Discover the Baahubali within you
[Youth meeting at ISKCON, Belgaum, India]
C.C. Prabhu: Today I will speak on the topic of discovering the Bahubali within you. Bahubali has become a phenomenon in not just Bollywood or Indian movie industry, but it has become overall Indian culture where the idea of presenting themes and motives drawn from the Indian tradition on the movie screen with the best contemporary technology has caught the public imagination and the idea that there is a tyrannical King, and then somebody who is unknown comes and exhibits formidable power that protects the citizens from this tyrannical king… and that person who protects is celebrated by the general people as Bahubali; as an extremely powerful person… a person with formidable power in the arms.
So, actually this narrative of life being a battle between two forces where the force of evil has the upper hand… and then somewhere, somehow the force appears and then reverses the tables. That is a narrative that is found in many of the world’s traditions, and actually that is a narrative which we can find in our own hearts, in our own lives. So, I will come back to this theme once again. Let me first start with… When we talk about power there is physical power by which giant statues might be falling… and someone just stops that statue from falling. That is physical power. That is important. At the same time as science has started advancing… in general as the knowledge advances we recognized that there are powers which are far more powerful than the physical powers. At the start of the age of science Francis Bacon was one of the pioneers of the empirical scientific method. He said that knowledge is power, and his idea was that if we could get more and more scientific knowledge then we would have more and more power over the natural phenomenon. So, for example when it is cold it can be freezing, but we understand what are the mechanics by which the temperature rises, temperature cools… then we could create an environments where even if it is cold outside we could have warmth inside. So, traditionally we use coal for that. Now we use heat conditioning for that. So, this is also power.
Now… whereas animals fight using their physical power… but if we consider even nature… elephant has far greater power physically than a tiger or the Lion, but a Lion has the power of its claws and that power is not so much strength as sharpness, and that sharpness can tear apart even a elephant. We human beings have neither the giant strength of elephants nor the sharp teeth or claws of a Lion, and yet to a large extent the humans have mastered over them. That is because we have some other power… that is intellectual power, the power by which we can recognize that there are subtler powers in the world.
Just a few months ago I was invited to speak on science and spirituality at Deaton University. Now for those of you who are a little history 4.43(inaudible)… Deaton is the place where the Wright brothers flew the first airplane in the world and from there the whole airplane industry started, and the idea at that time was… everybody mocked the Wright brothers. They said, ‘Only birds fly, how will be human beings be able to fly?’ So, from the physical perspective it is not possible, but then they had that conviction at that time that there could be other ways of flying, and they devised a mechanical machine that could fly… and airplanes have now revolutionised transportation all over the world.
In fact the Second World War was the most decisive battles which led to the winning of the Second World War where they fought from the air… through the airways. So, here there is power but science has been basically a discovery of subtler and subtler power. So, the normal physical power is… the gravity pulls us down, but there can be some mechanisms by which we can counter that power.
The most devastating damage that happened during the Second World War… in one incident or two incidents was the bombing of the Hiroshima and the Nagasaki. There again it was what? Subtle war. It was just one bomb, but when it tapped atomic power… they call atom bombs. Now we have further developed nuclear weapons. So again what is happening? People may fight using big stones and boulders, but here inside a tiny atom there is so much power that it can devastate a whole city.
So, when they are talking about power one way of developing power is to go the physical way and try to develop big muscles. Yes, for good health if somebody is in a weight lifting or wrestling profession, for them having a very strong physical built is important. In general for everybody to be healthy physically is good, but at the same time in today’s world physical power does not matter that much.
For all of you to succeed in your life… how many of you… your success… whether you get a good job, whether you get a bright career… how much of it depends on the physical power? It doesn’t. It is not so much. It depends on the intellectual power. So, how well you are able to study? How well you are able to make decisions in your life… So, the point I am making is… there are various levels of power and as science has progressed it has recognized that as we go subtler and subtler the powers are stronger and stronger. According to some scientists now… so, earlier the idea was… within the atom, within the nucleus there is so much power that it can devastate the whole city.
Now according to some particle physics theorist they say that actually even in what we call as the empty space there can be so much power that if you just learn to tap it, it could devastate the whole planet. So, the idea is that at the subtler level there are powers which are far greater than what exists at a grosser level, and the same applies in our inner world. Just as it applies at the physical level, so similarly it applies at our inner level. So, suddenly to have strength by which one can do some physically astonishing feats… that’s sensational, but how much transformation… how much of a difference it will make in one’s own life?
If you look at sports… sports players have to be good athletes. That is vital for them. They have to be physically feet to perform the sports, and yet physical fitness alone is not enough. Mike Tyson was one of the most formidable and fearsome boxers of his times, but then during a fight when he started losing, he got so angry that as the opponent was punching him he just caught his opponent and bit off the ear of his opponent. He just bit if off. Horrifying… Is it an animal, is this a cannibal? Biting of the ear like that… he was disqualified and disgraced by that. So, what happened over here… he himself said, ‘I don’t know what came over me at that time.’ So, he had very big muscles but his powerful muscles did not give him the power to control his impulses, to control his anger… and before he could use his muscles to win the match, the power of his anger caused him to be disqualified from the match. So, there is physical power, there is emotional power, and the emotional power that we have… it can work for us or it can work against us.
Science and technology have focussed more and more on giving us the access to greater and greater external power. So, the invention that has most drastically and rapidly transformed people’s lives in recent times is that of the smart-phone. With the smart-phone people can just press a few buttons here and there and they can talk with anyone in any part of the world, summon any information in any part of the world, make connections all over the world. This… most of this could have been unimaginable for people even fifty years ago. At the same time what has happened? We have got the power to summon information from various parts of the world, but most people… one of the most rapidly rising forms of addiction in today’s world is… the variants of it is – internet addiction, there is device addiction, there is video games addiction and there is of course the most serious of it all- there is porn addiction. Now all these are based on connection.
Technology has given us power of the kind that past generations couldn’t have imagined, but that power… it can make us powerful or it can make us powerless. Some of you… many of you would have heard about this new Video game called the Blue Whale Challenge. In the Blue Whale Challenge there are people… some anonymous or untraceable administrators who challenge young people primarily to start playing some games and in each of the stages of the game involves the students do something… young people do something which hurts them; maybe mark some tattoos on their face, on their body or do something which is not just difficult to do but it is distressing to do. Often it is self-denigrating to do it, and as they keep doing it they are given tougher and tougher challenges and the last challenge is suicide… kill yourself, and there are people who have do it. Not just one or two, there are several dozen… it is in India. The game is known to have originated in Russia, and there also there had been a spate of suicides.
If we just look at human history 500 years ago, suicides were an aberration. Very very few people committed suicide. If you look at the statistics 50 to 100 years ago, suicides started increasing and even now suicide is a very alarming phenomenon.
Just a month or so ago I was in I.I.T Kharagpur for some seminars there, and there is a professor from I.I.T Kharagpur who is preparing a syllabus for some kind of spiritual value education for the students. So, there is an alarming spate of suicides in I.I.T, and unfortunately there are no substantial ways to deal with it.
So, in a particular I.I.T the management became very concerned when the students committed suicide and several of the students committed suicide in an identical way. They all hung themselves from their fans and in their desperate concern I.I.T decided to spend several lakhs rupees to prevent suicide, and what was the measure that they did. They replaced all the fans in the hostel with air-conditioners. (laughter).. Now the fans are not the cause of the suicide. Ok…you remove an instrument by which a person can commit suicide… that is good, but that is not the solution. So, what is happening over here? Technology has given us access to so much power.
In Google they give searches by which we can find out what items are searched the most, and by which age group, which demographic… So, among the youth… those who are teen agers… just coming into youth, and those who are not yet settled into a career… generally by middle age people settle into a career. So… around the age from 15 to 40 one of the most searched Google items by these is the best way to commit suicide. Now what do you mean by the best way? People want to commit suicide in a way that will be sensational. ‘I couldn’t do anything memorable in my life. At least I want to die in a memorable way.’ That is the idea. So, here what has happened? Actually technology has given us access to phenomenal outer power, but unfortunately our access to our inner power has gone down, and because of that we are unable to deal with the negative emotions that come in our life because of lives adversities.
There are three things over here. There are life’s adversities. Adversities means we fail in the exam… or the relationships in which we had invested a lot of time… the relationships mix up… some loved one passes away. For all of us bad things happen in life at times. So, this is the external event and then this causes certain emotions within us. The external events… the bad things happening is unavoidable, and it is not just because it happens, it happens to everyone and not just everyone, it has happened to people throughout history. Whether it is 100 years ago, 200 years ago, 1000 years ago… bad things happen in life, and to some extent bad things… when they happen they trigger negative emotions within us, but why is it that when bad things happen people in the past would not commit suicide? And why is it that people now are committing suicide more and more? To the extent now people are challenged… at least when somebody has faced some terrible reversal in their life… they studied for an exam and they just failed badly in the exam and they see, ‘I have no career ahead of me.’… At that time, that gloominess… we could say that’s the reason why they feel that there is no point in my living, but just a challenge…. some unknown stranger somehow challenges them, ‘Come on! Commit suicide.’… and people commit suicide. Why is that? So, actually the inner power that we had… that has decreased enormously. The inner power is the power to deal with our emotions, to deal with the thoughts, the desires, feelings that arise in our mind because of external stimuli. This power is the most important power for a person to successfully navigate life’s journey.
Yes, someone of us may feel, ‘If I had the power of a great memory then I would be able to crack my exams and I would crack my interviews and I would do a great job.’ Yes, if we had good memory that would be great, but that will not be the power that defines our life’s destiny most consequentially. Even people with the best memory… even if they get the best jobs, even if they get the highest pays, they are going to face reverses in their lives, and when they face reverses in their life how do they respond to that? And that is not going to be determined by their power of memory; that requires some other power… that is the power to process our emotions, the power to resist negative emotions.
A few years ago one of the most celebrated comedians from the Hollywood, from the American entertainment industry… Robin Williams… he committed suicide and I think a few months ago another comedian also committed suicide. Now when people committing suicide has become not uncommon now… sadly speaking… but a comedian committing suicide was especially jolting. Comedians are the people who make other laugh. So, normally you would think that this person can crack good jokes, he had a good sense of humour. So, normally when somebody has a great sense of humour, somebody cracks jokes and not just crack jokes on someone in a street side meeting… somebody has millions, even billions by one’s expertise in humour, in comedy, then you would think that such a person would be happy. Now they have ability, they have humour, they have money, they have fame, and yet such a person committed suicide.
Normally we think that a person who laughs a lot… that person must be happy. When somebody makes others laugh we think that they must be happy. So, when Williams committed suicide I wrote an article about it. The article was titled, ‘After the Laughter.’ On the screen you may see them laughing, you may see them making others laugh but what after that? So, the ability to make jokes… it’s a power and it can make one very popular. If we are in a group of friends and somebody who can make jokes, somebody who can make others laugh… they become very popular. That is a good power, but that power can enable one to become popular, but that power doesn’t guarantee the inner power to process our own emotions.
Just like in science the power at a subtler level is stronger than the power at a grosser level. A person may be a big body-builder, but if somebody throws a nuclear bomb at that place what can the body builder do? Nothing…. So, power at a subtler level is far more important, far more consequential than power at a physical level. Same way power of memory, the power of humour… all these are important powers but subtler and far more consequential than all these powers is the power to manage our own emotions, to learn how to resist negative emotions when they arise within us, to learn how to persist important things even when our emotions awe-struck us. This is the most important power in our life, and without having this power, even if we acquire a lot of other powers they will not be enough.
Martin Luther King Junior, who was the pioneering leader of the civil rights movement in America… he put his finger on the predicament of modern society quite accurately. He said, ‘We have guided missiles and misguided men.’ We have guided missiles, we have got the power through technology to guide missiles very precisely, but we have misguided men. That means we have people who do not have the power to resist the misguiding forces within them. He further continued that our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. Through science we developed technology which has given us phenomenal power but our spiritual power… our inner power to chose and act in a way that is in accordance with our spiritual essence… that brings out our best. That power has decreased considerably.
So, this is most tragically… say in internet addiction… here people have their devices which are very powerful, people have broadband connections which are very powerful and what is happening? That power is not making them powerful. That power is actually making them powerless because they are becoming more and more addicted, becoming more and more hooked, becoming more and more bound. But somebody may say, ‘I have enjoyed in this. I enjoy surfing on the net, I enjoy playing video games, I enjoy watching movies…’ what is wrong with that? Actually the enjoyment that we get over there… it may be there but it is very trivial, it lasts for a few moments and for the sake of that enjoyment we lose perspective. We lose perspective means… when a particular desire becomes very strong within us, when a particular craving becomes very strong within us, what does it do? It dominates our consciousness.
So, many of you may be familiar in your colleges with students who have got into drugs. So, it was in a bollywood movie which talked about a lot of drug addiction in Punjab. It is not just Punjab, but it is all over the world. I was in South America just a few months ago. Several countries over there are ruined practically; several South American countries are running primarily because of immigrants. It’s Indians and Chinese people who are running those countries. Many of the young people in those countries are addicted and when people become addicted… that one desire becomes so strong, that desire makes them lose perspective; it distorts their sense of what is important and what is not important.
So, if say somebody becomes addicted to drugs… and there are real life horror stories like this. One young man asked his mother, ‘I want some money.’ Mother said, ‘Don’t have money.’, he said, ‘No, I want money.’, and when the mother doesn’t give money… this happened in Punjab. This was one of the many incidents that jolted people out. This young boy… he was in a respectable M.B.A college, but he got into drugs and actually when he wanted money and his mother refused to give him money, he just attacked and killed his mother. He killed his mother to get that money, and then he just went and he took the drugs… because when the desire came upon him it was so overpowering he just couldn’t think of anything. When he took the drug dose, and that gave him some relief and then afterwards that relief went down… and then he got the clarity… ‘What did I do? How could I have done such a thing?’ and he just went mad, he couldn’t face and sit and sit, and he committed suicide. It’s terrible and tragic. So, what happened? It was that one desire that became so powerful that he did not have the power to resist that desire, and then that made him act reprehensibly, it made him act in an abominable and horrible way.
In the Bhagavat Gita, in the third chapter, 36th verse Arjuna asked this question, ‘What is that force which makes us act badly?’
atha kena prayukto ’yaṁ
pāpaṁ carati pūruṣaḥ
anicchann api vārṣṇeya
balād iva niyojitaḥ
Arjuna says, ‘By what is it that I am engaged in wrong activities? Although I don’t want to do it, I don’t feel like doing it… it’s not my desire to do it, but still I feel like as if I am forced to act. So, there is some power within me which makes me act against my best interest. So, what is that power?’
Krishna replies, ‘That is the power of misdirected desire.’ That desire can come in different forms. For some people it may be the desire for drugs, for some people it may be a desire for alcohol, for some it maybe smoking. Now within unhealthy desires there can be gradation. Drugs can be immediately destructive. If somebody is addicted to devices that may not be so immediately destructive but still all these are damaging, and when any of these comes within us it gains power within us. So, what is the power which they gain over us? Basically when a particular desire becomes very powerful it becomes powerful by distorting our perspective. Distorting our perspective means, that which is not very important. It makes it appear that it is very important, I can’t live without it, and that which is very important doesn’t matter… ‘it doesn’t matter, you can look at it afterwards…’ So, this is how our perspective gets distorted and when people get addicted… so, now addiction is one of the… sociological surveys have found that addition is one of the strongest predictors of criminality. When a person becomes addict of something, then in order to fulfil that addiction they end up going into crime. They steal, they rob… they may start from small stealing and robbing but eventually they go to big things… and sometimes people think that if I’m just clever enough, if I am smart enough then I will not be caught. So, sometimes some people may go and search some porn sites and then think that… ‘I will just go and delete the history, nobody will catch me.’ … So, yes here there is some important truth that we are missing. We may not be caught for our wrong doings, but we will be caught by our wrongdoings. Caught for our wrong doings is…. somebody may say, ‘Ay..why did you do that? Should not be doing this. Punish him for it.’
Today we live in a world that is very fragmented and very individualistic and it gives a lot of emphasis on individual freedom. …. ‘I will do what I want to do, who are you to control me?’ So, people want to do it secretly… then they may do it. I think if I am clever enough not to get caught, it is not a problem. That’s what people think. So, we may not be caught for our wrong doings but we will be caught by our wrong doings. By our wrong doings means… once we do something that desire itself becomes stronger and when that desire becomes stronger it pulls us again and again and yet again, and each time it pulls us its pull becomes stronger and stronger.
There is a British thinker name Oscar Wilde. He said, ‘Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I have done it thousands of times.’ If it so easy then why did you have to do it thousands of times? You gave it up once, then you should have given it up. So, what happens is that, we may give up smoking but smoking doesn’t give us up. So, what happens is that we get caught by our wrong doings. So, when we don’t have the power to manage our emotions, to manage our desires, then we act in ways which are destructive for ourselves, and once we act, second time we act, third time we act, then that action becomes normal for us, that action becomes irresistible for us… and initially people do certain things because they get pleasure.
Now say for example, somebody may take drugs because it makes them go high but afterwards they take drugs not because it makes them feel high but because not taking it makes them feel low. It’s a big difference. Feel high means that by doing it I feel good, but after some time when the desire becomes compulsive then not doing it causes so much agitation, so much distress that we do it just to get some relief. So, like that desire becomes stronger and stronger and it pulls us.
In the Bhagavat Gita, in the 16th chapter, in the 11th and 12th verse Krishna talks about…
So, Krishna says, āśā , our desires becomes like pāśa. Pāśa is like a shackle or a noose. The desires becomes like a noose that pulls us, and we just can’t resist it. Not indulging in the desire causes us so much agitation, so much distress that we just have to do it. śatair baddhāḥ… and we become bound by hundreds of desires like this. kāma-krodha-parāyaṇāḥ , and our this desires make us devoted to lust and anger…
īhante kāma-bhogārtham … and to get the resources of fulfilling this desires, what happens… anyāyenārtha-sañcayān… one does injustice, one does atrocity the money to eat, to fulfil that desire, to fulfil that craving.
In Russia, the favourite form of alcohol is Vodka. So, in communist Russia and thereafter… and even now also people are addicted to Vodka. So, there was a promotion or awareness video that was generated, and that showed a family talking…. a man in the family is addicted to Vodka and the news comes that the price of Vodka has gone up and the small child.. he asks his father, ‘Papa now that the price of Vodka has gone up, will you drink less?’ And the father looks at his son and says, ‘No, you will eat less.’ What father would in normal consciousness want to starve his own son so that he could drink more, but this is the kind of distortion of our perspective that happens when we are addicted.
As I travel all over the world and I meet students, I come to know very tragic stories. There was a student in one university in America… he told me, ‘I just got in playing Video games’… and it was his exam the next day. So, he was studying… he studied for two hours, felt tired and he needed some break. So, he started playing a video game, and somehow he just kept playing and playing, and the video games are often designed in such a way that they just hook a person completely. So, when they hook a person… he realized that it was at 9’o clock… from seven to nine he had studied… and at 9’ O clock he started playing, and the next morning 9’ O clock was his exam… and he didn’t realize it…. It was when his friend… they had their hostels where everybody had their separate rooms…. So, his friends came and knocked on the door, and he saw it was 9’o clock the next morning and he had to go for his exams. He was playing continuously for 11 and half hours. He forgot his studying, he forgot even his sleeping… ‘What will I do now, I didn’t prepare for my exams.’… He is intelligent… he is an Indian student. His parents have taken loans and he has gone to America for studying… but that’s how it is very addictive.
So, we may start off… it is just some entertainment… I have nothing against video games per se, but what I am just talking here is about how we have lost inner power and why do people, why do students or young people succumb to this blue whale kind of challenge? Because you know we live in a very fragmented world today, where we all need some sense of validation. Validation means we need to feel that I am good, I am worthwhile, I can achieve something, but often from the world around us we actually get negative signals… not directly but indirectly… indirectly through advertisements, through media…
Through the advertisements, through the media… we often see people who are brilliant in all thing… they look very good, they have very good physical built, they are fluent in their speaking, they are smart, and when we compare ourselves with that kind of people we feel, I am good for nothing, I am not good enough, and when that happens we lose our sense of self-worth, and then to get that self-validation we may fall for anything. So, a person who wants self-validation may start playing a video game and if they can just master the video game and they play it very well and they get some top score in the video game, they think, ‘I am someone. I can play this video game so well.’ So, we need that sense of self validation, and when the challenges like the blue whale game comes, what happens? Young people who are especially vulnerable, who are insecure, who need a sense of self-validation, they feel, ‘Ok, if I can do this… this is difficult. If I do it, then I am someone.’ So, that sense of self-validation is what we all need, but how we seek it is going to determine our destiny. So, some young people fortunately seek it through destructive means. So, that desperate need for self-validation… that is there… that can make people fall prey to anything. So, somebody falling prey to suicide… committing suicide just because of the sense of kick over there… ‘come on, do it!’… that may seem stupid for somebody who is seeing objectively, but if you understand what is going on in the psychology it’s not that stupid…. because people need that, ‘I am someone special. I can do something special.’, and wherever they get that they will do it.
So, most of us we know that in the cigarette packs there is a statutory warning… What does it say, ‘Cigarette smoking is injurious for your health.’ Now initially… in the 1930’s and 1940’s the corporate industries… the cigarette manufacturing industries… when initially the studies started pointing out that cigarette smoking is injurious, they fought this to tooth and nail… they fought it terribly, but eventually when they found that too many studies were coming… see… what happens is, in many fields the studies when they are done… statistical studies are done… science can be a dispassionate search for knowledge, but it is not always because scientists are human being who need money, they need funding, and whoever gives them funding… they to some extent… at least have to give the results which their sponsors want. So, by funding researches which skewed the findings… initially the tobacco industry, they tried to suppress or counter the results that smoking is injurious to health, but when the studies became too undeniable and the frequency of people becoming injured and the health getting spoiled became too wide spread… so, then the whole industry changed it’s …44.44, and they started portraying smoking as a sign of courage. Earlier they portrayed it as sign of passion, ‘Now you smoke.’ So, now they started portraying it as sign of courage, and then… if you look at the ads of the 1940’s…. they had the adds… ‘Cigarette smoking is injurious to health.’ One young man looks at it and smokes, and amazingly enough after they added the statutory warning that the cigarette sales increased because of what had happened… was that the dare-devilishness within them, within the young people was ignited.
So, here they thought they are heroic, but they may not be heroic, they may be stupid. Even after knowing that something is destructive they were embracing that. So, today’s world, today’s culture… the corporate control media and the corporate driven culture is such that… it actually gives us an illusion of power, while taking away our power. What does it do? It gives us an illusion of power. ‘You are smart, you are special, you are unique.’… but, we think like that and we want to do something but in the process what is happening? We are actually getting controlled. We are getting bound, we are getting addicted and then we are losing power.
So, power is never taken away as effectively as by giving people the illusion of power. In the early 1930’s… in the 1926 and 1927 the smoking industry… they found that their sales had reached a 46.47, because all the young men who had the financial resources to smoke were already smoking in America especially and Europe also to some extent but… So, they decided, how do we expand our market? And then one of them got an idea, ‘Hey, woman don’t smoke.’ So, in 1929 in the time when the American independence day was there, and they had the march of Independence on the Broadway in America, in New York. So, they got some of the most celebrated female icons, the Hollywood stars, and other female celebrities… they were all participating in this walk, and at the most visible junctures of their walk all these female icons were paid… they flipped out a cigarette… specially designed thin cigarette… just call it a female cigarette, and they all started smoking, and that was all over the news, and they were paid to say, ‘What are you doing?’ They said, ‘we are lighting the torches of freedom.’ (laughter)
Now what has cigarette smoking got to do with freedom? But that was the time when the Suffrage Movement was gaining momentum, Suffrage movement was the movement when woman tried to… woman felt that, ‘We have been enough exploited by men for many centuries, now we want to break free.’ So, what the alcohol company did is… that they tied their campaign with the idea of freedom, and the woman said, ‘We want freedom and yes we are lighting the torches of freedom.’ And within a few years thousands upon thousands of woman started smoking.
Now in the emotional frenzy that was generated… the idea of freedom was very appealing to us, and with that idea when it is generated it creates frenzy, it creates such an overpowering charm and appeal within us that our rational thinking gets swept aside. So, nobody asked the question, ‘How does smoking lead to freedom.’ It was just marketed like that, and it was accepted like that, and it was only several years later that the harmful effects of smoking came up. Specially the harmful effects of smoking for woman and especially all the more so… the harmful effects for woman… of smoking when you are pregnant… effected not only them, but it affected their babies also. That came out, but by that time the whole generation… a large part of the whole generation had got hooked to smoking. So, that same… that similar strategy is used in today’s world also. So, the idea is that we through technology get a lot of external power, but we are increasingly losing our inner power. The power to control our emotions, the power to choose our desires, the power to direct our consciousness in ways that is healthy for us, and that’s what millions of people are getting addicted, and some unfortunately are becoming suicidal also. So, what do we do in such a time?
So, first is that… if we have to discover our power… first we have to discover or we have to realize our danger. Why do I need that power? Because most of us… we think of power in terms you know… ‘I want to speak fluently, I want to have good memory, I want to get a good job’… yes, this are important but there are people who have this and still they wreck their lives.
One of the incidents in my life which prompted me to explore spirituality was… ‘I was studying engineering and I was always among the top students… not the topper, but I was among the top students. So, there was one student in Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering in the government engineering college. He was a university topper through all his semesters. He was in the final year when I came to the first year and then six semesters he had been a topper, and then in the last semester also he was a topper, and he got the highest paying job in the history of our college at that time, and he was considered like the model for everyone. I found that he was brilliant in studies but he was a chain smoker. He said, ‘Without smoking I can’t think.’ So, he just smoked and smoked and he studied brilliantly. So, he got this job and tragically in the first six months while he was on that job he was detected with advanced lung cancer and he died…. just in six months he died. So, at that time it got me thinking, ‘What is happening?’ This person is so brilliant… When I first saw him smoking I just couldn’t process it.
Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance which means that you have two opposite ideas which you can’t reconcile. So, I thought that if he so brilliant, doesn’t he have the common sense to understand that smoking is killing him. If he has the brilliance to memorize and analyze electronics engineering in a way that practically nobody in Pune University can do, then why doesn’t he have the common sense to recognize that smoking is dangerous, that smoking will ruin him?
So, that was one of the factors what happened to him that prompted me to explore spirituality. It is only later that I understood that actually the power to analyse, to process, to memorize in terms of facts and figures… that is very different from the power to manage one’s own emotions, the power to manage one’s own desires, the power to manage one’s own life.
So, in today’s world we often aspire for these superficial forms of power. ‘I want the smartest smart phone, I want the fastest internet speed, I want the fastest car, I want the biggest house’…. we want all these things and we think that this are signs of power. If we get that it is fine, but those signs of power are not going to define our life as much as our inner power. That inner power is the power to manage our own emotions and our own desires. Desires means what we seek, and emotions means primarily… I am using it to refer to the things happened to us… how do we respond? In the world that we are functioning there are two modes that we are functioning. Now what do I look for in the world? What do I long for? What do I chase after? What do I pursue? And second is… when things happen to me how I respond to them? So, this power is what we can access by our spiritual growth.
So, the Bhagavat Gita gives Arjuna this power. If you see the setting of the Bhagavat Gita it is book that is spoken before a war began and yet the Bhagavat Gita doesn’t contain even one guideline for how to fight a war. Normally if a coach is guiding a player before a match, the coach will tell… if it is a cricket coach, ‘You know this bowler bowls like this. You should bat like this. Keep your fielder like this. Do this.’ He will talk practical strategies but Krishna doesn’t speak one word about fighting the war in terms of practical martial strategies. Something else had happened for Arjuna before the war… He is a warrior who is such a great archer that he can defeat the greatest archers of the world.
Just before the Kurukshetra war the Virat War had happened, and there Arjuna had singlehandedly defeated all the Kaurava commanders, the whole Kaurava army in fact. Now… but here before the war began Arjuna lost the war. Even before the war began Arjuna put aside his bow.
visṛjya sa-śaraṁ cāpaṁ
He put aside his bow overcome by grief
na yotsya iti govindam
uktvā tūṣṇīṁ babhūva ha
I will not fight….
So, what had happened? The most powerful warrior was overpowered even before an arrow was shot, and how was he overpowered? By his emotions. The negative emotions that arose within him… they overpowered him so much, he just could not fight, and what does the Bhagavat Gita do? The Bhagavat Gita gives him the wisdom to overcome those negative emotions, the confusions, the lamentations, the delusion, all that was there; the Bhagavat Gita’s wisdom help him cut through that, helps him become empowered. So, what is this wisdom of the Bhagavat Gita that transforms Arjuna? The same Arjuna would put aside his bow saying, ‘I can’t fight.’ By the end of the Bhagavat Gita, he again picked up his bow..
yatra yogeśvaraḥ kṛṣṇo
yatra pārtho dhanur-dharaḥ
Arjuna has picked up his bow and is ready to fight. So, what changed… what was the message that transformed Arjuna thus? That message has a lot of profound philosophy in it, but the essence of that message is – Love. The Bhagavat Gita demonstrates the transformational power of spiritual love. What the Bhagavat Gita explains is that, at our core we are spiritual beings, we are souls, we are atma and we are parts of a whole. That whole is God who is known in the Bhagavat Gita by the name Krishna, and we have many relationships in this world, we have many roles and responsibilities and they are all important, but the most important among all our relationships is our relationship with Krishna because He is eternally the whole and we are eternally His part.
In 15.7 Krishna says, ‘All living beings are eternally my parts.’ This means that just as God is pure, God is powerful, similarly being his parts we are also meant to be pure and powerful. However if a jewel is fallen in the ground, is …59.19 and is buried in the ground it gets covered by … , by dirt, and then it’s effulgence doesn’t come out. So, like that we as souls are pure and powerful but we are covered over by the dirt. The dirt of negative desires, the dirt of weaknesses, the dirt of uncontrolled emotions, and if we bring the soul in contact with the whole, if we connect with Krishna… because Krishna is all pure He purifies us, He purifies us. Contact with Krishna frees us from inner impurities and the power of the soul that is there… that comes out, and then we can do things which we might have felt earlier impossible to do.
So, many times we all want achievements in our lives. ‘I want to achieve this, I want to achieve that.’, and sometimes we may fail…. ‘I don’t have enough talent to achieve this.’… so, if there is talent there can be achievement. Now yes, we all have certain talents. We may have certain talents, we may not have certain talents but we all have certain talents but talents alone are not enough for achievement. Talent plus temperament leads to achievement. Our media… our culture… glamorises achievement in terms of externals… ‘Oh, you have a big house, big car, a big position…’ Those things the media glamorises, and as far as resources are concerned our media glamorises talent… ‘Oh, somebody is such a brilliant batsman, somebody is such a brilliant singer, somebody is such a brilliant speaker.’ And both ways if we look only at achievements, you think… ‘What have I achieved in my life?’ If you look at talents, we see there are so many people who have so many more talents than we have. Both ways what happens? We start feeling negative about ourselves.
We all have some talents. Unfortunately what happens?… So, I will talk about… this will be the concluding part of my talk. I am talking about discovering the Bahubali within. So, how can we discover the power within ourselves? So, talent plus temperament leads to achievement. This is simple to understand. Now a batsman may be a very good batsman, but when say the final over is there and then the emotional pressure is so much, but the batsman has to stay calm… ‘Which shot should I hit, which shot should I not hit?’ Now some batsman just hits a foolish shot at the last moment and then what happens? A match that was about to be won, that match might just get lost because the person gets so panicky.
So, if you lack temperament… then even if one has talent that doesn’t translate into achievement. So, temperament is also very important. So, what happens by our spiritual growth? Spiritual growth means our connection with Krishna. Firstly, we learn to focus on the talents that we have. A materialistic culture glamorises certain talents, and makes us think, ‘If I don’t have those talents then I am good for nothing.’ But spirituality tells us that we don’t have to become Xerox copies of anyone else. We are all unique and that is for a purpose. If God had wanted you to be someone else, he would have made you someone else. God has made you… you and he has made me… me, and He wants us to improve definitely, but our improvement is not that I become you or you become I. Rather the improvement is that I become the best I, and you become the best you.
So, we learn to focus on the talents that we have, instead of lamenting on the talents that we don’t have. That’s what unfortunately happens. When we have a materialistic world view, we keep seeing the things that we don’t have. Suppose now after this program there is a special kind of feast and the feast is that everyone of us is going to get different items. Now all of us are going to get delicacies, but they are different. Now when I get the item on my plate… instead of eating and enjoying what is there in my plate if I look in other people’s plate….what will happen? I will get dissatisfied although I have something which is good for me, but I will become dissatisfied looking at what other have. So, in the 17th chapter of the Bhagavat Gita Krishna talks about austerity of the mind… tapsya of the mind. Interestingly first He says,
bhāva-saṁśuddhir ity etat
tapo mānasam ucyate
So, He says manaḥ-prasādaḥ… satisfaction… we normally think of satisfaction as an emotion… ‘I am feeling satisfied, I am not feeling satisfied.’ But Krishna is telling us, ‘Satisfaction is not just an emotion. Satisfaction is also a decision. Satisfaction is not just an emotion that we feel, it is also a decision that we make. What does that mean? That if I have a feast in my plate… if I want to be satisfied I have to take a decision… I won’t look at what is on others plate, and focus on what is on my plate. So, when I take that decision to focus on what is there on my plate then I will be satisfied with what I have. Then gradually the emotion of satisfaction will also come. So, this is what unfortunately we don’t do in today’s world. In today’s world instead of looking at the talents that we have, looking at the gifts that we have, we look at what gifts others have and we make ourselves dissatisfied.
So, spirituality tells us… Bhagavat Gita tells us… ‘Everyone of us is actually made by God and we have been given what we need for our growth in life.’ So, we don’t have to be like anyone else, we don’t have to lament that we are not like anyone else. We just have to focus on what we have. Of course we need to develop our talents… no doubt, but we don’t have to feel deficient. Whatever we have… that is enough for our growth. So, this is how our… the negativity that comes when we look at others and we imitate them, and we can’t imitate them…. we don’t have the talent that negativity can be avoided…we understand that what we have, what we are is God’s gift to us. So, that is one point. Just by this understanding we can resist a lot of negativity in our life.
The second part is… from talent to achievement the second thing required is temperament. Temperament means calmness, clarity, focus. So, this temperament is especially developed by our spiritual practices. So, the ability to manage our emotions, the ability to calm ourselves down, the ability to not let life’s ups and downs to shake us, the ability to not be overwhelmed by the pressure of the situation… all that is temperament, and the temperament can be developed by our spirituality. Temperament means… when problems come in our life, when difficult situations come in what do we do? That inner strength, that inner toughness comes by our connection with God. Then we understand that, ‘Ok, things are going wrong but still Krishna is in control.’ And He is my well-wisher, He will bring good even out of the bad. Let me focus on what I can do, let me not worry about the rest. So, faith in Krishna… not just as a sentimentalist says, ‘God does good everything.’ No, the proper philosophical understanding… that faith is the strongest basis of the temperament. That will help us to translate talent into achievement.
I will conclude with one story. In 2015, when I first time went to America I gave a talk in Ohio State University on Regulating our Mental diet, and after that one young, energetic, good looking American boy came and he told me privately after the talk… he said, ‘Just before this talk I was contemplating suicide.’ He said that he had been in a relationship with a girl and that girl had left him to roam with some other boy, and he felt shattered.
In India, often this culture of free mixing of boys and girls, dating… that is also coming but it is not as much there as in the West. Sometimes Indians may feel, ‘Oh we don’t have the freedom to enjoy.’… but it is not just the freedom to enjoy… there is tremendous anxiety…. I give philosophical classes. Afterwards students come and talk with me… most of the questions are about relationships. Either their relationships have broken up or they are breaking up or they are worrying they will make a relationship break up… (laughter) So, tremendous insecurity is there. So, we often think of freedom. We all want freedom, and we think of freedom only in one terms… freedom for. ‘I want the freedom for doing what I want to do. If I want to smoke who will stop me, if I want to drink who will stop me, if I want to date who will stop me.’… I am not putting dating in the same category as smoking or drinking, I am just giving the example over here… freedom for… we think in freedom only in terms of For… ‘I want to do this, I want to do that.’ There is another kind of freedom… that is Freedom From, and Freedom From is actually far more empowering in many ways.
So, for example this is the hostel of a student, and this is the college and along the way there is the bar, and say there are two students who go along and one student has learned from his parents, learned by using his own intelligence that… ‘I am not going to get into this drinking and ruin my life.’ So, then he just passes by and doesn’t even think about it. He is free from that desire. So, passing by he is planning, ‘Ok, what will I do, what will I study….’ So, he is free… so much of the mental energy is saved, but somebody who has the mentality, ‘Let me enjoy.’ The way the media, the culture propagates… ‘Come on have a life… you should drink, have a life man.’ It is not that drinking will give you life. Drinking will take your life, but the way it is propagated… ‘You grow up… if you don’t drink then you are just a baby who is drinking your mother’s milk.’ It’s not like that. This is all emotional manipulations. We are getting manipulated into doing things which are harmful for us.
Is drinking a sign of growing up? How is drinking related to growing up? It’s not. So, the point is… this boy who thinks… ‘Let me drink.’… He drinks once. The next time when he passes by that bar, he thinks, ‘Should I drink or should I not drink?’… ‘Let me drink once…no, no, I have to go for a class, I can’t drink…’ Next time he goes and drinks again. Then what happens? Each time he is gets drunk the desire to drink becomes stronger. Then in the future it is not just when he is passing by the bar that he thinks of drinking… as soon as he comes out of the hostel his mind is already in the bar. Even if he somehow he resists and goes to the classroom… hi body is the classroom, but his mind is in the bar… ‘When will I go and drink?’… and sometimes people become such alcoholics, so addicted that as soon as they wake up the first thing they think about is- a drink, and if they sleep the last thing they think is drinking. So, in the Bhagavat Gita Krishna talks about how we should become devotees of God, but basically alcoholics are devotees of alcohol. They just completely get lost. So, what has happened here? I am talking about this point of two different kinds of freedom – Freedom For and Freedom From. So, one thinks, ‘I am free to do what I want to do… I want freedom for drinking.’, but what has happened with that freedom for drinking? He has become bound, but if somebody says, ‘I am not going to drink. I don’t want to get into this business.’ That is freedom From… and Freedom From lower desires is actually very empowering. It just enables us to do… it frees our mental energy for doing so many constructive things.
So, the traditional conservative culture of India may not give us freedom for, but it gives us freedom from, and this is also empowering form of freedom.
Anyway, going back to the story now… the incident… so, this boy he said that… because of this relationship break up he was about to commit suicide, and I was making the point that the Indians may feel that, ‘We don’t have freedom to do enjoyable things.’ But that freedom also comes with a cost of it. So, this boy he said that, ‘As I was thinking of committing suicide, I just was passing by and I saw the poster of this program, and I saw…’… I was speaking on,
‘Regulating our mental diet…’ it was a vegetarian society’s program, and I spoke on how we select what we eat. Similarly we should select what input we give to our mind because our mind will become programmed and then it will powerful. It will push us to do things even if you don’t want to do such things. So, we have to be careful what input we give to the mind, and then… when he heard this he told me, ‘Now I understood that it is not I who want to commit suicide, it is my mind which is telling me to commit suicide.’… and he said that, ‘I am not going to do this.’, then I told him, ‘Come for the weekly program being held there regularly. Read articles on Gita in my website etc.’, and then he became connected nicely. Then this year also I went. So, I keep meeting him. So, this year he told me that he faced exactly the same situation. He had got into a relationship with another girl and again she left him, and he said, ‘But this time although the situation was similar…’, he said that, ‘the thought of suicide didn’t even enter my mind.’ Instead… he likes music, he plays violin quite well. So, he said that as soon as she send a text saying, ‘I am breaking up with you, I am going to block you and I am not going to talk with you. Don’t try to contact me.’ It was very cutting and brutal. So, he naturally felt bad about it, but he just went to his room, blocked himself in the room and he didn’t commit suicide. He took out his violin and he just started singing the Hare Krishna mantra. He started praying to Krishna, chanting Krishna’s name. He said that he was singing continuously for eight hours, and he said, ‘I felt the presence of Krishna so closely in my life. Those moments which could have been the most shattering of my life, they became the most uplifting moments of my life. Those moments two three years ago would have devastated… just because I took shelter of Krishna, I felt strengthened, I felt comforted, I felt loved, and I emerged stronger to this.’
So, this of course is a very dramatic incident and we don’t have to go to the extreme of contemplating suicide to realize this, but the point I am talking about is temperament. Now our temperament and our capacity to deal with difficult situations…and with our bhakti practice… with learning to connect with Krishna through the practices of bhakti… our temperament will improve tremendously, and when we learn to focus on our talents… by seeing ourselves spiritually, not materialistically and when we learn to improve our temperament by connecting ourselves with Krishna through bhakti yoga, then we will find that even with the talents that we have… our achievements will become much much more in what they would have been in the past, and thus we can discover our inner power… discover the inner Bahubali. The inner Bahubali is what? That Bahubali is the positive self-conception. The conception… the understanding that what I have is good enough for my growth and whatever negative desires I have, negative emotions that I have, I can overcome them by connecting myself with Krishna.
So, the temperament that comes through devotion makes us enormously powerful, and thus even if we don’t have much talents… talents are sensational. If somebody has talents then that is great, but in the long run what defines a person’s success is not so much as the talent as the temperament. If the person has even modest talent, but if they have a strong temperament they can achieve much more, and more importantly people can count on them. Other people they understand, ‘No, this person is talented, this person is reliable…’ Our reliability doesn’t depend on our talent, it depends on our temperament. So, in the long run in our life, whether it is in our professional growth, whether it in our family relationships… in any walk of life… it’s our reliability that will count, and our reliability depends on our temperament, and bhakti can tremendously boost our temperament, and by this we all can achieve the best that we can.
So, I said, ‘What we are is God’s gift to us, what we become is our gift to God.’ We have been given some talents and we are meant to develop them, use them and make the best contribution in our life. So, by turning towards God, by understanding that what we are is God’s gift to us… that means that we have talents and by practicing bhakti and developing the temperament… then we can improve ourselves, we can make tangible contributions in our life and what we will become… will be our gift to God.
So, I will summarize…
I spoke about discovering the Bahubali within in a Bahubali. I started by talking about how there is physical prowess which is very eye-catching, which is very attractive in a dramatic …00:16 (inaudible)… but actually subtler powers are greater powers, and with the advancement of science… ‘Knowledge is Power’… Sir Francis Bacon said. So, with scientific knowledge and the development of technology what has happened? We humans have developed powers that are far greater than physical prowess.
Lions and Tigers… physically they are better endowed than us, but we have conquered over them, we are ruling the earth, why? Because with our intellect we have tapped subtler powers. So, there could be power of bombs, there could be power of guns, but if we go deeper… in one atom or one nucleus can have so much power that it can destroy a whole city. So, subtler powers are far more consequential than grosser powers.
On one side technology has given us tremendous access to external power, but unfortunately internal power… that is the power to manage our own desires and emotions is terribly lacking, and that is why people become suicidal.
So, there are external problems, there are internal emotions and then there are our actions and responses. So, external powers have always been there throughout history but the way people are committing suicide nowadays that is unprecedented in modern historical records, and that is because they are not able to manage their emotions. So, we for own life and success in our life… we need inner power, the power to manage our own emotions and our own desires.
If we don’t consciously manage this then our inner world will be controlled by something undesirable, something unworthy. I discussed about the Blue Whale challenge. Why do people become suicidal? Because we all need a sense of self-validation…. ‘I am good, I am special, I am wonderful.’… and in today’s world because there is so much glamorisation of ideal things… You know people with perfect figure, perfect speech, great smartness… So, we feel insecure, and therefore in the need for validation we may do anything and everything. Somebody may even think that by hurting myself I will show that I am special. Thus they may commit suicide because of that. So, where do we get our validation from?
Not only do we not have… science and technology has given us access to external powers but it has not been given us access to internal power. That’s why we have addictions: device addiction, video games addiction and of course drug addictions and alcohol addictions are of course there itself, but what is happening? When the outer power is not corresponding with the inner power, than actually we become more entangled. Not only that, but there is a systematic propaganda by which we get internally trapped.
I will give two examples of how after smoking was known to be dangerous it was portrayed in such a way that it evoked people’s dare-devil spirit and they started smoking more and how? Woman were induced to smoke by portraying cigarettes as torches of freedom. So, power is never taken away as effectively as by giving the illusion of power. So today’s media gives us the illusion of power… ‘You can choose whatever you want, you can eat this, you can do this, but then we are losing power over our own desires, our own minds. Now we may not be caught for our wrong doings but we will be caught by our wrong doings. Once we do something which is unhealthy, which is unwise… that desire becomes stronger and stronger, and it becomes like ….4.30, a shackle which drags us down, and addiction is one of the strongest co-relaters… predictors of criminality. Once the desire becomes addictive what we may do we can’t predict. Like a boy killing his own mother to get some money for drugs and then killing himself in remorse. Why this? So, our desires… if they are not managed properly they can completely distort our perspective and make us do destructive things.
So, how do we gain inner power? Our whole society culture, media pushes us to get power… improve your memory, improve your speech fluency, get more marks in your exams. All this is good but our life’s success and destiny will be determined not just by this powers but by our inner power to manage our emotions.
I told the story of how this university topper was a chain smoker and died because of lung cancer. So, he had the external power but he lacked the internal power… and we can gain internal power of our emotions by our spiritual growth. So, spirituality… what does it do? I talked about… how do we get achievement? Talent plus temperament leads to achievement.
So, we all want achievements and if we don’t get achievement we feel insecure and if we look at others who are more talented than us, then again we feel insecure, but spirituality tells us that… if God had wanted us to be someone else He would have made us someone else. We have been made in a way that is enough for our spiritual growth, for our growth overall. So, rather than looking at what is there in other people’s plates we savour that which is in our plate. Satisfaction is not just a emotion we feel, it is a decision we make. So, we focus on the talents we have and rather than craving for others talents we focus on developing our own talents, and then secondly… our temperament refers to our capacity to manage our emotions. When bad things happen, how do we deal with them? When cheap desires come within us how do we deal with them? And this temperament is boosted and strengthened by our spirituality.
I talked about the story of this American student who had become suicidal because of a break up, but then again when it happened two years later after he had been practicing bhakti… then he took shelter of Krishna, and that which was going to be the most distressing period, it became the most uplifting experience for him.
So, today’s world talks about freedom in terms of ‘freedom for’, but a more empowering form of freedom is ‘freedom from’… freedom from unworthy desires, freedom from negative emotions, and that ‘freedom from’ is what is provided by spirituality.
So, we are souls who are parts of Krishna and because He is pure and powerful, as His parts we are also pure and powerful, but like a jewel covered by dirt… currently we are covered and contact with Him… because He is all pure… removes the dirt and then it brings out our best. So, whatever talents we can have… we do have…. we can tap them better and the temperament which is what counts in the long run… in our consistency, our reliability in life… then will be determined by our temperament. That temperament can be dramatically boosted by our spirituality, by our bhakti practice and thus with the talent and temperament coming together we can have the inner power to go through world’s magnificent achievements in our life. We all can fulfil the destiny that God has ordained for us, and we can bring out our best and contribute the best in life.
Thank You very much…
Transcribed by : Sadananda Krishnaprem Das.
Transcription of Summary
I spoke about discovering the Bahubali within in a Bahubali. I started by talking about how there is physical prowess which is very eye-catching, which is very attractive in a dramatic …00:16 (inaudible)… but actually subtler powers are greater powers, and with the advancement of science… ‘Knowledge is Power’… Sir Francis Bacon said. So, with scientific knowledge and the development what has happened? We humans have developed powers that are far greater than physical powers.
Lions and Tigers… physically they are better endowed than us, but we have conquered over them, we are ruling the earth, why? Because with our intellect we have tapped subtler powers. So, there could be power of bombs, there could be power of guns, but if we go deeper… one atom or one nucleus can have so much power that it can destroy a whole city. So, subtler powers are far more consequential than grosser powers.
On one side technology has given us tremendous access to external power, but unfortunately internal power… that is the power to manage our own desires and emotions; is terribly lacking, and that is why people become suicidal.
So, there are external problems, there are internal emotions and there are our actions and responses. So, external powers have always been there throughout history but the way people are committing suicide nowadays that is unprecedented in modern historical records and that is because they are not able to manage their emotions. So, we for own life and success in our life… we need inner power; the power to manage our own emotions and our own desires.
If we don’t consciously manage this then our inner world will be controlled by something undesirable, something unworthy. I discussed about the Blue Whale challenge. Why do people become suicidal? Because we all need a sense of self-validation…. ‘I am good, I am special, I am wonderful.’… and in today’s world because there is so much glamorisation of ideal things… You know people with perfect figure, perfect speech, great smartness. So, we feel insecure, and therefore in the need for validation we may do anything and everything. Somebody may even think that by hurting myself I will show that I am special. Thus they may commit suicide because of that. So, where do we get our validation from?
Not only do we not have science and technology which has given us access to external powers… but we have not been given access to internal power. That is why we have addictions… device addiction, video games addiction and of course drug addictions and alcohol addictions are of course there itself, but what is happening? When the outer power is not corresponding with the inner power than actually we become more entangled. Not only that, but there is a systematic propaganda by which we get internally trapped.
I will give two examples of how after smoking was known to be dangerous it was portrayed in such a way that it evoked peoples dare-devil spirit and they started smoking more and how? Woman were induced to smoke by portraying cigarettes as torches of freedom. So, power is never taken away as effectively as by giving the illusion of power. So today’s media gives us the illusion of power… ‘You can choose whatever you want, you can eat this, you can do this, but then we are losing power over our desires, our own minds. Now we may not be caught for our wrong doings but we will be caught by our wrong doings. Once we do something which is unhealthy, which is unwise… that becomes stronger and stronger, and it becomes like ….4.30, a shackle which drags us down, and addiction is one of the strongest correlates??… Predictors of criminality. Once the desire becomes addictive… what we may do we can’t predict. A boy killing his own mother to get some money for drugs and then killing himself in remorse. Why this? So, our desires… if they are not managed properly they can completely distort our perspective and make us do destructive things.
So, how do we gain inner power? Our whole society culture media pushes us to get power… improve your memory, improve your speech fluency, get more marks in your exams. All this is good but our life’s success and destiny will be determined not just by this powers but our inner power to manage our emotions.
I told the story of how this university topper was a chain smoker and died because of lung cancer. So, he had the external power but he lacked the internal power… and we can gain internal power of our emotions by our spiritual growth. So, spirituality… what does it do? I talked about… how do we get achievement? Talent plus temperament leads to achievement.
So, we all want achievement and if we don’t get achievement we feel insecure and if we look at others who are more talented than us, then again we feel insecure, but spirituality tells us that… if God had wanted us to be someone else He would have made us someone else. We have been made in a way that is enough for our spiritual growth, for our growth. So, rather than looking at what is there in other people’s plates we savour that what is in our plate. Satisfaction is not just an emotion within, it is a decision we make. So, we focus on the talents we have and rather than craving for others talents we focus on developing our own talents, and then secondly our temperament refers to our capacity to manage our emotions. When bad things happen how do we deal with them? When cheap desires come within us how do we deal with them? And this temperament is boosted and strengthened by our spirituality.
I talked about the story of an American student who had become suicidal because of a break up, but then again when it happened two years later after he had been practicing bhakti… then he took shelter of Krishna, and that which was going to be the most distressing period, it became the most uplifting experience for him.
So, today’s world talks about freedom in terms of freedom for, but a more empowering form of freedom is freedom from… freedom from unworthy desires, freedom from negative emotions, and that freedom from is what is provided by spirituality.
So, we are souls who are parts of Krishna and because He is pure and powerful, as His parts we are also pure and powerful, but like a jewel covered by dirt currently we are covered and contact with Him… because He is all pure… removes the dirt and then it brings out our best. So, whatever talents we can have… we do have…. we can tap them better and the temperament which is what counts in the long run… in our consistency, in our reliability in life… then we trim our temperament. That temperament can be dramatically boosted by our spirituality, by our bhakti practice. Thus with the talent and temperament coming together we can have the inner power to go through world’s magnificent achievements in our life. We all can fulfil the destiny that God has ordained for us, and we can bring out our best and contribute the best in life.
(Transcription by Sadananda Kr