• Lessons learned from nature

    gehnsahpahnoutiahn ousoumnehr

    Many lessons can be learned by observing fish, birds, reptiles and animals. They have traits and habits that are similar to human beings. Humans and animals eat, sleep, mate and defend. They go through the same six stages of life as humans, namely, they are born, grow, maintain themselves, produce by-products, dwindle, and die. Their bodies are endowed with senses by which they perceive the world around them. Many manifest social behavior such as living in groups with dominant males or females. They constantly struggle for existence against natural predators and forces of nature.

    It is no surprise that all creatures have varying degrees of sense perception. Humans have five highly developed senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. Lower creatures than humans usually have one sense that is more evolved than the other four. The one highly developed sense can often cause a fatal consequence for the creature. The following examples will demonstrate the perilous nature of a developed sense without the balance of thoughtful intelligence.

    Deer have sensitive ears and nose. They can hear sounds and pick up scent from far away. Hunter’s use a special deer horn to mimic the sounds of does or bucks. Deer make different grunts especially in their mating season. The hunter makes the grunt sounds with the horn which bring the deer in range to be shot. Sometimes deer are also transfixed by hearing the sweet sound of music and their attentive hearing makes them a target of hunters.

    The moth has very sensitive eyes. It can become disoriented by seeing a bright light at night or a fire. As it moves closer to the light of the fire, its delicate wings are burned and it falls into the flames.

    Fish like to eat tasty bites of flesh, insects or worms floating in the water. They scavenge the water seeking anything they can gulp down. The fisherman baits a hook with a real worm or a colorful lure that tricks the fish into taking a bite and getting caught on the hook.

    Honey bees seek out nectar from plants. They are attracted by the fragrance of a flower. A bee enters a fragrant lotus flower and gets trapped in it when the flower closes its petals at sunset.

    A mighty elephant wandering at will in the forest gets caught when tempted with a female decoy elephant kept in a specially constructed enclosure. Once in the enclosure to mate with the female, the elephant is trapped and gradually domesticated. By the touch of a female elephant the male is caught.

    The deer are sensitive to sound, the moth to light, fish to taste, honeybees to fragrance and elephants to touch. Because of one highly developed sense perception each of the above animals is trapped or killed. How much more vulnerable is a human being who possesses five sensitive senses.

    There is a very instructive verse in the Bhagavad-gita on this subject. “As a strong wind sweeps away a boat on the water, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.” (Bg 2.67) If one highly developed sense of an animal can lead to its capture or death, then what can we say of human beings who have five developed senses and the mind which is considered the sixth sense. It is very easy for a person to be distracted by one or more of his senses. There are many unfortunate examples of human entrapment.

    A honeytrap is a scheme in which a victim is lured into a compromising sexual situation to provide an opportunity for blackmail. A US Marine, Clayton J. Lonetree was a guard at the US Embassy in Moscow in the early 1980’s. He was seduced by a female KGB operative, who was already working at the US Embassy as a translator. He allowed her to wander the corridors of the Embassy unsupervised late at night. When Lonetree was transferred to Vienna, his lover threatened to expose their affair and blackmailed him into handing over detailed plans of the US Embassy in Moscow as well as information about CIA operatives and working practices in the Soviet Union. By 1987, the CIA became aware that there was a major security breach at the Embassy. After an investigation, Clayton J. Lonetree became the first ever member of the US Marine Corps to be tried for espionage and was sentenced by a military court in Quantico, Virginia to thirty years in prison.

    For a successful human life, one needs to restrain the senses from unbridled attachment to sense objects. It is not possible to stop attraction to sense objects. One can, however, use one’s intelligence to understand the consequences of attachment to sense objects and develop the power to restrain oneself.

    Attachment to the objects of the senses that leads to lusty desires to own and control them for sense gratification is the cause of entanglement and adverse reactions or the “honeytrap effect.” The senses and the mind cannot be stopped from being attracted to sense objects. One can engage all the senses and the mind in the service of Krishna or God. The art of spiritual engagement under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master is the best way to control oneself from becoming victimized by the forces of nature.

    The following Bible passage emphasizes the importance of following God’s instructions and at the same time developing genuine love for Him. A true lover of God will do their best to spread the glories of the Lord. The rules are necessary, but without love of God they remain only moral codes.

    “So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19–20

    How can righteousness go beyond that of experts in the law? It is only possible by cultivating a personal relationship, a faith commitment to Jesus or the teacher who represents the word of God in action. That is something the scribes and Pharisees did not have and could not offer. Only those who have such a relationship, and the transformed heart that goes with it, will enter the kingdom of heaven according to the above passage.

    For those who simply follow the law, it is always possible to succumb to temptation and fall from the righteous path. Lord Krishna says, “The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them. One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence.” (Bg 2.60,61) Without the personal relationship with God or His representative it is impossible to fully control the senses.

    The controlled mind is the best friend and the mind out of control is the worst enemy. The mind is an instrument that is meant to be controlled. The uncontrolled mind serves the dictations of lust, anger, greed, illusion, etc. The controlled mind voluntarily follows the instructions of Personality of Godhead, who is present in the heart of every living entity. One develops a rapport with God by heeding His advice as reveled in scripture.

    Genuine yoga practice such as pure bhakti yoga or the yoga of love and devotion awakens one’s awareness of God’s presence in the heart. By practicing bhakti yoga, complete surrender to following the instructions of the Lord comes naturally. Lord Krishna instructs Arjuna, his devotee, “Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight. Those persons who execute their duties according to My injunctions and who follow this teaching faithfully, without envy, become free from the bondage of fruitive actions.” (Bg 3. 30,31)

    A spectacular example of the above descriptions of a self-realized soul is the ancient king named Ambarisa Maharaja. He engaged his mind always meditating on serving the lotus feet of Lord Krishna; during all the hours of the day, he engaged his words in describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord; his hands in cleaning the temple of the Lord; his ears in hearing the nectarine pastimes of the Lord; his eyes in seeing the transcendental forms of the Lord; his body in serving the devotees of the Lord; his nose in smelling the scent of flowers offered to the Lord; his tongue in tasting the Tulasi leaves offered at the lotus feet of the Lord; his legs in going to the temple of the Lord; his head in offering obeisances unto the Lord, and his desires in executing the mission of the Lord. All these activities of devotion are symptoms of a pure devotee of the Lord.

    Engaging all the senses in God’s service is possible only when the mind is fixed in constant remembrance of the Lord. The mind and the senses require engagements. Renunciation of material life without positive engagement in the service of the Lord cannot be sustained. It is possible with knowledge to use everything in life in the service of God. By proper training one can practice the principle of dovetailing or engaging oneself and possessions favorably in the service of God. The first step in dovetailing is to know with conviction that everything belongs to God. This conviction frees one from selfish possessiveness. Then one can learn how to accept things that can be favorably used in the service of God and reject things that may be unfavorable. Even the rejected things may also be used later when one has more mature knowledge. For example, killing an animal to eat its flesh is rejected. But, if the animal dies naturally without violence, its flesh can be given to meat eaters who desire to eat it. All people in society can be engaged in the service of God and live peacefully when the principle is to please God by their work.

  • Laughing too much brings tears

    Shad khntahluh lahtz guh pereh

    It is wise not to rejoice too much when there is success and not to lament too much when there is defeat.

  • I don’t have a beard to hold back my words (or choose my words with discretion)

    Moruk chounem vor khohsguhss zuhspem

    Stroking one’s beard is a great way to refrain from speaking when provoked.