Saturday, May 19, 2018

Anything Else In the Box, Pandora

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Whatever form of material existence one is in, one is invariably ignorant of his real situation. In other words, existence in the material world is due to the multiple reactions to our sinful lives. Ignorance is the cause of sinful life, and sinful life is the cause of one's dragging on in material existence. The human form of life is the only loophole by which one may get out of this entanglement. The Vedas, therefore, give us a chance for escape by pointing out the paths of religion, economic comfort, regulated sense gratification and, at last, the means to get out of the miserable condition entirely.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 4.31 Purport)

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Friend1: The four pillars of sinful life have four corresponding characteristics.

Friend2: Well, avoiding them you mean.

Friend1: Yes, for each behavior you steer clear of, there is a particular quality that arises.

Friend2: Which is beneficial. Indeed, those four qualities are the hallmark of real religion.

Friend1: The foundation. If you don’t have honesty, cleanliness, austerity and compassion, religion isn’t doing much for you.

Friend2: Exactly. Therefore avoid meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex.

Friend1: I know we’ve had this discussion many times, but don’t you think some people would find it impossible to give those up?

Friend2: I’m sure just refraining from one would be a difficult ask.

Friend1: Right, so then why do we even bother? Why establish a goal that is nothing more than a pipedream?

Friend2: We don’t. That is why we say to first chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Follow bhakti-yoga. Even if you are grossly sinful there will be some benefit. This is not some exercise to make a person pure for purity’s sake. You could avoid those four behaviors and still be a bad person, you know.

Friend1: Really?

Friend2: Of course. It’s probably rare to find, but a person could still be an atheist. They could still deny the existence of God, thereby helping others to stay in the darkness.

Friend1: But there is still a benefit to avoiding, right?

Friend2: Undoubtedly. It may be difficult, and the finish line may seem too far into the distance, but that is why a gradual approach works. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Friend1: As long as you’re mentioning sayings, I have another one for you. “Pandora’s box.”

Friend2: Umm okay, but what does that have to do with anything?

[Pandora's box]Friend1: Isn’t that how sinful life works? Man is curious of something. He knows deep down that he should avoid, but he can’t help but give it a try. That is like opening Pandora’s box. Then all these other problems arise.

Friend2: Interesting. I guess you could say drug addiction works that way. They have all these messages in school about saying “no” to drugs. “Don’t do it.” “Don’t give in to peer pressure.” And yet people still get addicted.

Friend1: There is a downward spiral from there. You get addicted, so pretty soon you can’t live without the high. The urge is so strong that you are willing to break the law to continue. Lying, cheating, stealing. Everything is justified.

Friend2: You could say material existence works that way. Satisfy the senses. No problem just this one time. Then the urge comes again. It’s like you are adding logs to a fire, making it more intense instead of the other way around.

Friend1: I guess the answer would be to have never opened the box in the first place. Know what is good for you; trust your instincts.

Friend2: Not just that. Trust what authority figures say. They have experienced the chain reaction themselves; either personally or witnessing the effect with others. That is the benefit to descending knowledge, as opposed to trying to figure out everything for ourselves. A wise person accepts knowledge in this way and saves valuable time.

Friend1: Fortunately there is parampara, passing on the highest wisdom.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: Vedic knowledge. It includes more than just the dangers of sinful life. Everything about living, from birth to death and beyond, gets revealed to the humble and sincere student.

In Closing:

Allure from sins designated four,

Trying once and wanting more.

Like Pandora’s box opening to see,

Deeper into rebirth’s cycle to be.

Authority certain practices condemning,

From chain of teachers stemming.

From listening once time to save,

Future secured from proper to behave.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Is Shanta-Rasa Considered Bhakti

[Krishna's lotus feet]"Active interest in Krishna—the understanding that Krishna is mine or that I am Krishna's, and that therefore my business is to satisfy the senses of Krishna —is typical of a higher stage than the neutrality of the shanta-rasa. Simply by understanding the greatness of Krishna, one can achieve the status of shanta-rasa, in which the worshipable object may be the impersonal Brahman or Paramatma." (Teachings Of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 1)

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Friend1: The five rasas of bhakti.

Friend2: The best English translation for that is “transcendental mellow.”

Friend1: Sort of like a mood of interaction.

Friend2: Exactly.

Friend1: To me it answers so many questions.

Friend2: Such as?

Friend1: What happens after liberation? What is eternal life like? It settles the debate as to whether God is a person.

Friend2: Right, because you can’t have interactions with something that doesn’t exist.

Friend1: That, too, but the impersonal side is still something tangible. The rasas explain that God has a personal side. He is not simply the negation of everything we see. Just because I have a body doesn’t mean that the Almighty is without one. Just because I laugh and cry doesn’t mean that such displays of emotion are absent in the spiritual world.

Friend2: There you go. That’s a good way to explain it. The different rasas mean different emotions. Parents are moved to tears at the outpouring of affection from their little ones. Children cry when separated from friends and family. A servant takes great pride in being able to carry out their prescribed duties successfully.

Friend1: And the difference is that these interactions are not in illusion. That is to say the attachment to a temporary body is not there, as we see in the material world.

Friend2: It is Vaikuntha, or the place free of anxieties. It is Goloka Vrindavana, or the planet of spiritual senses where the bhakti, devotion, flourishes. There is no difference between body and spirit. The residents are in their svarupa, or true form, which they use to interact with the chief resident, Shri Krishna.

Friend1: Here is an issue I am not too clear on. We know of the different personal interactions, but there is one that doesn’t really involve any movement.

Friend2: Shanta-rasa?

Friend1: Yes. I know it is explained as the mood of neutrality. I always thought of it as awe and reverence.

Friend2: Right. An example would be if you are at the office and the head of the company decides to visit. Everyone is on their best behavior. They dress nicely and make sure to show up on time. The aim is to show respect.

Friend1: With Krishna, there is so much appreciation. There is a hint of fear, too, which prevents the outward exhibition of emotion or deeper interaction.

[Radha-Krishna]Friend2: Yes. Mother Yashoda chastises Krishna. The friends wrestle with Him. The gopis make fun of Him like anything. You can only do those things if you go beyond awe and reverence.

Friend1: So the area of confusion for me is that I’ve heard it said that shanta-rasa is for the impersonalists, as well.

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: That if you only appreciate the impersonal Brahman, the light of spiritual energy, you are interacting with God in neutrality.

Friend2: Well, there is appreciation. Brahman realization is considered a spiritual consciousness. That is to say a person will get liberation at the time of death.

Friend1: I get that, but how can it be considered bhakti? Shouldn’t devotion involve knowledge of the personal side of God?

Friend2: You can think of it as suppressed bhakti. There is a hint of devotion. The light of Brahman is too bright for them to go beyond.

Friend1: Also, what about Mayavadis? They have concluded that everything in this world is maya, or illusion. Are they in shanta-rasa, as well?

Friend2: If there is some appreciation, then yes. If not, then they are offenders, who Krishna characterizes as the lowest among men. These are people who will never acknowledge His true position.

“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.15)

Friend1: I see. So there must be an element of surrender.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: The word “asura” is also used. The Brahman realized person is not an asura; at least not in spirit. Shanta-rasa is certainly bhakti, and if you think about it so many people around the world have this type of interaction. The higher stages are there for higher enjoyment, as even in liberated life there is variety and nuance.

In Closing:

After liberation identity persisting,

Options for interaction existing.

With Supreme Lord, on personal side,

On different spiritual planets to reside.

In higher rasas talking without deference,

But shanta for awe and reverence.

Even that bhakti considered,

At death’s time delivered.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Four Things To Do When Hearing of Bhagavan’s Gunas

[Shri Rama]“The name, pastimes, form, clothing and ornaments of Shri Rama are all very charming and beautiful. Together with His brothers the children are playing.” (Dohavali, 120)

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Goodness, passion and ignorance. These are the three modes of material nature. The Sanskrit word is guna. It’s a particular kind of quality, leading to a particular color, or varna, when applied to the human species.

Some people are known to be intelligent. Others are fearless and have no issue risking their lives to defend and protect the innocent. Some can figure out how to earn a profit in a matter of seconds. Throw them in a particular situation and they will know how to take advantage, quickly identifying which paths will bring a loss. And there are others who are skilled at providing labor. They can do construction on houses, fix different problems around the house, cook and clean, or drive a car and not get frustrated in the process.

The differences are due to gunas, which come in varying amounts and proportions, but one thing is clear: the presence of gunas guarantees rebirth. The material qualities are binding in a sense, like ropes.

At the same time, Vedic literature also describes gunas belonging to the Supreme Lord, Bhagavan. Since they are transcendental for Him, the word takes on an additional meaning. Gunas for Bhagavan are His glories, and hearing about them can be very beneficial.

1. Contemplate

Bhagavan has a certain complexion. As in the example of Shri Rama, there is the shyama color. This resembles the dark cloud about to pour down rain. On Bhagavan this complexion is stunningly beautiful. We have yet to experience someone with this characteristic, but the information is there for our benefit. We can spend hours contemplating the beauty of the transcendental body of Shri Rama, who grows up in the royal palace of Ayodhya, alongside His three younger brothers.

2. Study

As Bhagavan is a person, He has activities, known as lila in Sanskrit. Hearing about these activities is pleasurable, and in addition to contemplation there is the option to study. There are documentaries, biographies and lengthy works discussing important historical figures, so why not apply the same to the most important person of all-time?

[Tulsidas writing]For Shri Rama the reference book of choice is the Ramayana, composed by the rishi named Valmiki. Then there are other wonderful poets like Goswami Tulsidas who add to the knowledgebase. Tulsidas describes the scene in Ayodhya during Rama’s youth. There the parents dress the children very nicely, and everything about them is charming. Something basic like the clothes that baby Rama wears can be studied for thousands of years.

3. Understand

These gunas can be understood. For instance, the sound resulting from the attempts of an infant to talk is often described as prattle. The words cannot be comprehended, and yet the sound is so endearing. The parents take great pride that their child is learning how to talk.

[Shri Rama]With Shri Rama we can understand this behavior as another indication of His mercy, which is extended to the pious souls like King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya, the birth parents. Rama will do anything for His devotees, including appearing as a child and playing the role perfectly.

4. Remember

After His mercy is understood to a satisfactory level, there is no need to move on to something else. How many times can you watch that documentary about the famous president? How many times can you read the same book about the great warrior who helped to earn independence for their country?

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

There is the boredom factor with anything material, but since Bhagavan’s gunas are transcendental the same defect is missing. Not only can He be remembered all the time, but He should be. That practice changes the consciousness, purifying it. One who remembers up until the time of death no longer has to take birth.

In Closing:

From combination of modes three,

Gunas in individuals see.

Occupation and abilities affecting,

Similar traits in Bhagavan detecting.

But different in one specific way,

Transcendental, so His glories to say.

Contemplate, study and remember,

In end win liberation forever.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Four Negations Used For Understanding God

[Krishna's lotus feet]“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)

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Is faith the only way? Inherit from the parents, follow blindly, and hope for some magical event to occur after death, a period of time from which we have no personal testimony that can be verified through other sources?

Or is science the only way? Observation and experiment. Start with a limited amount of information and gradually add to the knowledgebase. Trust must be extended to a pretty large degree, as most of the population is not expert in the various fields. Those observations must be without flaws, and the people investigating must be honest and trustworthy. Still, there is no way to verify what happened millions of years ago, as there is no recorded testimony to consult; at least not from the scientific community.

Vedic teachings incorporate parts of both options. There must be an element of faith, as man can’t do anything in this world without trusting others. At the same time, use the intellect. The human being has the higher potential for intelligence for a reason. Ask every question. Bring every doubt to the table.

One way to understand topics of higher importance is to study the nature around us. What properties do we notice? What patterns emerge? The Vedas say to then apply negations to get a proper understanding of the Almighty.

1. Anadi

This Sanskrit word is a negation of the word meaning “origin” or “beginning.” We have yet to come across something that doesn’t have an origin. A tree may stand tall for thousands of years, but at some time it was merely a seed in the ground. This is deduced from common sense and experience.

The Almighty is anadi because He is the one person without an origin. This is beyond the comprehending power of the material brain, so at the same time we know that God is not material. He is the origin of everyone, but He is simultaneously without anything before Him.

2. Ananta

Anadi deals with time in the reverse direction and ananta is for moving forward. Just as there is birth, there is death. A beginning and then an end. The end is not fixed for every person or even species, but eventually the departure from the material body takes place.

[Markandeya with Narayana]When everything is said and done, when there are no more living beings manifest in the world, God is still around. From the Vedas there is the testimony of Markandeya Rishi, who once had the opportunity to stay in his human form until the end of a particular cycle of creation. He saw that only a small child was still around. That child was without worry or anxiety, and from Him sprung the next cycle of creation. That child was Narayana, which is one personal form of God.

3. Advaita

This means “non-dual.” I can pick up a rock on the ground, hold it in my hand, take it home, and then study it for hours and hours. I may decide to worship it, mistakenly identifying it as Divine. It is God for me.

Though the Supreme Lord is not separate from His creation, He is still distinct from it. That is to say the rocks, the trees, the planets, the stars, and so forth are components to what defines Him, but He is not a component in what defines anyone or anything else. The rock is not God, but it is part and parcel of Him, as are all sparks of spirit, who are otherwise known as living beings.

4. Achyuta

There is the saying, “To err is human.” Man makes mistakes. It’s just the way of life. Some mistakes are costlier than others. Some are more egregious and worthy of punishment from the state. Regardless the degree, mistakes there are.

This is an indication of fallibility, which is a contributing factor to death. No matter how much I secure a particular area, people are always vulnerable. The material world is a dangerous place. The infamous king named Hiranyakashipu had ninety-nine percent immunity from death, but that one percent was enough to bring him down.

One Sanskrit word to describe God is Achyuta. He never falls down. There are no mistakes, as He is not fallible. If He apparently does something wrong during His manifest lila, there is a higher purpose to fulfill that may not be evident immediately.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Since He is so many negations and more, God is the ideal person to worship. He is all-attractive and hence known as Krishna, among many other names. The same Krishna presents the spotless wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita, which helps to further meld the two paths of faith and empirical knowledge, ideally leading to the point of full surrender, which brings fearlessness.

In Closing:

Space, sky, clouds and the ground,

Get understanding of nature around.

From the various principles to take,

With negation a higher study to make.

Of Almighty’s higher position how,

Around before, in future and now.

As Achyuta to fall down never,

As Advaita here and wherever.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Three Conditions Necessary For Something To Be Permanent

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Nothing within this material world can be permanent, although scientists, philosophers, workers and everyone else are trying to make things permanent. One foolish scientist recently declared that eventually life will be made permanent through science. Some so-called scientists are also trying to manufacture living entities within the laboratory. Thus in one way or another everyone is busy denying the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and rejecting the supreme authority of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.24.65 Purport)

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The spiritual science says that there is a difference between matter and spirit. This is the fundamental truth, the point from which to move on. Without acknowledgment of this key distinction, the rest is a waste. Sort of how knowing that two plus two equals four is the foundation from which to understand higher topics in mathematics, so without a proper understanding of the spark which animates the otherwise dull and lifeless body higher levels of knowledge cannot be reached.

And yet the staunch atheists will raise objections. Their deity of the moment is science. Certainly, the discipline, which is more of an art, relies on observation and experiment. To date there is yet to be any experiment proving the eternal existence of any material object, but the attempt is made nonetheless.

The promise is that one day life will be made permanent. That is to say there will be no death. Eternal living, achieved through advancements in science. Of course there is the randomness issue with which to contend. Just because medicine finds a way to eradicate disease doesn’t mean that death cannot arrive in other ways. The Vedas describe three sources of misery, and science only tries to solve the adhyatmika variety, illnesses and instability arising from within.

Overlooked in the stated objective is that other factors must exist for an object to actually qualify as permanent. These properties exist within the spirit soul and also the origin of both spiritual and material energies.

1. Exist in the future

This is the whole objective. Reverse the trend. Invalidate the laws of nature, as have been established through millions of years of experience. What goes up must come down. That which has taken birth must die. The outcome is certain.

“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)

For life to become permanent, it must exist into the future. Death is warded off. Old age is not an issue at this point. Even if a person is relegated to a wheelchair for the rest of their time, if they cannot hear or see very well, if the body is on the verge of death but still not there, the potential to be permanent is still considered.

2. Existing today

If you are not alive today, you obviously cannot be considered permanent. The aim is for maintaining existing life. What is done is done. Science is not claiming to be able to one day bring back people from the dead.

3. Existed in the past

This is the glaring omission, one that dare not be mentioned. If something is permanent, it must always exist. It cannot come into being at some point, because then it lacks a steady existence. You can find some place within the timeline of events to show that there was no presence.

The spiritual science describes a force that meets each of these qualifications. The spirit soul, the individual within, existed in the past. We may not know where that soul was, exactly. We may not be able to measure the travels of that soul with blunt instruments. We take the information on faith at first, and then gradually gain more confidence through observation, understanding, study, and personal experience.

[science]For instance, we know that life comes from life. Science promises to change this basic truth of existence as well, but so far no luck. Without first using ingredients of life it is impossible to bring a new life into this world. The birth of an individual is due to the presence of the spirit soul, and that soul was somewhere else before. In addition, that soul will travel somewhere else after death. In this way the individual is known to be permanent.

The empirical method is defective in another way. It is impossible to prove that anything is permanent, since the individual observing must pass on eventually. Others can resume the work, but they did not witness the previous observations personally. They must accept the testimony on faith, and from that point they are no different than those who accept the spiritual wisdom and historical evidence of the Vedas passed on through the descending process of knowledge gathering.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Not only is the individual soul permanent, but so is the origin of spirit. That is one way to define the entity commonly referred to as God. He is without a beginning, anadi. He is also without an end, ananta. He is not separate from His creation, advaita. He also never makes mistakes, achyuta. So many ways there are to understand Him, and just as the individual is permanent in their existence, so is the engagement used to connect with the Almighty. Known as sanatana-dharma, it can be practiced in any condition and in any time, and when reaching the highest levels, time itself has no influence in stopping.

In Closing:

If permanent really to be,

Then in three phases must see.

Like in the past existing,

And through future persisting.

Of course around also today,

From scientists promise of “one day.”

Spirit soul in that position already found,

Same with origin, to material never bound.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Three Things Commonly Sought In A Material Existence

[Shri Hanuman]“One who is famous as a Krishna conscious man enjoys eternal fame. In the material world, everyone is striving for three things: he wants his name to be perpetuated, he wants his fame to be broadcast all over the world, and he wants some profit from his material activities. But no one knows that all this material name, fame and profit belong to the temporary material body and that as soon as the body is finished, all name, fame and profit are finished also.” (The Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 32)

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1. The name to be perpetuated

Who doesn’t want their name to continue? Let it be preserved going forward. Let not this existence go to waste. Sure, sometimes bad things occur. People make mistakes. To err is human, after all. Vedic teachings say that four defects attach to a person as soon as they are born.

“Shastra is without the four principal defects that are visible in the conditioned soul: imperfect senses, the propensity for cheating, certainty of committing mistakes, and certainty of being illusioned. These four principal defects in conditioned life disqualify one from putting forth rules and regulations.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 16.24)

As every person has these defects, not so much should be made about mistakes at the personal level. Let the name be known to as many as possible, for that indicates a wider distribution of the sphere of influence.

2. Fame broadcast all over the world

Social media would not exist without this tendency. Something good happens to you, like the birth of a child. You purchased a new automobile. You achieved a perfect score on an important examination. You had the opportunity to travel to some really interesting places around the world.

[share button]Why not share? Why not have those achievements known to others? Of what use is keeping everything to yourself? Especially if I have done something noteworthy, let the information be known to as many people as possible.

3. Profit for activities

This only makes sense. Does anyone open a business in order to lose money? If that is the case, there is a much quicker and easier way. Take out a loan from the bank, withdraw the money in cash, and then have a burning party. Set fire to the bills, one by one. Or throw them in the garbage.

Even if working for a corporation designated as “non-profit,” there is a desire to achieve success of some sort. The effort put in, the work, should bear fruit. Otherwise the entire endeavor is simply a waste of time.

From Vedic teachings we learn that the results of these three goals are wiped away at the time of death. Actually, a wise person realizes this on their own. They don’t need the reminder from higher authorities, the descending process of knowledge gathering originating at the person who has no origin.

Material existence means an eternal spark, an animating force, dwelling within a destructible vessel. Something like signing a lease to live in a building for a certain period of time, eventually the eviction notice arrives. That is death, which is the harshest manifestation of the subduing agent known as time.

There is a different way, however. Sometimes fame can last forever. It is possible for the name to be perpetuated millions of years into the future. There is a way to make the efforts expended profitable.

“How can I ensure that the purpose of my task does not get destroyed? How shall I avoid mental disparity, and how do I ensure that my crossing of the ocean does not go for naught?” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.39)

A great example in this regard is Shri Hanuman. He asked himself on several occasions how to make sure the work he put in was profitable. His work was the most amazing. It was risky, daring, and entirely vulnerable to failure.

Hanuman succeeded, and today his name is known throughout the world. His fame is at the highest level; he has a spotless reputation. What is more amazing is that Hanuman reached this position without any personal desire. That is to say he wasn’t intentionally seeking fame or notoriety.

Rather than seeking worship from others, he constantly offers it to Sita and Rama. For this Hanuman is known as a great devotee. He has various natural gifts, especially visible in the exercise of mystic yoga. He is intelligent and strong. He is compassionate and fierce. He is large and small, and he is both a quiet guardian and an expert teacher.

[Shri Hanuman]These seemingly contradictory features can exist in the devotees of the Lord, since God Himself is full of contradictions. Service to Him makes material existence more tolerable. It is like shrinking the size of a vast ocean to that of a puddle left by the hoof-print of a calf.

In Closing:

To perpetuate the name,

To spread everywhere my fame.

Profit from work to see,

How else life should be?

To wise one secret knowing,

That everything at death going.

Better with His interest to operate,

Like Hanuman for Rama to dedicate.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Three Things Machines Will Never Be Able To Do As Well As Humans

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)

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It’s the inevitable future. Don’t get settled into the ways of the present. Change is the one constant. Take the situation of the world a mere twenty years ago. No smartphones. No widespread reliance on the internet. No websites “blowing up” to report fake outrage over something that doesn’t matter in the least.

They say that in a few years robots will be taking over. So many jobs will become obsolete. Artificial intelligence will figure out how to take care of so many things we rely on humans for at present. The key will be how to program the automation. Intelligence used to replace intelligent beings.

Whatever actually ends up unfolding, we know for certain that machines are deficient in specific areas. That is to say no matter how much advancement is made, there is no true replacement for human contact.

1. Detect randomness

Artificial intelligence tries its best in this area. That is why it takes the world’s topmost expert at chess to beat a computer. The machine can make thousands of complex calculations, studying past history and probability, in a split second. The human being has to deliberate.

[chess]Still, the issue of randomness remains. When a new event occurs that breaks the previously held patterns, the machine has to be reconfigured. Sometimes it is simply not possible to predict what will happen. All signs can point in a certain direction, but then the unexpected occurs. This is due to randomness, which is seen even in the animal community.

2. Soothe a crying baby

Sure, there is the electronic swing set. It moves the baby back and forth, which they prefer when feeling upset. There is the drying machine, which provides a soothing sound. One surefire method is placing the child in a car seat and going for a drive. Adult passengers are known to fall asleep in this way, and with the infant it is even easier.

Nevertheless, there is no replacement for picking up the baby and holding it. There is something to the contact. One living thing close to another. No machine can ever take the mother’s place. Nor will there ever be. Sometimes merely shifting from the arms of one parent to another does the trick. The baby stops crying and stays asleep. As soon as it is set back down on the bed, to sleep on its own, it wakes up.

3. Achieve Krishna consciousness

That is the goal of the auspicious human birth. The name Krishna may sound sectarian or restrictive, but it is actually all-inclusive. It is simply a name for God that means “all-attractive.” Only the Supreme Lord can have this feature, as there are defects to everything else. Every person we see is flawed to some degree due to their contact with material nature.

Machines can certainly help in the process. They are used to print books describing the science of self-realization. They can store recorded conversations, lectures and songs glorifying the Almighty. Machines provide light at night to continue in the purification process, should a person be occupied throughout the day earning a living.

Still, the machine can make no guarantees. It is consciousness, after all, which is the determining factor. That consciousness is shaped by thoughts, words and deeds, over which the machine has no responsibility. In the past, some great saints achieved perfection by living in a cave, worshiping a tulasi plant, and regularly chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Krishna's lotus feet]That high level of renunciation cannot be replicated by everyone, but the example is illustrative. Bhakti-yoga is ahaituki and apratihata. No motivation and no interruption. Devotional service is not dependent on material conditions. The spirit soul is itself seated as if on a machine, and so the machine is not the determining factor. The soul is who drives the car, and that soul has every opportunity to reach the proper destination, irrespective of external conditions.

In Closing:

Over everything machines to take,

Car to drive, dinner to make.

But in some areas never to replace,

Like baby’s crying and discomfort to erase.

Or randomness in behavior detecting,

Or choice for bhakti-yoga selecting.

In the end consciousness the key,

Soul through body-machine to free.