(The following article was posted in the "Meditations" column of the Hindustan Times, one of India's largest English language daily newspapers, on Wednesday, 11 June 2003.)
ONE MILLIONS dollars is what each person would have if all the wealth in the world were equally divided, say reliable sources.
In a similar vein, enormous pockets of poverty exist because of scarce refrigeration and transportation facilities -- technologies easily shared across international borders. Having enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed is as true now as it was in Gandhi's day,
Bhagavad Gita uses nature to help us better understand everyday things about spirituality. The 15th chapter discusses a banyan tree whose inverted reflection is compared to our world. Banyan trees are bewildering and mysterious. Some cities routinely cut off their expansive branches because the tree threat. ens autos and truck traffic, walls and buildings, and smooth walkways. Of nature's most important, plants, banyan and pipal generate more oxygen per pound than any other known trees. But banyans, the silent beauties, could get out-of-hand.
In the Vedic botanic repertoire, the lotus is the most repeated image. In the Gita the lotus leaf is noted for its property of remaining dry while in water. This feature of the leaf is compared to a person living in the material world but not disturbed by it, being in but not of the world.
Rupa Goswami writes of phalgu vairagya or incomplete renunciation, and the Bhagavata refers to kaitava dharma,(1.1.2). The precise meanings of phalgu and kaitava are arguable, but minimalist definitions indicate that which is shadowy, hidden, covered or unsubstantial. In other words, renunciation and religiosity are often stunted, superficial and hypocritical.
The art or 'trick' to living happily in the material world is to meditate constantly on the Supreme Lord. This form of meditation is sometimes referred to as samadhi, and the technique as yukta vairagya.
Constant meditation won't happen without love. Love is what keeps photos of children on managers' desks. It keeps spouses together for decades. It reaches into the deepest regions of the human mind and heart. It longs for a better world. However, to be in love with God requires knowledge of God's attributes, activities, and forms, as well as absorption in devotional service as a daily fact of life. Notions of 'love of God' abound, but they are mosily tangled and fickle. Constant, life-changing love derives from a far deeper source.
The writer is emeritus member of the ISKCON Governing Body Commission.