Forum Replies Created
- Yama is more evolved than us, and he rules over the hellish planets. But because he is evolved does it mean that his planet is evolved?
- Bali Maharaja rules in one of the demoniac planets and Lord Vamana lives with him. So does it mean that it is no longer a demoniac planet?
- Manasottara and Lokaloka are identified as mountains, which means they are raised places. So why would you equate them to bhu-mandala?
- All the demigods are said to live on top of Meru, which is also in the center of Jambudvipa. Would you include that as part of Jambudvipa?
- When bhu-mandala is divided into 7 parts, why would you include places like Suvarna Bhumi and Vajra Bhumi in that which are mentioned to be beyond that?
- Finally, I would like you to describe what you understood about the nature of space from Mystic Universe and how that space is described in Sankhya.
Does that mean that Jambudwipa is more Satwik than other dwipas? It creates a confusion because Puranas describe beings in other dwipas as more spiritually evolved.
Which Purana are we talking about? Some parts of Jambudvipa are “earthly heavens”. In the Illavarta Varsa, for example, Lord Shiva resides in one of His forms. It is described that Lord Shiva is the only man there. Any other man that goes there becomes a woman. Arjuna went to Illavarta Varsa to get Pasupatastra from Lord Shiva. However, because Bharata Varsa is to the south of Jambudvipa it is possible that it is inferior to the other places on the north and east of the outer dvipa. In general, there are better and worse places in all the dvipa. The best place in one dvipa can be better than the worst place in another dvipa. They are not uniform. Just like even on the present planet, there are many horrible places where there is continuous war, starvation, famine, and so on. And these things also change with time. So, lots of factors are there to determine what is good or not good, in which planet, and at which time. We have to develop a system for quality combinations to understand these things. Then we will be able to understand and reconcile all the varied descriptions.
Can we interpret this entire cosmology in terms of Vedic Yajna?
It may be possible, but I don’t want to go down that path. Everything is factually a Yajna. Yajna means a sacrifice of one thing into another thing. Some sacrifices are done to get something in return, but other sacrifices are done for the sake of it. For example, if you work hard in the office and sleep less, that is a sacrifice to earn money. So, you are soma, the office is agni, and working is vayu. In this way, Yajna is a basic model for all reality. Even devotional service is a Yajna in which the soul offers itself in the service of the Lord. So, the Lord is the agni, the soul is the soma, and the service of the Lord is vayu. But in this case, this offering of the self is not done for getting something in return.
All these oceans are places of living. That means there are living entities that live inside ghee or milk. How they live is something I cannot imagine. But that is just like I cannot imagine what it is like to be an owl or fish. To sleep all through the day and remain awake all through the night and fly here and there in the dark is a different kind of mentality. Similarly, to always keep bathing, even while sleeping, is something strange to us. But there are living entities like that. We cannot understand that mentality because we have to be like them to understand what kind of mentality they are having.
The Causal water coming from above to Bhumandala resembles the Soma that we pour and the Ananta Naga at the bottom symbolizes the Kaalagni.
When you go to learn physics, “momentum” doesn’t mean what it means when we say “the business has momentum”. But they are not completely different either. There is a deeper conceptual similarity in which both pertain to inertial movement, which means you have to see the deeper meaning rather than equate business to a cricket ball. Similarly, there is a “hot food” and “hot-headed”. There is a “soft bed” and “soft yellow”. The softness of yellow is not the softness of the bed, but they are both soft. You understand both, but only because you understand “hot” and “soft” deeply. In the same way, we have to understand milk and ghee deeply. Then we will not be confused. The problem is that we don’t understand these words deeply. We rely on superficial understanding. It is not what you are thinking and it is not completely different or disjointed from what you are thinking either.
I think before WW3 happens, there will be a war on this forum! Let’s not do this. Lord Krishna says at the end of Bhagavad-Gita: vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa yathecchasi tathā kuru or “deliberate on this fully and then do whatever you wish”. Even God doesn’t force His views on anyone. So we should not force it either. To go to God, we have to be like Him. Otherwise, we cannot go to God. Self-attested certificates don’t work. We have to be like God if we have to go anywhere near Him. The purpose of worship is to become like Him. Just worshiping without a change in our nature is useless.
As far as people are concerned, there are four categories:
- Tamo-guna: obsessed with violence, destruction, cheating, abuse, etc.
- Rajo-guna: obsessed with material progress, profit, sex, business, etc.
- Sattva-guna: obsessed with detachment, dutifulness, and knowledge.
- Transcendent: obsessed with Krishna, His service, and devotion to Him.
One type of person doesn’t get along with the other type. Hence, they are and should be separated from each other for peace. We should also separate ourselves from those who are radically different from us in nature. That is the preferred path. If that doesn’t work, then we can counterattack for defense. But separation is the preferred path, and counterattacking is only when that separation doesn’t work.
On the other points, I want to clarify that I’m not self-realized and am not anyone’s guru. These words have a big meaning; we are all on the path toward these goals, but attaining them is a long journey. I know enough to know that I don’t know all that is necessary to be known to be a self-realized person or a guru. What I do is by the grace of Srila Prabhupada, and work is its own reward. No separate approval is required or necessary. While I would like others to read, understand, and appreciate these things, I would not substitute knowledge and effort with appreciation.
In this regard, we must recall the story of Jada Bharata. He was the greatest king of this planet, and after him, this planet is called Bharata Varsa. But in the next life, he became a deer because he forgot about the real goal of life. Then he realized his mistake and became Jada Bharata. The term “jada” means inert. Children would chase him from the villages. People will throw things at him. But he remained inert. And then he was engaged by an ordinary small-time king like Rahugana as a palanquin carrier. Just imagine that the greatest king of this planet became the palanquin carrier of a small-time ruler. These things are bound to happen in the normal course of life in this world. We don’t give them importance.
As far as what Prabhupada said, he said thousands of things. They were all said to different people, at different times, places, and situations. Each person takes something and universalizes it. That is their own fault. Just like Lord Krishna asked Arjuna to fight, but if everyone starts fighting by claiming that Lord Krishna asked Arjuna to fight so we shall also fight, then it would be the silliest thing.
We have to understand which aspects of Krishna’s instructions apply to everyone, and which ones are specific to Arjuna. Fighting on the battlefield is specific to Arjuna, and not for everyone. Like that, everything must not be universalized, even when spoken by God, because it is not an impersonal mathematical equation or law. It is spoken by a person, to a person, at some time, place, and situation. Similarly, what Prabhupada said has also to be understood by the context.
Of course, if someone wants to universalize, then it is their problem. They will own the consequences of their behavior. We can only tell them what the context is, and why something is for one person and something else is for another person.
We talk to material scientists in a certain language because they understand some concepts. If we talk to them about the soul and God, then they will reject it. So, we talk to them about space, time, cosmology, causality, lawfulness, mathematical constructs, etc. This is no different than the fact that I speak and write in English, although speaking in English doesn’t make me British. In the same way, my speaking in a scientific language doesn’t make me a materialist. But some people want to reduce other people to one thing. If God is good then He cannot be evil. But if He shows some evil, then He cannot be good. This is the oldest materialistic attitude of reductionism adopted by people who are deeply in tamo-guna.
These reductionistic ideas were applied even to Krishna. Many critics said that Krishna is immoral because He was dancing with gopis. They cannot see other things, and that one thing is the most important thing in their mind. This is the nature of reduction and universalism. If someone dances with girls then He cannot be God because in their worldview it is immoral. They cannot imagine that someone has no sexual desire and yet He dances with girls to please them. Due to the paucity of their imagination and the limits of their morality, they say wild things.
When such situations arise, we should separate ourselves, because we cannot change a person’s guna by fighting. Only a person can change their own guna by serious endeavor. Nobody else can change anyone. One has to want to change, and then if one tries to change, then one can change over time. Leaving people alone is leaving them to their nature, choices, consequences, and destinies.
It seems the bar to cross to even start is very high! Can we only start after our motivations have been perfectly rid of all selfishness?
We treat Saraswati as our mother and we serve the mother. When we serve the mother, then the mother gives us much more. You approach your mother with pure intentions, not with the intention of exploiting her. Exploitation of the mother is a demoniac conception. When we get such an idea, then we cannot find the mother.
But will the process of research in these fields (say finding ways to treat cancer) be methodologically similar to the current way research is done using trial and error (but in the vedic conceptual framework) or will it look different?
Knowledge reveals herself when your intentions are pure. Hence, knowledge is called darshan. It is a vision obtained by revelation. There is no “research” in the sense of trial and error. That trial and error are for trying to grab the truth by force. But you don’t get the truth like that. In the trial and error method, you will get false positives and false negatives. It may be due to instrument error, unaccounted variables, or changes in test conditions you are unaware of. Then you will interpret them with a false theory because you are eager to publish a paper and for getting accepted, you need to cite the papers of others or serve some other agenda. Otherwise, your paper will not be published. In this way, you will accumulate papers, but only you know their true worth. At the time of death, you will ask: What did I really achieve? And the answer will be “nothing”. Of course, you can tell everyone that you published many papers. But deep within, you know what you really did.
But from our mythological stories, we hear of heroes undergoing austerities or worshipping demigods to acquire new knowledge/skills/weapons.
The problem is not limited to others, is it? You are using the term “mythological” which means “the study of false ideas”. The correct word is śāstra, which means a treatise. And related to it is the word śastra, which means weapon. You would have heard the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword”. So, śastra is the pen, and śāstra is the output of the pen. The pen is also a sword or śastra. This is why the pen is also worshipped as an āyudha before Deepawali. The Brahmana worship the pen and the Kshatriya worship the sword. Both pen and sword are instruments or āyudha. Both can be used to fight a war, and both can be used to establish peace. The distinction between pen and sword exists in Western thinking. But for us, they are both instruments. A treatise is the output of a pen.
One principle in Sanskrit is that something is coming out of something else when the big-A (ā) is used. Just like if you open your mouth wide, and say āāāāāā then something is coming out whole-heartedly and continuously. It is not constrained, like in uuuuu or in eeeee. It is not for a short while like in “a”. It is not modified into various other forms as in the case of other alphabets. It is a plain and simple whole-hearted expression. Similarly, śastra is the instrument and śāstra is the output of the instrument, open fully and whole-heartedly, and not constrained or modified by it.
Similarly, āyudha is the output of ayudha which means “non-war”. What is non-war? That which has no internal contradictions. It is self-consistent, self-satisfied, and self-sufficient. The original person who is like that is Balarāma, which means He has all the power, and He enjoys the simple fact of being that all-powerful. But that power is self-satisfied. It is not waging war on others due to internal contradictions. It is not trying to prove its superiority over others. Hence, the power is ayudha. And that self-satisfied and internally consistent power produces āyudha as instruments that are used only when there is a need to create more internal consistency and self-satisfaction. So, all instruments, whether they be pens or swords, are meant to bring peace and consistency. War is waged only to bring peace, destroy contradictions, and establish the self-consistent truth.
When śāstra is embraced whole-heartedly, without any modification, without ulterior motives, and without cessation, then we become the śastra that can produce even more śāstra. That is, we become the pen that can produce more truth. This is the science of accepting śāstra, then becoming śastra, and then producing more śāstra. Thereby, śāstra expands into more śāstra through some śastra, namely, an instrumental person who accepts the śāstra whole-heartedly, without modification, and ulterior motives. That purification of the person by accepting śāstra is a precondition to expansion. Otherwise, those who misuse śāstra by taking something, modifying it, or using it for ulterior motives other than the purpose of śāstra, may get some temporary success but it is also very limited. After some time, they exhaust their capacity to expand the śāstra into even more śāstra. And whatever was previously expanded as “śāstra” dies because it is falsified either by other lies or by truths.
Vedic texts are not “mythologies”. A mythology was created in the West to deceive people, tell them an embellished story of their origins, talk about various gods that had many bad qualities of the humans that worshipped them, to make humans think that gods were merely powerful men. Thereby, a king was a god on earth, because despite his numerous bad qualities he was powerful. The god in heaven also had many bad qualities like jealousy, retribution, entitlement, etc. But he was god because he had power. Being a god did not mean having good qualities. It was simply the acquisition of power. For over 2000 years, this false dogma has been repeated over and over in the West. They tell a false story that you become a god if you acquire power, without getting good qualities.
The Vedic texts instead teach that you have to acquire good qualities of tolerance, patience, austerity, sacrifice, truthfulness, generosity, duty, respect, and love. The more good qualities you acquire, the more powerful you are. Power is a corollary of good qualities. Power is not an end in itself. Power is given to those with good qualities so that they can love and serve others to develop good qualities. Power is not for subjugating and ruling over others. It is for protecting them from bad qualities.
Those who cannot understand this difference between Vedic texts and mythologies, or want to deliberately confuse the two, equate Vedic texts with mythologies. Obfuscation and false equivalence are used as a śastra to denigrate the śāstra. But the truth is always more powerful than the lie. Therefore, you can defeat the śastra of lies with the weapons of śāstra or truthful treatises. If one lie dies, the next one will be born, because the lies are germinating from other lies. They are like weeds growing in a field of crops. It is not easy to kill weeds. We have to persist, and it takes a long time to kill all the weeds. If we rush, by pouring some pesticide, then we may kill some weeds but we will also poison the crop. Some weeds even look like the crop. But we have to use the śāstra to understand what is a weed and what is a crop. Then we can uproot the weeds using the śastra of śāstra.
What is the Vedic way to expand the frontiers of knowledge?
By planting the tree of śāstra in the ground of your heart. When the tree is planted, it makes the ground more fertile, rich, and wet. Then the fertility and wetness of the ground make the tree grow automatically. The growth of the tree is the expansion of the śāstra. It produces more leaves and fruits, which then produce more seeds, which are then planted in other hearts and they make those hearts fertile, rich, and wet, and so the process keeps going until a single tree becomes an entire forest of trees. Each person is one ground with one tree, and other persons are other grounds with other trees. And collectively, all these persons together become a forest. And this forest of trees sustains all trees within it by enriching all the grounds to make all the trees grow faster.
Then there is also rain from above. They are provided automatically when the śāstra is used in Lord’s service. That Lord’s service is the purpose of śāstra. Knowledge is not for control, domination, exploitation, and selfishness. It is for Lord’s service. It was given by the Lord so that we can serve Him appropriately. Therefore, if the knowledge is used for selfish purposes, then the tree doesn’t get rain from above. It dries up and then dies quickly. However, the tree grows rapidly when the śāstra is used in Lord’s service due to rain from above. Therefore, the first step is to plant the śāstra in the heart and use it in Lord’s service. When that is done, the tree automatically grows by rain falling upon it.
I have caught you deceivers in a direct lie. That’s all there is to it.
Yes I accept it. I’m an ignorant fool. And you are enlightened. Now please leave us alone.
It is not difficult for me to delete all your responses and block you permanently. But I’m apologizing, begging, and requesting you to leave us alone. You have made your point, and I accept it.
This is the season for abuses. It comes and goes like the winter and summer seasons. Respect and insult are only of the body. Life and death are also only of the body. The yogi learns to tolerate both. At least this is what my Lord says. If He is subjecting me to these, then He knows better. Who am I to question His judgment? He has His own plans, and I just hold His finger to follow Him.
Evil doesn’t exist, because everything is happening by the will of the Lord. Those who slap me are doing so only by the approval of the Lord. If one person doesn’t slap, then another one will. The Lord’s approval is not what he wants. But He approves. Just like a disciple goes to a guru and says: “I want to marry, do you approve?” He is not asking if he should marry or not. He is demanding an approval. So, the guru says: “Alright, you can get married”. That is not wanting. It is approving. God’s will is also in three parts: Wanting, needing, and willing. Just like you want to eat food, you need to eat food, and you are willing to eat food. If you go to someone’s house, and they say: “You have to eat” and you say “Okay”. That is not wanting or needing to eat. It is just willingness to eat.
Even this approval is only for our purification. The mundane understanding of karma is that I have done bad things so I have to suffer. But the proper understanding is that I have a bad mentality but my Lord wants to embrace me, so He is subjecting me to these things so that I will want to embrace Him. When I’m punished again and again, then I will realize how futile this world is. Then I will want to embrace the Lord. So, the Lord is already eager, but I am not eager. Out of eagerness of His love, and impatience for me, He is sending all these things so that I can change my mentality.
Therefore, I don’t accept any evil. There is a lenghty discussion in Sankhya Sutra on this topic. Lord Kapila discusses extensively why the world is not evil. It just seems evil to one who is not interested in the Lord, and only interested in material enjoyment. Of course, if we say all these things to everyone, then they will get confused. So, we also talk about good and evil, but it is an illusion.
That good is simply material enjoyment and evil is simply material suffering. But if we become interested in Krishna, then good is an opportunity to serve Krishna and evil is a hindrance or humiliation in serving Krishna. That hindrance or humiliation increases our feeling of separation from Krishna and intensifies our desire. Just like when I went to college, there used to be a lot of ragging. I was beaten and abused, and so on. In that mental state, I remembered my mother’s lap. How I could comfortably hide in her lap as if I was a small child, and nobody will beat me. Like that, suffering and humiliation are there to intensify our desire for the mother. It is getting ragged and remembering the mother. If I’m happy, then I don’t remember. But if I’m suffering, then I remember even more.
Hence, Krishna says four kinds of people come to me: suffering, greedy, inquisitive, and knowledgeable. That is a ladder. In this ladder, we first get desire for Krishna due to suffering. Then we get some material wealth by which to serve Krishna. Then we become deeply inquisitive about “What is Krishna?” And then by progressive intensification, we understand Krishna. So, the more the ragging, the greater the intensity of the desire for Krishna. Hence, ragging is a good thing.
The same thing can be described in many ways, but one description is incorrect and another description is correct. For example, in the blind men and elephant example, the blind man touches the leg and says “it is a cylinder”. But it is not a cylinder. It is a leg. But for those who cannot see fully, it is a cylinder. And sometimes, even those who can see, will say: “Yes, yes, it is a cylinder”. That’s because they are talking to the people who cannot see. So, they have to use their language. Otherwise, if they say “it is a leg”, then they have to explain so much more about the other parts of the elephant which the blind man cannot see, and he will say: “What is the evidence that the other parts exist?” or “You simply make a lot of unprovable claims whimsically”. So, sometimes those who can see will say “Yes, yes, it is a cylinder”. And if someone is inquisitive, then they will say “It is a leg”. Their agreement on cylinder is just an approval. It is not what they want. But what can they do if someone doesn’t know the whole truth, and wants to categorize the partial truth according to their ideology? This is why we should spend our time serving the guru. Then we can understand the whole truth. Then both statements will be understood, and which one is better will be known.
There is a general misunderstanding among most people that “words have only one meaning”. So, by analyzing the linguistic structure, and consulting the dictionary, we can know the meaning. This is the materialistic objectification of meaning. It is false. Just like someone can abuse me, and I can get emotional, and say “you are right, everything you say is true”. That is not agreement. But in the emotional state, I am not able to respond properly. So I am just agreeing to end the conversation. So like that we have to know the emotional state then we can know what the person is saying. This grammar and word analysis is for those who are totally disinterested in the person. But this is what is going on everywhere. Linguistic analysis without understanding the emotional state.
Anyway, there is no harm even if we quote Prabhupada without fully understanding him. It is a start. Everything has to begin somewhere. So I don’t like to criticize anyone who quotes Prabhupada. He is my father and he is your father. So, why should we fight with each other? In that mood, I don’t want to argue. But there is a better understanding of the father also, if someone is interested.
Note carefully, first of all, that Srila Prabhupada stated that the moon landings were fake.
Yes but not in the way you are putting it. Man did not go to the heavenly moon is for sure. But there is an “earthly moon” which is like a picture of the external apple in your mind. Going to the mental picture is not going to the real moon. It is going to a place conditioned by your vision.
He also said that science in general was fake or at least flawed/limited (since modern science, medicine, technology etc. still cannot prevent death of the human being).
Yes, we agree with that, but not because we cannot prevent death. Vedic science is based on qualities and modern science is based on quantities. The science of qualities also involves death, and the entire universe is temporary. Death and science are not directly correlated.
Those sincere disciples of Srila Prabhupada (who practice maha-mantra meditation, semen retention, vegetarianism) will notice a bodily difference between their former sinful lives (consisting of lot of illicit sex, alcohol, meat-eating) and their new lives (yoga practice, cleanliness, purity, meditation).
Semen retention is a good thing, but so is producing Krishna-conscious children. Vegetarianism is good, but not enough, in many ways. First, food must be in sattva-guna, not tamo-guna. Thereby, onion and garlic, tea and coffee, are excluded, although they are vegetarian. Second, even pigeons and chickens are vegetarian. The prescription is food offered to the Lord, not just vegetarianism. I’m not sure of bodily differences. Karma brings health and illness regardless. One counter-example disproves the rule.
So we also know, from this basis of proof, that modern medicine is suspect. Disease/illness may actually occur due to sin (kama-krodha, excessive loss of semen/anger/lust/stress/fear/greed), and it may not be due to microscopic viral particles.
Far-reaching and overextended claims. Illness occurs due to karma, and there are other causes. Microscopic viral particles are accepted as adibhautika causes.
Therefore COVID is suspicious.
False premise and hence a false conclusion.
Srila Prabhupada said that Russian and American scientists were collaborating secretly to cheat the world public regarding the space programs.
He did not say that. He might have said that there was a possibility, but he never asserted these things. He asserted only one thing, namely, man did not go to the heavenly moon.
So from this point of view the entire Cold War (US vs. USSR) was just a PSYOP conducted by the occulted elite powers (other authors agree with this, such as redefininggod dot com, and state that East(BRICS) vs. West(NATO) conflict is just a dramatic farce- scripted – world media fake but with no basis in reality since elites puppeteer both sides, like a puppet show).
False premise, and hence a false conclusion.
Similarly also with the world COVID propaganda that has a built-in “controlled opposition”. COVID probably doesn’t even exist to begin with, but there is an undercurrent of controlled opposition in the alternative media that assumes the virus is real but that the vaccines are purposely bad, the lockdown response had bad economic consequences, etc., etc.
False premise, and hence a false conclusion.
Some of this controlled opposition is associated with Christian groups who say that “the vaccines is mark of beast/devil/Satanic/666” or whatever.
It wasn’t controlled opposition. It is very much in the open. But it was during the time of the president that they had elected. And the opposition was suppressed in social media. What we can attribute to ignorance should not be attributed to malice. It’s a general principle.
But from Hindu point of view there is no Satan,
Yes, it is not ONE Satan. There are infinite demons living in their own planets.
evil has a nondual basis
There is no evil. When a child is reprimanded for its bad activities, the mother’s intention is not evil, but the child thinks the mother is evil. Evil is our interpretation of punishment. The interpretation exists but it is not true. Punishment is not evil. It is simply a bad experience.
(Srila Prabhupada speaks of karma, duality vs. nonduality, and shadow) and there is only Krsna who is attained through yogic practice, yogic knowledge – a pure devotee must be strictly free from sin like lust, desire for meat/alcohol, pride, etc.
A lot of things are attained by yogic practices, including good qualities, mystical powers, etc. But they are all inferior compared to the attainment of Krishna. When Krishna is attained, everything else is attained.
I am not commenting on your other points, but I will ask you one fundamental question: Assuming all of this is true, have you renounced the world considering the impending end, like for example Parikshit Maharaja had done when he knew he was going to die in 7 days? Are you chanting 64 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra a day to accelerate spiritual progress, assuming that things are ending quickly? Your actions have to match the words if we have to take the words seriously.
Yes, teaching people is like Haridas Thakur getting caned in 22 marketplaces. So many public insults, personal humiliations, and unnecessary abuses. There is no space for decent and intelligent discussion and no capacity for looking at the bigger picture. They cannot even listen to another person’s view and reply properly with a reasonable question or argument. The moment they hear something different, their immediate reaction is abusiveness. Their minds are filled with so much violence, hatred, and disdain for the other person that I wonder how they sleep at night. What can we teach in this situation? I got a couple of emails advising me to stay away from these kinds of discussions. Yes, staying away is the only way.
There are dozens of places where I have explained that all forms are eternal. Asking a question to reconfirm it is not a good approach. In those same places, I have explained that the forms are manifest occasionally due to the presence of consciousness or some person. If something is not manifest, then there is a reason, namely the will of the person. There may be other reasons but the ultimate reason is always the will of some person. If you ask what is already present in many places, and repeated many times, then it means either you have not read, or you can’t believe that such a thing has been said. You think maybe there is a mistake and you should reconfirm it by asking again. I cannot solve the problem of your inability to read or inability to accept what you are reading. If you want to ask, then frame a reasonable objection as to why you think that there is a problem.
Also, try to put your questions to the test against a grammar and spellcheck tool. There are many free tools available these days. It is very hard to understand what you are saying. I understand that you think in your mother tongue and you translate it in English, so someone who knows your mother tongue will be able to translate it back and it would make perfect sense to them. But that is not possible always for everyone. So, please make an effort to phrase the questions correctly.
There is benefit in a spiritual path only to the extent that you endeavor. If you don’t endeavor, and take the easy way, then there will be no progress. The trend nowadays is laziness. If someone is available to answer the question, then why should we spend the effort in reading? This is the antithesis of spiritual life.
When I was young, I was ashamed of asking simple questions. I would read and try to answer every question. If after a lot of effort I still had a question, then I would ask someone. By that time, I would have pondered the issue from many angles. There was no internet, no telephone. There were only paper books in libraries. And we had to cycle or walk to the library, find the appropriate section, pick a book and read quietly. The maximum shortcut available was the table of contents and index at the end of the book. And then if a book gave a reference, I would find that book and read it too. This is how we became stronger, more resilient, knowledgeable, and self-reliant. To find the answer to one question, we would read a lot of other things, explore a lot of things, and gather much more knowledge. This is necessary training. Today you just enter keywords and hit enter and a search engine will give you everything. Still, you are not doing that search, which is quite amazing.
These qualities of self-discipline, hard work, clarity, cleanliness, continuous endeavor, and resilience are a million times more important than what is manifest and unmanifest. Cultivate these diligently, and you will understand philosophy when you begin to perfect your personal qualities. Knowledge was not imparted immediately to everyone who wanted knowledge. The first job of the student is to beg alms, sweep the floor, collect firewood from the forest, milk the cow, assist in menial tasks, lead a simple life, sleep on the floor, take shower in cold water, get up early in the morning, and maintain a strictly disciplined life. There is a reason for this. This is how you become mentally strong. This is how you develop willpower. Self-discipline, hard work, tolerance, patience, sincere effort, resilience, humility, and cleanliness are a million times more important than reciting some shloka.
It was a teacher’s duty to train a student into strong character before giving them knowledge. If you don’t develop a strong character and discipline, then all the books are useless, because the book may be in sattva-guna but the reader is in tamo-guna. So, how can the reader understand the book unless he himself comes to sattva-guna? Most people cannot understand this fundamental point. They think they will read a book and understand it. No, you cannot understand without character development. Even if we explain a hundred times, you will not understand. That is not the author’s fault. That is not the fault of the book. The fault is that the book is in sattva-guna and the reader is in tamo-guna. This mismatch between the nature of the book and the reader makes it impossible to understand. I’m giving all these suggestions without any ill will. I hope you will take it in the spirit it is given.
The question of “why” has three types of answers: (a) cause, (b) reason, and (c) justification.
For example, if a person presses a trigger on a gun, the cause is the finger on the trigger, the reason is that he wanted to hurt someone, and the justification (if it is moral) that the person was doing something wrong. Likewise, the cause of the soul is the Lord, the reason is that the Lord wanted to enjoy, and the justification is His happiness. Happiness is the highest self-justification.
The Vedanta Sutra 1.1.12 states ānandamayo’bhyāsāt. The term ānandamaya means “pleasurable” and abhyāsāt means “for practicing”. It is a complement of the earlier statement 1.1.2 janmādyasya yataḥ which means “from which everything is born”. So, together, they mean “from which everything is born for practicing pleasurable (activities)”. Similar statements are made in Upanishads. Why did the One become many? The answer is: For enjoying pleasure. So, why do I exist? I exist for the Lord’s pleasure. The Lord is the cause, the reason is His desire, and the justification is His pleasure.
There is no meaning to question “Why am I soul?” because the counterquestion is “As opposed to what?” Even God is a soul. Soul simply means person. Do you want to be Supreme Person? Well, then you have to take responsibility for everyone. Even if someone comes and says “the Supreme Person does not exist” you cannot be vindictive. Even if they say “the Supreme Person is evil”, you cannot be vindictive. You have to be fair to them as much as those who appreciate you. Can you do that?
We are not supreme because the Supreme Person is supremely humble. He has all the power to punish anyone. But He is never vindictive. He is fair even to those who are unfair to Him. Nowadays, people have to pay a fine for ruining someone’s reputation or making false allegations. If you say something against your nation, you may get into a sedition case and go to jail. But we are living in God’s kingdom and we keep complaining about God and His kingdom. We are the guest and He is the host, and the guest keeps criticizing the host. The food in your house is not good. The air is polluted. Why does the other guy get a bigger room? The host tolerates everything. He does not send a sedition charge against us, and doesn’t throw us out of His personal property. So, we have to be like that if we want to become equal to God. Factually, we can never be equal to Him.
There is a famous story about Sage Bhrigu. He wanted to determine who among Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva is supreme. So he went to meet Brahma, but upon seeing him, he did not bow. Brahma became very angry. Then Bhrigu went to Lord Shiva and he said some unpleasant things, like He has an unclean life and that He is covered with ash. Lord Shiva became very angry. Then he went to Lord Vishnu, who was then sleeping. Seeing that He is asleep, Bhrigu kicked Lord Vishnu in the chest. Lord Vishnu woke up and immediately fell to Bhrigu’s feet and apologized: “My dear sage, your feet are very soft, and my chest is very hard. I must have hurt your soft feet. I apologize that you were forced to kick me.” Then Bhrigu understood who the greatest is. The greatest is whoever the most humble and tolerant is.
Lord Vishnu has all the power, but no ego. No vindictiveness. Krishna is also like that. He gets scolded and He seeks shelter of the one who is scolding Him. This is greatness. If we read all these pastimes and meditate on them, then tears will flow from our eyes and they will wash away the dirt accumulated in the heart for many lifetimes. Then we will not ask such questions about why this and why that. The only question that will remain is: What I can do for my most merciful Lord?
Having a non-ordinary experience is not equal to having a spiritual experience. There are indeed many kinds of experiences in this universe, which are accessible to living entities in the different planetary systems. There are also many kinds of experiences on this planet that are often not accessible to everyone, although they might have been accessible to people in earlier times. So, accessing a new kind of experience is not identical to having a spiritual experience.
Many people who came to Eastern spiritual movements in the 1960s had been experimenting with drugs and they realized that there is far more to “reality” than what we see with our eyes. Those experiences were also enchanting and exhilarating. Compared to that, the day-to-day experiences were rather mundane. So, they wanted to get alternative experiences, and they thought that a spiritual practice would be the way to do that. But they did not, at least at that time, distinguish between alternative experiences available in other planets from spiritual experiences.
There is a clear distinction between various material experiences and the spiritual experience, which is described by the words duality and non-duality. For example, a material experience is either painful or pleasurable, and pleasure is superior to pain. But this opposition between pleasure and pain is a dualistic experience. A non-dualistic experience is that of painful pleasure, which is superior to material pleasure, which is superior to material pain. Similarly, dualistic experiences are either mild or intense, soothing or exciting, sharp or smooth, and so on. But a non-dualistic experience is something that is simultaneously soothing and exciting, sharp and smooth, mild and intense. The coexistence of opposite traits defines non-duality, and their mutual exclusion defines duality. A non-dualistic experience is incomparably greater than all individual dualistic experiences.
What you get through drugs like Soma and Ayahuasca is the enhancement of perceptual capacity. Our material senses have the capacity to perceive a certain smallest level of detail. A musician can experience minor changes in tone, an artist minor changes in color, a cook minor changes in taste, and so on. But most people cannot perceive these minor changes. Drugs increase the capacity to perceive far more detail. Thereafter, if you go into a garden, each flower will smell much better, each color will seem more varied, each sound will sound more varied, and so on. Thereby, if some pleasure was being derived from sense perception, the fact that you are perceiving much more detail also means that the pleasure derived from such experience has increased many-fold. When the effect of the drug fades, then you go back to the previous coarse-grained level of perception, which is no longer pleasurable. That depresses a person because they got accustomed to greater pleasure.
Similarly, some drugs increase the manifestation of sensual and mental experiences from the chitta. These impressions already lie dormant in the chitta, but the drugs manifest this dormant reality into a sensual and mental experience. That is quite similar to how thoughts can be triggered by seeing something that you may not have seen before. Thereby, you can say that you “discover” more about yourself, and you realize that there is much more dormant reality in you that you were unaware of.
However, all these things will not purify the chitta and not bring a person any closer to non-dualistic experiences. They will either reveal a dormant and hidden reality within the chitta, or make the senses and mind more perceptive to see the external material reality more clearly. Those who don’t know the philosophy of duality and non-duality will mistake this itself as a spiritual experience. That would be really sad. The goal of spiritual life is to purify the chitta, so that it can have non-dual experiences. The goal is not to expand the scope of dualistic experiences. A person who gets distracted by this expansion of dualistic experiences may go to another material planet where such experiences are abundant, provided he also has the good karma to deserve it long-term. Generally speaking, however, even acquiring that good karma involves many austerities. Hence, it is better to not expose ourselves to desires and possibilities which are not easily attainable in the long term.
A new-age spiritualist is another kind of materialist who taps into an enhanced sense perception of the present world, or a reinvigorated past life experiences lying dormant and unconscious in the chitta through artificial stimulation. They don’t know that karma fixes the amount of pleasure in one’s life. So, if you have enjoyed so much pleasure rather quickly, you will either face a lot of suffering later or your life would be cut-short quickly. Once this life is finished without creating good karma, in the next life you don’t get anything. And you lose the greatest opportunity to purify the chitta.
There is a great dearth of philosophical and scientific knowledge and a great attraction to pleasure and experience. When sensuous people come to spiritual life, they try to escape into many kinds of alternative experiences because that is what they have always been seeking. They are not able to delay gratification. They cannot accept any hardship. They want a lot of pleasure and very quickly. They are not interested in knowing the self, and ridding it of the material covering that controls and drags the soul from one body to another. They don’t know the consequences of their choices. Hence we should spread the knowledge. Otherwise, just like yoga has been perverted in many ways by sensuous people, similarly, all kinds of spiritual practices will be perverted in the future.
I have already said whatever needed to be said, in simple words, and very clearly. If you are having trouble understanding it, then read it again. I cannot simplify it more and I don’t think any restatement will make it better. If it doesn’t resolve your question, then I don’t know what else will.
It is not two opposites. It is three opposites. And then there is non-dual. A simple example is the following four qualities: Lazy, hardworking, detached, and engaged in Krishna’s service.
A lazy man is not hardworking. He is also not detached; he doesn’t do anything himself but expects others to do his work for him. And charitable work, or service of the Lord, is impossible for him.
A hardworking man is not lazy. He is also not detached; he works hard but he expects good results for his work. Due to that expectation, he cannot do charity where there is no profit for him.
A detached person is neither lazy nor hardworking. He does his duties diligently, so he is not lazy. But he does not over-endeavor if there is no result, so he is not like the man working hard for profit.
A person serving Krishna is not lazy, not hardworking, and not detached. He is not lazy because he is always engaged in Krishna’s service. He is not over-endeavoring even in Krishna’s service because he knows that Krishna is seeking the quality of love and not the quantity of work. And he is not detached because he wants to please Krishna; a good result for Krishna is pleasing to him.
Laziness is the effect of tamo-guna; hard work is the result of rajo-guna; detachment is due to sattva-guna; and loving service to Krishna is beyond sattva, rajas, and tamas, and called non-duality.
In the non-duality stage, all three qualities are simultaneously present and absent. Since we cannot think of these things in terms of ordinary logic, therefore, that logic is also rejected. The logic of qualities is not binary logic of two opposites, and the impossibility of both opposites and neither opposite. But just because it seems logically impossible doesn’t mean it is impossible.
When we talk about these dualities or opposites, we simplify them sometimes for ease of understanding, just like calling it hot and cold, bitter and sweet, etc. In these contrasts, we are talking only about two of the three opposites. For example, hot is rajo-guna and cold is tamo-guna. But there is a third state called windy which is neither hot nor cold. Then there is a fourth state in which the three states are combined to become “refreshing” which is neither hot, nor cold, nor windy.
Jayadeva Goswami writes in his Gita-Govinda: dhīra-samīre yamunā-tīre vasati vane vanamālī. It means that there is a slow and mild breeze on the bank of Yamuna, and there is a forest on the bank of Yamuna, in which Krishna wearing a garland of forest flowers lives. The term “dhīra-samīre” means “in the slowly moving wind”. The term “vane” means “in the forest”. The term “yamunā-tīre” means “in the bank of the river”. And the term “vanamālī” means “one who wears the garland of forest flowers”. The forest is warming, the river is cooling, the breeze is soothing, and the forest flowers are exciting. In one sentence Jayadeva Goswami has described everything perfectly.
In this way, the spiritual world is transcendental to the three modes of material nature, namely, sattva, rajas, and tamas. Everything is warming, cooling, soothing, and exciting simultaneously. It is not hot, not cold, not windy. One needs to know the science of qualities to understand it.