Saturday, November 30, 2013

What Do Hare Krishnas Believe? Part 14: The Greatest Welfare Work (1)

So, in my last post I stated that the path to happiness is through service to others.  However, what is the best way to go about doing that?

First of all, the spirit with which you do any such thing (or anything at all) should be one of trying to please Krsna.  This, as described in Bhagavad-gita, transforms altruistic work from something materially pious, which may earn you a temporary reward in the heavenly planets of the material world, into something purely transcendental, which in short order will slice through all the bonds that keep you tied to this world of misery. 

How can that be?  Something done out of kindness and generosity for one's fellow beings is nice and pleasing to all, and a lifetime of such materially good acts does serve as fertile ground in which the seeds of spiritual life can sprout much more easily.  Nevertheless, kind, benevolent, well-meaning behaviors, if done in material consciousness (i.e. with nothing but material thoughts and goals), do not in and of themselves lead to freedom from this world, but keep one bound up in it... and as long as you and those you're helping remain here, there's always the chance for any or all of you to fall down into misery again.  The only way to make a deep and permanent, and therefore genuinely valuable (not just temporary/superficial/"band-aid") solution to your own and everyone else's problems is to act in spiritual consciousness, because that leads you to a future in the spiritual world (and shows everyone else the way there too), where there is no more birth and death and no more suffering.  As long as the core malady of the material world -- thinking of oneself as separate from Krsna and thinking that fulfillment may be found elsewhere than in serving Him -- remains unaddressed, the symptoms of frustration, mistakes, and suffering in various forms will keep surfacing; it cannot be otherwise.  The greatest welfare work is to become a spiritual doctor who can cure other souls of this basic malady that leads to all the other problems they are experiencing.  As an equation that begins with 1 + 1 = 3 may get everything else right but will still come out wrong, a correction in the foundation of everyone's thinking needs to be made before stability, peace and rightness can be brought about in people's lives and in the entire world.

It's kind of like that "give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime" saying.  Fixing the external problems in people's lives is nice, but it's not significant enough to help them permanently.  To help anyone permanently, you need to teach them how to find happiness for themselves -- how to have a truly healthy, happy and wholesome life.  With goodness and rightness flowing out from inside them, it's only a matter of time before every detail of their outer life falls into place and echoes the goodness they are filled with.  Just as mental joy and distress reverberate through the physical body and produce so many effects upon it, so spiritual health generates mental health, good behavior and good destiny, and hence all bad elements will disappear in one or two lifetimes for the very sincere spiritual practitioner. 

Second of all, if you really want to render the most valuable service to others, break free of excessive concern about whatever situations they happen to be in during the present snapshot in time.  In their next lifetimes, he who is a slave now may become a master, and a hard-driving master may become an ill-treated slave.  A starving man may become the most well-fed rich kid in town, and a king surrounded with every pleasure may become a dog in the street.  This world is compared to an ocean because nothing stays the same in it.  The waves are always rolling and tossing.  When riding on a crest we feel on top of the world, but then we may be slammed down into a trough of suffering.  Everyone is being treated impartially by the world; no one is favored over another.  Everyone is making their own destinies by their own choices, and all have the potential to suffer equally here, either in this lifetime or in some other.  We should be very sympathetic and sorry to see the miserable predicaments others are getting themselves into, but we should not be less sorry for the rich man than we are for the poor man.  After all, as mentioned in my last post -- rich people commit suicide too, so any particular material situation is NOT a source of happiness.  Happiness comes from something else, something entirely different.

So with this devoted, spiritual, big-picture-focused mentality firmly in place, then... what exactly should one go about doing?

To be continued...