by Sri Srimad Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaja
The Mind: Unsteady and Prejudiced. To err is human. However learned and intelligent a man may be, he is prone to error and evil. The greatest philosopher should always remember that human nature is apt to make various errors at every moment, especially when we try to judge that which is spiritual and eternal using our empiric knowledge.
Reason is undoubtedly the greatest of all human excellences, but it has its own jurisdiction. Nature has indeed favoured some persons with superior powers of intellect. Yet our mind is always prone to change. We accept a theory today and reject it a few days later. Everyone experiences the fallacy of theories established by renowned men. The great differences in quality we often perceive between works crafted by the mind of the same man should discourage dogmatism.
The condition of the human body varies according to the time and weather, undergoing more transformations than the moon itself; so also must the state of the mind rise and fall like mercury in a tube. One hour the mind is as pure as ether, and the next moment it is as foul as the thickest fog. Where, then, is the reliability of the human intellect? Where are the grounds to boast its prowess? This fickleness of the mortal frame, this instability of human wisdom, should teach us humility and abate our pride. This point is overlooked by many philosophers, most of whom are found to be strongly prejudiced in favour of their own preferred opinions.
Prejudice, or prepossession, generally stands like a stumbling block in the way of justice and does not allow our reason to look beyond it. It is this fatal propensity that shamefully misleads our judgment. To avoid being led astray by such a dangerous error, we must be very careful to deprive ourselves of acquired prejudices and hear impartially before we pass a sweeping remark on any subject.
It is admitted on all counts that the powers of the mind depend upon the organs of the body, which alter over time. The mind, being inseparably connected with matter, cannot proceed beyond material phenomena. It therefore has no access to the spiritual world, the door to which is shut to all who want to enter with their prepossessions or dim light of worldly wisdom.
The Divine Sphere: The rules and laws of the material world have no access in that world of eternity. Material time and space have no place there. Material senses cannot approach that realm. Who can set landmarks to delimit its dimensions or find plummets to fathom the depth of that mighty, mysterious existence? What numbers can express and what line can measure the lengths and breadths of that eternal world? A theist cannot help but conceive of a single, spiritual Supreme Being present in this spiritual realm of eternity, in spite of all that the most obstinate atheist can say and devise through his own doubts. Be you the greatest intellectual giant, the most learned scholar, the best orator or the single most experienced man in the world, you will have to stop dead at the gate of the Divine Sphere of spirit and seek counsel of sound judgment as to how to proceed. You will have to drop everything before you face that world, and submit fully to the process of instruction. This is called civil death and it qualifies you to receive a glimpse into the mysterious principle of spirit. A light (i.e. empiric knowledge) may be useful to help us find something in a dark room (i.e. the material world); but it is of no use when the sun shines brightly upon us. It is simply ludicrous to try to see the sun with the help of a light, which owes its very origin to the sun.
All sources of heat and light in this universe are said in the Vedas to originate from the great celestial body of fire, the sun. God is self-effulgent. His powers are identified with His person. In the material sphere there is a difference between a person and his powers and between an object and its attributes, name, form and movements. But it is a spiritual truth that anything that is spirit is identical with its name, form, attributes and activities.
Most Western philosophers have identified the mind as well as the perverted ego with the soul or spirit, and therefore have failed to rise beyond matter and that which is related to matter. Matter & Spirit The demarcation line between the mind and spirit will be observed in the words of Krsna, the Lord of all lords, in the Bhagavad-gita (7.4). Therein He says that five elements form the physical body or outer case of a being, namely, (1) solids, (2) liquids, (3) fire, (4) air and (5) space. A further three elements compose the astral body or inner case of a man, and these are (6) the mind, (7) the intelligence and (8) the perverted ego. These eight substances are related to the creative principle of matter, whereas the soul, which is an atomic fragment of the Divine Soul, is of a different nature. He is of an energy that produces beings who are spiritual in nature but liable to be enthralled by maya (His illusory energy) when they forget their true and innate position as eternal servants of the Deity.
God has infinite powers, but the scriptures describe the attributes of His powers in three divisions, viz. (1) That power that exhibits spiritual existence is called cit-sakti and the spiritual kingdom is called cit-jagat. (2) Maya-shakti creates the material phenomena, known as mayika-jagat. (3) jiva-sakti manifests souls who are naturally located between the cit-jagat and mayikajagat. Such souls are so constructed that they are liable to be enthralled by maya-shakti. This is the consequence of their desire for power when unaided by the cit-shakti of the Deity. Those who prefer to serve their Master are protected from falling into the clutches of maya and undergoing troubles as a consequence. They are thus admitted to the cit-jagat as eternal servants. The soul engrossed in matter loses himself to his mind, which takes over the seat of its master, the soul, and acts through his senses to enjoy this world. In fact the soul is the proprietor of both the mind and the body. When, by good fortune, the sleeping soul is made to turn back to hear, think of or move towards its original position, the mind and body follow suit till the final objective of spiritual existence is attained. The mind engrossed in matter is doomed to wallow in the mud of this world, whereas the mind liberated from all the pressure of gross matter tends to go back to God, back to his home above. There is a wide gulf between mind and spirit that can only be bridged by spiritual cultivation. There are so-called great men or rational thinkers who deny the existence of spirit. But this truth is not subject to dry reason or barren arguments; it is only to be felt by sincere men as the intuitive truth. Here intellect fails and submission to God triumphs.
Omnipotent God: Beyond Error. Vaishnava philosophers have discovered that all the mistakes we are guilty of making originate from (1) error, (2) inebriation, (3) the shortcomings of our senses and (4) an inclination to deceive others, and by these our boldest and strongest thoughts are lost. (1) We mistake infamy for renown, and ruin for benefit. (2) We misunderstand something when the brightest rays of truth shine in vain upon our mind. (3) The senses we use for observation are always defective and incapable of giving us a perfect view of what we have observed. For instance, when our eyes look at a glass of water, we do not see any germs in the water unless and until a microscope is used. Nor do we see in darkness. (4) A general inclination for deception creeps into our heart when we take a one sided view and establish facts or theories with the greatest assurance. All people are subject to fall victim to these defects.
The only exception is God Almighty and His associate counterparts, who remain within the Absolute Truth. God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-blissful. He is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, and none like Him can be found anywhere. He is one without a second and possesses infinite powers. Out of His own supreme power and prerogative He appears before us in His incarnations (avataras) or in the Deity form (sri vigraha). He comes down from His ever-blissful abode to this world in the form of a man when we actually require His help. Sometimes He sends His parsadas, associate counterparts, who are fully empowered to act here on His behalf. When theism is forced to give way to pantheism, atheism, scepticism and agnosticism, then irreligion, unscrupulousness and duplicity bring about chaos on earth. Sin and its consequences surge around us, tumultuously clamouring to have their way against our wishes, and we find ourselves in the midst of a whirlpool. He comes to save us from their clutches and re-establish peace and order. He may remain here and at the same time remain everywhere, both inside and outside the universe. Mutually contradicting powers and attributes live in harmony within Him, ruled by His supramundane Self. With all His paraphernalia, majesty, might, glory, beauty, wisdom and supremacy, He reigns eternally in the spiritual world and exists simultaneously in every created object and place in His complete fullness. The omnipotent author of Nature is a supreme will unto Himself and is above Nature and her laws and rules, because everything has come from His will and power.
The Spiritual Guide: The Supreme Lord Krishna Caitanya is at the centre of all spiritual and material phenomena. At that central point harmony shines eternally with her all-beautiful Lord, “the Absolute Truth”. His injunctions are universally true at all times and must be universally relied upon. They are embodied in the Vedas, the Gita, the Upanishads, Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Sat shatras, which must be accepted as the only evidence in spiritual affairs. Fortunate and blessed persons hear and obey them. They are not intended for any particular sect, caste or creed, but for all beings and all souls, be they animal, human or celestial. These injunctions are not based on partial or apparent truth, but on the absolute or unchallengeable truth. If brought to this platform by the grace of the Almighty, persons of conflicting interests and different sentiments become peaceful and live in eternal association with that Transcendental Being, a life of continuous joy, peace and success in this world and the next. Harmony lays her hand on the contending parties and brings all their differences to an amicable conclusion.
Our first question should be, “How to arrive at this platform?” I cannot approach His divine abode if I am unaided by the spiritual light emanating from one who realizes the principle of spirit. Now comes the question of sat-guru, our spiritual guide, who is nearest and dearest to the Supreme Being. He comes to this world in the form of a man to save dormant souls from the clutches of maya (the Lord’s illusory energy), to infuse divine power into every man to navigate through life victoriously and successfully, and to give every erring being the power to be reinstated to his former position with all the rights and privileges of such a position – that is, eternal service of Godhead. Generous friends, do you feel the need of such a friend, staunch and true, who will stand by you through thick and thin, who will give you power to win when you are strongly tempted to wrong either in accordance with or in contradiction to the dictates of your own reason and judgment? Our next question should be, “Where can I find our spiritual guide? How to get Him to be interested in me?” If I am sincere and true in my desire, He will reveal Himself to me. He is ever ready to receive everyone who comes to Him. Many have found Him. Many are enjoying His friendship and living in close communion with Him. I should express my willingness to obey Him and then I will become conscious that He has heard my prayers. The next moment I shall find Him disguised before my eyes in a human form, a mahanta-guru or sat-guru. He welcomes me with outstretched arms and the gate to God’s realm opens.