(The following article was posted in the "Meditations" column of the Hindustan Times, one of India's largest english language daily newspapers, on 10 March 2003.)
Society is astray without God at centre
THE ROAD to hell is paved with good intentions, so they say. Many wars were fought for 'valid and necessary' reasons.
Most English people thought their government was helping the Indians when British armies colonized this land and its entrepreneurs exported Manchester-cut cloth and processed tea. Probably most of the UK citizenry felt their country was bettering the distant land's superstitious adherence to false doctrines that kept her ignorant and undeveloped.
Violence is not always immoral or illegal - such as when we defend ourselves against murder. So what is sin? Well one thing is that when schoolchildren are found guilty of violent crime, we need to do more than just worry. Core values depend on respect for authority and the absence of such value is rooted in Godlessness.
Sin may be defined as disobeying the laws of the state or flaunting the laws of God. But what if I protect or hide an innocent person wrongly accused of a crime? What of the inconsistencies and injustices that derive from seemingly religious laws? What of 'Good Samaritanism'?
Looking deeper, it's been said that the only sin we truly commit is not loving God enough. Love can be prosaic, verbal, mental, truncated, superficial, and perverted. Lions love their cubs, and surely Hitler's mother loved him. Love of God can also be 'familial', primitive and shallow.
Statistics show that most people would steal and cheat if they were sure they wouldn't get caught. How is it possible to attain sinlessness, the mentality of not wanting to offend common decency or hurt others?
Love of God ? like love of anything ? is not as easy and spontaneous as it seems. In its more advanced and enduring stages, love of God requires discipline, sacrifice, and voluntary austerity ? in a word, self-control. Those unafraid of controlling themselves and revealing their love for God (as opposed to just thinking they 'love God') live their philosophy. It is said in Rupa Goswami's writings that a person who controls tongue, mind, words, belly and genitals is qualified to have many students.
Goodness is essential if we as a race are to survive this century. If we value honesty, we need to show, not simply tell, what we think is right. We need to bring God back to life.
The writer is emeritus member of ISKCON Governing Body Commission