Friday, July 24, 2009

Enough is Enough

Hanuman worshiping Sita Rama “After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)

Drug and alcohol addiction is a major problem in America and throughout the world. People become so dependent on their preferred form of intoxication that it consumes their lives. Addiction affects people from all walks of life, from the rich and the poor to the young and the old.

Curing these addictions is not an easy task. Bad habits form over a long period of time, making them very difficult to break. Depression, family pressures, and other personal problems lead people to become addicted to drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Drug rehabilitation centers have proved to be the most effective means for curing people’s dependencies. These centers provide in depth counseling and treatment to those in need, all in a comfortable yet serious environment. Celebrities such as radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and James Hetfield, lead singer of the heavy metal band Metallica, have attended these rehab centers and described how they changed their lives. The treatment providers really dig deep into the patient’s psyche to find the real reason why they are addicted to drugs. The pressures of celebrity and fame are removed and the patients are in an environment where they can be truly open about their problems. For both Limbaugh and Hetfield, the diagnosed problem revolved around the pressures of celebrity and pleasing friends and family. They both felt immense pressure to live up to their celebrity image in their personal life. Unable to please family and friends, they grew resentful and took to intoxication as a means of curing their pain.

James Hetfield The key to curing any addiction is to stop denying the problem and to completely surrender. One must admit that he has a problem before any progress can be made. Friends and family can try to intervene, but even their best efforts will bear no fruit unless and until the person is willing to come to terms with their problem. Only then can they begin the healing process.

In a similar fashion, we are all entangled in this material world, repeatedly going through the cycle of birth and death based on our karma.

“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)

The Vedas tell us that this human form of life is unique in that it affords us the opportunity to understand God. Having a relationship with God and learning to love Him is our only permanent way out of this material world. There are 8,400,000 different varieties of species, each having their own level of intelligence. The animals are concerned primarily with eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Where will my food come from? Where will I sleep? Who will I have sex with? After these three problems have been solved, then the animal must protect what it has. We human beings are supposed to be smarter than the animals, thus we shouldn’t try to imitate them. Instead of worrying about which restaurant to eat at, what kind of mattress to buy next, or which girl to chase after, we should be concerned with why we are here and what happens to us after we die. Now granted, eating and sleeping are required for our sustenance, but they shouldn’t be our primary concern. If we live a simple lifestyle then we will have more time to contemplate the real problems of life, they being birth, old age, disease and death.

Our main stumbling block is that most of us aren’t aware that we have a problem. The material world has that effect on us. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has created an illusory energy in this material world, which is known as maya. Maya makes us falsely think that we are all gods and that we are responsible for everything that we do and everything that happens to us. We are responsible to a small degree, because we have a minute amount of independence in controlling how our senses interact with nature. However, the results of our work are determined by karma and other people’s karma. We are not the doer.

“Eat, drink and be merry” is how the saying goes. The Declaration of Independence of the United States contains the following words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Now this is definitely true. God has surely granted us life, liberty, and the right to pursue happiness. The question that remains is how one should actually go about becoming happy. Material life means constantly hankering and lamenting. We keep making adjustments in the hopes that we will have peace of mind. Even if we are materially well off and living comfortably, that comfort will be gone at the time of death. According to the Vedic teachings, we will be forced to take another body after death, but our previously accumulated wealth doesn’t come with us.

True spiritual understanding only comes when we realize the existence of this repetitious cycle. We know for a fact that our ancestors have died and some of our relatives have even died during our lifetime. Witnessing this, we still try to pretend that we will live forever. Death is guaranteed, so we should be inquisitive to find out what happens to the soul after it leaves this body. Luckily for us, Lord Krishna, God Himself, has explained all of this in the Bhagavad-gita. If we take the time to read this wonderful book and make a sincere effort in trying to understand it, then we will surely be cured of our material disease and thus achieve everlasting happiness.