Lecture at Steiner School, Helsinki, Finland
(18 March 2005)
SDA: Weíre very happy to be here with all of you today. Today, weíre going to talk about Religion. I understand that youíre studying religions, and thatís very nice, but I would like to spend at least a part of our time here talking about what Religion is in its pure essence. Different cultures in different times and places, whether theyíre Chinese, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, this or that, talk about religion in a certain way, but today we want to look at what the essence of what Religion is before you filter it through different cultural avenues. The pure essence of Religion.
The English word religion comes from the Latin word, religio. Ligi means link, something that connects two things together, like a chain. There are links in a chain. You can say relink. The real purpose of Religion, the real meaning of Religion is to reconnect the individual self with the Supreme self. The atheist will say there is no Supreme self, but is that logical?
As human beings, we are meant to develop the power of thinking. Thatís why we go to school. We want to learn how to think very deeply and intelligently. With a little bit of thoughtfulness, we can understand that you can take any object, take a pinecone, for example, and where does the pinecone come from? It comes from the pine tree. Where does the pine tree come from? It comes from a pine seed. You can take anything within this world, and see that it is caused by something that came before it. Then you can see that that thing is caused by something else that came before that. If you go back back back back back back back until you finally come to that cause which did not have a cause, that is called, you can say God, the original cause that did not have a cause.
You may wonder, how is all of this relevant, whatís in it for me? Whatís the purpose of all this discussion anyway? Whatís in it for me? I just want to enjoy life. Have a good time. You may wonder why we are even discussing this. Youíre here because you have to go to school. But, Iím not paid for this. Why am I talking about this? Why am I interested in this? The reason is that when the individual self, namely you or me, when we learn how to relink with that original cause, that original source from which everything is coming, or you can say God, when we learn how to relink, what happens is you enjoy life on a higher level than you can even imagine.
In this material world, how do we think we can enjoy life? We can get some money. We can get some friends. We can spend money to enjoy our senses. But, what Iím here today to tell you about is that through the process of relinking your individual self with the Supreme self, you can expand your enjoyment by millions and billions of times. Wouldnít that be great if you could take your happiness, and multiply it by millions and billions of times? Wouldnít that be worth learning about, if you could do that?
If I told you today about one formula where you could take one Euro and turn it into one billion Euros, wouldnít you like to know how to do that? That would be very interesting to know. Iím telling you today how you can do something even more powerful than turning one Euro into one billion Euros. This is called Religion. You may be surprised because usually we think, Oh, religion, go to church, Oh God, little songs, rituals, sins, the book, get out of here with your religion. Nowadays, the religious leaders donít even know what Religion is. The so-called religious leaders do not even know what Religion is anymore. Weíve become so much in the darkness. Even though weíre so advanced technologically now, when it comes to actually know what the science is, it has been forgotten. Are you surprised to hear this? What is the actual science of Religion?
Weíre here today to enlighten you. You are the future leaders of the world. Todayís students are the future leaders of the world. We old folks will die off. You youngsters will take over the world someday. We want to give you the information so you can make a better world than the mess that weíve made of the world. The present adults in the world have made a huge mess of the world. You are the bright future hope of this world. We want to give you the information, the knowledge, so that you can make a wonderful world, a peaceful happy world. You may be surprised to know that to understand perfectly the science of Religion is the key to the future happiness of this world.
We do see within history that religion has been interpreted and practiced in different ways and different cultures, but any true Religious system acknowledges the existence of the Supreme Being. You may say, well, I donít really know if thereís a Supreme Being. How do we know that thereís a Supreme Being, thatís faith. How can you really have faith in a Supreme Being. Many people are atheists, or agnostics. Do you expect me to believe thereís a Supreme Being? Come on.
How many people here believe in a Supreme Being? Three. Thatís nice. Iím going to give you a way that you can prove that thereís a Supreme Being. Iíll give you an absolute proof so that you can know scientifically that there must be a Supreme Being. Hereís the proof. Everybody in this room has a certain amount of wealth. Somebody has one Euro, somebody has 1,000 Euros. Everybody has a different amount of money to their name. Some people have no Euros at all. Everybody has a different amount of wealth. Somewhere there is a person who has more wealth than anyone else. More than Bill Gates has also. In the Bhagavad-gita, which is the ancient scripture of India, which describes the science of God, it is said that God consciousness or Religion is actually a science, not a blind faith.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Sri Krishna, who is considered to be God by the Hindus, says, sarva-loka mahesvaram. I am the owner of all the wealth. We can understand that since your amount of wealth, my amount of wealth, your amount of wealth, their all different. Somewhere there is a person who has more wealth than anyone else. Who can deny? Somewhere there is a person who is more powerful, who is more famous, somewhere there is that person. Everyone has different degrees of power, beauty, renunciation, knowledge, wealth and fame. Somewhere thereís a person who has more power, more beauty, more renunciation, more knowledge, more wealth and more fame than anyone. How can we say itís not true? There has to be such a person, who is more opulent, because no one is equal in the amount that they possess. That person who has more power, more beauty, more knowledge, more renunciation, more wealth and more fame than anyone else, thatís the Supreme Being.
We can study to find out who is that Supreme Being. We can study the Chinese religion, this religion, that religion. We will find in the Bhagavad-gita which is the holy book in India, that in this particular holy book, that Supreme Person Himself is speaking to us directly. He is saying Iím the one who has all of the money, all the power; Iím the one who actually controls everything. Thatís Krishna.
I wanted to give you that introduction to what Religion actually is. What is the value of this? We have to understand that. Everyoneís thinking, How can I enjoy? The real secret to actually enjoying in every minute of your existence is to understand the very reason of why you exist. Does anybody have any idea why you exist? If I asked you why do you exist, what would be your answer? Anyone have any idea? If I asked you Sir, why do you exist? What would be your answer? Would you have any idea why you exist?
Boy: Iím guessing, my parents wanted a child.
SDA: On the material level, my mother and father wanted a child, so here I am, folks. Hello world, here I am. But, according to all the scriptures of the world, you actually have an identity which predates that body that you have. That is called the soul. Before your mommy and daddy wanted to have a child, you were already existing somewhere out there in the existence. According to the laws of karma, you wanted those parents. They wanted you, and you also wanted them. It was a match. You came together with them, because you wanted such parents like that. You actually desired parents like that, so you got them. The point is that even before you were born, you existed.
Is that surprising new information for you? As a spiritual being, you existed before you were born. You didnít think of it that way. This is new information. And after the body dies, you will still exist. That is called the soul. You existed before your body came into being and when your body is finished, you will still exist. Why does that spiritual being, who exists before and after the existence of the body, why does that spiritual being exist? This gentleman here has given a very nice answer as to why my body exists, because my mother and father wanted to have a little baby, but it doesnít answer the question why do I, the eternal spiritual being, exist? His intelligent answer does not cover that side of the issue.
Why does the spiritual being exist? I have a good answer for you. Just like your mother and father wanted to have a nice little baby boy or girl running around the house, God is also a person, and He likes to have people also running around His house. Just like your parents want some little kids running around the house, God also likes to have many people running around, but His house is much bigger than your house. His house is the whole universe. He wants to fill up His house with many children. Your parents wanted to have a loving relationship with you.
So, God also is there in the spiritual world and He wanted to fill it up with His children that He can have a loving relationship with. You exist for the purpose of having a loving relationship with God. You exist materially speaking to give pleasure to your parents, but in the highest sense, you exist to give pleasure to God. Thatís why you exist. But you may think who cares about giving pleasure to God? I just want to have pleasure. Just like you two girls keep chit chatting back and forth because you think itís more pleasurable than hearing what Iím speaking about. Youíre thinking I can get more pleasure by sitting here going chit chit, than by hearing. Thatís why youíre doing it. Itís a natural psychology.
Everybody is thinking, How can I get the most pleasure? Weíre conditioned to think that these classes at school are boring, that we can get more pleasure by doing something else, but I can tell you this. The subject matter that Iím discussing today, the science of the Absolute Truth, the science of God, if you lay aside your chit chat, and seriously listen to what Iím saying and try to absorb it, this subject matter will turn you on to a much higher level of enjoyment than youíve ever known in your whole existence. Itís worth your while to seriously and soberly hear each and every word that Iím speaking and absorb every single word and even take notes. Itís very much worth your while because weíre talking about the very reason that you actually exist as an eternal spiritual being. You exist for the purpose of giving pleasure to God. And as we were discussing, why should I care about giving pleasure to God?
Hereís the secret. Isnít it a fact that if we try to be happy alone, we cannot be happy? We always seek to be in the company of others, so that by giving them happiness, we get happiness. When we can make other people happy, then we experience happiness. That is true on the highest level of the original person, with God Himself. If we can learn the art of how to give pleasure to that Supreme Person, which you can do, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in all times, all places and all circumstances, if you learn this art of how to give pleasure to God, then you will be the happiest person in this world at every second, in all times, all places and all circumstances.
This is the actual meaning and purpose of Religion. It is the system whereby you can enjoy life beyond all the suffering of material existence. There are so many sufferings here. Just like recently in Madrid. We never know when the terrorists will strike here in Helsinki. There are always traffic accidents, there are always cancer and heart disease. If nothing else, old age will finally wither us away. All the enjoyment we had as young people will disappear. As old people our bodies will become full of pain, and we will become very afraid of death.
This material existence has its enjoyments, no doubt, but it always comes along with so much suffering. If you can learn how to be happy on the spiritual platform, through the science of religio, relinking the individual consciousness with the Supreme consciousness, then you will not be affected by any of the miseries of material existence. Youíll be supremely happy in all times, all places and all circumstances. This is why weíre here.
We wanted to give you this opportunity now that youíre students of Religion, we wanted you to understand that thereís actually one Religion in essence. You can follow any religious system, Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Mohammaden, any religious path, and if you capture the actual essence of Religion which is to develop your loving relationship with that Supreme Person, then you become supremely happy.
Even though Iím presenting teachings from the Indian religious tradition, we are not talking about one particular sect of religion. In India, the great sages understood the essence of Religion. They were not trying to promote another type of religion in the Vedic teachings like the Bhagavad-gita. The Vedic literatures are coming from great enlightened spiritual masters. They were not presenting another type of religion by their teachings. They were presenting the pure essence of what Religion is.
Does anyone have any questions?
I have a little open secret for you; whoever gets asked a question is under pressure. So if you ask me questions it is much easier. If you donít have questions, I will choose one of you and ask you a question. It will be much easier for you if you put me in the awkward position by asking me the question, than if I start you asking the questions. If one of you asks it will save you all from being interrogated, because I will start asking you questions. Very revealing questions about who you are and why you exist.
If youíd rather not be put under the torchlight, under the microscope, then you ask me questions. Otherwise, I will begin to ask you questions.
Question 1: How did you become a guru?
SDA: Very nice question. As a student, just like you are now, my father told me, son, do very nicely in school, then you go to college and in college youíll be a very happy person. So, I did that. I did very well. I worked hard in my studies, made good grades. I was a leader in my school. Then, when I got to college, all of a sudden, Iím on my own. Iím no longer living at home. I have to earn my own living, make my own life for myself. Iím not under my parentís direct control anymore. I realized I had no idea what the purpose of life is.
Most people are simply thinking that if I can just make money, then Iíll be happy. I should go into some field where I can make some good money. But somehow or other, I didnít feel that way. I said, what is the use of earning money if all Iím going to do is get old, and die? Whatís the point of working so hard, going to college, working hard, getting this degree, getting this career if the whole thing is just going to fold eventually when I die? Whatís the point? It didnít make sense. So, when I went to college I simply wanted to know what the purpose of my life was. Why do I exist? But nobody was there to tell me.
Youíre fortunate because Iím here telling you. Iíve spent 33 years finding out what is the actual meaning of existence. Actually, itís been longer than that. I started in í65, almost 40 years. I spent almost 40 years investigating; finding out what is the meaning of existence. You can take advantage. You can avoid all the agony that I went through trying to figure it out, just by taking it from me. If you just take it from me that you are an eternal spiritual being, that youíre part and parcel of God, and that the purpose of your existence is to love that Supreme Being, if you can take it from me today, you will save so many years of agony of trying to figure out who you are, and why you exist.
I didnít have anybody like me to come to my high school class and tell me why. I was on my own to try to figure it out. It took me years and years of reading books, talking to people, thinking about it, but finally, I was reading some books on great personalities in India, who through practicing disciplines were able to achieve a state beyond all anxiety. Itís called enlightenment. They call it Samadhi. It is called spiritual enlightenment. I read about these great personalities in India who had achieved this state of consciousness, totally beyond any suffering. Itís a state of absolute, total bliss without any drugs, without any alcohol, nothing artificial. Within the heart theyíd turned on some higher consciousness. When I read about this, I said, I want to achieve that. I was searching for a teacher who could guide me how to do that. I went here, I went there, I tried so many teachers who said, yes, you do this and you will achieve that enlightened state of consciousness, and nothing worked. I felt cheated again and again and again. But finally, I found a teacher, this great saintly man, His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I finally found a teacher who taught me a technique which actually did, in fact, turn on the enlightened state of consciousness within the heart, to give me that spiritual existence of unlimited happiness. That process is very simple. Itís something that you can do. Itís the process of chanting a mantra, or sound vibration that delivers the consciousness. That sound vibration is very nice. It goes like this: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. You can write this down in your notebooks. I will write it on the board for you. This is worth billions of Euros.
To achieve the ultimate success in your life, keep this mantra. Donít lose it. Whenever you have some time, just meditate using this mantra. Everybody knows about meditation. This is the most powerful meditation that exists anywhere in the universe. If you focus on this vibration, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Like that. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
If you just focus on this vibration, you will achieve a whole unlimited universe of happiness within you. It gradually opens up like the sun rising in the morning. The dawn comes in little by little; it gradually comes more and more. If you chant these names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, gradually your whole world will become luminous. Wherever you go, your whole perception of reality will become illuminated, full of bliss, full of knowledge and free of anxiety. You can just try it. Make an experiment.
One more thing, I have an e-course. Itís just like you have so many courses here in the school. I have a free e-course with no homework. You can sign up for my free e-course at www.backtohome.com. Itís a very hot e-course with thousands of people signed up and more signing up every day from all over the world. You can sign up, and that way, if you were too shy to ask a question in front of your classmates, you can write to me and Iíll answer you. I give personal answers to all of my students if you have any questions.
I guarantee that the result that youíll get from taking my e-course is more valuable than earning a PhD from Cambridge or Oxford. The result than youíll get from my course is more valuable than you can get from any degree you can get in the material world. So why not sign up for the free e-course: www.backtohome.com. Youíll love it. And you can always click the remove button if you donít like it and be deleted from the course with one click of your mouse. You can try it, and if you donít like it, just click the remove button at the bottom of each lesson, and youíre gone.
That was a very nice question. I appreciate his question very much. I actually had a hunch that he had a question because his hand was kind of like going like this, even before he asked a question, I could see his hand moving slightly. I could see that he was inclined to ask the question. I appreciate very much that he came out of the shell and asked his question. So, who else is inclined to ask a question but not ready to ask it yet? Iím looking for some hands that are moving. Are you just scratching your nose? (Laughter). Actually, youíre nice, bright faced young people. Iím so happy to be here with you all. Youíre very nice, bright-faced young people. Itís a nice way to begin my day to see nice bright-faced young people like you all.
If you take to this Krishna consciousness, this chanting, you will always remain bright-faced, even when youíre an old person. You will not lose the luster of youth. You will keep that luster. Many people, when they see me, they think Iím much younger than I actually am. Itís because I chant Hare Krishna. It gives me that feeling of being a young person even though my body is getting old. If you chant Hare Krishna, every day, you will never grow old. Your body may get old, but you will never lose the joy of youthfulness if you chant Hare Krishna. Youíll keep your youthfulness throughout your whole life. Did you ever see old people walking around? You think, Iíll never be like that. But time and tide wait for no man. At every minute, weíre moving toward old age. With every second, with every breath weíre getting closer to old age. If you donít want to be one of these old people all morose, then chant Hare Krishna.
Question 2: What is the meaning?
SDA: The actual literal meaning of this mantra is Hare Krishna and Rama. Hare means the energy of God. Krishna means the Supreme, All-Attractive Lord. God is all-attractive because everything attractive that exists is part of God. Rama means the Supreme Enjoyer. So, what youíre doing when youíre chanting Hare Krishna is youíre praying to the Lord through His energy as well as directly as the Supreme attractive one, and as the Supreme enjoyer, to please engage in His service. Youíre begging to be engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord, and His energy. Thatís what youíre doing when you chant Hare Krishna.
Right now, we are serving so many temporary things, but if you can learn to serve the Supreme, then you will derive unlimited pleasure from that. We may serve so many objects of temporary service in this world. I may serve my family, but my family may be dead and gone someday. Just like all of my family members are dead and gone practically, only my brother is left. If my happiness is based on serving my family members, where will my happiness be now? If you can base your happiness on serving God, then nothing can ever take your happiness away because God will never die. Your relationship with God will never end. That is eternal. So, this is a very nice thing.
Serve your parents nicely, serve your teacher nicely, do everything very nicely on one track, but the other track is you develop your relationship with the Supreme Being through chanting His names. This is the real meaning of Religion. Religion has got to be done along with your material activities. Two rails are on the track. Your metro here is a very nice train. Iím very impressed with your metro. It runs on two tracks. So also, your life is meant to run on two tracks. You have a duty to study nicely, please your parents, please your friends, take good care of your health, but on the other track you have to develop your relationship with the Supreme Being. Both tracks are there.
We all have questions, but the problem is we ask the wrong ones.
Question 3: Is that like in prayer in Christianity?
SDA: Yes. The closest connection you would find between this and the biblical explanation is that Lord Jesus says, Father, not my will but Thy will be done. This is the same sort of prayer. You practice Christianity at home? A little bit, like once a year? Yes. In the Christian tradition, Lord Jesus Christ is very famous because right before he was crucified, nailed to the cross, the night before he said, Father, not my will but Thy will be done. In other words, Iím just Your servant, You engage me however You like. This is the same mood of Lord Jesus when he was praying to his heavenly father. Not my will, but Thy will be done.
In this sense, you can see that Religion is actually one. Whether you have an Indian monk chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, or you have a pious Christian saying Father, not my will but Thy will be done, it is the same mood of pure devotion to the Supreme Being. That is the common thread in any genuine religious tradition, namely that mood of total submission to the will of God. Whether you call Him Allah, Krishna or Jehovah doesnít matter because God has unlimited names. The essence of Religion is complete submission to the will of God, as a Christian, a Hindu, no matter what path youíre on. But you cannot miss the essence, which is complete submission to the will of God.
Question 4: Why did you choose Hinduism?
SDA: You could say, why am I chanting Hare Krishna instead of for example Allah Akbar, or Halleluiah? Here in Helsinki, when you want to buy a car, there are many different brands available. And in the US, there are so many brands available. I donít even have account of them. In US everyone has a car. When you go to pick a car, you find whichever car most suits your needs. In my own practice, my own search for a means of reconnecting myself with God, I found that this Hare Krishna was the most powerfully effective name.
Even though I was raised as a Christian, I did not convert from Christian to being a Hindu. In the Hindu tradition, it is called the Vedic tradition as it is properly called; we do not have this sectarian conception of religion. For us, thereís only one Religion, thatís to love God. Anyone who loves God, whether a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, or whatever, they are a true practitioner of Religion. We donít divide Religion into different religions. Our understanding is that there is no such thing as different religions. Religion is actually one, to love God.
There are so many religions, and those we call religion with a small r, but there is one religion with a capital R. How many suns are there in the sky? Thereís only one, but in the Finnish language, you call it something, in the Swedish language we call it something in English language we call it something, in Hindi language, in every language we have different names for that one sun, but thereís still only one sun. So Religion is actually one, to love God, but we have subdivided it. Actually Religion is only one.
Itís not that I converted from being a Christian to being a Hindu. Actually Lord Jesus, through his prayer, Father, not my will but Thy will be done, inspired me to chant Hare Krishna. So, if you become a true follower of any religious path, then youíre the true follower of every religious path. If you become a perfect lover of God, then youíre the best Hindu, the best Christian, the best Jew, the best Sikh, the best Muslim, the best Buddhist, everything. If you become a true lover of God, then you become the perfect follower of all religions, because Religion is actually only one , to love God. That was a very nice question.
Thank you very much, Hare Krishna.
Transcribed by His Grace Jagannatha Dasa