Try as we may, we cannot avoid the frustrations of life.
But how can we use them to our advantage?
In materialistic life we cannot control our senses and mind. The mind is dictating, "Enjoy your senses in this way," and we are enjoying our senses. Materialistic life means sense gratification, and this sense gratification process is going on life after life. In the many varieties of life there are different standards of sense gratification. Krsna is so kind that He has given us full liberty to gratify our senses.
We living entities are part and parcel of Krsna, and therefore we have small particles of all His desires. Our existence being a small particle of God's, we have all His qualities in a minute degree, just as a small particle of gold has all the qualities of the original gold. Therefore, our enjoying spirit exists because it is there in Krsna, the supreme enjoyer.
The Vedanta-sutra says that everything originates in Krsna. Param brahma, or the Absolute Truth, means "that from which everything is generated." Therefore our desire for sense gratification is coming from Krsna. Here is the perfect sense gratification Krsna and His eternal consort, Radharani. Young boys and girls are similarly trying to enjoy their senses, but where is this propensity coming from? It is coming from Krsna. But the difference between us and Krsna is that because we are trying to gratify our senses in the material world, our attempts simply bring us pain and suffering, whereas Krsna's sense gratification is full of ever-increasing happiness. Krsna consciousness means to gratify your senses in association with Krsna. Then your sense gratification is perfect.
For example, if there is a nice sweetball and the finger picks it up, the finger cannot enjoy it. The sweetball has to be given to the stomach, and then the finger can also enjoy. Similarly, we cannot gratify our senses directly. But when we join with Krsna, when Krsna enjoys, then we can also enjoy. This is our position.
So, we have to purify our propensity for sense gratification. What is that purification? We cannot enjoy anything directly; we have to enjoy through Krsna. For example, we take prasadam [food offered to Krsna]. The nice prasadam, the food that is prepared, is not eaten directly we eat it only after Krsna eats. First we offer it to Krsna, and then we eat.
What is the difficulty? There is no difficulty, but you become purified. The eating process is the same, but if you eat directly, you become materialistically encumbered. If you offer your food to Krsna, however, and then eat it, you become free from all contamination of material life.
That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: yajna-sistasinah santo mucyante sarva-kilbisaih. Devotees take prasadam after offering it to Krsna. That is a form of sacrifice. And whatever we do in this material world that is not a sacrifice for Krsna is some sort of sinful activity, even if we do not know it.
For example, killing is sinful, even if we do not kill knowingly. When you walk down the street, you are killing so many insects. Whenever you drink water, you are also killing. Below a waterpot are many ants and microbes that are being killed. Whenever you light a fire, you burn so many small microbes. When you grind spices with a mortar and pestle, you kill many living entities. We are responsible for all this killing. Knowingly or unknowingly, we are becoming entangled in so many sinful activities.
Therefore, in the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that you should eat only those foods that have been offered to Him in sacrifice. Then you become free from all contamination. Otherwise, if you cook so that you can personally eat, without offering your food to Krsna, you simply eat all kinds of sinful reactions. That is our position. Unfortunately, because people generally cannot control their senses, they engage in the materialistic way of life and suffer repeated birth and death in different species of life.
We do not know what our next life will be, but the next life will come. Before us there are so many species of life, and we can take birth in any of them. You can become a demigod, a cat, a dog, Brahma there are so many forms of life. In the next life you shall have to accept one of these forms, even if you do not want to.
Suppose somebody says, "In your next life you will have to take the form of a dog or a hog." You would not like it. But the law of nature says that after giving up this body, when you are not existing in this body anymore, you will have to accept another body according to your karma. Your destiny is in the hands of nature. It is arranged by superior supervision.
You cannot order, "Give me the body of Brahma. Give me the body of Indra or a king or someone else exalted." That is not in your hands or in my hands; that will be judged by the superior agency of God, and you will be given a suitable body. Therefore, it is our duty to prepare ourselves to qualify for a body that will help us go back to Krsna. That preparation is Krsna consciousness.
Prahlada Maharaja, one of the great authorities in Krsna consciousness, says that one must take instruction from a guru, a spiritual master. But even one who has a nice guru cannot become Krsna conscious if he is determined to remain in this material world. If my determination is to remain in this material world and enjoy material life, then for me Krsna consciousness is impossible.
In the material world people engage in all kinds of political, philanthropic, and humanitarian activities for what purpose? To make material life happy and prosperous, that's all. But this is not possible. One should understand that in the material world, however you may try to make adjustments, you cannot be happy. This is the first understanding in spiritual life: that we cannot be happy here in the material world.
To cite an example I have given many times, if you take a fish out of water, you may give it a comfortable velvet bedstead, but still the fish cannot be happy without water. Similarly, we are all spirit souls, and unless we are in spiritual life, we cannot be happy. That is our position.
But we do not know where our real happiness lies, and so we are trying to be happy here, in material conditions. We are becoming frustrated and confused. So we have to give up this hope that we shall be very happy by making adjustments in this material world. That we have to understand first of all. Then Krsna consciousness will be effective.
The boys and girls who are our students have become very frustrated with the materialistic way of life. Their fathers and guardians are not poor; there is no scarcity of food or material enjoyments. Then why are they frustrated? You may say that because India is poverty-stricken the people are frustrated, but why have American boys and girls become frustrated? This is proof that the materialistic way of life cannot make you happy. You may go for some time trying to become happy, but happiness will never come from the materialistic way of life. This is a fact.
Those who are trying to be happy by making adjustments in materialistic life cannot take to Krsna consciousness. Frustration and confusion with the materialistic way of life is the qualification to come to Krsna consciousness. These boys and girls have that good qualification.
There is a verse in Srimad-Bhagavatam that states that Krsna, to show some special favor to His devotee, sometimes takes away all the devotee's material opulences. For example, the Pandavas lost their kingdom, although Krsna was present as their friend. They lost their property, their wife was insulted, and they were driven away to the forest. Why? This question was posed by Yudhisthira Maharaja to Krsna, and Krsna replied, "This is My special favor." Sometimes we cannot understand the special favor of Krsna.
So, the frustration of these American and English youngsters with the materialistic way of life is a good qualification for accepting Krsna consciousness. Of course, one does not need to become poor to take to Krsna consciousness. But if anyone has the desire to become spiritually advanced while at the same time enjoying material life, that is not possible. These are contradictory things. You have to become determined to search for happiness only in spiritual life. That is real happiness.
This human form is especially meant for coming to that standard of spiritual life by tapasya, by voluntarily rejecting the materialistic way of life. In the history of India there were many great kings who practiced tapasya. For example, at the age of only twenty-four, Bharata Maharaja left his young wife, his young children, and his whole empire and went to the forest for meditation. There are many such instances.
In the modern civilization, however, very few people are interested in giving up materialistic life and taking up spiritual life. Materialistic life means chewing the chewed. Take, for instance, a father. He works hard to maintain his family. It is very difficult to keep a high standard of living in this age, so he must work very hard and engage his son in the same way. This happens again and again, generation after generation, so it is like chewing chewed things. Suppose you chew some sugarcane, enjoy its juice, and then throw it out into the street. Now, if someone wants to taste it to see how sweet it is, he is chewing the chewed. Similarly, we don't have very good experience with this materialistic life, this hard struggle for existence, but still we persist in trying to enjoy our senses. This is lust.
In Bhagavad-gita Krsna explains that this lust is born of the quality of passion. There are three qualities in the material world: goodness, passion, and ignorance. Because most people are in the mode of passion, they love to work hard for sense gratification. That work is considered happiness. In London you will see everyone engaged in hard work. In the morning, all the buses and trucks are traveling with great speed, and people are going to the office or factory from morning until late at night. They are working very hard, and this is what they call advancement of civilization.
Some people become frustrated; they don't want all this hard work. Hogs are also working hard day and night, thinking, "Where is stool? Where is stool?" That is their business. Therefore, in one sense this kind of civilization is a hog-and-dog civilization. It is not human civilization. Human civilization means sobriety. As stated in the Vedanta-sutra, a human being should be inquisitive to know these things:
Who am I? Why am I put into this condition of working very hard to get a little money? Why am I in this uncomfortable situation? Where did I come from? Where do I have to go?
So, Krsna consciousness is for those who have come to detest this material world. They are good candidates for developing Krsna consciousness. Then they will inquire why these men are working so hard. Prahlada Maharaja answers this in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: People are working so hard because they do not actually know what the goal of life is. Everyone knows that he is looking after his self-interest, but no one knows what his real self-interest is (na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnu). One should know that his real self-interest is to make progress toward Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But people do not know this. Why don't they know it? Because they hope for happiness in this material world, which is impossible to achieve. It is good to hope for something that is possible, but if I hope for something that is never possible, that is foolishness.
We are a composition of the external and internal energies of God. The external energy consists of the gross material body of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, along with the subtle material body of mind, ego, and intelligence. Behind both gross and subtle material bodies is the spiritual soul, part of God's internal energy. Just as your body can be covered by a shirt and coat, which are external to it, so the spiritual soul is covered by the gross and subtle material bodies.
You may think that simply by having a nice shirt and coat you can be happy, but is it possible? Unless you eat nicely, unless you sleep nicely, unless you have your sense gratification, will you be happy simply by putting on a nice shirt and coat? No. That is not possible.
Similarly, it is not possible for the spirit soul to be happy by adjusting Krsna's external, material energy. You are a spirit soul. Therefore you must have spiritual food, you must have a spiritual life; then you can be happy. As you cannot be happy simply by having a nice shirt and coat, you cannot be happy simply by the materialistic way of life.
But in the modern civilization, people are struggling very hard to be happy through the manipulation of gross and subtle matter. Gross matter includes high skyscraper buildings, machines, factories, nice roads, good motorcars, and so on. Subtle matter includes such things as nice songs, poetry, and philosophy. People are trying to be happy with this gross and subtle material existence, but it cannot be.
Why have people accepted this sort of civilization? Because they are led by blind leaders. That is why they're reluctant to hear about God. Though we are conducting this Krsna consciousness movement, very few are interested. But suppose we advertise some falsehood "If you follow this path, within six months you'll become God and you'll be all-powerful." Many people would come. Such promises are made by one blind man to other blind men. Suppose a blind man says to another blind man, "All right, come, follow me. I shall help you cross this busy Mulberry Street." The leader is blind, and his follower is also blind. The result will be that they will both be hit by some car or truck and die.
Unfortunately, we are so blind that we do not know we are tied up very tightly by the stringent laws of material nature. How can we become free from this material bondage? We have to take instruction from those who are not blind, those whose eyes are open to spiritual truth and who are liberated from material bondage. You have to take instruction from such persons; then you will understand what your self-interest is. Otherwise, if you are already blind and you take instruction from another blind man, it will be impossible for you to be liberated from the material bondage.
What is the interest of a child when it is crying? It is searching after its mother's breast. Anyone who knows this immediately brings the child to his mother "Take care of your child; he is crying." The mother takes him to her breast, and the child is immediately happy. The child cannot express what he wants, so he simply cries. But one who knows what he is crying for helps him, and the child becomes happy. Similarly, because we are part and parcel of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we are actually crying for Him. But these false leaders, these blind leaders who do not know, are giving us stones instead of bread.
How can one be happy? I have already explained the gross external energy and the subtle external energy. Those who are interested in this gross and subtle external energy will never have their ambition of life fulfilled. Therefore, one who is interested in Krsna and in showing others the path to Krsna is the real friend to all. One who is giving Krsna consciousness is the real friend of the world. No one else can give happiness to human society. That is the statement of Prahlada Maharaja.
You cannot manufacture a process of happiness by tackling this material energy. That is not possible, because the material energy is not under your control. The material energy is controlled by the Supreme. How can you overpower the material energy? It is not possible. Krsna explains that in the (Bhagavad-gita 7.14):
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
"This material energy is under My control, so you cannot overcome it by your own power. But if you surrender unto Me, you can cross over it."
All the material activities of the cosmic manifestation are going on just to bring the rebellious souls back to Godhead. That is the situation. May as stringent laws are there. Why? What is the purpose of the police force or the military force? The purpose is to keep the citizens obedient to the state. If a citizen becomes disobedient to the state laws, he is immediately put into police custody. Similarly, anyone who rebels against the superiority of God is put under the control of the stringent laws of material nature, and he suffers. That is our position.
Therefore our self-interest is to seek out the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrender unto Him. That will make us happy. That is Prahlada Maharaja's advice and also ours: Seek out the path of Krsna consciousness and you'll become happy. You'll eat nicely, dance nicely, live nicely, and go back home, back to Godhead. Enjoy this life and the next. That is our request.
The Krsna consciousness movement is so nice. Everyone should take it seriously and try to understand it. It is authorized on the Vedic principles; it is not something manufactured or unauthorized. We are opening centers in different parts of the world to give an opportunity for people to understand their real self-interest: attaining pure devotion for Lord Krsna. That is our mission. So kindly help us and join us.
Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.