Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Looking In All The Wrong Places

Krishna and Arjuna“You are air, fire, water, and You are the moon! You are the supreme controller and the grandfather. Thus I offer my respectful obeisances unto You a thousand times, and again and yet again!” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.39)

In the human being there is an inherent understanding of the existence of a higher force who has supremacy over all. The problem is that without the required approach towards a bona fide spiritual master, the search for the supreme force will lead us to all the wrong places. So many gods are then created, and when they fail to live up to their billing, as is guaranteed to happen, the search continues elsewhere, with the clock eventually running out at the time of death. Then the cycle begins anew, with the future circumstances uncertain because of the intricacies of karma.

“The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, tongue, and nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.9)

Karma is fruitive work. The work has one or many outcomes. There is the intended result and also the unintended consequences. For instance, when we plant a seed, we hope to get a flower or a tree with fruits. What we don’t intend is to miss out on other work. We also don’t desire to be pricked by the many thorns on the trees. These thorns will get in the way of the harvest, mixing the pleasure of enjoying the fruit with the pain of the sides of our body being torn.

Karma’s effects continue into the afterlife, so depending on the state of being at the time of death, the next state can be anywhere. Think of it like getting on an elevator and not knowing to which floor it’s going. You could be going up or down, or possibly staying on the same floor. As the spirit soul has specific qualities inherent to it, there will be a push towards a specific type of activity. If the ideal target is not found, the search will continue, with more and more outcomes accumulated through karma.

And what exactly is it that we’re searching for? The dharma of the soul is service. Dharma is an essential characteristic. The dharma of fire is its heat and light, of water its wetness, of winter its cold conditions, and so on. The soul is the essence of identity, and in its constitutional position it is subordinate to the highest spirit soul, the person most of us refer to as God. In a conditioned state, where the individual soul is encased in material elements, the original dharma is covered up. The tendency towards service in the submissive attitude remains, but since there is a covering, the path towards knowledge is skewered. The light of wisdom is refracted and thus one drifts away from the ideal service instead of towards it.

As an example to illustrate the fact, think of the situation that occurs when gasoline prices rise. It is obvious to anyone who follows the stock market that there is volatility in commodities trading. You have thousands of people making thousands of decisions based on a host of different reasons. These decisions then affect the price of a commodity, as a price is nothing more than an indication of information, acting like a newspaper report or biography specific to a commodity or business. A rise in price reports specific information about a commodity and a fall something else.

And yet when oil prices rise suddenly, there is a clamor to find out how to change the momentum through a single person’s effort. “Who is it that is causing the price to rise so rapidly?” is the questioned asked. The mistaken notion is that one person controls the price. Even famous television news personalities make this error, completely ignoring the decisions of the aforementioned traders.

Obviously there is no single entity responsible for the price of a commodity that is bought and sold by so many people. Even the large oil companies have to bend to the demands of the buying public and the futures traders. The companies also compete with one another, so it is in their interest to sell gasoline for as low a price as possible, as this will drive the competitors into a loss scenario and hopefully out of business.

But the tendency towards thinking that one person is in charge of something as large as oil exists for a reason. Deep down the individual knows that they can’t influence much. Even the leader of a nation, who has the bully pulpit and can thus reach a wide audience with their public speeches, must rely on the confidence of the constituents to get anything meaningful done. Though we know that there are higher powers that be, to think that another human holds the post of “all-powerful” is incorrect.

“I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.18)

Lord KrishnaThe highest living entity is really in charge, but He is not an ordinary person. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says that He is responsible for the creation, its subsequent maintenance, and its eventual destruction. This takes place in a repeating cycle, and since no one can even fathom the full breadth and scope of the universe, Krishna is automatically the most powerful person. To deny Krishna’s supremacy is easy to do with words, but we know for a fact that the macrocosmic form does exist and that its interior elements operate on their own. We don’t control the sun. We don’t manage the revolution and rotation of the earth. And yet somehow we think that a man can be God?

We can test the idea that Krishna is the real God by seeing the benefits that result from acknowledging His supremacy. That acknowledgment can take place in many different moods, with love being the foremost. Love of God is the real meaning to surrender, as in that voluntarily accepted subordinate state there is vulnerability and full reliance on the more powerful force. This situation is ideal for the spirit soul, as it reawakens the original dharma. To feel that helplessness regularly the devotees chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

The manmade gods require constant attention simply to provide a reciprocal benefit. As they are not all-powerful, they cannot possibly distribute benefits without cessation. Meanwhile, in chanting the holy names in a humble mood of devotion, the benefit is the continued ability to chant in spite of what the outside conditions may be. Married or single, poverty stricken or wealthy, young or old, Hindu or Christian - devotional service can continue without interruption and without motivation. This paradoxical combination exists with the devotees, who show the way towards the real controller.

In Closing:

To find superior being inherent need,

Towards person after person search to lead.


But of these all-powerful are none,

Supreme Controller there is only one.


This the spirit soul inherently knows,

Intelligent person towards Krishna goes.


At start difficult for fact to believe,

So take confidence from divine gift to receive.