Self Realisation Means Simply to See Things As They Are.
Home | About | Events | World Sankirtan Party | Inside Nam Hatta | eBooks | Site Map | Submit | Contact | Store          

The Bhaktivedantas
Krishna Books
What is Hare Krishna?
The Founder-Acharya
Hare Krishna Mantra
Sankirtan Movement
Personality of Godhead
Lord Chaitanya
A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Hansadutta das
Events: Kirtan Festival
World Sankirtan Party

Submit News


© 2004 - Hansadutta das

Sitting on Death Row

By Hansadutta das

January 12, 2005, Cloverdale, California

Send this story to a friend

I was speaking with my son earlier in Ukiah. When two people are talking, we take it that we are seeing one another as this body--meaning Jackie is talking to Connie, Connie is talking to me, etc. But actually the body is not talking; the soul, the living entity within the heart, sets the vibration in motion. It appears that I'm speaking from my lips, you are speaking from your lips, I'm speaking to you, you are speaking to me ("you" means this body, "I" means this body). But actually the body is not speaking, no more than a cell phone speaks. The cell phone is not speaking. I hear the vibration, but the vibration is set into motion by my friend who also has a cell phone. So the cell phone is not speaking; the cell phone is a receiver and a transmitter. Similarly, this body is not speaking. This body is a receiver and a transmitter. It's an organic machine. The cell phone is a mechanical or electronic machine. But the machine is simply a tool for a living force. Just like a carpenter uses a hammer or uses a saw. The saw has no creative power or intelligence or initiative. It is the living person who has the tool in his hand. So similarly, the body is a tool, just as the cell phone is a tool, as the harmonium is a tool, etc. The harmonium will sit there for one hundred years and will never play a tune on its own. But when a person touches the keys, it appears like a wonderful instrument. Similarly, when the living force animates the body, the body appears very nice, beautiful, it's very attractive. But when the living force is withdrawn or is absent, then the body is abominable. It immediately becomes repulsive to us, and fearful. Just like so many people have been swept away and died in the Tsunami. Within just one or two days their dead bodies began to decompose, and became dangerous because of disease. Why? Because the beauty is not in the body, it is in the soul.

And although this is a simple fact, we are not trained to understand or to discriminate between life and matter. Therefore the whole world has been expanded materially through industry, technology, economics, politics--everything based on the premise of the body. But I'm not the body; I am the soul. Therefore although it is a very great, phenomenal expansion of energy and technology, material advancement has no value. It is actually a great burden which is keeping us from attaining the thing we are searching for: satisfaction, happiness, joyfulness. The very thing that we adore, i.e. technology, industry, economics, love, friendship, society… the very thing which we clamor for, hanker for and are attached to heart and soul, is the very thing which is causing us untold, immeasurable suffering and misery.

We love… we say, "I love you, you love me, I love my country, I love…." Love, love, love. Everyone is talking love. But the very love which we pursue and expect to enliven us and satisfy us is exactly the opposite. It is causing us the greatest grief, because it is misplaced. We are loving something that is not loveable. We love this body, and then we love another body, and these two bodies create third and fourth bodies in the shape of children, and in this way we are surrounded in an orbit. Everyone has a family and social orbit, an orbit of love, friendship and society. But this is the very source of all our suffering, heartbreak, frustration and disappointment. Why? Because we have not understood the most basic thing, that I am not this body, I am within this body, and the body is the source of all my suffering. Not only my own body, but also we become attached to a second body--a husband or a wife--then other bodies are created by the combination, and we become attached to children, like that. All these bodily relationships, which we are looking to for fulfilment, for satisfaction, for happiness, for harmony, for love, for friendship--this is the very source of pain. We are getting the opposite result. Everything is a frustration, a disappointment and misery.

Even if I remain aloof and alone, my very own body gives me all kinds of sufferings--headaches, stomach aches, fevers, toothaches, mental anguish, depression, hysteria, and so on. These miseries are called adi-atmik, miseries of the body and mind. Then there are adi-bhaudik miseries, which means that others give me sufferings. Enemies, mosquitos, dog bites, snakebites, rapists, molesters, kidnappers, murderers--they give me sufferings. And the other suffering is adi-daivik, supernatural forces. Severe heat, severe cold, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis, on and on.

Everything is weighing down on me, the whole environment. From my own body, to other bodies, to the physical environment itself, it is just grinding me down day and night. From the moment I come out of the womb, I am suffering as a helpless child. I can't express myself, I can't move. Then we are forced to go to school. Then we are forced into friendship. Then there is marriage. Then economic woes. On and on. The whole material existence is a great struggle. Even before birth in the womb; the living entity is helplessly packed up, and is dependent on the mother's nutritional intake. Sometimes the child is aborted, deliberately killed before he can realize his birth.

But we have taken it as "Oh, this is enjoyment". I have my friends, my family, my countrymen, and we are all thick and thin‚ and we our make plans and schemes, we maneuver. Everyone is trying to counteract and surpass the stringent laws of material nature, but no one can. And no one has come forward to inform us that this is a misdirected civilization. People are completely in the dark about the actual facts, and the actual nature of where we find ourselves.

Bhagavad-gita As It IsSelf-realization means simply to see things as they are. It is not a mysterious or mystic undertaking. It is to understand clearly, consciously, practically, realistically where I am, what I am, what I have to do here, etc. And that information comes to us not from speculation or experiment or some unique individual, but from the standard handbooks for human civilization, for human life. These are, using the broad term, the Vedas. Specifically, Vedic literature, especially the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and others. There is a standard, authorised format. It is not left up to speculation and chance. It is standard, just as in music there is a standard. There are notes, scales, etc. There are things that are standard for everyone: arithmetic, chemistry, engineering, etc. There are standard procedures for assimilating the knowledge and applying it in order to get the standard result.

So the highest science of all the sciences is the science of the self: what I am. That science is presently unknown, it has been neglected, it is dismissed, and everyone is just busy passionately pursuing some temporary science to improve the bodily comforts, bodily prestige, and the bodily existence. And that is okay, but without the ultimate science, the science of the self--above the body, beyond the body--it is all useless. It's a fool's paradise. We have very big airplanes, automobiles, skyscrapers and big political movements, political alliances, military conflicts, etc. It is very impressive, but after everything is said and done, every individual is subject to four insurmountable problems: he takes birth, he becomes old, he becomes diseased, and he dies. Therefore, unless a person comes to that point, "What am I?" and "How to get out of this problematic condition?" he is just an animal grazing in the field, being prepared for slaughter.

The animal thinks that everything is very nice, just grazing, and the sun is shining, everything is peaceful, but he is being prepared to be shipped for slaughter. He has no power, no conscious, intelligent power like a human being to analyse or assimilate or understand that his future is hopeless. And if human beings also simply graze the fields of sense enjoyment--eating, sleeping, defending and mating--simply in a higher, more sophisticated environment like hotels, motels, airliners, then he is an animal. He is even more foolish, more unfortunate than an animal, because he has the potency, he has the facility, he has the opportunity to resolve, or solve the problems of life and get free from this cycle of birth and death. But if he doesn't take it, then he is more unfortunate than the animal. An animal doesn't have that; he is dependent on the master. We are highly developed in consciousness, but the high development in consciousness is being squandered for trivial things--such as to produce a machine to take me from here to there. But here or there, the same problem exists. Wherever I go my problem is with me, because this body has these four inherent defects, or miseries: birth, death, old age and disease. Someone once said to Prabhupada, "Yes, it's all temporary I see that, but why not let me enjoy as much as I can before I go?" Prabhupada replied, "That's not intelligent. It is like if I offer for you to enjoy this beautiful woman here as much as you like, and when you are done, then I kill you. Can you enjoy? Where is that enjoyment?" Like the condemned man on death row, you can order whatever you like for your last meal, and in the morning you will be executed. So, how can he enjoy? Someone may object to this: "Yes, but the condemned man has only one day; we may have a hundred years." But actually there is no difference. It is just a question of time. Whether we have a day or a year or a hundred years, the fact is that whatever endeavor we make, whatever arrangement we make, whatever attachment we develop, however many friends and followers and worshipers, we will be taken away. We will be kicked out.

Therefore intelligence… buddha, bhuddi-yogam tam. Lord Buddha, the lord of intelligence. Why was he intelligent? Because he could see, "What is this? I am going to die? I am going to become old and diseased? Then what is the use of all this endeavoring, all this anxiety, all this jockeying to improve my condition, if the inevitable end is the same?" Whether you are a beggar in the street, or a prince on the throne.  Whether you are beautiful or ugly, smart or stupid, crazy or lazy, the end is the same. Therefore there has to be this awakening, "What am I? Why am I here? What is this place? Why did I come here? What is Krishna?"

That's what Krishna Consciousness is. It is not something to be believed, and to wave a flag, "I'm a Christian, I'm a Jew, I'm a Hare Krishna". It's not like that. It has to be scientifically and practically understood. One has to live it. To be Krishna conscious, to be conscious that always janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi. Krishna says, dukha-doshanudarshanam (Bhagavad-gita 13.9)… darshan, to see always: birth, death old age and disease. To see always that this is the platform, this is the environment where I live, the environment of death. I'm on death row. I'm in a penal colony where everyone is condemned to death. Everyone--there is no exception. There may be very beautiful damsels, very handsome men, very wealthy, influential--all condemned to death. It is just a question of time, that's all. That is the beginning of human life. A person is considered to be a human being when he begins to seriously question and deliberately pursue spiritual life.

Progress means spiritual progress. Material progress is no progress. In fact, the more you progress materially, the more you are becoming degraded and entrapped in a hopeless network of illusion, which will bring you more and more grief, suffering and misery. It is not that I'm just saying this. No, I'm not saying; Krishna is saying: "From the highest planet in the material world to the lowest, all of them are places of misery, wherein repeated birth and death take place." (Bhagavad-gita 8.16) This is the key: birth and death. All of us in this room are condemned. Today, tomorrow, after some years, everything will be taken away, and you'll have to go. Krishna consciousness is the only thing missing. Especially in countries like America, we have everything--the cars, the skyscrapers…. We have money, we have the nice weather, we have sense enjoyment, we have food, we have prestige, and everything we have. But we have no awareness, no consciousness that "I can't stay here, I can't remain here, I have to go."

And there is no guarantee that you will have 80 years. It is not that you have a guarantee. Your life may be finished at any moment, even if you are a very popular, famous, wealthy and beautiful person. John Lennon was loved and famous, and in a moment his life was finished. Kennedy… there are so many examples. And we are also going to get kicked out. It may be today, tomorrow, or after some years. Unless this urgency that I will die is there, then we are just like animals meandering, wandering, loitering in the field, without any awareness of the danger. That's our condition. We have no other responsibility actually. We can cast everything aside, on the condition that "I have to deal with this." The actual responsibility of the human being is simply to be Krishna conscious. Other things… you can neglect them, you can disregard everything, in favor of that. Truly.

Hansadutta das
Rittvik Representative of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

©2004 - Hansadutta das
Home | About | Events | World Sankirtan Party | Inside Nam Hatta
eBooks | Site Map | Store