Sunday, May 26, 2013

Everything You Know Is Wrong (About "Your" Wealth)


Spiritual Communism: God Owns Everything - 
You Own Nothing

"Everything animate and inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept Only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong." - Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 1
In modern society there is always a great quarrel between the laborers and the capitalists. This quarrel has taken an international shape, and the world is endangered. Men face one another in enmity and snarl just like cats and dogs. Sri Isopanisad cannot give advice to the cats and dogs, but it can deliver the message of Godhead to man through the bona fide acaryas (holy teachers). The human race should take the Vedic wisdom of Isopanisad and not quarrel over material possessions. One must be satisfied by whatever privileges are given to him by the mercy of the Lord. There can be no peace if the communists or capitalists or any other party claims proprietorship over the resources of nature, which are entirely the property of the Lord. The capitalists cannot curb the communists simply by political maneuvering, nor can the communists defeat the capitalists simply by fighting for stolen bread. If they do not recognize the proprietorship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all the property which they claim to be their own is stolen. Consequently they will be liable to punishment by the laws of nature. Nuclear bombs are in the hands of both communists and capitalists, and if both do not recognize the proprietorship of the Supreme Lord, it is certain that these bombs will ultimately ruin both parties. Thus in order to save themselves and bring peace to the world, both parties must follow the instructions of Sri Isopanisad.

Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, amid the antiwar protests of late 1966, put out a mimeographed leaflet (among the very first of his publications in America) from his small storefront temple on New York's Second Avenue. His followers and sympathizers handed this leaflet out by the thousands on the streets of New York in front of the United Nations building, and later in San Francisco, Montreal, and other cities. His "Peace Formula" was an entirely new approach to the antiwar question, and for thousands of Americans, it provided the perfect solution.

"The great mistake of modern civilization is to encroach upon other's property as though it were one's own and to thereby create an unnecessary disturbance of the laws of nature. These laws are very strong. No living entity can violate them. Only one who is God conscious can easily overcome the stringency of the laws of nature and thus become happy and peaceful in the world. As a state is protected by the department of law and order, so is the state of the Universe, of which this earth is only an insignificant fragment, is protected by the laws of nature. This material nature is one of the different potencies of God, who is the ultimate proprietor of everything that be. This earth is, therefore, the property of God, but we, the living entities, especially the so-called civilized human beings, are claiming God's property as our own, under both and individual and collective false conception. If you want peace, you have to remove this false conception from your mind and from the world. This false claim of proprietorship by the human race on earth is partly or wholly the cause of all disturbances of foolish and so-called civilized men who are claiming proprietary rights on the property of God because they have now become godless. You cannot be happy and peaceful in a godless civilization. Although there are many civilizations, there is only one God, although He may be called many names in different countries. In the Bhagavad-gita, the holy book of India, Lord Krishna delineates the peace formula. He says that He is the factual enjoyer of all activities of the living entities, that He is the Supreme Lord of all universes, and that He is the well-wishing friend of all beings. When the people of the world know this as the formula for peace, it is then and there that peace will prevail."

Even the idea that one owns anything to renounce is false. One of Prabupada's disciples once asked him, "Should I renounce everything?" Prabhupada laughed and said, "What do YOU have to renounce?" Even our body does not belong to us.

This principle is not only in Vedic philosophy, but in all religions. Here are a couple of quotes from the Bible:

God owns all the money: "The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty" (Haggai 2:8).

"Everything in the heavens and earth is yours O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the Ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength." (1 Chronicles 29: 11, 12)

Instead of accepting the exclusive proprietorship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, everyone is claiming the property of the universe for themselves through demarcations of nationalism. "This part is mine, and that part is yours," they say. "This part I can give in charity, and this part I can keep for my enjoyment." This is described in Bhagavad-gita (16.13): idam adya maya labdham imam prapsye manoratham. "Thus far I have acquired so much money and land. Now I have to add more and more. In this way I shall be the greatest proprietor of everything. Who can compete with me?" These are all demoniac conceptions.

"People who know nothing of God and whose lives are centered on themselves, imagine that they can only find themselves by asserting their own desires and ambitions and appetites in a struggle with the rest of the world. They try to become real by imposing themselves on other people, by appropriating for themselves some share of the limited supply of created goods and thus emphasizing the difference between themselves and the other men who have less than they, or nothing at all. They can only conceive one way of becoming real: cutting themselves off from other people and building a barrier of contrast and distinction between themselves and other men. They do not know that reality is to be sought not in division but in unity, for we are 'members one of another.'" - Thomas Merton, from New Seeds of Contemplation

We cannot get relief through our politicians, diplomats, philosophers. They have tried so much, but nothing they have tried has become fruitful. For example, the United Nations was organized after the second great war, and they wanted, "We shall now settle everything peacefully." But there is no such thing. The fighting is going on, between Afghanistan and America or between Israel and Iran or this and that. Mundane politics and diplomacy and philosophy--this is not the process. The process is Krishna consciousness. Everyone has to understand this point, that we are not proprietors. Take America, for example. 300 years ago, the European immigrants were not the proprietors. Native Americans lived there, or it was vacant land. But the actual proprietor is Wakan Tonka - The Great Spirit. The whole idea of proprietorship was completely foreign to Native Americans, because they knew that mother earth belonged to Wakan Tonka. The Bible says we have dominion over the earth, but that means that we are to take care of her - not exploit her for her resources. We have to get back to this conception, then there will be peace and a healthy planet to inhabit while we are in this material world. Then by putting these principles into action by using everything in God's service, we can then be promoted back home, back to Godhead, for an eternal life of bliss and knowledge.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Everything You Know Is Wrong (About the Pursuit of Happiness)


The following piece was published in the Huffington Post on May 7, 2013

You may be shocked to learn that the supposed essential principle that this country was founded upon -- "The Pursuit of Happiness" -- is nothing more than an impossible vainglorious wild goose chase. All the saints, sages and wise men of history agree: The way to be happy is to stop trying to be happy.

We are by nature pleasure-seeking entities. Everyone seeks happiness, but the problem is we don't know what real happiness is. There are only two people who are happy in this world: The drunk and the self-realized soul. Everyone else in-between is miserable, trying to be happy by gratifying the senses, but making the mistake of trying to sever the pleasure of the senses from the needs of the character.

The ingenuity of man has always been dedicated to the solution to this one problem. How to detach sensual gratification from the service of God, Who is the Self of ourselves. The soul says Eat; the body would feast. The soul says, The man and woman shall be one flesh and one soul; the body would join the flesh only. The soul says, Have dominion over all things to the ends of virtue; the body would lord it over nature to its own ends.

The nature of this material world is duality. Unless we are serving God on the transcendental platform of self realization and true happiness, we can't have one side (material "happiness") without the other (material "distress"). Ralph Waldo Emerson described this duality succinctly in his essay on karma called "Compensation":

"Men seek to be great; they would have offices, wealth, power, and fame. They think that to be great is to possess one side of nature, -- the sweet, without the other side, -- the bitter. This dividing and detaching is steadily counteracted. Up to this day, it must be owned, no projector has had the smallest success. The parted water reunites behind our hand. Pleasure is taken out of pleasant things, profit out of profitable things, power out of strong things, as soon as we seek to separate them from the whole. We can no more halve things and get the sensual good, by itself, than we can get an inside that shall have no outside, or a light without a shadow. "Drive out nature with a fork, she comes running back."

A materialistic person, thinking himself very advanced in intelligence, continually acts for economic development. But again and again, as enunciated in the Vedas, he is frustrated by material activities, either in this life or in the next. Indeed, the results one obtains are inevitably the opposite of those one desires. No one has ever achieved the results he desired from material activities. On the contrary, everyone has been frustrated again and again. Therefore one must not waste his time in such material activities for sensual pleasure, either in this life or in the next. So many nationalists, economists and other ambitious persons have tried for happiness, individually or collectively, but history proves that they have all been frustrated. In recent history we have seen many political leaders work hard for individual and collective economic development, but they have all failed. This is the law of nature, as clearly explained in the following verse.

"In this material world, every materialist desires to achieve happiness and diminish his distress, and therefore he acts accordingly. Actually, however, one is happy as long as one does not endeavor for happiness; as soon as one begins his activities for happiness, his conditions of distress begin." - Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.7.42

Everyone begins his activities with some plan and ambition, but actually, from the beginning of one's plan to the end, one does not derive any happiness. On the contrary, as soon as one begins acting according to his plan, his life of distress immediately begins. Therefore, one should not be ambitious to dissipate the unhappy conditions of life, for one cannot do anything about them.

"The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature." - Bhagavad-gītā 3.27 

 Although one is acting according to false ambitions, he thinks he can improve his material conditions by his activities. The Vedas enjoin that one should not try to increase happiness or decrease distress, for this is futile. One should work for self-realization, not for economic development, which is impossible to improve. Without endeavor, one can get the amount of happiness and distress for which he is destined, and one cannot change this. Therefore, it is better to use one's time for advancement in the spiritual life of Krishna (God) consciousness. One should not waste his valuable life as a human being. It is better to utilize this life for developing Krishna consciousness, without ambitions for so-called happiness.