The Hammer - 29
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The Hammer For Smashing Illusion

Shankaracharya's famous "Bhaja Govinda"

By Hansadutta das
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Text 29

Always remember how inauspicious material opulence is: the truth is that one cannot get even the tiniest bit of happiness from it. One who has amassed wealth must fear even his own son. This is the fixed way everywhere in this world.

Material Opulence--Blessing or Curse?

Generally everyone is trying to improve his material condition by accumulating money, by increasing his prestige or by sense gratification with the opposite sex. These are the three allurements of material life: wealth, women and prestige. Of course, because we are trapped in this material atmosphere for the time being, we must accept some amount of sense gratification. We must eat something, we must have a place to sleep, we must defend ourselves, and we must beget children. These are the four bodily demands. Whether one is a human being or an animal, we find all living beings are struggling to exist in this material world in these four ways: eating, sleeping, defending and sex enjoyment.

So there must be some endeavor to meet the demands of this temporary material body, but over and above that, there is the prime necessity of the soul. The soul gives shape to this body. Without the soul, the body has no value. No one loves a dead body, however beautiful it may be. The important element is actually the soul, or living force within this body, the consciousness.

Human life is especially meant for self-realisation. Human life is not meant for advancement of material comfort, science, medicine or technology. These are actually a waste of time for the eternal soul, because scientific advancement cannot actually counteract the real problems of life. Birth, death, old age and disease cannot be counteracted by science, medicine, politics or economics. Five thousand years ago, men became old, diseased and died, and today in the age of space travel and technology, men are still becoming old, diseased and dying. Therefore advancement of science, medicine, economics and politics is a waste of valuable human energy.

Athato brahma-jijñasa: Vedic literature begins by saying, "Oh human being, now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna." A human being is supposed to be trained in the science of God. Without science, medicine and politics, animals meet the four demands of the body, so this so-called science cannot really be necessary for the human being.

Real Science is the Science of the Soul

Real science is the science of the soul, because without the soul the body has no importance. Everyone is busy taking care of the temporary body, although this body cannot exist for more than a few years, and then by nature's way it disintegrates and again merges into the elements. However, the soul, or the living force behind this body, is eternal. A human being is supposed to understand the science of the soul. That is the subject matter of Vedic literature. The word veda means knowledge. Although Vedic literature touches upon all fields of knowledge, the king of knowledge is the knowledge of the Self, and the knowledge of God and our eternal relationship with Him. As long as we go on acting in ignorance of this eternal self, we shall always be defeated.

Stop the Nightmare Now!

The eternal soul cannot be happy by any kind of temporary material arrangement. In Bhagavad-gita (8.16) it is said:

Even if one goes to the highest planet within this material universe or to the lowest planet, all of them are places of misery, wherein repeated birth and death take place.
So to travel to the moon, Mars, sun or anywhere within this material universe is of no value for the soul, because wherever we may go in this universe, the same problems exist--birth and death.

We want to be free from the influence of birth, death, old age and disease, but we do not know how to get relief from these miseries of material existence. In ignorance, we are trying to adjust material circumstances in the name of science, technology or politics, but material arrangements cannot counteract material miseries. The real solution to all the problems of material life--whether social, economic, political or whatever--is to simply get out of the material nature altogether. The situation can be compared to a man suffering in a nightmare--simply by waking up, he can get immediate relief. Material existence is a kind of dreaming condition of the soul, a kind of illusion or sleep, where we are misidentifying the self with this lump of matter in the shape of the body.

Material Advancement Most Prominent, Spiritual Advancement Most Absent

The body is not the self. The body is compared to a dress, which is covering the soul. In Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, "As a man gives up an old and useless dress and gets a new dress, so the soul gives up an old and useless body and gets a new body. A self-realised soul is not bewildered by this change." We are not actually born, and we do not actually die. It is the body only which is going through these changes--birth, childhood, youth, youth becoming old age and at old age, the soul abandoning the body, which we call death. Actually, "For the soul there is neither birth nor death. Once having been, it never ceases to be." (Bhagavad-gita 2.20) "That which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one can kill the imperishable soul." (Bhagavad-gita 2.17)

A human being should be concerned with the soul. Unfortunately, because there is no systematic education about the eternal soul, everyone is busy with the temporary material body. Everywhere we go there are shops which cater to the demands of the body. There is the restaurant for food, the department store for clothing, the factory for machines, and the hotel for sleeping. Every shop is offering something for the maintenance and protection of this temporary material body, but there is no shop which offers anything for the satisfaction of the soul within this body. Therefore we find that in America and in Europe, where material advancement is most prominent and spiritual life is most absent, people are most unhappy, dissatisfied and frustrated.

If I Touch Fire, I Feel It

There is an eternal, blissful life, but it is independent of this body. Just as my shirt has nothing to do with my body; as long as this shirt is resting on my body, this shirt appears very nice and even appears to be moving; but when I throw away the shirt, it has no power to move or take shape. Similarly, this body--composed of earth, water, fire, air, ether or blood, mucus, muscle, bone, stool, urine--is also a covering or dress. It appears beautiful only as long as life is spread all over the body; that life force we experience as consciousness.

If I touch fire, I feel it; I am conscious of the sensation of heat. If I touch ice, I feel another sensation. This is because within the body there is consciousness, the soul. As soon as the soul leaves this body, it immediately becomes repulsive. We do not want to be near a dead body. Actually, the body is not beautiful at any time. It appears attractive only temporarily, when the soul is within this body. It is not the body which actually attracts us. It is the life force which is spread all over that body.

These are the questions for human beings: What is life? What is matter? Am I this body of flesh and blood, bones, mucus and bile? Or am I something else? If I am something else, what is it? Where did I come from? Why am I trapped in this body? Why do I have to die? At the time of death, what happens? Where will I go? Will I continue to exist? Or will I vanish and become zero? These questions are the subject for human beings. But the questions Where is food? Where is a place to sleep? Where is sex?--these are not concerns for human beings. For that matter, even without education, politics or economics the animals are eating, sleeping and having sex.

Half the World is Starving, the Other Half is Threatening Each Other

Our scientific advancement actually hasn't helped us even to meet the material demands. Half the world is starving, and the other half is threatening each other with atomic weapons. In the name of politics, science and economics, the whole world is in chaos. There is no happiness, and the future appears very dark. Therefore we propose that people should try to understand Krishna consciousness and in this way, through perfect knowledge, get free from the futile struggle for material existence. America, with all its opulence, is not exempt from old age, disease and death. Therefore, what have we gained? We have not made any progress in solving the real problems--birth, death, old age and disease.

The rishis, sages and yogis of India thousands and thousands of years ago gave the world this science, which is commonly known as yoga. We have all heard of yoga. There are various types of yoga--karma-yoga, jñana-yoga, ashtanga-yoga and bhakti-yoga. Krishna consciousness is bhakti-yoga, the yoga of love and devotion, or the yoga of ecstasy. The word yoga means a linking process, connecting us to the Supreme. Through love and devotion one can link or re-establish himself with the Supreme. As soon as we are established on the platform of Krishna consciousness, all our problems--sensual, intellectual, mental--vanish. Just as soon as a man is awakened from sleep, all the anxieties he experienced in dreams vanish and have no substance.

Get to Know the Open Secret

We are now anxious about so many things, only because we are in this material conception of life. We are thinking, "I am this body, I am American," or "I am a black man," "I am a Chinaman," "I am a fat man," "I am a thin man." This is maya (illusion). We are not any of these "men." We are the servants of Krishna.

Anyone can revive his original Krishna consciousness if he is prepared to follow the standard process of bhakti-yoga outlined in Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literatures. Bhakti-yoga begins simply by chanting the holy names of Krishna: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

To make the chanting effective, one should give up the four sinful activities of material life: meat eating (including fish and eggs), taking intoxication, engaging in illicit sex and gambling. Chant Hare Krishna, and your whole life will be transformed. Make an experiment, and see the result. We are not charging anything. This is an open secret, but one has to actually take it, try it and see. Hare Krishna.

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

©2004 - Hansadutta das
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