“If, however, you think that the soul is perpetually born and always dies, still you have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.26)
अथ चैनं नित्य-जातं
नित्यं वा मन्यसे मृतम्
तथापि त्वं महा-बाहो
नैनं शोचितुम् अर्हसि
atha cainaṁ nitya-jātaṁ
nityaṁ vā manyase mṛtam
tathāpi tvaṁ mahā-bāho
nainaṁ śocitum arhasi
Friend1: I hate to lump so many groups into the single category of “atheist.” I feel like it is offensive to those who are still inquisitive, but have yet to firmly reach a conclusion about the origins of the universe and how life will or will not continue moving forward.
Friend2: I understand where you are coming from, but shastra has simplified things for us. There are the two words, sura and asura. One is on the godly side. The other is against. Even if I am not actively engaged in service to the Divine, if I have fallen into illusion, I can be a sura as long as there is a basic acknowledgment.
Friend1: Right. I believe in God wholeheartedly, but I am prone to forgetting Him.
Friend2: Lack of a continuous consciousness.
Friend1: Anyway, there is a serious subgroup within the asuras that really doesn’t believe in anything beyond what they see. Their conclusion is that everyone is just chemicals. Stuff came together to bring about life. The same stuff will dissipate after death. Nothing more, nothing less.
Friend2: Yes. That isn’t a crazy conclusion to reach in the beginning. Once you start to apply a little intelligence, there are too many unresolved issues to continue with that theory.
Friend1: Especially the proof of intelligence everywhere throughout the creation. Repeatable experiments in science. Reliability of the sun, the moon, the clouds, the rain and so forth.
Friend2: Also, the variety in nature within the human population. If everyone were just chemicals, then those chemicals would produce the exact same individuals every single time. There wouldn’t be difference in eye color, height, behavior and so forth.
Friend1: Something else has to be determining that. The people who believe in the chemicals theory certainly will not see the value in devotional activities, such as chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend2: They will consider it a waste of time:
“Why are you worshiping some mythical person in the sky? Stay within reality. He is not going to save you. He doesn’t even exist. You are born. You live for some time. And then you die. That’s it.”
Friend1: Is all hope lost? Is there any way to get through to someone like that?
Friend2: There always is, because the very nature of the individual is service to the Divine. This is the true meaning of dharma. Even atheism of the likes we are discussing is a kind of worship.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: It is paying homage to the illusory energy emanating from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By vehemently denying the existence of God, a person is proving just how capable the Almighty is at tricking someone. It is something like praising an actor for an expert performance in a film, where they had the audience believing that the character portrayed is real.
Friend1: Oh, I like that. In this way everyone is always connected to Shri Krishna, to some degree.
Friend2: As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, everyone follows Him in all respects:
ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते
तांस् तथैव भजाम्य् अहम्
मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
“All of them – as they surrender unto Me – I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)
Don’t overlook the teachings in the beginning of that work. Krishna presented different justifications for Arjuna to continue in battle, to follow his prescribed duty of warrior.
Friend1: In the Bharata War.
Friend2: The idea was that even if Arjuna did not accept the truth about the soul, how it never dies, there was still no reason to lament. Transition to the chemicals argument. If you think that there is no God, that everyone just returns to dust after death, then what is lost in chanting the holy names? How are you hurting yourself by visiting a temple, worshiping the deity and listening to Hari-katha?
Friend1: You are not hurting yourself at all.
Friend2: Correct, and so from every angle devotion is the proper choice. Skeptic, believer, the inquisitive, the person looking for wealth – approach Krishna and be happy.
Even if knowledge yet to receive,
And in chemicals theory to believe.
That at random everything together coming,
And in end into dust only becoming.
No harm from devotional life still,
Time from holy names to fill.
And of higher philosophy a taste,
In all respects not a waste.