An ancient science provides the
perfect vehicle for the ultimate journey.
by Giri-Yadava Dasa
If TWA were selling tickets for a flight to a newly discovered planet where no one grew old,no one suffered disease, and no one ever died, who wouldn’t want to purchase a ticket to go there, at any cost?
We all long to live forever, but have you ever stopped to wonder why? If death is natural, why does everyone just as naturally try to avoid death?
In Bhagavad-gita, one of the Vedic literatures, the ancient Sanskrit texts of India, Lord Krsna addresses this very question: “For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He does not come to be, has not come to be, and will not come to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Bg. 2.20)
The Vedic writings define God—or, more precisely, the Absolute Truth—as “that from which everything has emanated.” God is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss, and we living entities, being part and parcel of God, have qualitative oneness with Him. As a drop of ocean water has the same qualities as the rest of the ocean but in a smaller quantity, we all have a minute quantity of God’s qualities. Therefore, since God is eternal, we are also eternal, and thus we do not wish to die.
At the present moment, however, we are under the false impression that we are the temporary material body. Everyone is thinking, “I am Canadian,” or “I am American,” or “I am black,” or “I am white,” or “I am Christian,” or “I am Hindu.” In reality we, the eternal conscious self, have nothing to do with these temporary external identities. Lord Krsna elucidates this point in Bhagavad-gita (2.22): “As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” To clarify this point further, let us consider the expression “This is my hand.” The word my is a possessive pronoun denoting that the object, the hand, belongs to me. But let us reflect upon the word me. Who am I? I am obviously something other than my hand, because I am observing my hand. Then who am I? I am that which is aware, the conscious perceiver within the body: the self.
Now, the special facility we have in the human form of life is that we can realize our true self, understand the relationship between the individual self and the Supreme Self,and ultimately develop lovefor Him.
To achieve these goals, we must be trained by a self-realized person. Why people today refuse spiritual training has always puzzled me. To become an expert cook, painter, dancer, mechanic, technician, lawyer, or doctor, one must approach an experienced teacher and take instruction from him. Nevertheless, when it comes to the most important subject—the science of God realization—we stubbornly insist, “I don’t need anyone’s help.” This false pride limits us to an incomplete understanding of the Absolute Truth. Because we are imperfect, our senses are limited, and we tend to make mistakes. How, then, can we possibly expect to attain liberation on our own? If I am bound hand and foot, how can I free myself? I need help from someone who is free.
Out of his causeless mercy and kindness, the Lord sends His ambassador, the liberated spiritual master. Though in the material world, he is not in material consciousness, because he is in constant touch with the Lord in his heart. Just as a fish in an aquarium is in a room but simultaneously in a world apart, the water, so the spiritual master is in this material world but simultaneously in a world apart—the kingdom of God.
If one takes shelter of the instructions of such a bona fide spiritual master, one’s deliverance from the material world is guaranteed by Lord Krsna: “Just try to understand the truth by approaching a bona fide spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.” (Bg. 4.34)
The liberated, self-realized spiritual master is like the TWA airplane pilot who knows the bearings of the spiritual destination. The spiritual master, by imparting the knowledge contained in revealed scripture and by his own undaunted example, trains his disciples to render unconditional devotional service to Lord Krsna despite all material difficulties.
The Vedic literature declares that because God is absolute, there is no difference between the Lord and His name. In other words, one can associate with God by associating with His name. Thus the contamination of bodily misconceptions is cleansed away by the antiseptic power of associating with the Lord’s holy name. This axiomatic principle is given in the Vedic literature, and those who are scientifically minded should make a spiritual experiment by chanting the Lord’s holy names: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama. Hare Hare. The Vedic literature recommends this chanting process as the most potent means of devotional service in this age.
Lord Krsna further reveals, “To those who are constantly devoted to Me and who worship Me with love, I give them the understanding by which they can come to Me. I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.”(Bg. 10.10-11)
Thus the disciple’s genuinely humble service attitude brings him to the point of firm conviction and steadiness in devotional service. Next, his taste for chanting the Lord’s holy name and glories increases. Then he comes to the stage of spontaneous service, and finally he reaches the culmination of spiritual life: devotional service in pure love of God.
If one stays aboard the airplane of devotional service, one is sure to reach his destination. “After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” (Bg. 8.15) This process of devotional service is scientific and authorized because we receive it directly from Lord Krsna in Bhagavad-gita. We should not manufacture any new method; the old method is perfect.
Everyone who has stepped into the boxing ring of human life has been pulverized by the blows of death. Death is guaranteed. If there is even the slightest hope of escaping death and rebirth in this material world, why not take it? If your house is on fire and you see a door leading to safety, do you stop and look around for other possible exits? No! You take the first sure door to safety. That is intelligence.
Why not set aside your doubts (at least temporarily) and make a scientific spiritual experiment? Chant the Lord’s holy names. What Ponce de Leon searched for and never found—the fountain of eternal youth—can be tasted by anyone who purchases the ticket of the nectarean names of Krsna.