“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)
“We’re fed up. We’ve had it here. We can’t stay here for another minute. The government is out of control. They take upwards of fifty percent of our income. They don’t let us practice our religion. There are no jobs anywhere. They just unilaterally passed a law where they can take ten percent of our bank account balance. There was no debate period either. This is blatant confiscation of property. Let us discover a new world, where we can live free.”
Indeed, such situations have been the cause of the discovery of new lands since time immemorial. In an ancient work called the Shrimad Bhagavatam, even simple village girls mention how citizens leave a country when the government stops offering protection. The human being is a free spirit, so its natural reaction is to flee when freedom is encroached upon. What’s forgotten in the heat of the moment, however, is that the same negative conditions gradually emerge in the new area, nullifying the prior difficult journey and subsequent discovery. The key ingredient that is missing is God consciousness, and when it exists any area can turn into the cherished panacea.
“It is very natural and psychological that a prostitute does not care for her paramour as soon as he loses his money. Similarly, when the citizens find that a government is incapable of giving them full protection, they leave the country. A student, after finishing his education, gives up his relationship with the teacher and the school. A rich man, after taking his reward from his worshiper, gives him up.” (Gopis speaking to Uddhava, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 46)
Why is God consciousness so important? Isn’t religion about faith? If I’m travelling to a new area, isn’t that putting faith in God? Why is that bad then?
Since it is believed that the truths of religion can’t be proved in a scientific experiment, the whole exercise is considered one of faith. Indeed, that is one of the ways to discount any of the things said in scriptural works. “Oh, that’s just what your faith says. My faith says something else and that person’s faith says something entirely different. Who are we to reconcile? Therefore let’s keep religion out of this. Faith has no business in public policy or in guiding human behavior.”
As it is an integral aspect of all relationships, faith does not make religion unique at all. Real religion must be scientifically based for it to be valid. Real religion consists of nothing more than laws and guiding principles aimed at achieving a better destination. There is always religion, though the ones that are manmade go under the umbrella of secularism. In secularism, some of the sins are discriminating against the races, failing to recycle, and not paying enough in taxes. In secularism, the aim is to exploit the material nature as much as possible without feeling guilty about it. Make the successful feel guilty, but the rest can be considered victims. In secularism, there are distinctions made between race, gender, ethnicity and nationality.
In real religion just the opposite conditions are present. The rules and regulations are not created by man. They are passed on since time immemorial. Man can’t even figure out when the original transfer of information took place. The laws passed down are applicable to any time period as well. Two plus two equals four. That is true today, it is true tomorrow, and it will be true a thousand years into the future. It was also true one million years ago. The same goes for the law of gravity, the properties of nature, and the tendencies of the different species.
The central truth of real religion is aham brahmasmi. This is a Sanskrit aphorism that means “I am a spirit soul.” There is no reliance on faith here; this is a truth understood through basic observation. We know that we look different today than we did when we first emerged from the womb of our mother. Yet our identity has not changed. Our body, therefore, cannot identify us. The body has completely changed and yet we are the same individual. Thus the vital source inside is what identifies us; not any external factors. To take identity only from external factors is thus a fallacy.
The individual is considered alive when there is a free spirit inside of the body. And we can tell the free spirit is there through involuntary movement and also through the presence of consciousness. And consciousness is never tied to any external condition. Think about this. Say that you work hard and achieve all your goals in life. At an old age you sit in your living room and watch television. How are you any different at that point than the person who didn’t really go for all of their goals but sits in the same situation? You have two people of an old age who are alive and generally in the same health. If they both took different paths in life but ended up in the same destination, it must mean that the paths relating to material acquisition are not that important. The rich man and the poor man both die. They also both grow old and contract disease. Therefore distinctions made off of opulence in terms of beauty, wealth, strength and fame should not be used for identification.
In real religion the ideal aim is pure God consciousness. No one will ever be happy without this condition achieved. Real God consciousness is the soul’s dharma, or essential characteristic. It is like the heat and light properties of fire or the wetness of water. You can’t take this property of the soul away, though you can mask it. The shade can somewhat hide the brightness of the lamp and the clouds can cover the sunlight. The light still exists in these situations, but to external objects there is some covering.
The situation with the conditioned living entities is similar. When the spirit soul is placed in a temporary and perishable body, the original dharma is covered up. While this has no bearing on the soul, it does influence the way the individual in the body acts. That effect is seen in consciousness. We get glimpses of the original consciousness when there is a desire for freedom. Thus the drive to discover new areas at least confirms the notion that without God consciousness one is not in line with their essential characteristic.
If that God consciousness is not created in the new area, the same unwanted conditions are sure to crop up again. Think of it this way: The place you’re desperate to leave was once not so bad either. But through time, with enough cheating and malfeasance, which were spurred on by the lack of real God consciousness, the place went from desirable to undesirable. The same thing will happen anywhere, even if the residence is in outer space.
On the other hand, if there is real God consciousness, any place can turn into Vaikuntha, or a realm free of miseries. Shrimati Radharani lives in Vrindavana in apparently unpleasant circumstances. The person she loves the most is not with her. He stays within her mind, but externally she must remain with people who are against the love of her life. And yet through constant thought of Him, which is known as yoga, she is always consumed with affectionate feelings. These are transcendental feelings since they relate to God. Radharani is always in complete God consciousness, so nothing can mask her immeasurable love for the Lord.
Shri Hanuman, another person who loves God without motivation and without interruption, finds happiness in a solitary cave. He doesn’t have a fancy house or a large bank balance. He doesn’t even have so many people around him for company. He simply chants the name of Rama over and over again and reads from the Ramayana. Rama is a powerful and descriptive name for God and the Ramayana describes the Supreme Lord’s pastimes on earth from an ancient time when He appeared as a pious prince named Rama.
In the present age of Kali, real God consciousness is virtually absent. New religions, or systems with guiding principles, are constantly created, with some even saying that sex between the same genders is a way to reach a good end. And one who argues against such a practice is considered intolerant. If what is wrong is considered right and what is right is considered wrong, how is anyone expected to be happy? The God consciousness that is inside all of us can still be reawakened, though. Through chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” our immediate surroundings can slowly turn into Vaikuntha. And with the improved surroundings we acquire the wisdom that allows us to maintain that peaceful existence wherever we go.
“That our government becoming oppressive we know,
So let us leave, to a new land we’ll go.
Religion in freedom can practice there,
For general welfare everyone will care.”
Before going stop for a moment and think,
How present land into oppression did sink?
Through historical accounts backtracking,
Understood that God consciousness lacking.
In new area maladies the same to arise,
If to God consciousness citizens not to rise.
Like Radha and Hanuman holy names take,
And into Vaikuntha your surroundings make.