Sunday, June 25, 2017

Three Formidable Foes That Rama Can Overcome

[Shri Rama]“There if death itself, demigods, or demons were to stand in Rama’s way, He will destroy them, too.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.36)

tatra yadi antarā mṛtyuḥ yadi devāḥ saha asurāḥ |
sthāsyanti pathi rāmasya sa tān api vadhiṣyati ||

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Just how strong is God? Is there a way to measure? One of the Sanskrit words used to describe Him is Adhokshaja. This references a person whose features cannot be assessed using blunt instruments. In essence, God’s height is both too large and too small to fathom. He is simultaneously greater than the greatest and tinier than the tiniest. He fits within the heart of both the ant and the elephant. As the Supersoul He expands to reside within both the intelligent person and the animal-like one.

The incarnations help to give an idea about God’s features. A popular animated television series from the 1980s had a tagline of, “and knowing his half the battle.” Knowing God is extremely important. In fact, that knowledge is more worthwhile than the latest news produced by the leaders of state.

That knowledge can shape consciousness, and consciousness is what determines the nature of living going forward. There will always be a future, as the individual, who is spirit soul, can never be killed. If we are going to continue to live, we might as well consider how to make that living pleasurable.

The incarnation of Rama has the name that indicates God’s possession of full transcendental pleasure. Bliss, or ananda, is given to others who interact with Him in the proper mood. Rama assumes the role of protector of the innocent, and in order to protect properly you have to overcome any obstacles encountered. With Rama, some of the most formidable foes are no match.

1. Demigods

The Sanskrit words are sura and deva. These are gods. They reside in the heavenly region; hence they can also be known as celestials. They are individual spirit souls temporarily residing in amazing bodies. Though the first sura, Lord Brahma, lives for billions of years, in the grand scheme even that length of time is not much.

“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)

Rama can overcome the devas, should they stand in His way. This is the opinion of Shri Hanuman, Rama’s messenger. The opinion is validated through knowledge of God’s features.

Why would the devas ever go against God? Doesn’t the word sura indicate that they are good guys, on the side of righteousness?

Demigods are still conditioned living entities, so there is the chance that they might succumb to jealousy. This occurred one time with the king of the celestials, Indra. He tested the strength in God by instigating a devastating rainstorm in Vrindavana, intended to kill innocent men, women, children, and cows. The same Rama was there, but in His form of Krishna. God thwarted the attack by simply lifting a massive hill and holding it up as an umbrella.

2. Demons

The Sanskrit word asura is a negation of the word used for demigods. The asuras are already against God, so it is not surprising that they would try to thwart the Divine will. In Rama’s case there were many encounters with the asuras prior to meeting Hanuman. Rama one time handled fourteen thousand asura-like men attacking Him at the same time.

Hanuman knows that Rama will destroy any demons that stand in His way of rescuing Sita, who was held in Lanka against her will by the king of the land, Ravana. Lanka was populated by Rakshasas, which are a special kind of demon, the lowest of the low in terms of consciousness. They had heightened ability in fighting, but they didn’t know how to use it for the highest benefit.

3. Death

In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that He is time itself. The Sanskrit word is kala. The word is synonymous with death. Time is the great destroyer. It is undefeated. Every person who takes birth must eventually succumb to death.

As Rama is God, He is above birth and death. If death personified were to stand in His way of rescuing Sita, Rama would win. This is the power of God. He creates the many universes effortlessly. He can destroy them, as well. Though He is time itself, He is separate from it. He does not directly involve Himself with the ups and downs found in the material world.

[Shri Rama]Through offering protection Rama similarly empowers His servants, who are known as devotees. Death still strikes, but it has no influence on the ability to practice devotion going forward. Demigods and demons may get in the way, even powerful sages. Durvasa Muni was defeated by King Ambarisha, just because Ambarisha was a devotee of the Supreme Lord. In the same way Hanuman could not be defeated by Ravana or his men. Such knowledge gives further confidence in the path of full surrender in devotion, which makes the most out of the human birth.

In Closing:

Most power ever in person to see,

Not even formidable enemies three.

 

To have chance in victory over Him gaining,

Like celestials the highest region attaining.

 

Indra in anger sending devastating rain,

Lord lifting hill of Govardhana name.

 

Death or even weapons of asuras showered,

No match, same for devotees empowered.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Taking On Turbulent Waters

[Rama and Lakshmana]“With a mass of arrows Rama will paralyze the immovable ocean and wipe out the Rakshasas from the city of Lanka.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.35)

viṣṭambhayitvā bāṇa oghaiḥ akṣobhyam varuṇa ālayam |
kariṣyati purīm lankām kākutsthaḥ śānta rākṣasām ||

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A fear prevalent in modern times relates to flying. Statistics show that air travel is generally safer than travelling by automobile, but a few difficult experiences in the air are enough to scare people for life. After all, a plane is a massive object that somehow floats in the air. It’s only rational to be concerned about its safety.

In ages past the only way to travel long distances, between places separated by water, was to take boats. There was great risk in that, as well. If you run into a problem while you are out in the middle of the sea, who is going to come and help you? What if you run out of food? The waves of the ocean are quite strong and unpredictable. At every moment there is risk.

The king of Lanka a long time ago accomplished a task very important to him by using the aerial route. He took an airplane-like vehicle from his half-brother Kuvera. He used it to travel to the forest of Dandaka, where after using a false guise the king took a woman that was married to another man. He crossed the vast ocean using the Pushpaka vehicle, bringing Sita back to Lanka.

Ravana thought the great ocean insulated his home from foreign attack. What he didn’t count on was the Supreme Lord Himself showing the world His amazing potency. Sita was Rama’s wife, after all. Ravana was too afraid to fight Rama fairly and openly for the queen whose heart was given over to the son of King Dasharatha.

[Shri Hanuman]In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman is reassuring Sita that Rama will indeed come and rescue her. Hanuman had made it across the ocean by first increasing his size and then jumping from a mountaintop. Rama is an incarnation of God, so He could surely do the same. One of the names for God is Yogeshvara, which means “master of all mystic power.”

Ravana was waiting on the other side, along with His Rakshasa army. Rakshasas are like man-eating ogres, and in Lanka they were very powerful. Rama had already vanquished fourteen-thousand of Ravana’s men singlehandedly, but this would have to be a tactical strike. An invasion is different from protecting yourself. Defense can react to offense; the offense has to be more strategic in their moves.

Hanuman assures Sita that Rama will make it to Lanka along with a massive army. The turbulent waters of the ocean will be paralyzed by a host of arrows released by Rama. Those same arrows will wipe out the Rakshasas from Lanka.

This is child’s play for Rama. As Vishnu He simply exhales to create many universes. While still lying down, Vishnu inhales to destroy everything. Day and night, repeating in sequence, sees the appearance and disappearance of conditioned souls.

“Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active; and again the night falls, O Partha, and they are helplessly dissolved.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.19)

[Rama and Lakshmana]As Rama can calm the rough waters of the ocean using His arrows, He can help those struggling in the ocean of nescience find sobriety and move towards the ultimate destination. He does this through the representatives like Hanuman, who bring the sound incarnation of God. Today that incarnation is in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

To Dandaka by Pushpaka car flown,

Taking Sita thinking his own.

 

But given forever to Rama that heart,

Who ready towards Lanka to depart.

 

Though vast ocean not obstacle any,

Could easily overcome with arrows many.

 

Ocean of nescience for devotees swimming,

Holy names for supreme abode winning.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Winning A Handicap Match

[Vanaras building bridge]“After hearing my words, Raghava certainly will come here very soon, with a great military force consisting of a host of monkeys and bears.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.34)

śrutvā eva tu vaco mahyam kṣipram eṣyati rāghavaḥ |
camūm prakarṣan mahatīm hari ṛṣka gaṇa samkulām ||

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  • “This golfer is so great. He has won every major tournament. The Masters is played at the same venue each year, and it has a rich tradition. But most of these other tournaments switch venues. Yet this golfer continues to win. In warm weather, in the wind, on an American course or a Links style - it doesn’t matter.”
  • “This tennis player is amazing. They win the biggest tournaments, against the best players. The surfaces change throughout the year. On one end is the fast, indoor hard court. On the other is the slow, red clay. There is grass to contend with, as well. This player wins on every surface. It doesn’t matter the weather conditions, either.”
  • “This person is so smart they don’t need to rely on textbooks, the internet, or other reference materials. They can figure things out quickly. Both theoretical and practical, they are a genius. If you need help on anything, they are the first person to consult.”

In this way we have different ways of measuring greatness. Put a person in different conditions, which is the way of material nature, as it is ever-changing, and see how they fare. Greatness in this regard is measured in comparison to others. If there were no such comparisons made, everyone would be considered the same.

One name for the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Adhokshaja. The best translation for this word is “one whose qualities cannot be measured by blunt instruments.” A simple example is height. You take a ruler or some measuring tape, go from head to toe, and you have the height measurement. With the Supreme Lord this is not possible.

“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)

One reason is that in His plenary expansion as the Supersoul, God is everywhere. It’s like the electricity running throughout the town. It comes from a single source but maintains its identity. Still, electricity is inanimate and lacking intelligence. The Supersoul is everywhere, the same in identity, and supremely powerful. Without the sanction of the Supersoul nothing we see take place would occur.

[Lord Krishna]There is no way to properly measure the distance covered by the Supersoul. And since this feature is an expansion, there is an original source. Known as Bhagavan, He is full of opulence. You can go to the temple and measure the size of the statue worshiped. This is the archa-vigraha, and it is considered a special incarnation of God. Nevertheless, Bhagavan is never limited to that size. The statue is there for the benefit of the conditioned souls; it is a sign of God’s mercy.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana we get another way to measure God’s greatness. This is more of an assessment in comparison than a true measurement. Here the messenger Shri Hanuman says that Raghava, which is another name for Rama, will soon march to Lanka. Rama will arrive as soon as he hears the report from Hanuman, who bravely travelled to Lanka to find and comfort Rama’s missing wife Sita.

Sita was missing due to the efforts of the king of Lanka, Ravana. The city was well-guarded. Ravana was a Rakshasa, which is a human-like species known especially for cannibalism. The Rakshasas in Lanka had special powers. They were expert in black magic, which augmented their already enhanced fighting ability.

Hanuman says that Rama will bring a massive army with Him. No big deal. That is to be expected. The interesting part is that the army will consist of many bears and monkeys. It is on this point that the comparison is made. God is so great that He can win a war against the best fighters in the world using just monkeys and bears for help.

That army will use trees and rocks as their weapons, while the other side will fire amazing arrows. The bears and monkeys will win since they are on the right side. They are empowered by bhakti, devotion. And not just any bhakti. Rama-bhakti. Rama is also Vishnu and He is also Krishna, hence the terms Vishnu-bhakti and Krishna-bhakti are interchangeable.

[Vanaras building bridge]The Sanskrit word used for monkeys here is hari. This is also another name for God, meaning “one who takes away distresses.” The distress is Sita’s, and Hari Himself will come to punish the offenders, being helped by His hari servants.

In Closing:

Hari coming with many haris His own,

To win with rocks and trees alone.

 

Since by bhakti empowered,

Enemy in battle devoured.

 

This feat way to measure one,

Person with limits existing none.

 

Handicap Him this way and that,

Enemy still for Him no match.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Three Kinds Of Karma

[prasadam]“Actions that are performed in terms of one's prescribed duties, as mentioned in the revealed scriptures, are called karma. Actions that free one from the cycle of birth and death are called akarma. And actions that are performed through the misuse of one's freedom and that direct one to the lower life forms are called vikarma. Of these three types of action, that which frees one from the bondage to karma is preferred by intelligent men.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shri Ishopanishad, 2 Purport)

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“Karma. Isn’t that something Hindus believe in? Buddhists, too, I think. You behave bad in this life and you’re punished in the future. You get reborn as an ant or something. It sounds similar to the concept of going to hell for not believing in the savior. Do you get to move back up in the future? What exactly is karma?”

A word of Sanskrit origin, karma can mean different things based on the context. When discussing the path to follow in life for the human being, there are the accompanying terms of yoga and jnana. In the basic definition karma is work. Jnana is knowledge, and yoga is mysticism. Bhakti is also there. You can achieve enlightenment through study, through working with detachment, through physical exercise in mysticism, or even through devotion itself.

With respect to karma as a kind of work, there are technically three kinds. The wise aim for one version only, knowing it to be superior.

1. Vikarma

This is bad work. Think murder, theft, lies, cheating and the like. You don’t need to be a scholar to understand that stealing is bad. Children in school already have this understanding. There is the saying that a guilty conscience needs no accuser. The mature adult understands there is something wrong with taking something that doesn’t belong to you. What if the reverse occurred? Would the thief like it if someone stole what they took from someone else?

In terms of the future, vikarma is tied to regression. The Vedas describe the human birth to be the most auspicious. There is the aphorism, athato brahma-jijnasa. “Now is the time for enquiring into Brahman, the spiritual energy.” Implied is that in previous births the time was not right. The dog cannot make the inquiry. Neither can the tree. The first birth into the human body brings the potential, with the second birth, represented by initiation through a spiritual master, bringing the individual one step closer to completion of the goal.

By doing bad things you get bad results. That is vikarma. The opportunity to end the cycle of birth and death, which is real and not just some fantasy, is missed. The spirit soul is different from the body. Spirit is amazing. It cannot be killed. It never took birth. Matter is the opposite. It is dull and lifeless. It can do nothing on its own. Life comes from life. The individual soul is meant to have a spiritual body, which is possible through enlightenment.

2. Karma

The word by itself equates to prescribed duty. The idea is that if you follow the karma for your body type and situation, you will advance. Even within the human species there are variations. One person is stuck laboring all day in the fields. They don’t have much intelligence, but they work honestly and steadily. Another person studies shastra, or scripture. They know about the occupational duties of every kind of person. They are qualified to give advice to the entire society. If compared to the human body, the laborer class would be like the legs and the priestly class like the brain.

It is possible to advance from the laborer to the priest, but not in one lifetime. This is with respect to the qualities of the body inherited at the time of birth. It is not that a person born to a priest must automatically become one. As Shri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita, the division of varna and ashrama, occupation and spiritual institution, is determined by guna and karma, which are material quality and work, respectively.

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)

3. Akarma

The “a” prefix is a negation in Sanskrit. Akarma thus becomes “not work.” This is a little tricky to understand, however. Akarma doesn’t necessarily mean inaction. As Krishna also explains in the Gita, a wise person knows how there can be action in inaction and inaction in action.

“One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.18)

Akarma is what the wise prefer. Those who are engaged in bhakti-yoga, in the more mature stages, are working, but without future consequences. Their action is karma-free. Even their eating is in this category, as they partake only of remnants of sacrifice. Sacrifice is yajna, and it is a word synonymous with God the person.

“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.13)

[prasadam plate]The question is how does a person work without having future consequences? The idea is to not be attached to the results. Vikarma is bad work, karma is prescribed work, and akarma is dedicating every action for the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The classic example is Arjuna. On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, he was contemplating the akarma of giving up his weapons and retreating to the forest. Karma was to engage in the fight and win the heavenly planets and a higher position in the next life, regardless of outcome. Akarma was to listen to the instructions of Krishna, move ahead and fight with detachment, and always keep the Supreme Lord’s pleasure in mind. That was the route Arjuna chose, and it is the example for every person to follow, if they can.

In Closing:

Karma, the word having seen,

But what exactly to mean?

 

About rebirth as an ant,

Move higher then can’t?

 

Following duties the word plain,

Higher planets in afterlife to gain.

 

To lower species by vikarma work done,

Akarma for God, with consequences none.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What Does It Mean That The Supersoul Is Everywhere

[Krishna's lotus feet]“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)

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Friend1: One of the more important teachings of Vedanta, which the Bhagavad-gita nicely summarizes, is the difference between the two souls.

Friend2: Which souls? Me and you?

Friend1: Jivatma and Paramatma.

Friend2: Did you know that atma can refer to the mind, the body, or the soul?

Friend1: I did. But in philosophical discussions the reference is usually to the soul.

Friend2: That which is distinct from the body. Spirit has consciousness. Matter does not.

Friend1: Jivatma is me and you, fragments of the total spiritual energy. Paramatma is the Supreme.

Friend2: Jivatma is at the local level. Paramatma is all-pervading.

Friend1: I’m glad you mentioned that last part. It’s what I wanted to discuss. What exactly does that mean?

Friend2: It’s pretty straightforward. Paramatma is everywhere. You and I are not. It’s impossible for us to be in two places at one time. Paramatma is a plenary expansion of God, the original and total spirit, but it is not divided. Paramatma is the same and its influence is everywhere.

“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)

Friend1: That’s difficult to conceptualize. You end up thinking of a single person whose body is stretched in every direction.

Friend2: Especially when you hear things like hands, legs, and eyes. That’s the complexity of God. If He were easy to understand, then He wouldn’t be so different from us.

Friend1: Alright, so the Supersoul is all-pervading. He is everywhere. Is there some proof?

Friend2: Of what? The Supersoul being in the heart of every living thing?

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: Existence is itself proof. You can’t have a living thing without the Supersoul. You can’t have the results to action, either. Man proposes, God disposes. The proposal occurs at the local level, through the jivatma. The reward, which can be considered good or bad, comes about through the sanction of the Supersoul.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: I’ll give you further evidence. We can use another Bhagavad-gita verse for this. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is non-different from the Supersoul, says that He is situated in everyone’s heart. He is the source of remembrance, forgetfulness, and the like.

Friend1: Alright. Again, is there some evidence?

Friend2: Have you ever wondered how birds are able to find their nests?

[bird]Friend1: I have. It’s pretty amazing, if you think about it. I get lost after coming out of a shopping mall. I can’t find my car. I have to retrace my steps from when I first entered. Only then do I have a chance. Otherwise I’m spending hours searching, freaking out the longer I go without success.

Friend2: Right, and everyone agrees that the human being is the more evolved species.

Friend1: For sure. That is the entire basis of the theory of evolution. You start with something primitive and gradually improve. You make your way towards something, and hopefully in the future the human beings will become even more improved.

Friend2: Okay, but the reliance on the GPS completely invalidates that. The bird is less evolved and yet it doesn’t need anything written down to find out where to go. It doesn’t need a map. Certain animals learn to walk almost instantly after birth. The human being is deficient in these categories.

Friend1: Sure.

Friend2: There is intelligence coming from somewhere. That is proof of the all-pervading nature of the Supersoul. Shri Krishna is everywhere. He is the source of remembrance. He brings forgetfulness, too.

Friend1: That’s where some people get upset. They want to know why God would help people to forget Him.

Friend2: It’s because that’s what they want. That is the meaning to “permitter,” which is one of the roles of the Supersoul.

“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)

Friend1: I see.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: The intelligence embedded into nature is one form of evidence. The inherent intelligence within the living being is further evidence. People may not know what to call it. They may use words like “intuition” and “nature,” but it doesn’t really matter. Something is there. That something is the Supersoul, who is more clearly defined as Bhagavan, i.e. God.

In Closing:

Intrinsic ability from somewhere gaining,

At birth still in potential awaiting.

 

The Supersoul, God’s expansion everywhere,

Giving forgetfulness, knowledge to be aware.

 

Distributed in space every existing,

Not divided, through time persisting.

 

Bhagavan the image giving clearer,

In human birth chance to go nearer.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Aren’t You Just Escaping Reality

[Krishna's lotus feet]“O King, as I repeatedly recall this wondrous and holy dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, I take pleasure, being thrilled at every moment.” (Sanjaya, Bhagavad-gita, 18.76)

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Friend1: Why is it important to hear about Krishna-lila?

Friend2: You tell me. Define the two terms.

Friend1: Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is Bhagavan, which means a person possessing all fortunes.

Friend2: And what is lila?

Friend1: Pastimes. Actions. Obviously, they must be performed by a person. A rock doesn’t have lila. Neither does a bright light.

Friend2: Charita is a similar Sanskrit word. It can mean “actions” or “deeds.” Since Bhagavan’s deeds are nectar-like, the word amrita is appended. That’s how you get books named Ramacharitamanasa and Chaitanya Charitamrita. The holy lake of Rama’s deeds. The nectar-like actions of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

[Lord Chaitanya]Friend1: I guess you’ve answered the question, then. To hear about the lila is to taste nectar. Is it simply about enjoyment?

Friend2: As opposed to gaining some higher benefit?

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: Of course it brings the highest benefit. Amrita also means “immortal.” Hearing the lila is very important.

Friend1: What about the philosophical side?

Friend2: That prepares you to take the highest benefit from the lila, though hearing the pastimes is enough. We know of the story of the illiterate brahmana who tried to read the Bhagavad-gita every day. That work is more philosophical in nature, but still the talk itself is part of Krishna’s lila. The brahmana simply remembered Krishna taking the role of charioteer for His dear friend and cousin Arjuna. There was a thrill at every moment. Sanjaya felt a similar thrill whenever recalling that conversation.

Friend1: Got it, thanks. Let’s try a counterargument. I may have presented this to you before.

Friend2: Go for it.

Friend1: Immersing yourself in hearing these pastimes - it’s a form of escapism. That is one of the criticisms of people who jump into the devotional life, bhakti-yoga, fulltime.

Friend2: That they are escaping reality? They couldn’t take the pressures of normal life, so they abandoned everything to worship God, someone who the world is not really sure exists.

Friend1: Exactly. Escaping reality. Isn’t that what the devotees are doing?

Friend2: For a second let’s say that you are correct. Is no one else escaping?

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: There is the person who plays videogames nonstop. They play the same game for hours, skipping food and sleep. There are the people so into movies and comic books that they dress up like fictional characters and go to conventions.

Friend1: That’s true.

Friend2: Even the people that follow the news, they aren’t in reality. When I discuss with them the specifics on a piece of legislation, they are usually clueless. But if a politician said something controversial, everyone is aware. The thing that matters most, the law, i.e. reality, is of secondary importance.

Friend1: You’re saying everyone is already escaping reality.

Friend2: Absolutely. The highest reality for the human being is the knowledge of impending death. Who actually remains consciously aware of this? Why would you want to, anyway?

Friend1: Well, there is something you can do to stop the cycle of birth and death. The person who knows Krishna never has to take birth again.

“The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they can attain that state beyond all miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.51)

Friend2: And that’s the benefit of hearing Krishna-lila. You can say it’s a form of escapism, but look at the benefit. It automatically improves your character. If you hear about God’s pastimes on a regular basis, you will become a better person; I guarantee it. Not so with anything else. If you play videogames day and night, you’ll become anti-social. You’re travelling to a fantasy world in comic books precisely because you can’t stand society as it is constituted right now.

Friend1: You’re saying associating with God will make you like people more, even the bad characters?

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: It’s called the spiritual vision. You will see the soul within every living thing. You will understand that God has expanded as the Supersoul to live within everything. How can that not make you a better person? Most importantly, you will remain Krishna conscious, which is the highest objective of living. Krishna is the only reality in this temporary, dreamlike world, full of duality.

In Closing:

Temporary, like living a dream,

Mistook snake for rope it is seen.

 

Already out of reality going,

Arrival of death not knowing.

 

So why not Krishna-lila hear?

Pastimes to heart most dear.

 

Then purify while progress making,

Consciousness from slumber awaking.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Can You Lose Your Soul

[Krishna with cows]“According to less intelligent philosophers, animals have no soul. But factually animals have souls. Due to the animals' gross ignorance, however, it appears that they have lost their souls. Without the soul, a body cannot move. That is the difference between a living body and a dead body. When the soul is out of the body, the body is called dead. The soul is said to be lost when there is no proper knowledge exhibited. Our original consciousness is Krishna consciousness because we are part and parcel of Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.22.31 Purport)

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Friend1: Animals have souls.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: For some people that is a true revelation. It’s something they can’t believe at first.

Friend2: I don’t understand it. What else explains why animals can move, make noises, sleep, and eat?

Friend1: I guess it goes back to what people were taught. In their spiritual tradition animals are classified as completely different.

Friend2: Yes, and because of that designation it is okay to kill and eat them.

Friend1: On the largest scale possible, mind you. Round them up, bring them to the slaughterhouse, and then enjoy.

Friend2: It’s one of those things where children have the proper instinct. They understand there is something wrong with the picture. Children don’t get into things like gambling, drugs, or illicit sex, either.

Friend1: It is very interesting. Those harmful activities come about in adulthood, when there is supposedly more maturity.

Friend2: That is a comparison for different stages of life for a single person, but you can use the same comparison to the animals. It is just a different body, after all.

Friend1: What is?

[animals have souls]Friend2: The human birth. The animal birth. It’s the same spirit animating each; just the outside covering has changed. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that one of the reasons people think animals have no soul is because of the gross ignorance.

Friend1: Right. Because the animals can’t talk, because they can’t do mathematical calculations, they must be soul-less.

Friend2: Or possessing a different kind of soul.

Friend1: If we accepted that logic, then wouldn’t it mean people with mental disabilities are also without soul?

Friend2: Yes, exactly. The logic doesn’t hold. Moreover, the young child has less ability than many animals. Does that mean it is okay to kill children and eat them?

Friend1: Here’s a question for you. Is it possible to lose your soul?

Friend2: What do you mean? As in, you can’t find it?

Friend1: You’ve heard people say similar things. “I sold my soul.” “Ever since I took this job, I feel like I’ve lost myself. I’ve lost my soul.”

Friend2: That references their essential character. The soul itself cannot be lost. It never ceases to exist. Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that never was there a time that either of them did not exist. The significant distinction is that Krishna can remember the past lifetimes, whereas others cannot.

“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: You could say that anyone in the material world not practicing God consciousness has lost their soul. They are going against their dharma, or intrinsic nature.

Friend1: This is more directionally lost, correct?

Friend2: Yes. It’s like losing your way. You can remain in that state for many lifetimes, millions of years, even. When the time for dissolution arrives, everything goes back into an unmanifest state. When the time for the next creation comes, those “lost” souls manifest again.

“When Brahma's day is manifest, this multitude of living entities comes into being, and at the arrival of Brahma's night they are all annihilated.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.18)

Friend1: And the only way to reclaim the lost soul is to go towards the Divine light.

[Krishna with cows]Friend2: Absolutely. That is the real benefit of the human birth. There are souls everywhere, from the tiny ant all the way up to the highest demigod. There are degrees of ignorance, too. Only when there is pure God consciousness does the cycle of birth and death stop. That consciousness must be there at the time of death. That’s why there is so much emphasis in this age on the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. You and I have been lost for so long, let it not continue. Let us regain our original consciousness and feel the bliss of surrender to the Divine.

In Closing:

Excuses making at any cost,

To say animals of souls lost.

 

So then to kill and eat,

Further in ignorance retreat.

 

Soul always there, existence to define,

Back on track in devotion to shine.

 

The proper end for human birth making,

Chant today opportunity taking.