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?
Belief in progress is, however, currently on the wane. Although many say that this “post-modern” period began with the 1970’s gas crisis, the retirement of the first African-American president may, over time, prove to be the late date for the end of modernism. Most young millennials now think it is unlikely that they will be as prosperous as their parents. An increasing number of them even prefer socialism to capitalism. Despite the desire of many to “make America great again,” the progress bubble appears to be bursting. Much of Europe is not much better.
Hope for ever-improving Western sense pleasure has been clouded by relative shortages of the natural resources needed to build bigger and more houses in suburbia. The last decades have brought increased competition for this lifestyle from people in Asia and the Mid-East. Compared to Dubai, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur, New York now looks more like a museum relic. Although the residents of these places may now be benefiting comparatively from progress, larger trends for continued global sense pleasure bode far worse.
It turns out that industrial progress had all kinds of hidden costs, and these were mostly its waste products. Places in China have lethal levels of air pollution. The world’s oceans are filling up with floating plastic areas the size of Texas and largely becoming over-fished, often due to water pollution. Huge coral reefs are dying due to ocean acidification. Clean drinking water is also running out for many.
Many say the biggest consequence is climate change, or global warming. Although there has been a concerted effort to deflect information about its cause, climate change is accepted by virtually all who study it to be the result of industrial society burning the earth’s stored carbon for the last 200 years. This carbon initially came from coal but expanded to oil and natural gas, all things that replaced sustainable energy sources like water wheels, oxen, horses and manpower. The earth’s stored carbon was like a bank account that humanity flagrantly misspent for all sorts of “miracle needs” (sense gratification).
As plants decompose their carbon goes into the soil, which, over millions of years, compresses into coal or, as oil and natural gas, pools underground. These are therefore called fossil fuels. Over the last 200 years industrialism has burned millions of year’s worth of these, thus converting much of this carbon into carbon dioxide, the main gaseous by-product of their combustion. This “greenhouse gas” stores in the atmosphere, not only some of that heat, but mostly that coming from the sun. This is the prime cause of anthropogenic global warming, or human-caused climate change.
There are all kinds of conspiracy theories concerning the supposed fallacy or minimal effects of this causation, sometimes even voiced by government officials and some scientists. What is important to note, however, is that these dissenting scientists are rarely climate scientists and usually have no personal research or data to contribute to the study of this question. They are also often indirectly funded by the oil, gas or coal industries and usually propound a free-market ideology that opposes industrial regulation. Theirs is, therefore, little more than a well financed misinformation campaign. 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is not a natural phenomenon, but that it is caused by industrialism.
As far as devotees go, many are reluctant to accept the science or idea of climate change because Srila Prabhupada did not make any direct statements about it. He did, however, strongly condemn virtually all its causes, a compilation of which quotes can be found here. Having been enjoined by him to largely avoid worldly news, devotees also tend to be what is called “one issue voters,” that issue being opposition to abortion. This means that they generally support US Republicans or other conservatives, people who also advocate free-markets and generally dismiss climate change science.
In one sense, however, it doesn’t matter how devotees view this issue. The young people we preach to are the ones who this article focuses on; and they are generally very accepting of the science, as well as its negative consequences for their generation. These consequences are hardly a conspiracy theory, despite the many assertions of free-market ideologues. World organizations on the level of the United Nations regularly hold conferences to address the problem:
“Climate change will lead to increased frequency, intensity and/or duration of extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, warm spells and heat events, drought, intense storm surges and associated sea-level rise.” Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
“2016 is shaping up as the hottest year on record. The first six months of the year were the hottest since records began in 1880, while the Artic has seen record low sea ice levels. As a result of the growing impacts of climate change, millions of people are experiencing higher temperatures and extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves, floods and storm surges, putting food and water security at risk, and threatening agricultural supply chains and many coastal cities.” World Bank website
“We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.” Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 °C global warming could be dangerous, James Hansen and others
It turns out that raising the planet’s temperature even a small amount has big consequences for weather and living things. Some scientists are even saying that humanity’s impacts on the planet are causing a “sixth great extinction,” after which many plants and animals will no longer be found here. A lot of this is related to rising temperature. Again, it doesn’t altogether matter whether devotees like myself accept these things; people we preach to do.
“There is medium confidence that approximately 20-30% of species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average warming exceed 1.5-2.5 °C (relative to 1980-1999). As global average temperature increase exceeds about 3.5 °C, model projections suggest significant extinctions (40-70% of species assessed) around the globe.” Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Many young people even believe human beings could disappear. There is a theory that the Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago was caused by a 6°C temperature rise. Needless to say, these prospects very much impact millenials’ and older generations’ hopes for a lifetime of increasing sense gratification. To one extent or another, declining or stagnant quality of life is also a function of decreased availability of natural resources, competition from other developing nations and the environmental effects of industrialism. A great impetus for industrialism was easy availability of coal, oil and gas deposits close to the earth’s surface. These have now been largely depleted, thus requiring far less productive “extreme extraction” methods, such as fracking, tar sands mining, mountaintop removal and deep water drilling, things that also have far greater environmental consequences.
When faced with prospects of annihilation, generations also often react in extreme manners. The 1960’s prospect of “mutually assured destruction” spurred Western baby boomers afraid of nuclear holocaust to “drop out” of the sense gratificatory careers society had charted for them. They became a generation in search of alternatives to materialism. Of course, thousands of this group contacted and joined Srila Prabhupada’s Krishna consciousness movement. They had the prerequisite of having largely lost hope in material sense gratification.
“Those who are always busy with fruitive activities come to the Lord in material distress and at that time associate with pure devotees and become, in their distress, devotees of the Lord. Those who are simply frustrated also come sometimes to associate with the pure devotees and become inquisitive to know about God.” Purport, Bhagavad-gita 7.16
Historically, the Vietnam War’s end caused fear of nuclear holocaust to largely dissipate, making young people decidedly more hopeful of material success and less inclined to dedicate themselves to spiritual attainments. Devotee’s preaching strategies gradually changed accordingly. However, the effects of climate change, as projected above, will only worsen with time. This means we are only beginning to see the decline of faith in materialism. As this is added to the continuing effects of the 2008 economic collapse, what to speak of future ones, we can expect an on-going growth of dissatisfaction and desperation.
Devotees understand that a hedonistic materialistic society, ignorant of spiritual principles, will end up in calamity:
“These rascals, they do not know what is the aim of life. They are captivated by the external energy of God. Andha yathandhair upaniyamanas te ‘pisa-tantryam uru-damni-baddhah. They are led by blind leaders. All these materialistic leaders, the politicians, the scientists, the philosophers, the technologists and so on, businessmen, so on, so on, and all these material — they are all blind and they are leading other blind. So what will be? The result will be catastrophe, because both of them are blind. If one man is with eyes, he can lead another thousands of men, blind men: ‘Please come. I shall help you crossing the road.’ But if the leader is also blind and the followers are blind, then what is the result? That is happening. They are thinking that ‘By bodily comfort, by sense gratification, we shall be happy.’ But that is not possible. We do not know. Actually we have no knowledge. Dehantaram-praptih.” Lecture, Laguna Beach, September 30, 1972
People sometimes laugh when religious people say open homosexuality is causing war or other sufferings. They consider such beliefs fanaticism because there is no demonstrable cause and effect. However, the earth’s oil, natural gas and coal were always the property of God, Krishna. By diverting these miracle sources of concentrated energy to their sense gratification, people stole that property and brought on themselves the environmental reactions to industrialism and hedonism described earlier. Those things should have been used for God’s pleasure.
“Isavasyam idam sarvam (Isopanisad 1). Everything belongs to God; nothing belongs to us. This is Bhagavata communism. As the communists, they say, ‘Everything belongs to the state,’ we say ‘Everything belongs to God.” We never say that anything belongs to anyone. No. This is Bhagavata communism. So everything belongs to God. So one can utilize God’s property as much as he requires, not more than that. Then he will be thief, he will be punishable. Just like father’s property. Each and every son has got the right to live at the father’s protection. Ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam (Isopanisad 1). That is spiritual communism. Whatever wealth is there within this universe, all belong to God, and we are, as sons of God, we have got right to take advantage of this wealth, but not more than what I require. That’s all. This is spiritual communism. If you take more, then you become punishable. This is the law of nature.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 1.15, London, July 15, 1973
As described previously, one of the foundational beliefs of the modern progress period was faith in science and technology. Although there are still many who think these will provide a miracle solution to global warming, others are willing to look beyond academic orthodoxy. This is most noticeable in recent indigenous influence among Western climate change activists. In the Americas one can now hear Native American prayers amongst the exhortations for decreased emissions. Australian aboriginal influence is similar. Many activists realize the failure of Western culture and religion to provide a holistic lifestyle capable of sustaining itself without eroding the earth’s life support capabilities. Srila Prabhupada has described Vedic culture’s ability to do just that:
“So in the previous verse it has been described that nature was favorable. The river, the hills, the mountains, forests, vegetables, creepers, these are our natural surroundings. Animals… Everyone was complete. It is a cooperation. So many living entities, according to karma, we have got different bodies. Some has got the human form of body, some has got the body of an animal, some has got the body of a tree, creeper. Sometimes hills, mountains, also. Everyone. Their business is cooperation. We can study from our own body. There are different parts of the body, but it is a business of cooperation. Hand, legs, eyes, ears, nose, they are all cooperating for the upkeep of the body. Similarly, all living entities — may be in different types of bodies — they are meant for cooperating in the matter of serving the Supreme Lord, central point. So if the government or the chief of the executive power, the king, is just to the point, dharmena, as it was said, ‘Abiding by the religious principles, ruling over the country,’ then everything, even natural elements, they become cooperative. They must become cooperative. What is nature? Nature is also another energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So the nature is also working under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. mayadhyaksena prakrtih/suyate sa-caracaram/hetunanena kaunteya/jagad viparivartate. So Maharaja Yudhisthira’s time, the cooperation was so complete that everyone was free from anxiety, disease, calamities, natural disturbance.” – Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.6, Mayapura, June 21, 1973
Ignoring such clear recommendations, current Western solutions to climate change appear either insufficient or unrealistic; things that only increase many people’s despair. Western governments, especially the United States, are very much invested in an idea of economic progress that is far too dependent on burning fossil fuels. Past US delegations have worked determinedly to water down the resolutions of UN and other climate conferences.
On the other hand, forward thinking activists, such as Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, proposes solutions, as implied in the book title, that require upending every powerful world leader and major economic interest. She and other environmental radicals envision a world system based on managing something called “climate debt.” In this regime wealthy countries, along with their fossil fuel companies, are to pay a type of reparations to developing areas like Africa, South America and Asia so that they can develop with renewable energies like solar and wind instead of fossil fuels. However, free market advocates recoil at such proposals, meaning implementation of climate debt reparations (taxing) would require a popular upheaval of world-wide proportions. Although something similar may have occurred over a century ago in regard to slavery, the earlier societal change Klein invokes, it is that much less likely in a society oversaturated with advertising and materialistic public relations – enough people are still allured by “the American dream.”
Although Klein and many others see the value of indigenous culture in advancing their solutions, their secular, science-based orthodoxy has thus far prohibited them from embracing anything deeper. Others’ desperation for solutions forces them to cutting edge academic research and beyond. Charles Eisenstein, a popular speaker to the young, is the author of activism-based books such as The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible and The Ascent of Humanity. He cites scientists such as microbiologist Bruce Lipton’s research and theories that hypothesize evolution as not being strictly random but a function of living cellular needs. Ultimately, however, Eisenstein ventures beyond Western science and accepts fields such as homeopathy, as well as much spirituality, because humans everywhere have found them efficacious for so long.
His centerpiece is a concept called “interbeing,” something much like Brahman. The idea is that there is a consciousness that underlies and connects everything and all conscious beings. The interesting thing about Eisenstein is that his spirituality is largely based on empirical observation, something most Westerners associate with science. He purposely distances himself from more arbitrary “new age” beliefs.
Although Eisenstein accepts the interconnectedness of everything, his empirical basis precludes specific knowledge of a transcendental absolute truth. Similarly, his recommendations of service to interbeing are confined to material welfare activity.
atah sri-krsna-namadi/ na bhaved grahyam indriyaih/ sevonmukhe hi jihvadau/ svayam eva sphuraty adah – No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Sri Krsna through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him. Padma Purana
Interbeing possessing consciousness also entails possessing personal identity. The great liberated and realized sages say that personality and form is bhagavan Sri Krishna.
isvarah paramah krsnah/ sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah/ anadir adir govindah/ sarva-karana karanam – Krsna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes. Brahma Samhita 1
Eisenstein’s solution to climate change and other societal ills is to “change the story” of civilization to holistic interbeing, replacing the Western ideas of “separation” associated with Newtonian physics, market-based self-interest, “Dominionist” Christianity, as well as Darwinian survival of the fittest. Needless to say, this is a pretty tall order, especially when considering the speed at which climate change is projected to disrupt society. He also invokes many indigenous values.
The reason these directions are interesting to devotees is that they signal a cultural break with academic orthodoxy by many intelligent and concerned Westerners. Despite that many more decades of that indoctrination since Srila Prabhupada’s departure, there still remains a glimmer of piety in many of these people. Without this, he says they will not come to Krishna consciousness, regardless of their desperation and distress.
“These four types of devotees have been described in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita and they have all been accepted as pious. Without becoming pious, no one can come to devotional service. It is explained in Bhagavad-gita that only one who has continually executed pious activities and whose sinful reactions in life have completely stopped can take to Krsna consciousness. Others cannot. The neophyte devotees are classified into four groups—the distressed, those in need of money, the inquisitive and the wise—according to their gradations of pious activities. Without pious activities, if a man is in a distressed condition he becomes an agnostic, a communist or something like that. Because he does not firmly believe in God, he thinks that he can adjust his distressed condition by totally disbelieving in Him.” Nectar of Devotion 3
In this way, many impious secular people are convinced that religion is the cause of many of the world’s problems. Generally the Christian teaching of God giving man “dominion over the earth” is seen as impetus for industrialization’s early efforts to subjugate nature, and this is largely borne out in the writing of pivotal men of the time, such as Sir Francis Bacon.
Some even go so far as to speculate that agriculture itself is to blame for industrialism and climate change, and that religion or morals only came about in the last 10,000 years when hunter-gatherers were forced to congregate in the larger population centers of newer agriculture-dependent society. However, such archeology-based theory has the tendency to waffle whenever more ancient cultures, such as Turkey’s Gobekli Tepe, are excavated. Although archeology is one of the most inexact sciences with its limited and ever-changing data, certain enemies of spirituality enjoy deriving all sorts of grandiose and sweeping judgments from it.
On the other hand, equally to blame for current environmental problems is the positivist philosophy of another thinker of the early industrial era, August Comte. His rejection of any basis of truth other than sense observation and mathematical derivation forms the foundation of modern academia and science. As a result, the modern world puts undue emphasis on numbers and tends to commodify everything. The mystery of life and nature all become reduced to the interactions of dead atoms that, as with archeology, are arrogantly said to explain everything. One need only visit Wikipedia or randomly watch any “science” based program on public television to find this ideology reigning supreme.
The Great Social Experiment
The previously described dire environmental prospects and social responses indicate the beginning of the end of the world’s experiment with incestuous democracy, private property, capitalism and industrialism. Previous to its beginning around 400 years ago, virtually the whole world lived in the far more Vedic arrangements of communal agricultural monarchy or village culture, things that had existed for thousands of years and were far more sustainable. The history and negative consequences of the transition from those times are described in more detail in our article Krishna Consciousness and Climate Change.
In summary, the end of monarchy allowed merchants to use their guile and cunning to dominate emerging democratic industrializing societies. Relatively freed from the influence of more detached intellectuals or martially-inclined people, these capitalists overlooked societal well being in their lust for profits. Because their greed was not under Vedic-like limitations, this group falls into Srila Prabhupada’s category of “busy fools:”
“If a rascal is busy, that means he’s simply spoiling the energy. . . . So the busy fool is dangerous. There are four classes of men: lazy intelligent, busy intelligent, lazy fool and busy fool. (laughter) So first-class man is lazy intelligent. Just like you’ll see the high-court judges. They’re very lazy and most intelligent. That is first-class man. They are doing everything very soberly. And the next class: busy intelligent. Intelligence should be used very soberly. And the third class: lazy fool-lazy, at the same time, fool. And the fourth class: busy fool. Busy fool is very dangerous. So all these people, they’re busy. Even in this country, everywhere, all over the world, not this country or that country. They have discovered this horseless carriage — very busy. ‘Ons, ons,’ (imitates cars’ noise) this way this way, this way. But actually, they are not intelligent. Busy fool. Therefore they are creating problems after problems. That’s a fact. They are so busy, but because they are fools, therefore they are creating problems.” — Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.23, Hawaii, January 19, 1974
This then is the root cause of the climate problem, as well as many other Western social ills. Great wealth now enables these amoral avaricious people to influence and partner with corrupt politicians to only further enhance their gains – a vicious cycle of greed that has led to the current situation where a handful of men have as much wealth as half the people on earth. And the generator of that wealth is usually some consumer product of industrialism – built and shipped across the world by fossil fuels.
Democracy and capitalism have also turned loose a horde of billions of convenience and wealth crazed consumers, people who have been conned by these blind leaders to imitate their affluence and decadence. This duller variety of busy fool drives the automobiles Srila Prabhupada imitated above, something that also causes much of the co2 emissions fueling climate change. Virtually all these people are varna-sankara sudras (unregulated low-born working-class people), incapable of pursuing values beyond their personal eating, sleeping, mating and defending.
“the last class is called sudra. Sudra means workers. They haven’t got much intelligence, neither they can work as administrator or traders but they work and get some salary. They are called sudras.” Lecture, Melbourne, April 6, 1972
Although democracy loftily eulogizes them as its ultimate basis of power (“government of the people”), their dullness makes them easy prey for advertising and the other public relations manipulations of the politicians and wealthy, as well as those who own media outlets. This manipulation became that much more effective after Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, and Walter Lippmann, also a follower of Freud, gave birth to psychology-armed public relations around WWI. Their coercive techniques converted a previously isolationist US population into enthusiastic supporters of the war. Those methods were later refined by the Nazis and saw their flowering with radio and television, and now with the internet.
Although virtually all Westerners, including recognized intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, fervently believe that solutions to global warming lie in further trust in democracy’s sudras, the results of 200-some years of such faith are starting to become apparent – the foundation of the earth’s life-support system is beginning to crack under the impious experiment’s strain. Even when these sudras disregard societal programming and contemplate their own self-interest, that interest will be only their personal or familial bodily needs. Individually, they may each believe that their vote endows them with the power to shape the country’s future, but that doesn’t even slightly improve their lack of intelligence and critical thinking. Practically all of them will never be more than some company owner’s dog – someone who shows up daily for a paycheck.
“The brahmanas, the ksatriya, the vaisyas, they are independent. The sudras are compared with the dogs because they cannot live without a master.” Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.18-19, Los Angeles, June 13, 1972
Srimad Bhagavatam accurately describes the destination where the blind conmen are leading these people.
“In the Twelfth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.1.40) there is a description of these thieves and rogues in government service. As stated, prajas te bhaksayisyanti mleccha rajanya-rupinah: ‘These proud mlecchas [persons who are less than sudras] representing themselves as kings, will tyrannize their subjects, and their subjects, on the other hand, will cultivate the most vicious practices. Thus practicing evil habits and behaving foolishly, the subjects will be like their rulers.’ The idea is that in the democratic days of Kali-yuga, the general population will fall down to the standard of sudras. As stated (kalau sudra-sambhavah), practically the whole population of the world will be sudra. A sudra is a fourth-class man who is only fit to work for the three higher social castes. Being fourth-class men, sudras are not very intelligent. Since the population is fallen in these democratic days, they can only elect a person in their category, but a government cannot run very well when it is run by sudras.” Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.17, purport
This depravity is becoming that much more apparent as secularism further erodes traditional religious restraints on hedonism and greed. Although Klein and Eisenstein also look to democratic processes for their solutions, the sheer breadth of what they call for only confirms that the Western experiment will fail before providing solutions. Being its ideological by-products, they remain attached to what they consider its better aspects.
“Civilization will collapse very soon, all over the world. It will collapse. Either you may bring this ism or that ism, this civilization will collapse. People will become mad, being harassed in so many ways. When one is harassed in so many problems, he commits suicide. So that position is coming.” Morning Walk, November 29, 1975, Delhi
The greed that has driven Western culture and its imitators for almost 400 years did not come to be called a deadly sin in earlier times without reason. Over the course of history both small and large scale societies have experienced its consequences over and over. Past and present events only confirm scriptural injunctions.
As today’s societies begin to fail, a great opportunity is presented to devotees. Surrounded in every way by materialism’s demise, people will seek other answers. Rather than continuing to put their faith in a decomposing external, there will be renewed interest in understanding the self, as well as the supreme controller of circumstances. There will be little doubt that material life is miserable. Srila Prabhupada’s original message will cause Krishna consciousness to stand out as the absolute truth.
“This material creation is created by the Lord to give facility to the conditioned souls to fulfill these lustful propensities, and when completely baffled by prolonged lustful activities, the living entities begin to inquire about their real position.” Purport, Bhagavad-gita 3.37
Regardless of devotee’s view of it, many people curious about Krishna consciousness are convinced that climate change is taking their world to disaster. World temperatures are rising almost every year, and many of the weather predictions cited previously are already regular occurrences. It is easy for devotees to demonstrate that virtually every man-caused environmental problem is the result of materialistic greed, self-interest and society’s abandoning spiritual values. Srila Prabhupada and Vedic culture provide the clear solution to all mankind’s ills – simple living and high thinking. A Krishna conscious society automatically practices the solution to climate change!
Krishna consciousness has everything humanity and planet earth needs to be healthy and happy. Understanding oneself and God doesn’t require ugra-karma industrialism, global corporate capitalism or corrupt politicians. The bliss of congregational chanting costs nothing and creates wonderful community. The earth goddess, Bhumi, also takes delight in the footsteps of such pure devotees. Krishna consciousness is truly the house wherein everyone can live, and Srila Prabhupada has already drawn the plans. He saw the development of farm communities as the next phase of his movement.
“This is the next aspect of Krsna consciousness which I wish to push forward. If I am able to travel again, then I shall visit the farms and make them perfect. On these farms we can demonstrate the full varnasrama system. If these farms become successful then the whole world will be enveloped by Krsna consciousness.” Srila Prabhupada quoted in Letter to Hari-Sauri from Tamal Krishna swami, August 10, 1977
“Our farm projects are an extremely important part of our movement. We must become self-sufficient by growing our own grains and producing our own milk, then there will be no question of poverty. So develop these farm communities as far as possible. They should be developed as an ideal society depending on natural products not industry. Industry has simply created godlessness, because they think they can manufacture everything that they need. Our Bhagavad-gita philosophy explains that men and animals must have food in order to maintain their bodies. And the production of food is dependent on the rain and the rain of course is dependent on chanting Hare Krsna. Therefore let everyone chant Hare Krsna, eat nicely and keep their bodies fit and healthy. This is ideal life style.” Letter to Rupanuga, Bombay 18 December, 1974
As Western and other materialistic societies implode, ordinary people will need positive alternatives. Srila Prabhupada wanted his farm communities to provide that hopeful environment where all ones material and spiritual needs could be met.
Climate change-related natural disasters such as droughts, floods, superstorms and typhoons will, at critical points, cause regional food cultivation and distribution, as well as law enforcement, networks to fail. Overloaded, corrupt materialistic governments with weakened infrastructure will not be able to recover from too many of these, especially when combined with their other weaknesses. This weather related phenomena will also exaggerate tenuous relations in less stable countries, sometimes pushing them over the edge to civil war or regional conflict. This is predicted by many military experts.
“Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impact around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration. While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.” US Military Quadrennial Defense Review, 2010
The causes of Syria’s civil war are said to include a drought worsened by global temperature rise. The Indus Water Treaty between Pakistan and India is already on shaky ground, and predicted decreases in Himalayan precipitation and glacial melt could possibly find them ready to use nuclear weapons. The European and other refugee crises also have climate related causes.
These disturbances and other shortages indicate that the earth goddess is no longer providing all necessities to all. Above Srila Prabhupada described how people were becoming “punishable.” In Srimad Bhagavatam Bhumi says she limits supply to sense gratifiers:
pura srsta hy osadhayo/ brahmana ya visampate/ bhujyamana maya drsṭa/ asadbhir adhata-vrataih/ apalitanadrta ca/ bhavadbhir loka-palakaih/ cori-bhute ’tha loke ’ham/ yajnarthe ’grasam osadhih – My dear King, the seeds, roots, herbs and grains, which were created by Lord Brahma in the past, are now being used by nondevotees, who are devoid of all spiritual understanding. My dear King, not only are grains and herbs being used by nondevotees, but, as far as I am concerned, I am not being properly maintained. Indeed, I am being neglected by kings who are not punishing these rascals who have turned into thieves by using grains for sense gratification. Consequently I have hidden all these seeds, which were meant for the performance of sacrifice. Srimad Bhagavatam 4.18.6-7
Srila Prabhupada also connected conflicts like the above with world-wide cow slaughter and abortion.
“Now if you are willingly killing cows and so many animals, so how much we are being responsible? Therefore at the present moment there is war, and the human society becomes subjected to be killed in mass massacre—the nature’s law.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.8-13, New York, July 24, 1971
These global warming and other problems are, both directly and indirectly, consequences of world society’s materialism. During war or when food and law enforcement arrangements fail, millions are thrown into chaos. This will be when the self-sufficient farm communities of Srila Prabhupada will be said to have fulfilled his prediction, “The Krishna consciousness movement will go down in history as having saved mankind in its darkest hour.”
Of course, when law and order breaks down anything can happen. The peaceful and stable social environment of Krishna conscious farm communities will then stand out. They will be in stark contrast with the warlord tyrannies that will arise out of a materialistic population thrown suddenly into chaos. The sincere devotee understands that Krishna is always in control, even in these days of readily available advanced weaponry. Krishna and Srila Prabhupada can provide serious devotee administrators with what is needed to guide their dependents to calmer times. This dependency is our only goal-possession.
“So we are prakrti. Prakrti purusa. So Krsna is the purusa. He is the protector of all living entities. Yesterday, bhrtyanugraha-kataram. Just like a father is always anxious to see his children are well protected, similarly, Krsna is also always anxious to give protection to His subordinates. But if the subordinate denounce Krsna, ‘I don’t want Your protection,’ then suffer your karma. That you are doing. Those who are in the material world, they are suffering. Why? They have given up the protection of Krsna. They are thinking that ‘We can protect ourself. What is the use of Krsna?’ So this is called dharmasya glanih. This is deviation from the natural way of life, when you give up the protection. So our Krsna consciousness movement is: again go back to that protection, go back to home, back to Godhead.” Class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.28.18, Nairobi, October 27, 1975
It is always the duty of a Vaishnava to offer shelter to innocent and sincere people interested in God. There are now many bright lights under the fog of materialistic culture. As those societies head towards collapse, these people will search for the answers in Srila Prabhupada’s books. They are the future of Krishna consciousness.