The Mind’s Desires
Why does the mind always go toward fulfilling its desires?
Via the Internet
Reply: Thank you for this age-old question. It certainly is not just your problem, but rather a universal concern.
Actually the mind works hard to fulfill the desires of the senses. The senses become attracted to something, and then the mind begins to contemplate how to fulfill that desire. The natural position of the living being is to be happy, and in the material world the common mistake is to think that sense objects will yield happiness. Therefore we are always in hot pursuit of material relationships and material objects, thinking they will offer relief from suffering. When we get some relief, we call it happiness.
You can do various things to break this cycle. Keep the senses quiet by giving them what they need. Eat enough, but not too much, of the right foods – those that can be offered to Krishna. Sleep enough, but not too much. Find good association. If necessary, get married and have some intimacy. In general, satisfy the senses in moderation and according to mode-of-goodness standards. Make choices that support spiritual strength and minimize material ramifications.
Strengthen the intelligence by chanting Hare Krishna and hearing and reading about Krishna and the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. Understand how the modes of nature work and how they keep you hankering (especially with the help of the media), and then with knowledge control your mind even though it is eager for unbeneficial things.
Don’t put the senses in dangerous places. If you are trying to give up drinking, for example, don’t go to a bar. If you are trying to give up smoking, stay away from people who smoke. Stay out of places where the senses will be attracted to undesirable things. That might mean limiting your time on your phone or computer.
Some discipline is required. Especially in the beginning, habits will be difficult to break. You have to be determined to bring your mind and senses under control. Again, good association can be very helpful in this regard.
Lastly, and most important, develop a higher taste. When you get something beneficial that is satisfying, you can be peaceful and more easily train your senses to avoid bad things. If you chant regularly, learn about Krishna, do things for Him with like-minded people, and participate in His worship, you will find it easier to control the mind.
Why the Creation?
What according to the ISKCON is the reason for creation? Why would Krishna need such an establishment?
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Reply: Many people wonder why God created this place of suffering. Atheists challenge: if there is a God who is all-powerful, why does He allow such a place of suffering to exist? And even people sincerely seeking the truth ask this question.
The material world is created for the same reason a government creates a prison. The living entities (souls) are meant to be in the spiritual world happily serving Krishna, but they want to be independent enjoyers and therefore cannot live in the spiritual realm, Vaikuntha. There Krishna is the center, and everyone focuses on pleasing Him, thereby becoming free from anxiety and eternally happy by serving the source of all happiness.
But when we envy God’s superior position, we want to play by our own rules, and we see ourselves as the center of everything. Because of these desires, we are always trying to enjoy the material energy beyond what we have earned by our karma. We are never satisfied. This tendency causes many problems, like global warming, shortages of fresh water and clear air, and envy between persons, nations, and even family members, which in turn leads to quarreling and wars in the hard struggle for an unattainable state of eternal happiness. Although this fruitless quest leads to bad karmic reactions, still we continue to desire to exploit matter. It is like a donkey chasing a carrot tied to a stick fastened to its head.
These independent desires cannot be accommodated in the spiritual world, so for us to experience the consequences of seeking material happiness and eventually come to the realization that the spiritual being can never get real pleasure from matter, this universe is created.
The situation is like that of a child who wants to cook but is too young to use a flame. He is given a toy kitchen where he can do as he wishes. Or, in a more severe example, the government builds a prison, where those who break the laws and cause trouble are offered an opportunity to learn their lesson. Some living entities learn by experience and so progress spiritually, ultimately being reinstated in their spiritual position. Now wiser, they are satisfied in knowing that they are in the perfect position of serving Krishna with love. Others stay longer, determined to find some way to enjoy power, wealth, fame, beauty, and so on, independent of any boundaries. Eventually they will learn, but it is a slow, painful process.
I am writing an essay about your movement, and to get a fair and extensive picture of the movement, I have a question: How does Hare Krishna and its members define the word religion?
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Reply: We generally do not use the word religion to refer to Krishna consciousness. One’s religion can change. One can be born Jewish and change his religion to become a Christian, for example. We use the term sanatana-dharma to define Krishna consciousness.
Sanatana-dharma (“eternal occupation”) refers to the eternal, inherent nature of the soul, which is to serve. And the perfection of that eternal nature is to serve the eternal, God. This can be done within any religious faith. The focus must be on serving a personal God with loving devotion. “Personal God” because it is not possible to have loving reciprocation in service with something impersonal, such as energy; one must find and serve the source of that energy.
If you look at any living being, you will see that he or she is serving someone or something: spouse or children or boss or society or country or political party. Or we are simply serving our mind and senses. The quality of serving is always present. Just as water is characterized by wetness, the soul is characterized by the propensity to serve. Putting that propensity into serving God is its true purpose. Therefore we call Krishna consciousness sanatana-dharma – the perfection of service in serving God. This principle can be applied to any religion as long as the intention is to make God happy by trying to please Him with one’s service.