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Elections: Changing Guards

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Changing Guards

The trouble with elections is that they tend to give us the distinct sensation that things have changed simply because our representatives in government have changed. Year after year, century after century, institutions, administrations and world leaders come and go with all their sackloads of systems, credos, experiments and cure-alls, while the common man plods on, never really getting what he wants out of it all: some final satisfaction.

Leaders have always exercised power—as much in Egypt of the Pharoahs as in modern America—by popular consent. That consent is sometimes directed toward an institution, as in the case of a monarchy, rather than toward a specific individual, which applies in a democracy, but it is always essential for effective government. And popular consent indicates that the world’s leaders and governments reflect no more than the desires of the populace. Therefore, to consider why the people don’t get the real satisfaction that each being seeks in life, we must not consider leadership as an entity apart and by itself. The habit of historians to place the blame for the world’s ills solely—or even mainly upon our Neros, Attilas and Stalins is misleading. We must consider both the governed and the governor together—they cannot be separated—in order to get a valid picture.

Now, if our leaders are offering us what we want, and if we’re following men who have, really, no more than that to qualify them, then we must recognize the fact that we are not unhappy merely because of our leaders: we are unhappy because of what we want. In this our leaders most certainly conspire with us, but they are not guilty by themselves. We are asking for—and our politicians are promising to deliver—our own enslavement, frustration and death. That is to say, we are seeking, to conquer material Nature, and all our victories in this struggle are Pyrrhic to the final degree.

According to the Vedic teachings, there are two reasons for our determination to defeat Nature, to bend her to our will and exploit her and ravage her: The first is that we each desire to be God. Because of this we have left the eternal spiritual association of the actual Godhead, and by His kindness He has given us the material world in which to enjoy according to our own choices. Under the illusion which each creature possesses—the ant and the platypus no less than Caligula or Hitler—that he is the center of existence, we are being constantly engaged in the struggle to exert our supremacy. And because that supremacy does not factually exist, we are continually subjected to defeat in one form or another.

The second reason for the struggle against Nature which is put forward by the Vedic sages is incompatibility. The living force is by constitution spiritual, spirit being described as unchanging, eternal, knowing and blissful. When the spiritual living entity takes on the form of a material body, he tends to falsely identify himself with that body—like a man in a dream who has forgotten his real self. Material Nature is basically mutable, and unconscious except when the life force is present. Therefore, when any creature accepts himself as a product of material Nature, he makes it impossible to achieve the fulfillment of his real and constitutional position.

What we must seek, then, if we are to find satisfaction, is a means of purifying consciousness in order to regain spiritual, total awareness. And the struggle for supremacy over Nature, which our leaders today assume without a second thought to be the real goal of human society, must be abandoned. The Krishna Consciousness Movement exists simply to offer this spiritual alternative to mankind, and our method—the chanting of the Hare Krishna Mantra—is a scientific and transcendental approach to this real and most basic problem of life.

We strongly urge all men at all levels of the human community to take up this process, and to thereby adopt an actual program of release from the bitter struggle with Nature Compared with the tremendous amount of time and money thrown into the democratic election process, this is an exceedingly easy, inexpensive proposition. Yet it means actual release, whereas our political upheavals offer no more than a change of guards at the gate of the material prison.

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