Putting God on Life's Center Stage
Made a connecting flight in Dallas/Fort Worth, and I am now at 33,000 feet. I have 1/3 of the journey to go, as we fly over rugged terrain broken up by roads, small hills, a few towns, an occasional river with the muddy color of spring rains. The straightness of many roads, reflecting the organizing brain of human beings seems like such a contrast to rolling hills, jagged mountains, windy rivers and puffy clouds.
Being so high in the sky provides an interesting perspective, doesn’t it? The land, sky, and clouds seem so vast. How can we take it all in? The “skyship” called a jet plane traveling through an ocean of air is so tiny, and each person is a speck compared the vast panorama of land and sky which goes in all directions. And then we go to another busy airport terminal with thousands of busy travelers all convinced by false ego that they are very important, their perspective unique and to be taken seriously. Of course soul is important, but true importance is spiritual, eternal, not in an environment that will not endure in a temporary body, world and position.
Our importance is as the animator of the body and the world, or consciousness (the symptom of the soul) and especially because our soul is part of the supremely important person, our Source, or God—whom we know as Shri Krishna. Being a one of the many competitor egos using our borrowed plumes or material facilities to carve out our temporary kingdom doesn’t make us important. Nor does fighting with others over scare resources, claiming we are the biggest, and “baddest”, and then being defeated by disease, old age and death.
The hills are increasing in size, the roads are fewer, more curved. Still some small patches of snow on the Western face of the small mountains. I find the shapes and varieties of landscapes so fascinating! Krishna’s natural laws have formed everything. His beautiful artistry is for him, effortless, and is his indirect extension. People are often enamored by the beauty of Nature without wanting to know its Source.
It is true that religious people give credit to God, and some want to serve him and “do his will”, yet few have any real information about him. We see in the world’s scriptures a very hazy description of God—at best! And some say he is too great to see—or if you did you would die—and certainly one can’t have a relationship to the Infinite other then awe or reverence—at the most. In addition most religions put human beings and their enjoyment in the center, while God remains in some distance place!
One of my spiritual masters Godbrothers was dispatched before the Second World War to Germany to share the message of Mahaprabhu or Lord Chaitanya. In the course of his stay there he made friends with some broad-minded Christians. They invited him to a religious drama. In the drama, the main characters were being portrayed on the main stage, whereas God was in the balcony, and only occasionally had parts where he blessed or cursed someone. After the drama his Christian friends asked him what he thought of the drama. He replied that it was certainly good to have dramas with a religious theme, and he appreciated it very much. However, he added that in his religion, God was not in the balcony but was himself on the main stage, and we could all serve him in a life in which God was the main focus and center.
We have the direct words of Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita, and descriptions by his faithful, realized devotees about his various incarnations and their activities and teachings in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The goal of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is to love and serve God in his most intimate and accessible aspect of Krishna on his terms. Material boons are only meant as an enticement to encourage materially attached people to engage in spiritual practice, yet the goal is different. Krishna is the center, the Source, the person to please. Although this doesn’t sound good to our false egoic sense of selfishness, its actually our nature to be a cooperator and assistant to serve the Lord’s purpose. We are pleasure seekers by nature, thought our real pleasure doesn’t come from temporary things. Real happiness and existence is without end or eternal. Otherwise, living in the material world is like being on a Ferris wheel where we are sometimes up and sometimes down, yet always changing our position, never being fully satisfied.
We are now flying over a large green river with dry hills on one side, and on the other, green agricultural land broken up into countless squares and rectangles of many sizes for farming. What a contrast the two sides make! It reminds me of material life and spiritual life! About 45 minutes remain on this flight, so this must be Nevada below. This is what I would call “the middle of nowhere”! There doesn’t appear to be any large vegetation, though the shapes of the hills with their shades on the slopes and ravines, along with the finger-like paths for rainwater runoff are striking. Some might call this a “God-forsaken” place, though even here Krishna’s beauty is evident even from my sky view (I am sure the ground would have many interesting life forms!). Parts are fascinating to my eye and esthetic sense by the play or the contrast of light and dark on the hills.
As we are getting nearer to L.A. towns are appearing and clumps of houses with green areas and trees, even though this appears to be such a dry area. Coming up is a bigger mountain range and this causes me to feel more awe, as if simply the size causes it to touch me in some way. No, it isn’t Mount Everest, and it may not be considered beautiful, yet I still feel the power of these formations, and that is a kind of attraction.
More and more clouds are coming up and they will soon swallow the landscape. Here we have another kind of beauty in the variegatedness of Krishna creation—that white, billowy cloud ocean which we will have to pass through as we make out descent. Though I can’t see it now, flying into L.A. can be quite striking. The city seems to extend without cessation in the four directions. And at least in years past if you flew into this city in summer, the smog was as think as fog and very ugly and uninviting. And now to land, and rent a car for the next leg of the trip. See you soon! Hare Krishna!