What Does Progress Really Mean

[Rama's lotus feet]“Advancement of knowledge for eating, sleeping and mating is animal knowledge. A dog also knows how to eat, how to sleep, how to mate and how to defend. If our education extends only to these points (the dog is eating according to his nature, and we are also eating, but in a nice place, with nicely cooked food on a nice table), that is not advancement.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna Consciousness: The Topmost Yoga System, Ch 1)

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Friend1: The other day I was remembering something from the last election.

Friend2: You love following politics, don’t you?

Friend1: Before every cycle I tell myself that I won’t follow, that it doesn’t make a difference who wins. Then somehow I get sucked in. It’s like a soap opera. It’s an imaginary world, almost. You just pick the side that you like, but nothing changes.

Friend2: That’s for sure. What was it that you remembered?

Friend1: Oh, so one of the candidates, the incumbent, took a shot at the challenger. He said that the guy’s vision of America is something like what was seen on those old black and white television shows.

Friend2: Interesting. That was meant to be an insult?

Friend1: That’s exactly what I was thinking. What is wrong with those shows?

Friend2: Probably what bothers them is the traditional family set up. The wife is at home, not officially working. She manages the household. She serves the husband, who is out earning a living. The woman is trapped, don’t you see?

Friend1: I do like the simpler life that those shows portray. People have their heads up while eating. They aren’t zoned out looking at their smartphones. Oh, and you would get home deliveries of things like milk and laundry.

[Dick Van Dyke Show]Friend2: The doctors made house-calls!

Friend1: Exactly. Anyway, the argument against that kind of life is that it is primitive. It is outdated, don’t you see. So are all the principles from that time.

Friend2: Right. Advancement. Progress. We are further evolved now. We give equal freedom to men and women to go out and work all day. Now both genders know what it’s like to be so tired from working that you just want to drink your troubles away at night and on the weekends.

Friend1: I know you’re being sarcastic, but it does get you to step back and think. Really, what is progress?

Friend2: You want the dictionary definition.

Friend1: I mean in terms of life. Are we actually progressing?

Friend2: From the spiritual point of view, there is no debate. Material progress, especially what we see as far as culture today, is actually going backwards.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: The embodied soul continually passes, from boyhood to youth to old age. Then at death it passes into another body.

Friend1: Yes. That is from the Bhagavad-gita. [2.13]

Friend2: That explains reincarnation so beautifully. What can be easily overlooked is the past life. There was a life before that, too. The evolution to the human species was long. And the human birth is considered most auspicious.

Friend1: Right, because of progress.

Friend2: With the proper definition. Progress is not living like the animals. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending can be done while in the lower species. The human birth is for spiritual awakening. What they call progress today is basically animal life.

Friend1: How so?

Friend2: More eating, sleeping, mating and defending. More specifically, the focus is entirely on sex. Whoever enjoys sex more is considered advanced. The loser is someone who doesn’t get to enjoy it as much.

Friend1: What’s wrong with sex?

Friend2: Nothing, if it is controlled. Life could not continue without it, obviously. Sex life represents the combined potency of the male and the female, to bring into this world a conditioned soul who will have the chance to get out of the cycle of birth and death. But material progress, where we are heading, is teaching the new generation to remain an animal. Focus entirely on sex. Don’t do anything meaningful with your life. Don’t ask too many questions. Live like a dog.

Friend1: Even religion is not giving the answer, it seems.

Friend2: Exactly. They’ve concocted the idea that God wants us to enjoy. Of course, there is no enjoyment. There is misery wherever you turn. Why would God want us to come here to forget Him? What kind of enjoyment is that? There is no lasting pleasure in that; only misery, day after day, life after life. Real progress is becoming more aware of Him. Side by side with that awakening is less priority for eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Real progress is in terms of consciousness, not what kind of car you drive, how much money you earn, or how many partners you’ve had.

Friend1: What about people from past ages, like Ravana? They lived in purer times, but still had problems.

Friend2: Ravana was ajita-indriya. Back then it was considered a demerit to be a slave to your senses. Sita Devi, the beloved wife of Shri Rama, pointed this out one time to Ravana. She said that his lack of control over the senses would bring doom not only for him, but for the entire kingdom of Lanka as well.

“O Ravana, inevitably all of the Rakshasas will be completely destroyed, for they have a person like you, who is stupid, lustful, and unable to control his senses, for their king.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 48.22)

[Shri Rama's lotus feet]She was right. Her husband Rama, on the other hand, had complete control over His senses. Since He is God Himself, He is also known as Hrishikesha, which means “master of the senses.” Progress is when you control your senses and use everything in service of the one who is the master of all senses.

In Closing:

Politician with line of attack,

That to black and white tv to go back.

Charged with to primitive time reverting,

And momentum of progress subverting.

But take real stock of situation so,

And notice how towards animals to go.

Like Ravana handle over senses none,

Only in devotion full control over won.

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