Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day

AT WORK I'M forced to hear popular lust songs on the radio. As I stand in line at the grocery store, magazine covers with beautiful celebrities do their best to capture my attention. I live in New York City, and even when I stand at a stoplight waiting to cross the street, "adult" magazines on newsstands bombard my eyes. This is the atmosphere we live in.

I was recently listening to a recording of a class in which Srila Prabhupada spoke about Madana, otherwise known as Cupid, the god of sex life. Prabhupada said that Krsna is Madana Mohana, "the one who attracts Cupid." So I couldn't help but remember the famous singer who calls herself Madonna. Why has her fame been so strong? Because she's expert at invoking people's lust. In the material world the lust men and women feel for one another is confused with love. So the more that entertainers can awaken our lust, the more we worship them.

Srila Prabhupada went on: "Our business is not to be attracted by the glimmer of this material world but to be attracted by Krsna. That is the Krsna consciousness movement. Unless we become attracted by the beauty of Krsna, we must be satisfied by the false beauty of the material world."

Prabhupada said that when one is attracted by Krsna, Madana (lust) is defeated, and as soon as Madana is defeated we conquer over the material world. To conquer the material world, Prabhupada said, is very difficult, but if anyone surrenders unto Krsna, catches His lotus feet very strongly, and says, "Krsna, save me!" Krsna promises, "Yes, I'll save you aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah. Don't worry. I shall save you."

So the next time you're standing in line at the grocery store and you're tempted to buy a magazine with stories on materialistic people, just call out loudly, "Krsna, save me!" The cashier and the other customers may give you strange looks, but back home you'll be happy to find yourself reading Srila Prabhupada's books or chanting Hare Krsna rather than reading about the icons of a lust-filled world. That's guaranteed by Lord Krsna Himself and all the great spiritual teachers. Hare Krsna.

… And the Pursuit of Happiness

by Datta Dasa

TENSION RAN high in the crowded casino. Earl placed all his money on red and nervously chewed his lower lip. He'd had some luck earlier in the day, and now everything he'd won, along with all he'd managed to borrow from his uncle Hank, rode on this one bet. A win meant he'd make his mortgage payment and keep his house. A loss meant he'd go home in disgrace.

The crowd hushed as the croupier spun the roulette wheel into a blur of red and black. Every eye in the room fixed on the little white ball rapidly circling the wheel.

As the wheel slowed, the ball moved erratically, stopping briefly on a black square, then a red one. As the wheel slowed more, the ball paused longer at each color. Black, then red, then black for nearly a second, then red again.

The croupier's unseen hand curled under the edge of the table toward a hidden switch. The ball came to rest on red.

Earl felt an incredible thrill in his heart and a pleasant lightness in his head.

The croupier discreetly pushed the hidden button again. A small solenoid under the table silently bumped the wheel just enough to free the ball one last time. This time it landed on black.

Earl turned away from the table with tears in his eyes. "I was so close!"

Like this fictional example, the game of trying to find lasting happiness in the material world is rigged. One of four things always happens when we plan for happiness on the material level.

The first is that we make our plan, carry it out, and achieve our goal only to learn the goal doesn't make us happy. The new car we thought would make us feel so good turns out to be an expensive pain in the neck. The movie we went to see was a drag, after all. We found that perfect mate the man or woman of our dreams but we're suffering more now than when single.

The second thing that can happen is that although we work hard to achieve a goal we believe will make us happy, we just can't get it. We're never able to set aside enough money for that dream house by the lake. Or success as a professional musician eludes us. Maybe we just miss a position on the board of directors or just can't get a date with that beautiful model down the street.

The third thing that can happen is that what once made us happy no longer does. Going out boating the first ten or twenty times may have been fun, but then it became a little old. We've become tired of roller-blading. The first thousand hours of video games were fun, but now the very sight of a color monitor feels repulsive.

The fourth thing is the catch-all. If somehow or other we manage to slip past one, two, and three, number four will be waiting: We find some happiness, but then we lose it. The girl of our dreams runs off with the plumber. We get fired from the perfect job. Our new toy breaks. Someone steals our jet ski the day after the insurance runs out.

The material world is full of change and upheaval. We may get some brief pleasure, but it can't last. Even if we miraculously find something that gives us some happiness our entire lives, we are forced to give it up at death.

Does that sound pessimistic? Would it be pessimistic to say you can't buy a sandwich in a hardware store? You can't find something that isn't there in the first place. You could say, "Enjoy whatever you can, and when it's over you can still enjoy the memories." But if memories are so enjoyable and satisfying, why do people have to keep searching for more material activities to become happy?

True happiness exists only on the spiritual platform. By nature we are sat, cit, and ananda: eternally full of knowledge and happiness. So our desire for happiness is natural, and because we're eternal we want eternal happiness. We just have to remember not to look in the wrong place. We have to look for spiritual pleasure, which is endless, limitless, and totally satisfying.

Spiritual happiness comes to us when we're on the spiritual platform. The bodies we have now will one day cease to function. But the soul our real self never dies. Each of us has an everlasting loving relationship with God, Krsna. We've all forgotten that relationship to one degree or another. Rediscovering it can make us happy and satisfied for endless time.