When one’s lust (intense desires) for sense gratification is frustrated, anger and greed arise. More specifically, greed develops from the mode of passion. A greedy person’s hankering for sense enjoyment has no limit. Even if a greedy person has ample money and adequate arrangements for sense gratification, he is not satisfied. He attains neither happiness nor peace of mind. It is the nature of the mode of passion that causes mental disturbance and frustration in one’s life. One is always devising plans and schemes to acquire money and assets to satisfy his insatiable appetite for acquisition and power. All these passionate endeavors are sources of distress. The Bible says, “Greed causes fighting; but the one who trusts in God will be enriched.” (Proverbs 28.25)
In the book of proverbial stories of ancient India called the Hitopadesa, there is a proverb, “The man greedy after wealth, whose senses are not restrained, is in a state of discontent: all evils happen to him who is dissatisfied.” “What peace can greedy men have who are always running after wealth, when compared with the peace that calm souls enjoy who are satisfied with blessings they have received from God.”
The three modes of material nature
Material nature consists of three modes, goodness, passion and ignorance. The Sanskrit word “guna” is translated into English as “mode.” The word mode does not exactly convey the full meaning of the word guna. Mode in English means a manner of acting or doing like in the phrase, “Modern modes of transportation.” It can also mean a particular type or form of something like in the phrase “heat is a mode of motion.” When we use the word mode as a translation of guna, it refers specifically to the modes of material nature which act like ropes that bind one to actions meant to satisfy illusory material desires.
The living entity belongs to the eternal, superior nature of Lord Krishna, but due to contamination by the inferior material nature, the living entity can be bewildered by illusion. The modes of material nature bind the living entity to mundane activities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending by which he becomes completely oblivious of his eternal, spiritual nature and relation to God. These modes emanate from The Supreme Lord, Krishna, but He is not subject to them. He controls them and He alone has the power to release the living entity from their clutches.
In particular, the mode of passion, which evolves from unlimited desires and longings, binds the living entity to material activities performed with the selfish desire to enjoy the fruits of work without offering them first to God. In fact, as the mode of passion increases in influence, one is less and less inclined to pay attention to God’s instructions and proprietorship over all things. Such selfish, self-indulgence that ignores the proprietorship of God is the cause of all strife and engenders envy and competition among godless people.
How one is contaminated by the three modes
The material world is compared to a prison for those eternal souls who have revolted against the authority of God. The rebellious souls are permitted to take birth in the material world and they are given a suitable material body with senses that facilitate their attempts to satisfy their material desires. They are, however, under the strict regulations of the laws of karma that bind them to actions and reactions. Because the soul is covered by a material body, the living entity is forced to act to eat, sleep, mate and defend. The lower species have no latitude of free will. It is only in the human form of life that one is endowed with limited free will. Thus living entity is given a chance to decide how he or she will act. The quality of the decisions a human being makes determines what will become his future destiny.
The living entity is transmigrating from one body to another in the 8.4 million different species of life just as one changes clothes. This change of body is due to attachment to material desires to enjoy this temporary world of illusory pleasures. As long as one is captivated by this temporary material existence, he must continue transmigrating from one body to another. Due to his desire to lord it over material nature, he is put into different circumstances to enjoy or suffer according to his previous activities and desires. The symptom of ignorance by which the living entity continues in the cycle of birth and death is the misconception that he is the controller and master of his circumstances. The truth is he is always under the influence and under the control of the material nature. This is affirmed in the following verses of the Bhagavad-gita.
“The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of the false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature.”
According to one’s desires and activities, material nature under the control of Krishna places one in various material bodies. Once placed in a particular kind of body, the eternal individual soul comes under the control of nature because the body, being matter, acts according to the laws of nature. The living entity has no power to change the influences of the laws of nature. Suppose he is put into the body of a dog, he has no choice but to act like a dog. He is completely controlled by the modes of material nature. In the human body, he can free himself from the influence of the modes of nature by following the instructions given by Krishna and with the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. This is possible because the human form has limited free will to either accept or reject the instructions of Krishna. If he ignores or rejects God’s instructions, he comes under the control of the modes of nature like an animal. All his activities become controlled by the impulses of nature.
Such ungodly persons are controlled by the mode of passion which is characterized by the attraction between man and woman. Woman has attraction for man, and man has attraction for woman. This is called the mode of passion. When the mode of passion is increased by contemplating the attractive features of a woman or man’s body, one develops the hankering for material enjoyment by seeking pleasure for the senses. For sustainable sense gratification, a person influenced by the mode of passion wants profit, distinction and adoration. He seeks to be honored in society. He or she wants to have a happy family, with nice children, spouse and many material possessions such as cars, boats, houses, watches, clothes, jewelry, and anything that distinguishes them as prominent persons. These are all products of the mode of passion. As long as one is hankering after these things, he must work very hard and by such efforts, he becomes conditioned to selfish activities to enjoy the fruits of his labor (fruitive activity). He becomes strongly attached to the results of his work. His whole life becomes a great effort to maintain his prestige in order to cull the respect of his family, friends, relatives and the public. Today, the whole material world is more or less influenced by the mode of passion. Modern civilization is considered to be advanced in the standard of the mode of passion.
As the mode of passion increases, the symptoms of great attachment and greed, fruitive activity, intense endeavor and uncontrollable desire and hankering develop. A person overwhelmed by the mode of passion is never satisfied with his material possessions and power. He hankers to increase his assets and honor. There is no end to his desire for sense gratification. He may even risk becoming a philanderer due to ever increasing lust and also undertake very risky schemes to increase his wealth because he has become blinded by pride, prestige, greed, lust, illusion, envy and obsessive feelings that become uncontrollable. If he encounters any opposition to obtain his material goals or an unforeseen setback, he becomes angry and even delusional. In a fit of rage, he may commit heinous acts because he has lost control of himself.
The following story illustrates how greed can self-destruct even a man of piety.
The Greedy Man
Once upon a time, there were four Brahmin priests. Despite their education they were very poor. They became dissatisfied with their poverty and decided to leave to leave their village in search of wealth. On the journey, they met a hermit who invited them to stay some days with him in his humble dwelling.
The hermit offered them spring water and simple food.
When his guest were satisfied, he asked them, “Where have you come from and where do you want to go?”
“We are poor Brahmins. We want to earn wealth. We have decided that either we will become wealthy or we will give up our lives.”
The hermit was somewhat disappointed by their frank reply that seemed out of place for holy men. The hermit was very poor himself, but he lived in humble conditions by choice. He was quite satisfied with his life because he used his time for spiritual pursuits. Due to his natural compassion, he offered to help the Brahmin priests achieve their desires. He gave them four lamps whose wicks were potentiated by the powers of sacred mantras. He advised them,
“Go towards the Himalayas and walk until the wicks of your lamps begin to fall one by one. Digging at the place where the wicks of your lamp fall you will find wealth.”
The four friends proceeded towards the Himalayas carrying the lamps in their hands. After sometime the wick of one of the priest’s lamp fell down. All of them dug up the earth. They were amazed to find many pure copper utensils. The first Brahmin told his friends to take all the copper but they refused. So he took as much copper as he could carry. He bid farewell to his friends by saying, “May God be praised. I am completely satisfied with whatever copper utensils I can carry with me. I will always praise the Lord for his kindness. May you also find your treasure and be satisfied.”
Remaining three friends proceeded on their journey. After walking for some time, the wick of the second friend’s lamp fell. They dug up that place and found a a large number of silver utensils. The second priest asked his friends to take all the silver but they refused. The two remaining priests were deep in thoughts that twice the hermit’s statements were correct. Perhaps the third time would reveal gold utensils. The second brahmin took as much silver as he could carry and returned back.
The two priests continued their journey of discovery. The wick of the third priest’s lamp fell down. Both of them dug up that place and were amazed to find a large cache of gold utensils. He told the fourth friend to take all the gold but the fourth friend refused to take it because he was anticipating even more wealth. The third friend took as much gold as he could carry. He cautioned his friend that the hermit’s blessing was beyond belief. He implored the fourth priest to take as many gold utensils as he could carry and return safely with him to their village. They had in fact achieved their goal of becoming wealthy. The fourth friend requested him to come along with him to find even more wealth, but the third refused. He said,
“I will wait for you at this place. You go and try your luck.”
The fourth friend proceeded alone. After walking for some distance he found an injured man lying on the ground with a strange wheel spinning on his head. He went near that man and said,
“Who are you? How did you get injured and why is this wheel spinning over your head?”
Before the fourth brahmin finished his words, the wheel left the injured man and stuck to the head of the Brahmin. The injured man replied that just like him, he too had come there in search of wealth overcome by excessive greed. He found an injured man and asked him the same question and the person replied, “since then the wheel has been spinning on my head with excruciating pain. Now you are experiencing similar misery and it will only end when another man arrives here with a greedy desire for wealth in his heart.” After saying this, the injured man disappeared while the fourth Brahmin remained there with the wheel spinning and bearing down on his head with terrible pain.
The third brahmin, who had found gold was still waiting for his friend. Not seeing him after many days, he became worried. He went in search of his friend. He found him lying in an injured condition with the wheel spinning on his head. He asked him what happened? The unfortunate Brahmin explained what transpired and cried for help. But, destiny has its unavoidable consequences that cannot be undone by mere men. Only God has the power to change the destiny of a person.
Due to his insatiable greed the fourth Brahmin was inexorably caught in a terrible destiny. His only hope was to wait for another excessively greedy man to come to that remote place in search of wealth so he could be relieved of his suffering. There was nothing the third Brahmin could do, so he left.
The moral, “he who has little is not poor, but one who desires more is always sore.”
What is man’s real purpose in the material world?
Foolish persons who do not have proper knowledge think that nature is moving without a plan and all manifestations are but accidental formations. So-called great philosophers and scientists speculate that the creation began by a fortuitous accident like the big bang theory and that it is continuing without any supremely intelligent being controlling it.
A French scientist named Dr. Jacque Monod shared the 1965 Nobel award for medicine and physiology with two colleagues at the Pasteur Institute, Francois Jacob and Andre Lwoff, for research on the workings of the living cell such as genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis.
He also wrote a book entitled, “Chance and Necessity,” published in 1970. It became a best seller. In it he postulated his speculative conviction that all existence has come about by chance and that mankind’s inevitable recognition of this fact will necessitate a complete revolution in human thought.
He wrote, “Chance alone is at the source of all novelty, all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, only chance, absolute but blind liberty is at the root of the prodigious edifice that is evolution. . . .” In an interview with a reporter, he explained, “What I have tried to show, is that the scientific attitude implies what I call the postulate of objectivity–that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan, that there is no intention in the universe.”
When the speculative claims of Dr. Monod were presented to Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, my spiritual master, he commented, “Dr. Monod has written a book in which he purports that everything in nature has happened by chance or by random and accidental causes with no intelligent being behind them. However, his book did not happen by chance! This is nonsense.”
If Dr. Monod actually believed everything happens by chance or “chance alone is at the source of all novelty,” then why did he accept the Nobel prize. Why did he claim authorship of his research work when he firmly believed that everything happens by chance? He tried to convince the whole world that the fundamental truth used as a starting point for a course of action or reasoning is that there is no plan and no intention in the universe. Everything in nature is random and accidental. Thus, man must accept this fact that there is no God or superior, intelligent being; nor is there a specific purpose for man in this life.
Dr. Monod is typical of the atheistic, modern scientists who scoff at the existence of God and dedicate their fertile brains to destroying any belief in a superior being who has created this world and placed man in it for a particular purpose. To prove this absurd claim they resort to framing speculative theories using words like “perhaps” and “maybe” or, if they are more foolish and audacious they claim with arrogant certainty like Dr. Monod, “Pure chance, only chance, absolute but blind liberty is at the root of the prodigious edifice that is evolution…” Yet, their own actions reveal that they are hypocrites with no credibility.
The Vedic literature reveals that there is a specific plan being carried out in this material world. What is this plan? Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes, “This cosmic manifestation is a chance for the conditioned souls to go back to Godhead, back to home. As long as they have the domineering mentality which makes them try to lord it over material nature, they are conditioned. But anyone who can understand the plan of the Supreme Lord and cultivate Krishna consciousness is most intelligent. The creation and destruction of the cosmic manifestation are under the superior guidance of God.”
The value of Vedic education
Krishna says, “When one properly sees that in all activities no other performer is at work than these modes of nature and he knows the Supreme Lord, who is transcendental to all these modes, he attains My spiritual nature.” (Bg 14.20)
It is possible to attain freedom from the influence of the modes of material nature simply by understanding them properly. One can learn from a qualified spiritual teacher well versed in Vedic knowledge and practice. The original spiritual master is Lord Krishna. He delivered this unparalleled spiritual knowledge to his disciple Arjuna over 5000 years ago. If we are fortunate enough to meet a sincere representative of Krishna today, who simply repeats this imperishable knowledge of Bhagavad-gita without any alteration or personal agenda, we can also master this science of action free of the control of the three modes of material nature. The books of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and especially the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and the Srimad Bhagavatam are full of detailed transcendental information presented in the most bona fide manner by a pure devotee of Lord Krishna. By reading these transcendental literatures anyone can understand his real spiritual position, his temporary material body, his senses, how he is entrapped, how he is under the spell of the material modes. All living entities are helpless, being in the grip of these modes. But, when one can see and understand his real position, he can strive to attain the transcendental platform and begin liberated action in active spiritual life.
Without Vedic knowledge put into action through devotional service, one remains a prisoner of the modes of nature being forced to act because of the influence of them on his particular material body. This is affirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, “One who can see that all activities are performed by the body, which is created of material nature, and sees that the self does nothing, actually sees.” (Bg 13.30) There are three things to take into account when one analyzes his actions: the body, the individual soul who is the proprietor of the body and the Supersoul or presence of God as the witness and overseer of the body. One who is instructed by a genuine expert of spiritual knowledge can understand these three things. Those who are ignorant of spiritual knowledge see only the material body and believe that when the body dies everything is destroyed. The body is made of material energy (earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego). It functions under the direction of the Supersoul or God. For example, we do not control the instruments of perception (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin), the process of perception (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch), nor the objects of perception. All these are created, controlled and kept in operational form by God. We simply can use these maintained facilities for our perception. Similarly, we do not own or control the internet. But, we can use it for our purposes.
In reality, whatever activities are going on in respect to one’s body are not our doing. The body acting under the laws of material nature and the influence of the three modes is forced to act either in happiness or distress. For example, we are forced to get hungry and we are forced to eat and drink. We are forced to eliminate stool and urine sometime after eating and drinking. All the activities of the body such as digestion, breathing, heartbeat and blood circulation, actions of enzymes and hundreds and thousands of other seemingly automatic processes are being conducted within our body without our conscious control. These actions of the body are controlled by nature which acts under the supervision of God. They are all necessary to sustain the life of the body which we can use to satisfy our desires. The body is a machine designed by the Supreme Lord to fulfill desires. Because of desires for material enjoyment, one is placed in different circumstances to enjoy or suffer. This transcendental vision of the living entity, when developed, makes one aloof from bodily activities. One realizes that the eternal, individual soul is not obliged to eat, sleep, mate or defend because it is not chemically bonded to the material body. It is the temporary body that is obliged to do these things and the soul in ignorance identifies with the body and is obliged to suffer or enjoy with it.
Lessons learned from Nature
Many lessons can be learned by observing fish, birds, reptiles and animals. They have traits and habits that are similar to human beings. Humans and animals eat, sleep, mate and defend. They go through the same six stages of life as humans, namely, they are born, grow, maintain themselves, produce by-products, dwindle, and die. Their bodies are endowed with senses by which they perceive the world around them. Many manifest social behavior such as living in groups with dominant males or females. They constantly struggle for existence against natural predators and forces of nature.
It is no surprise that all creatures have varying degrees of sense perception. Humans have five highly developed senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. Lower creatures than humans usually have one sense that is more evolved than the other four. The one highly developed sense can often cause a fatal consequence for the creature. The following examples will demonstrate the perilous nature of a developed sense without the balance of thoughtful intelligence.
Deer have sensitive ears and nose. They can hear sounds and pick up scent from far away. Hunter’s use a special deer horn to mimic the sounds of does or bucks. Deer make different grunts especially in their mating season. The hunter makes the grunt sounds with the horn which bring the deer in range to be shot. Sometimes deer are also transfixed by hearing the sweet sound of music and their attentive hearing makes them a target of hunters.
The moth has very sensitive eyes. It can become disoriented by seeing a bright light at night or a fire. As it moves closer to the light of the fire, its delicate wings are burned and it falls into the flames.
Fish like to eat tasty bites of flesh, insects or worms floating in the water. They scavenge the water seeking anything they can gulp down. The fisherman baits a hook with a real worm or a colorful lure that tricks the fish into taking a bite and getting caught on the hook.
Honey bees seek out nectar from plants. They are attracted by the fragrance of a flower. A bee enters the lotus flower seeking its nectar and gets trapped in it when the flower closes its petals at sunset.
A mighty male elephant wandering at will in the forest gets caught when tempted with a female decoy elephant kept in a specially constructed enclosure. Once in the enclosure to mate with the female, the elephant is trapped by falling into a camouflaged pit. After the capture he is gradually domesticated in captivity. By the prospect of the touch of a female elephant the male is caught.
The deer are sensitive to sound, the moth to light, fish to taste, honeybees to fragrance and elephants to touch (for reproduction). Because of one highly developed sense perception each of the above animals is trapped or killed. How much more vulnerable is a human being who possesses five sensitive senses.
There is a very instructive verse in the Bhagavad-gita on this subject. “As a strong wind sweeps away a boat on the water, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.” (Bg 2.67) If one highly developed sense of an animal can lead to its capture or death, then what can we say of human beings who have five developed senses and the mind which is considered the sixth sense. It is very easy for a person to be distracted by one or more of his senses. There are many unfortunate examples of human entrapment.
The mouse and the frog
There was once a mouse who developed an affectionate attachment for a frog living in a pond near the mouse’s hole in a tree. The mouse proposed that they fasten a string on the frog’s leg and the other end on the mouse’s leg so that they stay connected all the time. The frog was hesitant to be so closely connected to an animal of a different species. After many entreaties by the mouse, the frog finally agreed to the proposal against his better judgment. A few days later, a raven swooped down on the mouse and carried him off along with the frog that was tied to him. When other ravens saw the frog, they asked the lucky raven, “How did you catch a frog that lives in the water?” He replied, “It was so foolish to connect itself by a string with the mouse that lives on dry land.”
The soul is compared to the frog that lives in the water safe from all material misery. The mouse is compared to the material body. When the frog is free from the mouse, he is free and happy swimming in the water of bliss. But, if he becomes tied to the mouse or in other words if the soul becomes attached to the temporary material body by the string of attachment, he becomes entangled in the cycle of birth and death and repeated suffering and delusion.
The Cobra and the greedy man
There was once a poisonous cobra that had a precious jewel on its hood. It was a brilliant diamond that seemed to emit a brilliant ray of light that was bewitching. Many villagers had seen the cobra, but they did not dare try to seize the cobra to get the jewel. It was too dangerous. News of the strange cobra reached the ears of a greedy man who was seeking a means to get wealthy. He became determined to track down the cobra and kill it to obtain the valuable jewel. After a week of searching, he found the cobra sun bathing on a jungle pathway. He used all his skills to kill it, but he was no match for the lightning fast cobra who injected its deadly poison into the greedy man’s leg. He died regretting his foolish act.
The cobra represents the inherent danger that awaits man in every step of life. So many things can happen to end one’s life in an instant especially when one undertakes risky endeavors prompted by passionate desires. The precious jewel on the hood of the cobra is symbolic of the enticing allurements one may encounter in life that blind one’s rational faculties due to imagining the different possibilities of sense enjoyment one may obtain by wealth, prestige and power.
The real position of the soul in the material body
“The living entity or individual soul in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another, as the air carries aromas. Thus he takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another.” (Bg 15.8) Thus the individual soul is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments he experiences in this world by virtue of his desires and actions prompted by the different conceptions he may have. The conceptions, desires and musings are experienced in the subtle mind and translated into actions in the gross body. Every human being experiences life in the gross body made of earth, water, fire and air. Then again he experiences life through the subtle body made of mind, intelligence and false ego. During the day, one experiences life through the gross body and at night while asleep one experiences life through the subtle body. The eternal soul is like a passenger that is riding in the vehicle of the gross and subtle body experiencing different states of consciousness summarized as awake, half awake/half asleep while dreaming and profound sleep. The gross body eventually deteriorates and dies. The soul gets another gross body according to karma or material activities for which one incurs subsequent reactions. Due to the laws of karma, one is obliged to quit the worn out body. The subtle body, which carries the conception of the next body in the form of desires and karmic reactions, is the cause of the new body in the next life. This is the process of transmigration of the eternal soul from one body to another. All through the life of the living entity, he struggles for existence because his eternal soul is in the atmosphere of non-existence meaning he identifies with the material body which is perishable and difficult to maintain and continually changing until the final change, death and rebirth.
The body is subject to three types of miseries: those due to the body itself (accidents, deterioration, sickness, old age, etc.), those caused by other bodies such as enemies, animals etc. and those caused by natural catastrophes. When the living entity takes another gross body, he obtains a certain type of ear, eye, tongue, nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects. (Bg 15.9) The consciousness of the living entity is originally pure because we all come from the spiritual world where the consciousness is fixed always on pleasing God through love and devotion. But consciousness may change by association of material qualities. It may be adulterated by some type of material mentality like a glass of pure water in which a drop of black ink is mixed. It is only in the human form that one can change the adulterated consciousness back to its pure state. One must become determined to effect such a change. It becomes possible by associating with spiritually elevated persons and listening submissively to their discourses. This is stated, “There are those who, although not conversant in spiritual knowledge, begin to worship the Supreme Person upon hearing about Him from others. Because of their tendency to hear from authorities, they also transcend the path of birth and death.” (Bg 13.26) If a common man has a good nature, he has a chance for advancement by hearing. All men should take advantage of hearing from realized persons so that they can gradually understand the truth of their situation in the material creation. They can give up the attempt to understand the Absolute Truth by philosophical speculation and voluntarily submit to become the student of those who are in knowledge of the Supreme Lord. Faithful hearing from an authoritative person is the best way for the common man to transcend material life and return back to Godhead.
Greed evolves from the mode of passion
“The worker who is attached to work and the fruits of work, desiring to enjoy those fruits, and who is greedy, always envious, impure, and moved by joy and sorrow, is said to be in the mode of passion.” (Bg 18.27) Too much attachment for materialism or home and hearth, wife and children, material endeavors and the results that accrue, will cause a person to lose the desire for spiritual enlightenment. All the endeavors of a materialistic person are centered around making his life as comfortable as possible. He becomes greedy for more and more material possessions. He thinks that anything attained by him will be permanent and never lost. He may become envious of others and develop the mindset to do anything wrong for sense gratification. It doesn’t matter whether his gains are pure or impure. Pure earnings do not require causing pain or loss to others. Impure earning are usually gained by causing financial or physical harm to others. Such a person is happy when his work is successful and very much distressed when his work is not successful. He cannot distinguish between religion and irreligion, between action that should be done and action that should not be done. He holds fast to fruitive results in religion, economic development and sense gratification. He may perform charity with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood. He seeks happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects. This happiness appears like nectar at first but poison at the end. All these are symptoms of the mode of passion which engenders greed.
The four thieves
The love of money is the root of all evil. There were four thieves with two bags full of money. They were laughing and joking about how they robbed a merchant caravan and killed many people trying to defend themselves. The chief of the thieves orders two of his companions to fetch some food and drink from a nearby village so they could celebrate their success. While the two were on their way to a village, the chief and his fellow thief discussed how they would divide the spoils of their theft. Greed engulfed their hearts. They both wanted a larger share of the money. They decided to eliminate the other two by murdering them on their return from the village. They concealed their weapons for their surprise aggression on the unsuspecting two companions. Treachery and greed engender a terrible misdeed.
Birds of a feather flock together. On their way to the village, the other thieves were similarly overcome by greed. It is said, the pleasure of what we enjoy is lost by desiring more. They decided to take all the money for themselves by killing the two waiting for them to bring the food and drink for their celebration. They planned to put poison in the food.
On their return to the den of thieves, they set the food for the feast on a cloth and invited their two cronies. Suddenly the chief and his fellow conspirator drew their weapons and killed the unsuspecting two companions. They were very satisfied by their dreadful slaughter of the two thieves. It was a perfect crime. They sat down to enjoy the feast and drink. In a short time, they both choked and died gasping for breath as the poison took effect. As it is said, grasp all, lose all.
Lust, anger and greed are the three gateways to misery. They are artificial behaviors induced by forgetfulness of God. Why call them artificial? The real nature of a living being is spiritual not material. The proof is simple. The living entity after falling from the spiritual world begins as a sort of protoplasmic emulsion when a sperm enters an ovum. The size of the ovum is 0.1 millimeter. It is very small. According to the Vedic scriptures the size of the soul is 1/10,000 the tip of a hair (Svetasvatara Upanisad 5.9). The soul is smaller than an atom. Therefore, when the body grows and matures into an adult, we become bewildered into believing the size of the living entity is five or six feet tall. But the truth is, the size of the soul is subatomic. The particle soul, however, is so powerful that it fills the entire body with consciousness whether it is the body of an ant, man or elephant. The consciousness is the proof of the presence of the non-material soul. When the body dies, there is no longer any consciousness because the soul has left the body. It is the soul that makes the dead matter of the body appear to be alive by filling it with consciousness and animation.
Scientists can measure and quantify the presence of all the chemicals in the body right before death. They can also measure the same after death. If the body which is made up of so many chemicals and material elements is the cause of consciousness, then why can’t they determine which chemicals are missing after death and inject them into the dead body to bring it back to life? They may try all they want, but they will not be able to sustain the life of the body after the soul leaves it. If they could, they would have already revived valuable people from death who have contributed so much to humanity. Therefore, by analyzing the body of a person right before death and right after death reveals the obvious fact that the consciousness is the symptom of the person’s living presence. When the consciousness is totally absent, the body is useless and we get rid of it.
The belief or so-called knowledge of atheistic scientists maintains that in every different body a different type of living entity exists is considered to be knowledge under the influence of the mode of passion. This wrong conceptual belief purports that the material body is the living entity and with the destruction of the body the consciousness is also destroyed. The atheists claim that bodies differ from one another because of the development of consciousness. They reject the premise that there is an eternal soul in the body that manifests consciousness. They insist the body is itself the soul. Charles Darwin has written, “A few persons feel anxiety from the impossibility of determining at what precise period in the development of the individual, from the first trace of a minute germinal vesicle, man becomes an immortal being, and there is no greater cause for anxiety because the period cannot possibly be determined in the gradually ascending organic scale.” He makes the point that it is impossible to know at what point the immortal soul inhabits a species. This is a disingenuous way of implying the soul is a product of evolution of the body and it is impossible to ascertain when it actually inhabits a body. His use of the word impossible is revealing. If it is impossible to determine, then it is not a subject of scientific research and verification. Therefore, it can be ignored.
But the soul cannot be ignored because it is the spiritual, eternal living entity that temporarily inhabits the material body from birth to death and continues after death. The soul is described as follows in the Bhagavad-gita, “That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.” (Bg 2.17) It is eternal, indestructible, immeasurable and immutable or unchanging. It was never born nor dies at any time. The soul being a minute part and parcel of God has always existed before birth in the material body, during its stay in the body and after death of the body. The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.
Contrary to Darwin’s speculation about a material soul that has come about by natural selection during the evolution of the body, the Vedas assert that the sub-atomic soul is eternal, never born and never dies. With limited free will, the soul may become attracted to material nature. To satisfy the desire to enjoy in the material world the soul is placed in the material world by God where it receives a temporary material body with senses that permit it to enjoy or suffer according to the karma it performs. Along with the tiny individual soul, the Supersoul or God is also present in the heart of the living being. Because the scientists cannot measure the soul and Supersoul, most of them maintain foolishly that there are no souls although they perceive the consciousness of the living entity.
All the energies for bodily movements are emanating from the heart area of the body. The corpuscles which carry the oxygen from the lungs gather energy from the soul. When the soul leaves the body, the activity of the blood, generating fusion, ceases. Medical science accepts the importance of the red corpuscles, but it cannot ascertain that the source of the energy is the soul. Medical science, however, admits that the heart is the seat of all energies of the body.
The Katha Upanisad 1.2.20 describes the presence of two souls in the material body. “Both the Supersoul and the atomic soul are situated on the body within the same heart of the living being, and only one who has become free from all material desires as well as lamentations can, by the grace of the Supreme, understand the glories of the soul.” Anyone who by good association can see three things existing together, the material body, the proprietor of the body or the individual atomic soul and the Supersoul, is actually knowledgeable. The soul and Supersoul are never destroyed although they exit in the perishable material body. One who can understand that God in His localized presence as the Supersoul is equally present everywhere in every living being and even in every atom of the universe, does not degrade himself by the mind.
For a criminal to commit a crime, he prefers not to have a witness. Without a witness it is much harder to attribute responsibility for a crime. Understanding that God is present in the heart of every living being as the localized Supersoul is essential knowledge for one who aspires to free himself from the influence of the three modes of material nature. Being conscious of the presence of a witness makes one aware that he is always responsible to a higher authority. In other words, one cannot escape his karma because there is always a witness of the individual’s desires and activities. This is explained in the Bhagavad-gita, “Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul. (Bg 13.23)
One should never confuse the soul and the Supersoul as the same. The atomic individual soul can never become equal to or greater than the Supersoul or God. Although they are qualitatively similar as a drop of sea water is similar to the water of the sea, they remain quantitatively different eternally.
The Supersoul is the witness and the permitter. This means the Supersoul permits the atomic soul to act. Without the sanction of the Supersoul, the individual soul cannot do anything. The soul and the Supersoul are intimately related. But the living entity has the tendency sometimes to reject the Supreme Lord and act independently in an attempt to dominate nature. The misuse of independence is the cause of material struggle in the conditional nature. The Lord gives instructions externally through the Bhagavad-gita and other holy scriptures for all to understand. Internally, the Lord tries to convince the living entity through the inner voice of conscience that he should put his faith in God’s instructions and follow the spiritual path.
The purpose of knowledge is to understand distinctly that the living entity has by chance fallen into this material existence. By his personal endeavor in association with spiritual authorities, he can understand his position and revert back to spiritual consciousness (Krishna consciousness) by understanding Bhagavad-gita as it is explained by Lord Krishna. Then it is certain that he never will come again into this material existence. He will be transferred to the spiritual world for a blissful eternal life of devotion to God in the company of other liberated souls. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, “One who understands this philosophy concerning material nature, the living entity and the interaction of the modes of nature is sure to attain liberation. He will not take birth again, regardless of his present position.” (Bg 13.24)
A honeytrap is a scheme in which a victim is lured into a compromising sexual situation to provide an opportunity for blackmail. A US Marine, Clayton J. Lonetree was a guard at the US Embassy in Moscow in the early 1980’s. He was seduced by a female KGB operative, who was already working at the US Embassy as a translator. He allowed her to wander the corridors of the Embassy unsupervised late at night. When Lonetree was transferred to Vienna, his lover threatened to expose their affair and blackmailed him into handing over detailed plans of the US Embassy in Moscow as well as information about CIA operatives and working practices in the Soviet Union. By 1987, the CIA became aware that there was a major security breach at the Embassy. After an investigation, Clayton J. Lonetree became the first ever member of the US Marine Corps to be tried for espionage and was sentenced by a military court in Quantico, Virginia to thirty years in prison.
For a successful human life, one needs to restrain the senses from unbridled attachment to sense objects. It is not possible to stop attraction to sense objects. One can, however, use one’s intelligence to understand the consequences of attachment to sense objects and develop the power to restrain oneself.
Attachment to the objects of the senses that leads to lusty desires to own and control them for sense gratification is the cause of entanglement and adverse reactions or the “honeytrap effect.” The senses and the mind cannot be stopped from being attracted to sense objects. One can, however, engage all the senses and the mind in the service of Krishna or God. The art of spiritual engagement under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master is the best way to control oneself from becoming victimized by the forces of nature.
The following Bible passage emphasizes the importance of following God’s instructions and at the same time developing genuine love for Him. A true lover of God will do their best to spread the glories of the Lord. The rules are necessary, but without love of God they remain only moral codes.
“So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19–20
How can righteousness go beyond that of experts in the law? It is only possible by cultivating a personal relationship, a faith commitment to Jesus or the teacher who represents the word of God in action. That is something the scribes and Pharisees did not have and could not offer. Only those who have such a relationship, and the transformed heart that goes with it, will enter the kingdom of heaven according to the above passage.
For those who simply follow the law, it is always possible to succumb to temptation and fall from the righteous path. Lord Krishna says, “The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them. One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence.” (Bg 2.60,61) Without the personal relationship with God or His representative it is impossible to fully control the senses.
The controlled mind is the best friend and the mind out of control is the worst enemy. The mind is an instrument that is meant to be controlled. The uncontrolled mind serves the dictations of lust, anger, greed, illusion, etc. The controlled mind voluntarily follows the instructions of the Personality of Godhead, who is present in the heart of every living entity. One develops a rapport with God by heeding His advice as reveled in scripture.
Genuine yoga practice such as pure bhakti yoga or the yoga of love and devotion awakens one’s awareness of God’s presence in the heart. By practicing bhakti yoga, complete surrender to following the instructions of the Lord comes naturally. Lord Krishna instructs Arjuna, his devotee, “Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight. Those persons who execute their duties according to My injunctions and who follow this teaching faithfully, without envy, become free from the bondage of fruitive actions.” (Bg 3. 30,31)
A spectacular example of the above descriptions of a self-realized soul is the ancient king named Ambarisa Maharaja. He engaged his mind always meditating on serving the lotus feet of Lord Krishna; during all the hours of the day, he engaged his words in describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord; his hands in cleaning the temple of the Lord; his ears in hearing the nectarine pastimes of the Lord; his eyes in seeing the transcendental forms of the Lord; his body in serving the devotees of the Lord; his nose in smelling the scent of flowers offered to the Lord; his tongue in tasting the Tulasi leaves offered at the lotus feet of the Lord; his legs in going to the temple of the Lord; his head in offering obeisances unto the Lord, and his desires in executing the mission of the Lord. All these activities of devotion are symptoms of a pure devotee of the Lord.
Engaging all the senses in God’s service is possible only when the mind is fixed in constant remembrance of the Lord. The mind and the senses require engagements. Renunciation of material life without positive engagement in the service of the Lord cannot be sustained. It is possible with knowledge to use everything in life in the service of God. By proper training one can practice the principle of dovetailing or engaging oneself and possessions favorably in the service of God. The first step in dovetailing is to know with conviction that everything belongs to God. This conviction frees one from selfish possessiveness. Then one can learn how to accept things that can be favorably used in the service of God and reject things that may be unfavorable. Even the rejected things may also be used later when one has more mature knowledge. For example, killing an animal to eat its flesh is rejected. But, if the animal dies naturally without violence, its flesh can be given to meat eaters who desire to eat it. All people in society can be engaged in the service of God and live peacefully when the principle is to please God by their work.
Lord Krishna is the Supreme Enjoyer to whom we should offer all fruits of our work. Then, we become the servant of the Lord, who shares His mercy with us in the form of His Prasad, which are the remains of sacrificial offering made to the Lord that are distributed to everyone for their full satisfaction. Recognizing the proprietorship of God and acting always with that conviction creates the consciousness of oneness of all people who work cooperatively with faith in the good will of God. Lacking such consciousness, people become subject to the forces of nature (the gunas), which act under the control of Lord Krishna.
The reason why people do not want to cooperate or follow the instruction of God is due to false material attachments. For example, “This country is mine. This family is mine. This wife is mine. The children are mine. Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine….!” People think “This is mine” because of the false ego that falsely identifies with temporary material things rather than the eternal soul’s relationship with God. Everyone is fighting because of this false identification, “I am white. I am black. I am this and I am that. I am this body.” This is due to ignorance that makes one unaware of what is the reality of spiritual existence.
Denial of the sovereignty of God makes one susceptible to be influenced by the three modes of material nature that act as forces that impel and bind the living entity to act in specific ways. The three modes of material nature influence and condition the living entities to behave in certain ways categorized as goodness, passion and ignorance and the myriad possibilities of mixtures of these three qualities. The effect of these modes is to arouse desires to enjoy material objects and relationships and thus become entrapped the cycle of birth and death.
Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “Those who see with eyes of knowledge the difference between the body and the knower of the body, and can also understand the process of liberation from bondage in material nature, attain to the supreme goal.” Learning to distinguish between matter and spirit under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master is the first crucial step for further spiritual realization. Theoretical knowledge is not sufficient to free oneself from the material concept of life. One must act as a sincere servant of the teacher and God to truly become free of material attachments as Arjuna did 5000 years ago in the Bhagavad-gita history.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes, “One can understand that this body is matter; it can be analyzed with its twenty-four elements. The body is the gross manifestation. And the subtle manifestation is the mind and psychological effects. And the symptoms of life are the interaction of these features. But over and above this, there is the soul, and there is also the Supersoul. The soul and the Supersoul are two. This material world is working by the conjunction of the soul and the twenty-four material elements. One who can see the constitution of the whole material manifestation as this combination of the soul and material elements and can also see the situation of the Supreme Soul becomes eligible for transfer to the spiritual world. These things are meant for contemplation and for realization, and one should have a complete understanding of this subject with the help of the spiritual master.” (Bg 13.35, purport)
Published onJuly 18, 2012
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