Archive for January 3, 2013
“Look at it! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, man! Let me go out there and let me get one wave, just one wave before you take me in. I mean, come on man, where I am I gonna go? Cliffs on both sides! I’m not gonna paddle my way to New Zealand! Come on, Come on!” “To Look At It! Click on Image for another eleven!”
According to the Vedic view of creation, there are three fundamental principles that control everything: birth, life, and death. Everything has a beginning, middle, and an end. The Vedas call these three fundamental principles namely principles of creation, principles of maintaining, and principles of concluding or ending. These tendencies are seen in our personalities. Some people like to create ideas, food, or companies. Some like to manage and keep an idea or business alive. Still others have the task of removing old, broken, unworkable things, ideas or institutions. Just as food grows and stays fresh for a time and then becomes inedible, so too are people are born, live, and die. Careers begin and end.
Everything in creation is under the influence of these three laws. The secret to peace and spiritual bliss is to go beyond the three fundamental principles. What does this mean? How can a person go beyond something that controls all material existence? The answer is to switch one’s focus from material life to one’s spiritual nature. While principles of creation create all of material life, it is God who has created the three fundamental principles. In the beginning there was God, and He said, let there be creation. So God created the three fundamental principles to sustain creation and remove those things that would get in the way of maintaining it.
One may wonder how a person, who is composed of matter, can go beyond the three principles of matter. Here, we are speaking of the person as the Soul. The person is not merely the matter that houses the Soul, but is the Soul. Imagine three brothers; Sat, Roger, and Tom Goona. They want to start a computer software company named Goo-Na. It was Sat’s idea, and he did all the groundwork to get the company up and going. He got Good Ol’ Dad (G.O.D.), venture capitalists, to loan them the startup funds. But since Sat loses interest in the daily activities and likes to move on to create some more dot-com startup companies, Roger was the perfect choice to run the company. Roger doesn’t have much creative sense, so he was happy that Sat started the company; Roger’s God-gifts lie in management and organization skills. So he runs the day-to-day operation. Sat and Roger talked Tom into leaving his job at his salvage company and use his cleanup skills for their new company. Some of Tom’s responsibilities will be clearing out old computers, furniture, cell phones, cars, software, and so on, since the company must stay on the leading edge of technology and fashion to impress the clients. Tom also has the personality to compassionately deal with people when they must be let go. He is also in charge of disbanding parts of companies that their company takes over.
The people who work at Goo-Na have enjoyed their jobs, their salaries support their families, and everything runs smoothly. As the company becomes larger and more powerful, the brothers, human nature being what it is, begin to lose their idealistic focus. Roger becomes power hungry, that is to say, busy with hostile takeover attempts. Tom has become lazy and sloppy, not clearing out old inventory, not showing up for work, preferring to sit and watch plasma screen TV 28 all day and Sat, well, he spends all of his time either creating new companies or reading scripture and meditating.
As a result, corporate ethics has slipped and customers are not getting quality products. Creative ideas to serve humanity have fallen by the wayside. Other companies are being harassed where they were previously community partners, and there are even some financial scandals afoot. There remains one employee, Archie, who joined the company, and who is still inspired by its idealistic mission statement; however, he is quite upset that the company is not allowing him to truly help society. No one listens to his creative ideas. When he tries to talk to any of the brothers, they ignore him. Archie is stuck, trapped by the three brothers. The only way to get out of this predicament is to go over the heads of the three brothers. For this, he has to go to the only place that has influence on Brothers, that is to say, venture capitalists. Venture capitalists hold the purse strings and decide whether to continue funding this company. Since Archie alerted Venture capitalists about the loss of vision at the company, Venture capitalists may be able to bring integrity, ethics, and compassion back into this company by threatening to close them down; that is to say, stop funding them. As a result of Archie’s devotion to helping people, Venture capitalists succeeded in putting the company back on track.
This story gives a brief idea of how the three principles of matter work. Satwa creates life. Rajas keep things going. Tamas concludes the life cycle. To avoid getting caught up in material life and really know the eternal, non-changing Divine bliss, we are advised to go beyond the three principles of matter and to directly seek God. It may be easier to understand the value of spiritual devotion versus material ideas, through another analogy. A person can have a pile of wood, a box of iron, various tools, some plot of earth. They can even assemble these materials into a living structure. But only when a person, couple or family lives there, does the structure begin to feel like a home, a place filled with love and something beyond a mere object.
The other important point is, we need not unduly strain to achieve the results of our action, while simultaneously avoiding under-acting or being inactive. Merely sitting doing nothing, keeps one from being involved on an external level only; it does not free the mind and feelings from such desires. There is a myth that the path to Self-Realization is one of renouncing action, but this is incorrect. It is renouncing the desire for the result of action and not acting in itself. One has to release the desire for rewards of our actions culminating in Self-Realization.
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The relationship between working including intellectual work and experiencing eternity; a state of no boundaries, (often called a state of non-action) and the insight is that a person has the right to work to help others or to perform devotional work. But one is not to work to achieve the results or to get something personal from the action as the reason for working. That would be working for a greedy or selfish motive. So there is something uplifting, something spiritual about working for the sake of working. There is honor in doing your best, honor in selfless work.
This is very similar to the story of the Garden of Eden where God admonishes Adam and Eve to not eat the fruits of the tree of knowledge. God says, avoid trying to get or use or enjoy the fruits of intellect and stick to the experience of God’s grace; that is to say, the garden, the spirit. Because, when you put intellectual knowledge over the innocence of living and enjoying God’s world, believing that you can know more than God, then suffering comes.
Working for rewards results in an inferior form of work than does working to help; a more utopian attitude, so even if we do good work but expect some reward in return, that work becomes inferior owing to our lesser intent. Clearly it is better than not doing good works, but in this context, we are examining various types of good works only. For example, if the ABC Company decides to work or donate to help feed and clothe the children of poverty, that is good. But if they flaunt their results to look good in their community, then this becomes something-for-something giving agenda that diminishes their actions.
This is already clear to us when a company has done something dishonorable in the community such as mistreating workers, harming the environment, stealing from investors, etc. The response to being found out is often a public relations effort to appear good, such as airing a commercial that highlights the supposed good actions of the company. Many people do see through this façade. We are into something higher, about an already reputable person. How many of you remember doing something just for doing it? Helping for no reason? Giving without anyone knowing about it, or giving without wanting anything in return? How has that made you feel? Most people I have spoken with say it is the best feeling in the world; better than earning salary. Do your best to do good…that is all a person need to do. Success is in God’s hands; so just try your best, but do not try to make something happen. Otherwise the ego gets in the way and proclaims itself The Doer. The value of doing your best, or stated another way, act out of love, removes fear and guilt of failure from the picture.
There is a Vedic tale of how the god Indra tried to hurt the villagers who stopped worshipping him and instead worshipped the one almighty God. Indra hurled a storm of objects down on the village. Lord Krishna lifted a mountain over the village to protect the people. In their gratitude and enthusiasm, the villagers all gathered poles and pushed the mountain up as if they were helping Krishna lift the mountain. They were overjoyed to think they were helping Krishna; but in reality, Krishna was doing all the lifting. So it is in life: we only need to hold our pole up in love and goodness. If it succeeds, it is because God is protecting the people.
There are people who do spiritual acts, expecting to receive certain results. For example, they donate to their religious group to get a bronze plaque, or to show off to their friends how much money they have given; they offer prayers to give birth to a male child; or give money or do some charity and expect a favor in return. Lord Krishna warns us to be aware of this kind of egotism. In the Upanishads, it also says there are two paths to Self-Realization; the lower and higher paths. The first is doing good deeds for some reward including a ticket to heaven. The higher path is doing good deeds just for the sake of doing them. The deed itself makes the person feel grateful to be allowed to do the good deed; and that is reward enough for them. It is the higher path that more quickly brings one to Self-Realization.
A deeper, more complex, yet simple idea is devotional action frees one from the bonds of this limited relative world to experience the eternal nature of one’s Soul. Divine love allows a person to be free from the tendencies and the various opposites in life. This means that even concepts, such as good and evil, pleasure and pain, winning and losing, are all of little importance, because they are all relative ideas; they do not relate to, nor can they compare to the value of experiencing eternal life. We can obtain insight into how one becomes unaffected by worldly issues using an analogy of being in love with your spouse. There is the saying that love is blind. People do not see the faults of someone they love and as the worldly love disengages our mind from normally troubling issues, so too Divine love allows a person to feel free without being troubled by smaller worldly matters.
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