The solution to prison life is getting out of prison

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei

The City: Beijing

The Daily Beast – AI WEIWEI – Aug 28, 2011

For a man imprisoned and conditionally released, neither neighbors nor strangers nor Beijing’s officials nor courts can be trusted.

…This city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure. If we remember what Kafka writes about his Castle, we get a sense of it. Cities really are mental conditions. Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare. Go to story

Just as in the state prison there are first class prisoners, second class prisoners, third class prisoners, like that, so similarly in this material world there are also different grades of conditional existence.

The material existence is a kind of prison house for the eternal living spirit soul. The living entity is originally free and pure, but when the living entity becomes rebellious to the authority of the Supreme Lord, he is put into this material condition, and he suffers four types of miseries: birth, old age, disease and death. Anyone in this material existence is subjected to four kinds of suffering: birth, death, old age and disease. The material nature is called durga, or the prison house for the rebellious living entities, who are adverse to the service of Godhead. Just as in the state the government maintains a prison house, and those citizens who defy the laws of the government are put into the prison house where they are punished according to the severity of their crimes, similarly, everyone who is born into this material world is a kind of criminal. Or he is sinful. Sinful meaning he is defiant, rebellious against the authority of the Supreme Lord.

Just as in the state prison there are first class prisoners, second class prisoners, third class prisoners, like that, so similarly in this material world there are also different grades of conditional existence. In our country, people are enjoying a high standard of material enjoyment, eating, sleeping, defending and sex. In other countries, people are starving. It is very difficult for them to get even the basic necessities—some food, some shelter to protect themselves from the elements and from dacoits, rogues and thieves.

Material existence in any condition is always accompanied with these four problems: birth, old age, disease and death. We may be very rich man, just like this… whoever owns this plantation must be quite wealthy. And those who are working on the plantation… they’re not doing all that well. They are just getting on. But the owner of the plantation, who is living in apparent comfort and luxury, and the worker, who is just going on from one day to the next—both of them are subjected to the same miseries: birth, old age, disease, and both of them die.

The whole aim of human existence, the aim of human civilization is, according to Vedic literatures, to get out… or to prepare one’s self to come out of this struggle for existence and regain our original existence, eternal existence, full of knowledge and full of pleasure—sat-chid-ananda.

We are prisoners in this material existence. The whole aim, the whole purpose of the prisoner is to get himself relieved from confinement, from prison. His aim is not to make a very nice, comfortable life in prison and attempt to be happy. No. His aim is how to get free from this confinement. Similarly, material existence is unnatural. It is artificial. It is temporary, and the human being is supposed to be engaged in preparing himself to get free from the cycle of birth and death.

However, at the present time, because people have become godless, especially the leaders, political leaders, therefore there is no program. There is no systematic program for training the human being to prepare himself to go back to Godhead. In fact, people are being trained in the opposite way. They are being trained to become more and more entangled in this material existence. People are being encouraged to exploit this material nature for sense gratification or for so-called bodily comfort. That is called economic development, technological advancement, political emancipation and so many programs for improving material comfort, material enjoyment.

But that kind of advancement, that kind of endeavor will not solve the four problems birth, death, old age, disease. These problems cannot be solved by advancing in science, economics, industry, politics. These problems are there, whether you advance or you remain in your present situation. It doesn’t matter. You will become old, you will become diseased, and you will die.

Therefore, the intelligent person will ask himself, “Why should I work so hard for this advancement if the end result is the same?” That is the beginning of Krishna consciousness—to think, what is the benefit? What is my gain if I work very hard for sense gratification? How will I profit? What is the gain? What is the benefit?

The answer is no benefit. You’re just wasting time. Uselessly wasting time. Advancement should be not how to become more and more engrossed in this material existence, but how to get out of it, how to get out of this present struggle for existence.

A man struggles to find food. Why are we working? We have to eat, right? Eating. Why do we work? I want to eat. I want a place to sleep. I want protection from danger. And we beget children in sex life. Eating, sleeping, defending and sex life. So we are struggling and struggling. Some people are eating more, some people are eating less. In America they eat six times more than anyone. The average person eats six times more than anyone else. He’s eating, but they’re becoming diseased, they’re becoming old, and they die. So you can eat more, but you can’t live longer. You can’t live forever because you eat forever. No.

The purpose is to get out of this material existence. How? How do we get out of this material existence? By awakening our Krishna consciousness, consciousness, awareness of Krishna. Just as how does a prisoner get released from the jail? By becoming conscious [of his wrong doing], and when they see that, “Oh, he’s reforming,” then they consider release. So we must reform our consciousness to Krishna consciousness.

In the Bhagavad-gita (10.8) Krishna says, aham sarvasya prabhavo: “I am the source of all material and spiritual worlds.” And in another place (Bhagavad-gita 7.7) Krishna says, “Everything rests upon Me as pearls are strung on a thread.” In another place Krishna says, bhoktaram yajña-tapasam/ sarva-loka-maheshvaram. “All these planets are My property, and all the living entities on these planets are My servants, and I am everyone’s friend.” (Bhagavad-gita 5.29) We have to come to this platform of Krishna consciousness. As soon as we realize that we are living on the property of the Lord… just like this estate. Whoever is living on this estate, whatever they do belongs to the estate owner. Isn’t it? So the same principle in the absolute sense. This planet… not only this planet, but all the planets within this universe… they are the property, the estate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And whoever lives on such planets—we are sitting on this earth planet—whoever lives on the planets of the Lord, they are His servants. So we are the servants of the Lord, and He is our real friend. That is called Krishna consciousness, in a nutshell.

And when we become conscious of Krishna as the proprietor, as the Lord and as the friend of all living beings, then we naturally want to act in such a way as to please Him. And the more we act in that way, the more we become free from this, from the grip of this material nature.

The process begins simply by chanting the name of Krishna. That’s all. To know the name of Krishna and to repeat the name of Krishna, to hear the name of Krishna: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The Lord, being all spirit, His name is identical with Him. The vibration “Krishna” is identical with Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When we vibrate this name, we come into resonance, into communion. We come in touch with Krishna by sound vibration. Hare Krishna. Just as by wireless telephone you can be in touch with your friend in Singapore. No wires; just vibration. Just “Hello, how are you?” So by vibration we are associating with Krishna. Because Krishna is eternal, full of knowledge and blissful. And we are also part and parcel of Krishna. As soon as we chant the name “Krishna,” we experience this transcendental or spiritual nature, sat-chid-ananda, eternity, knowledge and bliss. It is so simple. It is so simple, it is unbelievable, but it is a fact. Just as a child, this child can communicate in a second with someone in New York by vibration. Now, the child may not know what is the science, how is this working. The process has been given in the shape of a telephone. There is no need to know. But if we do want to know, there are books—Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Vedic literatures, which explain the science of Krishna. The science of spiritual life is explained in these books. But it is not… the chanting of Hare Krishna does not depend upon knowing the science. Even if you do not know the science and you chant—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—you will get the result. The same example, this child does not know what is this telecommunication. They don’t know. Nevertheless, they can get the benefit. They can speak with New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur, anywhere. It is as simple as that.

Don’t take my word for it blindly. Just you practice chanting Hare Krishna. The process is to chant and to hear the vibration. Chant and hear. Just like eating. We eat and digest. Two things: we eat, we digest. Two things must be there. Eat, take the food, and we digest the food, and we get some satisfaction. The same thing in this process. We chant Hare Krishna, and we hear the sound vibration with full attention. There is no necessity for speculating or thinking—nothing. Simply chant and hear the vibration with full attention. The more we become focused on the sound vibration of the name Krishna, Hare Krishna, the more we realize Krishna, what is Krishna, who is Krishna, what is our relationship with Him. We become purified. So, please chant Hare Krishna, and be happy. Hare Krishna. Thank you.

SUBRAMANIAM: Excuse me, Maharaja. We are living in this material world. Can you try to balance between spiritualism and materialism?

HANSADUTTA: Oil and water. Oil and water never mix. You follow? If you have oil and water, they never mix, because they are different in nature. Light and darkness never mix. Where there is light, there is no darkness. Where there is darkness, there is no light. We are always in this incompatible situation. Life has become entrapped within the atmosphere of matter, and therefore we are always bewildered. Therefore we are always anxious. Because we have taken matter as our home. You follow? We have accepted matter, we have accepted this body as our home, as our shelter. What is this body? A lump of matter, or a bag of skin, and inside there is muscle, mucus, stool, urine, all kinds of abominable ingredients. Because the living force is in touch with matter, the body appears to be living, it appears attractive. But as soon as life is separated from matter, we see what it is—“Oh, dead body.” Nobody loves a dead body. Dead body is repulsive, abominable. If there were a dead body in this room, everyone would leave. No one would want to be here, isn’t it? So we must know for certain that this body is matter, and the force which animates this lump of matter… that is spirit. That is living force. And I am living force. The living force is beautiful. Matter is… there is no beauty in matter. Whatever beauty we find in matter is only the reflection of the living force in touch with it. Just like this lamp. This lamp is shining because electricity is in touch with the lamp. This fan is moving because electric energy is in touch with the machine. Without the electric energy, the fan is useless. If I take this fan to the Sahara Desert, it has no value. During the Second World War, when the Russian soldiers came and occupied Germany, because they were village boys who had no experience of electricity, when they saw the light bulbs, they took all the light bulbs. Wherever they found light bulbs, they took them. Wherever they found a water faucet, they took it, thinking that when they took it home and put it in their village, they would also have light and water. But no, you won’t have light and water, because the light is not in the bulb, and the water is not in the faucet. Same thing—this body is not the source of life. But life is the source of this body. Because there is life, around the life, the body takes shape. Around the electric spark the bulb has been invented. Electricity was not invented. It is everywhere. Electricity is everywhere. Then someone knows how to channel it into the bulb. Edison, Thomas Edison. We are just like the light bulb. The spark of living force is giving this body what appears to be life. But actually the body is never alive. It is always a dead lump of matter.

So your question was, Can we strike a happy balance between…? No, we cannot. Otherwise, we would be happy. Who has found that happy balance? No one. We want happiness. We want a peaceful…. You’re speaking of peace. Balance means peace, where this is equal to that. Are light and darkness equal at any point? Never. No amount of darkness can be equal even to a spark of light. Darkness is the absence of light. And light means where there is no darkness.

So where there is Krishna, there is no darkness. Where there is no Krishna, there is only darkness. So the answer to your question is you can be happy in this particular circumstance at this moment if you accept, embrace Krishna one hundred percent. Wherever you fail to embrace Krishna, there is darkness, there is suffering. Darkness means suffering, anxiety. Wherever we reserve our self, wherever we hesitate to embrace Krishna fully, there we suffer. That is suffering. Suffering simply means separated from Krishna. Just like a baby… when a baby is separated from his mother, then he starts crying. As soon as the mother comes, then he’s happy, he feels safe and comfortable. This chanting of the Holy Name of Krishna—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—is exactly like the sincere crying of the child for mother. We are in a desperate state.

Someone asked me, “How can I be more determined? Determination. How can I get this determination to be Krishna conscious, to have Krishna?” I said, “When you realize extermination, you will get determination.” When you realize you are going to be exterminated, your existence and everything in your orbit of life will be exterminated—wife, children, house, car, everything and you, your body—when that becomes… the more we become conscious of our material dilemma of incompatibility of our present situation, we will become determined, “I must be Krishna conscious.” Because this material existence is a losing proposition. Nowadays, every day we read about investments and returns. People want to invest money and get returns. But the whole materially oriented human civilization is investing in the comfort and maintenance of this body, but this body will not exist. Therefore it is bankrupt. This is a bankrupt proposal, material existence, because all the investment…. How much investment? You eat every day, you buy house or apartment, you have car, so much. Everything is for this body! Whatever investment you make, it will be lost. That means we’re all heading for bankruptcy. The whole human civilization is on a bankrupt course of investment. You may have a big skyscraper, so you die up on the 51st floor of your expensive condominium skyscraper. So what is the difference? I die in the street. What is the difference? What is the difference? We eat, we sleep, we defend, we have sex, and we become old, diseased and we die. So I die in a very air-conditioned hotel, very nice, with many friends. What is the use? Or I die alone in the street, poor man, homeless. It’s the same result. Therefore Bhagavad-gita says don’t bother about all this. Just… sarva-dharman parityajya/ mam ekam sharanam vraja. Krishna says, “Just surrender to Me. I’ll protect you. Don’t worry.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.66)

It’s not that we should become inactive and do nothing. No. You do whatever you have to do, but don’t unnecessarily waste time and energy thinking to improve your standard of material happiness. There is no benefit. There is no benefit. No, there’s no happy balance. Not really. Happiness is only on one side. Misery is on the other side.

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