“One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.55)
“There are so many differences caused by factions. Or perhaps the differences lead to factions. Either way, you have this one particular faith and its many members. Then you have another faith, which has a different set of beliefs. Then you have the people of no faith, along with the people of limited faith. Let’s at least get a dialogue started. Let’s hold a conference, where we can air out the differences. This meeting will bring everyone together. Let’s see if we can find a way to unite, finding unity amidst diversity.”
Based on the number of conferences held since the beginning of time, this doesn’t appear to be a new idea. Different nations meet together to avoid conflict, and a nation is nothing more than a collection of people with a purported common interest. Take any interest, whether large or small, and bring people together to see if they can find common ground. But actually, it is the identification based on that interest which prevents the unity. The formula for uniting is already given in a famous work of the Vedic tradition. Beyond blind ideology, this formula is a way of life, a way to reap the true benefit to a human birth.
One side thinks that their God allows them to kill animals. Not cats or dogs, mind you. Those are innocent animals that can be kept in the home as pets. The homeowner feverishly races home in order to tend to such pets. The dog must be let out of the house to use nature’s restroom. The many accidents that will occur in the home need to be cleaned up. This is all fine, as it is a labor of love. Dog is man’s best friend, so protecting it is required.
But other animals can be killed. Not just once or twice a day in order to get a meal, there are schemes to kill these animals en masse. Never mind that the animals have families of their own or that they generate milk upon the mere sight of their children. Never mind that the scripture of choice has a commandment against killing. Based on what the current leaders say, this sort of killing is sanctioned.
Another side thinks that it’s okay to punish women severely based on some innocent mistake they may have made. Perhaps they forgot to cover their head in public. Maybe they accidentally spoke with a man who wasn’t their husband. Maybe they sent a text message using a mobile telephone in an area where such practices were prohibited. Never mind, as they deserve to be punished in the worst possible way. The scripture of choice sanctions such behavior.
Another side thinks that God is without form. If forced to identify Him, He is more an energy if anything. He pervades the entire space. When we hear of a purported incarnation and its activities, it should be understood that the impersonal energy decided to take a form. With that form it was subject to the same defects of birth, old age, disease and death. All of us are part of the same energy, so in one sense everyone is God. The problem is that we don’t realize it right now, so the goal of life should be to understand how we are God, how we are originally formless as well.
Another side thinks that to eat, sleep, mate and defend is everything. There is no God. A bunch of chemicals randomly collided to create these bodies, and through the forces of nature and the influence of time the same chemicals will again disperse. Ash to ash and dust to dust. Therefore everyone should go for whatever they desire. Whoever is the most powerful should be accepted as the leader. Let them do whatever they want. Let there be no boundaries to human behavior. Cheat if you can. Lie if you have to. Just hope that you don’t get caught. This is the way to really enjoy life.
In a meeting featuring members of these different factions, where is the common ground? One side says it’s okay to kill and another says it’s not. How do you reach a reconciliation from there? It’s like being in your home and protecting your stuff when a burglar enters. The intruder wants your television and jewelry and you want to keep it. You think you have justice on your side, whereas the thief follows the motto of “finders keepers.” How will you reconcile these differences?
A higher authority obviously enters and settles the dispute. The thief will not accept the higher authority, but they are generally outnumbered in such situations. There easily could have been harmony. The thief didn’t have to enter the home uninvited. They could have asked politely to watch television in the home as a guest. They likely would have been offered a hot meal, a cold beverage, and a comfortable seat. Instead, they took their own route and met trouble.
The conference featuring the differing factions will never reach unity precisely because of the clashing viewpoints. In the Vedas the formula for uniting one and all, man and woman, animal and human, rich and poor, king and peasant alike, is provided. The solution is surrender to God. Not a quick, two-minute statement giving allegiance or blindly following a particular leader, real surrender is changing consciousness. Think of God always, especially at the time of death. When you think of Him, others will see your good qualities, the best being your consciousness. From your consciousness alone you will help others, living in peace.
In this recommendation, one is told to give in. In essence, abandon everything and surrender unto God, who is described as all-attractive in the Vedas. The all-attractive God has an accompanying form, which is His original. It is spiritual in nature, never subject to the forces of the material energy, which is considered His external, inferior energy. This original personality is called Krishna, and He Himself makes the recommendation for surrender in the Bhagavad-gita.
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.66)
Members of the different factions at the conference can surely each make the same recommendation. “Just surrender unto us and you will be fine. Follow our way and thus everyone can unite.” In surrendering to Krishna, everyone benefits. The cows are protected. The women are given shelter under suitable husbands. The children are taught about the impersonal Brahman from the time of birth, allowing them to have a real education, one that provides an extended vision to see the effects of action and the unity in spiritual quality shared by all species. The men are allowed to serve in the best way possible, in glorifying God.
Indeed, women are allowed to do the same. In the tradition of surrender to Krishna, it is women who set the example for devotion. The cowherd ladies of Vrindavana are considered Krishna’s greatest devotees. Some of them write songs, some of them cook food, some of them churn butter, some of them manage the household, and some of them meet and dance with Krishna. They show the endless variety available to the surrendered souls. Though the gopis are many in number, and thus have different desires in relation to Krishna, they all unite in their love for Him.
In surrendering to the thief, the law-abiding citizens are harmed by having to live in constant fear of other plunderers. In giving in to the animal-killers, there is the loss of compassion throughout society, and without compassion there is no peace. In giving in to the impersonalist, the very transcendental qualities that emanate from the original person are ignored. If the origin of matter and spirit is said to be without form, then no one has any identity in life. How, then, can there be happiness?
Giving in to Krishna is very easy. One simply chants the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” as often as possible. The sound is as potent as the person. The name of God represents Him completely. Under His shelter all factions can unite, just as the employees work together best when the leader is there to watch over and guide them. In Vrindavana the sound of Krishna’s flute catches everyone’s attention and brings them together in their service. That service leads to so much pleasure, and in this world the same sound comes from the maha-mantra, which the devotees from all different walks of life always repeat.
Let’s allow all different factions to meet,
Each given chance at speaker’s seat.
Then no more will others fight,
In reconciliation all to unite.
From history meetings more than one,
Successful for unity there were none.
Give in to pious man or to the thief?
Each to have their own set’s belief.
Formula for peace Shri Krishna already gave,
Surrender to Him, time of argument to save.
Man, woman, child, leader and peasant to see,
Benefit in chanting holy names with offenses free.