How KC is the solution of all problems 6 – Medical Problems
Transcription by – Bhakta Ambuj Gupta & Keshavgopal Prabhu
Hare Krishna. So currently we are discussing on a series of “How Krishna consciousness is the solution to all problems.” We have discussed different aspects of these problems. We discussed cultural problems where we discussed about the tragic gang rape that had happened in Delhi recently. We discussed economic problems, ecological problems. So today we will discuss about medical problems. That means our focus, we discussed the various topics from in basically four points. We discussed the extent of the problem, the cause of the problem from the material perspective, the cause of the problem from the spiritual perspective and the solution as we can apply in our lives.
So traditionally there is a Greek thinker Hippocrates, who has given a definition of health, which is considered to be foundational. And interestingly he includes not just physical health in it, he includes even spiritual dimension of health in it. Generally he says there are four dimensions of health. So eventually when you become doctors, I don’t know whether it is happened in India but there is a Hippocrates oath that you take- that you will take care of your patients. Basically there is physical aspect, there is mental aspect, there is social aspect and there is spiritual aspect. So all four are considered important for one’s health. Now what is the Sanskrit word for health? Swasthya. If you look at the word swasthya, what does it mean. Just as in English we can go to the roots of words. The branch of knowledge that goes to the roots of word is called as etymology. So like that we can go to the roots of the words. Swasthya, if we do a sandhi vigraha, a dissection of the word, it is swa asthitha iti swasthya. Swa asthitha, one who is situated in one’s nature, one’s position. Asthitha means to be situated. Swa means one’s own. Just like there is a word called swa dharma. Krishna talks about in Bhagwad Gita in several places for example in 3.35, He says
So He talks about swa dharma. One’s own dharma and para dharma, another dharma. So swasthya means swa asthitha iti swasthya, when is situated in one’s own nature then one is considered to be healthy. What exactly does it mean to be situated in one’s own nature. Normally speaking from the physical point of view, if you look at it. We need to be situated in a life style that is conducive to our nature. That means we need to get adequate amount of food, adequate amount of rest, adequate amount of exercise for the body, till these three are considered to be the pillars of health at the physical level. Food, rest and exercise. When a person is not very, not getting adequate food, not getting adequate rest or say getting too much exertion then that person at the physical level is not swa asthitha. And then the person cannot be healthy. So this is at the physical level. But similarly that at the mental level, there is a spiritual level, there is social level. What does it mean? We will not discuss all of these but at a mental level if we are always disturbed by certain things. Now we see this happening tremendously in today’s society that a large number of diseases originate in the mind. When people are disturbed at the mental level they become disturbed at the physical level also eventually. So when we are agitated by certain things then even if I am physically healthy I am not happy. Now characteristic of modern civilization is that people are comfortably miserable. What does that mean? At a physical level they are comfortable but at the mental level they are miserable. Physical level one may be working in a company which has AC and one is sitting on a easy chair. So one is comfortable physically. But at a mental level there is so much stress, there is tension, may be as back biting, politics and competition. So one is miserable. Such a situation if we have a very restricted definition of health. At a physical level if we look at, we say that person is healthy. But because the stress is there at the mental level that will reflect in the physical level. One of the most significant discoveries in medicine on the last century was the role of the mind on the body. The field of mind, body, medicine is a burgeoning field, is an expanding field. And historically the way medical science grew, the current approach towards the study of the human body or to the study of nature, it is primarily reductionistic or materialistic.
Depersonalization of Medicine
That means that, the first time when doctors started using stethoscopes, that was about hundred fifty years ago. So at that time several doctors opposed it. They said a stethoscope represent something that comes between the doctor and the patient, when an instrument comes between doctor and the patient that will reduce and eventually remove the human dimension of medicine. Stethoscope is a very primitive instrument. But over a period of time as technology has become more and more advanced, the instruments that are used for diagnoses have also become very advanced. And to some extent this is good in the sense that we can find out there are some cancer cells or some germs or something like that in the body. But two things happen by this. First is that the relationship between the patient and the doctor is no longer a human relationship. It is a machine centered relationship. That means as soon as a patient goes to a doctor, first thing the doctor say is do this test, this test, this test. And after that test is done then the doctor looks not so much at the patient to know what the sickness is but to look at the reports that the machine has generated. So now this is not necessarily wrong but the point is that there is a subjective aspect and there is a objective aspect. Subjective aspect means, ok if I am sick how I am feeling. Ok I have pain in my tooth or I am having some palpitations in the heart. These are very gross physical, physically uncomfortable symptoms. And we can also find out there causes. But if you see today where medicine has largely become commercialized, one of the biggest complains of patients is that the doctors don’t seem to care for them. And in fact in many of the hospitals in often a doctor is judged by how many patients he processes in particular hospital, if he takes ten patients, fifteen patients, twenty patients whatever. That is one criteria by which the doctor is judged. Another criteria by which he is judged is how many referrals for checking does he do. That means ok. Because the hospital has to generate money. Say the doctors say, ok do x-ray, do a CT scan, do a sonography, then the other aspects of the hospital are generating money. So basically because of this de-emphasis on the interaction between the doctor and the patient, and the emphasis on the interaction of the patient with the instruments and of the doctor with the instruments, so the human dimension of medicine has become tremendously curtailed. And because of this human dimension being curtailed, the result is that the mental aspect of health is highly neglected. Not only the doctors don’t pay attention to how the patient is feeling and how the patient should be taken care of, but also the patients feel completely treated like just a, basically a body that is to be analyzed chemically, not a person that is to be understood.
To give an extreme example of understanding this, these two approaches. If there is a small child and that child has mother, now the child happens to be sick. So then the child has to be taken to a doctor. And the doctor may get the child examined and everything. And now if we look from the objective point of view, the doctor may know more about the child than the mother. How much is the blood count, what is even the composition of urine and stool, such things. So there is “knowing about the child” and there is “knowing the child”. I hope you understand the difference between the two. “Knowing about the child” means knowing about the physical parameters of the child. What is his weight, what is his blood pressure, what is his heart beat, what is his pulse rate? So the doctor knows about the child. The mother “knows the child”. There is a world of difference between the two. Today the medical field has become largely reduced to “knowing about the patient”. In fact, even if we ask, most doctors, how much do they know the patient, they know about the patient. The point which I am making through all this is that within the whole treatment of the patients today the physical aspect has been enormously increased attention to through the machines and the mental aspect has been highly neglected.
Beyond that even the social aspect, how many of you heard of disease like schizophrenia? These are diseases where people just become like split personalities. Now the typical approach of most scientists is to treat this as a pathological disease, as a pathology. Pathology means to try to find out why this person is behaving like this. As soon as they start treating everything has been say caused by some germs, is a person who is having a mental disorder or a functional disability in terms of cognitive functions, in terms of behavior and understanding, that is not necessarily because of some germs in the brain. Now increasingly they finding out these people who become schizophrenic often they are people who are socially maladjusted. May be they were with parents who just did not understand them and respond to them properly or they were in certain circumstances where there sense of reality got warped. So it might have some brain degenerative effect. But the primary impetus is social, societal.
To consider this in even more extreme -there is a trend within medicine to see obesity as a germ induced disease. What does this mean? That there are doctors who have written papers and they say that actually becoming fat is a infection. They say that we have just not found the germ which makes people fat. So we will find out the germ and then once we remove that germ than people will no longer become fat. This is in one sense perverse. Actually speaking the result of this is, where ever this idea has become little popular, the notion has come that obesity, if it is a germ induced disease then it might be a infectious disease. Just by staying around fat people will catch the infection of obesity. My goal is not to ridicule science or medical science in any way. Doctors do a lot of hard work to get their degrees and they have the best intentions. But I am just giving extreme examples of where the depersonalized objectified approach leads to. There might be some extreme cases where people have some digestive disorders by which whatever food they eat it might convert into fat. But generally speaking apart from these germs induced factors, apart from genetic factors that might be there, some people might be genetically predisposed towards obesity, some people might genetically predisposed towards thinness, but beyond that there is a substantial role of once own choices. What one eats, how much one eats, how frequently one eats that is a primary factor which determines excessive weight or normal weight or below normal weight. So pathologizing the human body and everything in the human body can have very serious counterproductive consequences. So we discussed there is a physical aspect, there is a mental aspect, there is a social aspect. So today largely the mental and social aspect are not discussed much with in the field of medicine. And beyond that there is a spiritual aspect.
Modern medicine fail to recognize humans as integral beings
Now what do we mean by spiritual aspect of health. Say traditionally it is understood that human beings are integral beings. Integral means that we are body, mind and soul together. We cannot separate the body, mind and soul in separate units. As knowledge has advanced, we have specialization. So what is specialization? It means to know more and more and more about less and less and less. It is like take a narrow field and know more and more and more about it. And then there is if you take this, in mathematics there is limit if T tends to zero or T tends to 1, so there is super specialization which means to know everything about nothing. To know more and more and more. Actually what is happening because of specialization, it might lead to lot of knowledge about certain things and certain areas, but the idea of integral knowing, that is lost.
Now few years ago I had TB. And it was severe TB. 90% of my one lung, 60% of the other lung was damaged severely and the doctor suspecting that some of the TB might have goon into the intestines also, so my physician referred me to a specialist. And the specialist was suppose to check whether there is any TB infection in the intestine. Then he checked my papers and he told me to do a test and then he was looking at the test. Test was suppose to diagnose whether TB is there in the intestine. Then I started showing my papers of what is there of my TB case. He says no-no, my interest is below the diaphragm not above the diaphragm. He one of the biggest doctors in Mumbai. So the idea is that patient is not concerned below the diaphragm or above the diaphragm, patient is concerned about the health. Isn’t it? So what has happened is because of this super specialization often the patient is seen as just a combination of units. Not as a conscious integral person.
That’s why you have this famous paradox or parody you can call it- “Operation successful, patient dead”. Now how is that possible? If a person is a heart surgeon and he says I’ll do the heart surgery, and then he comes out and after that and someone asks how is the operation? Operation was successful. Oh! Very good, thank you doctor. How is the patient? Patient has died. Hey! What? How did that happen? He said actually my business was to take care of the heart. So I did the operation for the heart and I cured the heart, but in the process of curing the heart the lungs got cut and because of that patient died. Somebody says like this you would consider this as outrageous. So the idea is that the operation is not just meant to treat a particular part of the patient. The operation is ultimately meant to treat the patient. The idea that “operation successful patient dead”, that means the underlying notion is the operation is not on the patient. Isn’t it? If the patient is dead that the operation is unsuccessful, but the idea is operation is on a particular part of the patient, not on the patient. This implies that there is this separationist discritized attitude towards treatment. Now I am not going into so much discritization that has happened. Discritization means, discreet means separate or distinct. So discritization means separation. So I am not talking so much about the specialization within the body. I am talking about with respect to the overall treatment’s ethos. So when the patient is just looked after at a physical level and the mental level, the social level, the spiritual level they all are neglected then the treatment cannot be lastingly successful. There is definitely need for treating the patient at a physical level also. No doubt about it.
Ayurveda approach is more holistic, allopathy is effective only at physical level
Ayurveda, relatively speaking is more holistic. And in Ayurveda there are broad divisions. Just like when we study the body we can have anatomy and we can have physiology. Anatomy is basically structure of the body. Physiology is the functioning of the body. Anatomical damage, say somebody has a fracture, then that directly requires a physical treatment. But when there is physiological dysfunctioning, if somebody has indigestion, somebody has heart palpitations, somebody has stress- these are not just anatomic. Certainly there is something connected with body at a physical level. Anatomical damages, anatomical problems can be directly dealt with at a physical level, largely at a physical level. But when we come to physiological problems then they in general cannot be dealt with only at the physical level. And that’s why we see that allopathy is quite effective with respect to acute problems.
Acute problems means if I have fracture, if I have some acute infection, I have advance case of TB or malaria or dengue or whatever then allopathy is very helpful. In fact it is essential in many cases. But if somebody has back pain, if somebody has constipation, if somebody has hypertension, high BP then these are not things which can be very easily cured by just taking a pill. It doesn’t work like that even If we try, why? Because the anatomy of the body, the body is like a machine for the person, the soul, so anatomy is not directly connected because anatomy is one time. One time hand got broken, you repaired it, it’s done. But physiology depends much more on a constant interaction with the mind and the soul because depending on how I feel, it has a tremendous influence on the body.
Positive thoughts are health promoting
What researchers have found is that, I have written a book called ENERGY, your sutra for positive thinking. In that book I have talked about, in second chapter, that medical science has found that when people have positive thoughts, that means they are thinking about love or health or love not in terms of sexual love but love in terms of- they feel loved, they feel valued, cared, feeling peaceful, contended- when they have these kind of thoughts at that time they literally, those thoughts generate health inducing hormones in the body. On the other hand when people are angry, envious, irritated, dejected, having any kind of negative emotion, those generate hormones, those emotions lead to generation of harmful hormones. And that means, practically speaking we are bathing our body with our thoughts. What we are doing? We are bathing our body with our thoughts. The kind of thoughts that we have they determine the kind of hormones that will go throughout our body. So if we have positive thoughts then we are bathing the body in health promoting hormones. And when we are having negative thoughts then we are bathing the body in health inhibiting health harming hormones. This is something which has been medically well documented. The end result of this analysis is that doctors also now, again instead of the doctor trying to develop a relationship with the patient and reassuring the patient and taking care of the mental aspect of the patient also, as I said there has been segregation, discritization.
So what has happened is there is the whole burgeoning field of psychiatry and psychology. Instead of treating the patient as a conscious human being there are some physical disorders, there are mental disorders and both of them are separated. And there is a huge industry of psychologists to psychiatrists who actually just try to treat people’s feelings. And it doesn’t necessarily work out to very well. Now what has happened in psychiatry and psychology, unfortunately, psychiatry is more physically based. It consider to be a more of feel, it’s more of scientific feel where the focus is more on brain study. Psychology is more the study of behavior. It is considered to be one of the social sciences. Not so much of hard core science. There are soft sciences and there are hard sciences. Physics, Chemistry, Biology, these are hard sciences. Economics, then we have sociology, political science, these are considered soft sciences. So psychology is considered to be one the soft sciences often. The point which I am making is that there is so much emphasis on the need for solacing and encouraging people at a emotional level that has lead to burgeoning, the developing, the flourishing of a entirely different industry and a different profession.
Concept of health at psychological level has been hazy
But unfortunately, that idea of health at a psychological level has also been very hazy. Why hazy? Because first of all psychology original definition is, psyche means mind, so study of the mind. But then psychology wanted to be included as a scientific field, then it was said that actually there is no such thing called mind. I think we discussed this early. Because we can’t scientifically, you can’t look in the brain and find the mind somewhere. If the whole field is studying of object that doesn’t exist, it’s like you go to a movie and the hero of the movie is none existent. How will the movie go on if you give a lead role to a non existent. Then they decided to reduce psychology. Instead of calling psychology study of the mind, they said study of human behavior, because behavior is something which is observable. But that has resulted over all in again reducing people to their behavior and neglecting their emotions. So even at the mental level when people are not addressed, they are not heard, there emotions are not understood, then no matter how well they are treated at physical level, that doesn’t have lasting effect. Not only that, they can have contrary effect because there can be the negative result of people’s sadness, loneliness, bathing their body in negative hormones.
Modern medicine’s approach is short sighted
The point is that our today’s treatment has separated the human being, rather reduce the human being just to a physical organism. And most of the medical treatment is based on correcting the disorders and the dysfunctions that are happening in the physical organism, without considering the mental aspect, the social aspect and certainly the spiritual aspect. And this approach towards health is very short sighted and counterproductive. And that is why we will see more and more diseases coming up which are not just physical diseases. These are spreading very widely now a days. There are stress or there are brain generated diseases like people getting parking son, Alzheimer’s and then there are diseases like cancer. What is the cause of that? There are multiple theories. A thing is very clearly known different cancers what causes them. There are certain carcinogenic elements which cause them. But overall the idea is that these are diseases that certainly have effects at a physical level, a very harmful effect at physical level, but do they originate in specific physical causes. This is a serious question for which medical science doesn’t have a real answer right now.
Vedic perspective towards health
If you go back to the Vedic perspective swa asthita iti swasthya, if we want swasthya we have to be situated in our own position, in our own nature. How do we situate ourselves in our nature? We have a body, we have a mind and we ourselves are the soul. And we are situated in a society. So you may heard of these three kleshas, aadhyatmic, aadhibhautic and aadhidevic. So often if we go to some traditional Hindu programs, they often say om shanti-shanti-shanti. This is shanti three times. You know why the shanti is three time because each of these, one-one shanti is address one of the kleshas. Aadhibhautic klesha shanti, aadhiatmic klesha shanti, aadhidevic klesha shanti.
So how it is, the soul is when it comes to the material world, the soul is encaged in these three progressive coverings. These three progressive are like three concentric circles. The first circle is the body and the mind. And that leads to aadhi aatmic klesha. Then beyond that is the social circle. That is the aadhibhautic klesha. And beyond that is the environment. From that klesha comes is the aadhidevic klesha. So right now we are sitting, right now some mosquitoes might be biting that is aadhibhautic klesha. Or we hear these bang-bang sounds, they are also aadhibhautic klesha. Isn’t it? They are distractions. But when we are sitting might, we feel uncomfortable sitting on the flour. And we might have some pain in the legs, some irritation or may be the stomach is hungry. So this is aadhi aatmic klesha. Isn’t it? Beyond that we may feel temperature is too cold or the temperature is just going up and down like the waves of the stormy ocean arbitrally. And that may make us physically uncomfortable, that will be aadhidevic klesha.
When we have to be situated properly, if you look at Hippocrates definition, it mentions to be situated physically, mentally, spiritually and socially. So the physical-mental aspect refers to the countering of the aadhiaatmic klesha. That when we are situated according to our nature congenially in our body, that means I understand my body and I understand what all I can do with my body. That means ok, I need six seven hours sleep, I need to eat this time- this time, I need to do these-these things, if I want to be healthy. Then that leads to a peaceful bodily and mental situation. So that’s the first aspect.
Second aspect is social aspect. That people have to, people need to live in a situation where they can get a sense of belonging. Imagine if we go to a, if you are put in a job where you go to some place where you don’t know anyone. Nobody knows you. What happens? We lost over there. Try to develop some friendship, some relationships. Imagine if you go to a place where nobody not only knows you, everybody treats you very hostilely. Everybody treats you very hostilely, very skeptically. Then that often creates fear. In Europe, Australia and America there is whole phenomena increasing called xenophobia. Phobia is fear, xeno is foreigners. So xenophobia is fear of foreigners. Because the economy in the these countries was going down, so often the nationals of these countries they feel these people from India, young people from India are coming and they are taking away our jobs. We are Americans, we are Europeans, we are Australians, we are not getting jobs in our countries but these Indians and Chinese are coming and they are taking away our jobs. So because of that often the foreigners become a target of violence. Three four years ago in Australia especially when several young Indians were killed, and then that led to a significant slump in the number of Indian students going to Australia. So this was because of, this is the example of xenophobia which is basically aadhibhautic klesha. We need a sense of belonging. But instead of belonging if there is just isolation that is bad. Nobody cares for me. But worse than isolation is hostility, where people are angry with me. People hate me. It become very difficult to live in such a situation. So that is the second aspect. That is aadhibhautic.
And beyond that is aadhidevic. Aadhidevic doesn’t just referred to the devtas. Devic means, can be referred to devatas or it may refer to Krishna as supreme, deva deva. So that is the spiritual aspect of the health. That means we have to live in harmony with the higher agencies, the higher powers and ultimately in harmony with God. So then the aadhidevic klesha decreases. So aadhidevic klesha often come as I said excessive heat or cold or floods or draughts. These are karmic reaction that come when we don’t live in harmony with God. So when we do bad karma these come as karmic reactions. Health is not an isolated physical phenomena. We often think about health, we simply think about physical health. Physical health is no doubt important and physical disorders need to be treated at a physical level. But reducing human being to just physical organisms and reducing all health problems to just physical pathologies, physical pathological problems, is a very short sighted approach. That will not lead to long term effective solutions. Short term there might be little benefit. So if we look at it from a spiritual perspective we talk about health. When we are harmoniouly asthitha, hormoniously situated in all these three circles, we are hormoniously situated in the body and the mind, harmoniously situated in social circle, and harmoniously situated in the sphere of influence of God, according to God laws, then such a life is actually a healthy life.
So even as devotees if we fall sick we go to a doctor and depending on what is practical, we may take ayurvedic doctor, allopathic doctor, homeopathic doctor, naturopathy doctor. That is perfectly ok. Srila Prabhupada was perfectly practical about this. And essentially physical disorders need to be treated at a physical level. But we also need to recognize that many of the diseases that are coming in people’s life are not just physical problems. They are mental problems. Ultimately they are all coming from a spiritual level.
Ultimate cause of health problems is not living in harmony with God
Spiritual level of problem is that there is forgetfulness of God. If people become harmonious with God, the end result of that will off course be that they will go back to the spiritual world. But even before that end result there would lot of positive results in this life itself. The first and most important result is that to the extent we live in harmony with God to that extent the mind becomes peaceful. To the extent we live in harmony with God to that extent our mind gets connected with the higher reality. And to the extent the mind becomes connected with the higher reality, to that extent it is not disturbed, it is not shaken by the inevitable changes at the lower reality. A simple example to illustrate this, if a person is walking on a road in between two sky scrapers, those sky scrapers are so toweringly high that a person feels like a Lilliputian, just like if you put a mouse in front of that. And the same person is going through a same city in a plane. Now from the plane the sky scrapers appear to be tiny. The person is going to a same direction through the same area but the sky scrapers can appear imposingly formidable or they can appear to be not very troublingly big. Just ok, they are there. So this is the difference that happens when we connect ourselves with Krishna. In 18.58 in the Bhagvad Gita Krishna describes
If you become conscious of Me you will pass over all obstacles by My grace. If however you act without consciousness of Me you will be lost. Krishna is describing, so what happens when we become conscious of Krishna when we are all alone, we are in this world and there are big-big problems which seem to be like sky scrapers. And it appears they will crush us. But when we become connected with Krishna, we sort of get lifted up. The problems are still there but we understand that actually there is Krishna who is a higher reality. And no matter how big a problem is, Krishna is still bigger. You remember, I told you earlier that don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big God is. That’s what happens practically speaking.
Developing connection with Krishna reduces psychological problems substantially
When we develop connection with Krishna, psychological problems decrease substantially. Sometimes devotees may also feel, oh! actually before I started practicing Krishna consciousness my mind was not troubling me so much. Now my mind is troubling me more. It’s not exactly like that. If we feel that our mind is troubling that is because we are not practicing Krishna consciousness. We are letting our mind go here and there. If I am chanting and Krishna consciousness is like spiritual body building. Just like how does the person develop the muscles? Person has to lift heavy weights. When he lifts weights basically the principle is that the muscles when they are forced to lift the weight beyond their capacity, muscles break and then they are reformed. When they are reformed they become stronger. That’s how the basic principle of body building works. But the idea is that the weights have to be lifted. So now just as big weights when we lift with our hands, the hand muscles grow, so like that Krishna is the biggest object.
When we think about Krishna our mental muscles grow. Our mind when connected with Krishna, so big, what happens is? Our mind is filled with big thoughts. And then small-small problems don’t matter so much. But often when we practice Krishna consciousness, we are chanting but we don’t connect with Krishna only. That means we just do a physical simulation of meditation. Physical simulation means I am just sitting and
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
We are just physically uttering the mantras but we are not actually thinking about Krishna. So what does this become like? Actually the essence of mantra meditation is to exercise our mental muscles by connecting with Krishna, by invoking Krishna, by thinking about Krishna. Imagine somebody goes to a health spa clinic for a work out and the person goes near a dumb bell and just moves his hand without lifting the dumb bell up. He just pulls hand up and down. What will happen by that? His muscle will not grow and he also will get bored. Isn’t it? So often our chanting becomes like that. We are just moving our hands up and down, we are moving our lips up and down. We are not invoking Krishna’s presence. Then what happens is? Not only is this unproductive, in the sense that person’s muscles will not grow just by lifting his hands up and down, he has to lift the weights.
So if we are not thinking about Krishna then not only does our mental muscles not grow, do not become mentally strong, but more than that because we are idle, mind is not thinking about Krishna, the mind has to think about something else. So when the mind has to think about something else, what we will think about? It will think about whatever it likes to think about. Some material things I have to do this, I have to solve this, I have to get this done, I could be enjoying this. Imagine a person who is lifting weights and he is thinking the cricket match is going on. And what I am doing here lifting weights. I should be at home and sitting in my sofa and watching the cricket match. Imagine if he is trying to lift weights and he is thinking about the cricket match, automatically the weights will become heavier. Why? Because the heart is not there. The heart is thinking about, naturally it’s so heavy, so much, how long I should do this. Similarly when we are trying to chant and our heart is not chanting, our heart is thinking ok, I have to go and do this, I have to solve this, I have to do that then the mind is not getting anything productive to do with respect to Krishna and the mind is thinking I can do so many other productive things but this chanting not allowing me to do that. I have to sit and chant. We, by letting our mind go here, we are not able to do anything materially, we are not able to do anything spiritually also. That’s why our mind gets agitated. It’s not because of Krishna consciousness, the mind is getting agitated but because in Krishna consciousness, we are not Krishna consciousness. Within Krishna consciousness, we are not Krishna conscious. That’s why the mind get agitated. But when we start becoming Krishna conscious, we start finding this aspect goes down substantially.
After developing connection with Krishna our social aspect also improves
And not only does this mental aspect go down substantially, but even social aspect. Sometimes when we become devotees we may feel that ok, I have to cut off my so many of my old friends and I have to become little alienated, but we get a bigger friend community. And not only that overall as devotees we become more tolerant, we become more sensitive, we become more responsible, we become more balanced in our approach, so that way we can become more harmonious in terms of our social situation.
One of the biggest problems in social situation is that we often expect others to change and we expect others to accept the way I am. I am like this. You have to accept me like this. And you can’t be like that. You should change. Just like if somebody else is sleeping for a long time, he is a lazy bum. If I sleep for a long time, I was tired. If somebody else eats a lot, he’s a glutton. If I eat a lot, I was hungry. So what happens is because of this, whenever we attribute a behavior to a cause, behavior of this over sleeping, over eating, we have to attribute it to a cause, we give ourselves benefit of doubt. And we don’t give others benefit of doubt. And because of this at a material level people often become very insensitive.
But as devotees even if you are put in certain situations that are uncongenial, over all social health improves. In the sense we learn to become tolerant and mature and humble and responsible. So today with so many medical problems which all of us will inevitably have to face. All of us have to grow old , get diseased and die. But to the extent we live a spiritual, God centered life, to that extent we can minimize the problems that we have to face, because the mind becomes peaceful and then become socially more harmonious. We are spiritually harmonious. We are not creating any further complication.
Devotee’s life at physical level also improves because it becomes regulated
At a physical level, devotees lives become regulated. We eat at fixed times, we take rest at fixed times then this also helps in regulating and taking care of the health. So that way, these are important foundational changes that can go a long way in promoting health.
So many of the medical problems that are there in the world today are often caused not so much by the environmental factors, not caused so much by genetic factors, they are caused primarily by behavioral factors. And these behavioral factors can be changed, not just by behavior altering treatments. Behavioral factors can be changed by getting a higher direction and purpose for our lives. Then naturally the behavior becomes positive.
Somebody is not able to get sleep, among all the thousands of species that are there on the planet, humans are the only species that need sleeping pills. No other species need sleeping pills. Dog sleeps peacefully in the middle of the street. And a human being in the middle of the comfortable bed is tossing and turning, and can’t sleep. So why is that? That’s because the mind is so agitated that the mind is not allowing a person to sleep. It’s like, imagine, you are trying to sleep and the TV is on. And the TV is on with full volume and it’s not even one program going on. The remote is being pressed, thaak thaak thaak, the channels are changing-changing-changing. And then you are staying in that room and you are told that you are not allowed to close your eyes. But you go to sleep. How? The TV is on, channels are changing and your eyes are open. How can a person sleep? So that is what happens to many people. The mind is like the TV and TV or the mind has unlimited channels. No way you can close your eyes to the mind. If that is all in the TV, just going on and on and on, people not able to sleep. We may try to just give some chemicals and try to stop that particular area of the brain from functioning so that people can go to sleep. But that’s a very gross and physical solution. It will not last very long. So when people live very passionate lives then the mind become like a hyper active TV. But when we start living Krishna conscious lives then the mind calms down. The mind gets a focus. And then we can sleep peacefully and wake enthusiastically. What is the difference, materialistic people, they sleep restlessly and wake frustrated. When people wake up what is the first, the alarm rings. THAAK! One of the main reasons is that even they don’t get adequate rest. If devotees live in harmony with Krishna, they sleep peacefully and wake enthusiastically. And then we can serve Krishna. And they can do so much good for the world.
So I’ll summarize. I started by discussing about medical problems. I discussed about Hippocrates definition of health, physical, mental, spiritual and social. And then we discussed how the modern medicine has focused excessively in the physical aspect and that has led to the depersonalization of the relationships. Instead of the doctor patient interaction there is patient instrument interaction, and instrument doctor interaction. And the patient is reduced to a physical organism. And this fragmented approach doesn’t cure patients in a very lasting or satisfying way. And there are many diseases which cannot be addressed by this at all. And the number of these diseases is increasing more and more, those diseases which don’t just have biological causes or physical causes or psychological causes. And then we discuss how this Hippocrates principle can be understood from the Vedic perspective. The physical and mental aspects are aadhiaatmic. The social aspect is aadhibhautic. Spiritual aspect is aadhidevic. And the principles of Krishna consciousness enable us to bring harmony in all these aspects. And certainly medicine at a physical level is important in many cases which are anatomical cases. But the other aspects of one being a person also need to be recognized and addressed. And if the other aspects are well addressed then many of the physical problems can also be decreased. And as devotees to the extent we practice Krishna consciousness, to the extent we will find that we may have inevitable problems at the physical level, but they will get substantially minimized, and we will be able to live healthful lives and inspire others also To similarly live healthful lives.
Question: We have some behavior problem like say thinking too much about the issue or about getting angry about somethings, so are they genetically determined or determined by past karma?
Answer: These are not two different factors. Our past karma influences our genes. So modern science doesn’t go deep enough. It looks at ok, this behavior had some genetic factors but where did the genetic factors come from. Ok, I can say my genes are coming from parents but why did I take birth from those parents, why not some other parents. That is because of my own karma. So genetic and karmic factors are the same, past karmic factors. Now they push us, they don’t force us. What is the difference between pushing and forcing? When there is pushing I can counter push. If forced, I cannot resist. So our past tendencies they will definitely push us. But we can all counter push. And in general, again in my book on ENERGY, I talk about this. There are five factors that determine our behavior. First is past life karma which expresses itself by the genes, second is our upbringing, third is our association, fourth is our free will, and fifth is God’s grace. So first is past life karma which comes as genes. So this is sometimes called as genetic determinism. Genetic determinism means that my genes did it. Second is my upbringing. That is called as psychic determinism, that means my grandparents, my parents did it. Why I am so short tempered because I saw my parents always angry. So I became angry. Third is social determinism. That means my association. I can say why did I become a drunkard, because people all along with me were drinking that’s why I become alcoholic. So these three are true. But these three are not decisive. They are contributive. Beyond that I have free will. I may have certain inclinations. Those inclinations might have got aggravated by my upbringing and my association. But still I am a person with free will and I can change that. And especially my free can be further expanded by God’s grace. So if I connect myself with Krishna then it is God’s power that comes to supplement my will power. And then I can change myself much more powerfully. So in general among these five factors which are unchangeable. Past karma and genes are unchangeable. Upbringing is not changeable. Association changeable, very much changeable. Free will, it’s in our hands, we can change it. And then God’s grace, we can definitely try to look at it more and more. So out of these five factors three are changeable. And actually among these three which is the most easily changeable? Association. It’s not very easy but it’s relatively easier. To the extent we try to place ourselves in good association, by the extent good behavior will start growing, will start emerging. So we can definitely change.
Question: How do we generate the counter force, a counter push, by which we can force away our lower tendencies?
Answer: Krishna talks about it in the Bhagvad Gita in 3.41-42-43. He is talking specifically about lust but those principles apply for everything, for any kind of counter pushing that might happen. In 3.36, Arjuna asks Krishna, what is it that pushes towards wrong deeds. 3.37 Krishna answer that it is lust. And then he analyzes lust. And 3.41 He gives first solution. 3.43 He gives the second solution. First solution that He gives is
tasmāt tvam indriyāṇy ādau, therefore in the beginning control your senses. Niyamya bharatarsabha, discipline them. So that means at a physical level we try to create as many obstacles as possible between us and indulges, in that particular activity, which we want to give up, which we don’t want to get into. That means if say I don’t want to over eat. If I decide, I will study next to the fridge, what will happen? I am just tormenting myself. I will not succeed. Whenever I feel myself little bored with studies just open the fridge, find what is there, just gulp it. It will become like that. Physically, if I say no, I study in another room and let the fridge be somewhere else, and I will not keep the fridge key very easily, I am just giving the very simple example over here. But the point is, if we make indulgence very easy for ourselves, then we make life difficult for us. So if we make indulgence difficult for ourselves, we make life easy for ourselves. We can find out what are the ways in which we can make indulgence difficult for ourselves. That’s how Krishna says tasmat tvam indriyany adau, therefore control the senses in the beginning. And then in 3.43 He says:
He says evam buddheh, in this way with your buddhi, understand param buddhva that you are transcendental. And situate yourself with your intelligence on the spiritual platform. That means we have to keep ourselves spiritually busy. Keep ourselves spiritually engaged. It is just not possible to survive at a abstract intellectual level for a long time. In general, saying no to anything is never pleasurable. If something promises pleasure, if I have to say no to that, that is never pleasurable. Whether it is diabetic person being told don’t eat sugar or it’s a cricket fan told don’t watch cricket match or it’s a person who likes to surf on the net told don’t surf on the net, whatever it is. Saying no to anything is never pleasurable. The first point which Krishna says is, say no. Create obstacles between the indulgence. That’s basically saying no. That’s never pleasurable. That’s why, now saying no to some extent is important so that we will be able to say yes to something else. But the central point is to say yes to something else. So when we keep ourselves devotionally engaged and there are many small-small things by which we can keep ourselves devotionally engaged. We often think of devotional engagements or devotional service in terms of may be I come to the temple and I do some service over there or I sit down in our house in my room and I read some Bhagvad Gita, we think of that as devotional service. Certainly that is devotional service. But when I am walking on the street, what I am doing? I can just let my mind and eyes wander here and there and then naturally the mind will come with certain ideas which will agitate me. So I can say I just chant. Chanting is good but it’s not just chanting that is important, it is absorption that is important. And often while walking we may find difficult to absorb ourselves in chanting. Then, may be we can just memorize some verses. We can recite those verses that will much more absorbing. Or we can hear some lecture and we can try to contemplate and revise whatever we have read or heard. So even if we make small-small steps in this direction, over a period of time saves us a lot of trouble. So keep ourselves engaged. So in general, in material life, society itself sets goals for us. For example, I have to get marks in the exam, I have to make some job deadline. In spiritual life, nobody is going to set goals for us. It’s we have to set goals for us. Ok say I am reading Bhagvad Gita. Now I am on the third chapter. If every week I read one chapter, then in just eighteen weeks or may be in another sixteen more weeks, I’ll complete the full Bhagvad Gita. That means in four months, I will say that, I have read Bhagvad Gita once. Then I can go to so many other books. So we have to create spiritual inspirations for ourselves. And then we will feel eagerness to say yes to spiritually positive things, spiritually productive things. And then saying no will become easier. So Krishna says use your intelligence to keep yourselves on the spiritual platform. That means when we are busy saying yes to Krishna then there is no time to say no to maya. In the sense, we don’t even think about maya so much. But if we are not thinking about Krishna and we are not serving Krishna then we are actually just exposing ourselves to the force that pushes us towards maya and we are not having any counter force at all. So it will not work. So basically when we create obstacles then we decrease the magnitude of the push that will take us towards sense gratification. But when we connect ourselves with Krishna, we generate the counter push. So by these two things, by decreasing the amplitude of the push and by increasing the magnitude of the counter push, we can protect ourselves. Thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada ki jai. Gaura bhakta vrinda ki jai. Nitai Gaura premanande. Hare Krishna!