“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)
Knowledge Seeker: Hey man, how’s it going?
Well-wishing Friend: Not bad, how about yourself?
KS: Okay; just hanging in there. Another work week. You know how it goes. So hey, I was reading up on some of the Vedic philosophy you were telling me about.
WF: Yeah? That’s great. How are you liking it so far?
KS: It’s very interesting I must say. Totally different from anything else I’ve ever read. I’ve studied a lot of philosophy in my life, from the famous French guys like Voltaire and Descartes to Hume and Locke.
WF: Right. That’s one of the things I love about the Vedas. While there is a strong devotional aspect, which is integral for success in fact, there is a philosophical foundation as well. And since the philosophy wasn’t concocted by anyone, it stands unique amongst all the philosophies ever discussed on this earth.
KS: One aspect has me kind of baffled, though. Correct me if I’m wrong, but for the origin of the creation, the original cause is the desire of the individual living sparks of spirit to dissociate from God?
KS: Okay, I get that. But if God is all-perfect, why would He allow these souls to leave Him? Being omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and every other “omni” under the sun, shouldn’t He have foreseen the danger that leaving His world would cause?
WF: The explanation is that there is independence for everyone, from the smallest ant all the way up to the creator of all creatures. That independence is not granted; it is part of the makeup of spirit. God is the origin of the sum collection of all spiritual fragments, so He also has independence.
KS: So we are godlike, but not God Himself.
WF: Yeah, we have eternality, bliss and knowledge. We have independence. It’s just that our exercise of such attributes isn’t on the same level as God’s.
KS: Shouldn’t God have advised us otherwise? I get that we have independence, but then so do young children. The good father will not allow his child to use their independence for harm. That’s why there are curfews, times set aside for doing homework, and punishments for breaking the rules.
WF: Actually, all of these things apply in the relationship to God as well. The guiding hand of protection is there only for the souls who want and accept it, though. The issue comes down to desire. God cannot control your thoughts.
KS: Why not? If He’s God shouldn’t He be able to do anything? Pardon my contentious tone; I do find this puzzling.
WF: No worries. Consider the dinner we went to last week. I wanted to eat pizza. You said you were sick of pizza. You wanted to eat Mexican food. Now if I had more power over you and exerted that power, would it be to my benefit? Essentially, if I could control your thoughts, would I want to?
KS: Well, why not? Then you would get what you wanted all the time.
WF: There would be no joy in association, however. It’d be like going to dinner with a piece of metal, an empty box, or a brick. Where would the fun be in that? In that famous movie, Castaway, the guy is stuck on a deserted island and makes a friend out of a volleyball. He calls it Wilson and has conversations with it. It is both humorous and sad. If he did the same thing under any other circumstance, people would consider him crazy.
KS: So my ability to think independently is basically part of what makes me who I am. “I think therefore I am,” as a famous philosopher Descartes once said.
WF: Right. If God controlled our thoughts, we wouldn’t be living entities. We would be like robots. The fact that we can think for ourselves is what makes the devotees so dear to Him. They choose, completely on their own, to be devoted to Him.
KS: And from there comes the protection, like the father looking out for the child?
WF: Exactly. Mind you, the protection isn’t always obvious. It’s not the easiest thing to discern. If I push you away from oncoming traffic on the street, everyone can see my kind act. With God, sometimes it looks like He’s doing harm to us. He’ll take away a friend or family member. He’ll make us poor. It’s not always the same kind of protection; it’s tailored to the individual and their circumstances.
KS: So how do we know that the protection is there? How do we know that God is guiding us?
WF: If you’re thinking about Him more and more, then you know His hand is in your life. Have you heard of Shrimati Radharani?
KS: Is she the goddess who is standing next to Krishna in pictures and in temples?
WF: Yes, she is considered the perfect energy of God. She has full independence, but she only uses it in devotion. There is no chance for her leaving the devotional consciousness. In their very intimate dealings, Krishna does not always stay by her side. Sometimes He runs away, as He knows this will further increase Radha’s attachment for Him.
KS: So the more we think about God, the better off we are? That makes sense.
WF: And through that constant thinking, at the end of life the grave errata of voluntarily leaving God’s association during some past point in history is finally corrected.
When away from God turned,
Material life spirit soul earned.
As Supreme Father could stop,
But then independence to be not.
If all others my commands to follow,
Then no joy, in loneliness to wallow.
So glorious are they who devotion choose,
Their freedom for pleasing God they use.