Thursday, February 23, 2012

Always In Stock

Krishna's lotus feet“The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.” (Shri Ishopanishad Invocation)

If your knowledge of food is based only on walking into a store and picking up the materials necessary for cooking, you may overlook the fact that land, water, sunlight and careful attention are required for those food ingredients to be produced. The same principle applies when eating out at a restaurant, as the finished dish received on the plate is the result of someone mixing the ingredients together in the kitchen. Due to the blindness in extensive vision, the fear of scarcity can arise, wherein one thinks that there aren’t enough precious resources available in this world to keep everyone alive. But from the properties of the creator, we learn that there can never be such a thing as scarcity in this or any other world.

Lord KrishnaWho is the creator? How do we know that someone created this world and how can we know their properties? As we can’t tell what’s going on three thousand miles away unless someone tells us or beams a video feed from a satellite, our knowledge gathering abilities are limited. Rather than insist on direct perception for every kind of information transfer, a superior method is to just hear from authority sources. As the most inconceivable topic is the creation of the earth and the person who is responsible for it, the best way to accept that information is also through hearing. Hence the oldest scriptural tradition in the world is known as the shrutis, or that which is heard. Passed on through an oral tradition since the beginning of time, the Vedas, which have more recently been documented in written word, reveal the genesis of the creation and, more importantly, the properties of the creator.

Why is it important to know both? Well, for starters we can already tell that there was a creation. The end result proves that fact. How that creation came into being is more important, because that gives us the intelligence behind the creating actions and the ideal use of the playing field that we call earth. If a series of chemicals just collided to create this universe, why can’t someone take the same chemicals and make their own planet, filled with diverse species like trees, birds, beasts, and human beings? What is to stop those same chemicals from dissipating and thus causing colossal destruction?

Just as within every living being there is an intelligent force known as the spirit soul, the movements of the entire creation, which are too many to fully understand, take place under the direction of intelligent spirit. The shrutis apply many names to that intelligent entity, with the most descriptive being Krishna. Krishna means all-attractive, so the original creator has every desirable feature imaginable. His creative potency falls under the categories of His strength, wealth and knowledge. From His strength He can make this and many other planets that are still less powerful than He is. From His wealth He can generate the necessary ingredients for creation. The entire land of the earth, which includes its component seeds, belongs to Krishna, so He is thus the greatest land owner.

Krishna’s knowledge is partially passed on to those who manage the material creation and those looking to flourish in it. It is through His indirect energies, His proxies, that this creation comes into being. Lord Brahma, the creator of mankind, populates the earth at the direction of Krishna, and from the same Krishna Brahma gets the necessary information for surviving within the complex nature governed by fruitive activity and the corresponding reactions, or what is better known as the system of karma.

apple sdkKrishna’s direction in the shrutis is akin to an instruction manual, or better yet, a software development kit. An SDK lets you know which functions you can call on a specific platform, thereby giving you information on how to make the best use of the tools that you have. The SDK is purposefully missing an end-goal, however, so the developer is free to make any type of program they wish, including those which are useless and have no appeal to anyone.

The shrutis provide information on how to use the material elements for one’s advantage. That advantage is from the perspective of spirit and not matter. The difference between the two is that spirit is eternal, unchangeable, and immutable. Spirit transcends both birth and death and the bounds of space and time. Matter, on the other hand, is limited by these factors. Without knowledge of the shrutis, without hearing the information on how to make the best use of the material elements around us, the bewildered spirit soul will wrongly identify with that matter and thereby remain in illusion.

Identifying with something that doesn’t represent our identity is always a losing proposition. The body is the matter we interact with in the closest proximity, so it forms the obvious basis for false identification. The direction of scripture starts by emphatically declaring that the living being is not their body. At the same time, the material elements are required to keep the spirit within the temporary covering known as the body. The field is not shunned entirely, as through interaction with material elements the proper end can be reached.

Not surprisingly, that end is devotion to the origin of life and matter, Lord Krishna. As He is all-attractive, devotion to Him proves to be most beneficial. Yet even in the absence of the pursuit of devotional service, whatever is required for sustenance in life is provided by Krishna. The earth, with its many fields that hold trees and grass, can provide for man’s needs. The minerals and jewels naturally resting within the mountains provide the opulence, the water from the rain the nourishment for the crops, and the sunlight the warmth from the cold.

Scarcity is only an issue when there is complete ignorance of the shrutis and the person who instituted them. The attitude is akin to walking into the kitchen and saying that there is nothing to eat. “Mom, we’re out of food. What are we going to do? I don’t want to starve.” The problem is that there is a full supply of food. Grains, vegetables, water, and juices line the shelves of the refrigerator, but since the petulant child doesn’t see any finished items on the table, they think there is scarcity. If they simply went into the fridge and prepared the items they wanted they could see that there is plenty to eat.

In a similar manner, this earth contains the seeds to grow endless crops. It is said that the relatively small land mass of the United States grows enough food to feed the entire world every year. This means that from a very short section of earth enough food can be grown so that no one would ever starve. Thus where is the question of scarcity? Shri Krishna provides His innumerable spirit souls all they need to survive. If they don’t take the time to make use of those gifts, what can be done? Spirit is never bereft of its ability to choose. The unbreakable affinity for free will explains the natural yearning for freedom within systems of government and the constant migration of people from areas of oppression to those lands where there are few restrictions on liberty.

Knowing the properties of the creator, that He is all-attractive and extremely benevolent, helps in taking up devotional service with firm faith, love and determination. If you don’t believe in a particular path’s effectiveness, why will you stick to it? If there are reservations about accepting the ultimate path of bhakti-yoga, or love and devotion to God as the primary occupation in life, then the same conclusion can still be reached by studying the nature around us. Those things that we really do need are readily available. Land is not scarce and neither is water. Maybe in certain areas there is famine because of mismanagement in leadership, but the items themselves are not lacking. On the other hand, those things that we really don’t need, like expensive meats, jewelry and high end appliances, are not very abundant. They cost more to procure, serving as nature’s way of reminding us of what is important in life.

“Just as within the earth are found every kind of seed and within the sky live all the stars, Tulsidas knows that Shri Rama’s holy name is the reservoir of all dharma.” (Dohavali, 29)

japa malaJust as the earth is ready to produce bountiful resources to serve the needs of a limitless number of people, the holy name, the most powerful tool of bhakti-yoga, can save countless souls looking for an eternal engagement that provides undying happiness. As there is variety in the desires of the different sparks of spirit roaming this and many other lands, there are multiple paths leading to spiritual enlightenment. To find which one is best, we can apply the same screening test used for determining which material items are worth possessing. Those tools of transcendentalism that are the most expensive, which are the most difficult to accept and more restrictive in terms of entry, are the ones we don’t need. This means that suffering through strict austerity, sitting in difficult yoga postures for hours on end, and becoming a high scholar of Vedanta through philosophical speculation are not the best ways to find the Absolute Truth.

The aforementioned pursuits are difficult and limit the number of people that can be accepted. Bhakti-yoga, on the other hand, is the easiest to implement and can be perfected by any person, regardless of age or level of intelligence. The quintessential act of bhakti is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Within the names of Krishna and Rama can be found the limitless blissful features and transcendental pastimes of the Lord. The holy names sequenced in the maha-mantra can be sung, recited on a set of japa beads, or simply repeated within the mind over and over. It is the travelling field of bliss, ready to produce the ingredients necessary for feeding the mind starved of spiritual association. From divine association in bhakti-yoga the precocious developer makes the best use of the SDK that is the shrutis by writing an application that turns everything in this world into an object of value. Whether living in opulence or squalor, heat or cold, light or darkness, the spiritually infused devotee finds Krishna’s association, which is never out of stock.

In Closing:

From SDK tools of language take,

So that custom applications can make.

 

Whatever thing you want you can do,

No direction given, choice up to you.

 

Same way the earth with its many seeds,

Grow food so that hunger to be appeased.

 

To think there is scarcity is mistake,

From nature’s gifts resources create.

 

With Krishna how can scarcity exist?

Chant His names, from foolishness desist.