Keeping Above The Body Concept
The whole Vedic culture began with, “there is no happiness whatsoever on the bodily platform”. Even Krishna goes so far as to say, “From the highest planet in this material universe to the lowest, all of them are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death takes place”.
[A talk by Hansadutta dasa]
In the Bhagavatam, Prahlada gives a summary of a human life if a person lives for 100 years. In this age of Kali Yuga, the maximum length of a human life is 100 years. Out of 100 years, half of the time a person sleeps, so there is 50 years gone. Then the first ten years we are children so we are playing. Then in youth, we are busy sporting, chasing after a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Then the last 20 years, a person is invalid in old age. I’m sure you have old parents, so you know what it means.
In those last 20 years, nothing is enjoyable; everything is miserable. So that leaves 10 years, but of those 10 years, we are busy with family affairs; husband, children, and relatives, making money and so forth.
So in this way, the calculation is that the whole life is spoiled. For what? For maintaining this body.
Our business or our focus is always maintaining this body, and then extended bodies; my children, my wife, my relatives, my friends, my countrymen. Everyone is busy like this, and that business means that I have to get money. Why do I need money?
Because I have to protect my body and my extended bodies; my sons and daughters and husband and friends. This also means a house, either buy a house or pay rent, pay mortgage, etc. I have to buy clothing too, so I can interact with love, friendship and society. We all have some love, we have some friends, and we social obligations and relations. But, because I’m not this body, which is the basis of all this concern, because love, friendship and society has to do with this body and other bodies. But I’m not this body, I am within the body as an operator is within a machine or a car, or an airplane.
So, even if I am very successful at love, friendship and society, even if I manage to keep my love happy, manage to keep friends adoring me, and manage to have a place within the social structure, like America is very opulent compared to the rest of the world. We have enough food, we have enough of everything. Others, if they get a bowl of rice then that made their day. You know, you’ve been around a little bit. But in most places, if they get a bowl of rice, or manage to stay alive another day, not to be killed like in Iraq, right? Then, that was a good day. But America, unlike other countries, we have everything in abundance. In fact, we are trying to figure out how to get rid of it, by having garage sales, donating to the Salvation Army, throwing it out, or whatever. Our problem is “How to eat less” or how to get the weight off because I’ve eaten too much, this is our side of the situation.
But the point is, I’m not this body- either comfortable or uncomfortable- I am the soul, or the life force that animates the body and keeps it at 98.6 degrees. If there is a drop in temperature or an increase, then I feel miserable, just one degree, and blood moving through the veins, if there is an aneurysm, “Boom”, all of a sudden I can’t move. I had a friend who had an aneurysm, and what happened was that he lost his sense of direction. He couldn’t from here to the store; it would take him an hour to figure out which direction to go. It took a year or so to clear up, and that was a minor one. Some people who suffer a stroke lose feeling on an entire side of their body.
So anyway, the point is, that everyone is very busy, very capable how to take care of this body in different ways: how to bathe it and dress it and perfume it, keep the hair nice and find some other nice body to mix with and create more bodies. But I’m not the body, and therefore my whole life is always full of frustration and disappointment. When that frustration and disappointment becomes acute, then it turns into other things like alcoholism, drug addiction, criminality or whatever. It is all due to one cause, that I’m trying to be happy on the basis of something false. I think that by acting, or tending to the demands of this body I will be happy. That is the premise.
The whole premise is that by bodily comfort, by bodily indulgence; eating, sleeping, defending and sex, there will be some satisfaction, there must be, that is our determination. But the whole Vedic culture began with, “there is no happiness whatsoever on the bodily platform”. Even Krishna goes so far as to say, “From the highest planet in this material universe to the lowest, all of them are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death takes place”.
We go as tourists sometimes to places like Fiji and Hawaii because we think, “Oh certainly there will be some happiness there. Here, I’m bored because I know about all of this, so let me go to Fiji, let me go to Thailand, let me go somewhere, or let me get a new house, let me get another husband, or girlfriend or a new car…everyone is dissatisfied in their present arrangement, although it is satisfactory in every respect, especially for Americans, they have enough of everything. But still they’re not happy, so they’re looking to go somewhere, and therefore the tourist industry is huge.
So Krishna says even if you go to the highest planet, which you can’t do, we can’t even go to the moon, but if you could, anywhere you go, they are all places of misery, because repeated birth and death take place there, and this is really the subject matter for human beings. They have to deal with this problem; that I will become old, I will become diseased, and I will die.
But instead of dealing with this issue, or training children in the school to recognize first of all what the problem is, (birth, old age, disease and death) they simply put it aside, ignore it, and encourage the children to busy with economic development, sense gratification, working hard, earning money, getting a wife, getting a husband, the children, the house, or become a soldier, go to war, etc. Therefore the whole society is going crazy, they are actually all crazy people, because they are working for something that you can never attain, it’s not possible. There IS happiness, but it’s not on the bodily platform.
This is the whole message of the Bhagavad-gita. There are bodily needs. I need to eat, I need to sleep, I need to defend myself, and sex is also a bodily need, it’s not that we should not have sex, no sex is a need like eating and sleeping. But is should be understood that these needs have nothing to do with the soul; they only have to do with the body.
Just like you service your car, you get an oil change, you get new tires, you get it tuned up, you wash the car, you buff it, and vacuum etc. But that has nothing to do with the driver of the car, his needs are not satisfied by that.
So unless we understand that, unless we come to this very matter-of-factly and realistically, we’re just wasting time like cats and dogs, because they cannot sit here and discuss philosophy and culture, it’s not possible. But human beings can, and if they don’t continue to ignore the actual purpose of human life, human life has got a purpose, and the purpose is to solve these four problems: birth, old age, disease and death.
Someone will say, “They can’t be solved”, no they can be solved, and that IS the sum and substance of Vedic culture or Vedic wisdom, how to solve these four problems. You have to wake up to your actual spiritual identity, to your actual self, that is not this body but the soul within this body. That is the whole purpose of Vedic culture, they had no other business, although the eating, sleeping, mating and defending they also did, but those were secondary considerations.
Just as you wash and service and put gas in your car, but that’s not the end of it. The car is for taking you to some destination, some goal. So this body also has a purpose, there is a goal; there is a destination that is to be reached by maintaining this body, what is that?
Simply to understand Krishna and your relationship with Krishna. Everything else in life you can dismiss, but not this, and if you don’t then you’re just cats and dogs, animal life. That is what distinguishes a human being from an animal. If you don’t do this, then no matter what you attain, it’s all useless. Even John Lennon he was so wealthy, so big, so loved, but he died like an animal. President Kennedy, nice wife, famous, popular handsome guy, finished.
So either way, either someone shoots you, or you just wither away, like a flower in the vase. In the beginning a flower looks very pretty, smells nice, good color, but after some days, you throw it out. So we’re also like that, all of us, we start out young and beautiful, now we are getting old and wrinkled and worn-out, we have different ailments, and our organs are giving out, etc.
But instead, especially western people they think that by cosmetics, liposuction, and botox…by some material adjustment they can keep up the facade, but it’s not possible. Now we can see in the check out counter magazines Elizabeth Taylor, she’s just an old lady…there are so many instances. So we also are headed in this direction. When you are old, nobody wants you. Our whole life is simply a frantic struggle to stave off these undesirable, unhappy circumstances that are being pushed upon us, it’s like we are being pushed off a cliff by a gigantic bulldozer that won’t stop.
So Krishna Consciousness means to see things as they are, and prepare yourself to give up this body, because you’ll have to give it up. We say death, but there is no death, we simply change bodies, and the whole science of how this takes place and what the principles are, that is in this Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad Gita. Do you have a Bhagavad Gita Trish? “Jackie has one”. So you also should have, and just read it. Everyday, read one or two pages or a chapter, and chant Hare Krishna. And tell your friends and your family people…as far as possible. Because other than this, there are no problems; there is enough food, there is enough clothing, there is enough housing, there is enough of everything. The only thing there is not enough of is Krishna consciousness, or God consciousness, or if you want to call it common sense. People have no sense; they are just going along.
Who was that, President Reagan? He was rotting away with Alzheimer’s, as far as he knew, he could have been a potato. So that is this Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, you just chant. That one simple thing, it sounds simple, almost foolishly simple, childishly simple, but it is the most powerful activity a human being can do. Just like, what is the most essential activity that you do? (Trish and Jackie respond) “Breathe”. Breathing, right.
But we never think about breathing, we take it for granted, we are simply going on busy with other things. But that one simple thing- inhaling and exhaling- that maintains us. If you don’t breathe for 3 minutes, you’re finished. You can go several days without eating, 20 or more even, you’ll live, but if you don’t breathe for just a few minutes, you’re finished.
So this chanting Krishna’s name is exactly as breathing is to maintaining this gross physical body. Hearing and chanting this vibration, hearing and chanting, very simple thing, you can do it by yourself or do it with others, that is your spiritual life. That is the sum and substance of spiritual life, exactly as breathing air in and out is the whole aim of our physical life. When the baby comes out, if he’s not inhaling and exhaling, it’s all over, he’s in the trash. Anyway, Krishna! Alright Trish, how long are you going to be here?