Healthy Doubt

Thank you for the article on conviction [Ravindra Svarupa Dasa, May/June], wherein the author raises a valid question—Is certainty possible in an age of doubt?—and concludes by proving that we are made for belief.

The Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.26.30) points out that doubt is the distinct characteristic of intelligence:

samshayo ’tha viparyaso
nishchayah smritir eva cha
svapa ity uchyate buddher
lakshanam vrittitah prithak

“Doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory, and sleep, as determined by their different functions, are said to be the distinct characteristics of intelligence.”

In the purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada writes, “But doubting is not very favorable when information is received from the proper source.” In this way he qualifies the verse and draws the line between doubting that is healthy and doubting that leads one to peril.
Su-gita Vani Devi Dasi
Mayapur, India

Beneficial Movies

Regarding the article “Avatar: The Film and the Reality,” by Urmila Devi Dasi [July/August], admittedly Avatar deals with or is submerged in the modes of material nature. Still, I think some movies can be of spiritual benefit. Many movies today deal somewhat with God-related topics, such as honesty, forgiveness, etc. Some directly deal with God as the ultimate authority, such as the movie Joan of Arc.

On one walk through the park, Prabhupada was saying how enjoyable it was. He said that others work hard to construct a nice park and we come there and enjoy it. He compared it to the example of a snake and a mouse. A mouse digs a hole, but the snake comes, eats the mouse, and lives in the hole, thus taking advantage of the mouse’s work. Some movies cost $200 million to make. Could the same principle apply?
Chakri Dasa
St. Louis, Missouri

Urmila Devi Dasi replies: I mention in my article that most movies are not suitable for spiritual practitioners. Certainly there are some movies, books, and so forth, that are of help to those who wish to attain full spiritual perfection. For example, when we teach children, we include books and movies about history, geography, and science. Some adults may also find some nonfiction books or movies useful in their particular service to the Lord.

In our tradition, there is also a place for fiction as a vehicle for teaching truth. For example, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam there are several fictional stories, the longest being the story of Puranjana. Similarly, there are some fictional books and movies that teach truth. Unfortunately, these are the notable exception, and the vast majority of modern media, of any kind, serves to encourage and nourish illusion.

Seeing Krishna

How can I see Lord Krishna?
Via the Internet

Our reply: The scriptures say that the price to see Krishna is simply our intense desire to see Him. We have to be eager to advance to a high level of purity, which can be achieved only by the grace of the spiritual master. If we serve the spiritual master, then we become a candidate for seeing Krishna.

Spiritual life is not cheap. We have to practice sincerely, with great determination. Therefore in the Krishna consciousness movement we have a regulated life of chanting and hearing about Krishna, refraining from forbidden activities, and serving Krishna and guru. These things will purify us, and then Krishna will be pleased to have us back in His association. It is said that we shouldn’t try to see God but should act in such a way that He will want to see us. Bhakti is what attracts Him, so keep steadily engaged in His service and glorify Him always.

Bad Situations

Although we are doing bhakti with full devotion, if at any time in life a bad situation occurs, then what to do? And what may be the reason behind it?
Nidhi Gaur
Via the Internet

Our reply: Lord Krishna advises in Bhagavad-gita (2.14) that one must tolerate the temporary disturbances of the material nature. These disturbances come because of our senses and are a natural part of the material world. So many problems may come and go. From the material viewpoint, one day everything is favorable, and the next day everything is unfavorable. Despite such seemingly favorable and unfavorable situations brought on by our material circumstance, we must stay fixed in spiritual consciousness and continually chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

This chanting will clear our hearts of all material miseries brought on by falsely accepting the material body as the self and fix us in our true spiritual position as Lord Krishna’s eternal loving servant and associate.

Humanitarian Services

It’s true that social service is temporary, but some social service is essential for devotional service. Why are there some ISKCON schools and Bhaktivedanta Hospital to serve the affected? What are other humanitarian services run by ISKCON?
Via the Internet

Our reply: Humanitarian work is only helpful in the bigger picture of life if the ultimate goal is to bring people closer to Krishna. Bhaktivedanta Hospital helps people materially, but also spiritually. The form of Srila Prabhupada sits in the front hall, and doctors not only provide medical treatment, but they also offer prasada. Spiritual guidance is also offered in the hospital. It is a combination of spiritual and material welfare.

ISKCON schools are meant to offer both spiritual and material education so that students are trained to function well in both material and spiritual environments.

ISKCON has programs for the free distribution of food, but the food is prasada, so this “humanitarian” service provides both spiritual and material assistance. Devotees also assist other devotees with material aspects of their lives, as well as offering spiritual support and guidance. Both types of aid to devotees are considered devotional service.