“God does not interfere with the little independence of the living entity. In Bhagavad-gita, the Lord has explained in all respects how one can elevate his living condition.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63 Purport)
“I hate it when people are mean to me. Why can’t everyone be nice? I try to be nice to others. I bear no malice towards anyone. I don’t hold grudges. In fact, after a few days, I forget about most things. Whether something good happened or something bad, I move on fairly quickly. Why can’t others do the same? Also, why does everyone have to drive so poorly? They don’t signal when changing lanes, don’t slow down when they’re behind me, and don’t maintain their speed when they see flashing lights on the other side of the road. It would also be nice if others didn’t chew with their mouths open. I hate that! That sound makes me cringe. It would be nice if everyone behaved the way I wanted them to.”
Naturally, the reaction to frustration is the desire to get others to behave the way that you wish. Why would you want to live in danger or discomfort? We get angry at our children precisely to get them to alter their behavior. The same naughtiness in other young children puts a smile on our face, but when we see our child we think, “Why can’t you do things right?” We also worry that they won’t learn proper values if they continue along this path.
But what if you could control everyone’s behavior? Not just the odd person who wronged you or the child who is under your care, what if you could dictate how every single person in this world acts? This means that people would be nice to you, they would give you what you want, whenever you want, and you’d never be frustrated in your efforts.
While it may be nice to ponder this idea, the reality is that the world full of robots would be terribly frightening. You wouldn’t have anyone real to go to. If you have a problem with something personal, if you wanted to share your experiences from the day, or if you just wanted someone to be by your side, the robot, the person trained to act only according to your wishes voiced at a specific time, isn’t going to provide the proper companionship. If such a thing were possible then you’d be happy just going up to a tree and talking to it.
The human being’s association is enjoyable precisely because there is some independence. Actually, that independence is tied to life. That which has the ability to act freely to some degree or another, sometimes relying on intelligence at the local level, is a life force. The lower species are considered inferior because their freedom is severely limited. The same life force is there, but the ability to act is hindered either by the lack of bodily features or the stunted growth in intelligence. The hog will jump around in stool and the tree can’t move or communicate.
The human being also has independence, and the real potential within an existence can be exhibited by them. We enjoy the company of our children because they don’t have the same inhibitions that we have. They aren’t as shy, and they haven’t lost their innocence. We don’t behave like them because we care what others think about us a lot more. The child likes to have fun in a free spirit, and it is nice for the adults to see this.
The paramour is also an independent person who voluntarily chooses to be with us. They have made the choice that we are important to them. We have made the same choice regarding their association. Since they are the same as us constitutionally, they feel the same happiness knowing that someone else loves them. If either party were forced into the relationship, brought in against their will, the feelings wouldn’t be the same.
This review helps to explain the relationship we have with God and why He would ever allow us to separate from Him. According to the Vedas, all life forms are originally with God. They are spirit souls at the core, and the origin of spirit is God, who is also known as the Supreme Spirit. One of the properties of spirit is independence, though in the expansions that are the individual spirit souls the ability to act on independence is limited. In simpler terms, the Supreme Lord, who is the most independent, makes concessions to allow for the individual spiritual fragments to act on their independence, depending on which choice they make.
This brings us to residence in the material world, the place where we witness such horrible things as death, old age and disease. These come at unexpected times too and sometimes for the people who seem to least deserve it. This is all bewildering to someone who doesn’t see with the spiritual vision. If one thinks that life begins at birth and ends at death, they will be greatly troubled by what they see in this world. Through the eyes of shastra, or scripture, however, one can see that life has its origin in life and that the origin of all life is God.
As soon as any fragment of spirit desires to separate from God, they are allowed to do so. They fall to the material world, where the Lord’s presence is hidden. This is on purpose, as the initial desire was to separate. As soon as the desire changes, as soon as it flips back in the other direction, the same Creator manipulates events in such a way that the masked presence suddenly becomes clearer. He keeps the secrets about Him and how to return to His land safely within the Vedas and other authentic spiritual traditions emanating from them. Those who know these secrets and act upon them are thus the ones who can reveal them to us.
The common complaint lodged against the Lord, who in His original form is known as Krishna because He is all-attractive, is that it was wrong for Him to allow anyone to descend to the temporary and miserable material world. “If He really loved us, He wouldn’t let us go somewhere that isn’t good for us.” But if you think about it, His consent makes sense. If we would hate living in a world full of robots who do whatever we want, all the time, why wouldn’t God dislike the same thing? And on the flip side, if we feel pleasure when someone voluntarily accepts our companionship, why wouldn’t Krishna feel the same way?
Indeed, the most exalted servants are those who voluntarily interact with Krishna in a mood of love. In the spiritual world’s topmost planet there is every variety we see in our present land, except the influence of the nature is different. The effects of time are nonexistent, and so one can stay there forever if they like. Clever people like Vrinda Devi and Paurnamasi scheme every day on how they can arrange events so that Krishna and His friends will have the most fun. And thus sometimes through unexpected interactions, where it looks like nothing is controlled by anyone, the relevant parties meet and feel much joy.
The robot idea also doesn’t hold because what we want is not always what is best for us. Sometimes not getting what we want turns out to change our life for the better. It may seem that following real religion, which is known as bhakti-yoga, is a waste of time, but if we offer a little sincerity at first, even begrudgingly, then we can slowly realize that we are indeed full of life and its accompanying potential for action. And we can use that potential for serving God, which will give us the most pleasure at the same time.
To make all obey me if I had the choice,
Others to do as a say, speak with one voice.
World full of robots seems appealing,
But pleasure of association won’t be feeling.
Independence is what friendship makes,
Prefer one who choice to associate takes.
The Supreme Lord similar the Vedas say,
Of our tiny independence never He’ll get in the way.
When we choose Him to have as our friend,
All our troubles He promises to mend.
Finally a return trip to His land we’ll get,
In choosing eternal ecstasy never a regret.
Categories: devotional service