“Yoga does not mean going to some class, paying some money, engaging in gymnastics, and then returning home to drink, smoke, and engage in sex. Such yoga is practiced by societies of the cheaters and the cheated. The authoritative yoga system is here outlined by the supreme authority, Shri Krishna Himself.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Path of Perfection, Ch 4)
Friend1: Listen, I’m saying this objectively. I am biased for sure, but I do know something about the other religions and philosophies of the world. There is nothing that compares to that which descends from the Vedic tradition.
Friend2: That is true by definition, since it is all-inclusive. Every philosophy is explained. Every mental speculation that has arisen since the beginning of time is merely a derivative of what the greatest brain of the Supreme Lord already thought up. That wisdom He passed on to the keepers of the most confidential knowledge that is Vedanta.
Friend1: So here’s my question. If I know this and you know this, why don’t other people know this?
Friend2: I’m not sure I follow. Can’t we just tell them?
Friend1: But sometimes even after we tell them, they still don’t believe. They go back to their other philosophies. Or worse, they return to material sense gratification.
Friend2: That is the default position. It is the animal mentality. Just enjoy the senses as much as possible. Eat, sleep, mate and defend. Don’t think anything beyond. Don’t contemplate a purpose to life, lest you risk going mad.
Friend1: Why are these other philosophies so popular, though? Some even try to say they are based in the Vedas? To me they mostly deal with sense gratification. “Worship so and so and you’ll get what you want. Retire to this isolated place and find inner peace. Refrain from this and you’ll be happy. Do yoga for a certain number of hours each day and see your life change.”
Friend2: You’ve heard of “cheaters and the cheated”?
Friend1: Yes. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada uses that term quite often.
Friend2: Right. He actually got it from his guru, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. It means that there are people who want to cheat, and they are patronized by others who want to be cheated.
Friend1: The cheaters part I understand. There will always be bad characters in society. Why would someone want to be cheated, though?
Friend2: The same reason we are all in this material world. Aversion to devotional service, bhakti-yoga. I still have some material desires. Therefore I will approach someone who will try to satisfy those desires. Why will I listen to someone who tells me that the meaning of life is to change the nature of desire to wanting to please the Supreme Lord, who is known as Krishna since He is all-attractive?
Friend1: I see. Do they actually get a benefit?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: Do the cheaters give them what they want?
Friend2: Absolutely. Sometimes the cheated get exactly what they’re looking for. Think about it. They start off not wanting to be devoted to God the person. The end result is that they maintain the position. Sometimes that position is strengthened.
Friend1: It seems to me that the cheaters should be exposed? Or at least the people being cheated should know the full story?
Friend2: There is a funny line I heard from Benjamin Franklin. He was one time discussing the issue of quacks.
Friend1: As in fake doctors?
Friend2: Right. People saying they had some healing formula, when they really didn’t. Anyway, he said that quacks are the greatest liars, except for their patients.
Friend1: Oh, that’s funny.
Friend2: It’s very clever. He’s saying that the patients are what make the quacks popular. The patients tell everyone they got healed by the quackery. That’s what makes it harder to prevent the fake doctor from continuing their practice.
Friend1: So you’re saying the cheated in terms of false religions and faulty philosophies are just as guilty as the teachers?
Friend2: Of course. The cheating guru says pay me some money and I’ll give you a mantra. They say that if I touch your head, all your problems will magically go away. Let’s say that these things do happen. What is the aftermath? If your problem vanishes through a magic touch, does that mean you won’t have problems anymore? If you bought a mantra from me, what is that mantra going to do for you? If it’s really that beneficial, why would I charge money for it? If I am a true saint who wants to help people, wouldn’t I want to give that mantra to as many people as possible?
Friend1: Makes sense.
Friend2: The genuine path is yoga, and real yoga involves austerities and certain conditions for success. There is something called mantra-yoga, and it is effective when the focus, or dhyana, is on the Supreme Lord. Fortunately, He can be accessed directly through the names that identify Him; thereby making the mantras featuring these names the best to use in yoga.
Friend1: And of course the maha-mantra is ideal for this kind of yoga. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Quack the general public to cheat,
One after another in patient’s seat.
But actually to the cured this is due,
Telling stories, complicit they are too.
In spiritual life following the same,
Cheated from guru selling holy name.
Yoga there when genuine connection you desire,
Contemplation on Krishna taking consciousness higher.