All right, thank you, guys, very much for coming tonight. We didn’t come to celebrate my birthday, we came to chant for Krishna. So thanks for coming and chanting to Krishna with me on my birthday. (Applause) That is the best birthday gift… coming together and chanting to Krishna.
I understand some of you are somewhat new to this whole process. And that is great. We all start somewhere. Those who began to entertain this philosophy and maybe practice some of this philosophy are very fortunate.
You see, we have our customs, our cultures, our things we do in the material world. And one of the things is that we have birthday parties. We honor someone’s taking birth. But, unfortunately, we don’t really understand what this means. But when we come to this Vedic teaching that is brought to us through the Vedic scriptures and through the perfect spiritual master, we begin to understand things as they really are.
So I think all of you have attended some of the programs that I’ve offered. And if so, probably you have heard the idea that we are not our material bodies, that we are spirit souls. And spirit souls are eternal. Spirit, spiritual energy, it is eternal energy. We are a spark of that spiritual energy. So therefore we are eternal beings.
Material energy is not eternal, it is temporary. So we, the eternal spirit soul, are living in temporary material bodies. So every person, and every spirit soul is a person, in the material world is in some type of material body therefore we are called embodied souls, souls in material bodies. And the bodies are very temporary. They are very temporary. They are very fragile. They come and they go very quickly. So when we take birth, what that really is is we, the spirit soul, are entering in to this material body that we have now, for instance.
There is even lack of understanding of when the soul enters the body. Some people think when it comes out of the womb. Some people think after two or three months in the womb. There are different ideas. And some, very far away from any understanding, think that there is no soul at all, “The body is it. Life is the body. We are the body. So life began with the formation of the body, life ends at the death of the body. And that is the beginning and the end, finished. 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, 80 years and it is all, movie is over, end of the story.” (Laughs) This is all absolutely not true.
Soul, the life, the person, enters the womb of the mother from the father. And at that moment when that sperm and that life particle, the spirit soul, meets that egg and there is fertilization, that is when the soul enters that body. That is called conception and that is when the soul is in that body.
And that body will remain “alive” as long as the soul is in the body. And when that soul leaves that body, then there is no more life – death, it is called death. Death means the soul leaves the body. But that is not the end of the story. We are eternal spirit souls. So we go to another body, enter another womb or another seed, or however the arrangement is for that body we get. And then we have our next life. And this goes on again and again, and again. So this is called the cycle of birth and death, reincarnation, etc.
So this body we have now, this time in this body is just one of innumerable. We learn from the Vedas there are 8 400 000 different species of life. So many. The animal kingdom, the plant kingdom, the insect world, the reptile world, birds and the aquatics, and the microbes, and on, and on, and on. And according to the Vedic teaching, we’ve been in those bodies. We’ve been there. And there is every possibility if we don’t do something different, we will be there again.
A story of success
But here is the important point. Now this life we are in a human body. This is very important to understand. The human form of life is a very rare form of life. There are not many people in human bodies. Most of the people are in the other bodies.
That is easy to see if you even just look around. You can walk into any forest and just stand there and look around. And look at all those people. You might think, “Oh, I am alone.” (Laughs) You are not alone. (Laughs) You are surrounded by people. But because they are in lower bodies we don’t think they are people, “Oh, it’s a tree.” No, that is a person in a tree body. So look at all these trees, you can’t even begin to count them, too many to count. And then you have the smaller bushes, and then the little grasses and other plants, and then all the insects, the little bugs and the ants and the mosquitos, you know, all kinds of creatures that you don’t see, and on and on it goes – millions of people around you and you are the only human. Very rare to get a human birth.
But somehow, due to amazingly good fortune, we now have a human body. This is not something to just take for granted. As I said the other night, this is like winning… this is not like … this is much greater than winning millions of lotteries at one time. This is so special.
Why? Why so special? Because now I, the spirit soul, have a body that gives me the opportunity for spiritual realization, to realize the truth, to realize who I am, to realize what the purpose of life is, to actually live a life that will take me further and further toward the final goal.
And if I am sincere and apply the perfect science of spiritual perfection, which is bhakti yoga, I apply it to my life in a sincere way, I will become qualified to leave the material world. When death approaches… And it does for everybody: old people, young people. Not only old people die, many young people die.
I had a friend. She was 21 years old. She just was run over by a car and killed two weeks ago. Three-four days in a coma and then she left her body.
But she was very fortunate because she happened to be born into a family where this philosophy was taught and practiced. She heard this message from the beginning of her life and she accepted it, she applied it. She developed an actual attraction for Krishna, God, the Supreme Lord. She actually established that lost relationship that we have lost. And she had a desire to go to Krishna, not for some salvation reason but because this is Who she was attracted to, that was her Friend, this was her Shelter, this was her Lord.
So even though she was hit by a car… No time to prepare, no time to sit in meditation, no time to get her life in order, “Ok, now I have got to do this”. No time, zero time. One minute she is riding her bicycle, next minute, “Boom!”, just completely unconscious and then a coma. But because of the way she lived her life, because of the desire in her heart to be with Krishna, she went to Krishna.
This is success in life.
Illusions of this world
The human form of life is specifically meant for spiritual realization. And that is all. But because we don’t know these truths, we conclude, number one, “I am this body, this is who I am. I am a male, I am a female, young, old,” whatever my bodily designations are. And so therefore this is the first illusion, I am this body.
And so, of course, I am trying to be happy. Everybody wants to be happy. Have you ever noticed that? In one way we are so different… We are in different looking bodies, different places, and different likes and dislikes, talents, education, on and on it goes. We are so different, so unique. But in the real sense we are all the same: we all want to be happy, that is the number one thing.
Why? Because the nature of the soul is to be happy. That is our natural condition. When I am not happy, it is unnatural. It is wrong. It feels wrong. Even the littlest baby, it is the same. He wants to be happy. And the oldest person wants to be happy. The dog has the same desire, he wants to be happy. Different ideas of what will make us happy but it is the same desire because that is the nature of the soul.
So as long as I am in this illusion I am this body, I try to make myself happy by making my body happy. So that is what we do 24 hours every day. I mean we are directly trying to be happy through some sensual pleasure: eating, smoking, drinking, going to the movies, going to the club, listening to music, engaging in sexual pleasure. Either I am involved in all that – some sport, playing football, whatever – or I am doing other things so I can later do that. I am working. I don’t like to work but I like the money cause with the money I can pay to do fun things, I can buy clothes and attract people to me. So work is also involved in that same thing. Of course a lot of the work goes to survivals. “Ok, I have got to work so I can eat.” But hey, eating is a great source of pleasure for the tongue. So we try to eat something that stimulates the tongue. And so on it goes.
This becomes our life: creating pleasure for us. This is the goal. But it never works. Temporary sense pleasure – yes, of course. Temporary sense pleasure doesn’t really touch me, the spirit soul.
Think of all the fun you’ve had in your life. Now I am focusing on pleasure here, not pain; we aren’t going to talk about that right now. The pleasure part – think of all the pleasure you’ve had in your life wherever and however it came is gone, is finished. The best meal, the best movie, the best party, the best time with the girlfriend or the boyfriend, whatever it is, and maybe there has been a lot of that, is gone. Now you have to find it again. You have to find more, another good time. And that goes, and another one.
And we are just running our whole life after this pleasure. But it never satisfies us. We always got to have more because that one finished. “Aren’t you satisfied now? You just did that. Aren’t you satisfied?” No, that is over. (Laughs) My mom was always asking me:
– Aren’t you satisfied? You just went out last night and did this, and you did this all day.
– But I have got to go out tonight! I did that!
She was a little more simple than I. See, I wanted more pleasure, she was more simple.
Because all this material pleasure doesn’t touch me, the spirit soul, it doesn’t touch me. I, the spirit soul, do not get pleasure from material sensual enjoyment. That is one of the reasons why it is so disappointing in the end. I did everything, I am still not happy.
And the more money we have, the more opportunity we have to try everything and the more disappointing it is. That is why the richest people in the world are some of the most depressed. Hollywood is well-known for rich people. Hollywood is also well-known for drug addiction, depression and suicide. The rich and the famous are not happy because it doesn’t affect them, the spirit soul.
Main purpose of life
You see, if you want to really enjoy the senses, the human form of life is not a good one for that. The lower forms of life are much more conducive. And the lower forms of life, a dog for instance – it is not plagued with the mind and worries about everything. He has no responsibilities, no obligations, he doesn’t have to work. He can do everything and nobody thinks, “Oh, you are bad, you broke the law!” (Laughs) He is not in anxiety how I am going to pay the rent, “Oh, I got no money and the rent is coming, what am I going to do?” The dog doesn’t have that problem.
“Oh, nobody likes me. I am not beautiful enough.” Have you seen dogs looking in the mirror? They don’t care! They look like they look. They don’t go to the beauty parleourunless the owners take them. That is the owner’s problem, not the dog’s. The dog is fine. The owner, “Oh, I need to cut your hair, brush your teeth.” (Laughing) Dog doesn’t care if he has got bad breath or not, not worried about it. (Laughing)
Dogs don’t worry about being fat. In fact they don’t get fat except when the owners overfeed them. That is the owner’s problem. The only fat animals you see are domestic animals. If you look at the fat dog you’ll probably see the fat owner:
– Oh, I must feed my dog.
– I had enough!
– C’mon, eat, eat, eat! Eat, eat, eat!
The dog can’t even walk:
– Leave me alone! Let me go eat some grass to kind of get over of this indigestion.”
The lower forms of life are much more simple. No lamentation. In the Vedas it says the human life is the life of lamentation, worry, anxiety. “What’s going to happen tomorrow? Oh, the economy!” Dogs don’t read the paper, they don’t look at the news. Every day is a fresh day, “Oh, gosh, the problems in the world today! Ohh…”
So the human form of life is not meant for that. We do have advanced intelligence. We do have advanced mental facilities. And that is the problem when I am trying to enjoy the material world in the illusion I am my material body. It causes the problems of the world. But this facility of intelligence and mental abilities, and dexterity, and all the ways that we have in a unique body are for one purpose – spiritual realization, doing the will of God.
That is what the human life is for.
If I don’t use it for that I only will have a life of problems. I will have problems for myself, I will cause problems for other people and I will die in ignorance, and go, in most cases, back into an animal body. That is what I want, that is the kind of life I live.
If I don’t use it for what it is intended, I lose it. Why have a human form of life designed for spiritual realization if I use it like an animal: eating, sleeping, mating and defending? According to my consciousness, I am in the wrong body. So next lifetime I get readjusted. Ok, now you have got your life as a snail or whatever. You can be a happy snake. (Laughs) Whatever we wind up with according to what we do now.
So to take birth in a human body is amazing birth. And that is why we should celebrate births in the human body. Not a celebration to try to enjoy the world but a celebration to have the opportunity to live a successful life, which means to know and love God. Then that is a glorious birth. And it is applauded by all the great sages and saints, and the Supreme Lord Himself.
This is how we should understand life as it is in the human form.
We learn these things if we associate with people who know these things. If I associate with people who don’t know this truth, I don’t know this truth, either. So the spiritual teachers who are sent by God Himself to come and teach us this knowledge are our most valuable asset and our greatest friends. They care about us, the spirit soul. The people in this world that don’t know who we are, they don’t care about us. Maybe they are trying to help our physical condition, make us feel good. This is rare, but let’s say they do want to help. But because they don’t know who we are, they can’t help us. They can’t help us.
According to our karma, when we take birth, a certain amount of happiness is already built in. So no matter how much I try to be happy beyond that quota, I can’t be more happy than that. That is all I get in this lifetime. And similarly there is a certain amount of pain built in that comes from what I did in the past lives. And I am creating my future situation now. But when I enter into the spiritual lifestyle, then everything can change and I can begin to experience true happiness. This is a big, big subject, I am not going to go very far on this topic. This is the general understanding.
Receive the gift!
So today is my birthday, the birthday of this body. For the soul there is no birth. It says in Bhagavad-gita: “For the soul there is neither birth nor death.” We are not born, we don’t die. We enter bodies and we leave bodies. It is like enter this room and leave this room. But we call it ‘birth’ and ‘death’. So I entered this body at a certain time.
But fortunately enough along the way I met my spiritual master and he told me what I’ve just told you and much more of course.
I was looking for truth. Somehow or other again, due to good fortune I was interested in the truth. Had I met my spiritual master 10 years before, I wouldn’t have been interested, or 5 years before. He would’ve had the same message, the same offering, but I wouldn’t have been interested.
But due to amazing divine arrangement, when we met I was very interested. And so therefore I was able to appreciate this opportunity. And therefore I’ve followed his guidance and instructions since that time. And I am so appreciative that I’ve had this opportunity.
I haven’t been a very good student but I’ve learnt a lot even as a not good student as I was and am. But I’ve learnt enough to know and I knew basically from the beginning: this is what I should do with my life, not one moment of regret, “Oh I don’t know if that was a good idea…” (Laughs) I know and I’ve always known this is what I should do with my life.
So we all have this opportunity, don’t we? We are all here right now. You are hearing the same message I heard years ago. So you have the same opportunity. It has nothing to do with where you live, what your education is, how much money you have or don’t have, etc., etc. It has nothing to do with any of that. We are spirit souls have the opportunity to choose to accept or not accept. So we all have that.
So I am hoping that on this time when I am here and you, guys, have so kindly come, helped me chant on my birthday, helped me to hear the Holy Names from you and have given me an opportunity to speak about life as I heard it from my spiritual teachers… I thank you very much, this is a great gift to me. And I hope you will take the same opportunity and change your life. Really we don’t change our life. We let this spiritual potency change our life. We let Krishna change it. That is the real life.
And whatever happens to the body… Like my friend, she had no idea that night she was going to be leaving her body. But she did. And her life was a success. Her credit was she knew what to do with her life, this was her credit.
So we have the ears to hear, the mind to think, the intelligence to contemplate and the heart to receive. Everybody has it. So my wish is that you use all those facilities to receive this gift from Krishna and our spiritual master. So thank you very much. Haribol!
Now I will ask everybody to chant with me just for a few minutes.
(16:06) This is a mantra my initiating spiritual master used to chant to us a lot.