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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
[Posted November 21, 2006]

More to Religion Than Stop-Gap Measures

by Hansadutta das

stop-gap measure
Example of a stop-gap measure
Yahoo! News, November 20, 2006 - by OLIVER "BUZZ" THOMAS - When religion loses its credibility

...why are so many church leaders (not to mention Orthodox Jewish and Muslim leaders) persisting in their view that homosexuality is wrong despite a growing stream of scientific evidence that is likely to become a torrent in the coming years? The answer is found in Leviticus 18. "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination."

The truth is that mainstream religion has moved beyond animal sacrifice, slavery and the host of primitive rituals described in Leviticus centuries ago. Selectively hanging onto these ancient proscriptions for gays and lesbians exclusively is unfair according to anybody's standard of ethics. We lawyers call it "selective enforcement," and in civil affairs it's illegal.

A better reading of Scripture starts with the book of Genesis and the grand pronouncement about the world God created and all those who dwelled in it. "And, the Lord saw that it was good." If God created us and if everything he created is good, how can a gay person be guilty of being anything more than what God created him or her to be?
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Discussion on religious sectarianism v. Krishna consciousness, Berkeley, California
Religion: Believe it or not

After Everything is Stripped Away by Hansadutta das

When translated into English, dharma is almost always interpreted as religion. But religion means a kind of belief or faith, whereas the actual Sanskrit meaning of the word dharma is not to believe something, as in to be a Hindu, to be a Buddhist, to be a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, etc. That is a religious belief, and it may be correct or it may be incorrect, but this is not the real meaning of dharma. Dharma really means characteristic, the characteristic of the living being. more

Hansadutta: People think they are suffering due to unemployment, inflation, the energy crisis, and so many other apparent reasons. The real cause is that they have given up the service of Krishna and are trying instead to satisfy their senses; thus they have been trapped in this material body, which is itself the breeding ground for all kinds of miseries—adhyatmika, adhi-bhautika, adhi-daivika, birth, death, old age, disease, the struggle to eat, sleep, defend and have sex. In this way, one's life is nothing but a series of miseries in our attempt to struggle for existence, and it always ends in failure at the time of death.

Everything depends on knowledge. We get knowledge from the shastras, sadhus and guru. Even Napoleon said, "Men are controlled by words." That is also explained in the shastras: "As animals are controlled with a stick, men are controlled by the words of the Vedas." Or just as a bull is controlled by a ring in the nose, human beings are controlled by the words of the shastras. What are these words? They are the words of God. We must hear the words of the shastras, sadhus and guru. Then we shall be guided from darkness to light, and we shall be free from suffering. That is the whole purpose of human civilization: to get out of darkness, to get out of miserable existence and come to joyful, eternal life, the life of knowledge.

Guest: The Christians also say they are attaining God.

Hansadutta: Without knowledge, how can they achieve their goal? If we want to go to New York, we have to know how to go there. If we go in the wrong direction, although we may have the best intentions of going to New York, we won't reach it. Unless we know the way and follow it, we can't expect to reach our destination. If we haven't been trained in reading A-B-C-D-E-F-G, we may try to read, but we won't understand. There must be authorized, perfect knowledge from the shastras and guru. Then we can reach the goal. If there is no scientific, philosophical understanding, then just the sentiment of being saved and going to heaven will not bring us to the goal. That is common sense. For example, if we dig just anywhere for gold, we won't get any result. We have to know where the gold actually is, and then we have to uncover it. Wishful thinking won't be successful.

Guest: What is that happiness the Christians feel?

Hansadutta: Wishful thinking. Is the happiness one feels while dreaming real happiness? Or is it imagination? It is dreaming, and that happiness doesn't last. Real happiness is not based on wishful dreaming; it is based on real knowledge. When one has knowledge of things as they are, then he's happy. When one has no knowledge, he's simply dreaming, imagining happiness—"It must be like this"—without any real happines, just as the drunken man in the gutter thinks he is happy, but is really unhappy and only in illusion. The sun going up and the sun going down...it looks the same, but there is a big difference. When the sun is going down, it brings darkness. When it comes up, it brings light. At a certain moment it looks the same. Similarly, when a man is sleeping, he thinks that he's awake and enjoying life, but he's actually wasting time.

So to simply imagine salvation, or to simply wish for it without any real understanding is useless. In the desert we are thirsty and need water. The appearance of water in the form of a mirage attracts the thirsty animals, who pursue that mirage and die of thirst. Similarly, in ignorance, people sometimes imagine something like salvation, some pseudo-spiritual ideas, but these ideas are a mirage. They are nothing real. Such pesons never accept any austerity, penance or renunciation. How, then, can they expect spiritual emancipation? They cannot have any spiritual life without renunciation, without knowledge, without penance and without austerity. It is not possible.

Spiritual life is not imaginary. It is substantial reality. As long as one is dreaming, he thinks he's awake, but when he's awake, he knows the difference between dreaming and wakefulness. One who is awake knows what sleeping means. Those who have real spiritual life can understand material life, but those who are in material life cannot understand what spiritual life is.

Guest: You said that all the different religions are stop-gap measures.

Hansadutta: At best. Now they are just gaps.

Guest: Does that mean they don't really have anything to do with realizing the supreme Absolute Truth?

Hansadutta: No, they are just stop gaps, trying to keep humanity from backsliding. Somehow or other, trying to keep humanity from falling backwards. In Kali-yuga everything is deteriorating. For example, Buddhism doesn't mention the soul or the Absolute Truth. Buddha was just giving the people some strictures on how to behave so that at least they would not become overly implicated in sinful activities such as animal killing and intoxication. Buddhism doesn't offer any program for spiritual advancement. No devotional service, no knowledge of the soul, no knowledge of God. And Christ taught, "Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal"... just don'ts. Always "Don't ... don't ... don't. Don't do this, don't do that." His teachings were like taking a child—"Don't touch this, don't touch that. Sit down here and don't say anything, don't move." There was no positive program; only avoidance of sinful things. Christ also taught, "You shall love God," but how can one love God by only "Don't kill, don't steal, don't commit adultery"? Only don't, don't, don't.

We, however, have so many DOs: "Do chant 16 rounds, do go out on sankirtan, do worship the Deity, do eat prasadam. Our religion is a DO religion; theirs is a DON'T religion.

There's a difference. Our day begins several hours before their day begins. We begin at three; they begin at eight. They begin with coffee and cigarettes; we begin with chanting, dancing and prasadam. Right now there is no religion, but when there was some religion it was mostly "Don't do this, don't do that." Mohammed taught, "Don't sleep with your mother." Buddha taught ahimsa, "Don't kill animals." Christ taught, "Don't kill, don't steal, don't commit adultery."

Guest: If one is following in his religion, could he come to the path of liberation? Or due to lack of knowledge does he fall back?

Hansadutta: Well, today is Christmas. What's everyone doing? Sleeping, right? Everyone is sleeping, then waking in time for Christmas turkey, which he washes down with liquor. There is nothing—simply ignorance. Christmas trees, Christmas lights... it's all ignorance. There is no knowledge. There has to be knowledge. Without knowledge, sentiment is useless.

Guest: If one has faith in God?

Hansadutta: "Faith without works is dead." We have to do something in faith. What do such persons do in faith? Everything is sinful. There's no stricture that they should eat a turkey, drink liquor, cut the Christmas tree, pretend Santa Claus. That's all nonsense, bogus. What do they do on Easter? What is the Easter Bunny? What does this have to do with knowledge, renunciation, penance and austerity? It is all nonsense. It is like children playing with Teddy bears. It's nonsense. There's no value in it whatsoever.

The followers of the Vedas still have to come ultimately to Krishna. We cannot fit the Vedic religion into the stop-gap measure, just as Webster's International Dictionary won't fit into the Pocket Dictionary. There is some similarity, but if we want to advance, we have to accept the International Dictionary, which has the complete knowledge. It's nice to have some austerity and penance and to see the similarity or underlying principles, but ultimately nothing can compare to the Vedic religion, Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. Geometry, trigonometry and physics cannot be found in general math. There's some relationship, some basic principle, but if we want to advance, we have to go to the higher platform and not try to bring geometry into simple math. It doesn't fit there. It's an expansion. Similarly, we cannot fit Srimad-Bhagavatam into basic, stop-gap religion.

Guest: What does it mean that Christ said to follow him and go back to the Father?

Hansadutta: To follow the Vedic religion doesn't mean to abandon Christ. Christ was pointing the way. He said, "No one cometh unto the Father except by me." The Father is Krishna, and we're all Christians. Most of us were brought up in the Christian teachings, and we are all here in this Krishna consciousness movement. Spiritual life is alwasy expanding. It's not limited. It's always expanding. When we expand our business from a small shop to a big factory, the small shop is included in the expansion. Similarly, when we become Krishna conscious, all these other things are included. However, if we dogmatically stick to the Christian misconception that "Jesus is the only way," we won't succeed. That's not very progressive, nor desirable. Go on expanding. Everything is included. Whatever was taught by Christ, Buddha or Mohammed we also accept, but there is much more that they did not teach, which we understand from the Vedic literatures.

Guest: If one follows Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, can't he attain liberation?

Hansadutta: He can attain it, but he has to take in the true spirit. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul." That's the basic idea, but that is not limited to Christ. That is not limited to some group or cultural, geographical or historical thing. That is the seed of understanding: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul." That includes Krishna.

Guest: Is it their karma that they have to go through these religions and then go to Krishna?

Hansadutta: In the West, the only knowledge of God comes through Jesus Christ. Therefore we are coming to Krishna through Christ. Christ, kristos, Krishna. In othe words, we should not become sectarian, saying, "I am Catholic", "I am Protestant", "I am Jewish". It doesn't matter if we go through Christ or some bonafide transcendentalist. We can come to the absolute plane either through Christ, Mohammed or whomever, but if we remain stuck in the sectarian concept of Christian, Muslim or Jew, that won't help us.

More to Religion Than Stop-Gap Measures/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2004 - Hansadutta das
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