Better Preaching Ahead

At some point every conditioned soul realizes the futility of material life. However, while there is still hope of sense gratification, most will strive to overcome each and every obstacle to it. This generally continues until just prior to the moment of death. At that point everyone starkly understands their utter defeat – everything they have worked for will be taken away, including their very conception of who they are. It is a rare soul who, understanding this inevitability, anticipates this dilemma and endeavors for that pleasure and realization that transcends the activities of the material body.

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido/ na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah/ tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham/ kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa – Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet down to the lowest planet. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.18

That purposeful end is Krishna, or God, consciousness with complete knowledge of one’s constitutional position as sat, cit and ananda, or eternity, knowledge and bliss. There is, however, a very social component to one’s determination to, come hell or high water, continue striving for greater and greater sense pleasure. Virtually everyone takes on the values and goals of those around them, especially role models like parents. If one is raised in a family or society where self-realization is emphasized, such as Vedic culture, there is that much less chance they will devote themselves to bodily pursuits. Even most indigenous cultures stress non-material attainments.

This is not the case in Western society, or those which, in imitation, are shamelessly abandoning more restrained traditional lifestyles. In the West there is an entire sector of the economy, advertising, which strives to generate as much material desire as possible. Although not as crass, Western education is similarly materialistic and manipulating. Students are often browbeaten to accept “science-based” ideology where matter is dogmatically said to be all that exists. And the goal of every “worthwhile” course of study is to develop the career skills one needs to indenture themselves to one corporation or another for forty years. Even many adherents of the prominent Western religion, Christianity, believe that God’s favor is indicated by the level of one’s material success. Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian scholar of the traditionalist Muslim Brotherhood, spent some time in the American Midwest shortly after World War II and later wrote:

“And when humanity closes the windows to faith in religion, faith in art, and faith in spiritual values altogether, there remains no outlet for its energy to be expended except in the realm of applied science and labor, or to be dissipated in sensual pleasure. And this is where America has ended up after four hundred years.” The America I Have Seen, Sayyid Qutb

Over the last hundred years Western culture has become exponentially hedonistic. The pre-60’s America described by Qutb is now ironically considered prudish, repressive and Puritanical. This “modern” period of the West was characterized by the belief that technology and capitalism were going to allow every generation to be more prosperous and carefree than the previous one – “progress.” This conviction empowered most with the hope that anything was possible, and that Western culture was capable of overcoming anything standing in the way of both individual and collective sense pleasure. Many even believe that science will provide the “singularity” that will enable them to avoid death. Why anyone would want to live eternally in Western society is nevertheless puzzling? Continue reading

Srila Prabhupada’s Comments on Environmental Well-being and The Causes of Climate Change

by bhakta Eric Johanson

Srila Prabhupada’s mission was to make people conscious of Krishna, or God, and to free them from the material conception of living. In the process of coming to the full state of Krishna prema, or pure transcendental love of Krishna, people were taught to simply tolerate temporary problems like extreme weather:

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya/sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah/agamapayino ‘nityas/tams titiksasva bharata – O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. Bhagavad-gita 2.14

Although Srila Prabhupada knew about the environmental movement practically from its inception in the 1960’s, he was not even slightly interested in adapting his mission to include its goals, or any others of that era’s youth culture.

“We will present our program at Bhaktivedanta Manor exactly in the line of Lord Caitanya, by kirtana, prasadam distribution and speaking from Bhagavad-gita. We cannot deviate even an inch in order to attract the followers of the ecology philosophy or any other materialistic, utopian movement. You say you know a number of influential leaders of this group, but what is the use of knowing them, since you yourself found them deficient and left them? Our ideal Vedic community will attract everyone on its own merit, and we shall be glad to welcome and accept everyone who comes without our compromising in order to attract them.” Letter to: Mahadeva  —  Mayapur 3 March, 1974

Krishna, or God, consciousness included everything. Srila Prabhupada preached that if you watered the tree at its root, all the leaves and branches would be included. Yasmin vijnate sarvam etam vijnatam bhavanti (Mundaka Upanisad 1.3) – If you simply understand Krishna then you have full knowledge. Continue reading

Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the 21st Century

(On Criticism of the Pure Devotee)

by bhakta Eric Johanson

yanra citte krsna-prema karaye udaya
tanra vakya, kriya, mudra vijneha na bujhaya
Even the most learned man cannot understand the words, activities and symptoms of a person situated in love of Godhead. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-lila 23.39

The Bona Fide Spiritual Master

In order to understand what is beyond our sense observation and realize the absolute truth we require to come in contact with a person who is already intimately familiar with them. Such a person is called a spiritual master:

om ajnana-timirandhasya
jnananjana-salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena
tasmai sri-gurave namah
I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, who, with the torchlight of knowledge, has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance.
Gautamiya-tantra

The spiritual master has already realized and never departs from the absolute truth:

tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
In order to learn the transcendental science, one must approach the bona fide spiritual master in disciplic succession, who is fixed in the Absolute Truth. Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12

This spiritual realization and knowledge is what characterizes the genuine guru. Such an enlightened person is free from the material conception of life with its desire to lord it over and is able to give this knowledge and conviction to others:

tasmad gurur prapadyeta
jijnasuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam
brahmany upasamasrayam
Any person who seriously desires to achieve real happiness must seek out a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of this spiritual master is that he must have realized the conclusion of the scriptures by deliberation and be able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, are to be understood as bona fide spiritual masters. Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.3.21 Continue reading

This entry was posted on August 30, 2015. 3 Comments

What Is Knowledge?

by bhakta Eric Johanson

A spiritually centered discussion of a recent phenomenon like climate change draws on both the teachings of previous self-realized souls and the empirical observations and conclusions of modern scientists. Depending on the pre-conceptions of the reader, many may be inclined to emphasize one type of knowledge to the exclusion of the other and thus fall short of objectivity on this topic. People of faith often disregard or minimize anything outside the words of their particular scriptures or teachers, sometimes convinced that scientists’ observations and theories are a secular plot to undermine their legitimacy.

On the other hand what could be called materialistic science bases its conclusions solely on what can be measured or experienced with our five human senses – hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste. Even though it is known that things like light and sound exist on wavelengths beyond human perception, these are merely extensions of the phenomena we physically experience. Even the study of such a recent and invisible subject as dark matter is based on its ability to bend the light waves that are perceivable to our senses.

For something to become part of the scientific body of knowledge it must be what is called falsifiable, a concept popularized by philosopher Karl Popper. This doesn’t mean that what modern science accepts is necessarily wrong, but that further research could potentially disprove (falsify) or further elaborate on it.

Sense observation or direct perception is also a type of evidence accepted in Vedic culture, what to speak of most others.

srutih pratyaksam aitihyam
anumanam catustayam
pramanesv anavasthanad
vikalpat sa virajyate
Vedic literature, direct perception, history and hypothesis are the four kinds of evidential proofs. Everyone should stick to these principles for the realization of the Absolute Truth. Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.19.17 Continue reading

Non-Sectarian Vaishnava Dharma by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

From the introduction of Sri Krishna SamhitaSrilaBhaktivinode (1880)

Translation from Bengali by Bhumipati Dasa. Edited and published by Pundarika Vidyanidhi dasa.

(Although not related to climate change, this subject is a foundational principle of the website – editor)

. . . The people of India and other countries can be divided into two categories, the asslike and the swanlike. Among these two, the asslike are in the majority. The swanlike are in the minority. Swanlike people abstract the purport of the scriptures for their own advancement and thus benefit themselves. . . . Continue reading

Krishna Consciousness and Climate Change

by bhakta Eric Johanson

Jaya-gopala: What is meant by madness?   Prabhupada: Just as don’t you see all these people of the world, they are mad? What they are doing? They whole day the cars going on this side, that side. What is the aim of life? They’re mad. Simply wasting petroleum, that’s all. What they’re doing? Huh? Suppose a cat and dog goes this side and that side, yow, yow, yow, and he goes some motorcars. What is the difference? There is no difference because the aim of the life is the same. Therefore they are mad. That is explained. Nunam pramattah kurute vikarma yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti [SB 5.5.4]. Nunam pramattah, pramattah means mad. Prakrsta rupena mata, sufficiently mad. And why? Kurute vikarma. They’re acting which they should not act. They’re acting in a way in which they should not have done. So what is the aim of their acting? Indriya-pritaya, simply for sense gratification. That’s all……So Rsabhadeva says, na sadhu manye, ‘This is not good.’ Na sadhu manye yato atmano ‘yam asann api klesada asa dehah. These madmen do not know that this is the cause of getting this miserable material body. The sufferings of humanity is due to this material body and the cause of vikarma, acting for sense gratification. So this life is meant for acting for liberation, but they are acting for sense gratification. Therefore they are mad. They do not know the aim of life. — Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.27-38 — Los Angeles, December 11, 1968 (our emphases) Unless otherwise cited, quotes are from the lectures, conversations and books of Srila Prabhupada.

The world is suffering, and the changing climate has already given many indications that it will only cause such suffering to increase. Although there are certainly a few skeptics, the vast majority of scientists who have studied the phenomena agree that our increasing temperature is the result of humanity’s burning fossil fuels for several centuries.

A Simple Overview of Climate Change

Perhaps the most common misunderstanding about climate change is that it is a type of air pollution. Climate change is caused by invisible greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the most common of which are completely non-toxic. The greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. These are gases that absorb and emit radiation within the also-invisible thermal infrared range, energy that makes up about half of what reaches the earth from the sun. What is called air pollution, such as urban smog and power plant emissions, may also contain significant amounts of greenhouse gases but has any number of additional visible particulates and other harmful materials that in and of themselves can make people sick.

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This entry was posted on May 14, 2014. 2 Comments