Positive Engagement
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Redirect—Don't Repress—the Senses

by Hansadutta das
26 March 1998, Singapore

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[Reading from Bhagavad-gita 2.62:]

dhyayato visayan pumsah
sangas tesupajayate
sangat sanjayate kamah
kamat krodho'bhijayate
While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
One who is not Krishna conscious is subjected to material desires while contemplating the objects of senses. The senses require real engagements, and if they are not engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, they will certainly seek engagement in the service of materialism. In the material world, everyone, including Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma—to say nothing of other demigods in the heavenly planets—is subjected to the influence of sense objects, and the only method to get out of this puzzle of material existence is to become Krishna conscious. Lord Shiva was deep in meditation, but when Parvati agitated him for sense pleasure, he agreed to the proposal, and as a result Kartikeya was born. When Haridas Thakur was a young devotee of the Lord, he was similarly allured by the incarnation of Maya Devi, but Haridas easily passed the test because of his unalloyed devotion to Lord Krishna. As illustrated in the above-mentioned verse of Sri Yamunacharya, a sincere devotee of the Lord shuns all material sense enjoyment due to his higher taste for spiritual enjoyment in the association of the Lord. That is the secret of success. One who is not, therefore, in Krishna consciousness, however powerful he may be in controlling the senses by artificial repression, is sure ultimately to fail, for the slightest thought of sense pleasure will agitate him to gratify his senses.

We have senses, and we have objects of the senses. Senses means eyes, ears, nose, tongue and touch. Five kinds of senses. And five kinds of sense objects: With eyes we see form. With ears we catch sound. With the nose we catch some aroma. With the tongue we taste, and with the hands we touch. So five senses and five sense objects, which correspond to five material ingredients—earth, water, fire, air, ether.

How is it possible to not enjoy sense gratification? We have senses, and the world is made up of sense objects. So how do we avoid sense gratification? I have to see, I have to hear. I can't help but smell things. And to taste things is unavoidable. Touching is unavoidable. So how do you not become entangled with sense objects?

That is the unique feature of devotional service. Krishna does not encourage Arjuna or anyone to artificially repress the senses. Krishna says, "One cannot stop acting even for a moment." (Bhagavad-gita 3.5) "What good can repression do?" (Bhagavad-gita 3.33) We cannot repress. That will not last. Like a child… children are by nature mischievous, so what to do? Do we tie them up so they can't become entangled in our objects? Or make them inactive, stand in the corner, don't speak, don't move? No. We give them a better engagement. We engage their senses in positive things. They want to with a crayon scribble on the wall. We have to give them better engagement with the crayon—"Make A B C D E F G." Like that. So positive engagement, not negative repression. Spiritual life is not negative. It is positive. Not only is it positive; it's transcendental. It's actually above good and bad or negative and positive. It's transcendental.

What does it mean? It means to understand myself as living spirit soul, part and parcel of Krishna, the supreme spirit whole, and to understand that this material world is also Krishna's energy or property.

Krishna says there are two energies: the superior energy and the inferior energy. The living entity, the soul, is of the superior or para (para means superior) prakriti. Prakriti means material nature. Para-prakriti. Besides this superior nature, there is another nature, which is inferior: earth, water, fire, air, ether. Both energies are Krishna's property. One is conscious (I am conscious), but the material energy is unconscious, inert, dull matter. All the sense objects are inferior energy. My body is also inferior energy. So with the instrument of my body, I can use any object of this world for the service of Krishna. Just like this apartment. It is nothing but cement and bricks and wood and other building materials. What is the difference between this apartment and the apartment upstairs or below? The difference is we are using it for Krishna.

And so the whole thing becomes spiritual. That is the principle. Anything we accept and use for the service of Krishna becomes immediately spiritualised. Everything can be used for Krishna. Why? Because everything is His property. He is the master of the material energy, and He is the master of the living entities. When the living entities act in devotional service, using the things of this world which are ordinarily considered material or mundane or sense gratification or maya, as soon as we use the same thing for Krishna's service, it becomes spiritual. This is the principle of devotional service.

"Whatever you do," Krishna says, "as work, whatever you give away in charity, whatever you perform as penance, that should be done as an offering unto Me. By this principle of work, you will be freed from sinful reaction, and you will come to Me." (Bhagavad-gita 9.27-28) In this way, my tongue wants to taste something pleasant, some nice food. So our principle is to prepare nice prasadam, offer to Krishna and after Krishna is finished, then we take the remnants. That is called prasadam. We want to see beautiful things. All beautiful things can be offered to Krishna, just like this nice altar, nice flowers. There are so many beautiful cloths, and they can be offered to Krishna. A man is attracted to a beautiful woman. Ordinarily, that attraction is maya. That is the greatest maya. But still, we can apply even that for Krishna. The beautiful woman is Krishna's servant. Bring the beautiful woman to serve Krishna, and I am free, I remain pure. I do not become contaminated.

But if we just try to avoid the beautiful woman, or we try to avoid nice things to eat, or we try to avoid nice music, we will become frustrated, bored, and at some point, everything will come out. Like damming up a river. You cannot dam up. It will overflood, overspill, go around. Somehow it will run down to the ocean. So we cannot stop the senses from acting. We cannot stop the mind from thinking. We simply have to know the principle how to think and how to use everything for the service of Krishna. A person likes to enterprise and earn, make profit, money, lots of money. No problem. Earn and spend for Krishna as much as you like, to your heart's content. You can make profit and spend for Krishna. Arjuna was a warrior. He had the fighting spirit. Hanuman was a monkey. The fighting spirit also can be applied for Krishna. If you are inclined to be angry, you can be angry with those that are demonic and against Krishna. Everything can be used for Krishna, and that is Krishna consciousness. In this way, we don't become artificially stuck up in some false meditation or false renunciation. Everything we accept, and we use for Krishna. That is the principle of Krishna consciousness. Sometimes pseudo-spiritualists say we should become inactive and become void, make the mind blank. The mind cannot be blank. And I cannot be void, because I am a living being, and living being means action. Life means thinking, feeling, willing. How can I become void? And we never find Krishna suggesting to Arjuna or to anyone, "Be void." He never says, "Be void. Be inactive." He never says. In fact, He says the opposite: "Work for Me. Think of Me. Become My devotee, bow down to Me. Give your love to Me. Surely you will come to Me." (Bhagavad-gita 18.65) He never suggests, "Be zero."

It is a very simple philosophy, and by this one simple principle, the whole world can be transformed into Vaikuntha. It can be transformed from matter to spirit. It is possible. At least, we can transform our apartment, which is our world, generally… our apartment. It can be transformed. It can be spiritualised. Simply by worshiping Krishna, it automatically becomes a temple, and all the things of the household used for Krishna. This is not difficult to do, and we are doing it every night. It is very pleasing, very enlivening. And simply by doing this, we advance spiritually more and more. Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.

Any questions?

HANSA AVATAR DAS: You say we can make profit and spend for Krishna, right?


HANSA AVATAR: What about those people who are working in the stock exchange, and some of them they just gamble, and they say, "If I make a profit, I'll spend it on Krishna"? Is that okay?

HANSADUTTA: Yes, [laughing] provided they make it that far. But generally they lose their money. But strictly speaking, stock market is gambling, and we don't gamble. But someone who doesn't know about Krishna and he is in the stock market… naturally [there] no one knows of Krishna—they're doing all kinds of things which are forbidden, but if a person happens to be attracted to Krishna and he spends that money for Krishna, that will purify him and the whole situation. Gradually, he will give up the gambling and whatever.

The whole principle is as we come nearer to Krishna, everything becomes purified in our life. Krishna accepts everyone, "Come on!" Just like a father says to his children, "Come on!" The children may be filthy dirty. Sometimes they put their hands on him, but it doesn't matter; [the father says,] "Come on," because he's teaching the child how to love the parent. This is a father's duty, to attract his children—"Come on, bring it to me." Krishna says, "Whatever you do, you just do it for Me. Come on." And gradually, as we become purified, we realise there are some things we shouldn't do. But it's not a prerequisite. You just chant Hare Krishna and come to Krishna. Everyone is imperfect. In this material world, everyone is sinful. Otherwise, we would not be here. Anyone born in this world is a sinful person, just as everyone who is incarcerated in prison is a criminal; otherwise, he wouldn't be there. He must have committed some crime. So every one of us is sinful. Krishna says, "Never mind. Just come to Me." And by that coming towards Krishna, we are purified. That is the principle. Sometimes people say, "Nah… I'm too impure. I can't go to the temple." No, that's not good. That's like saying, "I'm too sick. I can't go to the hospital." No, the hospital is meant for sick people. The process is meant for impure people, which are all people. Some people say, "No, no, I'm so impure, I can't go there." This is not an argument.

Everyone, chant Hare Krishna, see Krishna, offer something to Krishna. Krishna says, "Anything… if you offer Me with love and devotion, a leaf, a flower, a fruit, a little water, I will accept it." (Bhagavad-gita 9.26) Suppose you have some friend who says, "Come with me, and I will introduce you to Lee Kwan Yew. You just bring a flower for him." Would you go? Yes, of course you would, because it [would be] a great honour. Simply by being able to offer him a flower, you would become very prominent. All your friends you could tell, "I offered him a flower, and he accepted it." "Oh? He did? Really? How was that?" So Krishna is inviting us, "Just come on. Offer Me something, even a leaf, a flower, a fruit, anything. You offer Me." This is devotional service. Krishna says, "Come on. Why are you avoiding Me? Offer Me something." He wants us. "In that proportion," Krishna says, "as one surrenders to Me or offers to Me, I reveal Myself to him."

Okay, even if you cannot offer a leaf, a flower or a fruit or a little water, chant Hare Krishna. You cannot chant Hare Krishna? Why not? Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Everyone can do it. Just that, and Krishna will respond. Krishna responds. It's not that we are chanting like some fool in the madhouse talking to ourselves. Krishna is responding. Otherwise, why are we chanting for years and years together? Because we feel Krishna is responding. That transcendental reciprocal relationship with Krishna we want. That we want. And material things… we do what we have to do, basically, but actually we want to develop our love for Krishna. We are practicing love of Krishna. It's not a ritual—chanting. It is not a ritual, just doing blindly. No, it is actually communicating with Krishna. Krishna hears us, and He reciprocates. Someone will ask, "I don't feel Krishna reciprocating." Because we are not attentive. We don't know how to be attentive. But by practice it will come.

HANSA AVATAR: I believe when I read the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam as knowledge coming from the spiritual master, but it's very difficult to explain to some of the people who are not Krishna conscious, who might be Christians and they say there's no other true book. The Bhagavad-gita we say that Krishna has spoken 5,000 years ago, but they always ask the question, "How can you prove it?"

HANSADUTTA: You cannot prove anything.

HANSA AVATAR: We cannot prove to them, and we cannot explain to them. But they say that their book is the real book and ours is just a myth.

HANSADUTTA: Okay. Then you say, "That's fine. So you read your book. We will read our book." Some people cannot be and should not be bothered to make them understand, because they are so deeply rooted in their religious doctrines and teachings that they cannot accommodate anything new or something with which they are not familiar. And that's okay. If someone is following Jesus, fine. The only thing you can say is, "But you should follow what he actually said." Which generally they don't do.

But as far as "How can you prove the book is so many years old?" Because there is disciplic succession. Just like how do you know such and such is your grandfather or great-great grandfather? How do you know? You don't know. But you have received this information from your father, who has received from his father. It is called guru-parampara, the chain of disciplic succession. That is the authority. Everything we learn from higher authority. You want to know who is your mother? How do you know? You cannot know. You cannot prove it. You can only accept the words of your father. You want to know who is your father? You have to accept the authority of your mother. And if you reject that, then you are in the dark. Then you have no way to know. Everything is known from higher authority. You read newspapers. Why? Because they are authority. You go to the university. The professor gives us instructions. How do you know they are bona fide? Because he's authority. In every field… if you have a medical problem, you go to the doctor, because he's authority. If you have a legal problem, you go to the lawyer, because he's authority. Authority comes. If we want to understand shastra, or scriptures, the question will be, "How do you know that this book was spoken by Krishna 5,000 years ago?" The answer is we have received it through the authority of the guru-parampara. And there is no other way to know anything. Even like I said, your father you cannot know. If someone says, "Prove that this man is your father," you cannot prove it. "My mother says so. That's all, finished." That's all. That is our position. We are in darkness. So everything we learn from higher authority. We come out of the womb and we know nothing. We cannot speak, we cannot eat, we cannot walk. We are helpless, but we are constantly being trained and educated and enlightened and guided by higher authority—first parents, then teacher, then friends, then political leaders, then scientists. There is no end. So Krishna is saying, "I am the highest authority." When we want to know the highest truth, we must approach the highest or the most perfect authority, Krishna.

Krishna is explaining Himself, and in Bhagavatam, the great acharyas, the mahajanas are giving us knowledge of Krishna. And they are giving us the method. Not only they are giving us knowledge of Krishna, but they give us the method whereby which we can realise the same conclusion. So it is not a blind thing. Just as the student in the university… when he studies chemistry or whatever, he gets the knowledge, but he also gets the method whereby which he can confirm that hydrogen and oxygen combine to produce water. He does it, and he sees water, and he says, "Oh, okay."

So our process is twofold. Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprashnena sevaya/ upadekshyanti te jñanam jñaninas tattva-darshinah. (Bhagavad-gita 4.34) Darshinah. First of all, we approach the bona fide spiritual master. We inquire from him submissively. Then we render service. This inquiry and service… the service will bring us to the confirmation of the truth. Not that he simply says like this and we accept it, that's all. No. There is a method. That method is bhakti-yoga, and in the beginning stage it is called sadhana-bhakti. Sadhana means practice. As a student in the law school or in the medical college, he has to practice. He hears the lesson, and then he has to do some practical work to see how the thing is a fact, to see it confirmed by following the procedures, the experiment or whatever it is. Our process is not simply we say it and we accept it and we believe it. No. We must practice, so that those things which are given to us we realise, "Oh, it is true." We say, "You're not this body." How do I know? Krishna says, "Bow down to Me, worship Me, give your love to Me." And by doing, we realise, we can actually see it. We see it everywhere around us how people are acting in ignorance, in the bodily concept.

Our process is not exactly what people loosely call religion. It is not a religion. In Bhagavad-gita, Krishna consciousness is described as raja-vidya. Vidya means knowledge, and raja means king. So it is the king of knowledge, or the highest type of education that one can have. What is it? It is the education to know myself, to know what is this world, to know what is God, to know what is my relationship, to know how to reestablish the relationship. It is not religion where we just believe something, ring some bells and wave incense and repeat what we heard blindly. No. We actually realise it. Religion is a worn-out word. It has been worn out, misused. So people are thinking, "I don't want this religious thing here." It is not a religion. It is a philosophy. It is a science. It is an education. Hare Krishna.

Anything else? Does that answer your question? And as far as… I wanted to add this one thing, because I know you're a very enthusiastic preacher, and you like to explain to people—and that's natural, it's very good to do, because by trying to explain to people, you yourself will realise Krishna consciousness. It takes practice also to explain and make them understand. And it is based on what you hear. You see? You hear, and then you repeat. Just like children. They hear, and they repeat. They hear, and the father says, "Very good." And then they go to school, they hear, and they repeat. We hear… just like we are giving a talk. We hear from the spiritual master and his representative. We hear from Krishna. And then we try to explain it. As best, as closely as possible, try to repeat what you have heard. Gradually, you will see, "Oh, if I repeat the words of Krishna, they are very powerful." If we quote what Krishna has said, if we repeat what the spiritual master has said, it will be very powerful. And when we become persistent, experienced, we will learn the art of saying the things in our own words. But in the beginning, it is good to repeat what we have heard, because then we can see, "Oh, the result is very good." And gradually, like when we go to school, we learn to write. We must do it exactly like the teacher. If not, the teacher will be angry with us and make us again do it. But later on, when we become practiced, we develop our own style of hand writing. Something like that. In the beginning, best to repeat what I have heard, and then later it will come naturally.

BHIMA: What about scientists using DNA testing to verify who is the father?

HANSADUTTA: That's humbug. If you don't know, then you can test every man in the world. It's an absurd proposal. Isn't it? If no one tells you and you have no idea, then how will you know? You can test every man on the planet. [Laughs] But if you say, "Well, it may be… " that means you have accepted some authority. Someone has suggested, and then you investigate. But you begin with authority, isn't it? It may be this man or that man. Which one? I don't know. Test. Okay. But someone has suggested.

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

Redirect—Don't Repress—the Senses/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2004-Hansadutta das
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