Interesting lecture about the notion of equality, its theistic background and the question why we are suffering.
tribhir guna-mayair bhavair
ebhih sarvam idam jagat
mam ebhyah param avyayam
Deluded by the three modes [goodness, passion and ignorance], the whole world does not know Me, who am above the modes and inexhaustible.
Krsna discusses how and why people approach different gods and godesses. Krsna says that this whole universe is bewildered and therefore doesn’t recognize him. It is not some devil that bewilders the universe. The Supreme Lord has full control over the world, but He gives us an amount of free will. If a child is not given some freedom he/she doesn’t become a full person.
Why did the Lord create this world at all? Some say it is a play, but no decent person would cause so much suffering to others for his own amusement. This is a twisted theology. The purpose of creating is to give us a place where we can gradually be enlightened. Unless souls are given the freedom to act and to make wring decisions they can never learn what is right. Krsna has devised a genius plan by fitting out souls who come to this world with a virtual reality apparatus called the material body. Virtual reality means that we see the world in a certain way but actually that is not who we are and what the world is.
The first basic point Krsna teaches is that we are not the body. So what is happening is not really happening to us, but we identify with it, like with our car, our clothes, a house, an academic degree or status. They become part of our identity (ahankara). No soul has ever been injured. We experience life as if we were the body.
This world is like a big Monopoly game. Krsna says the world is bewildered by different qualities and desires we have (attachment & repulsion). These qualities of existence are goodness/virtue, passion/ambition and ignorance/delusion. The whole world is deluded because we get caught up in all these experiences and forget who we are and where we belong. God is not only the Supreme Being but the Absolute Truth. There is a difference between being th best among others and being everything.
How to let go of our attachments and hold unto God? Krsna says, those who come to Me can cross over the illusion, but at the same time in order to free ourselves from illusion we have to take shelter of Krsna. This is not a catch 22. We can approach God even before we have conquered illusion.
There are four kinds of people who don’t want to and who do surrender to Krsna.
Thomas Jefferson, author of the declaration of independence realized that the power we have to elect anyone comes from God. He popularized the notion of human rights: We have equal human rights because we are created equal. If we study the human physiology, where do we find the rights? They are not in the human anatomy. Therefore Jefferson said that the creator gave them to us: “We hold this truth to be self-evident that all humans are created equal”.
Does a leader whom we elect have the authority to change laws? There are limits. If we take away the notion of a creator, where does the equality come from? We know materially that we are not equal. On what rational, scientific basis do we claim that we are equal? We have a secular society (no religion in public) based on a religious idea. And no one notices it!
In ancient Athens when they had democracy all citizens could participated so intensely only because they had so many slaves at home to take care of the household. The idea that everyone is equal didn’t come from these great cultures but from theistic religion. Without God we couldn’t give a rational explanation why we are all equal.
Question: If God didn’t facilitate suffering, why are we suffering?
Answer: This is the question of theodicy, why we are suffering: If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good, why does He allow this?
It is reasonable to apply to God a reasonable moral standard. He is not worship able only because He is all-powerful – that would be the law of the jungle. It is not merely because of His power that we should worship Him, but because He is a perfect moral being. Therefore he allows us to suffer only if it achieves some essential benefit which cannot be achieved in a less painful way (just like a dentist is expected to do his procedure in the least painful way). In order for God to be a perfect moral being the suffering must be necessary to bring essential good to us. We all experience three things: We want to exist, we want to be happy and we want to have knowledge: sat-cit-ananda. These are the three basic needs and desires of the soul. We couldn’t have a meaningful life without freedom – even if not physical, at least mental. If we lost our power to think we would only be partially a human being. So God is trying to teach and educate us, but He is not taking our free will. He lets us make our own choices and then show the consequences without coercing.
In Plato’s Euthyphro he poses the question whether some acts are good because the gods love them or do the gods love them because they are good? Are the laws objective and fair?
We should care about the suffering of the world, but if we neither responsible for it, nor can we change it, we should just go on with our life. We should ty to stop all suffering only that of humans. There is sexism, racism and species-ism.
Some people think that the Eastern belief in karma diminishes someone’s compassion and willingness to change things. However, that seems to be a very naïve idea. It doesn’t lessen a doctor’s compassion to know that the person causes their own disease and suffering. Why is a person in such a situation? The law of karma says that they tried to put someone else in that situation.
So what is the essential good that is brought about by suffering? The fatal flaw in humanistic liberalism has been the enthusiasm and degraded idea that we are temporary and earthly, not divine.
We should stop the suffering, but how do we do it? What is the root cause of this suffering? These things are only on the surface, but the root cause is a disastrous misunderstanding of reality. America is overfed and not virtuous. If you feed the hungry, you may just produce more mindless consumers who exploit others. “Let’s go green, so that our children can enjoy it”. We want to preserve species just to enjoy seeing it, but the earth doesn’t belong to us. When dogs are being killed a whole nation rises, but equally evolved creature get brutally slaughtered. There are so many contradictions.
The basis of giving animals right and protection does not come from their own nature, but from how we like them. If I don’t like you and you are not cute, you are dinner! We have to address the problems of the world in a holistic way. We have to uproot the suffering, not merely treat the symptoms.
Democracy doesn’t work unless people are God conscious.