How to be unhappy

What is the best way to be unhappy? It is the fastest, and the most effective way. And what’s more, we’re past masters at this game of unhappiness.

The easiest way to be unhappy, which most of us have mastered, is to strive for happiness here. What do I mean? Isn’t it the right of every individual to strive for happiness? Shouldn’t one strive to make things better, more comfortable, and more convenient? Isn’t this what life is all about, the search for happiness?

The great little-boy-saint Prahlada spoke these words to God.

सुखाय दु:खमोक्षाय सङ्कल्प इह कर्मिण: ।
सदाप्नोतीहया दु:खमनीहाया: सुखावृत: ॥ ४२ ॥

sukhāya duḥkha-mokṣāya
saṅkalpa iha karmiṇaḥ
sadāpnotīhayā duḥkham
anīhāyāḥ sukhāvṛtaḥ

In this material world, every materialist desires to achieve happiness and diminish his distress, and therefore he acts accordingly. Actually, however, one is happy as long as one does not endeavor for happiness; as soon as one begins his activities for happiness, his conditions of distress begin.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/7/7/42/

The most unfortunate reality is that when we start this search, we completely forget that we are already happy to start with. The definition of the living entity, spirit soul, is “anandamayo ‘bhyasat” or “one who is accustomed to be always in the highest bliss. And what is that bliss? The bliss of spiritual satisfaction “brahma saukhyam tvanantam“, that spiritual happiness which is never-ending and unlimited.

This world is certified as a place of misery by the Creator:

मामुपेत्य पुनर्जन्म दु:खालयमशाश्वतम् ।
नाप्‍नुवन्ति महात्मान: संसिद्धिं परमां गता: ॥ १५ ॥

mām upetya punar janma
duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ
saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ

After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogīs in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/8/15/

Specifically, the words “duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam” above mean duḥkhaālayam — place of miseries; aśāśvatam — temporary.

In this place where misery is abundant, this world which is designed for misery, who can find happiness? Ah, maybe not now, maybe later? If only I do this, or that, or that?

The key problem here is to focus on the happiness derived from the material senses. The moment we ask the senses, are you satisfied, the senses, rejoicing in the attention they get, immediately ask for more. The senses are compared to a raging fire. Gratification of the senses is compared to fuel. When you have a raging fire, you cannot extinguish it by supplying more fuel.

The world is full of people who are striving to increase the gratification available to their mind and senses. They will never be satisfied, they will ever be unhappy.

Even perfectly happy spiritualists can fall into this trap – instead of asking, how may I satisfy God with my thought, word, and deed, they can ask instead “hey, what is this spiritual thing doing for me, what am I getting out of it“. The moment they ask this question, in the name of “self love”, they fall down into crass material sense gratification, and proceed into the deepest darkest misery. In fact, their misery is even greater than the ignorant materialist, because that misery is meant to bring them back to their true position, in harmony with God.

Ask God, no matter what tradition you come from, go and ask God, “what can I do to please you right here right now?” And because the beginner often cannot distinguish between the ranting of the mind and the voice of the Super Soul inside the heart, please check your answer with your mentors, your friends in spiritual life, and the scripture you follow. Triangulating in this way will ensure that you are not making the mistake of assuming your own sense gratification to be the will of God! And it will ensure that you are not unhappy.

Just go deep inside, serve the Supreme with your every thought, word, and deed, and be happy here and now. You already have everything you need. All the other stuff, they are demands of the body and the mind, and you are neither your body, nor your mind.

Recovering from the arrogance of modern civilization

We are an arrogant bunch, no doubt. But we have been brought to our knees by this insignificant little virus. While we’re on our knees, here’s something useful we can do…

Modern civilization is arrogant beyond bounds. We think we can do whatever we want with impunity, thinking ourselves the be-all and end-all, the crown jewel of the Universe. We think that the Universe came out of nothing, that there is no Supreme Soul in control, that everything happens randomly. We mistake lust for love, and we are, in general, fools.

As I write this, around the world, everything is gradually shutting down, airports, railways stations, educational institutions, businesses, restaurants, cinemas, people are terrified. A single throat-clearing cough sends people scurrying for safety. A single sneeze caused by a particle of dust is enough to put one in quarantine.

World leaders have gone into hiding. The rich and the powerful have practically disappeared from society, leaving the hoi polloi to bear the brunt of this virus crisis.

And yet, this is the civilization that talks about immortality and how humans will live forever one day. This is the civilization that foolishly talks about “colonizing” other planets. This is the civilization that believes that we are capable of anything we want. And this is the very same civilization cowering from a tiny microscopic organism that’s travelling the world, piggybacked off us.

Yes, it is true that human life is the crown jewel of 8.4M species in the material manifestation. Yes, you read that right. Eight Million, Four Hundred Thousand species. Of these, Four Hundred Thousand Species are human.

The key difference between the various species, apart from all the wondrous physical and biological features, is actually consciousness. A plant is conscious, an insect is more so, a fish, animal, primate, human, all gradually getting more well-endowed in terms of consciousness.

When it comes to humans, we have a very finely honed sense of consciousness, with a key ability that is not to be found in another 8 Million species – the ability to inquire into the Supreme Absolute Truth.

However, leaving aside the main purpose of human life, we have degenerated into all sorts of abominable behaviour.

श्री भगवानुवाच
काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भ‍वः ।
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम् ॥ ३७ ॥

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa
rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ
mahāśano mahā-pāpmā
viddhy enam iha vairiṇam

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/3/37/

You might be forgiven for thinking that the Coronavirus pandemic caused by COVID-19 is the main enemy of this world. It is not. In fact, the COVID-19 is simply a symptom of this degraded consciousness.

It is our degraded consciousness that is the real enemy of this world. Time to turn the tide!

Time to reverse this manifestation of our own lust and anger, envy, greed, illusion, madness, caused by that one problem, a degradation of our consciousness from the divine to the mundane.

This inquiry is the beginning of the Vedānta-sūtras, wherein it is said, athāto brahma-jijñāsā: one should inquire into the Supreme. And the Supreme is defined in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as janmādy asya yato ’nvayād itarataś ca, or, “The origin of everything is the Supreme Brahman.” Therefore the origin of lust is also in the Supreme. If, therefore, lust is transformed into love for the Supreme, or transformed into Kṛṣṇa consciousness – or, in other words, desiring everything for Kṛṣṇa – then both lust and wrath can be spiritualized. Hanumān, the great servitor of Lord Rāma, exhibited his wrath by burning the golden city of Rāvaṇa, but by doing so he became the greatest devotee of the Lord. Here also, in Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord induces Arjuna to engage his wrath upon his enemies for the satisfaction of the Lord. Therefore, lust and wrath, when they are employed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, become our friends instead of our enemies.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/3/37/

May we wake up and see where our arrogance has once more brought us. While we are on our knees would be a good time to look back upon our Best Friend and Well-Wisher.

Rama. Krishna. Allah. Jehovah. Yahweh. Adonai. Rahman. Rahim. Buddha.

Call upon these names with love and see for yourself how it transforms the consciousness of the world, starting with yourself.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

Wake up sleeping soul.

Despite COVID-19 you go on forever

The COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic is serious. But rest assured you are immortal.

With all the hue and cry over the worldwide pandemic caused by the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, there is tremendous stress.

Some people are sick, others have had to move out of their bodies to their next destination. Some have lost their jobs, others can’t get supplies. Some have seen their lifetime savings diminish on the stock market.

It is a good time to remind ourselves of some of these fundamental truths.

जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च ।
तस्मादपरिहार्येऽर्थे न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि ॥ २७ ॥

jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye ’rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi

One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/2/27/

However, most importantly, it is the body that can be harmed, not that which enlivens the body…

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय
नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि ।
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा-
न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही ॥ २२ ॥

vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛhṇāti naro ’parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny
anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī

As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/2/22/

And finally, you reading this, and me, writing this, and all other living entities, will not, cannot die.

न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचि-
न्नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः ।
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ॥ २० ॥

na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ’yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/2/20/

That said, these bodies, especially human bodies, are gifts from God, meant to realize that Supreme Absolute Truth, knowing which, one never returns to the world of the temporary flickering manifestations…

आब्रह्मभुवनाल्ल‍ोका: पुनरावर्तिनोऽर्जुन ।
मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते ॥ १६ ॥

ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ
punar āvartino ’rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate

From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/8/16/

These are good reminders. Yes, I may feel discomfort, I may feel pain, I may even feel the pain when my soul is ripped out of this body. But no matter what, I will go on, as will you, regardless of COVID-19.

Imperfection is no excuse

There are many travails on the spiritual journey, tests of faith, challenges, mainly our own imperfection, but imperfection is no excuse…

I have heard this from many aspiring spiritualists, the train of thought goes somewhat like this… “I have tried, I have tried so hard, but I couldn’t… everything I did was imperfect… it is hopeless, so I might as well not bother”.

This could be about rising early in the morning, it could be about the Four Regulative Principles, it could be about Chanting Hare Krishna, it could be about being kind to others… or any of the beautiful goals spiritualists aspire for.

For a conditioned soul, imperfection is a given. Sometimes, it feels like I can get nothing right. I try one thing, it results in disaster. I try another thing, it is a failed attempt. No matter how hard I try, my faults dominate my effort! Wot to do?

Keep trying!

Sri Krishna says these most encouraging words…

सहजं कर्म कौन्तेय सदोषमपि न त्यजेत् ।
सर्वारम्भा हि दोषेण धूमेनाग्न‍िरिवावृता: ॥ ४८ ॥ saha-jaṁ karma kaunteya
sa-doṣam api na tyajet
sarvārambhā hi doṣeṇa
dhūmenāgnir ivāvṛtāḥ

Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kuntī, even if such work is full of fault.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/18/48/

Have you ever seen a little child learning to walk? They fall. Many times. Over and over again. And for a long long time, children who recently learned to walk are known as “toddlers” – because, yes, they are unsteady on their feet, they tend to fall down.

But just as a healthy little child has the innate ability to walk, so, you, dear spirit soul, you have the innate ability to regain your spiritual perfection.

In fact, you are already perfect, your consciousness may be contaminated, but that can be rectified. I may be imperfect, but my Best Friend has no weakness!

So arise, awake, and don’t give up on your spiritual goals, because even though every endeavor is covered by fault, still…

शनै: शनैरुपरमेद्‍बुद्ध्या धृतिगृहीतया ।
आत्मसंस्थं मन: कृत्वा न किञ्चिदपि चिन्तयेत् ॥ २५ ॥ śanaiḥ śanair uparamed
buddhyā dhṛti-gṛhītayā
ātma-saṁsthaṁ manaḥ kṛtvā
na kiñcid api cintayet

Gradually, step by step, one should become situated in trance by means of intelligence sustained by full conviction, and thus the mind should be fixed on the Self alone and should think of nothing else.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/6/25/

“A big shot is a little shot who kept shooting”. DON’T GIVE UP!

By the Grace of God, Step by Step, you will shoot down all your imperfections. By the Grace of God, Step by Step you will make it, just dont’ stop trying.

My dear Best Friend and Well-Wisher, Sri Krishna, I pray to try, every single day, every single moment, keep trying to be Your pure unmotivated devotee. Please help me.

The Lure of the Gamble

The lure of the gamble is strong. But ordinary gambling destroys consciousness. There is, however, one type of gamble that brings unlimited rewards…

Far too often, the lure of the gamble can draw someone in. Fast breaths, quickened pulse, have I lost, have I won? Ah the fear, the excitement, the tension, the suspense!

It could be a “harmless” little lottery ticket, or that lucky draw, or more serious, an actual gambling addiction.

Some professions, such as speculative trading on the markets, are also gambling.

In the famous Mahabharata, a gambling match was the genesis of the world war war that led to destruction of the entire clan and millions of soldiers.

In fact, gambling is really cheating. What is the logic or fairness behind a few people each giving some money to one person unnecessarily? There should be an exchange of value, at minimum – what value do I provide to someone when I roll the dice and win? What value to I derive when someone else wins at gambling?

And it is even worse when there’s a middleman involved, like a casino or a club. Then you can be sure there is no fairness, “the house always wins”.

But of course, even if mathematically, by the law of large numbers, one can be confident that the roll of a fair dice may be seen as random, up against a cheat, that is surely a match impossible to win.

द्यूतं छलयतामस्मि dyūtaṁ chalayatām asmi

I am also the gambling of cheats

There are many kinds of cheaters all over the universe. Of all cheating processes, gambling stands supreme and therefore represents Kṛṣṇa. As the Supreme, Kṛṣṇa can be more deceitful than any mere man. If Kṛṣṇa chooses to deceive a person, no one can surpass Him in His deceit. His greatness is not simply one-sided – it is all-sided

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/10/36/

Some ask “so, if I invest on the stock-market, is that gambling”, I respond “check your pulse, if your pulse has quickened, then it is”.

Spiritual life entails giving up the lure of the gamble.

But there is one type of gamble that is most adventure…

द्यूतं छलयतामस्मि तेजस्तेजस्विनामहम् ।
जयोऽस्मि व्यवसायोऽस्मि सत्त्वं सत्त्ववतामहम् ॥ ३६ ॥ dyūtaṁ chalayatām asmi
tejas tejasvinām aham
jayo ’smi vyavasāyo ’smi
sattvaṁ sattvavatām aham

I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/10/36/

Whatever you may be able to accomplish, you can never cheat God. To a person who does not strive to meet God when alive, God meets them in the form of death. And everyone eventually finds out that life is all too short.

Don’t waste your time doing the little stuff. If you do want to gamble, go on, yes you do, then give your life to God. Life is an unlimited thrilling adventure at every moment, you will never know what’s coming at you the next moment. Try it.

The Ever-Increasing Fakeness of Money

What is money? Is it even real or just an illusion? What can bring us real satisfaction?

Have you ever wondered what money is? For many of us, money is a coin made of a metal that is not super-precious, money is a paper with something printed on it, to some, money is plastic…

People slog for it, die for it, commit crimes for it. Some people are enslaved by it. Some others are killed for it. Some die because they have too much of it, others die because they have too little. Some are handed more than they know what to do with, others struggle all their lives but don’t get much.

What is money?

At the simplest, money represents some value. Note, “represents” value. Money is not valuable. After all, you can’t eat money, you can’t drink money, money doesn’t buy you love, you can’t even buy a moment of time with it.

There used to be a time when money was not needed. You had something, I had something, and when we had more than what we needed, we exchanged. Food was given freely, and no one had any want of necessities.

Then, for a long time, Gold and other valuable items were used in place of exchange.

For a long time, even when money was paper, it was backed by gold… then governments abandoned any link to reality and just began to print money. Some printed money indiscriminately, others had particular agendas. The concept of “inflation” was invented. Inflation means that unless you stay engaged in the system, whatever you had would erode in value. Most people would get a little more each year, if they stayed in the system, with their noses to the grindstone. But everything got a tad bit more expensive each year. And this is how the economy is measured, that everyone is making more.

“If you deposit five lakhs now, it will decrease value in five, ten months. The purchasing power of money is decreasing. Now what you can purchase with five lakhs of rupees, after five years you’ll require ten lakhs.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

What a perfect way to keep everyone in control!

Everyone eats, sleeps, mates, and defends according to their own quota. People ate a hundred years ago, people eat today. People wore clothes a hundred years ago, people wear clothes today. People spent for entertainment a hundred years ago, people spend for entertainment today. My father once earned less than $2 per month over 50 years ago, and could maintain a large extended family relatively comfortably in India. A person in the Western World earning $2000 per month will find it difficult to maintain even the smallest of families!

The fact that the GDP or Gross Domestic Product has been increasing year-over-year has had no positive impact on the basics of life. In fact it is an illusory concept that I continue to do what I did last year and yet I somehow make more? Of course, everyone makes more, so that means I pay more now than I did last year, and my “increase” has disappeared!

What a way to keep you, me, and everyone working for more, more, more!

Then of course, money was replaced with an entry in a bank passbook, you could see a number there and “write” money to someone else. Most of us in the modern day don’t even see any money… some “value” is transferred to my bank account by my employer, I can see that on a computer. I swipe a card here, a card there, and at the end of the month, I may have no “money” left at all. Where is this money that I supposedly earned?

To add to that, money is held in increasingly complex instruments, like debt, equity, mutual funds, stock options, and derivatives – fakeness built on top of fakeness built on top of that which was fake to start with. When you start to think of it, it is mind-boggling as to how far removed we are from the original standard of wealth, which was simple – land, cows, grains, clothes, what you needed for a simple life focused on spritual advancement.

In fact, the current concept and system of money is creating hellish society!

Sometimes the living entity is busy counteracting the natural disturbances of freezing cold, scorching heat, strong wind, excessive rainfall and so forth. When he is unable to do so, he becomes very unhappy. Sometimes he is cheated in business transactions one after another. In this way, by cheating, living entities create enmity among themselves.

On the forest path of material existence, sometimes a person is without wealth and due to this does not have a proper home, bed or sitting place, nor proper family enjoyment. He therefore goes to beg money from others, but when his desires are not fulfilled by begging, he wants to borrow or steal the property of others. Thus he is insulted in society.

Due to monetary transactions, relationships become very strained and end in enmity. Sometimes the husband and wife walk on the path of material progress, and to maintain their relationship they work very hard. Sometimes due to scarcity of money or due to diseased conditions, they are embarrassed and almost die.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/5/13/11/ https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/5/13/12/ https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/5/13/13/

This struggle to accumulate money by any means is creating terrible side effects!

If a person too attached to the duties of family maintenance is unable to control his senses, the core of his heart is immersed in how to accumulate money. Although he knows that one who takes the wealth of others will be punished by the law of the government, and by the laws of Yamarāja after death, he continues cheating others to acquire money.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/7/6/15/

Ah, you may say, I don’t cheat, I earn my money in honest ways! Really? What is profit? Who did you pay for the earth, the water, the sun, the air?

We just take things from one place to another, from another to another, repackage this, repackage that, and claim “This is Mine”

My spiritual master writes…

We come into this world possessing nothing.
And we leave from this world with absolutely nothing.
But in the middle we fight and kill claiming this is mine.
Ignoring the real owner who reclaims everything in time.

The Peace Formula
© 2015 by Sankarshan Das Adhikari. All rights reserved. https://wonderfulsongs.bandcamp.com/

However, one of the greatest spiritualists of history, originally a prostitute by profession before enlightenment, says this…

I am such a fool that I have given up the service of that person who, being eternally situated within my heart, is actually most dear to me. That most dear one is the Lord of the universe, who is the bestower of real love and happiness and the source of all prosperity. Although He is in my own heart, I have completely neglected Him. Instead I have ignorantly served insignificant men who can never satisfy my real desires and who have simply brought me unhappiness, fear, anxiety, lamentation and illusion.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/11/8/31/

May we all follow in her footsteps!

Dealing with fools

As spiritualists, we often encounter fools. It is not necessary, however, to be a spiritualist to encounter fools.

Whether you’re a doctor, or a policeman, a teacher, or a nurse, a lawyer, an engineer, a manger, or a businesswoman, an actress, or a playwright, a mathematician, or a musician… no matter which field you are in, you are bound to encounter fools.

You know, the kind of individuals, who haven’t put in a tenth of the effort you have, who don’t know a hundredth about a subject you know so well. These individuals might try to give you unsolicited advice, they might try to correct you, or end up inventing new ways of being foolish.

But let me focus on the fools I meet often while out there sharing the spiritual knowledge with others… there are the souls who will suddenly feel the urge to enlighten you on their ignorance.

  • The soul who wanted to prove he was God
  • The soul who got angry when I didn’t accept that he was self-realized
  • There was one soul who was really really caught up trying to prove that his misunderstanding was really the correct understanding
  • The other one who was out to show me how I was “just a blind follower”.
  • The fool who was intent on proving my simple, humble and honest but exalted spiritual preceptor wrong
  • The one who thought that I was going to hell for not following him
  • The ones who advise me not to waste my time, not to waste my life.
  • The ones who have all the time in the world to waste my time and energy trying to draw me into a conversation I do not wish to be part of
  • And so many more.

When I was younger and more naive, I actually tried to reason with these people. I tried to help them, to serve them, to hear them out. But that didn’t go so well. I ended up really bruised and battered (metaphorically speaking), and after all that trouble, they didn’t end up any better than before.

Why is that?

As Srila Prabhupada said often…

Mūrkhāya upadeśa hi prakopāya na śāntaye (Hitopadeśa 3.4). If you teach lesson to a foolish person, he’ll be simply angry. He’ll not take your lesson. How it is so? Payaḥ-pānaṁ bhujaṅgānāṁ kevalaṁ viṣa-vardhanam. If you keep a snake and if you want to make friendly behavior with him, that “My dear snake, don’t bite any more. I’ll give you milk and banana. You eat here and stay here nicely,” he’ll not . . . His poison will increase, and one day he will . . .

https://vanisource.org/wiki/720527_-Lecture_SB_07.05.22-32_Festival_Nrsimha-caturdasi-_Los_Angeles?t=hl#terms=payah|panam|bhujanganam

See, they weren’t trying to get help, they were trying to add me to their ranks!

So I decided to follow this advice from one of my teachers… “The first rule in dealing with fools and fanatics… DON’T”.

And even though a fool will surely insist on having the last word, hurl that last insult, write that last hateful email, the best thing in spiritual life, even life in general is, to just let them go. Even if they end up thinking you are a fool!