by Acarya Pranakrsnananda Avadhuta
The word “world” is translated into Sanskrit as “jagat.” Jagat means that which is always moving, always undergoing change. Everything in this world moves, nothing is stationary. This is the nature of the world. However, we might ask the question, “In what direction is it moving? What is the goal of this movement?”
Let us suppose that I am assigned by my professor to do some research. I go to the bus station and approach various people to ask them to help me fulfill my assignment by answering a question. My question is, “What is the goal of life?”
I am sure my question would surprise most people, as they have never thought about this idea. However if I ask them the goal of their business, their club, their organization, they could easily tell me as it is written in the aims and objectives of their constitution and by-laws which they submitted for their registration. Many individuals hardly ever think about the goal of life. Why have I been born? Why did I come to this planet? What is my purpose in coming here?
The world moves and I am part of this world. This vast universe with so many stars, suns, nebulae, planets, billions of plants, animals and human beings was not created just so I could get a university degree, a beautiful family, a house, car, video and TV set. Such a tremendous creation taking billions of years to complete must have had some larger goal in mind.
Yogis believe that after death there is rebirth: life – death – rebirth – etc. So the degree I attain in this life will not continue with me to the next. I will have to begin again at Primary One. I will have to study again, marry again, and struggle again. For how many lives will I continue to struggle? It is obvious that this struggle is for something else! Even after I achieve these petty goals, I am not content. I want more and more and more. So surely there is more… somewhere.
Seven thousand years ago a great spiritual master named Sadashiva came to this planet to give a direction to this created universe. He came with a specific purpose to show us in a practical way the goal of life and how to attain it. He said the goal of life is Atma moksartham Jagat hitaya ca. It means “liberation of the soul from the bondage of psychic boundaries and selfless service to the world”. He said that this is the goal of the individual and society.
What is society? The word society in Sanskrit is “samaj”. Samaj is composed of two root words: “sama” and “aja”. Sama means “together” or “same”. Aja means “to move”. So when humanity moves together it is a society. If there is to be a society, then two elements are essential. One is a common goal; a goal, which everyone agrees, is our collective objective. Second is the energy to move toward that goal. Now if we all agree that the goal Shiva gave us is the correct one, then there must be some specific method or process to achieve that goal, otherwise, it is utopian. That scientific method which Shiva taught to realize the goal is Tantra Yoga, the Yoga of Challenge. Yogis say the most essential aspect of that spiritual cult is meditation. So meditation is the practical struggle to achieve the status of liberation and the attitude of selfless service.
But what is the most fundamental necessity in order to do meditation? Meditation is impossible without a human body? Therefore to maintain a human body, food, clothing, shelter and medicine are minimum requirements. And to acquire these basic necessities education for employment should be guaranteed. That means a correct socio-economic philosophy must be adopted constitutionally to insure the survival of the human body.
Now let us take a closer look at the existing socio-economic philosophies on our planet today. There are basically two. Adam Smith explained the older philosophy in detail in his book The Wealth of Nations, which is still available in bookshops. In his book he gives all the principles upon which economic systems are based today with a few exceptions. My purpose here is not to explain economics. I want us to analyze the basic motivation of these economic movements. Adam Smith says that the reason that our society is “progressing” is because of greed and selfishness. Greed and selfishness are the motivating factors for economic growth and increase in the standard of living. He also says that this characteristic should not be controlled in any way, especially by government. He calls this “laissez faire”.
I have stated that the goal of life is liberation of the Soul and selfless service.
However, this economic system advocates greed and selfishness. If I follow this philosophy as it is, I go against the purpose of spiritual life. I either abandon my spiritual practice altogether or change the system so that it suits my objective.
In reaction to the misery and suffering of the labor class in Europe at the time, Karl Marx proposed a “new” economic system based on state ownership. He blamed private ownership as the cause of people’s sufferings. Actually the main difference between the philosophy of Adam Smith, Capitalism, and of Karl Marx, Communism, is the concept of ownership. However, Karl Marx did not solve the problem of greed and selfishness.
In the past leaders of communist countries were usually old and died in office. In the communist economy, economic privileges came with the post. A party official got a house, car, swimming pool, special shopping privileges, etc. because he/she had a certain position in the government or party. However, when the party official was removed from office, he/she got lesser privileges and some were totally removed. So the person did not want to lose anything. They wanted to hold onto what they had. Communism in motivation is the same as capitalism. Both are motivated by greed and selfishness, only the style differs.
As I have said earlier, greed and selfishness are contrary to our spiritual pursuit. If a person goes to the airport in London to catch a plane to New York, but instead boards a plane going to Paris, I would call that person foolish. But throughout the world today people of various countries and religions are doing just that. On the one hand they teach that we should be sacrificing, loving, compassionate – service above self. On the other, they are busy competing with each other in the race to accumulate more and more, depriving thousands and thousands of their basic requirements of life. Physical wealth is limited, only Divinity is unlimited. Physical wealth must be shared rationally.
In every scripture of the world it is mentioned that there is only one God. Now there are some differences in the name of God, however we all accept the fact that there is only one. Now if there is only one God and everything in this universe was created or born out of that one God, then I am related to each and every other entity as we all come from the same Father. We are all brothers and sisters. When I sit down to the table to eat in my home, I naturally share the food I have with all my family members. I also make sure that my fat brother and skinny sister get a nutritional meal so that they can be equally healthy.
This is contrary to what happens in the dog society. If I throw some leftover food to a group of dogs, I see that the strongest dog will stand over the food eating to his heart’s content growling if any other dog tries to come near to satisfy its desire. In today’s “society” I can see how various “strong dogs” stand and growl over the limited resources and are not bothered if thousands of innocents are torn apart by the sharp teeth and strong jaws of their greed and selfishness. But then we are not dogs!
There is in every living being a thirst for limitlessness. A limitless goal can only satisfy this thirst. If we are to establish world peace on this planet, then we must propagate the principle of one God and the practice to attain Him. It will not do to sit idle, waiting for some miracle to occur to change the situation or wallow in our own spiritual view of life. Divine grace is pouring down upon me like a monsoon. I am simply to utilize it.
Radio, television, cinema, video, billboards, etc. are chanting the mantra everyday in every house that greed and selfishness are the real moral principles and that dollar is the only God. Spirituality is neither a convenient escape from stress and strain nor a commercial venture where God and man strike a deal for mutual benefit like businessmen on the stock exchange. Man, money and material are all being harnessed in a terrible effort to propagate the new god (Money) and the new morality (Greed & Selfishness).
Participating in a social forum or voicing my opinion once a year in a public gathering, doing my own individual spiritual practices in the privacy of my own home or group, although personally helpful, need to be brought to the external world. Peace is the result of a continuous, sustained effort to improve the quality and standard of life by a moment-to-moment struggle to establish Divinity in the temple of my mind and an environment friendly to the purpose. Can I be satisfied to say on my deathbed that my achievement in life is a University degree, a good family, a house, a car and a personal computer, that I was able to personally over come stress and disease? Is that to be my legacy to our universal family?
Spirituality is not a utopian ideal, but a practical way of life that demands commitment. By our meditation, our sacrifice and our selfless service we propagate the real goal of life “Liberation of the Soul and Selfless Service to the World”. Spirituality, and the proper use of God’s property, not ownership of it, will bring peace to the earth. May we all be successful in our endeavour!