I know my last article about the spiritual side of vegetarianism was a bit heavy, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.
When I first got involved in spiritual life I was told that “everything animate and inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord and that one should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and that one should not accept other things knowing well to whom they belong”.
But, it’s the material world and change is not easy. So, let’s put all into perspective.
A living being who lives in the material world has four defects:
He is certain to commit mistakes.
He is subject to illusion.
He has a propensity to cheat others.
His senses are imperfect.
So, a person with these four imperfections cannot deliver perfect knowledge.
Since God is all-perfect, there is no possibility of His being subjected to the laws of material nature, which He controls. Yet, both the living entities and inanimate objects are controlled by His potency. When He speaks through His written word in scripture, it is perfect.
The elements of nature – earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego – all belong to His inferior, material energy, whereas the living being, the organic energy, is His superior energy.
Both of these energies are emanations from Him, and ultimately He is the controller of everything that exists. There is nothing in the universe that does not belong to either the inferior or superior energy. Therefore, everything is His property.
Because the Supreme Being is the complete person, He has complete and perfect intelligence to adjust everything by means of His different potencies.
He is often compared to a fire, and everything organic and inorganic is compared to the heat and light of that fire.
Just as a fire distributes energy in the form of heat and light, He displays His energy in different ways thus remaining the ultimate controller, sustainer and dictator of everything. He is the possessor of all potencies, the knower of everything and the benefactor of everyone. He is full of inconceivable opulence, power, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation.
Given all that, one should therefore be intelligent enough to know that except for God, no one is a proprietor of anything but rather a caretaker. More on this later.
In adherence to only accepting those things that are set aside for us as our quota, we should be satisfied with those things and we should always consider to whom those things we possess actually belong.
Take for example, where you live. It is made of earth, wood, stone, cement and so many other material things.
If we think in terms of the opening paragraph we must know that we cannot produce any of these building materials ourselves. We can simply bring them together into different shapes by our labor and a laborer cannot claim to be a proprietor of a thing just because he has worked hard to manufacture it.
In modern society there is always a great hassle between the laborers and the capitalists. This hassle, unfortunately, has taken an international shape putting the whole world in danger.
People face each other in enmity and growl like cats and dogs. Spirituality cannot give advice to cats and dogs, but it can deliver His message to humanity through bona fide spiritual masters. But, that in itself poses another dilemma: charlatans. Who is bona fide and who is not? That’s a long subject for another time.
The human race should not quarrel over material possessions. One must be satisfied with whatever privileges are given to him by the mercy of God.
There can be no peace if we long for what the other guy has or if someone or some country claims ownership over the resources of nature, which are entirely the property of God. If this cannot be seen, all the property they claim to be their own is simply stolen property. Consequently, they will be liable to punishment by the laws of nature otherwise known as karma.
Right now the world is overridden with God wannabees, all striving to rule the world and possess nuclear weapons. If the ownership and proprietorship of God is not recognized, these bombs will eventually go boom and all will be destroyed.
Human beings are not meant to quarrel like cats and dogs. They must be intelligent enough to realize the importance and aim of human life.
Cats and dogs can kill other animals for food without incurring karma. But if a man kills an animal for the satisfaction of his uncontrolled taste buds, he is responsible for breaking the laws of nature and will pay his dues, be it in this life or the next.
The standard of life for human beings cannot be applied to animals. The tiger does not eat rice and wheat or drink milk, because he has been given food in the shape of animal flesh. Yet, among the many animals and birds, some are vegetarians and some are carnivorous, but none of them will transgress the laws of nature; therefore, there is no question of karmic reaction for them.
Human life and human life alone is a life of responsibility.
It is a fallacy to think that simply by becoming a vegetarian one can avoid transgressing the laws of nature. Vegetables also have life, and while it is nature’s law that one living being is meant to feed on another, for human beings the point is to recognize the Supreme Lord.
Thus one should not take pride in being a strict vegetarian. Animals do not have developed consciousness by which to recognize God, but a human being is sufficiently intelligent to know that God’s instructions to them are out there and should endeavor to find them.
Just as a policeman says when writing out the ticket while you are saying you didn’t know you were supposed to not do something, “Ignorance is no excuse for the law.”
If a man neglects his spiritual duties, his life becomes very risky.
The human being is therefore required to recognize the authority of the Supreme Lord and become his devoted servant. He must offer everything other than that having a face and a mother and a chicken’s menstrual cycle to Him and engage in doing everything for Him.
The reasoning behind this is as follows: vegetables, fruits and grains have life. We kill them to eat them. If we offer these foods to God first, out of love, he will remove the sinful reaction (karma) of the killing and allow us to eat foods that has been purified of all karma. In addition, the offering allows us to get closer to Him and to relate to Him in a variety of ways.
The root of karma or sin is deliberate disobedience of the laws of nature through disregarding the proprietorship of the Lord. Disobeying the laws of nature or the order of His instructions brings ruin to a human being.
Conversely, one who is sober, who knows the laws of nature, and who is not influenced by unnecessary attachment or aversion is sure to be recognized by God and thus become eligible to go back to Him when they leave their body. This is the purpose of the human form.
No one wants to die: everyone wants to live as long as he/she can drag on.
This tendency can be seen not only individually but also collectively in the community, society, and nation as well.
There is a hard struggle for life by all kinds of living entities and various scriptures in the world say that this is quite natural.
The living being is eternal by nature. Due to his bondage in material existence he has to change his body over and over again. This process is called transmigration of the soul or karma-bandana – bondage by one’s work.
The living entity has to work for his livelihood because that is the law of material nature. If he does not act according to his prescribed duties, he transgresses the law of nature and binds himself more and more to the cycle of birth and death in the many species of life.
Other life forms are also subject to the cycle of birth and death, but when the living entity attains a human life, he has the opportunity to get free from the chains of karma.
Karma, akarma and vikarma are very clearly described in the Vedic literature. Actions that are performed in terms of one’s prescribed duties are called karma. Actions that free one from the cycle of birth and death are called akarma. And, actions that are performed through the misuse of one’s freedom and that direct one to the lower life forms are called vikarma. Of these three types of action, that which frees us from the bondage to karma is preferred by the intelligent.
Ordinary men wish to perform good work in order to be recognized and achieve some higher status in life in this world or in their conception of heaven, but more advanced individuals want to be free altogether from the actions and reactions of work. Intelligent individuals well know that both good and bad work equally bind one to material miseries. As such, they seek that work which will free them from the reactions of both good and bad work.
When one realizes the authority of the Supreme Lord, which is the essence of all revealed scripture, it is to be understood that he has attained the stage of positive knowledge. In this purified stage the modes of nature – goodness, passion and ignorance – cannot act, and the individual is able to work on the basis of akarma. This work does not bind one to the cycle of birth and death.
Factually, no one has to do anything more than render loving service to God. In the lower stages of life, however, one cannot immediately adopt the activities of loving service, nor can one completely stop fruitive work. A conditioned soul is accustomed to working for sense gratification for his own selfish interest, immediate or extended.
An ordinary man works for his own sense enjoyment. When this principle of sense enjoyment is extended to include his society, nation or humanity in general, it assumes various attractive names such as altruism, socialism, communism, nationalism and humanitarianism. While these “isms” are very attractive forms of karmic bondage, to alleviate them, one should make those actions God-centered.
There is no harm in becoming a family man, or an altruist, a socialist, a communist, a nationalist, or a humanitarian, provided one executes those activities in relation to the God-centered conception.
It says in the Vedic literature that God-centered activities are so valuable that just a few of them can save a person from the greatest danger – that being thrust again into the evolutionary cycle of birth and death among the 8,400,000 species of life.
If somehow or other an individual misses the spiritual opportunity afforded him by the human form of life and again falls into the evolutionary cycle, he will be considered most unfortunate. Unfortunately, due to defective and imperfect senses, one cannot see that this is happening.
The wise, saintly persons advise that being so engaged, we can wish to live for as long as possible. Otherwise, long life has no meaning. A tree lives for hundreds and hundreds of years, but what’s the point of living a long time like a tree, or simply breathing like bellows, or banging out kids like rabbits and dogs, or simply eating like pigs? A humble, God-centered life is more valuable than the hoax of a life dedicated to temporary sense gratification.
When altruistic activities are executed in the consciousness of God-centeredness, understanding your essence, what your true purpose in life in the human form is, and knowing we are all brothers and sisters with the same Father, they become a form of karma-yoga – offering the fruit of one’s activities to God.
Understanding your essence can be compared to driving a car. The car is the vehicle; you are the driver. Similarly, with the body, the body is the vehicle and you, the eternal spirit soul within, is the driver. If we were our bodies what is missing at the time of death? The spirit soul. If you can understand that then you need to know that there are two choices in life. One is to do anything to please the body’s senses, which usually results in futility and frustration. Two, you can please you by nurturing a relationship with God and endeavoring to please Him. That does not mean that your senses will not be pleased. That aspect will just not be the end in itself because you will have a higher purpose and everything about you will be pleased.
And even though these God-centered activities may be half-finished, they still benefit the individual because they will guarantee him a human form in his next life so he may continue on his journey up the spiritual ladder.
Human life is distinguished from animal life due to its heavy responsibilities. Those who are aware of those responsibilities and who work in that spirit are called godly persons. Those who have neglectful or who have no information of those responsibilities are the direct opposite.
Intelligent human beings must always remember that the soul obtains a human form after an evolution of many millions of years in the cycle of transmigration.
The saintly persons compare the material world to an ocean and the human body is compared to a boat designed to cross that ocean. The saintly teachers, or bonafide spiritual masters, are compared to the expert navigators, or boatmen, that enable one to cross the ocean.
The lower species of life have the same intrinsic desires that the human form does. They all want to eat, they all want to sleep, they all want to procreate, and they all want to defend their turf. Their economic necessities are as important to them as ours is to us. The difference is that the lower forms are governed by the laws of nature and bear no karmic reactions, where the human form is always given a choice and his actions always produce a reaction.
There is a good example of this: the other day I driving my vehicle on a busy highway when I noticed a dog crossing the highway. He did not look both ways. He did not stop when a car approached. He just went for it. Fortunately, he made it across alive because all the drivers had the choice to stop, swerve, or kill it.
So, why is a human given a better life that that of the lower species? Or, why is a high government official given better facilities than that of an aid? The answer is that the highly placed officer has to discharge duties of higher nature. Similarly, the duties that the human beings have to perform are higher than those of animals, who are always engaged in feeding their hungry stomachs.
Yet, our modern soul-killing civilization has only increased the problems of the hungry stomach. When you talk to a polished animal in the human form and ask why he takes no interest in self-realization, he will say that he simply wants to work to satisfy his stomach and those that he is connected to and that there is no need of self-realization for a hungry man.
Yet, the laws of nature are so cruel, that despite his denunciation of the need for self-realization and his endless desire to work hard to fill the stomachs of him and his, he is always threatened by unemployment.
We are given this human form of life not to work hard like beasts of burden, but to attain the highest perfection in life. And yes, some feel that that perfection is a big house, a fancy car, expensive toys and an endless array of sense gratification. Yet, it is all summed up so perfectly by Mick Jagger when he shouts, “I can’t get no satisfaction!”
What happens if you embark upon the road of God-centered self-realization but you don’t make it in your lifetime? Those sincere efforts do not go unnoticed and the opportunity is afforded one in their next lifetime to either take birth in a family on the path of self-realization, or in a respectable or financially sound family to make it easier to continue on that path. In other words, you will have the opportunity to pick up where you left off.
But what about those that make no attempt whatsoever, who want to be covered by illusion, or are too materialistic and too attached to sense gratification and material enjoyment, or simply make a show of religiosity to achieve name and fame? A lower form awaits you next time around and the evolving, transmigrating process begins again.
The bottom line is that as human beings we are not meant to solve the economic problems of a house built by the ocean during low tide, but for solving the problems of the material life we have been placed in by the laws of nature.
That begins with some basic realizations. First and foremost, the Supreme Person resides next to us, the spirit soul, in our heart. This makes our bodies a sacred temple. If we utilize and understand that blessing and sincerely ask Him to allow us to know about Him, He will put us in contact with His living representative.
A simple analogy is this: we see an attractive male or female and we want to get to meet and know them. Is it easier to just walk up to them and say you want to be with them, or is it easier if a common friend can introduce you to them?
It is no different to develop a relationship with God. It just takes sincerity. It might take a while but it will happen.
The question is, how do I begin this journey? The answer can be found throughout Psalms in the Old Testament. For example, there are so many verses that say to take shelter in His name.
Let’s look at that for a moment. God, is a title. But what do His names mean? Jehovah means the All-Mighty One; Eli means The Dearest Friend; Abba means The True Father, Krsna means the All-Attractive One, Allah means The All-Compassionate One. He has millions of names all relating to different aspects of His personality.
Our job is to find out how we want to relate to Him and, like Psalms says, “take shelter in His name”. That means saying, singing, or chanting His names always. It also says the “God is non-different than His name”. So, when you make His name audible, He is with you in your presence.
A very simple mantra is: Gopala Govinda Rama Madana Mohana. Just chant it in any tune you like or silently in your mind, it will connect you to the Guy.
There is one more piece of info you should know about. There’s a passage in the Bhagavad-Gita-As-It-is the puts the material world in its proper perspective.
It says that the duration of the material universe is limited but the duration of the spiritual world is eternal. Lord Brahma, God’s representative, spends one day in the material world, which equates to four ages: the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze age and the Iron Age, which we are in right now.
The Golden Age is characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, with practically no ignorance and vice, and it lasts 1,728,000 years. People can live to be 100,000 years old.
In the Silver Age, vice is introduced and it lasts 1,296,000 years and people can live to be 10,000 years old.
In the Bronze Age there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, with vice increasing even more. The Bronze Age lasts 864,000 years and people can live to be 1,000 years old.
In the Iron Age, where we are now for the past 5,000 years, there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion, vice and crime, with virtue being practically non-existent. This Age lasts 432,000 years and people, if they are lucky, can live to be 100 years old, yet they are dying way before that.
After the demise of the Iron Age, the four ages begin again. But the question is, why are we here in the first place? Understand that God is the ultimate enjoyer. Seeing that, we became envious. So, He created the material world for us to, if you’ll pardon the expression, “enjoy”.
In the material world no one is free from the process of birth, old age, disease and death. But, there is a remedy. If one turns to God, he/she can return to the eternal spiritual world or can come back in the human form and pick up where they left off and still attain the spiritual world.
Imagine if you spend your life as a human eager to participate in the killing and eating of the lower forms, it might take thousands of years before you obtain a human form again and what would this world would be like then when you do? Now, it really sucks and people are dying in their 50s. Imagine what it’s gonna be like here in 400,000 years. You’d be lucky to live until you are a teenager.
Sources: (All Scriptures)
Bhagavad-Gita As It Is