Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Red Tape

U.S. Capital Building It seems that if you want to get anything done in today’s world, you’re forced to encounter endless bureaucracy and red-tape. Take owning a car for example. After putting in hours of practice and passing a road test to obtain a driver’s license, buying a car is another ordeal in and of itself. Aside from the actual purchase, there is insurance, registration, titles and taxes to pay for. Then once you own the car, you must re-register it at given intervals and have it inspected annually.

Whether it’s buying a car, starting a business, hiring an employee, or even travelling to foreign countries, it seems that regulation is at an all time high. There is even bureaucracy involved with obtaining contact lenses now. The government restricts people from purchasing contact lenses who haven’t had an eye exam in the past year, even if they currently wear contacts.  The need for regulation and red-tape arises from the belief that everyone is a cheater. Not just the government, but most people in society have a natural inclination to be suspicious of others. We immediately assume everyone is a suspect and is trying to cheat us, so we enact laws that try to protect ourselves from them.

The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, give us a hint as to why we are like this. They tell us that human beings possess four primary defects. We have imperfect senses, we have a tendency to be illusioned, we have a propensity to commit mistakes, and we have a tendency to cheat. Since we cheat and commit mistakes ourselves, we naturally assume that others are the same way.

Another reason we are more suspicious nowadays is because of the rise of the mode of passion, known as tamo guna. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna describes the tamo guna this way:

“The mode of passion is born of unlimited desires and longings, O son of Kunti, and, on account of this, one is bound to material, fruitive activities.” (Bg, 14.7)

In this advanced technological age, there is ample opportunity for sense gratification. Once we satisfy one desire, another one invariably arises leaving us never truly satisfied. This constant craving for sense gratification leads us to lose our judgment. When we constantly crave something, we naturally don’t want others to have it, and thus we become suspicious of others, thinking that they are honing in on our territory. Waiting in line at a restaurant or retail store, we become suspicious of other people, thinking that they will try to cut is in line. This all stems from the increased mode of passion. Lord Krishna also says:

“It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath; and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world. As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, similarly, the living entity is covered by different degrees of this lust.” (Bg, 3.37-38)

The remedy for all this is very simple. We simply have to change our desires from the material to the spiritual. Our material senses can never be satisfied. It is not until we try to satisfy our spiritual senses that we will actually be happy. In this age, Lord Chaitanya instructed us that the best way of satisfying our spiritual senses to always chant:

“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”

When we chant the holy name of God, we forget our insatiable material desires and we gradually cleanse ourselves. Constantly placing the mind at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, and reading about His wonderful pastimes, and picturing His beautiful face, we achieve liberation in this very life. As liberated souls, we view everyone equally, for we are all part and parcel of Lord Krishna. The tendency to cheat and be suspicious of others will be gone and we can all live peacefully.