You might not want to spend your weekends discussing obscure philosophy,
but should you completely ignore life's most important questions?
When I'm out distributing books about the Supreme Personality of Godhead books that describe the attributes, form, qualities, and activities of Krsna one of the most common responses I get from the people I meet it "I'm not interested." I sometimes wonder how anyone could not be interested in Krsna.
Krsna is everywhere. He's the source of everything. He knows everything, including everything you've done in your life, even every thought. He knows things such as the exact position and velocity of every atom and electron in the universe. Not only does He know everything, but He's all-powerful. That means He can do anything. He created all the universes. He created wonderful works of art like our bodies and the marvels of nature.
Since Krsna created everything, He also owns everything. Imagine if you owned everything! Krsna also ultimately controls everything; so everyone must do what He says. How is it that people are not interested in such a person?
The books I distribute Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam explain much about Krsna. And Krsna is not the only interesting topic they present. Other topics include discussions of these relevant and timely questions: Why do we die? What happens after we die? Why must we suffer? Does God exist? How do we know for sure? These topics pertain to every living being in the universe; they have universal interest.
Yet people are not even interested in what will happen to them after they die. They know they will have to pass into an unknown realm, but they are not interested to learn more about it. But wouldn't a person naturally show interest if he were to be forcibly uprooted and moved to a foreign country he had never seen before? Wouldn't he want to know what the place was like, what the people were like, what he would be doing there, and how he would be received?
And if a person were being punished, wouldn't he be interested to know why? "What is it I have done? Why do I have to undergo this suffering?" Any intelligent human being would ask these questions.
So why are we not interested in what will happen to us after we die? Because of a bad system of education.
Modern education tends to produce atheists and agnostics. We are losing the ability to question in a metaphysical way. Because of overemphasis on materialism, we have been taught implicitly that there is no such thing as life after death, that suffering is an inevitable fact of life, and that there is no God, no soul, no spiritual reality just electrons, neutrons, and protons.
Modern education provides little philosophy, little higher thought about the larger questions of life. Even if there are philosophy classes in our academic institutions, they take an insignificant role in the educational process. They are not usually required courses, and their topics are so irrelevant to our day-to-day living that hardly anyone is interested in them. Subjects such as linguistic analysis and relativistic ethics are not the exciting things you want to spend a Saturday night thinking about. They just have nothing to do with the heartbeat of modern society.
Deep thinking has taken a back seat to industrial development. Universities have become factories for training technological workers. Institutions like Harvard and Yale turn out thousands of computer scientists, mechanical engineers, and businessmen, who may have knowledge of numbers and how to manipulate them, but who are completely ignorant of the most important subjects: What is consciousness? What are we?
Today knowledge is used only to satisfy the body's demands: how to become healthy, how to eat better food, how to make better medicine, how to titillate and stimulate the senses in every conceivable way.
In other words, even educated men and women are acting like animals. Why? Because their so-called knowledge is no different in quality from the knowledge animals have.
Just think of it. What do animals do? They eat, they sleep, they have sex, and they fight. Basically, everything an animal does related to one of these four activities. Now, what about modern society's highly trained, educated men and women? They fight or defend with high-technology bombs and medicines. They try to advance agriculture to produce food more efficiently, more inexpensively, and with nutritive and other supplements injected into it to make more appealing. And they devise theories of psychology that revolve around sex as the prime satisfaction for humanity, while developing new contraceptive devices so that we can have sex unlimitedly without consequences.
Identifying the body as the self, many people think that self-realization, or self-actualization, means to develop the body. Therefore fitness spas and health salons proliferate. In the pursuit of bodily pleasures, money is essential, and therefore teaching how to make money is of primary importance in the academic curriculum.
But human life doesn't have to be like animal life centered on the body. Human beings have one important quality that separates them from animals: They can inquire about philosophical questions. You never see animals going to church or reading and writing books about the meaning of life. Their brains are not developed enough to think about such subjects. So if a human being doesn't use his brain for inquiring about why he is here, why he must suffer, and what happens after death philosophical questions the how is he any different from an animal?
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it has been predicted that people in this age will be like this. It is described that they will have short lives, and that they will be quarrelsome, lazy, spiritually dull, misguided materially and spiritually, unlucky, and always disturbed. People in this age will never really be peaceful.
Sad to say, I find these characteristics in most of the people I meet. They're not interested in spiritual life. They have no time. They're too busy trying to solve the problems of their life, which keep growing and growing. They're busy trying to make money just to make ends meet. They don't want to be bothered. They're always disturbed.
Of course, in this age we do suffer in many ways, practically without relief. You might say we have good reason to be disturbed. We suffer from creditors, thieves, attackers, slanderers, envious neighbors, friends, relatives. We suffer pains from our minds and from our bodies, which are always degenerating right out from under us. We suffer pains from the elements from earthquakes, extreme heat and cold, drought, hunger, starvation and from economic depression.
Does this have to be? Must we take this suffering for granted? Our educational system offers no solution. We are taught to accept it: There's nothing you can do about the "facts of life" old age, disease, and death.
But there is something you can do. You can have eternal life: you never have to die. You can have complete knowledge. You can understand everything, including your yourself. And you can have unlimited happiness. No misery, no pain. Even while you are still in this body, during this lifetime, you can have freedom from all miseries. How? By taking an interest in spiritual life. Pick up a copy of Srimad-Bhagavatam orBhagavad-gita. These books give answers to the important questions.
You will find that the topics discussed in the Bhagavatam are very satisfying. They're logical and agreeable. If you take up spiritual life as directed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, you will find that you are experiencing greater and greater happiness, greater knowledge, and freedom from death. This is the proof of the potency of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
The knowledge given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam is raja-vidya, "the king of knowledge." Bhagavad-gita (9.2) explains why: "This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed."
There is no other knowledge neither physics, nor chemistry, nor biology, nor literature, nor history, nor psychology, nor art, nor music no other knowledge that can give direct perception of the self, the soul, by realization. And there is no other knowledge that increases the joy of life steadily and perceptibly.