Item 18 of Pope Paul VI's encyclical on birth control, "Humanae Vitae," begins: "It can be foreseen that this teaching will perhaps not be easily received by all..." The Pope's words have rung true, for his stand against "conjugal acts made intentionally infecund" goes directly counter to the grain of our licentious civilization. A storm of controversy has arisen, and the Pope has been widely denounced as a reactionary—all in the name, we take it, of the poor starving people of Peru and India.
The idea behind the birth control debate seems to be that it is wholly impractical to ask people to do something which they are determined not to do. We refer to the Pope's admission that his stand "undoubtably requires ascetical practices" of his followers. Apparently no small number of people both Catholic and outside the Church were hoping to get a clear go-ahead on unlimited sense enjoyment without so much responsibility as a dignified cat or dog would accept. And the fact that they looked to the Pope for sanction in the first place indicates surprisingly abusive disrespect for his high office and person.
Whatever we may think of people who imagine that they can coerce their ways into the kingdom of God with placards and protest letters, we must wonder if it wouldn't be more worthwhile for them to use such determination to follow their supposed leader rather then to oppose him? They might find themselves capable of far more asceticism than they thought. We also must wonder if these same people who ardently demonstrate for the Pill ever take such effort in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ—or in following its tenets themselves. But, as The Bhagavad Gita—one of the most authoritative of India's Vedic Scriptures—states, passion has the power to steal intelligence away.
Sex life, according to the Vedic wisdom, is the greatest cause of material bondage because it is the greatest pleasure of material life. Therefore it must be restricted, and the restriction is to marry and to have sex only for the purpose of generating children. Furthermore, these children are not meant to be mere products of lust—which is called demoniac birth—but should be conceived with the full loving intention to deliver them into the hands of God so that they can have liberation from the bondage of material Nature. The Christian doctrine is clearly identical in its essentials, although there are several minor points of difference along the way.
To say that people will not follow such a teaching cannot refute the teaching itself. Krishna, or God, is not relative but Absolute. His doctrines and rules—such as the restrictions on sex life—are not meant to take all the fun out of life; the rules are meant as guideposts to help the conditioned soul reach his ultimate destination, the confrontation by direct experience with the Absolute Truth. One may follow or ignore the guidepost as he chooses—but if he wants to reach the goal, common sense will force him to follow it. Nor will a democratic consensus change the way, any more than a Gallup poll could put New York City on the West Coast.
The path of sin means any path which does not lead to knowledge of Krishna. Sin has no other meaning. And virtue, or saintliness, means any course of thought or action which will lead to Krishna. The center, the criterion, then, is Krishna—God. Those who are so intent today upon changing all the rules have apparently lost sight of this. Until God returns as the only and absolute center of gravity in their lives, nothing that they do can be considered worthwhile or happy, be it with or without ecclesiastical approval. And if Krishna is placed at that center, then even the most rigorous asceticism will be joyful and will lead them to fulfillment. It is not a question of how much sex one is allowed to have, but of how much one wants God.
Another part of the same message by the Pope is well worth noting:
On this occasion, we wish to draw the attention of educators, and of all who perform duties of responsibility in regard to the common good of human society, to the need of creating an atmosphere favorable to education in chastity, that is, to the triumph of healthy liberty over license by means of respect for the moral order.
The main reason why it appears impractical to ask people to practice sexual abstinence today is that the modern social atmosphere is literally drenched in sexual stimuli. This is because sex sells anything, and our upright businessman's world will do anything to sell, however degrading or depraved it may be.
If children are raised in a moral, religious atmosphere and are not hounded and battered by sex-sale gimmicks throughout their lives, then restraint will not be difficult for them as they grow older. But if sensual connotations pervade their minds almost from the very moment of birth, then they will necessarily crave sex to an exaggerated degree from the earliest point of puberty and even earlier.
Today's bold and daring underground revolutionaries whose stock-in-trade is primarily sex—and who proclaim themselves liberated because of their sexual "frankness"—do not realize that they are actually only displaying the chains placed upon their minds from birth by a rapaciously greedy industrial society, one which has trained its every facility—from movies, magazines, television and comics to subway ads and public health services—upon them to induce them to buy, buy, buy.
And the so-called generation gap is nothing more than the magnitude of hypocrisy exhibited by those who have created this hellish atmosphere in expressing surprise at its effects. As The Holy Bible says, the sins of the father are visited upon the son.
If human civilization is to endure at all, there must be a radical alteration of this pattern of indoctrination-through-sex into limitless consumption. This is a problem which today's public-spirited governments and philanthropic groups might take up to actually benefit mankind. But it is more likely they will prefer the Pill to any real solution of our human ills—and will push ahead as busily as possible to create their Utopian world of sub-human industrial sex-slaves. All in the name, to be sure, of freedom.
This man has changed the history of the world. Do you know him?
He's A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, the Acharya (Holy Teacher) from India, who came to the U. S. in 1965 and touched off a major revolution.
The Swami's revolution affects not the external things of the world. It strikes at the very root of being—at consciousness. He has called his movement Krishna Consciousness.
You owe it to yourself to know what A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is saying to the people of America and India. These are his writings:
ESSENCE OF THE VEDAS: BHAGAVAD GITA AS IT IS
Every serious student of Yoga, Transcendental Meditation and the mystic sciences of the Orient looks to the Bhagavad Gita as the single imperative item on his bookshelf. Find out what the Swami, whose translation of the Gita will be published by Macmillan Co. in October, 1968, has to say about this Scripture and Its immortal, urgent message. price: 50 cents
ON CHANTING THE HARE KRISHNA MANTRA
The Maha or Hare Krishna Mantra has been found on the lips of the leaders of the new generation movements in East and West alike; it has been called the "Hippie anthem;" and it has been explained endlessly—and always inaccurately. Here the Swami, who first delivered the chant to the West, explains the real meaning and purpose of the Hare Krishna Mantra. price: 25 cents
Sanity, self, society—and how to perfect them. Mantra Yoga, the scientific writings of the great Hindu mystics, and the eternal pleasure principle. price: 50 cents
The reader may note that, with only a few exceptions, the names of those who produce and contribute to BACK TO GODHEAD are, to say the least, not Anglo-Saxon. The reason for this is that they are spiritual names, awarded to his disciples by the Spiritual Master at initiation.
Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is described in the Vedic Scriptures as having innumerable Names, each of Which is fully as powerful as God Himself. Being transcendental to material Nature, and non-dual, God and His Names are not separable. Thus the Name of God is God, and God is His Name. This is the spiritual significance of the Maha Mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By singing God's Names, one comes into actual direct contact with God, and in this way one's consciousness can be purified of its false material associations.
Aside from Krishna—Who is the Original Godhead—the Lord has many, many other Names, some of Which are found in Vedic literature, such as Madhusudana, Narayana, Damodar, Vishnu, and so on. When a student takes formal initiation under the guidance of a Spiritual Master, the latter gives him a Name of the Lord, followed by the word "das"—the servant of.
Spiritual initiation means the actual beginning of spiritual life—real life—and so the spiritual name awarded at that time is the real name of the pupil from that moment onward.
Names of very great devotees and saints are also sometimes awarded, such as Rayarama, who was a disciple of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Madhavendra, who was Lord Chaitanya's grand-Spiritual Master. This is, of course, quite like the Christian tradition of naming children after the saints at baptism, except that spiritual initiation must be chosen freely by the pupil—normally after a period of preliminary study with the Guru. And spiritual initiation must be asked for by the pupil, never vice versa.
It should be noted that these Names of God are not Indian, though they are known and revered particularly in that country. The Lord appeared many times in India, but He is no more a product or property of India than is the Sun of the East, where it first appears. Lord Jesus Christ, in the same sense, can not be held as a Judaean god or culture figure.
Nor does the acceptance of the spiritual name imply Indianization on the part of the pupil. The process of spiritual realization entails the rejection of all material and bodily designations such as nationalism, sectarian religious faith, sex, race, or social status. The Names of Krishna, being transcendental and sublime, have nothing whatever to do with locality or era.
The word "brahmachary," signifying a knower or pursuant of Brahman, the Absolute, is given to denote an unmarried student living a regulated, celibate life of full service to the Spiritual Master. "Adhikary" denotes a married man. And the words "devi dasi" denote women, either married or not.
THE BOOK (ON THE TABOO AGAINST KNOWING WHO YOU ARE)
by Alan W. Watts; 148 pps. Collier Books, 95 cents.
THE BOOK purports to be a reinterpretation of Vedanta, one of the ancient Scriptures of India. This is necessarily like re-writing The Bible, and it wouldn't be possible not to come up with at least a few solid statements of deathless value.
However, being an interpretation rather than a presentation, and being full to the brim with independent speculations, THE BOOK often fails to serve any valid purpose. In its negative principles, it does stand up well. Alan Watts does tell us quite a bit about the taboo against knowing who you are. And when he stays close to his title in this way he has something to say. It is only when he goes on to try positive concepts that he becomes elusive.
He says, for instance, that there is, after all, no reason to awaken from illusion anyway. Knowledge and ignorance, life and death, pleasure and pain are all parts of a "game"—the Game of Black-and-White—which the One Being is playing with Himself. But this would leave no reason for THE BOOK to have been written, and so Mr. Watts tells us "that it is part of 'things taking their course' that I write." After which, all criticism is apparently expected to die down with a bewildered "Oh."
But this dodge is really insufficient to justify either THE BOOK or the philosophy behind it. It is, in fact, the sort of thing one might expect to hear from a slick Uptown Swami after a clever but self-defeating lecture on Oneness, rather than from a renowned thinker of a more serious order. The idea that God, or the Absolute, or whatever, is so limited that He must create agony and stupidity to keep Himself amused—while any one of us could probably do better—is really both naive and absurd. Again, Mr. Watts advises us to remember that this is only a way of putting it, not the real thing exactly. Exactly what the real thing is he doesn't say.
After politely leaving aside this flaw, if we plunge along into THE BOOK, we'll come to some very nice passages in which the writer has outlined the endless complications of materialistic existence. He tells us about college administrations and their troubles (an interesting critique in that THE BOOK is copyrighted 1966, and therefore in some ways prophesies the events of this year); he tells us how difficult it is to take a walk in these days of police-state-ism; how society has ganged up together to agree to accept falsehood as truth—and how in this way modern man has become. divided against both himself and his environment.
But once more, the positive side of all this just doesn't stand scrutiny, for all the twistings and turnings of the author's reasoning. The basic concept of identity to which Mr. Watts points is Oneness—everything is one, and cause and effect are simply manifestations of that same one, are themselves one, and thus there really is no cause and effect: things just take their course. This is a philosophy dear especially to the debauched, degraded and depraved of every generation—not only today, but as far back as Rome, Egypt, and before even that. By this philosophy, no sin or crime, no evil or shortcoming need be accounted for. It simply happens, takes place, and no one is to blame . All is One, so who could be blamed ?
Yet this is always a philosophy by which none can actually live. It's a mental exercise, an excuse for atrocities at worst, a parlor conversation ploy at best—never a philosophy of life. No one steps before an onrushing train, careless of death, and simply shrugs, "It's all One." Even Mr. Watts must cross at the green if he wants to enjoy his royalties. No one wears a cotton boll in place of a cotton shirt, on the consideration that there is no cause and effect. Even the author has to make concessions here: "The point is not that we should forthwith abandon penicillin or DDT [i.e., in abandoning our attempt to conquer Nature]: it is that we should fight to check the enemy, not to eliminate him."
In other words, don't take your troubles or triumphs too seriously, but go on with them anyway. Don't try to make a permanent solution. "We must learn to include ourselves in the round of cooperations and conflicts, of symbiosis and preying, which constitutes the balance of nature..." he writes; and yet, wouldn't we be the only species who didn't take it all seriously? And wouldn't that be just as absurd as attempting totally to subdue Nature? What is lacking here is an understanding of the fact that what specifically qualifies human consciousness and sets it apart from that of the beasts is its very ability to seek out a final solution—its determination to pursue and uncover the Absolute, or God. And if modern man has gone mad, it is because he is attempting to find that solution through the exploitation of material Nature, rather than through the development of spiritual life. To abandon the pursuit of a solution wholly is simply another form of defeat.
The advice that we should take things as they come is, in itself, no more than any backyard washerwoman would say after hearing of her neighbor's arthritis, old age and abuses.
And the idea of Oneness never will explain how all these varieties we experience came about, or what to do with them.
This goes even further into the realm of the absurd when the author quotes Erwin Schrodinger as saying that, "eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end." But the present keeps changing here in this material world, and even though it has no end, it certainly isn't always the same. Therefore, to adjust the mind to such a concept of non-differentiation is not to approach reality but, rather, to ignore the world as it is. And, even if the world is only an illusion, then that illusion itself, with all its varieties, still must require an explanation.
According to the actual Vedic sources, the material world with its varieties is illusory in that it is temporary. The real or spiritual world is eternal. But still, the material does exist. It exists as the reflection of the real, perverted through the individual's deluded consciousness. And, just as a mirror cannot show even false grapes without real grapes existing, so this material illusion can only reflect actual varieties. And, in the same sense, ego—one's sense of individuality—is only a reflection of actual and immortal individuality, which exists in the spiritual world, in the Kingdom of God.
That there are varieties—blues, reds, yellows, ups and downs, ins and outs, I's and Thou's—which never disappear or are corrupted—essences, in other words—is perhaps inconceivable to the mundane intellect; but it is the very dependence upon mundane intellectual scholarship which is the basic fault in Alan Watts' writings from beginning to end.
The Vedic system, along with all authentic Scriptural systems of God realization, enjoins strict and rigorous personal discipline upon those who wish to understand the Truth. Simply to read some words in a book without comprehending the practical facts by realization is incomplete, and must lead to the sort of distortions and contradictions of which THE BOOK is guilty. Truth must be perceived and manifested on three levels: in the mind, in the speech, and in action. Unless all three are absorbed in the Absolute, then realization, the direct personal experience of the existence of the Absolute, cannot be had.
It is by service to a spiritual master who is himself realized in a particular study or discipline that one is able to advance in understanding, just as an apprentice learns from a master, rather than from a manual. Without this service and without the guidance of a realized soul, no valid comprehension can be attained. The purely scholastic approach has been likened to bees licking on the outside of a bottle of honey: they may see it and smell it, but they can't really taste it, and so fail to get satisfaction. To go on blithely reading books which are crying out for you to engage your activities in spiritual life, and then to write your own theses about them, while never having followed their injunctions, is the height of arrogant foolishness.
Yet this would seem to be Mr. Watts' system, and he writes off as "myth" any passages that might tend to disturb him or his readers into active commitment.
Again we're left with nothing to live by. When THE BOOK has been read, it can be forgotten without loss or bother, for it has said nothing. Again, the author is aware of his own shortcomings, and so he has slipped in a chapter called "So What?"
But "So What?" is also just a dodge. Its principal passage reads: "If, then, after understanding, at least in theory, that the ego-trick is a hoax and that, beneath everything, 'I' and 'universe' are one, you ask, 'So what? What is the next step, the practical application?'—I will answer that the absolutely vital thing is to consolidate your understanding, to become capable of enjoyment, of living in the present, and of the discipline which this involves."
Whatever "consolidate your understanding" may mean, becoming capable of enjoyment is no stranger to us. The only trouble is that everyone is already trying to enjoy in one way or another, from the President down to the neighborhood street sweeper—and yet no one is succeeding. Simply to tell people that they must learn to enjoy might make you popular, but it isn't a "practical application" after all. How to enjoy remains the real problem.
Bind and double bind, triple bind, quadruple bind—they weave themselves like the glittering tentacles of a fabulous serpent throughout the mental corridors of THE BOOK. We're told that, to enjoy, we must stop trying to enjoy. But that takes an effort too—that's also trying to enjoy. And trying not to make an effort not to try to enjoy...? So it goes on, the mind twists on through the labyrinths of illusion, seeking an out, but never finding more than a new path that brings us back to the old starting point: you are not this body. Negative and true.
But for the positive, we'll all be better off if we turn to the real Vedanta Itself. For there, and in the associated Vedic Scriptures, positive statements are made very succinctly by great sages who actually lived with their minds, words and deeds fixed on God, on the Supreme Transcendence. You are not this body, they agree. You are spirit soul—Absolute—Brahman. They also say this, and they say it in a straight-forward fashion. And there is Param Brahman, a Supreme Spirit, as well.
As for knowing one's absolute or spiritual nature in full, the sages tell us to find a realized spiritual master, submit to him, serve him and inquire of him regarding Truth. He, being in knowledge, can reveal and explain, and can offer the example of perfection by his own life.
Alongside this, how involved and subtle the writings of Mr. Watts necessarily appear. One almost gets the impression that, above all else, his interest is to avoid criticism; and perhaps this explains the vagueness and negativity of his approach, like a wounded man waving his sword to confuse his enemy in hopes of avoiding a blow, but never of delivering one.
Mr. Watts further displays a surprising ignorance of the principles of devotional service when, on page 79, he states that the idea that everything belongs to God and should be used for God is a kind of stewardship, based on the hope of future reward. For it is devotion itself, manifested in this world as loving service to God, which is the topmost perfection of human consciousness, and of life. There is, in authentic devotional circles, no question of reward greater than love of God itself.
Turn from this, Mr. Watts advises us, because the individual ego is a hoax perpetrated upon us by the ignorant. And turn from the Void concept as well—that also is illusion . Approach life with "the fullest collaboration with the world as a harmonious system of contained conflicts—based on the realization that the only real 'I' is the whole endless process." Again, if you'll pardon our bluntness, So What? The words sound meaningful, and yet there seems to be something missing: the meaning itself. On and on, Mr. Watts offers mental adjustments which will, supposedly, make you happy. Like weight-watching, if you tend toward materialistic fads, you can give THE BOOK a try. But it doesn't promise to offer anything final. Death is still there, life is still there, unfulfilled.
Perhaps the words of Sri Shankara Acharya, who also invented an interpretation of the Vedanta many hundreds of years ago, and who is still widely renowned for his gigantic scholarship, will best serve to cap off our consideration of THE BOOK. He wrote:
You intellectual fools I Just worship Govinda [Krishna]! Just worship Govinda! Just worship Govinda! Your grammatical knowledge and word jugglery will not save you at the time of death!
by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
When a man enters the room of a friend, the friend receives the man with all cordiality, and offers him the best couch for his comfort. The friend may accept this welcome and sit along with his host in all security. Does this mean that the man who has entered the house of his friend should consider the sitting room to be his own property? Certainly, he will not think so unless he has gone mad. Still, his consciousness of the fact that none of the paraphernalia of the friend's sitting room belongs to him does not disturb him in the least in sitting down securely. With this pure consciousness of facility, along with his friend who is actually the proprietor of the sitting room, he is comfortable.
But if the man, after some time, madly thinks that because he was allowed to enter into the parlor of his friend he has therefore become its proprietor—then what will be his lot? The natural consequence of this unlawful desire of the intruding friend will be police action, instigated by the real proprietor of the room, and trouble will disrupt the friendly relationship. And if the man then leaves the room, being unable to occupy it as his own, and impertinently tells his friend that he is renouncing the right of proprietorship in disgust certainly the proprietor friend will laugh at him, wondering when and how the proprietorship of the room could have been awarded to the intruder in the first place.
This is the real position of the conditioned soul who enters into any given position of life in the cycle of birth and death. The living entity simply changes his dress according to the price of the dress he has paid for. In the shop of material Nature there are 8,400,000 different types of dresses, and the living entity is allowed to put on any one of them according to the price he is able to pay.
Leaving aside all other dresses, let us consider the dress of the human body. In the dress of the human body a living entity is more puzzled than in the dress of the beast, due to the particular garment. The dress of the human body is also exhibited in 400,000 varieties, or species. There are many different dresses of humanity, and almost all of them are no more civilized than the jungle beasts. As such, they have very little idea of the civilized form of national sentiment.
Out of the 8,400,000 different dresses exhibited by the living entities, only the highest civilized human being is conscious of national feeling. This national feeling has created the different civilized nations of the world, but because almost every one of those nations is guided by the sense of nationalism through impure rather than pure consciousness, they are always busy making pacts and blocs for the security of each one's position.
The impure consciousness of nationalism has kept all the big heads of the world's nations ever active for an amicable adjustment of everyone's national interest. They have now made a United Nations Security Council, and are trying in vain to find the right adjustment. The impure consciousness of every nation has made it impossible to come to the safety point, and what is needed, therefore, is to awaken pure consciousness by the propagation of spiritual education, leading back to Godhead. This work was undertaken by the Lord Himself in the Form of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
What is pure consciousness? The idea of pure consciousness is specifically described in the Scripture called Ishopanishad, where it is said:
Everything that we see in this material world or in matter belongs to the domain of the Supreme Lord. You can therefore enjoy what has been offered to you by Him, but you must not accept any other's property.
The living entity, in any of the above-mentioned eighty-four hundred thousand varieties of dresses, enters into the domain of the Lord. The agent of the lord, material Nature, gives him all facilities to live in that domain, and provides him with all the comforts of air, light, shelter, food, drink, residence, and all facilities for acquiring knowledge. The lower grade living beings, such as the aquatics, the plants and trees, the reptiles, birds, beasts and beastly human beings living in the jungle take all the facilities offered by Nature, and make progressive evolution by a gradual process: From aquatics to plant life, from plant to reptile, from reptile to bird, from bird to beast. The human form of life is evolved out of the life of the beast.
As guests of the material Nature, all these non-human living entities do not bother much about conventional civilization, and do not mishandle the products of material Nature . But civilized man, because of his developed consciousness, can and does mishandle the laws of Nature, thinking in terms of proprietorship over his particular place of appearance (country, city, etc.), and thus becomes entangled in the matter of designations. Civilized man thus makes an error in the name of advanced civilization. These civilized nations forget completely that the particular places offered to them for residential purposes all belong to the proprietorship of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is the proprietor of all the "Lokas," or planets. In The Bhagavad Gita Krishna makes this statement:
I am the Beneficiary of all sacrifices and penances, and I am the Supreme Lord of all the planets and universes. I am the benevolent friend of all living beings, and, when knowing this, one can enjoy perfect peace.
The so-called civilized nations have forgotten the fact that the places of residence particularly specified for them by the Supreme Lord do not belong to them, but remain the property of the Supreme Lord. He has given the nations particular places of residence and comfortable life in order to make progress in the matter of pure consciousness. The Lord has not allowed us to remain in such places simply to create a hell by developing a training ground for hooligans, ruffians, demons and unbelievers. He is the Supreme Friend of all living entities, and therefore He has made the codes of Scripture, such as the Vedas and Puranas, to guide the civilized nations. Without such codes, they may become diverted by the influence of Maya, or impure consciousness, to consider the places of their appearance to be their own property.
The particular place of residence alloted to us must be protected from the disturbing forces of demons and nonbelievers—not as the proprietors of the land, but with full consciousness of servitorship toward the Supreme Lord.
Out of an impure consciousness, Sri Arjuna—in the epic of the Mahabharata—declined to fight on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. He forgot for the time being that he was not the proprietor. The Supreme Proprietor is Sri Krishna, and Arjuna is only a servitor. This fact was explained in The Bhagavad Gita from different angles of vision, and ultimately, when the illusion of proprietorship was dissipated, the pure consciousness of Arjuna was awakened by the mercy of the Lord, and Arjuna agreed to abide by the order of the Supreme Lord. His attitude of nonviolence, adulterated with a sense of proprietary right, was condemned by Sri Krishna at the very inception of the idea. It is sheer nonsense to conceive of the devotees of Godhead as so many inert elements within society. Real devotees of the Lord, like Sri Hanuman (of the Ramayana) are neither violent nor nonviolent on their own account—but they can be both violent and nonviolent in the service of the Lord. This is the criterion of pure consciousness.
Nationalism in pure consciousness, as it was exemplified by Sri Arjuna and Hanuman, brings in real peace to the world. Such pure consciousness is aroused by devotional activities. Unbelievers in the supremacy of the Absolute Lord cannot have pure consciousness. Nationalism, however, guided by the principles of devotional service—of which Sri Arjuna presented the typical example—is the goal of our life.
By Rayarama Das Brahmachary
Recently, some college students ardently proclaimed a certain comic book writer to be their modern mythmaker, in honor of his exciting and weird superhero tales. This proclamation led me to reflect that, after all, a myth is supposed to be something that people believe in, or once did. My Webster's Dictionary defines the word like this: "a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people, or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon ... an ill-founded belief held uncritically especially by an interested group."
Clearly. comic book stories don't fit this definition because they never pretend to be, or to have been, real. They are tales, but not exactly myths. If we want to consider the actual mythology of modern times, we have to look into the present beliefs which are "held uncritically" by modern man. There are many such beliefs, and the strongest and most fixed would seem to be typified by the commercial slogan: "Doctors recommend." For this is the Day of Science. Science rules supreme in judgement and in reverence over civilized man's every thought, word and deed, just as the oracles, omens and stars once influenced the lives of the Babylonians and Greeks. In education, for example, tremendous amounts of money are going towards scientific research, to the almost utter neglect of other areas of learning. In fact, many large corporations find that their top scientific minds can't write reports in simple intelligible English.
In an article entitled 'The Humanist Heartbeat Has Failed," in the May 24, 1968 issue of LIFE, Professor James H. Billington remarks that. "A paltry one out of every thousand dollars of government funds given for basic research in 1966 went to the humanities. The much smaller amount given by private foundations to support research and teaching was some 23 times greater in the sciences than in the humanities." These are big odds, and it isn't rash to draw the conclusion that science is today valued above all other studies and pursuits.
Science itself, of course, is neither bad nor good. It is a tool, like a scalpel: and if it's used for cutting throats instead of cancers, the fault lies in the heart and mind of the man—or men—who are controlling it. Science—the attempt to comprehend and adjust to, or control, material Nature—has accomplished some nice feats: disease control, communications, heating, transportation. It would be as senseless to condemn these things as it would be to put a scalpel on trial for murder. At the same time, it would be equally senseless to laud these things as though they had given life some meaning, as though they had contributed to any real advancement in the human condition of consciousness. This would be like awarding the Nobel Prize to an iron lung.
The Quality Of Life
All who live must die even the Universe itself lives and dies—and so to prolong life is not to insure it against the end. "Death comes when it will come," and even the greatest scientific genius cannot hold life longer than his due. Some years ago the foremost physicist of India died in a simple plane crash—and all the inventions of science (including the plane itself) proved of no avail to him.
So it is not to avoid death that we should work, but to instill into what life we have some real quality—to use this life well and wisely. Otherwise it is a living death, even at its best. According to the great Scriptures of the world—the Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, and others—the highest perfection of human life is reached in confrontation with God, followed by submission, love, and eternal association. Eternal association means that, in awakening to the existence and love of God, the living being becomes freed from the entanglements and designations of the material world, of which the body and its attendent annihilation are primary.
It would seem a simple matter to recognize the fact that life without goals, life without quality, life without value—is quite like the life of a machine. It is robot life. And an educational system which is devoted to fitting the human mind for a specified place in the modern machine complex is a school for the living dead. And, as I will try to prove, the replacement of God by evolution in the modern school system, and thereby in the thinking processes of modern man, has produced only zombies. But with one flaw: human beings don't like to act the part of zombies, and the alternative is likely to be revolt, corruption, and the ruin of what civilization we have.
Evolution And Society
Instead of pleasing God, modern children are taught to "please evolution," as it were. They are taught that the human race was thrown up out of Chaos by blind chance ("or God, if you like," the teachers used to tell us. I don't know if they can still say things like that in an American public school). Blind chance may just as easily throw us away again, and so the obvious necessity in the grim struggle for survival is to find a way to defeat both blind chance and all other competing species at the same time. Thus, we are taught, Mankind has constructed society, and society has so far proved the most effective step toward permanence that evolution has ever taken.
Society in this sense means the banding together of creatures of like mentality and structure for the purpose of prolonging the lives of the individuals of the community or species. This is done, apparently, by crippling, castrating or annihilating all other species of life. It is a concept of sophisticated bestiality, more ferocious in both fact and theory than the ravages of plague or the march of an ant army. And it is based on ignorance as utter as that of an ant—no, more profound yet, because the ant is at least acting as an ant. The human consciousness is capable of "graduating" from the school of evolution into the "workaday" world of spiritual life, and unless it is used in this way, it's not human at all.
And the great ignorance here is the idea that killing other creatures, or trying to control the intricate functions of Nature, will lead to eternal existence either for oneself or one's race or species. This is like trying to tune in a television station on a radio receiver. The body is product of material Nature, and the first law of Nature is change. Therefore the body, in one form or another, must die. It is only the soul—or consciousness, if you like—which goes on, because this consciousness, in its purified state, is independent of Nature.
These attempts at prolonging life and putting off death are reflections of the irrepressible tendency of all forms of life to gravitate toward immortality. This is because of the eternal nature of the soul, which inhabits each living form. The form is temporary, but the soul is not, and it is trying, in ignorance, to get back to its original position. And, in its ignorance, the struggle for survival, the competition with other life forms, goes on, and consumes the energy, the attention, the hopes of the creature, until it dies and takes a new body, to try again.
Now the difficulty in trying to "please evolution"—that is, develop oneself so that the race, if not the individual, can continue to survive—is that no one really knows what will work and what won't in the long run. Many a modern moralist has tried to construct an ethical system on such foundations, but the fact that evolution remains a theory, remains uncertain in so very many of its details, must frustrate every effort at coherence and consistency. No one knows what activities of the human race will "eliminate it from evolution," as Lecomte de Nouy has rephrased sin. And no one knows what activities will help it to survive. There are no known principles here, the theories of life origins change almost monthly, and so the attempt to establish a "moral" system, or any system whatever, must come to nil.
Morality means how to act towards some goal. But if the goal is unknown, uncertain, untried, unstable, and unfriendly—then where is the scope for a workable morality? And yet, without morality, without mutually agreed-upon patterns of behavior, society cannot exist. And society, we have been told, "pleases evolution"—it will help us to survive .
So we come to a double bind, an irreconcilable fault in the whole scheme of materialistic moralizing. We are trying to "please evolution" without knowing what it wants.
Theory And Process Of Evolution
That there is evolution, and that there is a goal, an end, to the process, is not refuted here. In fact, the concept of evolution can be found in The Padma Purana, one of the Vedic Scriptures of vast antiquity. In this Purana, it is stated that the living forms in this Universe first arose as the aquatic animals, then evolved to the land vegetables, then on to reptiles, insects, birds, beasts and, at the end, humans. Even the most skeptical scholar cannot date The Padma Purana later than a good many hundred years before Darwin, and so this is a surprising example of scientific theory very slowly catching up to what was already presented by revelation long ago.
Evolution, according to the Vedas, is the process of the gradual development of consciousness from body to body, until the civilized human form is reached. Development of consciousness means that consciousness is more comprehensive, not merely different: a tree may experience the warmth of the sunlight and the cold of the night, but he will never experience running or jumping. The human, however, experiences in principle all that the tree has known, and more. In this way complete consciousness, or the perfection of conscious development, means to experience the sum total, the Absolute Truth. And the Absolute Truth is God.
So the goal of evolution is for the living being, after innumerable lifetimes of experience within body after body (The Padma Purana lists 8, 400, 000 species), to come to an awareness of his actual, transcendental position in relationship to Krishna, the Godhead. This direction of development, then, is "natural." It is the obvious and intended course of progress for the human life form. All other life forms are only like the grades in a school, leading to the senior year. And, from that senior grade, one is expected to go forward out of school, not merely to remain fixed, or even to fall behind.
Because the human life form is possessed of this advanced consciousness, it is "natural" for human beings to seek a direction, a way out of the struggle for survival, a solution to the riddle of immortality vs. death. One cannot, as so many philosophers would like to, blunt off the edge of this sword of awareness, become directionless, and at the same time find happiness. For happiness means fulfillment, and fulfillment for human life means the attainment of complete consciousness, unaffected by the conditions of time or Nature. This is the ultimate perfection. And, I must restate for emphasis, the drive toward this perfection is "natural" in man.
Now, the general drift of materialistic civilization has always been toward the fulfillment of these same drives, but through the exploitation of Nature rather than through the development of spiritual consciousness. The discovery and development of the theory of evolution is, after all, only an outgrowth of man's attempt to achieve immortality and full knowledge on his own. This exploitation of Nature, however, always leads to frustration. Take nuclear energy for an example: along with all the promise of a superefficient, wonderfully comfortable world comes the terrible reality of the Bomb.
Material Nature is endlessly changing, and the patterns would seem to be quite without limit. Therefore the plans which are laid toward the control and utilization of Nature are generally defeated: There is always at least one factor that no one thought of, and this changes everything.
A nice example of this is the theory of evolution itself: It is at basis a try at clocking the changes of Nature in order to get one jump ahead, and in this way insure preservation of the species, if not of the individual. And yet, as this article is meant to prove, the theory itself has become a factor in the dissolution of modern civilization. This is that double bind again, which is inescapable so long as one's footing remains firmly on the material platform. As soon as everything becomes automatic and predictable, life has lost its zest, and human nature will tend to blaze a new trail, even over the ruins of what went before, in its inexorable pursuit of the Absolute . This is why over-sophistication is generally the precursor of decline in any society. When people have fooled themselves into imagining that they know everything, they have lost their reason to live. Not because full knowledge is a bleak state, but because they don't actually know, and the "everything" they foolishly accept, out of pride or by education, is utterly unfulfilling. In this sad situation, oblivion becomes a welcome prospect.
Unlike material pursuits, which must end in defeat, spiritual life is an eternal adventure. There is, in the awakening of full consciousness, a satisfaction unparalelled by any experience of the mundane world, as the words of all great saints and mystics attest. And, in the development of loving relationships with God, there is an eternal competition to give pleasure rather than to take—a competition between the devotee and Krishna, Who happily responds. And there is a security in the faith in eternal life which no concept of materialistic philosophy can establish.
Faith is, of course. the whipping boy of modern science. But no scientist has ever produced a theory or concept to remotely approach it in terms of human happiness. On the contrary, modern cynics are little more than dead stones compared to those who actually believe in God, in goodness, and in the immortality of the soul. The hopeless condition of modern mentality is a result of this loss of faith, and if this is progress, one must sincerely wonder where it's pointing. Not that faith is ever absent. It has simply, now, been fixed in the material concept of life—in science, evolution, and so forth.
At this point, we can see that the goals of the materialist and of the spiritualist are, to a degree, the same: eternal life (for self or race, as you like), full knowledge, and bliss. And we can further see that the latter two, happiness and knowledge, are qualities of awareness, or consciousness . It takes no more than the proper adjustment in one's consciousness to have happiness and knowledge—and eternal life too, though this will be less apparent. However, if one involves one's consciousness simply in understanding the mechanics of the material universe, the driving of awareness away from self and into the complexities of an unpredictable machine can only result in ignorance and misery—and death, too, though this again will be less apparent.
Now, how to reach one's goals, as mentioned before, is called morality. We should understand this point clearly: one doesn't just behave. One acts toward some goal. He may desire to please parents, society, evolution, teachers, God, lust, etc. But, always, one's conduct, at least in the human form of life, has direction. And this conduct and its direction are called morality.
Today, morality as we've known it has collapsed because the goals are anything but clear, and not really desirable. People, in being asked to "please evolution," are asked to submit blindly to the good of the whole, according to the principles of an unsure theory. It is not the sort of request an intelligent person could comply with, and so our present youth, the first real target of full-scale evolutionism, has revolted, has lost hope, and is on the verge not only of smashing the old society, but of replacing it with a blind and vicious, utterly licentious anarchy.
No real morality can be built along materialistic lines. This is because in the end materialism offers nothing but death to its devotees. Educated away from God, facing the bleak prospect of sacrificing their lives to an uncaring force of Nature, it is little wonder that modern youth has rejected the old standards, and is hurling all its energies into grasping sense gratification to the fullest for what little time it may have. This is, after all, the intelligent thing to do under the circumstances.
The "Moral" Populace
Those who imagine themselves to be moral, but who have no understanding of the existence of God, are indeed more damned than those whose lives are devoted to unlimited sex and liquor. At least the sinful haven't deceived themselves, and can therefore be saved by reasonable arguments. The self-righteous, convinced of their own perfection, are unapproachable by man or God. They are the truly evil in society, the worst of men, and it is of them that anarchy and all the other corruptions of society are spawned.
From such "moralists"—and it would seem that hardly any other kind exists today—revolt and ruin spring in full virulence, and not, please note, from the "wicked." Not that the criminal elements of society are "good." But they are, after all, at the mercy of the "good," who have taught them the arbitrary rules of good and bad. Only when God sets the standard and that means God as He presents Himself in Scripture can the real values of human life, of all life, be set.
This may seem Utopian, but please understand that it isn't the faithful who are the ranting visionaries of today. The evolutionists and materialists in general are far more extravagant when it comes to building Utopias than any mystic out of Arabia. The only difficulty is that the materialistic Utopias have a way of failing to workout. Look, if you need an example, into any grade school textbook, and read about New York City. How wonderful it must be! So many giant buildings, so many bridges, so many trains, so many museums and monuments, so many people, millions of dollars, tons of food, dozens of restaurants, hundreds of theaters, scores of parks, zoos, gardens. The millennium. Then take a walk through the streets of New York City. Talk to the people. The balloon will break with stunning speed. As the saying goes, "I wouldn't wanna live there."
This is the frustrating nature of materialistic success. There is, in fact, no success without God. And, for one whose heart is set on God, there is no failure.
More than all else, the basic shortcoming in educating children to "please evolution" is that no scope is admitted for the individual's hopes and desires. All must be sacrificed to the Whole, to the country or race or species or life force. Such a philosophy is far more grim than the grimmest Calvinism, far more hopeless and barbarian than the mythologies of the Norse.
The highly developed consciousness which is "natural" to human life is thus diverted, and like a sword turned back by an iron buckler, it may well cut the man who holds it. Prevented from pursuing his real direction, modern man—and more especially modern youth—is restless and empty, hopeless and angry, anxious and tragic and dangerous.
No philosophy, no morality, no system of thought or discipline has ever arisen which can, pragmatically, take the place of that real religion which is a vehicle for reaching God. In God consciousness the individual has his specific, eternal relationship with the Creator, Lover, Friend and Father of all. And acting as friend, child, lover and creature of God, the individual is able to benefit all who live, by offering to them the opportunity to advance out of the struggle for survival, and into the transcendental position of love of Godhead.
In this way. Krishna Consciousness fulfills the needs, completely and eternally, of the individual, the community, both human and universal—and of the Whole, which is the desire of the Supreme Godhead, Sri Krishna. This is not merely an alternative to chaos and anarchy. Such an alternative would necessarily be mundane. This is a final solution for the living being. It is the end of evolution.
For this issue we've chosen a few nice sweet preparations for you to enjoy.
(This name was given to this preparation by our Spiritual Master, who made this comment upon tasting these easy-to-make, quick-to-prepare sweets.)
1 cup sugar
Chop up vanilla bean and heat in butter. Then add all ingredients and rub together. Work into small balls. Offer to Krishna and ENJOY!
Halavah (2 servings)
1 cup farina
Melt butter over low heat, add farina and stir constantly for 35 minutes. While you roast the farina, bring water and sugar to boiling point in a separate pot, and simmer. When the farina is thoroughly roasted (be careful not to bum) put into sugar water and stir until firm. Now your halavah is ready to offer and serve. It's a delighfful breakfast treat.
Puris are wonderful with rose petal jam. This recipe will make 10-12.
1 cup white flour
Sift white flour, add ghee and sift again so that butter is distributed evenly. Then add water and make a soft dough. Knead for 15 minutes. Roll into balls 1-1/2 inch diameter, then roll out each ball, using oil on your rolling pin and board. This will prevent sticking, and make for easier handling. Fry on high heat in ghee, once on each side. (Ghee is made by clarifying fresh sweet butter: Place a pound of butter in a small pot and let it stand on lowest heat for 8 hours. Then skim impurities off the top. The impurities can be used for frying vegetables.)
Rich Molasses Bread
2-½ cups whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter pan and sprinkle flour. Combine all dry ingredients in bowl. Combine all wet ingredients in separate bowl. Then add wet to dry, stir quickly, pour into pan and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn heat to 325 degrees and bake 1 hour. This bread can be served with rose petal jam, butter, or cream cheese.