(ISKCON New Vrindaban)
Love. Love is a very pleasing word, for everyone wants to love or be loved. It is the natural propensity of the living entity, and where there is no natural object of love we sometimes find perverted objects of love. A mother cat deprived of her kittens may nurse a mouse, or a dog may nurse a kitten. Similarly we see so many childless women, with no object of love, loving dogs and cats as if they were their own children. Love there must be, but love for what? That is the question. Everyone is actually loving something, either his wife, or family, or country, or party, or hobby, or some intellectual pursuit, or at last his senses. Some object there must be. Everyone is loving something.
But what about the Absolute Truth? Why not love the Absolute Truth, Krishna? Actually, love for Krishna is dormant within each of us, but because we have no conscious love for Him we are frustrated in various objects of love, and, therefore, in the material world, love is 99.9% frustration simply because the love isn't in the right place. When you love Krishna you love everyone, but the converse is never true. If you water the root of a plant, all the leaves and branches are nourished; but it is not the same thing to simply water the leaves and branches. Therefore we must learn to love Krishna, for only those who love Him perfectly can love others. They are called liberated souls, and they live in the spiritual world eternally. Such eternally liberated souls never come back to this material world; but the eternally conditioned souls have been groping their way through these sundry planetary systems since time immemorial. For us there is no exit, for in this wandering, forgetful condition we have forgotten our love of Krishna.
This love of Krishna is not something vague or illusory, nor is it impersonal. Actually, love can never be impersonal, for love means an exchange between two persons. But the Supreme Lord is a person, and the living entity is a person, and in such loving transcendental affairs, it may be forgotten who is God and who is not, but the center is always Krishna. Without Krishna the eternally liberated soul feels mad. He wants to think Krishna. He wants to dream Krishna. He wants to eat Krishna. He wants to do everything for Krishna. Simply Krishna. The spiritual world means simply loving Krishna. That is all. That love for Krishna is pure and true; so if anyone thinks he has tasted pleasure in a perverted love affair of the material world, just imagine the pleasure of a perfectly centered love affair with the Absolute Truth Sri Krishna a sat chit ananda love affair. That is the perfectional stage: the lovable object is eternal; the lover is eternal; the bliss is eternal. Unfortunately, in our conditioned state we have forgotten this love of Godhead, and we now think it is our business to hate God. Sometimes we think, "Oh my God, foolish people are gathered to worship God." By nature we are all lovers of God. But here is the illusory world, and in this maya, we think that He is our enemy. This is maya, what is not. But because we have forgotten Krishna, we think we are adverse to Him; therefore we are perpetually entangled in the threefold miseries; not only threefold, they are sevenfold: they are the miseries of birth, old age, disease, and death, and the miseries of this body, the miseries of nature, and the miseries inflicted by other living entities.
Those in ignorance may not understand the miserable condition they are actually in. Indeed they may think they are happy, but that does not actually alleviate their condition. The drunkard lying in the gutter may think he is happy, but he is simply intoxicated. Actually he is in a miserable condition, and when the intoxication ceases he will be fully conscious of it. Likewise, the conditioned living entities may be intoxicated, thinking they are happy for some brief moment, but the inevitable result is that the intoxication wears off and they are again miserable. This is called samsara, or the entanglement in miseries. Sometimes we try to compensate for this miserable condition of so-called enjoyment, but the result is a more and more hellish life. We are going round and round in various species of life, eating nasty things, acting fiendishly, and on account of our ignorance we are trying to lord it over the material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities.
There is a painting of the goddess Durga riding a lion with a trident in her hand, piercing the breast of a demon. The lion she rides is a symbol of raja guna, passion, full of anger and lust. Satya guna, goodness, is full of knowledge, and tama guna, ignorance, is complete forgetfulness, like the Bowery drunkard neither angry, lustful, knowledgable-simply lying in the gutter. The demon's characteristic is to challenge the Lord. And the trident represents the threefold miseries of material nature So whether it be the miseries of bedbugs or other troublesome creatures, or the miseries of famine and pestilence, or the miseries of this body, we are all under the control of this material nature, and the trident is pressing against our chest. Those who are enlightened know that this is a miserable condition, whereas others say, "That is all right." "We are enjoying very nicely." In this way we are being kicked, like a football, thrown first to the party of lust and then to the party of anger. If the football thinks, "I am free, I am moving of my own accord," what is that freedom? Simply the freedom to be kicked; as the ball is kicked by the player, so we are being kicked by the power of lust and anger, the concomitants of material nature.
In this way we are passing our lives. But if by chance we get the association of a saintly person, a pure devotee of the Lord, then by His mercy, this illusion becomes vanished. Therefore it is advised that everyone should seek the association of a saintly person, so that this ghost of ignorance may be removed; simply by taking shelter of a saintly person the kicks of material nature can be stopped. Actually, the trouble is in our mind, and it is there like a knot. It is called the mental knot of matter, and by the instruction of the Spiritual Master it is cut. That instruction is sometimes called the sword of discrimination, and in the second chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Krishna very elaborately explains this knowledge to His disciple Arjuna. In the 16th, 17th, and 18th verses Krishna says: "Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the non-existent there is no endurance, and of the eternal there is no cessation. Seers have concluded this by studying the nature of both. That which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul. Only the material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is subject to destruction. Therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata."
Real knowledge, therefore, is to be able to distinguish that which is eternal from that which is temporal, to perceive the difference between body and soul, to know that matter is not spirit. Matter is dependent on spirit that is knowledge; and Real Intelligence is to understand the finer activities of this nature and how things are happening. A child is interested simply in the anatomical or automatic. He thinks a motor car is running in the street on its own accord. He sees a tape recorder or a microphone and thinks no more of it than the surface appearance. But not one of these instruments works unless the spirit soul touches them. That is intelligence. To know the spirit soul that is behind the body as the activating principle is called buddhi. Try to find out who is working the machine. Simply grossly seeing is not intelligence. Unfortunately our men of high standing, our writers, our teachers, our leaders have become more interested in technology than Ultimate Knowledge. They clap very loudly at the latest convention and say "How wonderful" to the newest invention, but where is the scientist who can bring forth a substance and say, "Here, inject this in my body when I die and I will come back again." If they could do that, there would be no scarcity of scientists or any other great brains. The truth is that the so-called scientists and philosophers are not working of their own accord but under the spell of material energy. In Bhagavad Gita, Ninth Chapter, tenth verse, Krishna says, "This material nature is working under my direction." So nature is simply the agent, or the efficient cause, but Krishna is the real Cause. Similarly, He tells His disciple, Arjuna, that it is actually He Himself who has killed all the soldiers and kings on the battlefield, and He simply invites Arjuna to be His instrument for victory. So buddhi or knowledge means to understand that we are simply an instrument in the hands of Krishna; and therefore, work in Krishna consciousness means to work on the account of Krishna; but if you try to work against Krishna, frustration is inevitable.
Therefore, real knowledge is not book knowledge, nor is it specific knowledge. Some of us at our ashram, New Vrindaban, in West Virginia, have had experience recently that in spite of all of our so-called intelligence, we sometimes cannot even control a cow or a horse or hitch a wagon; but any old farmer in the neighborhood can do any of these things. Similarly, I cannot build a nest like the bird, or make a dam like the beaver. These specific activities may be technology, but they are not knowledge. Knowledge is to know matter from spirit. There is something in the body by which the body works, but that something which pervades the body and makes it work, that is unknown to modern educators; and modern education takes account only of the material side; and the result, therefore, is that today we have a civilization of fools. The automobile is designed and redesigned, but the driver is neglected, so much so that a caption in Scientific American magazine read, "For manufacturing matter, a soul is killed."
Real intelligence means that one gives more attention to the spiritual side of existence, for that is the active principle. Only this kind of discrimination between matter and spirit or between the temporal and the eternal can create a really advanced civilization, technically called an Aryan civilization. This word Aryan is a Sanskrit word which means advanced, advanced in spiritually based civilization and knowledge. When Arjuna declined to fight on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, Krishna said that he was acting like a non-Aryan because he had lost his knowledge and become like the non-Aryan. That knowledge which he was neglecting was spiritual knowledge, knowledge that he was not that body, that he was pure spirit, part and parcel of the Supreme Whole, Krishna. A non-Aryan civilization, conversely, means a civilization based on the ideas of bodily sense gratification, and that is the unfortunate modern condition.
But this human form of life is not meant merely for sense gratification. In the human form of life, the soul has developed consciousness, developed by a long, slow process of evolution from aquatics, to birds, to beasts, to man. If in this human form of life we are using this developed consciousness simply to carry out the engagements that all other animals carry out, namely, eating, sleeping, defending, and mating, how can this be called advanced civilization? Rather it is a civilization fit for dogs and hogs. On the contrary, this human form of life is meant for ending this material entanglement, and, therefore, we require a civilization that promotes God consciousness, Krishna consciousness, or love of Godhead. Today, however, people have forgotten this, and they have forgotten how to love God, and so they think God is dead. Now, inevitably, material nature is kicking them: war, pestilence, overpopulation; yes, overpopulation because no one is graduating. If I open a school and admit 100 new students every year, but never graduate a single soul, my schoolhouse will soon be bursting at the seams. Because we have forgotten the path back to Godhead, back to home, this human form of life is becoming crowded; no one is being promoted and we are being blocked; and so by nature's course there is some pestilence, some war, something to break it up. We have received the greatest gift of God, this human form of life, which is meant to develop our spiritual consciousness; and God has given us so many great books of knowledge, but who has any use for them today?
If we follow the animal propensity, just like a hog after a sow, we cannot consider ourselves civilized. We must be sober, distinct from animal life, jealous of this body achieved after so many millions or trillions of years of births. There are so many varieties of bodies, and why is this form of man so rare? Because from here we can attain the highest perfection. But still we are only attached to money. Money may deliver us a substance for some time, but it is not permanent. But if we are sober and ask how we shall use this most valuable life, that will be our perfection. We do not know how soon death will come, and so we should not neglect this life. Prahlad Maharaj was instructed by the great sage Narada and became a teacher of Krishna consciousness at five years of age, whereas a 300 year old tree or a 5 million year old stone may have no utilization. A five-year-old boy who has this knowledge has perfection. Don't say, "Oh I am so young, let me enjoy for now. I will become Krishna conscious when I am old." Your next breath is not assured, and the Bhagavatam warns that one should not be puffed-up because of long duration of life, for that is only in comparison to the cats and dogs. "Don't you see the tree?" Bhagavatam says, "It lives 500 years or 1,000 years. "Yes," you may say, "but it can't breathe." "Oh don't you see the bellows? It breathes." "Yes, but the bellows can't enjoy sex life," you may say. "Oh, dogs and hogs, don't they enjoy sex life? Don't they eat? Why are you so proud, man?" Rather our pride should be in Krishna consciousness, otherwise we are simply animalistic. Only Krishna consciousness is freedom from bewilderment. Therefore, take advantage of your intelligence, reason and knowledge in Krishna consciousness. Don't spoil your life. Act for Krishna.