Fine Solutions for Gross Problems
Society, in its speciously sought out aspiration to be a Cockaigne, contains manifold institutions delivering diverse services to a wide range of folks – from the courthouse delivering justice, to the lawmakers and enforcers providing security, to the microcosmic level of small and large businesses providing all means of sense gratification; as well as to the blighted, unemployed, and other living entities who employ the services of philanthropists seeking to help them. There contains a wide net of paths for a wide group of personalities and interests. In a naïve way, there is an attempt for harmony here…there must be, in so far as these reciprocal exchanges can take place. After all, in order to live in the society and satisfy desires, one must be able to render service to the society and have service rendered back unimpeded, depending on a network of individuals to provide you amenities – underscoring the popular cliché, nothing is free in this world and perpetuating the belief that economic development is the salvation of human society.
In a feeble attempt to control the status quo, we can find many trammels that have been imposed to regulate the ‘free’ market; to solidify it so that in the course of working to fulfill one’s desires, the layman and CEO alike need not feel as much anxiety about losing a plumy position within society (although to think in these terms today is considered unrealistic even by the dreamy eyed and optimistic) or its concomitant plush or paltry rewards. Because to work in a society that upholds the value of quid pro quo as its infallible foundation for all dealings is to always be anxious about one’s own selfish interests to a certain gradation.
If part of this network of people are shackled and indentured to it, then where’s the freedom or harmony? How can I morally seek to be a part of something that is directly and indirectly causing the sufferings of other people? Even if I want to enjoy, how can I enjoy when it causes such tangible backlash? And if I am suffering, then what is the quality of service that I am rendering to society?
When the intelligence is clouded over with the desire to enjoy, there can never be a prudent decision made because it is always tainted with ephemeral attachments that can be used to control and corrupt. That is why every attempt at working within the framework of materialistic thought will never bring about the lasting changes we desire to see and experience on both a personal and universal scale. That deep sense of connective harmony we search for through trade unions in business, United Nations in politics, girlfriends or boyfriends in romance, et cetera.
The Srimad Bhagavatam (2.5.32), an ancient Vedic text from India, explains in a clear, scientific, and cogent way why we continue to experience seemingly recurrent hardships and anomalies in everyday life very nicely:
“The living condition in material existence depends more or less on one’s intelligence and powerful living energy. Intelligence to counteract the hard struggle for existence is assisted by the senses for acquiring knowledge, and the living entity maintains himself by manipulating the active organs, like hands and legs.”
After having analyzed the symptoms of the disease, Doctor Srila Prabhupada, a spiritual preceptor and the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, in the commentary to the next verse explains the root cause:
“The different types of bodily construction of the living entities are exactly like different types of motorcars manufactured by assembling the allied motor parts. When the car is ready, the driver sits in the car and moves it as he desires…The living entities, however, are not the bodies; they are separate from the cars of the body.”
To conclude, misidentifying the self to be something categorically different in every way from its true position is the origin of the problems we see manifested in the public sphere today; because of such ignorance (i.e. thinking oneself to be the body and one’s bodily possessions to be their own), every endeavor will be met with concomitant frustration no matter how cleverly we attempt to move matter to fit our megrims. Therefore, in the popular endeavor to push the envelope further than the previous generation, I petition the intelligent and broad-minded, when they attempt to think ‘outside of the box’, to also think outside of the material realm of the senses, the mind, and intelligence. These things are on the physical field, and to go beyond is to approach that which is more subtle than the subtlest matter: the numinous, of which the soul is but a tiny part, but one’s true ego.