the Sanskrit language. Daya has two parts to it: one is protection of the surrendered souls who serve God faithfully; the other is the benevolent well-wishing of the Lord for His servants. Lord Krishna’s ultimate instruction to his devotee Arjuna is the following: “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions, Do not fear.” (Bg 18.66) This is the divine mercy of God for His devotee. He protects the devotee by freeing him from all reactions to his past sins. This makes it possible for the devotee to engage in the devotional service of the Lord in the present. (Bg 7. 28) He enlightens the devotee by giving knowledge by which he is freed from all miseries. (Bg 9.1, 28 and 10. 10, 11) He reciprocates loving pastimes with His devotee by revealing and sharing His opulences. Lord Krishna states, “As one surrenders unto Me, proportionately I take care of him.” (Bg 4.11) He promises the devotee to supply what he lacks and preserve what he has. ( Bg 9.22) He guarantees all protection for the devotee. (Bg 6.40)
God makes spiritual advancement of consciousness very easy if we simply follow His advice to associate with saintly persons. (Bg 4.34) There is a very instructive history about the Vedic saint Narada Muni. He was the only son of a poor maid. His mother served saintly persons during the four months of the rainy season in India . During those four months, her young son Narada, who was only five years old, was able to listen to the saints’ discourses and eat the remnants of their sanctified food. As Narada continued to eat and hear them, he became purified and enlightened. He did not study. He simply ate and listened while offering some menial service. By associating with the sages, he got the taste for hearing and chanting the glories of Lord Krishna. He developed the great desire for devotional service. All of this contributed to his being blessed with transcendental knowledge and purification even though he was only five years old. He progressed on the path to become one of the greatest Vedic saints of all time. Thus, by associating with saintly persons, he attained the highest pinnacle of spiritual life which is constant engagement in devotional service and love for God.
Narada never went to school. He was not formally educated in the Vedic knowledge. Yet, he rose to the highest perfection by receiving the divine mercy of God through His saintly representatives. Thus the devotional service of God is joyful and it can be performed even in the most poverty-stricken condition because God accepts the love with which things are offered to Him. (Bg 9. 26)
Changing one’s Destiny
We enjoy or suffer the results of our actions. This is called karma in Sanskrit. How does this happen?
We may observe material objects or persons and think they are meant for our sense enjoyment. Based on this false assumption, subtle psychological thoughts lead us to exploit those objects or persons to gratify our senses. The following explains the preliminary psychological thoughts that lead to action.
1-By contemplating an object that we perceive, we develop attachment.
2- From attachment, we begin to feel “how good it would be to enjoy the object or how nicely the object would pleasure our senses.”
3- Then we make a determination of will that we must enjoy it to be happy. Therefore, after these three steps of thought and psychological conditioning, we are inspired to act to obtain the object.
Our mistake of observation is thinking that all objects or persons in this world are potentially meant for our enjoyment. The truth is we are the secondary enjoyer. God is the primary enjoyer. If we try to reverse the roles, we become subject to the laws of karma. It is like a car thief who imagines that someone else’s car is meant for his enjoyment. He steals the car and joy rides for several days until he is caught and punished by the laws of the state that protect personal proprietorship. Similarly, the laws of karma protect the proprietorship of God.
A state government does not forbid driving cars as long as one follows the laws. One must purchase a car, register it and pass inspection and pay the registration fees. One needs to obtain a driver’s license by passing a two part examination that requires knowledge of the rules of driving on public roads and practical demonstration that one can drive. Both tests are administered by the state examiners. Once a person begins to legally drive a legally registered car, he can enjoy the convenience and pleasure of going on the state regulated roads by following the driving rules. If he becomes negligent and violates the rules, he may be punished with fines or restrictions that may result in taking away his license and even going to jail.
The laws of karma are similar. If a person follows the rules of conduct as prescribed in the Vedic literature and, in the case of Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, namely the Ten Commandments, a person is accorded limited freedom to enjoy regulated pleasures of the senses. If someone becomes negligent and violates the rules, he is punished as a corrective measure. Both the regulated enjoyment and the punishment for violation of the spiritual regulations are conditionings that keep people in the cycle of repeated birth and death if they avoid the help of bona fide spiritual teachers.
The purpose of regulated enjoyment according to scriptural rules is not a license for unabated sense pleasure. Regulated sense enjoyment is permitted to gradually help a person rise above the allure of temporary pleasures and become accustomed to using the senses to please God. The discipline of spiritual life is to help one understand the difference between temporary pleasures that come and go
and spiritual pleasures that lead to liberation from birth and death.
Material pleasures leave one with an empty feeling yearning for more. The yearning after the cessation of temporary material pleasures is coming from the soul of a person and not from the body. Because the soul is eternal, it yearns for unceasing pleasure. A material object like a chair or table or a dead body does not manifest yearning.
Uninterrupted pleasures in the service of God are possible because the individual soul of a person and that of God are both eternal. The spiritual pleasures can be experienced when one frees himself from lust and greed for sensual pleasures of the temporary body. The main reason why one remains attached to lesser pleasures is the conviction that sex and its concomitant factors of profit, distinction and adoration are the highest pleasures one can experience in this life.
Spiritual pleasures however liberate one from the oppressive control of the three modes of nature and the false attachments, fear and anxiety that result. One experiences the freedom of engaging in the service of God without lust, anger, greed or other negative emotions that undermine pure happiness. One is able to serve humanity by sharing the love and peace one feels in the service of God.
Giving or sharing material facilities with others coupled with good character is the platform from which the problems of society can be solved. Lust, anger, greed, envy, illusion and madness are the causes of problems. Therefore, purification of these destructive states of mind and their replacement with love, peace, generosity, well-wishing, the power to discern between what is real and what is false and a sane mind will be instrumental in transforming society.
There is a question that has perplexed people since the beginning of time. If I am working always to be happy, then why am I suffering sometimes? This question can be answered by understanding suffering and careful introspection of oneself. There are three types of suffering: suffering caused by one’s own body and mind; suffering caused by other living entities (human and non-human); suffering caused by natural catastrophes. No one can escape these miseries of life. The question remains, “Why do these miseries occur when enlightened people are doing everything they can to avoid them?”
The answer can be understood by analyzing ourselves carefully. For example, when a child misbehaves, he or she receives remedial punishment which is not meant to cause harm. Rather, it is administered to instruct that the child must desist from certain types of behavior. There are principles or laws of behavior that we must follow in the family and in society. Similarly, there are universal laws that we must follow. Remedial punishment is forced on us when we violate the laws of family, society or the universe.
The Vedic literature explains that there are four prohibited activities that are regulated by the laws of karma. They are:
1- No intoxication which spoils mercifulness
2- No meat eating which inflates one’s false pride and domination. It spoils austerity
3- No gambling and philosophical speculation which spoils truthfulness
4- No illicit sex which spoils cleanliness
The actions that violate these four principles are considered sinful activities.
Due to ignorance or willful disregard of the above universal principles, one engages in sinful activities and becomes subject to remedial punishment by the laws of karma established by the Supreme Father, Lord Krishna. Repeated violation of these four principles by an obstinate person will entangle him in an unending cycle of sinful action and reaction.
Sinful reactions are experienced in four stages.
1. Ignorance of the four prohibited activities that are violated willfully or unconsciously may evolve to a sinful disposition.
2. This inspires sinful yearnings that may manifest as bad dreams and uncontrollable desires.
3. This leads to performing sinful activities. In this active stage, one also experiences reactions to sinful activities performed in previous lives as well as the present one. Examples of these mature reactions are being born with or developing a permanent physical disability, ill health, legal problems, financial difficulties and social problems. The sinful activities one performs in the present may incur immediate reactions or they may be withheld for a future birth.
4. Such reactions remain dormant waiting to be manifested in a future birth.
The laws of karma are complicated. They are further complicated when the reaction to sinful activities performed in this birth are delayed until a future birth. One has tremendous difficulty in understanding the causal relationship between the action and reaction when the reaction occurs in a future birth without any recollection of committing a sinful act in a previous life.
Some souls become so bewildered and disgusted with the unending cycle of happiness and distress that they begin to question why. If they are fortunate enough to get the guidance of enlightened souls, they can begin to put an end to the endlessly repeated cycle of reactive work. They receive instructions how to surrender to God’s will. By their sincere efforts, the reactive laws of karma are put on hold by the mercy of God. The four types of sinful reactions are minimized so that they are no longer obstacles to the spiritual path. The surrendered soul is given a chance to purify himself of the desire to sin. By spiritual knowledge and practice, the sinful disposition is also sublimated to the natural attraction to serving God.
Surrender to God is not regulated or determined by previous karma as sinful reactions are. Although happiness and distress are predetermined by the laws of karma, surrender to God is possible at any moment in the human form of life. The process of surrendering begins by associating with genuine devotees or servants of the Lord. In their company, one begins to understand and experience the powerful transformative effects of serving the personal God and thereby attaining release from the oppressive cycle of birth and death.
How all the problems of society can be solved by following the universal principles of spirituality
Youth today are being corrupted by materialistic propaganda to pursue a life of sense gratification and self-indulgence. In many places the family ties are weakened by divorce and many other factors that divert the attention of the parents from properly educating their children. Another unfavorable trend for the stability of society is the birth of children out of wedlock. Children who are not cared for properly for the most part will cause trouble in society by their lack of education and training in self-discipline and moral values. They are easily corrupted by false teachers who exploit their lack of judgment and engage them in perverse or illegal activities.
Good population in society is the basic principle for peace, prosperity and spiritual progress. It depends on maintaining the family tradition of morally upright men and chaste women. Chastity before marriage is protected by restricted intermingling of men and women. In marriage, chastity is protected by faithfulness of husband and wife to each other and the spiritual principles. Those persons or organizations that try to destroy the family tradition promote the rise of unwanted children born out of wedlock or born to parents who are not interested in properly raising their progeny. The irresponsible leaders of society who promote such activities that weaken the family tradition bring about chaos.
The leaders of society should work constructively to promote the following of the universal principles of spirituality. This will vastly improve the family tradition and the appropriate respect for women and protection and education of children. The dynamic progress of spirituality becomes the foundation of a prosperous, educated and happy population. The following explanation will demonstrate how valuable the universal principles of spirituality are.
By cultivating mercy and compassion coupled with truthfulness as outlined above, empathy and integrity evolve. These give rise to tolerance and forgiveness. With these powerful qualities, a person is prepared to maintain the marriage vow which will put an end to domestic violence, high divorce rates, moral degradation and political problems. With the development of respect and character based on spiritual values, the population becomes peaceful, develop a strong work ethic and maintain genuine relationships in all spheres of life. Such persons of character become examples for others to follow. Leaders and followers of high moral character will maintain political stability and reduce corruption and mismanagement.
By becoming accustomed to austerity coupled with cleanliness of body and mind, one can enthusiastically practice control of the senses for a higher purpose and acceptance to live without violating the laws of karma. This gives rise to living a natural lifestyle by causing the least possible negative impact on nature and respecting the resources provided by God by using them in His service according to scriptural guidelines. One follows the principle of simple living and high thinking. Pollution, over-consumption, drug abuse and addiction, sexual problems and exploitation of women and children, insufficient education of children and many more problems will be eradicated. A well educated and self-disciplined population will be able to bring down health care costs, provide a dependable work force which is necessary for economic stability and growth and use natural resources responsibly to reduce consumption and environmental pollution.
The cumulative effect of the above will result in a population of happy people who constructively work for a bright future.
The Problems of Life
There are four primary, distressful conditions that are imposed on every living being by the laws of nature: birth, death, old age and disease. We do not consciously choose to be born, to get old, to get sick or die. These stages of life are the cause of physical and mental suffering. The unborn child in the womb is subjected to continual suffering. Mother and child suffer together. Childbirth is a painful experience. The first thing a new born baby does is cry as it comes out of the womb. Similarly, at the time of death, there is so much suffering and grief. Disease and old age are further evidence of the unavoidable difficulties one experiences in life.
Realistic Assessment of life
By considering the distresses of birth, death, old age and disease, one should arrive at a pessimistic view of material life. Unless one is convinced that life is an unending struggle for existence rife with suffering, no serious attempt will be made to find a solution. Cultivating spiritual knowledge of how the individual, eternal soul is entrapped in the temporary body is the beginning of the spiritual quest for freedom.
A pessimistic view of material life is not a negative vision. It is a realistic assessment. We must learn from knowledge and experience that true happiness cannot be derived by exploiting nature for our selfish desires. Rather, we can employ nature in the service of God. Then the laws of nature are no longer oppressive to our desires. A criminal is oppressed by the laws of society. But, a law abiding person enjoys the freedom that society affords. By following the laws of society, one gains freedom to pursue one’s dreams. Similarly, when we follow the laws of nature established by God, we gain the freedom of action to serve God unimpeded. All our spiritual desires to serve the Lord are fulfilled and we feel perfectly satisfied and happy. The pessimistic view of material life can be the stepping stone to the optimistic view of our spiritual destiny now and forever.
The problem of material happiness
Any happiness one experiences in life is inevitably accompanied by suffering. This fact should be carefully considered. Material sense pleasures are due to contact of the senses with objects and persons. All these are temporary as is the body itself. A self-realized soul is not interested in enjoying illusory pleasures that come and go. They are the cause of continuing in this material existence of bitter-sweet happiness and distress. An example of the relative nature of happiness and distress is hot or cold water. In summer, cold water can be very pleasing to the senses. But, in winter, cold water can cause distress. In winter, hot water can be pleasing, but cause distress in summer. On the 4th of July in the USA, fireworks are a source of fun for kids. Their parents buy them an assortment of fireworks to set off at night. Sometimes, however, a child can set off fireworks and lose an eye or suffer severe pain. The same fireworks that cause pleasure to some, causes extreme pain or tragedy to others. Another example is the birth of a child who is a source of happiness for the parents. But, the same child may die later and cause extreme pain to the parents.
This material world is full of duality. One cannot have happiness without distress. You cannot understand distress without happiness. Therefore, this material world is a relative place of duality. Attraction to sense pleasures is the cause of continuous material existence. By the addiction to material pleasures, one is distressed by material miseries. Thus, material life is a continual duality of happiness and distress.
False Promises of Science
Most people try to solve the problem of suffering by making temporary adjustments of their material condition. Because scientific research and inventions accompanied by economic development give hope that one day man will conquer disease, old age and death, people are lured into an illusory belief that mankind’s combined efforts will end suffering. Such a conclusion is the result of self-imposed ignorance (this will be discussed later in this article) by which we avoid acknowledging our real situation in this world. Although we see suffering everywhere, we falsely believe that there will be a miraculous discovery in the future by which we can live eternally in this material world and enjoy sensuous pleasures.
For example, a person living three hundred years ago could not have believed that man could fly through the air like birds from one country to another. What seemed impossible three hundred years ago has become a commonplace occurrence in the lives of everyone today with the advancement of knowledge and technology. By studying birds very carefully and experimenting for a period of time man has understood the principle of aerodynamics and flight. With the advancement of technology, man has emulated birds by building machines that can fly through the sky. Material science and technology can emulate phenomena in nature. But it is impossible to emulate something that is not manifest in nature. For example, there are no birds or any creature that live eternally in a material body. Therefore, regardless of how much scientific research and technological advancement man can make, he will never be able to reverse universal conditions such as birth, death, old age and disease. He may attenuate circumstances in which these things occur, but he will never be able to reverse them. The conditions of nature such as birth, death, old age and disease are irreversible. They may be mitigated somewhat but not eliminated.
Materialistic education has misled people to believe in a “fool’s paradise” where the promises of science and false logic replace belief in God. By loss of faith in God and disregard for His instructions as given in Holy Scriptures, people blindly violate the laws of nature and suffer unnecessarily due to ignorance.
Once we learn not to violate the laws of nature as established by God, we can live peacefully in this world. Through unselfish service, we can achieve love of God, experience the cooperation of nature to mitigate the struggle for existence and reach the goal of human life which is complete liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Secondary Problems – fourteen principles of devastation
Everyone attempts to achieve happiness, peace and love in their lives. When we seek these desirable goals through economic development and material sense gratification, many unpleasant things result. This is due to misdirecting our priority in life from faith in God to faith in economic development and sense gratification as the means to ultimate happiness. The secondary problems of life result from such misdirection of priority. They are: Irreligion (not believing in God or accepting false gods) and Falsity (believing in the mechanistic genesis of life from chemicals or material atoms) that give rise to Bluffing, Cheating, Greed, Cunning, Anger, Envy, Quarrel, Harsh Speech, Death, Fear, Severe Pain and Hell. These fourteen principles of devastation are the result of pursuing the wrong means to attain the goal of life.
Irreligion and falsity develop from ignorance. God endows every human being with a certain measure of free will which is limited to either voluntarily follow the instructions of God or reject them. We can choose at any moment to follow God’s instructions as given in Holy Scriptures or ignore them. One rejects God’s instructions out of ignorance. This ignorance is in fact self- imposed, which refers to the limitations of consciousness due to attachment to temporary material things. Material things by nature are limited in time and space and by identifying with them we limit ourselves to a restricted time space concept of life which is far removed from reality.
This can be explained by the following example. There were two men in a steam room of a public bathhouse. After half an hour of sweating they both took a shower, relaxed for an hour, then dressed and left. One gentleman was a teacher who had a modest but sufficient income to maintain his family. While both men dressed, the teacher noticed that the other gentleman had very expensive clothes. At the check-out desk, the teacher was amazed to see that the other man retrieved extremely valuable personal jewelry and a costly designer watch from the valuables vault. On exiting the bathhouse, the teacher was again surprised to see that the other man stepped into a chauffeur driven limousine. The teacher inquired from other patrons of the bathhouse if they knew who the wealthy stranger was. He was told that the man was one of the wealthiest persons in the world. Inside the steam room, there was no way for the teacher to understand the wealth, position and influence of the other man. It was only when he noticed the expensive jewelry, watch and limousine that he became curious to find out who the other man was.
Similarly, we have no means to understand the power and opulence of God, until we develop the curiosity to find out and meet knowledgeable persons who know factually.
How we fall into the state of self-imposed ignorance
We perceive the world with our five senses that deliver information to the mind which is the sixth sense. The mind registers the “input” of the senses and records them in the memory which is very similar to a computer. However, there is one major difference between a computer and a human being; a person can develop attachment to the objects of the senses (the input). This in turn can give rise to the development of lust, anger, greed, delusion, bewilderment of memory, loss of intelligence and entanglement in the whirlpool of action and reaction. The results are many adverse consequences due to violating the laws of nature and the laws of society. One becomes hopelessly entangled in a complex net of attachments to temporary objects and relationships. These false attachments generate negative attitudes that keep one in an unending cycle of birth and death in the material world. The following is a detailed description of the downward spiral of self-imposed ignorance.
Absorbing one’s mind in external designations and developing false attachments, one encounters much frustration and struggle. There was once a woman who purchased a new Lexus. As she drove out of the dealership a VW van painted with rainbow colors smashed into the new Lexus and caused considerable damage. By chance, the woman was not physically injured. She sprang out of the damaged car and began to scream in rage.
“Why the hell did you run into my new car? I just pulled out of the Lexus dealership. Give me your insurance papers. Your insurance company will pay for all this damage to my car.”
“I’m sorry lady, but I don’t have insurance. I can’t afford it,” said the young man with the dreadlocks.
The lady screamed, “Damn fool! You are good for nothing dope head!”
Although the lady was not physically injured herself, she seemed to be in an extreme state of pain and frustration. Why was the lady so distressed and pained? What part of her was affected by the accident that damaged her car? If a person has a toothache, they can point to the exact spot where it hurts. The swollen or sore gums or the decayed tooth with an exposed nerve is easy to identify. Where was the lady hurt? She was not physically injured. Yet, she seemed distressed and pained. This was due to her attachment and false identification with the new car. Her attachment was so strong that whatever happened to the car affected her. The idea, “This new Lexus is mine. I am going to enjoy driving it,” was the immediate object of attachment of her false ego.
The ego is self-identification of oneself, or “I am.” The false ego is identifying oneself with a temporary material object. One may think “I am the owner, controller and the enjoyer of this particular material thing or person.” The lady above assumed she was the owner and enjoyer of the new car. Because the object or the relationship is temporary, the conviction that one is the owner, controller and enjoyer is illusory or false. At most, it is a short term relationship that can change at any time.
How does the false ego evolve?
Why would a person identify with a temporary thing or relationship knowing well that it can end at any time?
A human being has a body with senses, which gather information and impressions of the physical world and feed them to the mind. The mind is the center of all activities of the senses. When one looks upon and hears about sense objects, the mind becomes a reservoir of ideas of sense gratification. Varieties of desires and attachment build up in the mind. The sensuous contemplation of an object leads to the development of attachment to enjoy the object. One thinks about the object by seeing its desirable qualities. One begins to feel how pleasing it would be to own and enjoy the object. One wills or becomes determined that unless they own and control the object they will not achieve sensuous and mental fulfillment.
From contemplation of an object which includes thinking, feeling and willing, one may develop attachment and eventually lust for it. Thus the mind and senses become repositories of lust, which is an obsessive desire to own and control something or someone. The intelligence or the power of the person to discern right from wrong, good from bad, positive from negative, becomes affected by the lusty mentality. One begins to make decisions based on lust for the object rather than what is the long term good for the person. The lusty intelligence becomes the seat of the false ego by which a person attempts to dominate material nature with its objects or people.
Using the faculties of the senses, mind and intelligence which are infected with lust, a person becomes attached to a temporary thing and develops a sort of addiction to enjoying the object with their material senses, and mistakes this temporary enjoyment as true happiness.
The woman with the Lexus developed the strong attachment to enjoy her new car. But, her pleasure was abruptly interrupted by the man in the rainbow VW. She vented her frustration and pain which quickly turned to anger. It was as if she was injured by the damage done to her car. She was not injured physically. The truth is that her false ego was pained by the abrupt accident due to her excessive attachment to the Lexus.
The false ego or the material object-oriented consciousness has two psychic divisions. One identifies oneself as the controller, and then as the enjoyer of the object. While enjoying the object one develops a very strong and sometimes obsessive attachment to it. The passionate or overmastering craving to control and enjoy an object is the symptom of lust.
Lust and its negative effects
In the Bhagavad-gita*, Lord Krishna explains the origin of lust in a human being.
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.” (BG 3.37)
Originally everyone has pure love for God. When a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, the eternal love for God is transformed into lust, in association with the mode of passion. The sense of love of God becomes transformed into lust just as dry ice or solid carbon dioxide transforms from a solid to a gas at normal temperatures and pressure. The carbon dioxide gas can be reconverted back to a solid by pressurizing it and lowering the temperature. Under such conditions, it changes to a liquid form. When the pressure is reduced, some liquid carbon dioxide vaporizes, and this causes a rapid lowering of temperature. The remaining liquid carbon dioxide becomes a solid. Similarly, love of God in contact with material nature is transformed into lust; but, with proper treatment, the lust for material dominance can transform back to love of God.
When lust is unsatisfied, it turns to anger; anger is transformed into illusion, and illusion continues the material entanglement. Lust induces the pure living entity to remain in the material world, continually suffering birth, death, old age and disease. When a human being becomes bewildered by lust and anger, he may misuse his freedom of choice by refusing to serve God in this life. The attitude of service to God may be transformed to the desire to enjoy sense gratification. Then, he comes under the influence of lust. Thus lust evolves by contact with the mode of passion, which is born of unlimited desires and longings. By the increase of the mode of passion, one hankers for unlimited sense gratification. To achieve this one must work very hard. By such difficult labor, one becomes attached to the fruits of labor and becomes bound by such activities. There is an instructive story to illustrate these points.
There is a story about a saint named Narada who once asked Lord Krishna to reveal to him the workings of Maya, the Lord’s illusory energy. Lord Krishna sat under the shade of a tree overlooking a river. He asked Narada to fetch water to drink from the nearby river. Narada went to the river bank. He noticed a beautiful, young woman who was also filling three jugs with water. They both acknowledged each other with a smile. Narada politely offered to help her carry the three full jugs of water. She lived in a village near the bank of the river. Narada accompanied her back to her family home where he met her parents and siblings. The parents, who were farmers and owned land, invited Narada to eat dinner with them. The young maiden was named after the sacred river Yamuna. Narada was enticed by her charm and beauty. By associating with her, he became convinced that without her, he would never experience happiness or love. One thing led to another and Narada asked the parents if he could marry Yamuna. They agreed.
Soon the wedding was celebrated and the couple was given land and a modest village house for residence. Narada worked hard to cultivate, plant, and harvest the fields. The couple had their first child. The cultivated fields yielded plentiful crops. Narada and Yamuna shared a part of their crops with Yamuna’s parents and also with the poor. They became known for their generosity and kindness. They prospered. Two more children were born to them. There was boundless joy in their house and the surrounding village.
Narada was attached to his lovely children. They were always with him in the fields, in the barn, in the house. Narada would tell them stories, feed them, and in every way show his affection. His love for Yamuna was unbounded. The children and Yamuna reciprocated his affection and their bounds of love grew day to day. The idyllic life continued for eight years.
During the rainy season of the eighth year, there was a deluge of rain that made the nearby river dangerously swollen. Narada and his family became worried about the rising waters. He joined the other villagers in building levees to protect their homes and fields. Everyone prayed that the rain stop. The incessant rain washed away the levees and flooded the entire valley. All the villagers feared for their lives. They protected themselves by taking refuge on the roofs of their houses. One by one the houses were swept away by the raging waters. Narada and Yamuna tried their best to protect their children. They were huddled together on the roof of their house holding on to each other and praying. The water rose so high that the entire family was afloat. When Narada tried to grab hold of a floating tree trunk for safety, he let go of his wife and children for a moment. They were swept away by the current. He looked on helplessly as they disappeared one by one into the depths. He was heartbroken with grief. Narada held on to the tree trunk which was carried by the current to the edge of higher ground. He was able to grab some bushes growing on the edge of the raging waters and struggled to pull himself on to dry land. He lay there exhausted and depressed, his eyes drenched in hot tears of lamentation. He was frustrated, angry and finally bewildered by what he just experienced. He lost everyone that he cherished in a few moments. His ideal life was shattered by an unspeakable tragedy. He thought of jumping back into the waters and drowning because there was no reason to continue his life. From nowhere, he heard a calm, familiar voice full of affection, “Narada, did you bring me water to drink?” It was Lord Krishna. Narada was shocked. He realized that he had been under the spell of Lord Krishna’s illusory energy (Maya). He looked up and saw the smiling beautiful face of the Lord. There was no flood and the surroundings were lush, green and peaceful. He experienced years of activity and relationships in a few intense moments during which he was completely oblivious of his surroundings. He was immersed in a world of illusion that became “his reality,” which was like a dream that seemed real.
Forgetfulness of God is the cause of the downward spiral
The human frailty which makes us susceptible to this adverse cycle is forgetfulness of our eternal relationship to God. He is the original father, creator, owner or proprietor, enjoyer, overseer, controller and knower of the material creation and everyone in it. We ignore this eternal fact due to anger or envy of God, we attempt to equal or surpass Him by exploiting the material energy. Engrossed in such attempts, we completely ignore or forget about God. Just like a person dreaming at night forgets who he is while his mind is involved in the events of his dream.
Proprietorship of God
By ignoring or forgetting God, one develops a sinful disposition due to either an ignorant or deliberate disobedience of the laws of nature. The cause of this is disregarding the proprietorship of God. The concept of proprietorship is the basis of the organization of human society. We see different types of social organization based on capitalism, socialism, communism, monarchy, dictatorship, and hybrids of the above. All these are flawed concepts because ultimately God is the sole proprietor and controller of everything. Unless a person understands this universal truth, he will continually violate the laws of nature by trying to usurp God’s property for selfish purposes. Disobeying the laws of nature which were established by God by disregarding His proprietorship is ruinous for the well-being of a human being.
We develop false attachment to something or someone in the material world. This happens when we observe an object of our senses without seeing its relationship to God. Just as a person finds a wallet in the street and thinks it belongs to him because he found it. As we observe an object, we begin to develop attachment for it. We see the object and think how nice it is. We feel how good it would be to enjoy the object or use it to please ourselves. We make an act of will with determination that the object is necessary for our pleasure. Then, we act to obtain the object. During the thinking, feeling and willing stages preceding action, our mind can progress from attachment to lust or the obsessive desire to own and control an object for our personal pleasure.
Mode of Passion
Lust may evolve from attachment when we associate with the mode of passion which is exemplified by sexual attraction. The attraction of a man and woman for each other or any other combination is the example of the mode of passion. As the mode of passion is increased, one develops the hankering for material enjoyment or sense gratification. For sustained and regular sense gratification one seeks profit, distinction and eventually adoration. A partner, house, family and children, many appliances and vehicles or other gadgets, and whatever is needed for pleasuring the senses are acquired. These are products of the mode of passion. One works very hard to obtain and maintain them. The result is one becomes attached to the fruits of his activities and is bound in a network of actions and reactions.
Anger from lust
If our lust is frustrated in the attempt to obtain the object, we become angry. When this anger develops, we fall into a state of self-imposed ignorance that can lead to individual and socially destructive behavior, continual trouble and misery even though our goal is seeking happiness. There are five coverings of ignorance of a materially conditioned person once he becomes angry at or envious of God.
Five coverings of ignorance
The first is anger itself which evolves when we misuse our limited free will and begin to desire to enjoy and control on an equal or greater level than God. We think, “Why should I not be a free enjoyer like the Supreme Lord?” Our constitutional position is to be the servant of God. By nature, we are always subordinate to Him. If we ignore this eternal fact and attempt to be equal to or emulate God, we succumb to continual frustration and anger because our efforts are destined to fail. God is the controller and enjoyer of everything in His creation. In ignorance, we try to control and enjoy a small part of creation. Anyone who wants to emulate God through material acquisition of power and control will fail eventually due to old age, disease and death.
2. Belief that death is the ultimate end of life
Considering death to be the ultimate end of life is the second covering of ignorance. Atheists and materialists think the body is the self. They refuse to accept that there is a non-material soul. They believe their individual existence ends with the death of the body. Enjoyment of the pleasures of the material senses and mind is the goal of life.
They think: “We should enjoy life and live as prosperously as possible. Religious dogma and its doctrine of sin is an artificial imposition on man’s material destiny of enjoying life to the fullest. The religious belief that man is responsible to a supreme being and there will be a judgment after death of one’s “mortal sins” is nonsense. The concept of a supreme god is a fabrication of weak–minded men and an afterlife is a false hope. Mankind is alone in the material universe and is obliged to determine its destiny by logic and science. Religion and belief in a supernatural god is superstition that is an obstacle to mankind’s progressive development through scientific research.”
This atheistic belief is destroying human civilization.
3. Disbelief that the soul is an eternal individual
The third covering of ignorance is remaining ignorant of the eternal, individual soul. Almost everyone believes that their material body is their essential identity. They do not understand that the body is simply a temporary covering of the soul. The body is continually changing in life from childhood to death. The soul is manifest by the consciousness within the body. This consciousness is not produced by any chemical combination of material elements. People adhere to the following misconception: “This is my body, and anything in relationship with this body is mine.” In the minds of such misguided persons, sex is the most prominent source of pleasure. The concomitant factors of sex are profit, distinction and eventually adoration. Men and women often seek a stable sexual relationship. Thus, they get married or live together. They become attached to home, motherland, children, wealth and opulence. The appetite for sex can sometimes lead to extra-marital relationships. If there is a problem of sexual rapport in a marriage it may result in separation and divorce with drastic social consequences for the upbringing of children. Without understanding the difference between the soul and the body, people believe the illusory concept that man’s existence is accidental and temporary. Therefore, the goal of life is to exact as much pleasure for the body and avoid suffering by any means.
4. Illusion of the bodily concept of life
As the attachment for sex increases, the illusion of the bodily concept of life also increases. This is the fourth covering of ignorance. Along with the increase in bodily attachment come three feelings of possessiveness of “I, me and mine.” Greed evolves from the anger and frustration of unsuccessful attempts to increase non-permanent wealth and power.
The more one succeeds in accumulating wealth and power on the false idea that “I am this body,” the more one becomes attached to such possessions. This results in a network of illusory attachments and subsequent entanglements. One is also afflicted by material anxieties to protect such possessions from irresponsible family members, government tax collectors and enemies. Thus, the influence of ignorance expands.
5. Madness for sense gratification
When the illusion of the bodily concept becomes more and more intense, one becomes mad or insane for sense gratification and performs all sorts of sinful activities. This is the advanced stage of ignorance. In recent times, we have seen many examples of men and women who have succumbed to this madness. They engage in very risky behavior that exposes them to ridicule, shame, loss of prestige and legal problems. A few examples are Tiger Woods, Anthony Wiener, Elliot Spitzer, John Edwards, and many other men and women.
Negative social effects
The negative social effects of the above discussion are the following:
Violence, crime, drug and sex addiction, divorce, war, social and political unrest, economic uncertainty and poverty, discrimination based on race-religion-or other reasons, abortion and euthanasia, mental anxiety and depression, disintegration of the traditional family, prostitution, declining health of the population, moral decline, distrust of authority, homelessness, child abuse, spousal abuse, spiraling cost of health care, unemployment, etc. This non-exhaustive list of social ills is the result of ignorance of God and confusion about the purpose in life.
False promises of scientific progress and economic development
Scientific progress coupled with economic development give false hope to the people of this age that man can dominate nature and eventually solve the problems of old age, disease and death. Scientific progress has produced convenient mechanical and electronic constructions and devices that have helped people have a comfortable life. Airplanes, bridges, tunnels, ships, trains, cars, rockets, the internet and cell phones, television, radio, electrical appliances and many more amazing products of man’s ingenuity have convinced many people that science will some day solve all of humanity’s problems. Economic development has provided the means to purchase many gadgets and amenities for increased sense gratification. However, along with these advanced amenities, many unforeseen problems have arisen such as environmental contamination, sickness and disease caused by over consumption and anxiety, lethal weapons of mass destruction, etc. Furthermore, all the societies engaged in such economic development have been frustrated by the laws of nature through periodic wars, pestilence, famine and natural catastrophes. The Roman Empire, the Mogul Empire, the British Empire, the Soviet Union have all been vanquished in time. Scientific advancements and economic development have not remedied the inevitability of birth, death, old age and disease. Nor have they seen a decrease or eradication of the secondary problems of life. Rather, the secondary problems have increased unlimitedly.
Insular nature of self imposed ignorance
One becomes an island unto himself by succumbing to the five coverings of ignorance. He builds a psychological barrier between himself and God. This is due to his becoming envious of God’s supremacy. It is impossible for someone to emulate or surpass God’s prestige, opulence and power. An person who is deluded by his own wealth and false prestige becomes envious when he feels someone is greater than him. God is the greatest of all and thus becomes the ultimate object of envy for the materialist who has become obsessively attached to sense gratification.
Bewildered by his false ego, strength, pride, lust and anger, the deluded materialist become envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His holy scriptures. Since God is present in the body of every living entity as the witness and permitter of man’s thoughts and actions, the envious person becomes envious of his own self and of others. The self-envy is manifested when he refuses to accept that his present life should be lived according to God’s instructions in the scriptures in order to guarantee his salvation in the next life. He does not believe in life after death, the laws of karma or the existence of God. Out of envy, He presents arguments against the existence of God and denies scriptural authority in an attempt to convince others to become atheists. He thinks himself independent and powerful. For him, the gratification of the senses becomes the ultimate goal of life.
This impudent mindset isolates the atheist from any favorable association with genuine devotees of God. He rejects bona fide spiritual standards and whimsically makes up his own. He may even become a preacher to mislead the people and become known as a religious reformer or a pseudo-incarnation of God. His activities are so reprehensible that he has practically no chance of receiving the mercy of God.
Every mountain has (or is covered by) fog.
ahmen lehr eer mshoush ounee
This proverb implies that everyone has his personal problems in life.