Why do people go to Universities? Why do they engage in physical culture, such as yoga, Tai Chi, jogging, make good dietary choices? Why do people enter different fields, take up different professions, take up a trade? Why do people meditate, read self-help books, inquire into the secrets of success? Why do people become involved in political and social movements? The answer to all these questions is simple: People want to be happy and fulfilled. We all want that. That’s why we get up in the morning.
Before making a plan, as to what to do with one’s life, an intelligent person will consider the facts. As long as we are here, in this material realm of existence, all of our attempts at happiness and fulfillment by material means will be frustrated. Even if we were to achieve all our personal goals, the irrevocable process of old age, disease and death will close the account.
To some this will sound like science fiction. But to others this will make perfect sense. The Vedic literature provides us with a surprising revelation. A revelation that no school talks about, no psychiatrist or guidance counselor considers, and no social or political activist thinks about. This material world is not our real home. Somewhere along the line, we made a wrong turn.
In every city there are institutions that house those who cannot interact harmoniously. A special place is constructed to house them, feed them, and care for them. The aspiration is to facilitate their rehabilitation. During their period of confinement, a variety of unpleasant conditions are imposed on them – and they are given time to consider their lot. Welcome to the material dimension! We are here.
In other words, this material creation has been designed so that there will be wars, volcanoes, earthquakes, plagues, tidal waves, ethnic cleansing, racism, social injustice, political exploitation, and the like. All of our history books tell us that this is the nature of life – in this material world. Also, no one gets out alive. And we have to come back. It goes on birth after birth. We’re on a treadmill. The treadmill of birth, old age, disease and death. This is the school of hard knocks. Until we learn – we have to come back. Come back and do it again.
But what exactly comes back? In our western culture, people are comfortable saying, “I have a soul.” But the fact is, “I am a soul”. And, “I have a body”. A temporary material body. Veda tells us, “You are not this body. You are spirit soul. For the soul there is never birth or death. You are an eternal individual spiritual being.” So what comes back? That individual soul comes back, taking one body after another, after another.
This is the process of reincarnation. The eternal individual spirit soul takes birth, again and again, in a material form, a material body made of the elements of mud and water. Physical matter is not conscious. But we are. The consciousness of the soul is induced to identify with the gross body and subtle material mind as the self. Mind is our software; body our hardware. Self realization means to have the direct experience that “I am not this body. I am not this mind.” This is the beginning of freedom.
The material manifestation is an institution manifested for our rehabilitation. Nothing is happening to us; it is happening to the body. But we mistakenly experience this body as “me”. This is the ultimate in hypnotherapy. Spiritual hypnotherapy. This illusory identification with the material body is our therapy. We are eternal. But we are forced to identify with this temporal manifestation of dead matter. It only appears alive as long as we are inside it. It is like a dream; in the sense that it has a beginning and an end. We are eternal, but we are experiencing this dream as reality. But in this case, we are subtle, spiritual energy, and the dream is gross.
For every light bulb that shines in the city, there is a circuit that goes back to the powerhouse. When that circuit is closed, continuous, the bulb is illumined. It shines. When the circuit is open, broken, the bulb has no light to share. The Sanskrit word “yoga” means to link, to connect – to connect with our source, the supreme powerhouse. When the individual soul becomes a yogi, and cultivates reconnection with our source, with God, or Krishna, we become illumined with transcendental knowledge. We become “enlightened”. We have self-realization. We have the direct perception that “I am not this body.” We become filled with a spiritual bliss that transcends all material affliction.
But what is the medium of exchange? It’s not money. It’s not good works, pious activity, good karma. Not asceticism. Not intellectual gymnastics. If we want to engage in this yoga, this reconnection, we have to understand what Krishna wants from us. Most religions cultivate the notion that we can fulfill our material desires by placing our orders with God – the ultimate Amazon.com. Krishna can fulfill our material desires, of course. But if we are intelligent and want to be liberated from this nightmare of repeated birth and death, and return to the spiritual dimension of eternity, we have to understand what Krishna wants from us.
All that Krishna wants is our love. In the spiritual dimension, love is the medium of exchange. It is the current of unconditional love for Krishna, flowing uninterruptedly, from our hearts to Krishna, that frees us from all material hankering and lamentation, and enables us to effortlessly understand that “I am not this material form.”
How to awaken this love? The Vedic literature declares that in this age, the process for awakening our dormant love for God is the chanting of His Holy Name:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
This mantra is introduced in the Vedic literatures, not just as a mantra, but as the Maha Mantra, the “great mantra” for the awakening of love of God in our hearts. The chanting of this Maha Mantra is the prescribed yoga process for this age. There are so many so-called yogis and so many teachers introducing so many concocted ideas. But the process of chanting Hare Krishna is the only yogic process prescribed by the Vedic literatures for this age. It is free. There is no charge. It can be chanted at any time at any place. The Vedas declare that in this age, God has appeared to us in His form as transcendental sound vibration. And by chanting, one can have the direct experience of the presence of Krishna in the sound of His Holy Name.