By Kaviraja Shanti Prakash Dasa
During our residence on this planet, humanity has experienced many horrors- slavery, apartheid, concentration camps and many other nasty histories. Many countries celebrate independence from foreign subjugation, which were in many cases far from peaceful. Thus we can see what can go wrong when we become dependent on selfish leaders- Exploitation. Exploitation may be gross or subtle. People fear exploitation, but in general, we find exploitation everywhere. Some people are exploited and these same people may in turn exploit others. This reveals the innate desire for the conditioned soul to lord over material nature and of course other living entities. This is the flipside of our desire for independence. So we find people who are being exploited desiring freedom and we find the exploiters desiring to exert their independence over others. This is how society has been in our recent history and it will probably continue if we do not change our attitude. This is the reality of the Material World.
Since we have heard, seen or experienced exploitation, we may have reservations about authority. The Ultimate Authority is God but of course we are hesitant to accept theistic ideologies or philosophies because we fear exploitation by these people in the name of God.
However this should not dissuade the true seeker from the search of the Truth. If we see a man who is blind due to cataracts, it is ludicrous to recommend removal of the affected eyes. The prudent advice is to simply remove the cataracts, allowing the blind man to see. There may be pseudo spiritualists, but the there are real spiritualists too. In order to really understand any knowledge, it is necessary to learn it from one who is proficient in it. In the spiritual sphere this acquisition of spiritual knowledge from true spiritualists is essential for our divine eyes to see, since our gross senses have no entrance in the transcendental reality.
The desire for freedom or independence remains ingrained within us. It may not be a physical struggle against slavery. It may be our financial or physical constraints, relationships or just plain boredom etc, but the quest for freedom continues to haunt us. We have human rights and laws to protect them. We have the United Nations and many organizations dedicated to preserving peace. We have lotteries and casinos feeding off the hope of financial well being. We have jobs which never give us what we deserve. We have clubs, movies and other places of entertainment for people wanting express their independence. All this is available but still the quest for independence remains. Actually we find that the very means people use to gain independence causes them to become dependent.
We desire absolute independence, but we should understand that we can never be absolutely independent. Our independence is relative. We do have free will and we are able to make decisions that may change our lives but there are always limits to this. This is like when we are on a flight: We are have some options, such as sitting, walking or watching a movie but we are unable to play soccer or go ice skating etc.
Independence has been a natural desire since childhood. In our childhood we are restricted in so many ways by our parents or guardians. We would especially experience this during adolescence. At that time we may even attempt to take some independence but always awaiting freedom at the end of the tunnel in the shape of adulthood. As an adult however we may appreciate the restrictions by our beloved guardians. We can see that these impositions were not intended to be exploitative but were imbued with care and affection.
God or Krishna is our eternal guardian. However because of our rebellious attitude, He patiently and attentively waits in the core of our hearts for us to desire Him. When we use our independence to serve God or His devotees, then the Lord, who is absolutely independent, takes a more active role in guiding us. However He can only guide as much we let Him, in order to honor our minute independence.
As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha. (Bhagavad gita 4.11)
By this process if we are sincere, the Lord sends His bona fide representative to guide us in more detail. This is actually the greatest benediction for human society. Since we have no real vision of spirit and can only see matter, the Lord understanding our plight sends divinity in the form of another ‘human’ so that we may be linked to the divine. Thus our interaction with the Spiritual Master, who is always the devotee of the Lord, is actually interaction with God, but in the beginning it is not mature or obvious. By following this guidance with our life and soul we gradually advance in Krishna consciousness to the point of serving on the Absolute platform. The Spiritual Master may appear in more than one form, and this principle is never abandoned in practice or perfection.
In all relationships we find some element of dependence. However the dependence is voluntary. This dependence may lead to both happiness and distress because of the temporary nature of relationships or the actual relationship itself may be volatile or imperfect. Also we may find as the relationships continue, we become bored, or rather it is taken for granted. The actual reason for all this is because we are falsely accepting the body as our actual identity. We want pure happiness but never seem to be satisfied yet we have a desire for it. Since we are spiritual beings in material machines, these material relationships cannot give the satisfaction we seek. All these relationships are actually mirages of our real relationship with Sri Krishna, which is the oasis of pure pleasure. In this eternal relationship, we also voluntarily depend on Krishna and/or His bona fide representative(s), but we find an ever increasing satisfaction in this surrender to the perfect. It is utterly free from all exploitation and there is no limit to its sweetness, because Krishna, Himself becomes dependent on His devotee too. This is indeed what we were looking for and is the best use of our independence.
Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do. (Bhagavad gita 18.63)