Doubts and Belief
Questions about suffering
Illusion of "I want to be independent"
Questions about agnosticism and doubts
Question about belief
Questions about God
Q: Why is there sorrow, pain and death? Why is not there peace? It would be so much better if there was only happiness.
A: Yes, this is an intelligent observation. The Vedic scriptures say that duhkha, suffering, is an inherent part of this material world. In different places there are different grades of it but one can't avoid it completely. Why? Because this world is not (and will not be) a place meant for enjoyment as we would wish and as some philosophies and religions suggest. Everything is temporary here.
idam anyaiH purA bhuktaM bhujyate ca mayA dhunA
punar apy eta devAnyair mad apAye 'pi bhokSyate
That which was enjoyed by others before is now my enjoyment; again this will be enjoyed by others, when I am gone. (Parama samhita 30.44)
"Out of so many human beings who are suffering, there are a few who are actually inquiring about their position, as to what they are, why they are put into this awkward position and so on. Unless one is awakened to this position of questioning his suffering, unless he realizes that he doesn't want suffering but rather wants to make a solution to all suffering, then one is not to be considered a perfect human being." (BG Introduction)
The Vedas teach that there is another, superior realm (apareyam itas tv anyam, Bhagavad-gita 7.5) which is qualitatively different - eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. This is our real home where we belong. There are many descriptions of this world available in the scriptures. When we get rid of our present material contamination (desires to control and enjoy matter) we can return there. The best way of purification is to chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra.
More about this topic you can learn from our site. Bhagavad-gita is an excellent book which answers this kind of essential questions.
If you have more questions, don't hesitate to write. You are also welcome to visit any of our centers which are like embassies of the spiritual world.
Q: Why has God created people who do bad things in life (i.e. murder, looting etc.)? What is the use of such people? Can all the human beings not be purified so that the world becomes a peaceful place?
A: We are eternal living beings who belong to the spiritual world. There we live in a company of God serving Him with love. But love must be voluntary, therefore we have also a possibility to choose not to love Him and leave Him. Then we live in a material world with all those defects you describe. When we after many lifetimes realize this is not our real home we start a purification process, the way back to Godhead. If there wouldn't be the chance to return there wouldn't be any choice again.
The purification process is called bhakti-yoga. It begins with chanting the holy names of the Lord, serving Him in an association of devotees, reading about Him, eating food offered to Him etc. More about this process you can find in our site.
Q: I feel lost and can see nothing good in life. What is wrong with me?
A: If you feel lost you have come to the right place. Actually everyone feels lost in the material world, but very few have the guts to admit it. Why? Because the propaganda is such that if you don't get ahead in society, by getting an education, a job, a car, a wife and a dog and so on, you are considered a loser. And who wants to be a loser, right?
But actually we are all loosers. Why? Because we will die. It doesn't matter how much money you have, or how beautiful your girlfriend is, the bottom line is death.
Vedic scriptures, however, have a solution to the death problem:
"Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks of himself as a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries." (SB 1.7.5, Vyasa's vision)
"The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyasadeva compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth. (SB 1.7.6)
"Simply by giving aural reception to this Vedic literature, the feeling for loving devotional service to Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion and fearfulness." (SB 1.7.7)
Q: Your teachings seem to me very pertinent on exposing the negative side of this world. Could you give a short overview of comparing this life to a dream?
A: Krishna consciousness is so clear. When we become introduced to KC it is like waking up from a bad dream. This life is actually like a dream.
Allow me to quote from the Gita: "When, however, one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then this knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights everything up in the day time." (BG 5.16)
Just like imagine you dream something very nice, say, you dream that you have won the big price... millions of dollars, so in your dream you are enjoying like anything. There is just one problem... you have to wake up.
Or you dream that you have just managed to seduce a beautiful girl and then you wake up. Is not that a frustrating experience? Why you cannot enjoy a dream? Because it ends.
So this life is just like that. Remember e.g. the happiest moments in your life. Can you enjoy these moments now in the present? No you cannot. Often we hear this sentimental claim, "I have my nice memories." But what good are nice memories to us now? Can we enjoy our memories? In fact we cannot. Can you enjoy memories of a nice relationship, nice food, a nice journey, a love affair...?
Of course we may sentimentally think of something nice, but there is no way we will actually be satisfied just be remembering something nice.
So life is like a dream. We may enjoy some sense gratification for a short while, but it always ends and leaves us with frustration and dissatisfaction. Since no situation, however enjoyable and ideal, will last in this world, material life can be compared to a dream. This life is like a day dream, as insubstantial and flickering as the dreams we dream at night. The only reason we do not think of life as a dream, but think of it as very real, is the fact that we have not woke up to reality yet.
To do that takes a lot of guts ("red or blue pill?"). That is what the process of Krishna consciousness is all about. It is a scientific process to help us gradually wake up again to reality - the reality of our eternal life with Krishna.
So an intelligent person will naturally wonder if this is really all there is to life. What's the use of all this struggle to get ahead when I anyway have to leave it all behind? What's the use of struggling so hard for pleasure, when in the end it will turn to misery? Because pleasure always turns to sorrow. It doesn't matter how much pleasure we are experiencing, it is bound to end, and when it ends we lament.
The cause of our predicament is that we seek pleasure in the wrong place. We try to become happy by making this body happy. This is the real problem. Why? Because we are not this body. We are the observer within the body. Everyone who does not know that will simply suffer or enjoy life after life in the material world.
We are not this body. This is the main message we learn from the Vedas. And therefore we will never become happy just by trying to satisfy this body. The proof is that even people who have everything they could possible want, like movie stars and rock stars, are still frustrated and unhappy.
Therefore the first thing to learn is that we are not this material body but the person within the body. The body will die but you will live on. You might ask why are we here then. Well, we are here because we have wanted to take the position of God as the supreme controller and enjoyer. Instead of serving God, in pure bliss, we are now serving a material body which is destined to rot and die. And we think this body is us.
To become really happy, we have to give up this false identification of ourselves in terms of our material body, and become reinstated in our original position as eternal spirit souls, parts and parcels of God - Krishna.
"Please, therefore, describe the Almighty Lord's activities which you have learned by your vast knowledge of the Vedas, for that will satisfy the hankerings of great learned men and at the same time mitigate the miseries of the masses of common people who are always suffering from material pangs. Indeed, there is no other way to get out of such miseries." (SB 1.5.40)
"Arjuna said: 'O my Lord Sri Krsna, You are the almighty Personality of Godhead. There is no limit to Your different energies. Therefore only You are competent to instill fearlessness in the hearts of Your devotees. Everyone in the flames of material miseries can find the path of liberation in You only.'" (SB 1.7.22)
"Engaged constantly in chanting and hearing about Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sadhus do not suffer from material miseries because they are always filled with thoughts of My pastimes and activities." (SB 3.25.23)
This can be done in this day and age by repeating the names of God on a regular basis. In other words, the method of self realization for this particular time we live in, is the meditation on the Hare Krishna mantra. So this is my recommendation to you. You simply chant:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare...
and your life will be sublime. It doesn't cost you anything so what have you got to lose? If you have any further questions or comments please feel free to write.
"A Krsna conscious person knows that if a man is suffering it is due to his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Krsna. Therefore, the highest benefit one can render to human society is relieving one's neighbor from all material problems. In such a way, a pure devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord." (BG 11.55 p.)
(from a debate with a New Age follower)
C: Human beings are herding animals. Like sheep, we experience a strong pull to believe whatever it appears "the crowd" believes. When one is of this mind, of course he'll seek the "orthodox," of course he'll instinctively support what he thinks is "widely agreed upon," of course he'll want to imagine that his flock's dogma is "undisputed."
On the other hand, of course, there's a percentage of the population that wants to be independent, and see for ourselves. In that case, orthodoxy and wide agreement and the like count for very very little.
A: (Mayesvara dasa) Yes. There will always be individuals who foolishly think all sorts of delusional things… but are they really independent when they are completely under the control of the three modes of nature? Just how independent are you? Can your independence free you from the miseries of life such as sickness, or the torment from other entities like mosquitoes, rats, bad landlords, bosses or business clients? Are you free from the heat of a scorching hot day, the IRS, or the local laws of the land? Are you so confident with your own abilities that you can honestly say you never made a mistake, were never deceived, or can avoid germs or pollens that might make you sick?
The only independence you really have is the freedom to recognize your own limitations.
Instead you choose to remain in denial of your own gross shortcomings and imply that you are so independent, that by dint of your own unique super perception alone you will be able to understand things properly.
This concept is as immature as all the hippies of the 60's who also myopically believed they were "unique" and rebelled against the norm by growing their hair out and wearing old jeans. Those individuals also thought they were so "special" because they were committed to their own "unique self expression." The truth was that all the other so called "independent" hippies were doing the exact same thing. So just how unique were they? Such so called independent thinking became so common the clothing manufacturers pre-washed and strategically wore out portions of the jeans prior to sale just to feed the burgeoning market of self deceived "do-my-own-thing" individuals. The hippies rebelled against capitalism, but the corporate system they wanted to reject made the clothes they wore and took their money. In the same way all sorts of stubborn people foolishly think they are "free" when they are completely bound up by the laws of nature and their own personal karma.
You say you prefer to "see" for yourself but your eyes are as useless as all your other mundane senses. You can't even see bacteria or radio activity. Someone could feed you certain poisons and you would not be able to detect it. Some drugs will make you "FEEL" great but they are actually addictively deadly. A dog has a better ability to sniff out food then you can and a cat can see much better then you can at night yet you remain so proud about figuring things out for yourself? Even the baby gazelle knows better not to stray too far from the pack, lest he be eaten by the lion… yet you pride yourself in your ability to fly independently into the fire of sense gratification like the stupid moth who is attracted by the very light that will burn him to ash!
You have failed to reconcile the four obvious flaws of human nature which I repeat again with the hope that you will someday face these challenges directly instead of responding with cute pithy platitudes in an attempt to obfuscate your own ignorance.
All humans suffer from: 1) Imperfect Senses, 2) The Propensity to Cheat, 3) Deception by Illusion, and the 4) Propensity to Make Mistakes.
Do you expect us to believe that you don't suffer from these afflictions like the rest of us? If you agree that you have these shortcomings, then how can you claim you have the ability to see, know or understand anything by dint of your own feeble powers?
People you concur with are not really interested in a serious examination of their own limitations. They are more committed to clinging to their proud rebellious mentality even when it isn't in their best interest just like foolish children who often rebel against the protective instructions of their own loving parents.
Eventually most children grow up and become working and productive citizens in society. Some do not and those individuals are the ones who end up spending their life in jail because of their untamed incorrigible nature. Prison culture has its own rules, beliefs, and consensus of opinions too but it's based on the raw animal principles of survival. Human life is meant for more than that.
Depending on how rigorously one is willing to objectively consider his given situation, a person will evolve to a particular level of understanding. One may adopt "prison" consciousness, "Buddhist" consciousness, "material consciousness", or real "God consciousness" which can be recognized by specific tangible symptoms. The type of consciousness we choose to embrace is actually the only freedom any of us have and each one of these different states of consciousness have a corresponding type of reciprocal karmic response. You may say you don't believe in karma but if you focus more on "food" then you do on "exercise" then you will become overweight regardless of if you believe it or not. When you grow up spiritually your realize that the laws of nature are not bound to what YOU want or can understand. They are stringent and you are bound to them just like gravity holds us to the earth. Regardless of how much your petty false ego runs around squeaking about independence, freedom and the delusional idea that you can understand anything on your own, the evidence indicates otherwise.
So there are all sorts of groups, religions, belief systems and teachers who are ready to concur with whatever state of consciousness one happens to hover over. After arriving at this obvious axiomatic truth, the intelligent person will inquire… where is the best place to invest my consciousness?
You are free to dismiss such inquiry as futile, irrelevant, all false or all an illusion. Fools have been doing that since the beginning of time. On the other hand history shows that astute individuals have not hidden behind cop-outs to avoid the quest for a meaningful and purposeful life. They are reticent about any thought process, particularly those that require examining which state of consciousness may actually be superior based on the correlating behavior it manifests. In their world there is no distinction between the consciousness of the drug peddling, violent gang member thief, and a priest who risks his life to bring medicine to the head-hunter children of Indonesia. It's a lot easier to dodge all social responsibilities then it is properly understand what constituted good ethics and personal morals. They attract those who are spiritually lazy, self serving and very poorly informed.
The fools can prance around and declare themselves to be free, independent, or whatever other narcissistic thing they want to BELIEVE but as long as they do, they only prove how little education they got.
You pompously declare that "wide agreement and (the opinions of others may) count for very, very little..." to you. But it is obvious that the opinions of those fools are meaningful to you. Their own insidiously bloated dogma has polluted your head with so much rhetorical non-conclusive sophistry that you are compelled to defend it despite all the circular logic and false assumptions you must use to do so.
For myself I appreciate the insight, wisdom, and conclusion of great thinkers from our current history as well as the conclusions held by the most respected sages of India from over thousands of years. They concurred on the essence of Vedic wisdom, not on some conventional therapist who went New Age, exploits her ignorant audiences, and denies that she relishes in the act of posing like a guru even though it is obvious she hasn't even realized her own obvious shortcomings. You may wish to hide behind her charade but I prefer the company of individuals who stood out from crowd because they integrated Vedic truths into their lives and successfully sidestepped the desperation of trying to figure everything out for themselves.
Q: Why should I bother myself with worries about the other world, which I haven't perceived in any way (no matter how many saints have spent their lifetimes telling me about it), especially when there's so much to be done in this world itself (which is actually here and happening around me). Or is this path only for those who've nothing to do here?
A: Try to objectively evaluate your way of life (shared by majority of recent human population) - if you think everything in this world including you is ideal there is no need to look for anything else or to change anything.
Others have obviously thought and think otherwise. Their general reason is the existence of suffering in this material world which is not compatible with our nature and desires to be happy. It does not matter how many material activities and efforts you perform in this world - you can't stop those many unpleasant things happening to you and around you. This path is therefore for those who realize this. If one wants, by spiritual practice one can develop perception of higher reality and change his life. If more people will do the same, things will change.
PS: In case you want to learn more about material and transcendental perception, role of logic and reasoning, valid evidences etc. Please read the article Doubt and Certainty in Krishna Consciousness and the book "Substance and Shadow - The Vedic Method of Knowledge" by Suhotra Prabhu published by:
79798 Altenburg am Hochrhein
Q: I started reading Krishna books, because I heard about it from the bands Shelter & 108. At first I noticed a lot of truths in it, but later on, I've come to the conclusion that not everything is right, at least not in my opinion. I can't really think of any examples now, but I realized it when I was reading "Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers". Everything that Bob Cohen said was wrong & then Prabhupada told him that he was a fool if he thought that way etc. I never finished that book.
I think there is no religion that is a 100% right, I think that all religions have some sort of truth & that they all believe in the same thing, but that the means by which they live it is different. And all of 'em say that their religion is the only right one. At first I thought that Hare Krishna was different, because they say that every religion is right, but they then tell you that for example Christians live the wrong way although they believe in the same thing. I think nothing is wrong, that people have their own choice of choosing what they think is the right way to live. As long as you still believe in God, I don't think that it's wrong to live a material life as long as you never forget your real purpose in this life. I think there are many ways in achieving it.
A: It is no surprise that a beginner has all kinds of wrong ideas. Vaishnava tradition is a vast and deep subject, for a lifetime study. Important is that one wants to learn. Prabhupada may sound stern but it is a wrong impression. It is necessary to know more about him to get a complete picture.
No religion can be 100% right in a sense that it cannot provide _all_ the knowledge about God. God is great beyond the human grasp. So we can really know only a bit about Him. How much He reveals about Himself in certain scripture or to a certain person depends on circumstances. ("Prophet Mohammed was revealed by Allah three kinds of knowledge - one which he was allowed to share with his followers, the second type he had the discretion to share or withhold, and the third category of revelation he was strictly forbidden from sharing. - Nadar Beg K. Mirza, 'Reincarnation and Islam', and Geo Widengren, 'Muhammad the Apostle of God and his ascension', page 108)
But still there are objective criteria how to recognize the level of a certain teachings.
Imagine a staircase symbolizing the levels of different teachings. On lower steps there are teachings actually professing a pursuit of material development under the name of religion (karma-kanda). God is viewed as an order supplier and the relation between believer and Him has a nature of business - I pray for something and God is supposed to give it.
Higher are paths supporting the development of knowledge (jnana-kanda) as more important that material benefits which are to be renounced. They usually teach some kind of meditation with a goal to realize one's self and some kind of undefined higher reality - Light, Brahman, Tao etc.
Th highest level occupy traditions recognizing that that higher reality is ultimately a person. Not a ordinary person with limitations we have but Supremely Powerful Person to whom we are related as children and servants. Such a service is qualitatively different than the one we know in a material world - it is unconditional, uninterrupted and devotional (bhakti). It leads to love of God, the top of the staircase.
According to this scheme one can place any religion or philosophy to its proper position. Important is to realize the superiority of bhakti and to try to develop it whichever position one is in. As a devotee of God one is able to appreciate other devotees. Our criticism of anyone (not only Christians) means that they should follow their rules. That is all.
If someone says that only he is right he means to say he is practically on the level of God. "Me and God..." Not a very humble position, to say at least.
Different actions bear different reactions - that is known even in physics. Law of action and reaction works on a subtle level under the name of "law of karma". All we do is judged according to this law. No one can escape it by saying, "I think the way I do the things is okay because I chose it to be like that." For making a choice one has to have knowledge - to know the rules of the game (here karma). If you break the rules you suffer.
To believe in God is not enough. Christians say that even Satan believes in God but he hates Him. One's belief has to be positive and based on realizations. Otherwise it will fade away. Prabhupada used to say that a religion must have head and heart. Our positive relationship to God depends on doing what He wants us to do, not what we want to do. He wants us to know Him and to love Him. Material life obviously does not lead to this goal.
Reply: I already knew a lot of the stuff you wrote, about bhakti etc., because I read a lot of books of the BBT. I think I sounded real negative in my last mail, but that is not the way it was meant to be. I just wanted some answers. My doubts have been real strong lately, so I wanted some of your opinions. To think about it. I have been interested in Krishna consciousness for about a year and a half now, but I just don't know if it is the right way to live. I read lots of books and they all sound very logical, but I do not know if I want to make the same choices.
A: Thanks for your appreciation. I am ready to discuss any of your doubts. Doubts are considered a function of intelligence (SB 3.26.30 - samsayah). Everything has to be realized by practice. Devotees encourage everyone to take up this lifestyle because they realized it to be spiritually and materially the ideal one. At the same time they know that not everyone is able to take it up fully, for different reasons. The main idea of the Nama-hatta program is to inform interested persons that even if they cannot take up _all_ spiritual practices they should take up at least _some_ of them, as much as they can. Chanting, reading books, listening to lectures, offering food, keeping in touch with devotees etc. is possible for everyone.
Q: Please provide me with the authentic evidence for all above which I can also show to other to make them believe. Also let me know how I can myself convince me with the information you provide i.e. if it is possible to see the evidence on the net or when I visit India. I shall appreciate any kind of help from your side.
A: I did my best and hope it will be of some help to you. But
important thing to remember is that what we believe does not depend
much on the facts and proofs. Surprise? No way. Humans in general are
more emotional than rational, women more than men. This is a
psychological fact and Vedas support it. Why are our emotions/faiths
as they are? Bhagavad-gita (17.2-4) explains that faith depends on the
predominating guna. Therefore some people believe easily and some are
One may also pray that someone will believe and it may happen but then that person still has to proceed further on his/her own. It is a question of a voluntary spiritual work. The original factor to actually start devotional service is ajnata sukriti.
Various people come to the temple. Some are skeptical, judging everything from the point of view of their preconceived notions. Their mind is closed and so they leave the temple without any internal change. Others come with an open mind, ready to sincerely listen, question and learn. The positive attitude to serving Krsna and His devotees (sevonmukha) is crucial. Here's a nice story. Devotees are very sure about their position. This comes from realizations. First there's theoretical knowledge (jnana). If there's a desire coupled with proper attitude, then comes initial mercy to start the process - sraddha, a devotional faith or trust in the process of bhakti in general. After sraddha there's sadhu sanga, etc. The process results in vijnana, realized knowledge. It culminates with a direct perception of spiritual reality (divya pratyaksa).
Here's a book about faith by Kadamba Kanana Swami.
People ask: Can you make me believe this process works?
No. I can show you the results, I can show you the process, and I can answer your questions as honestly as possible. I wouldn't even bother wasting the time and effort to try and MAKE you or anyone else believe anything. You can think it works, you can see it work, and with enough data, you can know it works. But you will only BELIEVE it works when you do it. This is belief in practice.
I like to use the analogy which defines "faith" in things: A person hires on at a high-rise construction site. He has to carry a load of bricks across a board which is stretched between two girders, 30 floors up. He looks at the board and _reasons_ that it wouldn't be there if it would not hold him up. He then sees a really big man walk across with two loads of bricks, and he _knows_ it will hold him up. But when he, himself, steps out onto that board that is real belief because he did it himself using intelligence.
Want to believe that bhakti-yoga works? Find a devotee and get him to guide you through. But believing it works is not enough. Once you believe it, take more training and develop the faith in the system which will carry you through to a realized knowledge of spiritual existence.
People who are really spiritually advanced wonder when people who are not make a big deal out of spiritual things. For them, it is a normal thing, and although they get used to peoples' reactions, there is always an amazement that the other people cannot do the same. If you ever watched the old "Kung Fu" series, you might remember the "grasshopper at your feet" scene, when the student told the blind master, "I am amazed that you can see these things, when you have no eyes." And the blind master replied, "I am amazed that you have eyes, and cannot."
Q: What is god? Must he be a he? Is god a thing, is he real, is he heterosexual, for sure, why does he create war homosexuality and common filth? Everything god or the power of something has created, does it have a logical function? How do you know? Why do people interpret the religion differently now then in the old times? Was not god right the first time?
A: If you are really interested then you should read our site carefully. Briefly answers:
God is the Supreme Person. He is absolutely real and beyond the common material gender differentiation - He has both female and male aspect (Laxmi-Narayana, Radha-Krishna).
He does not create these things. They are results of our material desires and activities (karma). We have our free will but we are responsible for our actions, so we get different results.
There is a higher order in everything. If you have some insight you can observe it in yourself, in nature, in cosmos.
How different people _interpret_ religion depends on their particular material conditioning, time, place and circumstances. But the point is that such interpretations have limited value. There are billions people on this earth and everyone has his own opinion on everything. Opinions are just opinions. Let's take an example: the natural laws. What does our opinion on the law of gravitation matter? It acts in its own way, independently of us - if we like it or not, we will fall from heights.
The real understanding of spiritual things must come from God Himself (who is always right), through the line of His devoted followers (parampara). Otherwise one cannot be ever sure of one's understanding. Read the article Doubt and Certainty in Krishna Consciousness.
Q: Is it really necessary to believe in God?
A: Thank you for your enquiry. Belief is a relative thing, once we all believed that the world was flat now we know it to be round. So God's existence does not depend on our belief. There are many scriptural proofs that verify the existence of God, of course there are many people who do not accept the authority of scripture. From a logical point of view we have no experience in this world of anything being created without a creator whether it be a house, a car, a watch or anything. So how is it that anyone can come to the conclusion that the creation of this world has no creator behind it? It just makes no sense at all to suggest such a thing. If someone told you that their house just appeared by 'chance' would you believe it? So why should we believe that this world was created by chance?
Q: If God existed... why is there war, people who is starving, people who is ill... It is not only non-believers that get sick! Everybody do! I feel panicked about this world and want to change the whole world, make everything good but I know I can't.
A: If there is a government, then why are people suffering in jail? Because they have disobeyed the law. The government certainly has the power to release them, but has them in jail for their rectification and the protection of society.
The Lord has His own kingdom, the spiritual world, where there is no suffering of any kind. Each of us voluntarily, individually, left that world and came here. In this material world, we act according to our own desire, rather than the desire of God, and therefore we are individually responsible for the results of our actions. If our actions are against God's laws (dharma), then we suffer. We get our reactions not only in this life, but over many, many lifetimes, so that my suffering now may be due to sinful actions I performed many lifetimes ago.
There is no unfairness. Everyone enjoys and suffers exactly what they deserve and all suffering is meant for the eventual enlightenment of the person - to bring him or her back to the original spiritual position of loving God.
Change of the world starts with changing ourselves. It depends only on our decision. The other solutions (political, economical etc.) were shown to be inefficient.
Q: Can God create a stone so heavy He can't lift? (Paradox of the stone - and similar ones)
A: This old omnipotence paradox tries to refute the omnipotence of God but it rests on a premise of (1) static and (2) successive action (first stone, then its lifting) by (3) God Himself. This idea is based on anthropomorphism (attributing human nature to God) due to the lack of the knowledge of God's real nature in Abrahamic traditions. Here is a Vedic approach.
Omnipotence (Latin omnis - all, potentia - energy) refers to the possession of all (sarva) energies (saktis). God is therefore known as the possessor of all saktis, sarva-saktiman (see Bhagavad Gita 7.4-6, Vedanta sutra 2.1.30, Bhagavan - definitions).
The nature of God is inexhaustible (avyayam, BG 4.6, 7.13,25, 9.13,18, 11.4,18, 13.32, 15.5,17). This is reflected in His assuming various vyuhas (Bhagavata Purana 5.17.14, 11.6.10, 10.13.21-27, 12.11.21,27-28,50) and avataras (BhP 6.9.26-27) whose number is endless. (asankhyeya, BhP 1.3.26) God is called avatari, the source of avataras who are compared to candles (Brahmasamhita 5.46). Despite God is still One (bhurisah tu ekah, BhP 2.4.9).
His saktis due to working under His control (BG 9.10, BhP 4.17.33, 10.1.25) are also dynamic, always expanding (virya-upabrmhanaya, BhP 5.20.40, vitatya mayam, BhP 10.14.19, vistarayan kridasi yoga-mayam, BhP 10.14.21, mayam tatana, BhP 10.45.1). He acts through them. (ad 3)
In the dynamic (ad 1,2) 'God-saktis' system one can't pinpoint a specific time of creation of such a stone and of its lifting (or of an attempt to do it). This situation is similar to quantum physics's uncertainty principle.
SB 2.6.36 states:
Therefore it is best for me to surrender unto His feet, which alone can deliver one from the miseries of repeated birth and death. Such surrender is all-auspicious and allows one to perceive all happiness. Even the sky cannot estimate the limits of its own expansion. So what can others do when the Lord Himself is unable to estimate His own limits?
from the purport: It is said in the scriptures, brahma-saukhyam tv
anantam: spiritual happiness is unlimited. Here it is said that even
the Lord cannot measure such happiness. This does not mean that the
Lord cannot measure it and is therefore imperfect in that sense. The
actual position is that the Lord can measure it, but the happiness in
the Lord is also identical with the Lord on account of absolute
knowledge. So the happiness derived from the Lord may be measured by
the Lord, but the happiness increases again, and the Lord measures it
again, and then again the happiness increases more and more, and the
Lord measures it more and more, and as such there is eternally a
competition between increment and measurement, so much so that the
competition is never stopped, but goes on unlimitedly ad infinitum.
Spiritual happiness is anandambudhi-vardhanam, or the ocean of
happiness which increases. The material ocean is stagnant, but the
spiritual ocean is dynamic.
Problem of Rocks
Q: Can God make a square circle?
A: Yes. There's an object which can be seen both as a circle and as a square, depending only on the angle of vision: a cylinder.
Q: How many angels can fit on a tip of a needle?
A: Unlimited if they stand on each other's heads. :)
Q: Who created God?
A: This question is based on a misunderstanding of the definition
of God as the original cause of everything (sarva karana karanam).
To ascribe Him a cause would lead to the infinite regress fallacy.
The person who asks this question shows the basic lack of
understanding of philosophy. Most probably he read it in Dawkins's
"God Delusion" book. Go figure. :)
Christian creationist Kent Hovind (Govind? :) gives his answer here. He uses logic that God must be outside His creation but the book of Genesis is obviously quite simplistic about creation in comparison to the Vedic version.
...in Him all contradictions are reconciled... (BhP 6.9.36)page url: http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/bhaktiyoga/agnosticism.htm
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