Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day

SINCE A MAJOR CAUSE of car accidents is inattention, a sign like the one at a busy New York intersection "CURB YOUR ANIMAL INSTINCT" might be helpful. The animal instinct surely diverts many drivers. Maybe that's one reason why collisions on city streets are as common as wolf whistles.

To curb the animal instinct, we have to keep a tight rein on our senses. An animal always responds to the dictates of its senses, not caring what is proper or improper. But as the term animal instinct and the drawing on the sign imply, a human being who acts the same way misuses the most sophisticated form of existence.

Only when a human being controls his lower instincts can he perceive a more subtle and far superior instinct: the tendency to serve the Supreme Lord. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that this instinct is real because the living entity is by constitution an eternal servant of Krsna.

When the propensity to serve God is misapplied, it degenerates into animal instinct. Then, rather than using the senses for a higher purpose, one becomes a servant of the senses and tries to satisfy them with pleasing objects.

Lord Caitanya taught that by the science of bhakti-yoga, which begins with the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, we can control our senses. Bhakti-yoga is a pleasing system of self-control culminating in love of God.

By chanting God's names, Lord Caitanya taught, one can immediately engage in His service. Chanting removes undesirable things from the heart. And as loving service to Krsna is reestablished, the animal instinct disappears. Lord Caitanya likens this process to cleaning dust from a mirror. With a clean heart one sees the spiritual reality of the self and its eternal master, the Superself, Lord Krsna.

When one chants perfectly with attention and without offense love of Godhead results. One's spiritual awareness fully awakens, and one drowns, as it were, in an ocean of bliss. One drop of this ocean, we are told, can flood the universe. And an ocean of the highest material pleasure cannot equal one drop of pure spiritual pleasure.

The pleasure of the senses the same pleasure available to animals cannot approach the bliss tasted by chanting Hare Krsna. And that spiritual taste can easily help us curb the animal instinct.