Saturday, July 13, 2013

Giving to Krishna

Flowers offered at Krishna's lotus feet“The Lord says, patram pushpam phalam: He is ready to accept from the devotee any kind of offering, never mind what. Even a leaf, a flower, a bit of fruit, or a little water, which are all available in every part of the world, can be offered by any person, regardless of social position, and will be accepted if offered with love.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2 Purport)

“Not surprisingly, in my youth I didn’t have much money. My parents didn’t believe in an allowance. Therefore whatever money I did get came only sporadically. Sometimes my dad would give me money to buy ice cream or something, and then he would let me keep the change. Sometimes I would get money as a gift for a birthday. Whenever it did arrive, I would spend it soon afterwards. I would buy toys. I would buy video games. In this way I gave my money for so many different things.

“In young adulthood, I still didn’t have much money, but I did get cash for expenses. I had a little more freedom to spend than before. I would give money to restaurants when I would go out to eat with my friends. I would give money to various pizza places on those nights when we were still hungry after having eaten dinner a few hours before. I would give money to purchase beverages so that we would all have a good time.

“In adulthood, I started earning money. Now I could buy pretty much whatever I wanted, within reason. I was never into fancy cars or expensive clothes, so those things that I actually wanted I was able to get. I spent money on eating again, but also on ties, shirts, pants and sneakers. I spent money on televisions, on television programming and on concert tickets. I gave my money to charity sometimes too, towards causes that others told me were important. I even gave money to politicians that I thought would make a difference.

Gopi offering a flower garland“In all this giving, I failed to look towards the way of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In reading books by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I’ve come to learn that offering something as simple as a flower to the deity of the Supreme Lord in the temple can bring back way more rewards than anything else. Though I’ve offered so many things to so many people throughout my life, I still feel like something is missing.

“Though I never thought of it before, the logic behind the recommendation makes sense. In all the giving thus far, I got something in return. The return was something expected. Perhaps I got a little more satisfaction with some giving than others, but in the end the return was very limited. God is the source of everything. He is the original giver. When others say that God is mean because He has destroyed their home through a hurricane, they fail to mention that God gave them that home to begin with. He gives them the materials necessary to make it possible to be angry with Him. He gives the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, and the food that we eat, so who are we to be angry with Him?

“On the other side, if I were to simply offer Him something in full sincerity, why wouldn’t He accept it? Come to think of it, why wouldn’t He take the form of the deity too? I know that some spiritual leaders condemn this practice as mere idol worship, but if God is really everything, why wouldn’t He be the deity too? If He is a distinct personality to whom we can offer worship, why wouldn’t He have hands, legs, a face and an enchanting smile? If you don’t believe that this is His original form, then at least you would have to acknowledge that God can take this form if He so chooses. If we can change the shape of our bodies through intense exercise and rigorous dieting, why can’t the Supreme Lord take any shape at will? And then what is the harm in worshiping His preferred shape?

“Of course we don’t have to rely on speculation in this area. The Bhagavad-gita confirms that the Supreme is a person. There are some spiritualists who say that temple worship is unnecessary since God is everywhere, but if that is the case then what is the harm in offering a beautiful flower to the deity? Is that not better than offering gifts to others, which will take place regardless? No matter how old I am or where I live, I will continue to offer so many gifts, and since they are not offered to God these donations will not really get me or the recipients anywhere.

Lord Krishna“From this day forward I vow to offer something to the Supreme Lord every day. I know that I am busy working and meeting the responsibilities of home and family, but at the very least I can contemplate offering a flower to God. Whether I have a little or a lot, I know that the best offering is the sincere chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. As this is the supreme gift for this age it is something I will continue to give until my very last breath.

“I should have been offering such attention with sincerity since the beginning of my life, but I know that I didn’t because of forgetfulness. From the Bhagavad-gita I learn that we are all forgetful of our true identity as soon as we take birth. Then the struggle begins to find our way, to make the right turns in this giant maze called life. If we fail to reach the proper destination by the time death arrives, we start over again in the next life.

“Bhakti-yoga is different from any other endeavor, though. If I only give and give for material purposes, I will have to start over with a clean slate in the next life. But if I give just one flower to Krishna, who is the all-attractive Supreme Lord, my progress will not be erased in the next life. Even if I fail to give to Him again, the progress I made will not go away. Thus there can be no denying the benefits of giving to the Supreme Lord, whose presence is spread throughout the world by His enlivened servants, who ask only that we give to God by chanting His names.”

In Closing:

Money in youth did not save,

Towards toys and games gave.


In adulthood on desires spent,

Towards clothes and food went.


From all this giving what did I get?

Still in transcendence mind not set.


Better to offer simple flower I hear,

To Krishna, temple’s resident so dear.


Return the best from this gift,

From darkness of ignorance to lift.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Charming All The Way To Hell

Krishna's lotus feet“Such jugglers and magicians of the mundane world are actually puzzled by the jugglery of the Lord in His transcendental activities, but they try to adjust their bewilderment by saying that it is all mythology. There is, however, nothing impossible or mythological in the Supreme Omnipotent Person. The most wonderful puzzle for the mundane wranglers is that while they remain calculating the length and breadth of the unlimited potency of the Supreme Person, His faithful devotees are set free from the bondage of material encagement simply by appreciating the wonderful jugglery of the Supreme in the practical field.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.6.39 Purport)

You send a smile the way of someone else and there’s no telling what it can get you. The smile indicates that you are friendly; it is an integral part of any charm offensive. But caveat emptor: the buyer should beware of the charm, for if the intentions aren’t noble, the person can lead you to places you didn’t think you would go. As in the material land there is always darkness in the form of ignorance, it is difficult to tell which spiritual paths are legitimate and which aren’t. It is difficult to know for sure whether there is even a God, as so many daily calamities make us think that He either must not exist or that He’s too mean to deserve worship. The people in the know, however, aren’t fooled by the cheating religions and their leaders. The wise know of the Supreme Lord’s amazing abilities, and so they always think of them.

Picture this scenario: a mystic comes to town. He proclaims that he is an expert at yoga and that he can teach it to you. From this practice you will be free of all disease. The circulation in your body will be right, and therefore you will always be healthy. This yoga is difficult to practice, but if you give it enough time, you’ll see the health benefits. Sure, there is a fee, but what in life is free? You already pay for gym memberships and expensive diets, so why not give this yoga a try and see what happens?

yogaThis seems well and good, but in following this path suddenly your material desires increase. You are more vulnerable to unrestricted sex life, which is the greatest sign of ignorance. Why is this the case? Well, for starters, the animals follow sex life without discrimination. There is no concept of “having feelings” for this creature or that. The feelings in the animal are all based on instinct. After the urges are satisfied, there is no concern given to welfare, relationships, fidelity and other such things found in human society.

By speaking about yoga one automatically makes reference to the Vedas. Yoga is found in those ancient scriptures of India, and as a Sanskrit word its root meaning is “addition.” It is the addition of two souls, a union if you will. Therefore real yoga is a spiritual activity. Health benefits are a pleasant side effect, but they are not the main concern. Moreover, in real yoga sex life is either entirely eliminated or severely restricted. This is because spiritual life means seeing the spirit soul within everyone. Material life means seeing the outer covering only. Illicit sexual affairs are based on the latter mentality, and so one who is so engrossed in such a mentality is not in yoga, regardless of what exercise regimen they follow or which teacher they listen to.

Bhagavad-gita, 6.13-14“One should hold one's body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.13-14)

Lord KrishnaFollowing the yoga teacher who focuses only on physical exercises which unintentionally lead to increased sex desires is one way to be degraded, but there are more egregious examples of being led down the wrong path. Some leaders will proclaim that they are God. They will show some magic with their mysticism and then woo in unsuspecting spectators. “If this person can generate fire from his mouth, then he must be something special. If he can read my mind, he can’t be ordinary. If he can tell me who I was in a previous life, then he must be tapped into a higher stream of consciousness.”

This path is more dangerous because the charm of the leader in this case will drag the innocent people to a hellish life. It is hellish because the viable potency of the living spirit is spent in service to a great offender. The greatest offender is one who denies the existence of the real God while falsely posing as Him. The other aspect to the hellish life is that there is tremendous pain from following a hoax. If you give life and soul over to such a bogus path, you will be left with nothing while thinking that you were getting everything.

The yogi who can show off some magic gets appreciation, but where did he come from? Where did the yogi get the ability? At some point he had to acquire it. Moreover, can he create an entire universe filled with an inestimable number of creatures? Can he sustain those creatures by producing water, earth, fire, air and ether? Can he grant his personal presence through the sound vibration of his name alone? Can he deliver others from danger so that they continue in their devotion?

The cheating yogi cannot, but the Supreme Lord can indeed do all of these things. He has done them already, so there is no reason to doubt. His wonderful jugglery in the material sphere is well documented in the Vedas. The cheaters take these accounts to be mere mythology, but then there is actually nothing more false than the promise that through forgetting God one can find happiness. The devotees know that these accounts are not mythology, that they are indeed real.

Krishna lifting Govardhana HillThe Supreme Lord has the potency to lift up a mountain with His tiny finger and hold it up for seven consecutive days without breaking a sweat. He can elongate the sari of a distressed princess when she has no other recourse to save her. That sari can become seemingly infinite in length. He can save a helpless child from the attack of deadly weapons. He does all of this not to prove His position. He does all of this not to earn cheap adoration. He does this to protect the devotional life of those who depend on Him for everything. He does all of this because of the sincerity in the devotees.

Of all His amazing talents, His ability to grant His presence through just the sound of His name is likely His greatest. This is something the inimical will never understand. They can barely extend their own presence through the use of modern technology, but even then their presence doesn’t mean so much. They can speak and provide tips on how to survive the present journey through the difficult material existence, but they can do nothing to stop those miseries forever. They can do nothing to ignite the transcendental spark of service that is meant to burn eternally within everyone.

Just through chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, the Supreme Lord gives His presence. From that sound the devotee feels enlivened to continue in service. The chanting itself is a means of service, which is known as bhakti-yoga, or the yoga of love and devotion to the Supreme. This yoga is the most sublime activity, and in addition to providing bliss it brings the protection of the greatest protector. He ensures that the yoga can be practiced at any time. His protection and His ability to arrive on the scene through the sound of His name are both well-documented in the Vedas. Those who understand these works through the genuine charm and guidance of the spiritual master become free from the worries caused by the ignorance found in the material world, for that ignorance is quickly dissipated by the light of transcendence.

In Closing:

When charlatan yogi to meet,

Others easy for them to cheat.


From making fire or reading mind show,

That simply magic others will not know.


With real ability one the entire world can feed,

And provide to dependents all of their needs.


These in the Supreme Lord are found,

Can give His presence through just a sound.


To have that presence is key,

For then God you’ll always see.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Always Searching for God

Lord Krishna“Such jugglers and magicians of the mundane world are actually puzzled by the jugglery of the Lord in His transcendental activities, but they try to adjust their bewilderment by saying that it is all mythology. There is, however, nothing impossible or mythological in the Supreme Omnipotent Person. The most wonderful puzzle for the mundane wranglers is that while they remain calculating the length and breadth of the unlimited potency of the Supreme Person, His faithful devotees are set free from the bondage of material encagement simply by appreciating the wonderful jugglery of the Supreme in the practical field.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.6.39 Purport)

“You see all these people who are glorified on television and in print media? You see the movies stars, the athletes, the politicians, and now even the socialites? They are all given attention because of man’s search for God. They are either praised or vilified because of the inherent desire within all of us to serve a divine being who is all-powerful. We look for all beauty, all wealth, all fame, all strength, all knowledge, and all renunciation. Since we can’t find it wherever we go, we continue to look. We are thus easily drawn in by anyone who is able to show any type of extraordinary ability. This is actually deceiving, because such ability does not make one God.”

This seems like a harsh indictment, but with a little knowledge in the spiritual science, the facts start to speak for themselves. All the basics of human behavior are covered in the Vedas, which do much more than just provide information on how to survive in the difficult material existence. Knowledge of that elusive divine being is given, and once one knows Him He ceases to be elusive. Such a knowledgeable person also no longer has to search. They are into the real thing, and since they know His omnipresence, they have no need to look for Him in all the wrong places.

The White HouseEven those who don’t know of the divine being can admit that those who are assigned godlike status right now are indeed flawed. We put faith in this politician or that. “This new President is going to be great. All the problems from the past are going to vanish. No more worries.” Then after a few years in office, we learn that the President is one of the most corrupt politicians in history. His greatest ability: he can lie like anyone. He can speak the untruth as if it were the truth. In this way we know that he is not godlike, contrary to what we originally thought.

The same holds true for everyone to whom we offer our attention. There are fake spiritual leaders as well. They will claim that they are God or that they are the same personality mentioned in shastras like the Ramayana and Shrimad Bhagavatam. In other instances, they will discount the events described in those texts by calling them mythology. They will instead try to show their own magic in an attempt to lure people in. Of course, such personalities are not God, and their dismissal of authorized works in order to find cheap adoration represents a terrible offense against a very powerful personality. Not only do they find ruin for themselves, they bring their followers down too.

The continuous search for an all-powerful being in places other than the right one brings an unfortunate struggle, one that could easily be avoided. Let’s say that I like to buy in bulk, at least in the short-term. I sign up with the local discount club, where I can buy something like a thousand paper plates for a cheap price. That purchase will last me for months. In other areas, I try to have backups. I use the computer a lot, so I have an extra laptop computer sitting in the downstairs room of the house. I don’t need to really use it because my primary computer works just fine.

Now let’s say that one time my primary computer breaks. It gets a virus. “Oh no, what to do? This is terrible.” First, I will try to get rid of the virus. In the meantime, however, I have important work that needs to get done. “I need a computer, and I need one fast. This really stinks. I’m going to drive here and there, ask others if they have a computer I can use, or find a store that is open so that I can purchase a new one.” Thus there is so much anxiety. I, of course, have forgotten that I have the spare computer in the other room. If I remembered that, there would be no trouble.

Shrila PrabhupadaThe devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be likened to the person who has these backups and remembers that they have them. The devotees know that God is real. They first heard about Him from Vedic texts and then became firm in their belief through practice of recommended principles. They implemented these practices under the guidance of a spiritual master. He too is an elevated personality, but rather than try to deceive people with a false claim of divinity, he simply tells the truth: that he is a servant of God and that he is humbly trying to get others to become servants as well through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

The devotees know that nothing can allow the mind to fully grasp the concept of infinite time and space. Therefore they don’t worry so much about the theories that explain the origin of the creation. None of these deal with infinite time, nor can they. If there were chemicals at the beginning of time, what created the chemicals? If the answer is, “They were just there”, then we’re assigning “God” status to chemicals, which is just silly.

If you have found God, who is all-powerful, you don’t have to worry so much about who is doing what. One person may be expert in cooking, while another is skilled in acting, but in either case there is a spirit soul who is meant to serve rather than be served. Every individual in fact has this property, for it is a feature of individual spirit. The origin of spirit is constitutionally fit to be served, and His innumerable sparks of spirit are meant to offer that service.

Bhagavad-gita, 9.13“O son of Pritha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.13)

Krishna and ArjunaRecognition of this fact coupled with knowledge of the Supreme’s amazing abilities releases one from the burdens brought on by material existence. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending look like vehicles for enjoyment, but they actually cause so much stress when one is unaware of the true purpose in life. In knowing God for real, such stress is eliminated, freeing up time to appreciate the Supreme for His amazing abilities, which are exhibited both in the material and spiritual realm.

In Closing:

When to famous person eyes to lend,

Idea of man’s ability to extend.


Each time again the bar is set,

But never complete vision to get.


Only to real God does this belong,

A fact He explains in Gita’s song.


Devotee no longer God in man to chase,

Instead to adore Krishna of smiling face.


Marvel at His amazing work done here and there,

Worship Him for destination achieved so rare.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

No Honor Among Thieves

Lord Krishna“Fear is due to worrying about the future. A person in Krishna consciousness has no fear because by his activities he is sure to go back to the spiritual sky, back home, back to Godhead. Therefore his future is very bright.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.4-5 Purport)

In the emotional sense, guilt is the worry that results from thinking that you have done something wrong. “Oh no, I hope the other person isn’t offended. Oh, I feel so bad about what I did. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. Maybe it was a bad idea to take that thing from them. They worked so hard for that item, and now they don’t have it anymore. And it’s all my fault.” The Krishna conscious person, who is aware of the presence of the original Personality of Godhead and the need for being devoted to Him, ultimately lives without worry. This is because they know they have chosen the right path in life. In all other paths there is some worry.

This same truth is presented in many places in Vedic literature. Goswami Tulsidas makes the point in one of his poems by saying that only he sleeps well because he has full faith in Shri Rama, who is the same Krishna. Not that all famous divine personalities are God, but in the Vedas we find that the original personality does personally expand many times as He sees fit. The expansions also suit the specific time and circumstance. Rama is the expansion in a particular period of time when a fiendish character named Ravana is terrorizing the world.

jcu_tulsidasAs a sweetheart saint, Tulsidas always repeated Rama’s name and distributed His glories to the society around him. In such devotion, there is no cause for guilt. If there should happen to be any worry, it is over whether others will accept the light of transcendence. If they refuse the auspiciousness offered their way due to ill-sourced obstinacy, then they will be forced to suffer. If someone is hungry and you offer them food, you naturally expect them to accept it. If they insult your food and tell you that they’re fine, you know that they’re not thinking straight. The same holds true with the offering of devotional service, which is also known as bhakti-yoga. This devotion is meant for everyone. In fact, it is what every person is inherently seeking after, even those who are apparently religious already. When they kill in the name of religion, when they worry only about wine, women, gambling and meat, or when they think only of how to remove distresses from life, they are not actually in God consciousness.

Bhakti-yoga is God consciousness, so naturally one who practices it should sleep just fine. The king worries over protecting his kingdom. The fruitive worker worries about improving upon what they have and protecting that which they have acquired. The mental speculator worries about soaking up enough knowledge to find enlightenment. They also worry over preventing the rise of anger, greed, lust, and other negative emotions drawn from a false outlook. The mystic worries about finding the ideal conditions to meditate. The renounced ascetic worries about breaking their vows relating to eating, sleeping and sex life.

The devotee doesn’t worry because their only desire is to continue to serve God. If they have nothing at all, not even a shirt on their back, they can still serve. This is because anywhere they chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They can bring to mind the deity of choice, their ishta-deva, and worship Him. They can talk about Him to the walls in the room if no one should happen to be around. In modern times, they can write about Him on their computer and then forward that information to thousands of people within seconds.

Krishna's Mercy Facebook pageThieves are never at peace precisely because they know that what they are doing is wrong. Picture a group of thieves who robs a bank and then successfully escapes the scene. Though they accomplished their objective, they will still not be at peace afterwards. This is because each one will be worried that the other is going to take the money. After all, if they collectively stole money that innocent people deposited at a bank, what is to stop them from stealing from one another? The old saying, “there is no honor among thieves,” tells the story here.

The thief is the obvious example of the person who does something wrong and then worries, but we can also look to something more common, something apparently innocuous. Think of the office where so many people don’t do any work. For whatever reason, they are able to come and go as they please, without any accountability. The situation at the office is such that the person in charge has the worst work ethic, so naturally everyone follows his lead.

While this situation may seem good to the employees, the result is that the people who do nothing are always suspicious of one another. “Oh, did you see what time they got in today? Then did you see what time they left? Did you hear about what the other person is doing on the side? They are making more money now.” It should also be noted that if such workers are ever asked to do some real work, they will get frustrated very quickly. “Why are they asking me for this? They are so stupid. They’re always annoying me with stuff.”

On the other side of it, the person who actually does show up to work on time and accomplish their assigned tasks remains free of worry. Though they work harder than the others, they don’t have to constantly look over their shoulder, wondering if someone else is doing their work or not. In this honesty, there is less worry.

Lord KrishnaWe can think of bhakti-yoga as the most honest activity because God owns everything. He is the best friend, the original proprietor and the supreme enjoyer. His property should be used for His enjoyment. This is the secret to action and inaction revealed to the bhakta. Arjuna, a famous warrior, used his fighting ability to please the supreme enjoyer. Hanuman used his strength and courage, Lakshmana his dedication, Sita her chastity, Tulsidas his poetic ability, Yashoda her motherly affection, Nanda Maharaja his land and his cows, and Prahlada Maharaja his thoughts. Even the deer in Vrindavana, who lack the advanced abilities of humans, offer their affection. These are just some of the famous examples, but anyone, whether large or small in stature, can find the guilt-free way of living through bhakti-yoga.

In Closing:

For robbers of bank difficult to sleep,

Worry over how stolen money to keep.


After taking by the force of a gun,

Fear that cohorts with money away to run.


Even in religious life there is fear,

To stick to vows and practices so dear.


For the devotee for guilt there is no cause,

For in thinking of Supreme Lord never a pause.


Devotion to Him most honest endeavor,

Cherished is His association forever and ever.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Krishna's lotus feet“Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.65)

Bhagavad-gita, 18.65“A new study shows that eating carrots can prevent cancer. A new study shows that drinking one glass of wine every day with dinner can prevent heart disease. A new study shows that eating tomatoes is really good for you. Another study shows that taking too much coffee will decrease your duration of life. Oh wait, a newer study shows that the old study was wrong. It didn’t take into account certain factors.”

Such headlines are found in the news every day. Materialistic science as a whole aims to meet the same objective: find a way to predict the future. The goal is to find a way to create certain experimental conditions that always produce the same output. As death is the thing most feared by those who are unaware of the spiritual science, naturally the most desired result from the experiments is the prevention of death.

Fruits and vegetablesThe idea is that with enough conditions created over the critical years of development of the human being, death can be avoided. For instance, heart disease is caused by the clogging of the arteries. This is what has been ascertained through past gathered perceptions. Therefore we should find a way to prevent that clogging from happening. Cancer is the tough one. It crops up in almost every kind of circumstance. Therefore more field research is required, where the statistics of patients are studied in every possible way. Find those conditions which have the least likelihood of the cancer occurring and you suddenly have a way of preventing the disease.

There are so many flaws with this notion, and they are known immediately to those who are familiar with the spiritual science. Even without touching on the eternality of spirit at the outset, we can see that while death is the one thing feared the most, what is forgotten is that so many other forms die all the time. So many identities are lost forever, too. For instance, if we are adults, we can never be elementary school students again. We can’t go back to the first grade. There is just no way to do this. Of course we don’t think of going back to it, but the idea is the same as trying to remain in a body that is continuously decaying.

The steps taken to prevent death also don’t tackle old age. You can try to prolong the life of your car, but eventually you will have to give it up. In the process you may have to change the tires, belts and brakes many times over, but the car itself cannot continue going forever. The human body works in the same way. The cells change all the time, but the gradual degradation occurs despite whatever maintenance is applied. Eventually it will have to be discarded. Thus the intense effort to prevent death seems a little silly, especially given the fact that previous versions of that body already died. The childhood body is gone forever. There is no possible way to get it back. The same goes for the young adult body. Never again once its time has passed.

Deterministic SQL functionIn computer science there is the concept of deterministic and nondeterministic functions. A deterministic function produces the same output when given the same input. For instance, if I have a function that doubles a number, it will always produce the same output for the same input value. If I pass the number two into it, it will give me four. This will always be the case. Thus the function is deterministic.

If I have a function that adds a number to my age, it will not always produce the same output given the same input. If I pass a number one to the function today, I will get back the number thirty, which is one plus my age of twenty-nine for this example. But in ten years’ time if I run the exact same function, with the same value of one for the input parameter, the number I will get back will be forty. This will be the total of the number one plus my age at that time, thirty-nine. Thus this second function is nondeterministic.

Due to the nature of spirit, every result in life can be considered the output to a nondeterministic function. You don’t always get the same output given the same input values. If you take two healthy adults, a male and a female, of the same race, of the same age, and have them unite in a relationship, you will not always get the same outcome. They will not always be happy. They will not always produce the same kinds of children. Just look at how children are produced now. The same parents unite multiple times, and they don’t always get the same kind of child. If you have a dark-complexioned father and a light-complexioned mother, the children aren’t always of the same complexion. In these instances the input is always the same, but the output varies.

So what does this all mean? Should we just do whatever we want? Since every output is nondeterministic, should we just throw our hands up and not try to better our condition?

The spiritual science aims to release the living force from the burden of trying to control outcomes in vain. It is a futile attempt to control such outcomes because ultimately there is nothing that can be fully controlled. You can eat the right foods, exercise the right amount, avoid dangerous situations, and still meet a tragic end. By the same token, you can do everything wrong and still live a long life.

In the spiritual science we understand that the results to action are governed by the law of karma. Karma is work. It is work with a reaction. It is distinguished from jnana, or knowledge, and yoga, or mysticism. Karma leads to the creation of another body. Jnana doesn’t necessarily, as in knowledge we can see the difference between matter and spirit and then take the necessary steps to release ourselves from the influence of matter. In mysticism we can ideally achieve a state of transcendence, where the reactions of karma are absent.

Lord KrishnaIn the spiritual science there is one particular deterministic function of importance. It says that if you always think of Krishna, the Supreme Lord who is all-attractive, then you will eventually go to Him. This function does not take into consideration the quality of the inputted value. It merely requires a living entity. Thus not even the animals are excluded; though the likelihood of them taking this route is low. Any person, whether they are a child or an adult, a high-class priest or an ordinary worker, a man or a woman, a Hindu or a Christian, a pious man or a lifelong sinner, can follow this route and reach Krishna, who is the origin of all life. In His land there is variety in spiritual interaction, but the result is always the same: transcendental bliss.

In this age the best way to think of Krishna is to always chant and hear His names. This occurs simultaneously through the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Recite this mantra daily, avoid behaviors such as meat-eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex, which will inhibit your entry into the best nondeterministic function, and know for sure your final destination in life.

In Closing:

When always giving same values on input,

Deterministic function to get predictable output.


In godlessness life’s outcomes try the same,

Prevention of inevitable death seen as highest gain.


But despite putting in conditions always the same,

Never can predict even whether sun or rain.


Nondeterministic all except with one process to try,

Think of Krishna always and reach His spiritual sky.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Understanding Reincarnation

Lord Krishna“There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me also does not become entangled in the fruitive reactions of work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.14)

Bhagavad-gita, 4.14

Question: “I don’t agree that birth indicates that the previous life was a failure. It doesn’t make sense to me because isn’t Krishna reincarnated? Is He a failure then?”

Understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very difficult through mental speculation alone. In fact, it is impossible, as we are limited by the concepts of time and space, both of which are infinite. Travel back in time with your mind and you’ll never reach an end; you’ll never hit a wall, so to speak. The same holds true with travelling forward. That is the meaning to infinity; there is no end. Add to the equation the fact that we can’t remember the past, even that which is pertinent to only our own lives, and you see how it is not possible to have a full range of perception. With a lack of information, how can we ever know someone who, by definition, is the complete whole?

Infinite spaceWithout authorized information, knowledge that we first accept on authority and then realize through practical application, we will think that God is totally like us. Possibly we won’t understand that He is a personality and that He has spiritual forms. We may think that He is just an energy or a theoretical concept. “Like utopia is a concept where everyone gets whatever they want, whenever they want, so too God must be this idea of a perfect being. If there are ever godly figures on earth, they must operate under the same strict laws of nature that apply to everyone else.”

The Bhagavad-gita tells us otherwise. In this work the first teaching presented is that the living spirit is not their body. Spirit is not matter. Spirit is not the hands, the legs, the face, the stomach, or the ears. Spirit is not the tall building or the computer. Spirit is the vital force that animates the different collections of matter. Why the need to mention the distinction? Why the need to bring this up right away in a book of higher knowledge?

We don’t really know spirit without first hearing about it. We identify with the body that we accept from the time of birth. We identify others based on their bodily features as well. We tend to not think beyond what is immediately visible. Because of this we lament over things that we shouldn’t and overly rejoice over that which isn’t so much of a thing to rejoice over. For instance, we are extremely saddened when others die, forgetting the fact that the vital force within never dies. This must be the case because different parts of the body can malfunction and not cause death. Therefore why should the entire machine’s malfunction indicate that the spiritual force is finished.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.25“It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable, immutable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.25)

Bhagavad-gita As It IsIf the soul is eternal, why is there birth and death? From the Bhagavad-gita we learn that just as one takes off clothes and puts them on, so the spirit soul accepts different bodies and then puts on new ones after they are discarded. This occurs both while one is currently “alive” and after they pass on. The term “alive” applies only to our visible reference. We say the sun is out today, but the sun is always out. Sometimes we may not see it because of the cloud cover, but this is our defect, not the sun’s. In the same way, we say that someone is alive because they are visibly manifest before us, but this has no bearing on their existence.

What causes birth and death?

The Bhagavad-gita is a perfect summary of Vedic teachings. The Vedas are the oldest books of knowledge in the universe. They have no inception date because they come from God. Part of the definition of God is an eternal existence, where all the personal features are the same in quality as the individual they belong to. This is not the case with us, as our body decays and is replaced by a new one. This constant change occurs through what is known as reincarnation. In the Vedas it is said that reincarnation occurs only for individual souls who do not want to be with God. The desire is flawed, and so the commensurate residence is flawed as well.

Changing BodiesFrom this we understand that birth indicates a failure from the previous life. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said that whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, that state they will attain without fail. Putting two and two together, we see that since we attained a human state in the present life, we did not think of a divine state during the previous death. We know there was a previous death because the soul is eternal. We were somewhere else yesterday, though to someone else they might not have known that we existed yesterday. The outsider’s lack of knowledge of a previous existence has no bearing on the existence itself.

Bhagavad-gita, 8.6“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.6)

We may not like the fact that we weren’t perfectly God conscious in the previous life, but just as there is no use in dwelling on past mistakes for too long, in the present life we can use knowledge of the past failure to change our ways. Why not take the current birth as a blessing? No need to be offended by the truth presented in the Vedas; just make the most out of the present opportunity. The animals don’t have this opportunity. They must travel through the spiritual evolutionary chain in order to reach the human life. And then they must be fortunate enough to hear the truths mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita. And then they must be non-envious enough to want to accept the information. And then they must be firm enough to follow through on those teachings. Only then will the life end successfully.

Lord KrishnaConviction in knowledge of the truth about birth and death is further strengthened by knowing more about Krishna, which is the name for God that means all-attractive. Krishna is also the original personality, the detail behind the fuzzy picture of a Supreme Lord painted by reliance on mental speculation alone. Krishna describes Himself in the Bhagavad-gita. He says that He does not take birth. He does not die, either. Only the fool thinks He goes through reincarnation. Krishna appears in His own transcendental forms, by His own sweet will.

Reincarnation is driven by work, or karma. Krishna says that He is not under the influence of karma. This is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gita [4.14]. Anyone who says otherwise either has never read the Bhagavad-gita properly or has intentionally decided to ignore its teachings. In either case, the result is the same: forgetfulness of God. With this forgetfulness there is no chance of a truly successful end to life. On the other hand, one who knows that Krishna is not bound by fruitive results to work also is able to transcend the same results. In simpler terms, if you really know Krishna, you will not be under the influence of karma.

How does that manifest exactly? Someone who knows Krishna doesn’t die?

Actually, the changes to the body still take place, but the results are dictated by Krishna Himself. Normally, responsibility for distributing fruitive results is relegated to higher authorities in charge of nature, but in the case of those who know Krishna, the Supreme Lord Himself takes responsibility. The people who know that Krishna is not affected by karma are known as devotees. Since they know this, they follow devotional service, or Krishna consciousness, which is best practiced in the modern age by chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Those who chant this mantra with full knowledge of the Supreme Lord’s position above karma happily exit their body at the end of life, confident of what awaits them.

In Closing:

As into human body soul to proceed,

Know that in previous life didn’t succeed.


Whether in spiritual form is the test,

For Krishna’s land is destination the best.


Over past failure don’t fret,

In this life Bhagavad-gita wisdom get.


Hear how reincarnation takes shape,

Then shift activities to plan for escape.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Redemption City

Ravana's city on fire“Thus destroyed by your sinful work, with happiness the people you have brought down will speak of you thus: By good fortune the terrible one has met destruction.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.14-15)

evaṃ tvāṃ pāpakarmāṇam vakṣyanti nikṛtā janāḥ ||
diṣṭyaitad vyasanaṃ prāpto raudra ityeva harṣitāḥ |

“Did you hear the news? Ravana is dead. That fiend who came in here and stole our wives has now gone to the abode of Yamaraja. He was so powerful. He thought that he was invincible. It turns out that it was a woman of all people who brought him down. He couldn’t satisfy his lust. Though he had everything going for him, he threw it all away by chasing a woman he couldn’t have.

“Rama was not like him. Whereas Ravana went from nation to nation, even planet to planet, wreaking havoc and imposing his will on everyone, Rama was just there by Himself in the lonely forest. He had His wife and His younger brother with Him, but I hear that this was only due to their insistence. He did not request their company. He also left home voluntarily. He was the rightful heir to the throne, but due to some family infighting the succession went a different way.

“Though a great and capable fighter, even in the forest Rama was very peaceful. He was not looking to attack anyone. He had every reason in the world to be angry. He had every right to hold a grudge. First there were the Rakshasas attacking the peaceful sages. The sages wanted Rama’s presence there so that they would feel safe. These sages weren’t bothering anyone. And yet the Rakshasas would come and attack just as the sacrifices were culminating; thereby nullifying the effort. Rama successfully defended against such attacks.

Rama and Lakshmana slaying Tataka“He was defending again when Ravana first sent 14,000 of his men to Dandaka to fight against the single Rama. Unlike us, Rama wasn’t defeated. Without breaking a sweat, he killed so many fighters, including the great Trishira, Dushana and Khara. These were Ravana’s leading soldiers, so the fiend got a taste of Rama’s prowess through their deaths.

“Ravana then became captivated by the idea of having Sita. She was Rama’s beautiful wife. Rama deserved to have such a spouse. Such a kind, sweet and compassionate fellow was paired with someone equally as brilliant in those features. Rama is dedicated to virtue and upholding the good name of His family, and Sita is equally as dedicated to holding up Rama.

“Rather than appreciate their love for each other and take a lesson from it, Ravana decided to try to steal Sita’s love. He wanted someone to adore him in such a way. Little did he know that Sita’s affection can only be directed at Rama. She cannot redirect it elsewhere. An offering of obeisance to her is thus carried on to Rama. On the flip side, offending her is like inviting the worst kind of punishment, the likes of which was previously handed out to Tataka and Maricha’s associates.

“Rama is highly fortunate to have Sita, and we are highly fortunate to have Rama. He is a gift from God for sure. He has brought down this wicked fiend named Ravana. We never thought it possible, but thanks to Him the world is now a better place. Notice how He didn’t take any of Ravana’s wives after the defeat. He told Vibhishana that the enmity was over. Vibhishana, Ravana’s brother, was then handed the throne by Rama, showing that there is no covetousness to be found in Sita’s husband.”

Such sentiments were predicted by Sita herself. She makes the prediction in this verse from the Ramayana. Ravana is still alive and trying very hard to win her over. He promises her the post of chief queen in Lanka. He informs her that soon her beauty will fade and that since no one is with her now her beauty is going to waste. Better it is if she enjoys with Ravana now and thus lives happily.

Sita DeviNone of these tricks would work of course. Sita’s beauty also never fades. She is forever youthful, a unique feature found in the Supreme Lord’s consort. With a blurry picture of the Supreme Lord, spiritual traditions speculate that if He does have a form it must be one of an old man who is angry and who eagerly looks to punish the sinners. In the Vedas the real picture is given. Though God can take any form He chooses, His original one is all-attractive. It is a fresh youth, of around sixteen years of age. This form is eternal; it never changes. His incarnations are the same way. Rama is included in this latter list, so His beautiful body never decays.

From Sita’s prediction we’re reminded of the sobering reality that what is up today could be down tomorrow, and vice versa. Though you conquered someone previously, eventually the tables might turn. When they do, the previously conquered will be very happy, while you will not. The other side will be extremely pleased especially if you are a fiendish character, someone who makes the world a worse place. Ravana met this description, so the world would be very pleased upon his demise.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.34“People will always speak of your infamy, and for one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.34)

That demise could be avoided if he just gives Sita back to Rama. In this sense his destruction would be of his own doing. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, for one who has been previously honored, dishonor is a worse punishment than death. Sita knew this thousands of years before Krishna uttered those words on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to Arjuna. Whereas Arjuna took those words to heart, Ravana ignored them. His infamy was sealed by going against Rama. The path of Arjuna brought lasting fame, so much so that Arjuna is still honored to this day. The same goes for Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, who are Rama’s dearest associates.

In Closing:

His loss the world’s gain,

For he caused all so much pain.


Rama was not bothering a single soul,

And yet Ravana His wife away stole.


For this the fiend to whom we suffered defeat,

Ultimate destruction from Rama did meet.


So happy we are to see his demise,

That caused by a woman certainly a surprise.