In my previous discourse, I said that human beings reach the culmination of devotion by subjective approach through objective adjustment. I also explained how devotion develops through various psychic expressions. Now we should clearly understand both the introversial aspect (the subjective approach) and the extroversial aspect (the objective adjustment). These should be crystal-clear to one and all.
The inner psychic movement of human beings, their existential awareness, is completely rhythmic. A portion of whatever happens in the outer world, in outer existence, is adjusted with the inner psychic rhythm, and another portion is not. When the happenings in the outer world are not adjusted with the inner psychic rhythm, one feels some distress. You may have experienced in your personal life that sometimes you feel very uneasy in the company of certain people, but you feel quite comfortable with another group. When the rhythm of your movement in the external world, the rhythm of your lifestyle, conforms to your inner psychic rhythm, you feel comfortable. But when these rhythms do not correspond, you feel uncomfortable. For progress in the external world there should be clear guidelines, a clear and well-integrated philosophical base. The society often lacks this; and that is why people tend to lose balance in social life. When those who have developed intellectually come in contact with an uncongenial environment, they find it difficult to adjust.
Present-day humanity has, no doubt, made considerable intellectual progress. But in the external world, there is a lack of adjustment. This is the reason that among the educated people of today the number of lunatics – people suffering from psychic disorders – is on the increase: because there is no adjustment in the speeds of the inner and outer worlds. Not only is there maladjustment in speed but also in rhythm; that is, the pattern of internal psychic rhythm is altogether different from the external rhythm of the objective world. Obviously clash is inevitable, and the impact of this clash is felt much more in the psychic realm than in the physical sphere. As a result, human beings lose their mental adjustment.
Many theories have been propounded in the world. Some of them were concerned mainly with the spiritual world; they had no relation with the rationality of the psychic world at all. Most of these theories have been thrown onto the garbage heap of history. There were some theories that showed some concern for the psychic realm as well, but they too could not develop the mental equipoise of society, and they too were rejected by the people. Some of these philosophies pertaining to the physical realm sounded very fine indeed, but they were not in perfect tune with the hard realities of the objective world. Those philosophies were quite satisfactory in the dreamland of theory, but they had no connection whatsoever with the practicalities of the earth.
Other theories, sounding somewhat pleasing to the ear, have spoken glibly of human equality; but upon application people discovered the ineffectiveness of these theories, because the fundamental principles of these philosophies were contrary to the basic realities of the world. Vaecitryaḿ prákrtadharmah samánaḿ na bhaviśyati [“Diversity, not identity, is the law of nature”]. The world is full of diversities – a panorama of variegated forms and rhythms. One must never forget it. Sometimes the superficial display of these theories has dazzled the eyes of the onlooker, but actually they contained no dynamism. And yet, dynamism is indeed the first and last word of human existence. That which has lost its dynamism is just like a stagnant pool. In the absence of flow, a pond invariably becomes overgrown with weeds, and becomes a hazard to health. It is better to fill this sort of pond with earth. Many philosophies in the past have rendered this kind of disservice to humanity. In the end they have only flung humanity into the quagmire of dogmatism, the breeding ground of innumerable mosquitoes. They did not contribute to the welfare of any human being.
The devotional sentiment is the highest and most valuable treasure of humanity. I have said in Namámi Krśńasundaram that Krśńa is the vaeduryamańi [brightest jewel] of the human heart. This element of devotion, the most precious treasure of humanity, must be preserved most carefully. Because it is such a tender inner asset, to preserve it from the onslaughts of materialism, one must build a protective fence around it, just as people put up a guard-rail around a small tender plant. Now the question is, what is this protective fence? It is a proper philosophy which will establish the correct harmony between the spiritual and material worlds, and be a perennial source of inspiration for the onward movement of society.
The sentiment that grows out of love for the indigenous soil of a country is called “geo-sentiment”. From this geo-sentiment, many other sentiments emerge, such as geo-patriotism, geo-economics and many other geocentric sentiments, including geo-religion. This geo-sentiment attempts to keep humanity confined within a limited part of this world. But the innermost desire of people is to expand themselves maximally in all directions.
Now, what is the role of devotional sentiment, the most valuable treasure of humanity? It is to transform the sense of worldly existence into the supreme spiritual stance. If a materialistic philosophy contains any narrowness, like the geo-sentiment we discussed, an imbalance is bound to occur between the inner and outer worlds, and psycho-physical imbalance will be inevitable. That is why, in spite of possessing everything, people will remain poor and deprived. In the past this geo-sentiment has caused enormous harm to many individuals and groups of people. Intelligent people must keep themselves aloof from this geo-sentiment and support nothing that is based on it, because it pollutes the devotional sentiment; it degrades human beings and undermines human excellence.
There is still another sentiment which is more expanded than geo-sentiment – it is socio-sentiment. Socio-sentiment does not confine people to a particular territory, but instead pervades a particular social group. That is, instead of thinking about the welfare of a particular geographical area, people think about the well-being of a group, even to the exclusion of all other groups. And in the process, while they concern themselves with the interest of a particular group, they do not hesitate to violate the interests and natural growth of other groups. Perhaps this socio-sentiment is a bit better than geo-sentiment, but it is not altogether ideal; it is not free from defects.
Socio-sentiment has, in the past, caused much bloodshed and created enormous division and mutual distrust among human groups, separating one group from another and throwing them into the dark dungeons of petty dogmas. Humanitys movement is then no longer like a broad and flowing river, but like a stagnant pool.
There is still another sentiment – human sentiment. Many persons were born in the past who shed copious tears for suffering humanity. But strangely enough, after their eloquent speeches were over, they sat down comfortably at a dinner table and treated themselves to a delicious meal of hilsa and kaimách fish(1) – as if those fish had not suffered pain and death. This human sentiment has expressly violated the interests of non-human creatures, but its proponents have found nothing wrong with it.
Once I read in a certain book that a great saint used to live only on locusts dipped in honey. That saint did not seriously consider that those little locusts also had vital life force throbbing in them.
Obviously human beings will have to behave rationally; they must maintain their existence while adjusting with the external environment. It is true that living creatures are the food for other living beings (jiivah jiivasya bhojanam); and indeed, the vegetables that we eat every day also have living cells in them. But regarding food, I have expressed my opinion in some of my books.(2)
This concern for the vital rhythm throbbing in other human creatures has driven people to the fold of humanism, has made them humanists. Now, if the same human sentiment is extended to include all creatures of this universe, then and only then can human existence be said to have attained its final consummation. And in the process of expanding ones inner love to other creatures, there should be another sentiment behind this human sentiment, which will vibrate human sentiment in all directions, which will touch the innermost recesses of the hearts of all creatures, and lead one and all to the final stage of supreme blessedness.
Vistárah sarvabhútasya Viśńorvishvamidaḿ jagat;
[This manifested universe is the expression of Viśńu, the latent All-Pervading Entity. Therefore a wise person should look upon everything as his or her own, from an integral viewpoint.]
Humanitys Greatest Treasure
All molecules, atoms, electrons, protons, positrons and neutrons are the veritable expressions of the same Supreme Consciousness. Those who remember this reality, who keep this realization ever alive in their hearts, are said to have attained perfection in life. They are the real bhaktas [devotees]. When this devotional cult(3) does not remain confined to a mere practice, but instead is elevated to a devotional sentiment, a devotional mission, to the realm of devotional ideation – when the underlying spirit of humanism is extended to everything, animate and inanimate, in this universe – I have designated this as “Neohumanism”. This Neohumanism will elevate humanism to universalism, the cult of love for all created beings of this universe.
So the actual task of human beings is to maintain a subjective approach – that is, they will advance psycho-spiritually towards the Supreme Consciousness, inspired by Neohumanistic ideals – while at the same time they must strive for the expansion of humanistic principles and thus establish a social structure based on universalism. Otherwise, their inner psycho-spiritual rhythms will not be able to properly maintain equilibrium with narrow sentiments such as geo-sentiment, and this will have a disastrous effect on society.
As we have already said, the greatest human treasure is devotional sentiment, devotional wonts. This devotional wealth must be preserved; otherwise humanity will lose its most valuable possession. The people of the present-day world have made considerable progress, so now they must not permit this highest human treasure to be destroyed. Whenever we see that the pressure of external circumstances threatens this life essence, we should appeal to the Supreme: “O Lord, please be kind enough to protect our inner vitality from total destruction. Save us from the agony of total loss.”
(1) Expensive fish dishes usually enjoyed by the rich in India. –Trans.
(2) See especially A Guide to Human Conduct (1961) and Caryácarya Part 3 (1965). –Trans.
(3) “Cult” is used here in the sense of “practice” or “process”. –Trans.