By Sri Clayton
My article (submitted below) was written in memory of His Grace Sri Ajitananda das, who left his body and returned back home, back to Godhead on approximately Nov.28, 2007. Sri Ajitananda, a talented spiritual writer himself, always encouraged me to write on de votional topics, despite my many disqualifications to produce Vaishnava literature. May he continue to bless me and all the devotees from his seat at the feet of Srila Prabhupada and Srimati Tulasi devi!
Sri Clayton O’Claerach
I have been thinking about that tortured kid in Omaha, who shot all those people and then himself. He was complaining about the meaninglessness of his life – the only meaning he could come up with was to kill, then commit suicide. I have never had that kind of perception – I have been through some very rough times, including a stint of homelessness, but I never found life meaningless, and not because of some corny reason like my ‘faith in God’ – for a number of years I was an atheist! Perhaps I always had a problem to be engaged with – perhaps my difficult relationship with my parents kept me engaged in life – there was always hope that things would get better.
One could say that such an intricate creation as the human body and mind is never without meaning—while living. As soon as the soul departs, tho, it is simply a lump of meat to be consigned to the grave or the fire and forgotten’but while living it is very meaningful.
Srila Prabhupada, the great acarya of the Gaudiya-Madhva Sampradaya, the Chaitanya school of self-realization, explains the purpose of it all very simply: ‘The material creation is a chance for the conditioned souls to return back Home, back to Godhead’.
There are several words here: ‘material creation’ ‘conditioned souls’ and ‘return Home’.
‘Material creation’ means what is perceived with our present senses. There are 8,400,000 species of life, and we may take next birth in any of them according to our karma. These worlds expand upwards as Bhur Bhuvah Swaha, Maha Janah Tapaha Satyam, planets where many demigods and sages live, and they expand downwards, also. Besides these, there are the Spiritual Worlds, which are uncreated, and where the residents are perfect and infallible. The material Universes, trillions of them, are only ?? part of the total manifestation. The remaining ?? are in the spiritual world, where Krishna (God) also has His Abode.
‘Conditioned souls”we have been around an inconceivably long time’trillions of years wandering up and down in the material creations, sometimes a god, sometimes a dog, a tree. A fish, a blade of grass’and in the process, we have acquired habits of being, tastes’we have become conditioned to material life. This is the real theory of evolution’not that the bodies are evolving, but the souls are evolving through different bodies’the bodies are just there, like compartments in a train’lst class, 2d class, 3d class, etc., and according to our capacity to ‘pay’, we get a certain body’but this is not a very good process— we want to get out of this birth, old age, disease, and death and go to the deathless world from which there is no coming back to this martya lok (world of death). If we can get out (and we have that assurance) we should try to get out of this plane and go ‘back Home’.
The human form of life is ideally suited for this venture’our very form is based on the two-handed Form of Krishna’the difference is, our bodies are made of ignorance, whereas Krishna’s Form, and that of His incarnations and expansions. Is made of Eternity, Knowledge, and Bliss.
This material world has been compared to an ocean of nescience and to a forest fire—the spiritual master is compared to a great raincloud that puts out the blazing fire of material life—and he has been compared to the captain of a great boat (Mahayana) that can cross the ocean of nescience very easily, we simply have to get into the boat by accepting him as our Guide.
Now some would say, the Christians say the same thing about Jesus’what is the difference? The difference is many centuries of speculation and doctrines hammered out because of politics and without knowledge of God’otherwise, Jesus is also our spiritual master, as is St Paul and Prophet Muhammed—but we find the purest thing, aside from the Bible and the Qu’ran, in the beautiful Srimad Bhagavatam, the ‘mature fruit of the desire tree of the Vedas’. The master of that scripture is the real master, the Jagad Guru (Teacher of the whole Universe). ‘He is the guru of everyone’the only difference is that some accept him, whereas others do not,’
Srimad Bhagavatam throws out all kinds of ‘kaitava dharma”cheating religions—this means we are not given the best thing, but are sidetracked into philanthropy, humanitarianism, or liberation, which is compared to a black python coming to devour us. Or, we join some sort of ‘prosperity religion”’pray and grow rich’. Or, we accept many small gods for small favors and neglect the High God. There are many more forms of religious cheatingness.
The soul is simply thirsting for love and affection’power or knowledge will not be satisfactory. Lasting love and affection, however, cannot be found here in the world of death. The greatest spiritual masters come to give us, to connect us with that raso vai sah, the emporium of rasa (taste mellow), the Supreme Personality of Godhead Who is sweetness personified, and who alone can satisfy our thirst for love and sweetness eternally
We want a relationship with that Blue Boy which is more than ‘going to Heaven’ to be with departed loved ones’of course, God can do anything He wants’He can elevate quite ordinary people to His Abode if He wants, but I think He is not such a fool’what we have attained here, we can’t expect much more there, in terms of our relationship with Him’Jesus Himself said, ‘not everybody that says to me Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that does the will of my Father’. And this will is clearly given in Bhagavad Gita As It Is’it has to be worked out in the heart, under expert guidance.
So there are different colours of God, not precisely the same’Allah is one color, Jehovah another’but these are all facets of the diamond named Krishna. There may be many differences, but love is the same in all.
To become a saint is an impossible ambition in this Age’it is inconceivable’one runs right into the world’s idea of what a saint should be like’one should serve the poor all one’s life, like Mother Theresa, one should never raise one’s voice, never get angry, and so forth, then you can be what the world considers a saint.
Real sainthood has nothing to do with all that! ‘Sarva dharman parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja’ A real saint is one who does not care for religious formularies but is simply the servant of Krishna’s servant. And he has strong faith that thereby everything will be accomplished. The devotees of Srila Prabhupada are all saints, and they are a very variegated bunch, of a great variety of temperaments and devotional styles’they live for the benefit of others.
So why become a killer and a suicide? Why not become a saint? Free will is there. But we are easily misled by our minds, despite our so called ‘reason”this is why we say, sastra, sadhu, Guru should be our guides, not the independent decision of mind and intellect. Everybody wants to ‘think for himself”nobody wants to accept authority’so there is always ‘thinking for myself’ but within the guidelines of sastra, sadhu, and Guru’why? Because a blind man cannot cross a busy street by thinking it out for himself. These three direct in the same way, and we need another mental function besides thinking’namely, realizing. The Vedanta-sutra declares, ‘tarkaprathishthanat”The Supreme Truth cannot be attained by argument and logic’the scope of our ‘thinking’ does not reach to the feet of the Transcendental Autocrat, Who is the Supreme Attractive Beauty, and our Best Friend.