What do we mean when we say that everything is God?
A lecture in Mayapur, India, on March 25, 1975
vande gurun isa-bhaktan
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto the spiritual masters, the devotees of the Lord, the Lord's incarnations, His plenary portions, His energies, and the primeval Lord Himself, Sri Krsna Caitanya." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.1)
Lord Caitanya is Krsna Himself. That was observed by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, who composed one hundred verses praising the glories of Lord Caitanya. But because Caitanya Mahaprabhu was playing the part of a devotee, He threw away the verses. "Oh, this is not for Me." That was Caitanya Mahaprabhu's humbleness.
But the devotees know that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself: mahaprabhu sri-caitanya, radha-krsna-nahe anya. "Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than Radha and Krsna combined." In the beginning there was Krsna; then Krsna divided into two—Radha and Krsna. And then He again combined. That combination is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
So, the Gosvamis' siddhanta, or conclusion, is that Krsna is one. There is no rival for Krsna. God is one: ekam brahma dvitiyam nasti. There cannot be many Gods.
When God, or Krsna, wants to enjoy, He expands His pleasure potency, and that potency is Radharani. As the sastra [scripture] states, sakti-saktimatayor abhedah: "There is no difference between the energy and the energetic." Sakti means "potency," and saktimat means "one who possesses potency." So Radha and Krsna are equal. There is no difference.
The sun is a good example. The sun is the powerful, and the sunshine is the power. So, there is heat in the sun, and there is also heat in the sunshine. There is light in the sun, and there is light in the sunshine also. Therefore, so far as heat and light are concerned, the sun and the sunshine are qualitatively one. But the temperature of the sun and the temperature of the sunshine are different. So there is a quantitative difference.
This is the basic principle of Lord Caitanya's philosophy: acintya-bhedabheda. Acintya means "inconceivable," bheda means "difference," and abheda means "nondifference." This describes the whole situation: there is one God, but He has expanded Himself in many different ways (eko bahu syam). And these expansions are all one with Him and at the same time different from Him.
This philosophy of acintya-bhedabheda is described here in the first verse of Caitanya-caritamrta. Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu expands Himself as gurun, the spiritual masters. The spiritual master is directly Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair uktah: "In all the sastras, the guru is accepted as Krsna." So when you offer your devotion and respects to the guru, you offer them to Krsna. The guru does not think that he is Krsna, but he collects the devotional services of his disciples and offers them to Krsna. This is the process.
We cannot approach Krsna directly; we should approach Him through the guru. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam. The injunction of the sastra is that one should approach a guru who can accept the disciple's service and transfer it to the Supreme Person. Therefore one's first offering is to the guru—vande gurun.
The guru's business is to canvass on behalf of the Supreme Lord. In the Bhagavad-gita [18.66] Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Give up all material engagements and just surrender unto Me." In the material world we have created so many so-called duties. This is our disease. Sociology, communism, nationalism, internationalism, this "ism," that "ism"—many, many duties we have created. But they are all material. Therefore, out of His causeless mercy Krsna descends to teach us our real duty.
Human life is meant for one thing: Athato brahma jijnasa—to inquire about the Supreme Absolute Truth. But instead of doing that, people have created so many "isms." That is their misfortune. In this human life nature gives us the opportunity to inquire about the Absolute Truth. We have the intelligence to inquire in this way, whereas the cats and dogs do not. The trees, the plants, the aquatics, the animals, the beasts, the uncivilized men out of 8,400,000 species of life, only the civilized men can inquire into the Absolute Truth. So it is a rare opportunity.
Because we are part and parcel of God, naturally we have the qualities of God in minute quantity. That is natural. But on account of our material association, those qualities are now covered by various designations. This is our material disease.
When a piece of gold is covered by dirt, it does not exhibit the qualities of gold. Similarly, because we are covered by our material designations, we are not exhibiting our godlike qualities. Actually, we are small Krsnas—very small. Because we are part and parcel of Krsna, we are of the same quality. But that quality is now covered, and the covering is given various names—socialism, communism, and so on. "I am Indian..... I am American." "I am Hindu." "I am Muslim." "I am white." "I am black." All these designations cover our real nature as servants of Krsna. It is the business of the guru to clear away these designations, these dirty things.
Therefore we first offer our respects to the guru, because he is the agent of Krsna. Krsna says, "Give up all these designative dharmas and surrender to Me. That is your real dharma." But Krsna does not force us. And even upon the request of Krsna we do not give up our designations. This is the difficulty.
Krsna said, "Surrender to Me," but except for the Pandavas and a few other devotees, practically nobody took His order seriously. This was five thousand years ago, so what to speak of today? Now so many scholars speak on the Bhagavad-gita, but without stressing Krsna. That is their business. These demons are teaching Bhagavad-gita without Krsna! Nobody says what Krsna wants: sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. Krsna wants that everyone simply surrender to Him, but these so-called scholars misinterpret His words in various ways and divert people's attention most foolishly.
Many of you have come from Western countries. So, for at least the last two hundred years the Bhagavad-gita has been popular in Europe and America, at least among scholars and theosophists and theologists. But nobody has understood Krsna. That is the problem. But for the last, say, five or ten years, because we have presented Krsna as He is, it has become very easy for you to understand Him. Unadulterated Krsna. Before this, everything presented about Krsna was adulterated. Therefore, there was no effect.
So if you push on this movement by presenting unadulterated Krsna, it will go on. And as soon as you adulterate Krsna, it will not go on. It will not be effective. You may be a very good scholar or politician, this or that, but you'll never understand what Krsna is. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita [7.25], naham prakasah sarvasya yogamaya-samavrtah: "I do not reveal Myself to everyone, being covered by My illusory energy." In other words, if you pollute Krsna, He will never be revealed to you. By the grace of Krsna you have taken shelter of His lotus feet. It is a great fortune for you. So do not adulterate Krsna. That is my request. Try to understand Krsna as He is.
And to help us understand and approach Krsna, Krsna Himself appeared as Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. His life and teachings are described in the Caitanya-caritamrta. Caitanya means "spiritual, living." So since Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna, that means Krsna is the supreme living force.
We reject the so-called scientific theory that life has come from chemicals. No. We have engaged our scientist students in proving that life does not come from matter but rather from the Supreme Spirit, Krsna. Already one student has written a small book, The Scientific Basis of Krsna Consciousness, and we are soon going to publish another book. What is the title?
Devotee: Life Comes from Life.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Life comes from life. That is a fact. These modern so-called scientific theories that life comes from matter are all foolish.
We have all experienced what is living force and what is dead matter. Krsna explains the living force in the Bhagavad-gita [2.20], na hanyate hanyamane sarire: "The living force is not finished after the annihilation of the body." When we are alive, our body is moving, and we can feel the presence of the living force. And when we see a dead body, one that is not moving, we should ask, "Why was the body moving before and is now not moving?" If we simply study this difference of condition, we can understand what the living force is. It is not very difficult. Simply understand, "Now the living force has gone out of this body; therefore the body is no longer moving and is simply dead matter." The Caitanya-caritamrta talks of the living force, not dead matter. We should always remember this.
Now, the guru is part of that living force, and so are the Lord Himself, His incarnations, His expansions, His devotees, and His internal energies. All of them are on the spiritual platform, part of the living force (caitanya-samjnakam).
Therefore the personification of all living forces is Krsna Caitanya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Unfortunately, people mistake Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu for an ordinary devotee or sadhu or yogi. That is a mistake. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the original living force, Krsna.
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya understood Lord Caitanya as He is. So did Srila Rupa Gosvami. Similarly, the followers of Rupa Gosvami and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya all understand Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And for one who understands or follows the path enunciated by Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Krsna is very easily obtained. This is all described in the Caitanya-caritamrta.
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya described Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission as follows:
Here Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya says that Sri Krsna Caitanya is purusah puranah—Krsna, the original Personality of Godhead. Why did Krsna Caitanya appear? Sarvabhauma says, vairagya-vidya ... siksartham. To teach detachment and knowledge of devotional service. Because we are suffering here on account of so many designations, out of His great mercy Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to purify us of all these nonsense designations. And the way is through vairagya-vidya. Raga means "material attachment," and vairagya is "freedom from material attachments." These false attachments we have to give up. How to do this in our practical life—how to love Krsna, how to approach Him—is taught by Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Lord Caitanya is described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Eleventh Canto, as krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam. Krsna-varnam means either "one who belongs to the same category as Krsna" or "one who is always describing Krsna," and tvisakrsnam means "with a nonblackish complexion." Lord Caitanya's only business is to describe Krsna, and His complexion is not blackish. Krsna has many colors. One of His colors is pita golden. So Lord Caitanya is known as the golden avatara. Then, sangopangastra-parsadam: "Lord Caitanya is always accompanied by His close associates." These associates are described here in this first verse of the Caitanya-caritamrta—the gurus, the Lord's devotees, His incarnations, expansions, and energies.
So, study this Caitanya-caritamrta. Now, following in the footsteps of our Guru Maharaja, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, we have published this very elaborately explained English edition. There is no other edition of Caitanya-caritamrta like this, so elaborately explained. It can be understood by the advanced student.
Anyone can become advanced. "Advanced" means that at least you should understand that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you simply understand this—that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead—then you are advanced. It is not very difficult. All Vedic literatures are meant for understanding Krsna. What is that understanding? That Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you become convinced of this, your study of the Vedas is complete.
In the Bhagavad-gita [7.7] Krsna says, mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya: "My dear Arjuna, there is no authority or person or truth superior to Me." If you simply have faith in these words of Krsna's, you become advanced in Krsna consciousness. You may believe blindly or after careful study. It doesn't matter. Whether you touch fire blindly or purposely, it will act. Similarly, even if you blindly accept Krsna as the Supreme Person, you become advanced. Take it from me: if you simply have this conviction—"Yes, Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead"—you are an advanced student in spiritual life.
So, all the persons associated with Sri Krsna Caitanya—Sri Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara, and Srivasa—all of them are one in the sense that they are all interested in pushing Krsna consciousness on. Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is personally trying, and Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Srivasa, and Gadadhara are helping Him.
To approach these five supreme persons, you require the help of a guru. Therefore the guru is offered respectful prayers first: vande gurun. Plural number—gurun. Still, the gurus are one. For example, Krsna has many forms, but that does not mean He is many. No, Krsna is one. Similarly, there may be many gurus, but their philosophy must be one: to teach everyone that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the test of a genuine guru. If someone is teaching something else, some nonsense, then he is not a guru. As stated in the sastra,
A brahmana is usually very expert in chanting Vedic mantras, understanding the tantras, etc. That is the test of the brahmana—that he is very learned. But if he does not know what Krsna is, or if he's not a devotee of Krsna, he cannot become a guru. On the other hand, one who is coming from the family of dog-eaters, the lowest of human beings, can become a guru if he's a Vaisnava, a devotee of Krsna.
So, the guru is very important because he has accepted Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he has seen the truth, and he is teaching pure Krsna consciousness. This is the test of a genuine guru. The bona fide guru does not claim to be Krsna Himself, but rather he canvasses door to door: "Please become a devotee of Krsna." This is the sign of a genuine guru.
Thank you very much.
The awful truth of his crisis became apparent to him,
By Rohininandana Dasa
It was an ordinary hat, but to him it was an assertion of independence. He cocked it and sauntered along the beach, his tuneless whistle drowned out by the surging roar of breaking ocean waves. Sea gulls played in the wind. Sometimes gliding, sometimes banking against the gusting air, they mewed and cried to one another. Clouds scudded across the sun, their shadows following them across the ocean's surface. Alone, hands in his trouser pockets, thumbs exposed, he hunched his shoulders and gazed indifferently toward the powerful sea as he leaned back into the wind. Occasionally, he made sure his hat was still firmly on his head.
He thought of the future. He was sure he would do something special, something unique to make his mark in the world. Though he saw the sea, heard the crying gulls, and felt the wind, he gave attention to nothing but his own thoughts. He kicked a stone and felt satisfied to see how accurately it cracked into another. He smiled. He didn't allow himself to consider that only when he was alone did he feel significant. Mainly, he lived alone in a mirrored prison of his own making. He kicked the stone again for good measure.
Suddenly the wind blustered, caught the felt hat under its brim, and blew it into the sea, where it gracefully alighted on the surface, far beyond the surf. The boy could still see its single feather proudly piercing the air as if mocking him. He felt indignant that his new hat should be taken away so effortlessly. It was hard to accept, and he decided to take up the challenge of retrieving it.
But the current was sweeping its tiny burden swiftly away. The boy looked longingly at his treasured hat bobbing tauntingly behind the swell. He held back an angry tear, and, like a sea captain, scanned the hat's possible course. A rocky peninsula jutted out staunchly into the ocean. Maybe the hat would drift by there.
But looking at the huge rocks he'd have to scale to get there, he hesitated. Didn't that foothold appear dangerous? Shouldn't he run back and get help? Wouldn't it be better to forget the whole thing? "No!" the boy thought. "I'm almost a man now; I can get the hat on my own. Besides, there's no time to lose."
As he ran along the beach, the rocks loomed higher than they had first appeared. He scrambled over some of them, slipping a couple of times but thinking nothing of it in his frenzy to reach the place where he calculated his hat might pass. The rocks were angular, sharp, and menacingly steep-the earth's bones laid bare. He made it to the top of the crag and clambered cautiously on his hands and knees. He came to where the rock dropped abruptly down to the smaller rock on which he had planned to stand. But it was scary to think how he'd get down the last fifteen feet. Had he considered the difficulty of climbing back up, he would not have attempted his descent.
Somehow he inched his way down, gripping each uninviting protrusion with whitened knuckles. Finally, with a small, nervous leap, he jumped the last five feet.
As soon as he landed, he felt the unfathomed power of the ocean. It surrounded him, sucking, heaving. It surged with tremendous might. He was afraid of such natural potency, which rarely intruded upon his manageable and self-reflective world. "Still," he thought, "I'll fetch my hat and be out of here in a jiffy. But where is the damned thing?"
Now that he was face to face with his gigantic adversary, he could understand that there was no possibility of getting his hat back. Even if it did come near, there was no way he could dare try to reach it. The barnacled rock at his feet was pitted by countless years of unwavering abrasion, making it firm footing, but as it curved to meet the water, it was covered by a dark green slime. He knew he would slip if he tried to reach down from there. To fall from that little platform would mean to be helplessly swept away and then smashed back against the rocks.
"This sea is pretty rough," he admitted, and he decided to abandon his enterprise. He turned to leave. Then it happened.
He could have thought before about the possibility. He knew well about outgoing and incoming tides and had heard about picnickers trapped in caves. But today such a thought had evaded him in his haste to find his hat. The sea—or the mover of the sea—was not, however, forgetful. A triumphant upsurge engulfed his small platform, knocked him down, and covered him in its fearsome embraces. Spread-eagled, he frantically grasped the crusted stone, as his monstrous enemy tried to drag him deep into its clutches. The water subsided and was gone almost as quickly as it had come.
The boy gingerly stood up and examined some cuts on his arms and legs. He shook, not so much from the coldness of the water as from fear. His mouth twisted from a fright he had never known. He wanted to call out to someone, but he knew that no one could hear his puny voice above the relentless thunder of the ocean.
He tried to compose himself, rationalizing that it would be another seven or ten waves before the next big one. He surely had time to climb to safety. Once more he turned to escape, but now his prison wall glistened. For a moment he hesitated.
"I've got to do it!" he squealed, as he attempted to climb. But he slipped repeatedly as he tried to find a foothold. Then another big wave came. Captured and bound, he was dragged effortlessly down.
Unaware of the drama going on below, the exultant gulls continued to careen through the skies, fighting and frolicking in the wind. They had no fear of the ocean, which they saw as a resting place and provider of their food. They also felt no fear of death. To them the boy seemed no more than a piece of driftwood buffeted by the waves. There were always so many bits and pieces floating in the sea.
The boy felt himself slipping down over the slimy seaweed. He tried to grab hold of something, but, covered by the wave, he could neither see nor breathe. Then his hands locked around an odd outcrop. The water subsided, leaving him half submerged. He choked and coughed as he inhaled the acrid salt water. With all his strength he pulled himself out by clasping the barnacle-covered rocks. He flopped down. Looking up at the wheeling, laughing birds, he felt envious of their freedom. "How I wish I could fly!"
But there was no time to lose, no time to check his battered body for wounds. The tide was coming in quickly now, and his small platform was awash. He crawled cautiously to the face of the rock, the waves threatening to sweep him away at any moment.
"Oh, please don't let it happen to me," he wailed, unaware to whom he was speaking. The awful truth of his crisis became apparent to him, yet throughout his entire conscious being he resisted the fact that he was going to die. He could not in any way accommodate such an idea. But death seemed inevitable. He knew that one more strong rush of water could carry him helplessly away.
"No, no, it can't happen to me!" he pleaded, as he feverishly grasped at the forbidding wall of rock.
With unprecedented clarity he suddenly saw himself to be a tiny creature controlled by infinite natural forces. He surrendered his pride. Mysteriously, he now saw handholds. He climbed without effort and found himself inexplicably at the top. He lay down. A mighty wave smashed below him, sending spray high into the air, soaking his sobbing body.
Exhausted, he rested on the safe stone and gazed thoughtfully out of window like eyes. "I'm just a little creature in this universe! But I exist. The sun exists, the clouds exist, the stars exist, the moon, the sea, and all these animals and birds exist. And I exist! I spend my time with trivial concerns. I've been thinking I'm something special. Actually everything is special. Everything is so wonderful! And I'm part of it. I don't know how all this is happening, but there must be a reason."
Like a baby discovering his body, the boy discovered another dimension of existence that had previously remained beyond his perception. He understood for a moment that beyond the powerful phenomenon of the ocean was its source, something or someone of infinite magnificence that yet remained hidden to him because of his spiritual immaturity. Then, as at the end of a dramatic performance, a curtain of comforting illusion came down over his inner eye, and his thoughts returned once more to mundane familiarity.
He crawled back along the crag and finally reached the beach. He sat down and gazed wondrously at the sea, the rocks, and the sky. The birds still wheeled in their airy habitat.
"I wonder what my life is for," he thought.
Years later, however, when I was developing faith in the presence of God through scriptural and philosophical evidence, logic, and the teachings of saintly persons, especially Srila Prabhupada, remembering such vivid experiences helped demolish my stubborn resistance to the truth. After all not one wave breaks without Krsna's will.—Rohininandana dasa
Chanting is easy, and it works. In fact, it is the most effective means of God realization in the world.
Here's why. God is unlimitedly powerful, and His name is Himself. When we chant God's names, God is totally present through the transcendental sound. So potent are God's names that the Vedic scriptures consider chanting the essectial, universal religion of the age.
So why don't more people chant?
Maybe they're embarrassed. Or busy. Or doubtful. Or maybe they think chanting is a sectarian religious practice—something only for the Hare Krishnas.
Yet what could be less sectarian than calling out to God? All the great scriptures of the world praise the holy names of God. God's names may vary from religion to religion or from culture to culture, but the person—the supreme father of all—is the same.
Don't be embarrassed. Chanting is for everyone. Don't feel you're too busy. Chanting is easy. And don't remain doubtful. Try chanting and see the results.
Chant. It's easy, effective, and universal.
High Technology And The Ground Of Being
Experiments with phase conjugation may help link physics to metaphysics—and metaphysics to a comprehensive spiritual world view.
by Sadaputa Dasa
In the United States and the Soviet Union, scientists compete to perfect optical phase conjugation—a process that can reverse the motion of a beam of light, causing an image scrambled by an irregular medium (such as frosted glass) to return to its original, undistorted form. They hope to use reversed light beams to focus laser weapons on enemy missiles.
At Syracuse University an eminent physicist appears before a large audience. A professor of religion introduces him as the man who may save the world from the fragmentation of modern Western thinking and bring people to a platform of transcendental wholeness. The physicist then begins expounding metaphysical ideas based on physics and Eastern philosophy.
Although it may seem surprising, the military research work and the university lecture share a common foundation in a fundamental feature of the laws of physics. To understand how this is so, let us first consider optical phase conjugation.
The application of the technology of optical phase conjugation to "star wars" weapons systems is still in the conceptual stage, but the unscrambling of light that has passed through frosted glass has actually been demonstrated (see Figure 1). In a typical experiment, light is reflected from an object and passes through frosted glass, causing the light beam to distort in a complicated way. The beam then reflects from a device called a phase conjugate minor, which reverses the distorted beam and passes it back through the frosted glass. When the light enters an observer's eye, he perceives a clear, undistorted image of the original object instead of a garbled blur, which he would see if the image were reflected back through the glass by an ordinary mirror.
As the reflected beam leaves the phase conjugate mirror, it has the curious properties that (1) it encodes information for the original image in a distorted, unrecognizable form, and (2) as time passes, the apparently random distortion is reduced, and the information contained by the beam becomes clearly manifest. Normally we would expect to see just the opposite—a pattern containing meaningful information will gradually degrade until the information is irretrievably lost.
According to classical physical theory, however, the laws of physical dynamics are reversible, and thus it is possible in theory for any physical process to run backward and recreate an earlier state of affairs from its later end product. This implies that information is never actually lost as a result of physical transformations, and in principle it might be possible to again extract the information from the cosmic energy background. The restoration of a garbled image by a phase conjugate mirror seems to provide an example of this.
While the phase conjugate mirror example shows an apparently random pattern being produced by letting an orderly pattern degrade by natural processes, random patterns can also be produced in other ways. In some techniques of optical phase conjugation, one adds to the reflecting beam a predistorted image—of a face, for example—that was not present when the beam first passed through the clouded glass. As the beam retraces its path, the face undistorts and becomes clearly visible.
This example of research in optical phase conjugation has bearing on metaphysical questions. Could it be that the universal background of random electromagnetic noise incorporates patterns that are imposed on the physical medium by a transcendental source of order, and which are programed to naturally generate orderly forms and sequences of events?
The Implicate Order
As it turns out, the fact that dispersed information can give rise to localized organization has been used as the cornerstone for a comprehensive metaphysical world view. This is the theory of the implicate order, devised by David Bohm—the physicist in our second scenario.
Bohm generally illustrates his ideas with an apparatus consisting of two concentric cylinders with the space in between filled with a viscous fluid such as glycerine. If a drop of ink is placed on the surface of the fluid and the outer cylinder is slowly rotated, the drop will be drawn out into a long, thin strand that ultimately will become invisible. If the outer cylinder is then slowly rotated in the opposite direction, the stretching out of the drop will be reversed, and at a certain time the drop will again become briefly visible. Then it will again stretch out and disappear as the rotation of the cylinder continues.
We can see that this is another example of how information for an organized structure—in this case the drop of ink—can be dispersed throughout a physical medium in an unrecognizable form and then recovered through a physical transformation that restores the original structure. Bohm would say that the dispersed ink drop has become enfolded in the fluid, and that when it reappears, it has become unfolded.
From this example we can understand Bohm's world view by two steps. In the first step, we imagine that all phenomena in the universe are enfolded in an ultimate physical substrate—the ground of all being—which Bohm calls the "implicate order." As processes of physical transformation occur in this substrate, successive enfolded patterns unfold and emerge in explicit form, manifesting the "explicate order" of our ordinary experience.
The second step in understanding Bohm's world view is to understand his conception of the implicate order as a unified whole consisting of apparently distinguishable parts. According to Bohm, although the parts seem distinct, each part is identical with the whole since it includes, or "enfolds," the whole. To Bohm the most important characteristic of ultimate reality is undifferentiated wholeness. Although he accepts the existence of distinct parts as an aspect of the explicate order, he regards it as incorrect to suppose that, on a fundamental level, reality is actually made up of distinct parts.
The intuitive basis behind this idea of wholeness is that when information is enfolded into a physical system, it tends to become distributed uniformly throughout the system.
For example, when a drop of ink is enfolded into the glycerine, the p pattern of ink from which the drop can later be recovered stretches out over a broad area. If we could somehow remove the ink from all parts of this pattern except for a small region, then we would find that a dim image of the original drop could be restored, or unfolded, from the ink in this region alone. Thus, in one sense, the enfolded drop has been distributed over many different parts of the glycerine at once.
This leads to the idea of a continuum in which all patterns ever manifest in any part are represented equally in all parts. Speaking loosely one can say that the whole of the continuum in both space and time is present in any small part of the continuum. By invoking quantum mechanical undefinability, which holds that a particle such as an electron must be defined simultaneously as a particle and a wave, one can then leap from this idea to the idea of a unified entity encompassing all space and time, in which each part not merely represents the whole but contains the whole and is thus identical to it.
This is Bohm's implicate order. Although it is partly based on physics, it also clearly involves ideas that are quite alien to traditional physical science. In fact, Bohm's implicate order represents an attempt to build a bridge between physics and a metaphysical system some call the "perennial philosophy."
The essence of the perennial philosophy is that reality consists of a hierarchy of levels ranging from gross matter through mind, intelligence, and ego, and culminating in an all-encompassing transcendent state of absolute oneness. Many cultures have expounded such philosophies, and the most highly developed examples include Buddhism, the advaita-vedanta philosophy of India, Sufiism, Taoism, and Christian mysticism.
Though Bohm does not explicitly say so in his books, it is clear from published conversations that he is trying to create a synthesis of physics and the particular form of advaita-vedanta expounded by the Indian philosopher Krishnamurti, whose teachings Bohm greatly admires. Thus Bohm's implicate order is motivated by metaphysical ideas extending far beyond the limits of his reasoning about physics.
The idea that "unfolded" information can give rise to observable organized form is based both on physical theory and practical examples, such as the phase conjugate mirror. But the idea that the parts of the implicate order actually include the whole does not arise naturally from these sources of inspiration, and indeed it is very difficult, if not impossible, to formulate this idea mathematically.
Where, then, does this idea ultimately come from? Bohm speaks of insight that comes from beyond manifest thought, and that may even originate from a level transcending the implicate order.
He emphasizes, however, that human thought cannot grasp the unmanifest, and he stresses the danger of becoming deluded by false insights. But if human thought is not an adequate instrument for gaining knowledge of the unmanifest, then how will we be able to distinguish between true and false "insights"?
As we have indicated, Bohm's ideas come from the Indian philosophical system of advaita-vedanta, which forms one school of thought within a diverse body of tradition generally known as Hinduism. According to this tradition, transcendental knowledge can be reliably attained through the mutual reinforcement of two forms of revelation: internal and external.
The external revelation is expressed in scriptures, or sastras, which descend to the human level through a chain of enlightened beings, and which originate from a transcendental, supremely intelligent source. The general term for this body of revealed knowledge is Veda.
The internal revelation is directly transmitted into the consciousness of a spiritual aspirant from the same supreme intelligence that introduced the Vedic sastras into the material realm. This corresponds to Bohm's idea of insight originating from a source beyond the implicate order. In the Vedic system, however, this insight is corroborated by the sastras, which are directly accessible to the external mind and senses. By accepting the guidance of the sastras, a spiritual aspirant is able to discriminate between genuine and spurious spiritual insight. We suggest that Bohm's metaphysical system is incomplete without some form of explicit external revelation.
If one is going to seriously seek transcendental knowledge, one should at least theoretically accept that (1) the ultimate transcendental source of this knowledge is able to communicate with human beings, and (2) records of genuine communications of this kind do exist in human society. If this is not so, then one has little hope of understanding that which lies utterly beyond the grasp of the mind and senses.
One might therefore seriously consider the perennial notion that a supreme intelligence, known in the West as God, maybe the source of the organized information that gives rise to our manifest world. Bohm, in fact, comes very close to admitting the possibility of a sentient supreme being. However, in line with the philosophy of advaita-vedanta, he finally turns away from this idea, declaring, "There's nothing we can do with that."
Simultaneous Oneness and Difference
It is interesting to note that the Vedic sastra entitled Brahma-samhita gives a very clear description of Bohm's idea of a whole that is fully contained in each of its parts. Ironically, this is part of a series of prayers to God as a supreme person:
He is an undifferentiated entity, as there is no distinction between potency and the possessor thereof. In His work of creation of millions of worlds, His potency remains inseparable. All the universes exist in Him, and He is present in His fullness in every one of the atoms that are scattered throughout the universe, at one and the same time. Such is the primeval Lord whom I adore.
One might object that the human mind acting on its own could not possibly demonstrate the truth of the personal conception of the supreme whole. Therefore, one should adopt a more cautious conception that is abstract and impersonal. The point can be made, however, that any conception of the Absolute generated by the finite mind is as mundane as any other, including both personal and impersonal conceptions. One then may as well forego all metaphysical speculation and restrict one's attention entirely to the manifest world of interacting material energies.
But if one does want to introduce ideas about the Absolute derived from revealed knowledge, then the Vedic literatures give concrete indication of how direct realization of this knowledge can be attained. Although the Supreme Lord is inaccessible to the mundane mind, the Lord will reveal Himself to persons who surrender to Him and serve Him with love. This, of course, is also a perennial philosophical conclusion.
Back to Physics.
We have seen that key aspects of Bohm's world view are based indirectly on traditional sources of revealed transcendental knowledge. One might ask, however, what part of his philosophy of the implicate order can be based exclusively on physical observation and theory.
We suggest that this is limited to the observation that macroscopic forms can arise by physical transformations from patterns of minute fluctuations that look like random noise. These patterns may appear in many forms, ranging from light waves to distributions of nuclear magnetic fields. The patterns are not necessarily spread throughout all space, but patterns that will later give rise to distinct macroscopic events may co-exist in the same volume of space.
We can use these observations to show another way in which a link can be established between physics and metaphysics. Our proposed link is derived from the Vedic literature Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is the idea that the material creation is brought about and maintained through the injection of divinely ordered sound vibrations into a primordial material substrate called pradhana. According to this idea, the pradhana is an eternally existing energy of the supreme that is capable of manifesting material space and time, the material elements, and their various possible combinations. Left to itself the pradhana would manifest none of these things, but it does so under the influence of intelligently directed sound vibrations generated by the Supreme Lord.
Here the word sound is a translation of the Sanskrit word sabda. Since the pradhana is even more subtle than space as we know it, this sabda does not refer to ordinary sound, consisting of vibrations propagating through gross matter. We will therefore interpret "sound" here to mean any type of propagating vibration, however subtle.
The creation of the material universes by sound (see Figures 2 and 3) involves (1) the generation of material space and time, (2) the systematic building up of the subtle and gross material elements, (3) the organization of these elements into worlds living beings, and, finally, (4) the continued maintenance and direction of these worlds.
Optical phase conjugation provides an analogy to this picture of the relation between material and transcendental levels of existence. Consider an arrangement in which pictures are being transmitted through a sheet of frosted glass. An observer on the receiving side would see successive images emerging from the glass screen, but he would not be able to see the transmitting persons and apparatus on the other side.
Similarly, according to the Vedic conception, the material energy serves as a veil of illusion, or maya, that prevents living beings in the material realm from directly perceiving God. God is actually in direct control of the material energy, but He is manipulating it in such a way that His presence is hidden, and complex patterns of events seem to unfold simply by material action and reaction.
Let us suppose for the moment that organized wave patterns are continually being injected into the known physical continuum from subtler levels of physical reality. Such patterns will appear to be random, especially if they encode information for many different macroscopic forms and sequences of events. For this reason they will be difficult to distinguish from purely random patterns by experimental observation.
Thus much of the random noise that surrounds us may consist of information for patterns that will "unfold" in the future to produce macroscopic results, while the rest consists of the "enfolded" or "refolded" remnants of past macroscopic patterns. If a pattern of microscopic vibrations does unfold to produce an organized macroscopic effect, then this will make a very striking impression if it can be observed.
To indicate the possibilities for such an event, we can give an example based on the idea of a wave field. The surface of a pond is a simple example of such a field. The first frame in Figure 4 shows the wave field in an apparently chaotic state of motion. However, this pattern of waves contains hidden information. The successive frames show the motion of the waves (according to the wave equation) as time passes. In frame 2 we see that a letter A has appeared in the field. This form quickly takes shape and dissipates, and it is replaced in frame 4 by the similar rapid appearance and disappearance of the symbol [Devanagari letters] (Aum). Actually the information for both symbols is present in all four frames of the figure.
The Theory of Evolution
Natural history is an area in which the hypothesis of unfolding of subtle information has relevant applications. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the prevailing scientific viewpoint has been that the origin of living species can be explained by Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection and random variation. But there have always been prominent dissenters from this view.
In the nineteenth century Alfred Russell Wallace, the co-inventor of Darwin's theory, felt that the action of some higher intelligence was required to account for such biological phenomena as the human brain. A similar point is made by Bohm, who feels that "natural selection is not the whole story, but rather that evolution is a sign of the creative intelligence of matter." As we have pointed out, Bohm regards this intelligence as emanating either from his implicate order or from beyond.
In the theory of creation by sound vibration that we are considering here, it is to be expected that the forms of living organisms could be generated or modified through the effects of organized wave patterns transmitted into the physical realm by the supreme intelligent being. This will also be difficult to either demonstrate or disprove empirically, because of the incompleteness of the fossil record and the presumed rarity of radical transformations of species.
When evaluating a possible transformation of this kind, there will always be the problem of making sure that the transformation is not a result of ordinary physical cause and effect. To do this effectively would require detailed knowledge about the transformation, which would be very difficult to obtain.
Actually both the theory of creation by sound vibration and the Darwinian theory of evolution are extremely difficult to test empirically. On the physical level both theories are dealing with phenomena that are extremely complex and are not subject to experimental manipulation.
The theory of creation by sound vibration involves transcendental levels of reality not accessible to the mundane senses, and thus in one way it is more unverifiable than the purely physical Darwinian theory. However, if a purely physical theory turns out to be empirically unverifiable, then there is nothing further one can do to be sure about it. In contrast, a theory that posits a supreme intelligent being opens up the possibility that further knowledge may be gained through internal and external revelation brought about by the will of that being.
Of course, the dynamics of obtaining such knowledge are different from those of empirical, experimental science and mathematical analysis. Instead of forcing nature to disclose its secrets, one surrenders to the Supreme Lord in a humble spirit and pursues a path of spiritual discipline and divine service.
This approach to knowledge and to life also constitutes one of the great perennial philosophies of mankind, but it has tended to be eclipsed in this age of scientific empiricism. To obtain the fruits of this path to knowledge, one must be willing to follow it, and one will be inclined to do this only if one thinks the world view on which it is based might possibly be true. Establishing this possibility constitutes the ultimate justification for constructing theories, such as the one considered here, linking physics and metaphysics.
SADAPUTA DASA obtained his Ph.D. in mathematics at Cornell University, specializing in probability theory and statistical mechanics. He has published many scientific articles in the fields of mathematical biology and remote sensing, and has recently completed a university textbook, titled Computer Simulations of Self-organization in Biological Systems. 'High Technology and the Ground of Being "was excerpted from the first chapter of Sadaputa's upcoming book, The End of Physics.
As the weeks went by, they came to respect the jungle that was their home. Despite the many hazards and austerities it imposed on them, it was God's creation, undisturbed by man.
A New Frontier For Lord Caitanya's Mercy
by Indradyumna Swami
One day late last fall, one of my Godbrothers requested me to travel and preach Krsna consciousness in Brazil. I jumped at the opportunity. As a sannyasi I am duty-bound to travel widely and teach within our Hare Krsna Society, and I knew we had many centers in Brazil. Yet as I looked over a map, I realized that my Godbrother's request opened up another opportunity: I would have a chance to take the Hare Krsna movement to a new frontier—the Amazon jungle.
In the early years of our Society I had the privilege to help pioneer the spreading of Krsna consciousness in Europe. Since those days the movement has expanded to every continent in its effort to fulfill the prediction made five hundred years ago by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that the chanting of Hare Krsna would one day go to every town and village in the world. Yet there still remain some places untouched by the sankirtana movement, and I longed for the pioneering experience again. In my Godbrother's invitation I had found my chance.
Starting in Rio de Janeiro, I traveled north through Salvador, Recife, and Belem. After some weeks my dream of bringing Krsna consciousness to the Amazon came closer to becoming a reality, when the small plane I was flying in landed in Manaus, deep in the Amazon jungle. As the pilot brought the plane to a halt and opened the door, I was met by a wave of the heat and humidity that would be my constant companions for the months ahead.
As I collected my bags, I was happy to see the small group of devotees who had come to pick me up. They had opened a small temple in Manaus two years before and since then had not seen another devotee. Their responsibilities had not taken them far beyond the city limits, but when I revealed my plan to take Krsna consciousness up the Amazon River, they immediately responded with enthusiastic smiles.
Despite their enthusiasm, however, I soon learned that there were practical problems to be solved before my plan could be fulfilled. ISKCON Manaus was a poor center—ten devotees in a small apartment and with no car, what to speak of a suitable boat for plying up the Amazon. But I had faith that if Lord Caitanya wanted our trip, it would happen.
And sure enough, that weekend at the Sunday Feast Krsna fulfilled our desire, as we were honored to receive the wife of the governor of Amazon state, Mrs. Tarcila Mendez. A regular visitor to the small center, she responded enthusiastically to my idea. I asked her to help us find a boat with which we could travel up the river. This was the only mode of transport suitable for visiting the villages in the jungle, many of which have no roads connecting them to the civilized world.
Two days later Mrs. Mendez returned to the Manaus temple. She had discussed our proposed expedition with her husband, and they had decided to let us use their own riverboat, the Piraiba, especially suited to the dangerous conditions of the Amazon.
I was overwhelmed by her generosity, and even more so when I visited the boat with her the next day. Lord Krsna had inspired her to load the one-hundred-ton, eighty-five-foot boat with a two-month supply of foodstuffs, including half a ton of grain for prasadam distribution, and a supply of fresh drinking water for the entire journey. And what's more, her husband had ordered the military to provide a crew of six: a captain, a first lieutenant, an engine man, and three crew members. He also offered to pay for the fuel for the entire trip. And to my ultimate surprise, he ordered the whole crew to be vegetarian for the entire journey!
Taking these facilities as a direct sign from Lord Caitanya, we loaded the Piraiba with Srila Prabhupada's books and other supplies and, flying the Brazilian flag, left port that day bound for Tefe, more than six hundred miles away. As we left Manaus—and with it civilization—we looked forward to the adventure of preaching Krsna consciousness for the first time in the villages that lay ahead.
But we knew that even with the facilities we had, the voyage was not without risks. The first day out, the captain warned us about falling overboard: the piranhas would devour anyone in minutes. And there were the piraibas—after whom the boat was named—large flesh-eating fish that could swallow a man whole. The river itself was constantly changing course and had dangerous whirlpools that could easily capsize our boat. And there were the pervasive mosquitoes—carrying malaria and dengue and yellow fever. I soon learned, too, that the alligators and snakes were not in cages out here. This wasn't a trip into Adventure land at Disney World.
After a few days we reached the first village along the river's bank We anchored, boarded our small lifeboat, and headed for shore, armed only with Krsna's holy names, prasadam, and Srila Prabhupada's books. Knowing that the villagers rarely see visitors, we couldn't predict their reactions when fifteen Hare Krsna devotees would come chanting and dancing into their village.
But our apprehensions were soon pleasantly relieved when we saw several hundred men, women, and children lining the shore for our arrival. After following us up the riverbank, they continued with us the entire two hours as we wound our way through the village's small dirt streets chanting Hare Krsna. Everyone was hungry by the time we stopped to distribute prasadam. They ate heartily and then listened intently as I spoke, through a translator, on the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita.
It was dark before we left. Pushing our lifeboat off from the shore, I smiled to think that the sankirtana movement was just as popular here in the wild Amazon jungle as it is anywhere else in the world.
We were soon reminded of the perils of the jungle, however. Unable to find our way back to the Piraiba, we wandered aimlessly for hours alongside the bank of the river. Suddenly we found ourselves in an eerie swamp, lit only by the dim lights of thousands of fireflies. Then, in our efforts to get out, we got stuck on a sand bar . . . or so we thought.
As I stepped out of the lifeboat to free our craft, my leg was suddenly sucked under—quicksand! I pushed the boat desperately to free myself. Fortunately, the devotees were able to grab me, and we broke free. Once safely inside the boat, my small flashlight lit up the eyes of an alligator just a few yards away. Within an hour we had found our way back to the Piraiba and the security it offered in the middle of the wilderness.
On our third day up the river we came upon our second village. Here we didn't have time to guess about our reception. As soon as we came within sight of the group of thatched huts and small wooden houses, a dozen boats from the village came out to meet us. News of our last stop had spread, and the people had come for food and medicine. Having barely enough medicine for ourselves, we distributed prasadam overboard into eager hands.
As the weeks went by, we came to respect the mighty jungle that was our home. Despite the many hazards and austerities it imposed on us, it was God's creation, undisturbed by man. As wild as it was, it seemed perfectly orchestrated by Him. Each morning as the sun rose, its orange rays beautifully contrasted with the deep green of the jungle and set a majestic backdrop for the activities of the jungle's millions of inhabitants. Our morning classes on the bank of the river were often visited by curious onlookers: chattering monkeys, colorful parrots, wild boars and buffalos. Once, a leopard studied us momentarily from a distance. Strangely enough, we often felt at home so far from civilization.
Winding our way up the river, we would visit three or four villages a day, some with as few as twenty inhabitants. Several times the village leaders came back to our boat for a vegetarian dinner and an evening of philosophical discussion. And we would always present them with a copy of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is, ensuring that the timeless wisdom of Lord Krsna would remain behind even as we continued on our way.
One night, halfway through the journey, disaster almost struck again. Plying silently through the water while we were fast asleep, our boat hit a sandbar concealed just below the surface. Everything lurched forward, and the boat began to tip to one side. We called out to Lord Krsna for help. In the darkness it was difficult to perceive our actual position, but I knew that the river would be merciless if we capsized. Suddenly, by Krsna's grace the swift current freed us, and we drifted off the sandbar to safety.
After one month we reached our destination, Tefe. As we pulled into port, we looked forward to some of the amenities of civilization we knew could be found here in this larger town, connected to the rest of the world by a small airport. Sewing needles, bandages, sun protection cream, and dysentery pills were the first order of business.
As we prepared for our return trip, I realized that I didn't regret the risks and austerities we'd undergone. We had enjoyed the privilege and satisfaction of taking Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement to this jungle for the first time. Even as we began our voyage down the river and back home, I took out my map and pondered once again—were there any other regions left in which to pioneer the mercy of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu?
by Mathuresa dasa
The sun broke through in February
A spell this warm would raise the heads
Sure enough, I spied green shoots
With trowel and flowerpot in hand
They're up here in my office now,
Outside it's cloudy, cold and wet,
Winged yellow faces fully spread
Little do they know that here,
Daffodils and buttercups
He is the father of us all,
So I've advised my daffodils
But there they sit beside the glass,
Although I know they hear me well,
A look at the worldwide activities of the
Soviet Devotee Dies in Labor Camp; Others Released
Jarna, Sweden—The Committee to Free Soviet Hare Krishnas, which has its headquarters here, recently announced that twenty-three-year old Sacisuta dasa (Sarkis Ogadzhanyan) had died in a labor camp on December 26, 1987, just a few days before his scheduled release. He had been incarcerated for being a member of the Hare Krsna movement. His death was due to the abominable conditions of the labor camp, and especially his nutritionally deficient diet, which caused him to become emaciated.
After Sacisuta's death, Soviet devotees protested in Moscow outside a human rights meeting sponsored by the International Helsinki Foundation. The protest received international press coverage, including national television news in Great Britain.
As a result of the worldwide attention being drawn to the plight of Soviet Hare Krsna devotees, eight devotees were recently released from incarceration. Two of them had completed the terms of their sentences. The Committee attributes the release of the others to the worldwide demonstrations, petitions, letter-writing campaigns, and even hunger strikes on behalf of the persecuted devotees.
Among the devotees released was Ananta-Santi dasa (Anatoli Pinyayev), the first member of the Hare Krsna movement in the Soviet Union. Ananta-Santi has been in and out of Soviet prisons and psychiatric hospitals since 1980 because of his practicing Krsna consciousness. His recent release was from the Special Psychiatric Hospital in Smolensk, where he had served four years of an indefinite sentence. While there, he was subjected to insulin shock treatments and injections of neuroleptic drugs. Ananta-Santi's release was due in part to a meeting between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Australian Prime Minister Robert Hawke, during which Mr. Hawke requested Ananta-Santi's release.
Other Soviet devotees released were Sannyasa dasa (Suren Karapetyan), Asutosa dasa (Aleksei Musalov), Visvamitra dasa (Vladimir Kritski), Kamalamala dasa (Karen Saakyan), Yamaraja dasa (Yakov Dzhidzhevadze), Atmananda dasa (Armen Saakyan), and Oleg Stepanyan.
Although the Committee to Free Soviet Hare Krishnas, as well as devotees within the Soviet Union, are encouraged by the releases, they are wary that the mood may change at any moment. Besides, there are still devotees in confinement or doing compulsory labor, and the Soviet government has yet to recognize Krsna consiousness as an authorized religion.
As part of the continuing effort to gain freedom for the Soviet devotees, ISKCON's minister of public affairs, Mukunda Goswami, and Vedavyasa dasa, a former Soviet citizen and journalist who had been jailed and confined in a psychiatric hospital for his affiliation with the Krsna consciousness movement, recently attended the United Nations Human Rights Day conference at the U.S. State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"We laud hospital officials and new glasnost initiatives which contributed to freeing these devotees," Vedavyasa said. "But this is no time for complacency. This summer they [Soviet authorities] allowed us to chant in Moscow on Arbat Street for six weeks, and then they suddenly began arresting and threatening us, treating us in a very rough manner. Political climates can change here rather suddenly. We must now press for the release of the remaining captives."
Anyone wanting to assist the Committee to Free Soviet Hare Krishnas can write to CFSHK Almviks Gard, 15300 Jarna, Sweden.
Samadhi Construction Progressing
Vrndavana, India—Thanks to contributions from devotees around the world and the supervision of the Committee for the Completion of Srila Prabhupada's Samadhi, work on the construction of the samadhi (shrine) of His Divine ' Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is progressing steadily here. Major obstacles to the construction have been overcome, especially because of the dedicated efforts of Hamsa Rupa dasa and Tosana Krsna dasa, who are directly overseeing the construction.
Significant recent advances in the project include the development of a dependable system for purchasing quality marble, and the construction of a foundry for making bronze reliefs that will adorn the inside walls of the samadhi. The samadhi committee has approved preliminary artwork for the bronze reliefs, which was submitted by artist Bhaktisiddhanta dasa.
To commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's birth, the Bhaktivedanta Institute has planned two international conferences: The World Parliament of Religions, in Delhi in 1993; and the second World Conference for the Synthesis of Science and Religion, in Calcutta in 1996. The Institute also plans to publish a set of books based on Srila Prabhupada's teachings, entitled Scientific, Theological, and Philosophical Teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
* * *
At Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, thirty scholars, theologians, and clergy met recently to establish dialogue with new religious movements. Dean Kelley, director of the National Council of Churches' Religious Liberty Committee, and Franklin Littell, chairman and founder of the Hamlin Institute, chaired the conference. Mukunda Goswami, ISKCON's minister of public affairs, represented ISKCON. In his presentation, he summarized the basic philosophy and practices of Krsna consciousness, and he appealed to conference members to use their influence to help ISKCON fight persecution.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
The Acre / Cow Theory
by Mathuresa dasa
The New York stock market crash last fall, which set off similar dives in foreign markets, prompted financial experts to offer reassuring perspectives on the grim fact that investors had lost billions of dollars (and yen and marks and pounds). The plunge was only a "market adjustment," most of them seemed to say, and in the long run "key indicators" pointed to a strong economy and a stable market.
The flurry of advice and reassurances from the experts only succeeded in reassuring me how inherently unstable is any economy based on speculative investments. If the dollar, yen, mark, and pound are themselves prone to fluctuate, then what to speak of the markets they fuel?
But the Vedic formula for economic stability is so simple and down-to-earth that it too may be practically impossible for most of us to believe in.
The Vedic formula? The bottom line for what you need to live a happy and prosperous life? Here it is: an acre of land and a cow.
Can you imagine a financial wizard recommending in a news interview that the solution to our economic woes is for each of us to acquire an acre of land and a cow?
Interviewer: Beg your pardon?
Expert: Yes, on your acre you can graze your cow and grow your own grains and vegetables. And from cow's milk you make butter, yogurt, curd ... what more could you want?
Interviewer: What more? Are you serious? We're talking about mortgage payments, car payments, food bills, clothing bills, medical bills, the GNP ...
Expert: Don't take a mortgage. You can afford to buy an acre of land. You won't have food bills, and since you won't be driving to the supermarket, you don't need a car. Most of the world lives without cars.
Interviewer: Most of the world lives in poverty, without proper food and clothing.
Expert: But food comes from the earth; clothing—cotton and silk—comes from the earth. If people are in poverty, it's not because they don't have cars and supermarkets; it's because the earth is poorly managed. If things are properly managed, and people have food, clothing, and shelter, then what is the value of your so-called wealth of cars and processed food?
Interviewer: [To production manager] Who arranged this interview? Get rid of this guy.
Although I am among the few who accept, theoretically at least, the practicality of the one-cow/one-acre formula for economic stability, I'm no more willing than anyone else to practice what I theorize. As long as there are cars to be had, I want one; I need one. As long as there are central heating, indoor plumbing, health insurance, carbonated drinks, and the six o'clock news, I need, I need, I need.
If in the spring you gave me an acre of land and a cow—even if you threw in an assortment of seeds, a roto-tiller, and a few hundred bucks to get me started—I'd most likely perish before the end of summer. And I'd surely freeze to death the first winter. Where do I get winter clothing and fuel from an acre of land?
That's what really stops me dead in my theoretical tracks. The cold. Much of Europe, America, and other parts of the industrialized world is covered with snow part of each year. Sure, only a hundred years ago, even in the snow, most people were living a lot closer to the one-cow/one acre formula and managing O.K But if I had to do it today, send me somewhere tropical.
To the Philippines, say. I hear that President Aquino is pushing land reform there. She has proposed to break up larger landholdings, including her family's fifteen thousand-acre sugar plantation, and distribute the land—thirteen million acres in all—to the nation's ten million farm workers and tenant farmers.
The Filipinos are mostly farmers already, so there's no need to convince them of the importance of their own acre. I only hope they don't try to set up ten million mini-sugar plantations. No. Vedic authorities advise that you grow your necessities first, and only then, if you have the time and the room, think about cash crops. Personally, I'd plant rice, wheat, a vegetable garden, and a couple of mango trees. And I'd chant Hare Krsna. What a life.
Mrs. Aquino, I seriously hope land reform goes well for you. It's time that some of the world's "underdeveloped" nations took a leading economic role by demonstrating the advantages of underdevelopment, of prospering on a one-acre plantation. Please don't let your citizens think that progress is measured in terms of television and indoor plumbing. And please reserve an acre for me. I'll be arriving with my roto-tiller shortly after the next market adjustment.
In Pursuit Of American Happiness
by Sthita-dhi-muni dasa
Americans like to think that their nations offers the finest opportunities in the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, Americans—and those who long for what America has to offer—may be disappointed to learn that the American way of life falls short in providing a basic necessity for satisfaction: respect and encouragement toward spiritual values that can completely gratify the innermost aspirations of the human being. Instead, the American way of life pilots the individual toward an empty concept of happiness.
Madison Avenue advertising influences all Americans to some extent by trying to convince them that they can achieve satisfaction only with charge accounts and shopping complexes. Advertisers know that these things are necessary to stimulate the sort of rabid consumerism needed to maintain America's overburdened economy. Therefore, when one respected consumer analyst reported that Americans are happy at home, content to enjoy their new sound systems, video players, and microwaved junk food, no doubt Madison Avenue's pundits sensed trouble. For them, what profit can come from a nation of satisfied citizens, disinclined to stay in tune with the consumer market's latest innovations?
Pulitzer Prize-winner George R Will reflected upon this dilemma in his syndicated column. As he put it, "A paradox of American life is that happiness and discontentment are inseparable. That is, the pursuit of happiness depends on economic dynamism, and that dynamism is driven by discontentment."
This observation naturally makes one wonder: How can a way of life based on a philosophy that plans for discontentment ever provide tangible happiness?
Fortunately, smart Americans need not buy this package of happiness dependent on mental misery. They can take advantage of the constitutionally guaranteed right to pursue happiness through spiritual life. Their religious freedom allows them to peacefully worship and serve the Supreme Lord.
But while the Constitution safeguards spiritual life, the American way of life discourages it. The result is that Americans aren't really happy, nor is their nation as great as it could be.
Formerly, great civilizations flourished by promoting theistic values. The Vedic civilization of India is an example. It organized society in such a way that the citizens could take care of life's ordinary requirements with minimum anxiety. At the same time it encouraged people to concentrate on spiritual principles that might be considered esoteric in modern life.
Vedic literature such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam enables us to immediately appreciate the simple yet sublime philosophy underlying this intriguing civilization. The Bhagavatam stresses that human life is a unique opportunity for the soul to reawaken its natural love for the Supreme Lord. As individuals, we each possess a unique relationship with the Lord based on pure loving exchanges. The name Krsna means "all-attractive," and when the mature transcendentalist perceives God's all-attractiveness, the banal pleasures of mundane life pale in comparison.
The Vedic literature offers practical guidelines for the sincere soul determined to take advantage of human life for spiritual advancement. These guidelines should not be taken as ordinary ethics prudishly designed to cage us in, but as benevolent regulations meant to wean us away from materialistic addictions that exclude us from attaining spiritual life's superior pleasures.
One sublime Vedic regulation meant for evoking God consciousness is the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. When offered as a faithful prayer to the Lord, it has unparalleled purifying effects that minimize one's addictions to undesirable habits. Ultimately, regular sincere chanting quickly returns the soul to his original position of relishing his pure relationship with the all-attractive Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna.
If Americans allow themselves to become molded into obedient consumer automatons instead of considering a superior, time-honored alternative, they may miss the best opportunities for success in the pursuit of happiness. On the other hand, the American way of life allows everyone the opportunity to develop his or her spiritual propensities. Therefore Americans can obtain the finest things life has to offer—and they don't need an American Express Card to get them.
This is a continuation of a conversation between His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and reporters in Melbourne, Australia, on June 29, 1974.
Srila Prabhupada: So religion means to abide by the laws of God. That's all. It cannot be "Hindu," "Muslim," "Christian." Take the state law: in the state there are many persons, many citizens of the state—but the law does not stipulate that "This is for the Christians," "This is for the Jews," "This is for the black men," "This is for the white men." The law is not like that.
The law is the same for everyone. You cannot say, "This is the black law," "This is the white law." No. That is not very scientific. The scientific understanding is that God is there and we are all under His law. God is great, we are His subordinates. and we have to obey His orders. That is the genuine spiritual platform. That is genuine religion. Am I right or wrong?
Reporter 3: You're right.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore you cannot say "Christian religion," "Hindu religion," "Muslim religion." Religion is religion. God is neither Christian nor Hindu nor Muslim. God is God. God is one.
God is one. But we understand Him from different angles of vision. And those different angles of vision may be called "the Christian angle of vision" or "the Hindu angle of vision" or "the Jewish angle of vision" or "the Muslim angle of vision." But that is simply an angle of vision.
Now, let us take the example of the sun. Here in Australia, June is a cooler month, and we may see the sun as not so warm. But you ask some African friend whether the sun is warm. "Oh, it is very warm."
So his appreciation of the sun from his angle of vision is different from your appreciation here.
But factually, the sun is one and the same. There is no such thing as the "Australian sun" or the "African sun." So factually, there is no such thing as "Hindu religion," "Muslim religion," "Christian religion." You see'? These conceptions are all due to our sophisticated mind.
Just as God is one, religion is one: you must know what God is, and you must know what His order is—and you must abide by it. Then you are religious. That's all. We are preaching like that.
Reporter 6: So it seems you are saying, then, that by holding to their conception of a "Muslim" or "Jewish" or "Hindu" or "Christian" God, people are not actually realizing God. And yet one of the most important purposes of human life is to realize God, correct?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is the only purpose. Except for fulfilling that purpose, anything we are doing is animalism. We are simply jumping about, just as the dog is jumping about, that's all.
If we do not realize God, what is the difference between our life and a dog's? A dog is thinking, "I am a very stout bulldog." And a man is thinking, "I am a very well-to-do Dutchman." So what is the difference between the dog and the man?
Their mentality is the same. The dog is thinking, "I am this body, "and the man is equally thinking, "I am this body." But when one understands, "I am not this body—I am a spirit, and I emanate from the supreme spirit," that is humanity.
Reporter 6: So, Your Divine Grace, have you realized God?
Srila Prabhupada: What do you think? What is your opinion?
Reporter 6: I can't say.
Srila Prabhupada: Then if I say "Yes,", what will you understand? If you are not yourself expert, then even if I say "Yes; I am God realized," how will you take it as truth? If you do not know what God realization is. then how can you ask this question, and how will you be satisfied with the answer?
Reporter 6: Well. what is God realization?
Srila Prabhupada: First make sure you understand this idea.
Now, for instance, if one medical man asks another man, "Are you a medical man'." and the other man says "Yes," then the first man will understand by their exchange of technical terms whether the second man is truly a medical man. But unless one is himself a medical man, what is the use of asking another man, "Are you really a medical man?"
So for you it is useless to ask about my having realized God, unless you are prepared to accept my answer. Are you?
Reporter 6: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: Then it is all right. I am God realized. I am seeing God at every moment.
Reporter 5: Your Divine Grace, do you see meditation as a means to God realization?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, meditation is also a means, but you cannot meditate now, because you do not know what God is. Meditation means meditation upon something or someone. But if you do not know what God is, upon what or whom will you meditate?
First of all, you must know about God. For instance, we know about God, Krsna, and in the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhaktah: "Always think of Me." So we meditate upon Krsna. This is perfect meditation—because meditation means to think of God. But if you do not know what God is, how will you think of Him?
Reporter 3: Your Divine Grace, it is written in many scriptures that God is light.
Srila Prabhupada: God is everything. God is darkness, also. Therefore the Srimad-Bhagavatam clearly defines God as "that being from whom emanates everything that exists." Light exists, yet darkness also exists. So just as light emanates from God, darkness also emanates from God.
Reporter 5: Is meditation a way to see God inside yourself?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is the proper definition of meditation. Dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginah: by concentrating their mind upon God, the yogis try to see Him within their heart.
But to concentrate your mind on God and ultimately see Him, you must first know what God is. In our institution, for instance, our students first learn "what God is—God's attributes. In that at way they can think of God. But if you have no idea of God, how will you think of Him?
(To be continued.)
Responsibilities of a Secular Government
The separation of church and state the a feature of secular governments intended to protect the rights of religious pluralities as well as the civil rights of individuals. The interests of church and state tend to merge and clash, however, as evidenced by an outbreak of court cases instigated by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last Christmas.
The ACLU sued several city governments for allowing religious displays on public property during the holidays. ACLU's Michigan director, Howard Simon, stated, "Government endorsement of the symbols of Judaism as well as Christianity does not honor their obligation regarding separation of church and state." The two interests appear to be at odds. Even Jesus Christ indicated the conflict of interests when he stated, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
But the Vedic scripture Srimad-Bhagavatam describes the interaction of church and state in a way that may shed light on present-day disagreements. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes in his Bhagavatam commentary, "A secular state may be impartial to any particular type of faith, but the state cannot be indifferent to the principles of religion." According to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, executive heads of state should advocate religious principles in a way that will not compromise anyone's liberties. In fact, when the government fails to support religious principles, it indirectly introduces greed, falsehood, and cheating. It is hypocritical for a government to make propaganda to stop corruption in the state while doing nothing to promote religious principles.
Principles of religion are not the dogmas of a certain faith. They are not the property of the Christians or Hindus, Buddhists or Mohammedans. Srila Prabhupada writes, "The principles of religion, namely austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness, may be followed by the follower of any faith."
The word austere will always seem unpalatable to the hedonists, and yet no healthy civilization is without simplicity and rigor among its people. In recent decades we have seen this manifest through trends such as renewed attention to health and diet, environmental protection, the economics of "small is beautiful," and similar sensible movements. In Sanskrit austerity is termed tapasya, which means "to accept things that may not be comfortable for the body but that are conducive to spiritual realization." If we understand the religious principle of austerity rightly, we will see that it is an auspicious energy that leaders can use for people's betterment. And since austerity among the people benefits both the church and the state, they can combine to promote it, rather than argue in nitpicking ways about the overlapping of church and state interests.
In a free government, people have the right not to be clean if they so wish, but there are limits, especially when their uncleanliness affects the well-being of others. Should a government be completely indifferent to whether the health of its citizens is being endangered by sewage or air pollution? Of course not. Vedic knowledge further suggests that cleanliness refers to internal as well as external purity. There is a definable standard of cleanliness in mind and habit, which can be agreed upon by all reasonable persons. And that standard may also be upheld by law. But in the absence of guidance in making standards, the government inadvertently—or deliberately—promotes uncleanliness by endorsing acts that are physically, morally, and spiritually corrupt.
Human mercy should be promoted, beginning with an education in what is mercy. Certainly great spiritual teachers such as Lord Krsna, Jesus Christ, and Lord Buddha taught and practiced mercy to all living beings. Their teachings were on a sublime level, but the same principles have to be understood and applied by ordinary people in ordinary dealings. Mercy should be shared by all who profess interest in liberty and the well-being of society. The practical implementation of mercy may be debated according to different viewpoints, and the government will have to decide how mercy can prevail. But government cannot turn its face away from the responsibility to be merciful, and neither should government leaders think they have nothing to learn from the world's religions regarding mercy.
According to Vedic knowledge, the present age is symptomized by an almost complete loss of religious principles. The last quality to remain is truthfulness. If we can at least admit that things are wrong or out of control, this indicates that we want to know the truth. Honesty is also expressed in the desire to expose frauds wherever they may appear, even in religious and government leaders.
In enforcing honesty, a government may also test the religionists, by insisting that they follow the tenets of their own religion without hypocrisy. As Srila Prabhupada has said, "The government should have expert men to see that the Hindus are acting like Hindus, Muslims are acting like Muslims, and Christians are acting like Christians. The government should not be callous about religion. It may be neutral, in that whatever religion you profess, the government has nothing to do with that. But it is the government's duty to see that you are doing nicely and are not bluffing." According to Vedic knowledge, persistent honesty will ultimately lead us to acknowledge the supremacy of the supreme being and to serve Him.
Modern societies that promote uncleanliness and dishonesty cannot check the evils—such as crime and disease—that result from these practices simply by statutory acts or police vigilance. These evils can only be checked by measures advocated in the principles of nonsectarian religion.
If government leaders would sincerely conduct research into the dynamics of spirituality aside from the dogmas and differences of various religions, they could find many secrets for peaceful, prosperous civilization. The practices of austerity, mercifulness, cleanliness, and truthfulness contain powers that can correct the worst flaws of human society. But when we become entangled in petty quarrels, such as the recent legal cases over separation of religion and government, we forget the purifying essence of religion, as well as the responsible role of government.
We therefore suggest that these four criteria may be used as a basic standard of proper behavior, and that religious and public leaders be tested accordingly before they can be accepted as masters of society.—SDG