Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Protecting My Stuff

Krishna and Kamsa“The activities of the Lord are to be accepted and relished by all living entities. His activities are to attract the ordinary man towards the Lord. The Lord always acts in favor of the devotees, and therefore ordinary men who are fruitive actors or seekers of salvation may be attracted to the Lord when He acts as protector of the devotees.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.1.44 Purport)


“I’ve worked hard my whole life to accumulate this stuff, but the work doesn’t end here. I must maintain and protect the things I have worked for. Otherwise, what was the point to all that labor? My car needs insurance for protection. I have to take the car to get washed every so often. I need to change the oil on time, keep an eye on the belts and hoses, and make sure that the tires are in good shape. I admired this car for such a long time, and it took me a while to save up enough money to buy it. In order to keep enjoying it, I need to protect it.

“The same applies for my mobile phone. It can get lost very easily. I need a protection plan as insurance against theft or damage. Also, my important contacts and work email are on that phone. Therefore I need a strong passcode to get it out of lock mode. Then if I should happen to leave the phone somewhere, someone else won’t be able to use it without entering this long code.

house“I need to protect my house as well. I have homeowner’s insurance for this reason. I always need to make sure that the stuff inside the home, such as the valuables and the like, are well-protected. I’ve heard that in tough economic times such as these people are more likely to take to burglary. I have to watch out for this. Maybe I will keep a gun in the house. And I definitely need to set up a home security system.”

This desire to defend is only natural, as even the animals defend their territory when necessary. Animals also eat, sleep and mate. All four behaviors are followed by both the animal and the human being alike, but the distinction with the human being lies in strength. And not necessarily as it applies to brute physical force. The bird can fly in the air. The snake can slither into strange areas, and the elephant can crush almost any other animal. The human being’s strength lies in the area of intelligence. And that strength is only exercised fully when one takes to spiritual life.

“How can this be? Don’t stupid people believe in God also? What intelligence does it take to bow down before an imaginary figure that no one has ever seen?”

The strength in intelligence does not relate to blindly following this person or that. Intelligence is to be applied towards the spiritual science, where one learns the difference between matter and spirit. Aham brahmasmi means that I am not my body. I am inherently spirit. Therefore whatever things I have are only temporary. My position in society and my relationships have the same defect. Nothing is permanent except me, my identity. My identity is sourced in the same substance as others’; thus all the core functional units in living beings are eternally existing.

The intelligent take to spiritual life in full earnest when they recognize these differences. They are no longer fooled by the influence of the external energy, an energy which is described as maya in Sanskrit. Maya is that which is not. The beautiful woman entices you to join her for one casual night of fun, but what she doesn’t tell you is that your satisfaction level will be more or less the same afterwards. She will not remain beautiful forever, and when you have enjoyed her association once, you will want it again. All of this will cost you dearly, so much so that you’ll eventually wish that you had never met her. The woman in this instance personifies all the material objects and relationships. They are an illusion borne of contact with the material nature.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.14“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)

The winter seasonRecognizing this illusion is very difficult. One needs the help of someone else who sees it. Without such a fortunate encounter, the increased potential for intelligence in the human species is unnecessarily spent on fruitive desires, where one either strives after something, looking then to protect what they have, or wants desperately to get rid of something painful. Those who have grown weary of swinging from this pendulum of aversion and attraction then try to renounce all activity, hoping to merge into transcendence.

The Supreme Lord is the origin of matter and spirit, and His activities on the earthly plane can help either of the above mentioned groups. For the fruitive worker especially, the protection offered by God to His devotees is very appealing. As Shri Krishna, who is the original Personality of Godhead, the Lord gives protection to the devotees of Vrindavana, who surrender everything unto Him. He protects them from a torrential downpour instigated by a vengeful and slighted king of heaven. He thwarts the attacks of the enemies sent by Kamsa, the king of the neighboring town of Mathura. He helps the embattled Pandava brothers regain a kingdom that is rightfully theirs. He protects Arjuna from ignorance by delivering the Bhagavad-gita, which contains the essence of Vedic wisdom. Krishna Himself is the origin of such knowledge, and He delivered the same Gita at the beginning of the creation to the sun-god.

Bhagavad-gita, 4.1“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)

Krishna protecting ArjunaAny fruitive worker who has anything they want to protect should find Krishna’s behavior appealing. “If you just surrender to Him, He’ll protect you. That’s what I get out of His pastimes, which the devotees describe as lila. Why should I not become His devotee as well? I’ve been told that just hearing of His pastimes with a non-envious attitude is as good as being with Him. And being with Him is to be in His presence, which means you automatically become the sheltered. He offers the shelter, either physically through doing things like lifting large objects or mentally through giving the wisdom from within the heart to prevent bad decisions from being made. I will be devoted to such a Lord.”

Though the motives are slightly impure in the beginning, through enough contact with Krishna, the requisite knowledge gradually gets revealed. Soon after, the attitude changes from desiring only protection for one’s own things to desiring to offer protection to Krishna Himself. Seems rather silly, as God is the supreme powerful, so why would He need anyone’s help? Regardless, the attitude is very much appreciated, and if Krishna can protect His devotees, why won’t He allow His devotees to offer Him protection? That in itself is a kind of protection offered by Him, as He keeps their devotional attitude safe and secure, free from foreign attack.

Thus through simply hearing of Krishna’s pastimes, one doesn’t even require knowledge of spirit and matter in the beginning stages. Full intelligence with respect to matter and spirit is not necessary in surrender to God. Hence His shelter is open to every single person, regardless of stature, country of origin, or gender. He provides to His devotees what they lack and maintains what they have.

In Closing:

“All this stuff so hard for me to get,

Now I must find ways for it to protect.

 

Insurance in case car stops to run,

For burglars in the home must keep a gun.”

 

With such thinking appeal in Krishna find,

How He keeps devotee’s protection in mind.

 

In devotion steadily purification to gain,

To protect the Lord then to be primary aim.

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