Saturday, May 27, 2017

Seeing God In The Instruments And The Mechanisms That Work Reliably

[Vishnu-Brahma]“The Lord, as the Supersoul within Brahma, gave him the intelligence to create. The creative power, therefore, of every living entity is not his own; it is by the grace of the Lord that one can create. There are many scientists and great workers in this material world who have wonderful creative force, but they act and create only according to the direction of the Supreme Lord. A scientist may create many wonderful inventions by the direction of the Lord, but it is not possible for him to overcome the stringent laws of material nature by his intelligence, nor is it possible to acquire such intelligence from the Lord, for the Lord's supremacy would then be hampered.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.20.17 Purport)

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Friend1: Not all scientists are atheists.

Friend2: Who said they were?

Friend1: It’s the common stereotype. Well, more of a natural tendency.

Friend2: Why is that?

Friend1: They study nature. They develop hypotheses. They conduct experiments to prove or disprove the guesses. From there the knowledgebase increases. The more things they discover, the more they try to disprove the supposed dogmas of religion. Since they make a little progress, which in their eyes is a lot, they think that one day they will be able to understand and explain everything.

[scientific experiment]Friend2: That’s a pretty good explanation. Well done.

Friend1: Thank you.

Friend2: There is a quote from the scientist Heisenberg along similar lines. It says that if comparing science to a glass that you drink out of, from the first sip you become an atheist. If you keep going, however, when you reach the bottom God is waiting for you.

Friend1: Interesting. Anyway, the reason I brought this subject up is because I heard another really nice quote.

Friend2: Yeah?

Friend1: It says that God can be seen in the instruments and the mechanisms that work reliably.

Friend2: I’m assuming that refers to manmade creations.

Friend1: Do you know of any instruments or machines created by nature?

Friend2: You could say the body is a machine. Shri Krishna makes the comparison in the Bhagavad-gita.

“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)

Friend1: Wow, that’s pretty cool.

Friend2: The Sanskrit word is yantra. It can mean “instrument” or “machine.” The idea is that the soul is the living force within. The body is dull and lifeless. The soul gives life to the body. Superior is the Supersoul, which really directs everything. I decide to act, but without the sanction of the Supersoul I am not able to do anything. This explains why there are different outcomes to the same decision. Something as simple as speaking is prohibited if the Supersoul declines to sanction.

Friend1: And the Supersoul is pretty much God, right?

Friend2: A plenary expansion, so identical to Him.

Friend1: I think you’ve answered my questions before I could even ask them.

Friend2: How so?

Friend1: Well, the line I quoted is from a famous poem. The idea is that the person would rather see God in things that man creates in the scientific field than in human behavior or nature itself. But from what you’re saying, there is no ability to create without the help of the Supersoul.

Friend2: Exactly. It’s like talent on loan from God. The greatest creator is Lord Brahma. He takes the three base ingredients of goodness, passion and ignorance and makes up to 8,400,000 different body types. The Supreme Lord then acts as the seed-giving father, injecting the spiritual energy into those body types.

“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)

Friend1: Are you saying that religious people could also see God in nature?

[Vishnu-Brahma]Friend2: Oh, for sure. Remember, the human beings are part of nature, too. By extension, so are the instruments and mechanisms that work reliably. Nothing is more reliable than the sun. It is like a machine, except it doesn’t require maintenance. The creator of the sun did such a wonderful job that the resultant object operates predictably, reliably, and without fail. Shouldn’t we appreciate such a creator more than anyone else? Only God could do that. He creates the seasons, the cycle of birth and death, the predictable behavior of human beings that forms the basis of the area of study known as psychology, and so many other points of observation. One way to know Him is through His amazing creation, which gives indication that He is intelligence personified.

In Closing:

Not sure that God could be,

Rather through nature to see.


How mechanisms working reliable,

And instruments of functions predictable.


But actually intelligence from Him coming,

Brahma from Him empowered becoming.


So to honor the Lord either way,

Without sanction not even words to say.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Soldiers Beyond Count

[akshauhini]“I trust that out of brotherly affection Bharata will send a terrific army of one akshauhini, with banners and protected by ministers, for my sake.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.24)

kaccit akṣāuhiṇīm bhīmām bharato bhrātṛ vatsalaḥ |
dhvajinīm mantribhiḥ guptām preṣayiṣyati mat kṛte ||

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“If you can’t experience it with the senses, then you know it isn’t real. I can tell you about my dream last night. It felt like truth to me. I try my best to explain it to you, but unless it can be seen you’ll never have faith. It’s the same way with the Divine. That’s how I know He doesn’t exist. There is no way to see Him.”

This is one argument against the existence of an Almighty being, a person who is beyond birth and death, happiness and sadness, heat and cold, and other conditions in duality. He would have to be free of ignorance, never in need of knowledge. Indeed, in the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Lord is described to be jneyam, or the knowable. He is the object of knowledge.

“He is the source of light in all luminous objects. He is beyond the darkness of matter and is unmanifested. He is knowledge, He is the object of knowledge, and He is the goal of knowledge. He is situated in everyone's heart.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.18)

The wise know that He can be experienced through the senses. Evidence of His existence is everywhere. The very presence of life is due to Him. Not a blade of grass moves without His sanction. You can’t have a something unless you have the presence of the Divine. Through His feature of the Supersoul He is spread everywhere. Though He appears to be divided in this way, He retains His singular identity; something which we can’t replicate.

“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)

There is another issue to consider. Sight alone doesn’t guarantee acceptance or belief. A wonderful example is Ravana, the king of Lanka from an ancient time period. The Divine was roaming this world in the flesh, in a seemingly human form. The name was Rama, which describes how God possesses all transcendental pleasure.

Ravana heard of Rama through associates sent to the forest of Dandaka. The news wasn’t good. Ravana’s fourteen thousand men, acting like an army, were routed by Rama, who acted alone. You would have to see it to believe it, and one of Ravana’s men was an eyewitness. He described to Ravana what happened.

“Neither the demigods nor any exalted personalities were there helping Rama, for He acted alone. You should not entertain any doubt on this matter. Indeed, Rama shot feathered arrows, plated with gold, which turned into five-headed serpents that devoured all the Rakshasas. The Rakshasas were oppressed with fear, and wherever they went and wherever they turned, they saw Rama in front of them. In this way, O spotless one, have your Rakshasas been destroyed in the forest of Janasthana by Rama.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.18-19)

[Shri Rama]Even if you don’t believe in God, that single feat is enough to make you realize that Rama is not an ordinary person. Still, Ravana figured Rama just had some amazing fighting ability and nothing else. After all, Rama had voluntarily renounced the kingdom of Ayodhya instead of fighting for it. Ravana could not fathom doing the same; he would fight his own family for power if he had to.

Ravana decided to steal away Rama’s wife Sita in secret. He figured he would be safe taking her back to the island of Lanka. Rama can fight with the bow and arrow, but how would He reach that distant island? The potential battle would be on Ravana’s turf, and there would be people on guard to protect against any sneak attack.

Those with the asura-like mentality, being against God at their core, will always underestimate the Divine. Though He may not show it in a single visual, there is unlimited potency. Rama can fight against millions of soldiers by Himself if needed. He also has soldiers beyond count supporting Him.

Sita Devi makes reference to this in the verse quoted above from the Ramayana. She is speaking to Hanuman, a messenger sent to her from Rama. He has secretly infiltrated Lanka and reached Sita in the Ashoka grove. Sita says that she trusts Rama’s younger brother Bharata will send an akshauhini to rescue her.

“The word akshauhini refers to a military phalanx consisting of 21,870 chariots and elephants, 109,350 infantry soldiers and 65,610 horses.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.15.30 Purport)

[akshauhini]This is essentially a military phalanx consisting of thousands of soldiers, chariots, elephants and horses. Sita is saying that Rama has a brother who loves Him so much that he will launch formal battle against Ravana. War will commence.

Bharata was in charge of the kingdom at the time, and surely he would have done as Sita describes. Rama wouldn’t allow it, however. The Lord went to the forest on the stipulation that He would not have any ties to the kingdom for fourteen years.

There would still be an army marching to Lanka to rescue Sita. It would consist of monkeys and bears hurling rocks and trees. Again, who would believe that such an army could emerge victorious against ghoulish creatures who employ black magic? That is just a slight peek into the potency of the Divine. He can make heroes out of monkeys and losers out of the strongest fighters in the world. He uses His immeasurable personal power for the protection of the devotees, who invest all faith in Him.

In Closing:

Heroes of hurling rocks to take,

And losers of great fighters to make.


This potency of the Divine one,

Limit to His powers none.


Like Bharata with soldiers many,

Ready for Rama at moment any.


God having helpers beyond count,

Foolish opposition on Him to mount.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lord Of All Things

[Sita-Rama]“I trust that Raghava, who deserves to be honored, is not suffering bereavement on my account. I trust that Rama’s mind is not occupied elsewhere. I trust that He will come to rescue me.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.23)

man nimittena māna arhaḥ kaccit śokena rāghavaḥ |
kaccin na anya manā rāmaḥ kaccin mām tārayiṣyati ||

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Some people are better at it than others. They can juggle several responsibilities simultaneously. They don’t get overwhelmed by the pressure. In fact, to them depression starts to sink in when there aren’t a lot of things on the docket. They are at peace amidst the chaos.

For others the opposite is true. This is simply a byproduct of the material nature. One way to define material is to say “limited.” Two minus one equals one. Once the one is gone, the debit must take place. As you start taking slices of pizza, eventually the pie is gone. Theorists sometimes refer to this as the “zero sum game,” as the thing taken away must go somewhere else.

[cheese pizza pie]The mind is a subtle element of the material nature, so the same limitation is inherited. The individual is spirit soul. Unlimited bliss, knowledge and existence covered by dull, lifeless, and limited elements. There are five gross elements and three subtle that make up this covering.

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego - altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)

The limitation within the material nature can be used to explain the Almighty. God is the opposite. One way to define Him is to say that He has unlimited potency. He can juggle an infinite number of tasks simultaneously. Proof is already around us.

We know that the planets remain in orbit. They don’t fall out of line and move to somewhere else in space. Yet we know that clouds move. We know that people don’t stay where they are forever. You can’t find someone who stands in the exact same position for a hundred years. The trees can do this, but eventually they die.

Moreover, in His feature as Supersoul the Supreme Lord is the overseer and permitter. He witnesses everything. By everything, we really mean whatever goes on in any space, large or small. He is within the heart of the ant and the elephant. There is a spark of the Divine within both the genius and the less intelligent.

One of the many advantages of the Divine incarnations is the ability to give proof of a complex concept in an easy to understand way. We have one example from the above referenced verse from the Ramayana. Here Sita Devi is wondering if her husband’s attention has shifted elsewhere.

That is a reasonable assumption to make. There is the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” If you lose the association of someone, it is natural to forget about them. After all, other things occupy the brain space. It’s impossible to keep thinking of everything all the time.

Moreover, in Rama’s situation there is the possibility of shoka, or lamentation. Perhaps He has lost His nerve after not finding Sita for so long. One minute they were living happily in the Dandaka forest, and the next she is gone, perhaps to never return.

Sita says that Rama, who is also known as Raghava, deserves mana, or honor. She hopes that someone who is so honor-worthy is not plunged into grief. That would be unfortunate.

Since Rama is a Divine incarnation, He has the same potencies as described previously. He can juggle many things at once. Though He shows lamentation briefly in order to convey His deep love and affection for His devotees, that short downturn does not take Him off the path of righteousness. Nor is He ever overwhelmed by a seemingly daunting task.

[Sita-Rama]This is good news for us. It means that He hears our prayers. When we do something as simple as chant the holy names, He hears us, even if millions of other souls are approaching Him at the same time. He is the dear husband of Sita, the object of service for Hanuman, the elder brother of Lakshmana, the creator of this and many other worlds, the seed-giving father for the population of creatures, and also the best friend of every living entity.

In Closing:

Troubled mind even time can’t erase,

Too many tasks taking brain’s space.


Solve one but then again into trouble,

How everything simultaneously to juggle?


Negation for God one way to define,

Holding up world, in resplendence to shine.


Like Rama with Sita people never to forget,

Divine mercy here now, in bhakti to get.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Three People Who Are Dear To Sita And Rama

[Rama embracing Bharata]“I trust that news is constantly being heard about the well-being of Kausalya, Sumitra, and Bharata.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.22)

kausalyāyāḥ tathā kaccit sumitrāyāḥ tathaiva ca |
abhīkṣṇam śrūyate kaccit kuśalam bharatasya ca ||

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You can tell a lot about a person from how they behave in a difficult situation. Do they panic? Do they suddenly throw aside morality and virtue? Do they care only for themselves? In fact, of whose welfare do they ask?

The situation for Sita Devi would objectively be considered horrible and dire. She was in Lanka, taken there against her will. Surrounding her were terrifying looking female creatures, ordered by the king to harass her day and night. Sita wouldn’t submit to the advances of the ten-headed Ravana, the leader of the land, so it was decided that she should suffer the consequences.

A beam of light shone on the arrival of Shri Hanuman. He was sent by Shri Rama, the husband of Sita. After finally gaining her trust, Hanuman heard a series of questions from her. Those questions displayed Sita’s virtue, her kindness, and her attention to dharma. More than simply focusing on herself and the impending rescue, she wanted to know if her husband was staying on the virtuous path and if He was doing everything that should be done.

Sita and Rama are actually the singular Divine appearing in two different forms: the female and the male. This automatically means that everyone is dear to them. God has no enemies. By definition He cannot. He is within every heart as the Supersoul.

“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

He is the best well-wishing friend due to His constant companionship. Where friendships and enmity develop is in the area of consciousness. Those who are conscious of God then render some service to Him. This classifies them as friend. The enemies are those who go against the friends of God. The mercy is available to everyone; the distinctions come from how and if that mercy is used.

From Sita’s questions to Hanuman we can decipher who is dear to the couple. Hanuman is beloved since he risked everything in order to serve Rama by reaching Sita and giving her news. At least three other people are dear to the couple based on a question Sita asked of Hanuman.

1. Kausalya

God is the birth-less one. He is the origin of the species. He is without beginning, anadi. He is also without end, ananta. Without His potency, none of the spiritual beings would enter this world.

“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)

When God descends in a seemingly human form, He designates exalted souls to play the roles of mother and father. In the Rama incarnation Queen Kausalya was the birth mother. She was a loving caretaker through and through. Though she didn’t want Rama to leave the kingdom for fourteen years, she did not stand in the way when her son insisted on upholding the word of His father, the king.

2. Sumitra

Sita is the eternal consort, the pleasure potency expansion of God. There is another expansion that acts as the best servant. The incarnation of that expansion was Lakshmana. He was born to Queen Sumitra in the same kingdom. Thus Rama and Lakshmana were half-brothers.

Sumitra suffered from separation from her son as well. Lakshmana insisted on accompanying Rama to the forest. Prior to his departure, Sumitra instructed him to view Sita and Rama as the mother and father.

3. Bharata

The Supreme Lord had three expansions who appeared as brothers in the kingdom. Shatrughna was also born to Sumitra. The fourth brother was Bharata, who took birth from Queen Kaikeyi. It is not surprising that Sita did not ask about Kaikeyi. At the moment of meeting Hanuman, she was not concerned if news about Kaikeyi was coming to Rama on a regular basis.

The reason is obvious. In one way Kaikeyi could be blamed for the entire predicament. Under the sway of jealousy, but really influenced by the Divine energy known as yogamaya, Kaikeyi took advantage of the kind-heartedness of her husband. She tricked him into making a promise to exile Rama from the kingdom and make the younger Bharata the next king.

Bharata was out of town when this happened. When he returned home and learned what happened, he was mortified. He sought Rama out in the forest and tried his best to get the Lord to change His mind. He even offered to take Lakshmana’s place.

[Rama hugging Bharata]Being dear to the Supreme Lord is one of the boons of following the real religion, dharma. The close relationship is established without much effort. Any person who makes even the slightest offering of service to God gets rewarded at a level much greater than what was expended. For this reason the saints who follow the example of Lakshmana today constantly stress the need to always chant the holy names with love, attachment and attention: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Sita-Rama, eternal consort and God to call,

Thus automatically merciful to all.


Still, rendering service becoming dear,

From question to Hanuman of three clear.


Kausalya, Rama’s loving mother,

Sumitra, same to Lakshmana the brother.


Bharata, in kingdom ruling alone,

Hurt through no fault of his own.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Four Amazing Victories Where One Triumphed Against Many

[Shri Rama]“Neither the demigods nor any exalted personalities were there helping Rama, for He acted alone. You should not entertain any doubt on this matter. Indeed, Rama shot feathered arrows, plated with gold, which turned into five-headed serpents that devoured all the Rakshasas. The Rakshasas were oppressed with fear, and wherever they went and wherever they turned, they saw Rama in front of them. In this way, O spotless one, have your Rakshasas been destroyed in the forest of Janasthana by Rama.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.18-19)

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If you overthink it, even the simplest task can become daunting. Consider this situation with an impending snowstorm:

“How am I going to do it tomorrow? I can only shovel for so long. They say there will be at least one foot of snow. I’m going to have to remove it all by myself, with no one to help me. If I can’t do it, then my car will be stuck. How will I leave the house to pick up food? The only recourse will be to wait for the snow to melt, which could take days.”

The doubt relates to the known uncertainty of outcomes in this world. Nothing is a sure thing except death, which is the inevitable end following birth. For one who has taken birth, death is certain. This is confirmed by Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita.

“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)

It is His help, in fact, which allows a person to overcome great obstacles. Real impediments towards the full enlightenment of the individual within a single lifetime, from serving in the way desired, get slashed away with the help of the Divine.

Vedic literature provides many historical examples of one person or group overcoming many on the opposing side. Indeed, God as an incarnation has Himself done this, proving to everyone His supreme standing.

1. Arjuna against the Kauravas

In this situation the devotee got help from God close by. Shri Krishna kindly agreed to be Arjuna’s charioteer. That was important since the conflict involved skilled archers releasing their arrows while standing on chariots guided by expert drivers. Arjuna, who happened to be the best bow warrior in the world, augmented his strength by having the best guide any person could find.

“Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.” (Bhagavad-gita, 1.28)

Still, it was an underdog’s battle. The Kauravas had some of the best fighters in the world. More importantly, they had desire going for them. Arjuna was hesitant to fight. He saw the friends and relatives assembled on the battlefield and lost his nerve.

The one collective that was the Pandavas would emerge victorious. Practically everyone else would perish in the battle, an outcome which was the Divine will. The great obstacle of doubt and hesitation was overcome by devotion and the direct connection with the object of bhakti.

2. Prahlada against palace guards

Arjuna and his brothers were involved in an acknowledged conflict. Victory and defeat were clearly laid out. The winners in the battle would get control of a massive kingdom. The losers would be at the mercy of the winners.

Prahlada was just five years old and he had no desire to conquer anyone. He was simply practicing the same devotion as Arjuna, except in his own way. Prahlada’s worship was more subtle. He meditated on God within. The same Krishna is within every individual as the Supersoul. Krishna takes His seat in the heart as Vishnu, His four-handed, opulently adorned form.

The struggle existed because of the antagonistic father. Hiranyakashipu, who happened to be the king, did not like the devotion of his son. Unable to get Prahlada to change his ways, the father resorted to attacks involving deadly force. In one instance the palace guards charged at Prahlada with pointed weapons. The boy triumphed through meditation on Vishnu. This was an extraordinary case involving an extraordinary child, but it still serves as a proof of concept. The devotion of the devotee never perishes since it is protected by the object of devotion.

3. Rama against Ravana’s 14,000 men

In another period of time Shri Krishna incarnated on earth as Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. God is all-attractive and retains completeness in all areas of opulence at all times, but in different cases not every feature is prominent. In Rama there was more attention to dharma, which is the law of God handed down to help the living entities struggling with the material nature find their way back to the promise land.

Ravana, the atheistic king of Lanka, took Rama to be weak. This was because he learned that Rama was wandering the forests like a homeless person, with the wife Sita and the younger brother Lakshmana accompanying. Ravana thought that he could overcome Rama by sending fourteen thousand soldiers to the forest of Janasthana. This would be retaliation for Lakshmana partially disfiguring Ravana’s sister, who had tried to attack Sita.

If we consider the undefeated streak of kala, which is time, then the outcome to Ravana’s plan is easy to guess. The Sanskrit word kala is synonymous with death, and it is a representation of the Supreme Lord.

“The Blessed Lord said: Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.” (Bhagavad-gita, 11.32)

[Shri Rama]God as time is undefeated against the living entities taking birth in the material world. The same kala in the form of the beautiful Rama thus easily handled fourteen thousand amazing fighters, who could resort to black magic when needed. One of the few who survived the battle returned to Ravana and gave warning that Rama was no ordinary person.

4. Hanuman against Ravana’s men

Later on Ravana tried again, with the objective this time to take Sita away. He succeeded only because he was able to lure Rama and Lakshmana away from the cottage. In the subsequent search for Sita an alliance formed between Rama and the Vanara-king Sugriva. Hanuman was Sugriva’s chief minister and he eventually made his way to Lanka to find Sita.

Hanuman was by himself, but he was not afraid. After finding Sita he decided to cause some trouble on his way out. This way Ravana would get a taste of what was set to come his way when the full army led by Rama would return.

Hanuman bravely fought against many of Ravana’s men. They were not able to conquer the messenger sent by the Supreme Lord. Only until Hanuman decided to give deference to Lord Brahma was one of Ravana’s sons successful in binding up the heroic servant. This was not really a defeat, as Hanuman simply waited for the appropriate time to free himself. He indeed picked an opportune moment, after Ravana had set his tail on fire. The released Hanuman then used that tail to set Lanka ablaze.

In Closing:

From uncertainty outcomes unknown,

So demons use of excessive force is known.


Like palace guards Prahlada against,

Towards him pointed weapons sent.


And Rama fourteen thousand defending,

After Lakshmana Ravana’s sister offending.


Hanuman an entire city setting ablaze,

Divine will superior to nature stays.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Four Things You Can’t Do To The Soul

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)

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From the Bhagavad-gita we learn that the basis for our strong emotions has been wrong all along. We haven’t really seen the individual. We think we know things as they are, and therefore what to be concerned over, but in fact identity is of a different nature.

That identity is spirit soul, which is distinct from matter. Spirit is purusha, which means “person” or “enjoyer.” Matter is prakriti, or “that which is enjoyed.” The spirit soul, atma, is superior to the illusory energy known as maya. The wise don’t lament over something that never had life to begin with.

The soul is amazing, to the point of almost inconceivable. One way to gain a further understanding is to study the things which can’t be done to the soul.

1. Give birth to

The truths relating to the soul are so fundamental to a higher knowledgebase that they form the beginning of Krishna’s all-important presentation given to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago. The warrior was distressed, in doubt over how to proceed. He was fighting to uphold righteousness, but that fight would likely come at the cost of the loss of loved ones on the opposing side.

[Krishna-Arjuna]One of the most important things for Arjuna to understand was that the soul has no birth. We come into this world through the action of life, namely the combination of mother and father. But that birth is simply a travel of the individual soul from one place to another. The parents don’t actually give birth to our existence. Shri Krishna says that there was never a time when He didn’t exist, nor Arjuna, nor any of the people assembled on the battlefield. This birth-less property is true for every individual spirit soul.

2. Kill

The material world is full of duality. Heat is coupled with cold. Light corresponds with darkness. Happiness and sadness. And so birth also has a matching event: death.

“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

From the previous truth we can come to the next conclusion on our own. If there is no birth for the soul, then there is no death, either. This was important for Arjuna to understand. He would not be killing anyone, nor could anyone kill him. Not that death wasn’t real; simply the nature of it wasn’t properly understood. Death is merely the event of the spirit soul casting off a certain body in favor of a new one; sort of like changing clothes.

3. Made wet or burned

Light a fire to get heat in the cold. If there is an unwanted fire, douse it with water. If we can’t give birth to the soul or kill it, maybe we can affect it in different ways. Perhaps a person can severely disable the soul through different material mechanisms.

“The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.23)

Shri Krishna again reveals the truth of the situation. The soul cannot be burned or made wet. These things occur to the body, which covers the soul. The body is composed of material elements, both gross and subtle. Those elements change in nature based on chemical reactions. The soul has no material chemicals, so there is no possible reaction to affect it.

4. Divide

Alright, so you can’t destroy the soul, but what about dividing it? Cut it up into different pieces and have it scatter. Even those with a little understanding of Vedic teachings can get confused in this area. They speculate that the individual souls are indeed fragments, which are divided at present but can come together later on. That coming together is their definition of liberation, final salvation, nirvana, or whatever the preferred term for the highest achievement in life.

The individual spirit soul is technically an expansion. It is a fragment in comparison to the Supreme Spirit, who is also known as God. Krishna says that He is the source of the material and spiritual worlds. The individual souls are expansions coming from Him. They are not fragments in the sense that they have broken away from something.

“That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all existences, undivided in the divided, is knowledge in the mode of goodness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.20)

A person in the mode of goodness sees the oneness of the fragments of spirit. The singular spiritual nature, Brahman, is distributed throughout the creation. A wise person sees it is a collective, a reflection of the length, breadth, and scope of the spiritual energy.

Still, the souls themselves are not divided. The soul cannot be cut up. Half of it can’t be shipped off to some area, never to be seen again. The individual always retains their identity, even when they merge into the Brahman energy. Their identity simply remains dormant for a period of time, until the desire for activity requiring individuality returns.

Knowledge of these properties of the soul is important because it empowers the individual to seek a higher mode of life. No need to worry so much over impending death, as the soul will live on. No reason to be so depressed over tragedies in the world, as loss is the attached partner to gain.

If the soul is eternal, it should find an eternal engagement. That is the meaning to sanatana-dharma. Reentry into that engagement begins with knowledge of the soul, and it ends with full love and devotion for the Supreme Soul, who is known as Krishna because of His all-attractiveness.

In Closing:

Of true identity now in the dark,

Properties of the soul point to start.


Cut up, burned, made wet cannot do,

Moved, give birth or killed too.


Imperishable in its existence,

Through time continuum persistence.


Eternal being to work correlation,

Bhakti to reenter that occupation.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Two Kinds Of Relationships With The Guru

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

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“God isn’t real. God is just a figment of the imagination. God is everything. I am God and so are you. Religion is the opiate of the masses. It was created as a way of coping with the knowledge of inevitable death. Trust in the savior and everything will be okay. Just be a good person and you’ll go to heaven in the next life.”

With these different theories, how to know who is correct? How to validate something that is beyond comprehension? In the Vedic tradition emphasis is put on the need for a guru. This is the spiritual guide, as guru can also refer to any person who is generally offered respect.

The concept should not be foreign to us. Advancement in practically every area of life comes through the help of some authority figure. Even the geniuses of science and technology needed to be taught how to read and write. They weren’t suddenly enlightened through being struck by lightning. There was an instructional period, and the person offering the instruction was an acknowledged authority figure.

The idea is that the concept of the Almighty is too complex to be learned through the ascending process of knowledge. There is too much information to consume, as the infinite nature of time ensures that no one will ever be able to know everything. In addition to ingesting the information, there is the issue of processing. Man tries his best to notice patterns and then make predictions based on them, but there is always something new arising. That is the nature of progress, after all.

The descending process is the only way to truly know God. The knowledge descends from authority figures, with the current link known as the guru. Nowhere in Vedic literature is it stated that a person should simply meditate and become enlightened within. Meditation is recommended, as it is beneficial in so many ways. But without proper guidance from authority, meditation will not be done properly.

Let’s say that a person acknowledges the need for acceptance of a spiritual master. What exactly is the nature of the relationship? What is important to establish? There are two kinds of relationships after a person has come closer to the guru, with the formal move known as upanayana.

1. Physical proximity

This is not difficult to understand. You are close to the guru. You are constantly by their side. The recommendation from the Bhagavad-gita to approach a knower of the truth is taken literally. The benefit to this relationship is that direct service can be rendered, particularly to the body of the spiritual master.

You can make their life a little easier. You can ask questions directly. You can watch how the guru behaves. If the spiritual guide is an acharya, then they also lead by example. Ideally, there will be an easier time following the instructions since the teacher is right next to you.

[well-water]Physical proximity is not automatically a ticket to enlightenment, however. I can be close to a well and remain thirsty. I can be standing right next to the refrigerator in the kitchen and remain hungry for hours and hours. Just because you are near someone doesn’t mean that you understand them. In fact, you could be the greatest enemy to the guru, remaining close by so that when they pass on you can assume their role of leader of the students.

2. Philosophical proximity

This is where you are in line with the guru’s desires. They ask you to constantly chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They request that you always remain conscious of Krishna, which is one name for God. They ask that you speak about bhakti, devotion, and the spiritual science wherever you go and to whomever you encounter.

[Krishna's lotus feet]This relationship is more beneficial because it doesn’t necessarily require the physical presence of the guide. Moreover, the goal of the teacher is to get this very alignment. They are not so interested in having someone follow them around. They would rather the world become infused with the bhakti spirit, since that is the solution to all problems. Mankind’s difficulties can be traced back to their forgetfulness of God, who is the best well-wishing friend. Proximity in consciousness with Him, in the link known as yoga, is the aim of the human form of life.

In Closing:

Enlightened never by itself inspired,

Shastra declaring that guru required.


Not guaranteed for bhakti affinity,

When serving him in close proximity.


Better in philosophy to match,

Acting for God’s attention to catch.


Most happy when in this occupation to see,

Knowing that in devotion only happy can be.