“By following the regulative principles of human life, one gradually raises himself to the platform of spiritual realization. If one is so fortunate, by such practice, to rise to the platform of Krishna consciousness, then success is guaranteed for him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 16.22 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
What distinguishes the human being from other species? The ant lives in an amazing shape. The human being could never think of moving around, eating, or even surviving in such a small form. The bird flies through the air, which the human being can’t do without spending a lot of money and relying on aerospace engineering. The cheetah is fast and the horse can act like an automobile. By studying the behavior of notable men and women, we can see a pattern that makes the human being unique.
“You know, their son is a doctor now. They’re a pediatrician, as they enjoy being with children. They’re making a difference in society. I don’t think I have what it takes to become a doctor. Do you know what they had to go through? They spent so many years in school. They sacrificed friendships, romantic relationships and overall fun. Then they worked so many hours each day in order to get training. Doctors are special people indeed.”
“Did you see how much weight that person lost? It’s amazing. I can barely recognize them. They completely changed things up. They gave up fried foods. No more sweets for them. They switched to a whole grain diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables. They don’t eat after 6 pm now. Can you believe that? I would go crazy. They have so much discipline.”
“She is such a great mother. She always has her children’s interests first. I’ve never seen her buy something for herself. She never complains, either. Her husband works long hours and is often on the road due to his job. She is all by herself. To me, she is the mother of the year, every year. She is the greatest symbol of sacrifice.”
In these instances the people being praised are not known for laziness. They are not known for eating a lot, sleeping a lot, or enjoying so much with members of the opposite sex. They are all following principles to some degree, and that is the key to their success.
This ability to follow principles is unique to the human being. The animals can’t make these decisions. They don’t have the intelligence to accept instruction and then act off of it. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that there are regulative principles in human life and that following them brings the individual to the platform of spiritual realization.
A realization is nothing more than a way of seeing. If I realize that my parents were children at a previous time, I’m seeing beyond the present. I’m able to see something that is not manifest right now; hence the realization. The preliminary spiritual realization is understanding that all living things are equal constitutionally. The ant, the cat, the dog, the elephant, the man, the women, the child, the president, the peasant, the ambassador, the butcher, the baker, etc. are all spirit soul at the core. Through realization one can see this.
brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste] .” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)
What are the regulative principles of human life? This is where religion comes into play. Not everything is revealed in every book. Some religious texts are like pocket dictionaries, while others are more comprehensive and thorough. Despite the variety in languages and books, there is actually only one religion - love of God.
Some texts recommend sacrificing animals for eating. There is also some education given as far as getting food to eat. The human being doesn’t need religious texts to figure these things out. They can kill animals without anyone’s help. They can learn to grow food by following what other people are already doing. This means that the mentions in religious texts are for the purpose of regulation. Through regulation of the senses - limiting eating, sleeping, mating and defending - one has a better chance of coming to the spiritual realization.
The aim of regulation is seeing the expansion of God residing within every heart. The full realization is knowing that God is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, separate from everyone else but equal to them in spiritual quality. He is the great spirit, while we are fragments of the great spirit. The most elevated person in this world is known for following the principles of human life that have led them to the realization of God the person. They can teach us which principles to follow and how, as the circumstances in society are known to change. Time and space are factors in following any kind of system meant to maintain, so the wise person adjusts to these changing factors and helps society accordingly.
In today’s hectic time, the most important regulation is to approach the Supreme Lord right at the outset, through the medium of His name: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The wise human being can make this decision, a calculation leading to the greatest happiness.
To notable people getting praise,
On regulation hinged are their ways.
Only the human being can try,
Since on intelligence can rely.
Regulation for realization bringing,
Of God, whose glories the Vedas singing.
Otherwise religion having purpose none,
Since sense pleasure by any to be done.