Monday, May 9, 2011

Amazing Discoveries

Radha and Krishna“The creation itself is evidence of the consciousness of the Supreme. Everyone can appreciate the cosmic manifestation and how nicely it is working. The sun and moon rise exactly on time, without deviating even one ten-thousandth of a second, and the seasons change in the same way, bringing with them fruits and flowers.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Teachings of Queen Kunti, Ch 17)

With the rapidly advancing age of technology, new software programs, gadgets and devices flood the market every second. For the non-tech savy, figuring out how to use these new programs and devices can be very difficult. Microsoft, one of the world’s software giants, has an entire department dedicated to providing continuing education on how to use their different software tools. It takes years and years of training, both in the classroom and on the job, to become familiar with all the ins and outs of the various development environments and coding languages, not to mention mastering the actual tools that make them function properly. Those who are able to learn these technologies are given complimentary and even playful titles such as “genius”, “geek” and “MVP”. While these honors are well-deserved, what might get overlooked is that someone had to create the devices mastered and ensure that they function properly. Moreover, if it takes geniuses to figure out how to make use of the end product, just imagine how much intelligence was required on the part of the creator. Unfortunately, these finer points are also ignored when dealing with systems of the most complex scale, such as the creation, nature, and life and death. Because of this oversight, the true meaning of life remains safely tucked away within the recesses of the heart, only to be discovered by the rare individuals who are trained to see things properly.

“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)

Lord KrishnaIn the Bhagavad-gita, arguably the single most appreciated, read and studied religious scripture in history, Lord Krishna, the speaker, founder and expert of Vedanta philosophy, or the final conclusion of all knowledge, states that it takes many lifetimes for an individual to finally understand who is behind the amazing creation we call the world. This statement carries the inherent implication that life continues after death and that the individual also existed prior to his current birth. These concepts, which are not merely dogmas of the Vedic tradition, speak to the eternality of spirit, the endlessly mutable nature of matter, and the purpose to our existence. When information pertaining to these subjects is not taken from authority figures such as Krishna and His spiritual descendants infused with intelligence, man remains in the dark and unappreciative of the true meaning behind life. He also fails to learn who the ultimate object of worship and pleasure should be.

Because it functions in identifiable patterns, the whole cosmic manifestation can be greatly appreciated and studied. The sun rises and sets at regular intervals, and the seasons come along at set times during the year. Man has studied nature for so long and become so familiar with its predictable events that he thinks he can alter the weather through driving certain types of automobiles and by recycling paper and aluminum products. But more important than the actual results seen in the external world is the cause Himself, the instigator of all action, the person who instituted this mysterious system known as nature. Where there is a lack of spiritual consciousness, the creator remains unappreciated, and the results are mistakenly viewed as the initial cause and effect. As a result of this flawed understanding, those who can correctly identify a small subsection of the workings of nature are hailed and regarded as geniuses, while the Person who instituted the plan to begin with gets completely ignored.

This behavior is especially seen whenever there is a new scientific discovery made or a new mathematical formula posited. As an example, we know that gravity is a force that applies equally to all objects. Irrespective of our belief system, if we drop an object out of our hands, it will fall to the ground. A long time ago, no one knew what this force was and how it was applied. Eventually scientists came along and discovered that not only will all objects fall, but they will drop at the exact same rate, irrespective of mass. This goes against our initial inclinations, as a rock will surely fall to the ground much more quickly than will a piece of paper. But when wind resistance is removed, i.e. when a vacuum is present, both objects will fall at exactly the same rate of speed. The person who discovered gravity and its properties is rightfully hailed as a genius, someone who has a high level of intelligence.

Microsoft WordSimilarly, those who develop mathematical theorems and physics laws that predict the workings of nature are also celebrated and well-respected throughout society. But a fact that might get overlooked is that the laws of gravity existed long before anyone discovered them. Thousands of years before the celebrated scientists even appeared on this earth, gravity was operating on all objects. In fact, the laws of science have always applied; thus they are not dependent on anyone’s discovery. One person may be an expert on all the ins and outs of a word processing program, knowing how to align paragraphs properly, adjust fonts, and change page sizes without much endeavor, but these capabilities are always present within the program, irrespective of the end users’ awareness of them.

The scientists will say that there is no proof that any single individual created nature and all of its workings. “At best, there maybe was a giant random collision of chemicals that created the wonders we see around us.” But this line of thinking doesn’t pass the smell test. Where in life have we seen any wondrous occurrence, object or independently operating intelligent machinery come into existence without the aid of human effort, or paurusham? One man may be a genius at writing computer programs and developing hardware devices, but without the initial injection from spirit, the hand of a living being, these devices would never stand a chance at functioning properly. The sun rises and sets at regular intervals, and somehow it just does this on its own? The sun has continued to beam heat and light across millions of miles since the beginning of time, and somehow it was created through a series of chemicals exploding? There is no way for man to gain a true appreciation for the sun because he is not capable of creating anything that can burn at even a fraction of the same scope.

the sunThe Vedas, the authoritative scriptures of India, kindly fill in the missing details. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, an individual with the highest intelligence, created this entire cosmos, with all of its intricate functions and workings. Discovering how nature operates is a neat exercise, but at the time of death, these functions will continue, while the body, including the brain, will be discarded. Realizing that an original person, one who is undying and ever existing, created the universe represents advancement from those who champion their intelligence acquired from understanding the workings of the nature created by the original person, but an even higher ascension in consciousness is achieved when the purpose behind the creation and the actions of its creator are understood.

The behavior exhibited by those who exclusively study the results of spiritual action actually provides great insight into the original cause of creation. When so much stress and endeavor is taken to only study the results and celebrate those who are able to understand a small portion of the workings of nature, the focus remains far away from the original person. In essence, man creates their own gods by worshiping the people that can study, manipulate and discourse about matter and its intricate workings. Indeed, for as long as the influence of the original person is neglected, the sun will continue to rise and plants will continue to grow to provide sustenance.

“When, however, one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 5.16)

Lord KrishnaThe wise understand that the creator should be given precedence in thought and worship. Not only is the original person amazing for having put the sun into a fixed position, but His reason for doing so only further enhances His stature. The essence of life is the soul, or atma. This tiny fragment of pure spirit exists at all times. This shouldn’t be that difficult to understand, as we existed in the tiniest of spaces within the womb of our mother prior to our birth. Though our consciousness wasn’t fully developed at that time, it would be silly to say that we didn’t exist. Proponents of the right to have an abortion have conjured up this idea that the fetus within the womb of the mother is an unviable tissue mass, but deep down they know that’s not the case. Frantic searches for contraceptives and abortion clinics would never be undertaken to deal with something as inconsequential as an unviable tissue mass. Matter cannot do anything on its own; without a spiritual injection matter is dull and lifeless.

Just as we existed before our present consciousness was fully developed, we will continue to exist in the future, as nothing can be done to eliminate spirit. What nature does have an influence over, however, is the future destination of the tiny spiritual fragment. The development of consciousness determines one’s future fortunes. If we are wholly attached to the phenomenal world and its amazing workings, our association remains fixed for the future. If a person loves science, they get to continue their scientific pursuits, life after life. Lest we think the scientist will ever run out of things to study and discover, not even a tiny fragment of the full knowledgebase about nature has even been identified, let alone understood. Indeed, the main difference between the original creator and the tiny fragmental sparks is that the sparks can never possess the same level of intelligence and potency to create as the creator; having complete knowledge is simply impossible for one who is lacking it. The relationship between the two entities, the creator and those roaming the creation, can be described as simultaneously one with and different. The creator also has independence and freedom of activity and association, but none of His behavioral tendencies are checked in any way. The tiny fragments have free will, but they are constantly tossed around by the workings of nature, the system whose effects they are so interested in understanding.

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.8)

Krishna speaking to ArjunaIf we prefer a particular lifestyle, we get to continue it even after we die. In this way the laws of nature are very kind, because when our current outer covering gets old and starts to become useless, a new one is provided. Our desires are tied to our consciousness, which is shaped by our activities. One who remains wholly dedicated to unregulated sex life will obviously have desires relating to sexual activity on the mind at the time of death. Therefore in the next life they will be given even greater license for sex through the body of a monkey or a dog. One who is very intelligent and seeks higher knowledge at every turn will be given the body of a scientist in the next life.

But the truly fortunate never have to take birth again after their present life completes. Lest we think there is an exception to the rule of consciousness being the determining factor, those who put an end to the cycle of reincarnation also develop a consciousness, but the nature of their attachment is different. Rather than being enamored with the unexplainable workings of the surrounding world, the pure hearted saints take to worshiping, honoring and always thinking about the original creator, the person who kindly allows all of his sons and daughters to remain separated from Him for as long as they wish.

The key factor in determining our future abode is desire. When the soul’s sincere desire, which is measured by the consciousness at the time of death, is to be in constant association with the Supreme Spirit, the person who eternally exists within the same form and hence the same type of land, a spiritual body is immediately granted and liberation is achieved. But since nature is so wondrous and man is given so many outlets for his service mentality, it is not very easy to even acknowledge the presence of the original creator. Surely there are many allegiances of faith to a Divine Being, who is most commonly referred to as God, but the focus of attention still remains far away from the divine realm. I may claim to be religious and attend functions and rituals associated with spiritual life, but unless my fervent desire is to serve that entity who I have acknowledged as the creator, my consciousness will not advance to any mature level.

“Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.6)

Krishna and His incarnationsTo ascend to the topmost stage of spiritual enlightenment, we need the aid of someone who knows the Truth, one who has learned it from someone who descends from the line of instruction originating with that Supreme Being. Though He creates matter and the world it governs, the Creator still makes appearances in His grand creation every now and then. Though when He comes He sometimes annihilates miscreants, this business can actually be taken care of by the ordinary workings of nature. His true purpose in descending to earth is to rescue the fallen souls looking for a real source of pleasure. The Creator also institutes the ideal principles of religion, a set of law codes aimed at actually purifying consciousness, not just giving individuals a sectarian view of spirituality that doesn’t provide any tangible benefit.

Irrespective of time, place, circumstance, language and country of origin, the discipline of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, always remains the topmost form of spiritual practice. Just as the laws of gravity existed long before anyone discovered them, bhakti has always been the supreme discipline, spiritual or otherwise, for mankind. Those who are fortunate enough to realize this never let go of that sublime engagement, whose quintessential activity is the chanting of the holy names of the original creator, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

The scientists who make amazing discoveries are honored when people read their books, hear stories about them, and make the best use of the information presented. In a similar manner, the Supreme Person, who is known as Krishna in His original form due to His all-attractive nature, can be honored and respected by regularly chanting His names, reading about His sportive exploits and making the best use of the information He reveals in texts like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. Though matter and nature on a whole expand from the original person, worshiping and honoring these aspects of the Divine doesn’t constitute personal association. Matter is meant for those who want to be removed from God’s presence and spend all their time enjoying by themselves. Spirit, on the other hand, is reserved for those who want a higher taste and a more in-depth understanding and appreciation of the man behind the mask, the entity who is single-handedly responsible for creating the numerous wonders of the world which are studied by so many.

Lord KrishnaThough Krishna has many personal aspects, His name is considered the jewel, the most valuable possession to those wanting to remain purified in consciousness. The holy name automatically evokes memories of the Lord’s pastimes, qualities, features and other names. Bhakti can be practiced simply by chanting the names of the Lord in a mood of pure love, without any motivation for material advancement or acquisition of mundane knowledge. The jivas, the living entities who are considered in a marginal position that is between the internal energy of spirit and the external energy of matter, always have a choice. They can choose to build their mental muscles by becoming experts in fields that study the nature that seemingly functions independently, or they can remain in the company of the man who created everything. The benefit of understanding the Creator is that the nature of pure spirit can  be discovered, thus causing the same inquisitive soul to lose their desire to exploit matter and its workings. This level of detachment is not dry in any way, and it leads to the highest benefit. The name of Krishna carries all of these wonderful properties, so by regularly chanting and honoring it, the true wonders of the Supreme Spirit and the endless supply of spiritual love that He is ready to offer can be appreciated and enjoyed for the rest of eternity.