“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf's hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuntha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.14.58)Download this episode (right click and save)
A good politician has to lie. In the modern age of democracy-inspired governments, there is really no other way. In order to get elected, there has to be support from many special interest groups. These groups represent many voters interested in a particular issue. The problem is that for every special interest group, there is an opposing one. I want lower taxes, and another group wants an increase. I want permission to build a particular oil pipeline, and another group is set up in opposition to it.
The successful politician lies from time to time because they can’t keep every promise they make. They can’t keep all of their constituency groups happy. One of the areas relates to security. After a headline-grabbing attack in a nation, the leaders are naturally asked the question, “Are we safe?” The leaders can’t tell the truth. They must say that the people are generally safe. If they were to be honest, they would reveal that there is danger at every step in the material world.
1. Protection has limitations
One way to increase safety is to purchase an intrusion detection system for the home. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something simple, where there are sensors placed in different entry points. When the sensors detect movement, an alarm goes off. The alarm notification can be through a loud sound or through a phone call to people specified beforehand.
This is a great way to increase safety, but there are still limitations. At the core, the system runs on software. Unlike the big bang creation theorized by the mental speculators, this system cannot come to be through random collisions. There is the intelligence of programmers required to create the system. The issue is that the human mind is flawed; it makes mistakes. Therefore, a bug can occur that causes the alarm system to not trigger when it is supposed to.
An intelligent burglar can try to circumvent the system, if they are familiar with it. This example is isolated to a single home, but imagine the same at the highest level. The government has spies planted across the world, and they regularly review intelligence information. They can still get things wrong. Sometimes they have a potential suspect on their radar and still fail to prevent an attack.
2. There are aggressors looking to attack
The adhibautika miseries of this world specified in Vedic philosophy immediately invalidate the politician’s promise that we are safe. There are other living entities who cause us pain. One way they do that is through aggression. Again, a simple example helps to illustrate the problem.
Imagine you are driving on the road. You are not in a hurry. You have no desire to offend. After being stuck in traffic for a long time, you are ready to get off the highway at the next exit. From the middle lane, you carefully signal and then turn into the right lane. The problem is that someone coming from behind was ready to pass you on the right side. They were speeding since they were so frustrated at having been stuck in traffic. Now they are really angry at you, thinking that you cut them off.
They turn extremely aggressive, almost to the point of getting out of their car to fight. On a routine driving trip, safety is compromised. Unless the leaders of a nation can get rid of the aggressive tendency in people, which is sure to arise as a result of unsatisfied lust, no one is truly safe.
3. Earthquakes can strike at any moment
Another source of misery is adhidaivika. Insurance plans describe these as “natural disasters” or “acts of God.” There is no way to prevent them. You can try to protect your home from an intruder, but how do you safeguard against an earthquake? You can’t stop the ground from breaking apart. You don’t get prior warning, either. You can think you are completely safe and then a natural disaster strikes and changes everything.
4. Disease develops within the body
You used to be able to eat pizza and drink soda without issue. All of a sudden, now that you are a little older, you get terrible acid reflux afterwards. Your stomach is sensitive to highly acidic foods. Nothing else changed in life. Sometimes you wake up and your right foot hurts. You get colds more easily. These miseries are known as adhyatmika. They come from within, and there is no way to fully safeguard against them.
5. They come at you with a knife while in the womb
In the present age of Kali, the time period noted for the increase in quarrel and hypocrisy, even the child within the womb is not safe. As a way to negate the unwanted effects of sense gratification gone wrong, the innocent child faces a knife. Their own mother turns into an aggressor. After birth, the same act would be criminal, but since the violence generally goes unseen, when in the womb it is sanctioned.
Despite the danger at every step in the material world, there is a way to find safety. It is through the shelter of God the person, whose many names include Mukunda. This means one who grants mukti, which is liberation. Mukti is the release from the cycle of birth and death. Though the material world features danger at every step and seems insurmountable like the size of a vast ocean, through the favor of Mukunda that same ocean shrinks to the size of a puddle formed in the hoofprint left by a calf. The shelter can be found through something as simple as sound: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
When threefold miseries at play,
That we’re safe how can you say?
Disease can strike at any time,
An aggressor on the road can find.
Even within womb facing a knife,
Before birth ended is life.
Through Lord’s shelter material ocean made small.
Giver of liberation, one name as Mukunda to call.