Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Srimad-Bhagavatam Meditation 2:1:4

It is once again time for a guided meditation on the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge, the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

I humbly ask you to read first the translation and Bhaktivedanta purport to today's verse, the 4th verse from the 1st Chapter of the 2nd Canto.

ātma-sainyeṣv asatsv api
pramatto nidhanaḿ
paśyann api na paśyati

Persons devoid of ātma-tattva do not inquire into the problems of life, being too attached to the fallible soldiers like the body, children and wife. Although sufficiently experienced, they still do not see their inevitable destruction.

In my heady college days, I was well-versed in the works and ideas of such psychedelic ice-cream men as Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson. Whether blissed out in some deep part of the solar system, or even with plenty of time on their hands in a California prison cell, both men were adamant that by the time the 21st Century rolled around, we would have the "technical means to live forever" on this beautiful blue globe.

Enjoyment of all the various and nefarious substances being passed around would no longer be encumbered by the anxieties of bodily discomfort and dissolution. A new utopia would rise up from the seas, ushering in an age of abundant freedom that our currently puny minds could not possibly conceive of.

Sounded pretty cool to me. I could really feel that these gentleman were on the real cusp of consciousness, really pushing at the boundaries of our rotten culture of commodities, conformity, and the plain-ol get-a-job get-a-house get-a-coffin death game. When I excitedly shared these ideas with a good friend of mine, instead of getting a high-five and a “right on, maaan!”, I got a blank stare and a pretty indignant response. The response could be summarized thusly: Who is Timothy Leary, and who are you, to play God and decide that the experience of death is no longer necessary? Who are you to say that you are morally responsible enough to “live forever”, and thus to decide who also gets to share in this great bounty? Who are you to impose such an unnatural thing on the already perfectly structured natural order of existence for all living entities?

Prabhupada states it pretty bluntly at the beginning of this purport. The material world is called the world of death. Prabhupada would also often say never to put your hope in any future, no matter how bright or charming it may be. There are so many possible avenues of electronic enlightenment, so many shiny possibilities of immortality (cryonic preservation of the body, of which Dr. Leary partook of, comes to mind) in the material future that it becomes a conscious necessity of anyone in the bodily concept of life to do whatever they can to preserve themselves for as long as possible.

It’s so easy! If you just refuse to focus your eyes to see things as they actually are, then this Planet Earth really looks like a nice place to spend the whole of eternity. There is such an abundance of pretty hills, pretty girls, fast cars, sports bars, video games, instant fame, big big movie stars, fill that wine in your jar, etc and beyond. Who wouldn’t want to become immortal in such an abode of dazzling sensual delight.

Prabhupada, in the purport to verse 3 of the Narada-Bhakti-Sutra, writes “One who is convinced that he is eternally a servitor of the Supreme Lord is called immortal because he has realized his constitutional position of immortality. Unless one can understand his position as a living entity and an eternal servitor of the Lord, there is no question of immortality. But one who accepts these facts becomes immortal. In other words, those who are under the misconception that the living entity and the Supreme Lord are equal in all respects, both qualitatively and quantitatively, are mistaken, and they are still bound to remain in the material world. They cannot rise to the position of immortality.”

It is a natural inclination to want to live forever. Death is not a condition the spirit soul is ever inclined to undergo, so the natural revulsion of the living entity towards death is not something to be shunned. Lately, I have been meditating upon the fact that while this earthly planet holds all the delights mentioned above, and while it’s very easy to get caught up and attached in even the most innocent of our surroundings, unless one actively comes to the realization that nothing of this planet, and nothing of this material world, can guarantee any sense of happiness, then it will be very difficult to make any kind of serious spiritual advancement, no matter how pious or environmentally-friendly you are.

Prabhupada further writes in the purport to this verse that no one will survive in this struggle with material nature. The history of human society definitely proves it, yet the foolish people still suggest that in the future they will be able to live perpetually, with the help of material science. This poor fund of knowledge exhibited by human society is certainly misleading, and it is all due to ignoring the constitution of the living soul. Individually and on a mass scale, we forget the history of personal and cultural death all around us, so we are doomed to repeat it. Of course, I may be adding some morbid energy where it’s not needed, but just look at the headlines. Who would want to live, or even bring a child into the future of this world the way it’s headed, which is like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel.

It is absolutely urgent that we express this sublime culture of love that is Krsna consciousness, and it is absolutely urgent that we have the courage and freedom of action and thought to examine where, how, and why we are still attached to this earthly planet, to this material nature. The only possible way for truly positive energy to come out in full force is through steady and committed spiritual practice, and through giving this gift with as much sincerity as we can muster.

We must not abandon or fall into a sense of aversion as to our duty on this planet at this time, a planet in which Krsna Himself, in numerous incarnations, has sported and charmed His pure devotees. This world is not our home, but it is a testing ground, a school of love, with many hard knocks, to see if we are sincere and capable enough of following in some pretty transcendental footsteps. So, we have to rise above! Now is the time to do so much more than just simply decorating the dead body of the material world.

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