How KC is the solution to all problems 5 – Economic problems

by Chaitanya Charan dasJanuary 20, 2013

To hear the lecture podcast, please click here

Transcription :  Ambuj Gupta and Keshavgopal Prabhu

Introduction

Hare Krishna. So we have been discussing on this topic of how Krishna consciousness is the solution to various problems that are confronting the world today. This is a series where we discuss political problem, cultural problems, ecological problems. So in that series today we will discuss about economic problems. So earlier we discussed in the political problems about corruption. And one of the primary thing we discuss in that was greed. So today when we talk about economic problems we will talk from a slightly different perspective.

Hirtorical Perspective

Actually the economical problems and the economic problems or the ecological problems are to a large extent related with each other. You know in about nearly a decade ago when the tsunami took place,  there were some boatmen who were travelling in the area of the tsunami itself. Most of you know how the tsunami starts. When there is a earthquake under the surface of the ocean then because of that waves are created. However when those waves are on the ocean they don’t become very high or very formidable. So when these boatmen were travelling suddenly they found that boat was going a little bit too high. Normally any boat that is there when the waves come and goes high, when the waves pass it goes down. But this went little higher than normal but after then it passed and things went on. So when the tsunami is in the ocean it doesn’t appear very formidable. But it’s carrying a huge amount of water which is distributed over a large area. But when the tsunami comes towards the land at that time because the amount of space available for it to get distributed get decreases, that’s why the height of the tsunami increases. And the closer it comes to the land the higher it becomes. Why? Because now the water cannot go any further ahead because land is there. And water from behind is still coming, still coming. And then it’s height becomes so formidable that it can cross over the shore and devastate the coastal areas. This metaphor I am using to illustrate the point that something when it starts it may not appear to be very formidable. And when it moves onwards also it may not appear very formidable. But when it comes to a particular point of collision then that thing which might earlier not even have seen noticeable now becomes irresistible. It becomes totally devastating.

Like that the economic system that we have today, it started basically around four hundred to five hundred years ago with the scientific revolution in Europe. In European history, this will be a little slightly abstract, but just to give a conceptual historical background to what I am saying. In the fifteenth/sixteenth century there was a revival or a flowering of intellectual, cultural and artistic aspects in Europe. This led to three different movements. In cultural direction there was renaissance, in the religious direction there was a protestant reformation and in the intellectual direction there was a scientific revolution. Now among these three cultural, religious and intellectual, the most longlasting and the most wide rangingly effective was the scientific revolution. This was in field of the intellect. That was the time when the Christian intellectual world view which was centered on the earth, the idea of the earth as the center of the universe, all that got displaced. Along with the scientific world view, accompanying it was the growth of the industrial civilization. So the industrial civilization would not have been possible without the use of technology. And technology was a product of many of the scientific discoveries and inventions that took place.

Now the industrial revolution, it changed the economic structure not just of Europe but over a period of time of the whole world. What was the primary change? The primary change was from self sufficiency to inter dependency. This primary change in the economic structure was from local self sufficiency to global interdependency. Local self sufficiency means every village would produce its requirements. So it would have the farmers, it would have textile, cottage workers and it would have the artisans and every village more or less self sufficient. And that’s why, that is one of the reasons for India’s prosperity also.

India right from 1000 A.D was a target of Islamic invasions. And even before that Alexander had come and because India was very prosperous many invaders were coming. And many of these invaders when they came they left a trail of wreckage wherever they went. But the prosperity was visibly concentrated in the cities. And the invaders would come and pillage the cities. However, the prosperity was not originating in the cities. The prosperity was originating in the villages. The primary source of prosperity were the villages which were producing the grains. And that’s why no matter how many times India was attacked and devastated within a matter of less than a generation within a few years the Indian economy would recover. Because when agriculture is the source of revenue, is the source of sustenance then it is a re-generable industry. You can always keep growing crops, keep growing crops.

Whereas with the industrial revolution which started in Europe and then gradually between around 1805 to 1905, roughly that period, that was the time when there was a Bengali renaissance in India. That is the time when Bengal which was the leader, Britishers had their capital in Kolkata originally. And later on they shifted to Delhi. So Bengal was the political as well as cultural headquarters of India at that time. And Bengal renaissance was the time when India became modernized. And at that time the industrial civilization started spreading all over the country. In the industrial civilization one of the main consequences is that people cannot get their needs immediately, locally. When the Britishers came to India, at that time Bangladesh was a part of India. And Bangladesh, Dhaka and that area was famous for weavers. Those weavers would produce handlooms of such high quality that not only, locally they were getting abundant market but in various parts of the country there was market for that. But the Britishers when they came they wanted the handloom industries from Norwikshire or other places, Manchester primarily, to provide, to have a market in India. So there is something like thousand British soldiers came to Bangladesh, came to Dhaka, went to the house of all the weavers who were there and just cut off their thumbs. So at that time one, it was like within one week. Nine lakh weavers, the thumbs were cut off. All these people the skill they had acquired traditionally was lost.

Here we are not blaming the Britishers primarily. What I am talking about is that the industrial civilization is accompanied by ruthless money making mentality. And that mentality is not limited only to Britain. That is there among everyone. And it is there even among Indians today, when it comes to exploiting other fellow Indians.

The idea of industrial civilization is that because machines are the primary source of income, everything is mechanized. The role of human beings becomes to a large extent sub-ordinated to that of machines. Rather than within the industrial jargon, industrial language, it is not said that ok, we have got five hundred employees. They will say we have one thousand hands. So employees are just hands. Hands are going to feed this machine over here and take this out of machine over here. When people work with machines and machines become the source of revenue, of profits then everything become machine centric. And people also become seen not as conscious beings but as machines, as tools, as commodities to be utilized essentially. Because of this the results are far reaching.

Till now I have talked primarily about the historical perspective. Now let’s look at the consequences of this.

Difference between agricultural and industrial necessities

In general, the primary difference between most industries as compared to agriculture is that agriculture produces necessities and industries don’t necessarily produce necessities. The most industries do not actually produce what is absolutely essential for survival within the current economy. For example we may say computer or cars or scooters or cell phones, these may be necessities and industries are producing those things. Within the current economic structure that is fine. That is ok. That’s understandable but they are not primary human necessities. Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, would say that if we compare the products of industries and the products of farms, we cannot live on nuts and bolts. We cannot take the industrial revolution to the dining table. Isn’t it? The industrial revolution may provide the cutlery on the dining table, but it will not provide for the food on the dining table. That has to come from the agriculture. So even the agriculture when it becomes industrialized it doesn’t remain agriculture, it becomes agribusiness. Agribusiness means that instead the farmers having a personal relationship with the cows, they have instead the tractors, and there is no relationship between the tractor operator and the tractor. Isn’t it? It is just a machine that has to be used. And the end result of all this is depersonalization.

Depersonalization, person means an entity, a being with emotions, with consciousness. Depersonalization means we treat people not as human beings, not as persons but just as factors, factors in an economic equation. So when people are seen as factors in an economic equation then that completely skews all relationships. Skews means distorts, damages, wreaks all relationships. This wreakage is not just between the employer and the employee, not just between the capitalist and the labor, it is actually between everyone. As of now in the current economic system, the current economy is primarily an industry based model. The latest, the most growing industry is the IT industry. Now in the IT industry, at least if we see in the agriculture, the products are visible and essential. I can see grains and they are essential. In the hardware industry or the other industries the products are visible but not essential. Nuts and bolts are not really essential. But when you come to the software the products are neither visible nor essential. Ok somebody says that, ok I am working in IT. It may be, IT is very broad term. But say Indians are working off-shore for some company in America, they go to America, but what exactly are they doing. It’s all very abstract and hazy. Certainly the IT industries, the whole field of IT is important in the current economy, but if we look at the basics, what human beings need for their subsistence, food, clothing, shelter. It will require a lot of stretching of the brain to understand how IT is providing food, clothing, shelter. In the current economic system it is providing in some ways but it has become very complex. So the result of the, whenever anything becomes complex, the result is, things become uncontrollable.

There are so many breakages _____, for example many of you know that may be four five years ago, there was a big recession. Now actually speaking if you look at the global weather, global climate before that there was no natural calamity. There is nothing, the food production was not short. It is not a crises anywhere. But still global thuk! it’s devastation. So many people lost their jobs, so many people, their salaries went down and so many people just became homeless. So at that time I wrote a book called “Recession”. It was to address this issue, so it is a very grim prospect. Somehow the economy seems to have come out of it. So the Queen of England asked at that time to the London school of economics, how did none of you predict this. How you got these, London school of economics, one of the most prestigious school of economics, how all of you, big-big economists, how could none of you predict that this recession was coming? Actually because the whole thing is so complex, there was a subprime crises in America. People took loans for houses, although they did not have the money to pay those loans, and the banks gave them loans, although they knew that people did not have the money because they wanted to show that we are generating so much income or revenues or whatever. We are getting into so many transactions. And the end result of that was all over the world the economy got affected.

Sometimes in college all the students have their bicycles. All the bicycles are kept in a row. And if one bicycle falls, all the bicycle that kept in a sequence they all start falling. So like that one crisis in America, not even in America, in one sector, banking sector is one sector and within the banking sector the subprime loans is one subsector. Crisis in one subsector, in one sector, in one country, triggered a global recession. This is the complexity which leads to lot of uncontrollable problems. Uncontrollable problems. First thing I discussed is that the current economic system depersonalizes everyone. Second one is there are uncontrollable problems.

Now  somebody may say that we are working on farming, then if rains don’t come, there is a problem, and that is also a uncontrollable problem. That is true. However if we look at the traditional economy the farmers had the expertise by which they knew. Ok this much rain is coming we can sow this crop. If this doesn’t work we have second action plan, third action plan. And in general, if the farmers  would be intelligent then would always have enough yield by which they, if one year there is a draught, they could still manage for a few years. So basically when the uncontrollability is based on nature then there are natural solutions that can be worked out for it. But unpredictability is based on manmade problems, so where is the problem and how it is to be solved, it becomes very unpredictable. And to understand that we have not removed the natural problems, we have only added. Even now if there is a draught or there is a flood we can’t really do much. We may have some emergency detection system by which we can withdraw people from flood area or something like that. But beyond that we can’t do much. So the natural problems are there.

What is the difference between linear economic system and a cyclic economic system.

The additional problems that have come up are the complexity and the depersonalization. But most gravely, the current economic system is unsustainable. Why is it unsustainable? Sustainability depends on cycle. If I am going in a straight journey, if I go from point A to point B, a linear journey is never sustainable. It is going to end. I started point A, I end at point B. But if I am going in a cyclic journey then I can go on and on and on. So an economic model that is based on a linear system, it can never be sustainable. That which is based on a cyclic system, that will be sustainable. So what is the difference, what do you mean by linear economic system and a cyclic economic system. A linear economic system starts with raw materials and ends with waste products. So there is raw materials and the raw material is going to the industry, they are processed over there and then certain finished product comes up but along with the finished product waste products come up. So in an industrial set up, it is always ingesting the raw materials, taking the raw materials, consuming the raw material, and always giving the waste products. It is giving the waste products. And in almost all the industries the waste products are practically wastes. They cannot be reused. So on one side what is happening is the raw materials are getting depleted and the waste products are getting piled. This is an unsustainable system.

Over a period of time the raw material will get exhausted. And the waste products will get piled. And they will get more and more then we will have pollution. And how will we continue this. So simple example of this is, I talked about in yesterday class also, last week’s class also, say all our industries today need fossil fuels, petroleum. So the petroleum reserves are getting depleted, depleted, depleted. And then there is going to be a crisis after that. On the other hand we are creating so much land pollution, water pollution, air pollution. So these waste products are piling up, piling up. So this is a linear system that is not sustainable.

On the other hand, a system is cyclic. What does a cyclic system mean? Agriculture is a cyclic system. Why cyclic? Because there are crops and when crops are harvested, they also give seeds. The seeds become the raw material for the next crops. Along with that we get the grains. The grains can be used for not just consumption immediately, they can be used for storage. The husk and other waste that is produced that can be taken by the animals. And essentially if we look at agriculture, agriculture doesn’t produce any non sustainable, non biodegradable products. Everything that agriculture produces can be just accepted back into nature again. So the agriculture system is cyclic. I get seeds from our previous crops and I use the seeds to saw this time and then I produce grains. I harvest the grains, I get a finished products that is very useful, essential for humanity. And again I get further seed which I can use for the next generation. And like that it just goes on in a cycle. Because this is a complete cycle it can go on generation after generation, generation after generation, millennia after millennia. However the industrial based model cannot go on forever.

Returning back to the starting metaphor which I started, I talked about tsunami. When it starts it doesn’t appear very dangerous. So like that when the industrial revolution started it appear to be actually providing a lot of comforts. For example instead of walking, we had vehicles, then we had planes and instead of using hand fan we have an electric fan or we have an air conditioner. And over all it seem to be making life comfortable. But all that it is producing was not sustainable. It is going on and on and on. But the whole economic structure being linear is not sustainable. And most of us we don’t even think about these things. We think ok, I get my education and after I get my education I get a job. And once I get a job I earn my living and I am happy that way. So this is the way most people think and that is reasonable enough way of thinking because everybody ultimately has to take care of themselves. So that’s not wrong in that sense. But actually, when human beings are reduced to the role of factors in the industrial complex, then their own fate becomes very precarious, very uncertain, very unsafe. Why? Because today a person may work or may study for ten years, fifteen years and get a technical degree or professional degree and at the end of it all, he may not get a job. And if he doesn’t get a job what does he do? If the economic system doesn’t take up the person then there is nothing that the person can do practically speaking and how does a person earn a living. So from individual point of view we become depended on a huge system over which we don’t have any control. If the economy goes down, the number of jobs goes down, retrenchment happens. Nobody can do anything. In a traditional economic system most people were largely self employed. If I am a farmer, I have my own land, I can employ myself. So it creates a lot of uncertainty.

Unemployment is one of the biggest causes of crime. If people don’t have job, two things happen. First of all they have to get some money somewhere. So how do they get the money? That itself is a challenge. And not only do they get jobs because of which they have financial anxieties but along with that they also have the idle mind. And the idle mind is the devil’s work shop. So in Mumbai, in Mumbai you might know there is a very active underworld. So there are all these gangs which are there in Mumbai. One of the leading gangsters, his hideout was raided by the police, and they were looking around for incriminating documents, i.e. what all crimes he has committed. And they found there in his hideout twenty seven thousand applications to join his gang. Applicants had given their qualifications, in my childhood I used steal from father’s pocket. Then I used to steal from the school. So that number as compared to the local area whatever employment exchange was there this number was more than that. Not the whole Mumbai but that area of Mumbai.

So what does this indicate? This indicates two things that people are not gaining, are not getting productive employment. So they are choosing destructive employment. Ultimately people need some engagement. This is how even terrorism is growing. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, in the Islamic countries, the middle east countries have oil. So they have reasonable amount of wealth. But among the Islamic countries Pakistan, Afghanistan are poor countries. Most of these Islamic countries they also have this culture of begetting a lot of children. So the global birth rate is around 2.3, that means two parents will get 2.3 children. But the Islamic birth rate is 7.8. So they beget a lot of children and then how do we maintain them? There are all these terrorist agencies which come along and they tell just give a child to us. And then they just become trained to machines of death. So they are trained not just _____ but they also get intellectually brain washed. It all starts from, it’s a complex issue, but the point is when the economy does not provide gainful engagement or employment to people then people become very easily perverted. Become easily destructively employed. This is, we don’t want to go into an elaborate economy analysis over there. But this is a broad analysis of the problem that is there.  And unemployment the way it is there today it is reported to keep increasing, keep increasing because population over all is increasing and no matter how much the industrial production increases as machines are becoming more and more efficient. Humans are in many cases being supplanted, their roles are decreasing. And that is why the amount of employment that people can have need not necessarily be adequate as compared to how much employment is required. So much the employment that generated by the economy and how much employment is required. This is actually much less than that.

So that’s why, especially now for example in India engineering and medicine, these are the fields in which most students go. But then over a period of time now there are not just hundreds, thousands of engineering colleges. And the students come out of engineering colleges at the end of it there are so many engineers that they don’t know what to do. They don’t get employment eventually. Don’t get employment. Fifty years ago civil engineering was the most glamorized form of engineering. Now a days if people don’t get any other engineering they take civil engineering. It is like that. Why? Because earlier when India just got independence at that time Nehru and other leaders had idea that they will construct the Bhakra Nangal Dam and so many other dams. The construction mode was very prominent at that time in India. And there was a need for lot of civil engineers at that time. Construction is still going on, no doubt. But it is no longer that much in demand. The whole point is that the industrial economy cannot generate adequate levels of employment. So what is happening?

Tsunami when it comes closer and closer to the land it assumes formidable proportions. So like that as this economic system is moving closer and closer towards exhaustion of raw materials, exhaustion of the necessities like fossil fuels, it is coming to a collision course. It will assume the signs of a tsunami. And it will cause devastation. What does this mean for all of us? Am I saying that everybody should become a farmer? No, that’s not the idea over here. It’s not practical, nor essential that everybody become a farmer. But the important point is when we understand the broad picture then we understand what role if we play we will be productively engaged, what role if we play we will be fruitlessly engaged. And then we can understand what actually is happening and how we can be part either of the problem or of the solution.

Greed is the psychological problem of industrial economy

So the primary characteristic of the industrial economy, the fuel for the industrial economy physically may be petroleum. But the fuel for the industrial economy psychologically is greed. Psychologically means what motivates this whole industry is greed. I want more, I want more, I want more. And this more come in terms of, ok I want more factories under my control. I want more money, I want more bank balance, I want more security, I want my share to have a higher price. So it’s just greed. So because of this greed people don’t care for other people, they don’t care for the state of the economy, they don’t care for the state of the environment, they just don’t care for anyone else at all. In Japan and this is just an example from Japan because it is well known but it has happened everywhere else also to smaller or greater degrees. In Japan they found that Japan is a small country. So if people smoke, this is small country, actually the living quarters are extremely small. So if one person smokes it has a lot of effect on other people. There is not much free air for the smoke to just get dissipated. When smoking spread over there, lot of people starting getting cancers and lung related disorders. So the health ministry in Japan said that the greatest threat to the Japanese economy is the cigarette industry because it is going to debilitate our work force. People who are going to work in the economy are going to get sick. And rather than contributing to the economy they will become a burden on the nation eventually. So the Japanese health ministry said that we have to stop, we have to stop this. We have to have strong curbs on cigarette. Ban cigarette in the public places and they will give series of measures. And interestingly in Japan the tobacco industry is also run by the government. In the sense that it is like there are public sector, there are public sector undertakings and there are others which give taxes to the company. So basically from the government’s point of view the tobacco industry was a income generating industry. And the health ministry is a revenue consuming industry. The public hospital doesn’t generate money for the government. Money has to be given. So now when there was a tussle of interest between the two, who won? Naturally, the tobacco industry. They are giving money. So most of the health guidelines were just flouted, just put them aside. Put them aside for the sake of getting more money. And this is just a one example of tobacco in one country. But this is more or less what happens everywhere.

In 1920-1930’s at that time the harmful effects of cigarette were not so widely known. So cigarette smoking was seen as a sign of fashion. It’s cool. Well how can fire be cool? Isn’t it? It’s cool, you are a fool. That is the idea. But when they had this huge glamorization of cigarette smoking and so many people were smoking and nobody knew that at least it was not published that cigarette smoking was harmful.  But still at that time they found that actually all the people who have the money to smoke they are smoking. How do we expand our market now? And then this cigarette production brains came together. They say hey, actually fifty percent market have not been exploited till now. What does that mean? They say women are not smoking. Only men are smoking. So then they did a survey. Why don’t women smoke? It was taboo. They consider bad thing for women to smoke. So then they decided, in America they have, just like we have our independence day, republic day. So like that they have their holy days from the national point of view, not the spiritual point of view. And on one of those days they made, they arranged to have a special thin brand of cigarette which they called as female cigarette, cigar. And then when they hired several of the top females stars, female icons from Hollywood to be in the lead of the march. And at the most photographically visible point of the march, all these women’s just flipped out the cigarette and lit it and started smoking it. And it created a nationwide sensation. And they called this cigarette as the “torches of freedom”.

Now at that time there was this ______ suffragette movement, where women were trying for liberalization. And their idea was that the women have been exploited for so many generations , now we want liberation. And the word freedom or liberation it has such a charm that the cigarettes are torches of freedom. How they are going to give freedom nobody asked that question. If you are free you have to smoke. You have to light the torch of freedom. And just within a matter of a decade millions of American women started smoking. And as compared to men, women smoking is much more dangerous, especially when the women are pregnant and if that time they smoke, extremely detrimental effects are there on the embryo. So over a period of time only afterwards when the health hazards came to be known things came down a little bit. But this idea that torches of freedom. So this was a typical example of how the greed that fuels the industrial economy very cynically exploits the sentiments of people for just increasing their own revenues. Doesn’t care what happens to people. Therefore, as devotees all of us we need our necessities. And we alone can’t battle against or change the economy. But we understand that the root of this is greed.

Understanding in terms of mode of goodness, mode of passion and mode of ignorance

And to the extent, that this is countered, to that extent, actually the industrial economy will not be so destructive. It’ll leave room for others. In the scriptures there are said to be three modes of material nature. There is goodness, there is passion, there is ignorance. So these three modes can be understood in various ways but I will take a simple example to illustrate this. If suppose, all of us are going to eat. So in the mode of goodness the idea is let all of us share and eat. Whatever I have got or whatever food is there all of us share equally and eat. So let us share equally is the mode of goodness. The mode of passion is I should get the best. There are sweets, let me take all the sweets or let me take as much as I want. If something remains, others can take it. In passion I should get the best. In ignorance only I should get, let others starve. That’s the idea. Only I should get whatever I need. And others let them starve, who bothers. Whereas above these three modes there is a mode of transcendence. In the mode of transcendence, in the mode of pure goodness, I will give even my share to others. So if you see the agricultural economy that was largely based on the principle of goodness. Yes, the farmers produce and they get their necessities for their produce and then it is distributed to everyone.

Whereas when there is passion, I want the best, I want the best. When the European countries started going into imperial expansion, imperial expansion mean they started expanding their economies all over the world. One of the main reasons why they had to expand was that over a period of time as the depersonalization of the economy happened the main diet in Europe was, the principle diet was meat. And even to produce meat they have to take care of the animals. So now we have factory farms. So when they stop taking care of animals the meat that was produced was of very terrible quality. Now to conceal the bad taste of meat you need spices. And spices were not produced in Europe. Spices were produced either in India or in North America, South America. Largely in India. The whole imperial expansion the primary motive was that they needed cheap spices so that they could hide the bad taste of meat. Actually many people they think that meat tastes so good. I can’t give up the taste of meat. And it’s one of the main reasons why people feel that I want to eat non veg. However if you actually taste meat there is no taste to it. Its not just some of the taste, practically all of the taste of the meat comes from the spices that are put over there. Fruits can be taken without spices. Some vegetables they can also be taken raw. Other vegetables, almost all vegetables they can just be steamed and taken, without any spices into it. But practically no meat can be taken by human beings raw. Not practically, entirely, no meat can be taken raw. Beyond that practically no meat can be eaten just by steaming. Meat requires huge amount of spices. This itself is one indication that people say that meat is tasty, actually there is no taste in the meat. The taste is from the spices. So one of the main reasons why the imperial expansion took place in Europe was that they wanted to disguise the taste of meat with spices. So anyway the point which I am making over here is that when the imperial expansion took place, at that time every country’s idea was that we are going to rule the world. We are the greatest country. So here I am talking about this to illustrate the mode of passion and ignorance that is concomitant with the industrial civilization.

So how it happened when the Europeans came to India, they found at that time they had this euro centric superiority complex. That means Europe is the greatest of all the continents. And they had ships, they had guns and they had compass, at that time this was not there elsewhere. So this technology made them also proud. Ships and compass was there something like that was elsewhere but we had guns, guns powder. So gun powder was discovered in China, but in China it was used only for festival purposes. But it was used by Europe first time for the ammunition, for the war purposes. So when they started conquering the world they came to India. And when they came to India they found that India had its own civilization and such a vast, ancient and profound civilization. And H. H. Willson and others scientist and others scholars they found that ok, actually in Europe there are two languages, Latin and Greek. And they found that Sanskrit is better than both these languages. Sanskrit, the vocabulary is more sophisticated than Latin and the grammar structure, the syntax is better than Greek. And then the logical inference would have been that Sanskrit is the source of both. But that influence would have made them feel that Indian civilization greater than our civilization. And there ego would not accept that. So they came up with their own theory. The similarities in Latin and Greek on one side and Sanskrit on other side were undeniable. So rather than accept that Sanskrit was the source of Latin and Greek they came with their theory, there are some other civilization. That is the source of both. So from that civilization some people came to India and others came to Europe and they became the decedents of, there decedents were the Greeks and the Romans and from that European civilization has come.

Now actually this is how the whole Aryan invasion theory came up. And the idea that there were some Aryan homeland from which the Aryans emigrated to India and to Europe. There is no archeological basis for any such home land. Where is the homeland? So naturally every European country started saying, oh, we are the Aryans. So Britain started saying we are the original Aryans. France started saying, we are the Aryans. Norwegians started saying, we are the Aryans. And everybody was claiming that we are the Aryans. But there was one person who not only was convinced that he was the Aryan, he convinced whole country that we are the Aryans. And that was Hitler. Hitler had the idea that actually Germany, the German race is the source of the whole world. And because we are the source of the whole world, we are meant to rule the whole world. And because we are meant to rule the whole world, we should now politically conquer the whole world. And he came with his own theory of history.

Actually Hitler was very greatly influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin’s theory of evolution was survival of the fittest, the struggle for existence. So Hitler autobiography is named Mein Kempf, my struggles. And if you read it you will find that remarkable parallels between this theme and his struggles. Darwin talked about struggles between various species. And Hitler talked about struggle between races. Within the human species itself there is struggle between the human races. So he somehow got his own interpretation of history by which he said he came with the idea that the German race is the most fit to survive. And the Jew race is the most unfit to survive. So he said by the process of natural evolution because the Jews are unfit they will become extinct. But because we Germans are the most advanced race, you know we should help nature on its own way.  How will we help nature in its way? Destroy the Jews. And this tamasik idea, not only I should get the best but I should get the whole world, I only. That idea eventually resulted in a flame that consumed not just America, not just Europe but practically the whole world. The whole world war, all stimulated by what, stimulated by the original idea that we want to expand our economy so that we can become bigger and bigger. Conceal the taste of bad meat by spices. And psychologically it is motivated by the tamasik mentality that I should get the whole world. And there are books written on this topic from Darwin to Hitler. Talking about how at evolutionary idea called biological Darwinism, that was applied by him.

During Hitler’s kingdom, his idea was if anybody is unfit, physically unfit, any person who is blind, any person who is deaf, any person who is lame, any person who is congenitally diseased, such a person is unfit. The first thing he did was he castrated all those people. You people are unfit, don’t reproduce, because you will produce unfit creatures. You are unfit you will produce unfit. Next thing he did was don’t castrate them eliminate them. So there was whole branch of genetics called eugenics. Everybody who is unfit we are helping nature by cleaning them. Not only he killed Jews, he killed thousands of native Germans also. And actually speaking the greatest perversion of this was according to Hitler’s own definition. He was not himself fit. His idea was that the prime example of the Aryan, the tall, physically well built, blue eyed, fair skinned, a powerful person. Hitler was short, he was not blue eyed. And he was never physically very healthy. He himself was battling with diseases. But despite all this he came up with the idea and everybody, I not unfit, everybody else was unfit. So he eliminated all these people.

So although the world war II was a huge disaster. What motivated the psychological and the economic factor that motivated are still motivating the world economy today. The specific kinds of conflicts may not be happening on that scale today. But actually same mentality is motivating people today also. The idea is there is greed and there is control. There is domination. So as devotees when we practice Krishna consciousness what are we trying to do.

Simplify, clarify and purify

I conclude this class with three points. That is simplify, clarify and purify. Simplify, clarify, purify. What does that mean? That as devotees we cannot change the whole economy. We can’t even change the kind of occasion that we are having. What kind of profession we might be. But we can each one of us become the part of the solution. First step is simplify. Simplify means that the modern economy complicates our life. Purchase this, get this, acquire this. And the more we acquire things then what happens is, our life becomes complicated. So be satisfied with the simple things of life. Two centuries ago in an America thinkers said you can fool some people all the time and you can fool all people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. So there was an advertising guru. I think his name was Joseph E Levine. I forget his name. He said “you can fool all the people all the time provided you spend enough money on advertisement”.

The idea is the whole advertising industry is just creating artificial wants in people. What we don’t need, just get it. Just take it. Purchase it, purchase it, purchase it. Acquire it. And in this way people just spend so much of their money. For example there may be, this is a fashion especially among women but sometimes in men also that some people think my hair should be blond. And when people want blond hair, now there is nothing wrong with black hair. But I want blond hair. So what will happen is there will the blond hair dye manufacturing company will get some Bollywood-Hollywood divas to have blond hair and that they will have, as soon as women comes in all the heads turn, all the eyes become broad, all the mouth fall open. What happens is? So the ordinary person on the street start thinking. People get attracted to be like this also. And then they get victimized. People spend so much time on this, so much money on this. They change their black hair to blond and change blond hair to black again. So this is a graphic example. But there are many examples like this. So simplify means that whenever we desire anything we ask ourselves a question- “if I don’t have this what I am going to lose. If I don’t have this what I am going to miss. What am I going to lose.” Actually we’ll find that most of the things that the media is portraying upon us, we don’t need those things. They don’t really matter to us. But it is just externally stimulated desires.

Second is clarify. Simplify will not work because at a material level it will not work because the idea is I want to be happy. And how I do get happiness? I get happiness by impressing others. If I have new gadgets, I have better things than others then people will be impressed and I become happy. That’s the idea. So clarify means, clarify what are the things that will actually make me happy. There are hundreds of surveys that have been done on this subject on the correlation between salary and happiness. And all these surveys have found out one main factor that as long as people don’t have enough money to provide for their basic necessities, till that point people find that the greater the money the greater is their happiness. That means if we have a x-y chart, the y is happiness, x is salary. If you have particular point say the poverty line or the basic necessities. Poverty line is, different countries may have different definition of poverty line. But till the basic necessities of people are met this graph is linear,  the co-relation. That the more the money the more people will feel I become happy. But once the basic necessities are met, still people think that the more money I have I will become happier. But actually in real life it doesn’t happen that when people have more money they become happier. It just skews off. There is no co-relation that the more money people have the more happier they are once people go beyond the meeting the basic necessities. In fact what happens is that more money people have often it leads to less happiness because the more money people have the more anxiety one has. The real paradox, paradox means in our contradiction with money is that money itself doesn’t bring happiness. If I just look at my cheque book, ok I have so much money in it I may get some psychological feeling I have so much money. But actually the real joy of money comes in, real joy means at a material level there is no real joy actually in money. But at a material level what happiness people think it comes by parading ones money. I have got such an expensive watch. I have got such a posh car. I have got such a big bungalow. So what happens is if I have money I have to, if I want happiness from that money, I have to exhibit that money. The moment I exhibit that money there are so many envious, so many threatening, so many evil glances that come upon me. Because if I don’t exhibit money, it doesn’t give me happiness. I exhibit money it gives me anxiety. What do I do?

The Bhagvatam says

pasyami dhaninam klesam

lubdhanam ajitatmanam

bhayad alabdhanidranam

sarvato ‘bhivisankinam

 

I have seen practically dhaninam klesam, the wealthier are simply miserable, klesam, why? lubdhanam ajitatmanam, because they are lubdha. They are greedy ajitatmanam, they control the senses. So no matter how so much they have they want more and more and more. But the problem is on one side money itself doesn’t make us happy because you want more and more. When I have more then I will get more attraction. I will get more admiration. People will be impressed by more and more. So I want more and more. But on the other hand what happens is bhayat alabdha-nidranam, bhayat because of fear alabdha-nidranam, I don’t get sleep. All the species that are there on the planet, humans are the only species that need sleeping pills. No other species need sleeping pills. And if you see to a large extent people who live in the agriculture economy they don’t need sleeping pills. It’s only when you come into the industrial economy set up there is so much anxiety that people can’t sleep. Bhayat alabdha- nidranam. Sarvato bhivisankinam, Sarvato bhivisankinam one is constantly fearful. So clarify, what is that is going to make me happy. This is where the spiritual philosophy of the Bhagvad Gita comes into the picture. When we understand that I am not the body I am the soul and I understand that the real happiness is going to come not by material things by my relationship with God, by my bhakti, by my devotion to Krishna, this clarifies our priorities. This doesn’t mean that one doesn’t pursue material things. This doesn’t mean that one doesn’t pursue wealth. We don’t have to give up wealth but we have give up the illusion that wealth will make us happy. Wealth is a necessity in life but wealth alone cannot make us happy.

Wealth is like salt in a meal. If there is no salt in a meal it is tasteless. But imagine after this class when there is prasadam, the plate is filled with salt. What will happen if the plate is filled with salt. You cannot eat it. It is miserable. Isn’t it? So like that when people’s priorities are not clarified then people don’t know what will make me happy then they think money will make me happy. So they just pursue money as the only goal of their lives. So what are they doing? They are filling their food plate with salt. And although nobody is happy, everybody is competing who has, I have more salt in my plate than you. And you know I will get more salt on my plate. And everybody is competing and fighting who will have more salt in the plate. And people not think I am not happy. Nobody is bothering about the fact that the salt cannot make a person nourished. Just money alone cannot make people happy. So clarify. Clarify the priorities. What is it that is going to make me happy in life?

And the third is purify. Purify means even if I understand, ok this is not going to make me happy still my desires don’t change. It’s one thing to know and it’s another thing to live it. When Vidura gave good advise to Duryodhana, he told Duryodhana that if you go against the Pandavas, if you go against Krishna you will be destroyed. So at that time Duryodhana had replied that, I know what is dharma, I know what is dharma. I don’t feel like doing it. I know what is adharma but I don’t feel like giving it up.

<Shloka to be inserted here>

I know what is dharma, I don’t feel like giving it up. I know what is adharma, I don’t feel like doing it. So this is what happens to everyone. And that’s why there is third step purify. Purify means that we understand that actually by chanting Hare Krishna, by connecting our self with Krishna our desires change. And when our desires change then we start experiencing inner happiness in our connection with Krishna. And the more we experience inner happiness in our connection with Krishna the less we become dependent on material things. And the less we are dependent on material things the more we can be satisfied in simplicity. The more we can be satisfied even without having all the anxiety to acquire more and more. And when we are satisfied thus actually we can contribute more. Material satisfaction doesn’t necessarily mean material lack of ambition. Whatever talents we have we can use them for the benefit of the world, for the service of Krishna, for our own satisfaction. But that is not accompanied by craving. That is not accompanied by greed. That is accompanied by inner satisfaction. For that we need purification. And that purification will lead to a lasting satisfaction.

I’ll conclude with an anecdote, how purify is important without that one cannot be satisfied. There is a very famous musician. I would not mention names over here. And he was not just a, at least he was not seen as a material musician, he used to sing bhajans. A very famous as a bhajan singer and people thought that he sing bhajans so sweetly. And people think he was a great devotee. He was singing bhajans about Krishna and so many others. But this person he couldn’t sing a bhajan without getting himself madly drunk. So people were thinking that by his singing of bhajans we are getting bhakti, but you know he was singing bhajan not for bhakti but for liquor. And he couldn’t think singing without liquor. And eventually what happen? That liquor drinking just ruined his health, ruined his life. Eventually he died a miserable death. So some person might be a very famous singer he might have talents. And by the talents such a person may earn money also. But if ones desires are not pure ones talents will not do good neither to one self nor to others.

Some of you know about this disgrace cyclist Lance Armstrong. He had won record breaking several medals in the cycling. And he became like a symbol of hope because he had a cancer and he recovered from cancer. And he became a champion. But all along he had been taking performance enhancing drugs that were illegal. And now not only he has been disgraced but all the people who considered him as a hero not just sporting hero but as a cancer conquering hero, all of them are devastated. And it’s considered such a great heart break for so many people. So certainly he had talent. But in the pursuit of success, the most scary part about him was he doesn’t feel any regret. He doesn’t feel any regret. “I wanted to win, I did all what is required for winning.” So what happens is if people don’t have pure desires they can’t use even their material talents for their own good. They will cheat themselves. They will cheat others. And they will bring suffering upon themselves. They will bring suffering upon others.

So the real solution is in this simplify, clarify, purify. And by practicing Krishna consciousness, Krishna consciousness life style itself includes all these three things. We try to live simply. And because we keep regularly hearing the philosophy we learn to clarify our priorities. And by chanting and by practicing Krishna consciousness we are purifying ourselves. So in this way we can understand how this, how we can become a part of the solution for the problem that the world is facing in terms of economics today. Thank you very much.

Question-Answer

Q. How do rules and regulations bring one to the point of knowledge?

Ans. Firstly we have to understand that rules and regulations are required not just in spirituality, are required on all fields of life. Imagine if cricket match is going on and the bowler is bowling and the batsman is waiting and the bowler is just runs across the pitch nocks the batsman off and break the stumps. The batsman hits the ball and the ball is going in the hands, wicketkeeper is about to catch and the batsman goes, hits the batsman on the wicketkeeper itself. The cricket field will become bloodshed if there are no rules. Actually even in something as mundane as a sport as cricket there has to be rules. Rules are required in all fields of life, that is the first point. Now what happens when specially in spiritual field when we follow the rules, it brings us up from the mode of passion to the mode of goodness. As long as I am not following any rules, my mind is so caught up with the immediate hope for enjoyment, I cannot think of anything higher. Once I start following rules then the mind become a little more peaceful than the dormant intelligence that is there in the soul that starts gradually awakening. Just like from the school point of view, if a child doesn’t go to school. He just keeps playing. It is ok, this is the time you should go to school. He doesn’t go to school. He will never learn anything. Just keeps playing. He may think I am enjoying. But he will never learn anything. After this his carrier will be very dark. Same way when we don’t follow any rules it may seem that its very enjoyable. But our higher faculties don’t grow because the mind is always caught up in trivialities. I doesn’t have any freedom to think of anything higher.

Simple example, suppose there is a class room. And in the class room every student has his own TV. And the TV there are hundred and twenty channels. And the teacher is speaking. And the students are told if you want to hear the teacher, you can hear the teacher otherwise you can watch TV. So how many students are going to actually be able to concentrate what teacher is saying. It’s just like that if there are no rules and regulations then our mind is like a TV with hundred and twenty channels. Not hundred and twenty, hundred and twenty thousand channels. So what happens is when we don’t say no to what the mind is saying then we don’t have the concentration, the peace, the calmness to focus on something higher. When we say no to something lower than the mind becomes OK. No I am not going to do this then I can focus on this. That’s how rules and regulation help us to develop knowledge. Thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada ki jai, Gaura Bhakta Vrinda ki jai, Nitai Gaura premanande, Hare Krishna!

 

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Chaitanya Charan das
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