Global warming

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    Paul Howard

    Dear Ashish,

    Hare Kṛṣṇa. Learning environmental science for my university degree almost thirty years ago made me fear catastrophic global warming so much that I had to search for if there’s a God who can save the world, which led me to Bhagavad-gītā As It Is and Kṛṣṇa as the answer. Global warming seems to be progressing as I expected, but my conception of our environment and what a planet is has become much different now, and I think it means my understanding of what my duty is should change accordingly. I remember thinking when I was a child that if I ever find out there’s a God, that would be most important, but the fate of the Earth and the stability of its ecosystems also seems incredibly important, so I don’t want to make a mistake with this and would love to get your guidance on these topics.

    Ashish Dalela

    Hare Krishna

    I haven’t studied this subject, so I don’t have accurate data. What I say is based on general concepts.

    In any science, there are three general concepts that we call space, time, and object. The object is a soul. From this object, expands an experienced world that we can call a space. This space evolves, as an effect of time, which is called Causal Time. The changes we see are effects of Causal Time.

    Each of these three is closed. The space is closed, and that closure limits the experience of the soul. A planet is one such space. Our personal experience is also a closed space, smaller than the earth space. The earth-planet is a space expanded from the earth-soul like our personal experience. Similarly, time is closed, and results in a cyclical universe. Finally, the object is closed, and that closure defines what the soul can control. Our body is expanded from us and to the extent we can control it, it is inside us. Whatever we cannot control is outside us. Since God can control everything therefore everything is inside God. Likewise, in the material realm, time can control everything, therefore, everything is inside time. While living on earth, the earth can control most things, hence, those things are also inside the earth. So, closure means that something is controllable by a will. A pure devotee is not controlled by the earth-soul. Hence he is also outside the earth even if we can see him.

    Accordingly, we define internal and external energy. External energy means what is outside the soul, and cannot be controlled by it. Internal energy means what is inside the soul and can be controlled by it. The external energy is not fully within our control but it is not completely outside our control. By and large, things are outside our control, hence it is called external energy. Major events like birth, death, old age, and disease are outside our control. We don’t want it, but it still comes. Hence, most things are outside our control. But a few things are within our control. A mystic yogi tries to expand this control and by that, he can alter or delay the events of birth, death, old age, and disease.

    The notion of Realism is constructed by what is outside our control. But what is outside me, can be inside someone else. For example, everything is inside time, so time can control everything. A certain reality is inside the earth, so the earth can control those things. Very little is in our control, so those things are outside us. Duty is defined based on what is inside and outside our control.

    Consciousness is used to control. Consciousness is not mutually exclusive. For example, you and I can see the same apple, and in that seeing, the apple is inside both our consciousness. Either of us (or both of us) could try to grab the apple. The stronger party will get the apple. After that, I can look at you munching at the apple and things are outside my control. There is also an apple-soul. So, the apple-body is partially within the control of the apple-soul and partially in your control.

    In BG 15.7, Krishna uses three words: prakṛiti-sthāni karṣhati. The term sthāni means “place” or “location”. The term karṣhati means pulling toward oneself. Krishna is also karṣhati which means pulling toward oneself. Similarly, there are three other words: manaḥ-ṣhaṣhṭhānīndriyāṇi. The pulling toward oneself is the activity of the six senses which include the mind. And this is going on in each jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ, which means in each planet and in each soul. We can think in terms of struggling to grab the apple. The apple is one location in prakṛitiAnd people are struggling to grab the apple. Grabbing means trying to control. This is mine. No, it is mine. This is the basic story.

    So, the earth is also a location in prakṛiti. Location is not a point. It is the location of the soul. When the soul goes to that location, then that location expands like a branch expanding into twigs and leaves. So, the earth is one location, but it is also expanded. The earth-soul tries to grab this expansion. The earth-soul says: This is mine. The human-soul says: No, this is mine. Generally, the earth-soul is more powerful and so most of the time she wins the battle. But even the earth-soul is not as powerful as prakṛiti controlled by Durga. She can control everything. But Durga works to please Lord Shiva, who is called Causal Time. All these seemingly conflicting controls are reconciled by defining their scope. What will happen when is controlled by Causal Time. How it will happen and where is controlled by Durga. And who can control and why is each soul. So, even if you and I struggle to grab the same apple, who gets the apple is based on a reason or why called karma.

    Now we can talk about global warming. This warming is controlled by Causal Time, which means something will happen at some time. You and I cannot change it. It is outside our karṣhati or control. But it will not happen everywhere and in the same way. That is controlled by Durga. Finally, it will not happen to everyone because there is a why based on karma which decides who gets what.

    When something is supposed to happen at some place in some way, then we can control things by our will to decide whether it happens to us or others at that time in that place. Our karṣhati is very limited. For example, if a flood comes, then we can try to control whether it happens to us. With good karma, my effort to escape it can succeed. Without karma, it will be forced on me.

    The laws of nature are so sophisticated that everyone will not suffer. Some people will escape. Those who suffer are suffering because of their karma. Some will suffer more and some will suffer less. Nature is not hitting everyone with a big hammer. Everything is pinpointed and very specific.

    Catastrophic events are fixed by time. They are carried out in one of many possible ways (e.g., fire, wind, and water) by nature. And each person can try to participate in or escape that event. Our participation and escape are we trying to grab the apple or evade the apple thrown at us. This ability to participate and evade is our choice of karṣhatiThat choice is further controlled by duty. So we cannot change the world. That change will happen at a certain time and place in a certain way. But we can try to participate in it or evade it. For example, right now, you have a job to protect the environment. You can protect it to the best you can. It won’t change the outcome. But the outcome was never in your control. You have done your duty and the results are not in your control. If we can do our duty in this mood, then it is called karma yoga. Doing your duty is your only right.

    Generally, most people will act if the results are coming and they will not act if the results are not coming. But Krishna says: Do your duty without expecting results and don’t stop doing your duty even if the results are not coming. This is because many souls are trying to grab the same apple. You can also try to grab the apple if it is your duty. But don’t stop doing your duty even if you don’t get the apple, or it seems that the apple is slipping away from your hands into someone else’s hands. If someone can just do this much, then they will be liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

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