THE FOUR PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM (A Comprehensive
Study) by Satyaraja Dasa, 1994
The Four Regulative Principles of Freedom by Varnadi dasa (A quick overview)
The Four Regulative Principles of Freedom in detail with references
World Environment Day
No illicit sex
(A Comprehensive Study) by Satyaraja Dasa, 1994
No one likes to be told what to do. We pride ourselves on our freedom. And so when we see a pamphlet saying "no meat-eating," or "no illicit sex" - "don't do this" and "don't do that" - we are naturally taken aback. We are restricted. Our freedom seems stifled. But restriction is not necessarily opposed to freedom. In fact, certain restrictions allow one the opportunity to became truly free.
For example, if I tell you "don't jump off the roof" (by restricting your jumping), I am helping you to truly exercise your freedom. Indeed, your freedom of movement would come to an abrupt end if you were to ignore that simple instruction. Similarly, if I ask you not to drink poison, is that restricting? It is entirely for your benefit. Although restricting in one sense, in a far larger sense it is nothing less than a requirement for freedom.
Yet many people in our present day and age are willingly drinking poison in the name of freedom. Readers of this pamphlet may think it is unfair to compare the regulative principles presented herein to "freedom." These principles can't possibly be as important for our freedom as is abstaining from drinking poison. But we ask our readers to view the following with an open mind. We feel that sufficient evidence is given to support our contention that these particular restrictions are indeed required if we are to know freedom in this world.
According to the Vedic literature, the world's oldest religious scriptures, we are presently in the age of Kali, an age that is symptomatized by quarrel, hypocrisy, and general degradation. Of course, we need not consult scripture to know for certain that this is true. Just open the newspaper. Headlines abound with stories of murder, rape, burglary, crime. And thing get worse as the years pass.
Still, one can avoid the effects of the age of Kali, at least in one's own life. By practicing certain regulative principles, one can remain free from the vices that generally plague the common man. In the same way that a lotus flower has the peculiar characteristic of being able to be in the midst of a great lake and yet be untouched by the water thereof, a man may exist in the age of Kali and know genuine freedom, untouched by the iniquities of the age.
The Srimad Bhagavatam (1.17.38) advises us to reject certain activities and thereby avoid the demeaning effects of the age of Kali. These activities are striyah (illicit connection with the opposite sex), suna (meat-eating), panam (intoxication of any kind), and dyutam (gambling).
Modern man tends to think that the ability to openly engage in this kind of sensual activity is a sure sign of freedom, completely unaware of the bondage it naturally causes. The late Christian theologian Thomas Merton has properly assessed the nature of such "freedom" for the benefit of everyone:
"It should be accepted as a most elementary human and moral truth that no man can live a fully sane and decent life unless he is able to say no on occasion to his natural bodily appetites. No man who simply eats and drinks whenever he feels like eating and drinking, who smokes whenever he feels the urge to light a cigarette, who gratifies his curiosity and sensuality whenever they are stimulated, can consider himself a free person. He has renounced his spiritual freedom and become the servant of bodily impulse. Therefore his mind and his will are not fully his own. They are under the power of his conditioning, his appetites. And through the medium of his appetites, they are under the control of those who gratify his appetites. Just because he can buy one brand of whisky rather than another, this man deludes himself that he is making a choice; but the fact is that he is a devout servant of a tyrannical ritual. He must reverently buy the bottle, take it home, uninhibited head off, get angry, shout, fight and go to bed in disgust with himself and the world. This becomes a kind of religious compulsion without which he cannot convince himself that he is really alive, really fulfilling his personality. Such a person is not merely sinning but is simply making an ass of himself, deluding himself that he is real when his compulsions have reduced him to a shadow of a genuine person."
Meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling - these are the four pillars of sinful life. They run directly counter to the four basic pillars of religious life, namely mercy, cleanliness, austerity and truthfulness. In the present pamphlet we will show how illicit sex runs counter to austerity, and gambling runs counter to truthfulness. Of course, all of the pillars of sinful life are interrelated, as are the pillars of piety. Thus, in our analysis, we will more often than not simply show the overall detriment of the four pillars of sinful life. In this way, four pillars of religiosity will appear attractive as a natural result.
It should be pointed out right from the beginning, however, that the four regulative principles of religious life, while virtuous in themselves, are not the sum and substance of true spirituality; they are merely sub-religious principles. While one who follows these principles (diligently) may be setting the proper stage for approaching spiritual life, actual spirituality may still elude him. Therefore, we feel it incumbent upon ourselves to direct our readers to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which points out:
kaler dosa nidhe rajann
asti hy eko mahan gunan
kirtanad eva krsnasya
mukta-sangah param vrajet
"My dear king, although Kali-yuga is full of faults, there is still one good quality about this age. It is that simply by chanting the holy name of Krishna, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental Kingdom." (SB 12.3.51)
Therefore, readers of this pamphlet are encouraged to chant the holy name of the Lord (Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare). By this process one will naturally develop an affinity for following the four regulative principles. If not, one is still encouraged to follow the basic religious principles outlined in this pamphlet. There is no loss, and one who follows these principles will find much happiness in this life as well as the next.
Many people think that to be a vegetarian you've got to be nuts - or at least a little fruity. In recent years, however, the meatless way of life has surged in popularity, largely because of mounting evidence that a sensible vegetarian diet is better for you than the typical meat-heavy American fare. Consider these three compelling reasons for switching to a menu that emphasizes vegetable foods:
1) To protect your heart. A comparative study of diet and heart disease in seven countries showed that the death rate from coronary heart disease was highest in countries where the most animal products were consumed. The Finns, who consumed the most, had the highest death rate from heart disease. Americans were next (except for Seventh-Day Adventists, most of whom eat no meat or poultry; they suffer from only half as much heart disease as other Americans). In Japan, where very little animal fat is eaten, there are fewer deaths from heart disease than in any other industrialized nation.
Scientists at the University of Milan found in one study that, on diets equally low in fat and cholesterol, persons eating animal protein had higher levels of cholesterol in their blood than those fed a diet containing primarily vegetable protein. Further, recent research indicates that certain types of fiber found in plant foods can actually help lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol leads to a condition known as arteriosclerosis, which in turn causes heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. Thus, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported in 1961 that "a vegetarian diet can prevent 90-97% of heart diseases (thromboembolic disease and coronary occlusions)."
2) To reduce the risk of cancer. Research over the last twenty years suggests that the same kind of high animal-fat-and-cholesterol diet that may set the stage for heart disease can also contribute to the growth of cancers of the colon, breast, and uterus. Among Seventh-Day Adventists, Japanese, and East Indians (who also generally eat very little meat), these cancers are relatively uncommon, but they are leading types of cancer among meat-eating Americans.
In a study at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Prof. Saxon Graham, chairman of the department of social and preventive medicine, found that people who regularly consumed large amounts of vegetables, especially in the cabbage family, had lower-than-expected rates of the colon and rectum cancer. A chemical in these vegetables is known to block the action of certain carcinogens, cancer-causing substances.
Why do meat-eaters get more cancer? The meat people generally consume is aged to increase flavor. When an animal is slaughtered, its flesh immediately begins to putrefy, and after several days it turns a sickly gray-green. The meat industry masks this discoloration by adding nitrites, and other preservatives. These substances make the meat appear red, but in recent years many of them have repeatedly been shown to be carcinogenic. Said Dr. William Lijinsky, a cancer researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, "I wouldn't even feed nitrate-laden foods to my cat."
3) To help feed the world's starving people. A Harvard nutritionist, Jean Marey, estimates that reducing meat production by just 10% would release enough grain to feed 60 million people. United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim recently admitted that meat consumption in the rich countries is the key cause for hunger around the world. How is this? Many agricultural experts and economists feel that one of the chief factors that impairs the achievement of an adequate world food supply is the gross inefficiency in land use entailed by a diet centering on meat. All livestock animals obtain their primary nutriment from plants, thus drawing heavily on those sources of vegetable protein that are later converted into animal products such as meat and eggs. Thus, meat-eating is most uneconomical and impractical. If man were to consume the vegetable foods directly, starvation and its corollary horrors could be wiped off the face of the earth. This is no exaggeration.
The need for eliminating the inefficient conversions of plant food into animal products has been stressed by many prominent agriculturists, such as Mr. A.H. Boerma, the Director General of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization: "But if we are to bring about a real improvement in the diet of the neediest, we must aim at a greater intake of vegetable protein." The Director General insists that if the common man were educated in the economics of starvation, he would immediately switch to vegetarianism.
Such sentiments are prompted by the fact that animals do not produce nearly as much edible protein as they take from the plants upon which they feed. For example, a steer provides man with only 43 pounds of protein per acre of land per year, while wheat supplies 269 pounds of protein per acre of land per year. By eliminating the meat-centered diet, we could make much better use of productive land, thus providing more people with an adequate diet rich in proteins and the other essential food elements needed for good health.
If we exclude dairy cows, the average conversion ratio for U.S. livestock is 7 pounds of grain and soy fed to produce one pound of edible meat. According to this estimate, of the 140 million tons of grain and soy we fed to our beef cattle, poultry, and hogs in 1971, one-seventh, or only 20 million tons, was returned to us in meat. The rest, almost 118 million tons of grain and soy became inaccessible for human consumption.
And these figures are more than twenty years old. Since then things have gotten worse. Although we lead the world in exports of grain and soy, this incredible volume "lost" through livestock was twice the level of our current exports. This is enough foodstuff to provide every single human being on earth with more than a cup of cooked grain each day of the year. This is summed up quite eloquently, and also simply, in a recent article in Vegetarian Times:
1,000 acres of soy beans yields 1,124 pounds of usable protein.
1,000 acres of rice yields 938 pounds of usable protein.
1,000 acres of corn yields 1,009 pounds of usable protein.
1,000 acres of wheat yields 1,043 pounds of usable protein.
And 1,000 acres of soy, corn, rice, or wheat, when fed to a steer, will yield only about 125 pounds of usable protein.
"BUT WAIT A MINUTE! Weren't humans designed to be meat-eaters? Don't we require animal protein? And besides, I like to eat meat."
The answer to both of the above questions is a resounding No! Although some historians and anthropologists say man is historically omnivorous (a consumer of both plants and meat), our anatomical equipment - teeth, jaws, digestive system - favors a diet that shuns animal foods. The American Dietetic Association notes that 'most of mankind for most of human history has subsisted on vegetarian or near-vegetarian diets. "Contrary to what the average American or European would like to believe, much of the world still lives that way. Even in America, the love-affair with meat is less than a century old; perhaps it is a result of the affluence of the twentieth century. Still, even today, more than 10 million Americans are vegetarian.
Man's body is simply not designed for eating meat. As the prominent Swedish scientist von Linne states: "Man's structure, external and internal, compared with that of the other animals, shows that fruit and succulent vegetables constitute his natural food." Man is not anatomically suited to a fleshy diet. His physiognomy is more akin to the vegetarian species. The evidence that supports this contention is summaries in the chart on the following page.
As far as the protein question goes, the late Dr. Paavo Airola, one of the world's leading authorities on nutrition and natural biology, had this to say, "The official daily recommendation for protein has gone down from the 150 grams recommended 20 years ago to only 45 grams today. Why? Because (1) reliable worldwide research has shown that we do not need so much protein, that the actual daily need is only 30-45 grams a day; and (2) that the protein consumed in excess of the actual daily need is not only wasted, but actually causes serious harm to the body and even is causatively related to such killer diseases as cancer and heart disease. In order to obtain 45 grams of protein a day from your diet you do not have to eat meat; you can get it from a 100% vegetarian diet of a variety of grains, legumes, nuts, vegetables, and fruits." Dr. Airola goes on to suggest that the lacto-vegetarian diet (a diet composed of dairy products and vegetables) is the one most suitable from modern man.
Dr. Airola also gives a good explanation of man's curious addiction to meat. After all, if man was not meant to eat meat, why does he seem to crave it so much? Dr. Airola says, "Meat, especially red meat, contains many poisons, including a large amount of uric acid, which acts as a common addictive, similar to nicotine, caffeine, etc., creating a constant craving for more. If you were to stop eating meat, you may initially experience some withdrawal symptoms and cravings until your body excretes all the poisons. Then the craving will disappear."
Man should not be a creature of habit. Animals instinctively eat the foods that suit their bodily frame, but man functions according to conditioning and culture. We may be conditioned to eat meat, but (as we have pointed out in this article) that doesn't mean meat is a healthful or economical food.We must always remember that human beings are distinguished from the lower species by their ability to discriminate. With our superior intelligence, we can discern right from wrong, healthy from unhealthy, good from bad. Why has man been given intelligence superior to that of the swine or other animals? For the same reason that a highly posted government officer is given better facilities for working than an ordinary office clerk. Just as the officer has more important duties to discharge than the clerk, so human being have more important duties to discharge than the animals. Unfortunately, modern man has largely lost his power of discriminating in the matter of choosing the healthiest, cheapest foods to eat. Widespread meat-eating is the perfect example.
Man must not neglect the fact that he has higher intelligence, which is obviously meant for higher purpose. If he were to simply use that intelligence for the problems which beset the animals - eating, sleeping, mating and defending - he would then be a sort of "polished" animal. Clearly, the human frame is a vehicle for achieving something which the animals, in their present state, cannot.
Still, if one wishes to consider the whole panorama of life, he can see that the adoption of a harmless (or minimally harmful) diet is a first step leading toward an individual's living in harmony with himself and the world. At the present time we are living in a world steeped in violence and hatred. More than one billion of its citizens are suffering from lack of an adequate diet, while a minority of the population is rapidly depleting the world of its most valuable resources: clean water and arable land. Those who live in the more developed countries, such as the United States, are faced with the increasing threat of heart disease, stomach disorders, obesity, and a myriad of other physical ailments.
At the same time that people are crying out "Stop killing!" in their quest for world peace, they are paying to have billions of animals brutally slaughtered for their dinner. Thus the change to a vegetarian diet is a first step to help ease their suffering. However, real change will never come about only by changing the food that goes into our mouths: We have to change the sounds that come out of our mouths as well. As stated previously, the monkeys and pigeons are also vegetarian; while vegetarian foods go into their mouths, only jibbers comes out.
Since everything comes from the bounty of the Lord, it is common sense and simple courtesy at least to recognize our meals as gifts from God and to offer Him thanks. Even more spiritually elevated is the understanding that if God offers us meals out of love, we should reciprocate that love and offer Him meals in return. And by His mercy we may consult the holy scriptures to find out how. The sound of such an offering is the sound of real peace. While vegetarian creatures of lower species may be unable to acknowledge God's bounty, man can. What's more, with love and devotion he can offer back to his creator the foods his creator has given him. This distinguishes man from the animals.
Such offered food is traditionally referred to as krishna-prasadam, or God's mercy. While vegetarianism may offer a healthy life free of unnecessary disease, krishna-prasadam offers that plus God realization. The spiritual vegetarianism thus offers both material and spiritual nourishment.
By taking wholesome vegetarian foods and offering them to the Lord according to the guidelines given in the Vedic literatures (which have been translated and commented upon by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada), man can solve all the problems of life. By taking vegetarian foods into the mouth and allowing praises of God to flow out, one can happily live in God consciousness forevermore. This is the open secret of Krishna consciousness, which begins when one chants the Lord's holy names: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
NO ILLICIT SEX
Although those who fancy themselves sexually liberated are actually bound from head to toe, they think themselves free. What they don't know is that their "freedom" is like that of a football; it is the freedom to be kicked from here to there.
Many feel that they've shrugged off the foolish and primitive shackles of sexual restraint and opened themselves to progressive and liberating conceptions of male and female sexuality. But here's one catch amongst many: Those who feel free to have unrestricted sex contract sexually transmitted diseases just as freely.
And the diseases now raging through the ranks of the sexually liberated are not merely the simple syphilis and gonorrhea we knew in more innocent times, when sex was hardly mentionable in public. Today's sexual encounters engender such risks as herpes and chancroid.
As many as twenty million Americans have genital herpes, and up to half a million more catch it every year. And once you've got herpes, you've got it for life. The virus burrows into nerve cells and stays there, unaffected by any known treatment. The psychological effects of the herpes stigma are often bad as the physical effects of the disease itself.
Chancroid, a newly discovered venereal disease that features painful genital ulcers and blisters, was relatively rare a year or so ago. But now it has become quite common, with a growth rate unexpected for venereal disease, however, for every year many more individuals join the march for sexual freedom.
Where has this march led us recently? AIDS (AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). AIDS victims, due to a breakdown of their immune systems, are prone to a grab bag of ravaging diseases. Once thought to be a condition peculiar to homosexuals, AIDS is now affecting many heterosexuals as well. The number of cases has doubled every six months since 1981, and so far almost forty percent of all AIDS cases have proven fatal. Some researchers believe that no one who has it will survive it.
Even if AIDS doesn't kill you, in time you may wish it had. When you first get the disease, you feel like you got the flu. But a year later the "flu" hasn't gone away. Gradually the AIDS victim loses his ability to fight off even the middlest disease. AIDS victims are prone to an arm-long list of so-called opportunistic infections - rare cancers and other diseases that don't affect people whose immune systems are working properly. About a third of all victims have developed Kaposi's sarcoma, a cancer of the skin and internal organs. Many others have come down with an unusual pneumonia caused by a protozoan, Pneumocystis crinii.
In addition to the mounting plague of sexually transmitted diseases, promiscuity also generates detrimental social effects. Unwanted children, despite having escaped the gauntlet of birth control and abortion, are often neglected. Many times the father abandons the mother and child, and sometimes both parents abandon the child. Such unwanted children are raised with insufficient affection and guidance and easily fall prey to bad association. City streets and jails abound with these youngsters. And it all began with sexually preoccupied parents.
Further, abortion is on the rise. Since the law was changed in 1970, more than 1,5 million abortions have been performed in New York city alone. Well over 100,000 more they exceeded the number of births. And we need not go into how many women have gotten cancer and similar diseases by adopting "the pill" and other birth control methods.
Why has nature engulfed us in such a nightmare? Why can't we enjoy a full, healthy sex life, free from horrible side effects? Perhaps we should seriously reassess the purpose of sex. Perhaps we are abusing sex, and being abused by sex in turn. Perhaps our ideas of sexuality are more perverse then progressive, more lewd than liberating.
Sex is meant for having children - the natural result of sexual enjoyment is pregnancy. Bent on avoiding nature's arrangement, however, people use contraceptives, have abortions, incur diseases - and spoil society. So we shouldn't consider promiscuity's backlash an unjust retribution from a merciless God. It's simply one of a nature's ways of telling us that unrestricted sexuality is unnatural.
This assertion, of course, goes quite counter to the tenet of the sexual liberation movement that through surrender to sex we can gain a new innocence and thus enter a world radiant with intense and joyous experience. But such a liberated posture ignores that body which is the vehicle of sexual pleasure is also the vehicle of pain, disease, old age and death.
The initiation into sex, that experience of overwhelming subjugation to the body for pleasure, is precisely that experience which contributes most to the diminished capacity for living. This is not so hard to see. Our first sexual act precipitates a tenacious identification with the body, forges a fast bond to it. Thereafter, we are committed to the project of seeking happiness through the senses. At the same time, we awaken to a deep and abiding dread: We have sealed our pact with mortality. As sex deadens the spirit, it quickens all the senses. It becomes the center of all material enjoyment. Yet sensual pleasures depend entirely upon the favorable arrangement of circumstances, and so the more a person is committed to pursuing these pleasures, the greater his anxiety. Most of all he needs money. Sex indentures him to ceaseless labor. Securing attractive sexual partners is at best an elaborate and troublesome pursuit, fraught with dangers to one's self-esteem. As a person becomes older, the pursuit becomes harder and depends almost entirely upon his ability to maintain his social prestige and display his opulence and generosity. There is no end to worry and to fear.
On the other hand, we may try to withdraw from the anxieties of the sexual marketplace and take the advice of countless popular songs by seeking the one we "love" and who "loves" us in return. Such a discovery is rare enough, but it hardly ends our sufferings. On the contrary, nothing can compare to our anguish when we lose the object of our love - or that one's love for us. Love is no shelter (death will bring all material relationships to an end). And we have discovered that as people increasingly demand sexual fulfillment from marriage, the less durable such relationships are becoming.
Our inability to sustain relationships is at the heart of our predicament. All our happiness and our achievements depend upon our successfully perpetuating relationships, and our ultimate failure to do so is called death. Small losses prefigure the larger ones. We want to live, to expand our organism, to increase the power of our being - in short, to overcome death. As sex is the act of creation of life, we turn to it to commune with the energy of life itself and to prove our vital power. This power becomes embodied in offspring. Our family becomes the nucleus of a fortification composed of real estate, money, social connections, privilege, and power. We feed our vital force by competing with enemies and destroying them. In this way we prosper and gloriously expand. Yet all these activities have a desperate and driven character. We are trying to fool ourselves because our powerful friends, aristocratic relatives, and sweet faced children are fallible soldiers in the war, and all of us are doomed. This is the plight of the materialist.
Consider the possibility that our involvement in sex, and in the whole frantic enterprise of sensual life that expands from it, constitutes a kind of intoxication or stupefaction of awareness that occludes our normal consciousness of our real nature - a nature that is in fact not subject at all to death. If this is so, there is a prospect for realizing, through the excavation of that eternal self, an inherent and inalienable happiness absolutely independent of the states of the body. One can achieve this, however, only if one can remove the stupefaction of consciousness by directing his energies away from the project of material satisfaction that centers on sex. This is only logical.
The difficulty, of course, is that sex is the source of the strongest sensual and emotional stimulation, and to restrict it - what to speak of giving it up altogether - appears impossible. To put aside any enjoyment is certainly difficult. But if we find something more enjoyable, then it becomes equally natural to give up our previous enjoyment - especially if that enjoyment, like unrestricted sex, has detrimental side effects.
In Bhagavad-gita (2.59) Lord Krishna explains. "Although one may artificially repress the desires of the senses, the taste for sense enjoyment remains. But by getting a higher taste, one becomes fixed in consciousness."
In the Krishna consciousness movement we practice bhakti-yoga, or devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Krishna, the reservoir of all pleasure. The central point of bhakti-yoga is chanting the holy names of Krishna. Because Krishna is absolute, he is nondifferent from His names, and we can associate with Him through such sound vibration. Associating with the reservoir of pleasure makes sex pleasure look pale by comparison.
We therefore find no unwanted children in the Hare Krishna movement, nor do we find abortion or contraception. We indulge in sex only in marriage, and then only to have children. And we raise the children in Krishna consciousness. This is the original purpose of sex. And when one uses sex only for this purpose, nature does not retaliate - no herpes, no AIDS.
In fact, when sex is used only for this purpose - to raise children in Krishna consciousness - it becomes an asset. Indeed, it then becomes a vital service to the Supreme. As Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita:
"I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O Arjuna." (BG 7.11)
The function of populating the universe with God conscious individuals is so important to the Lord that He identifies that activity with his own Self.
Unconditional love of God is manifested in unconditional engagement in His service, in service that has no desire for reward and no interruption. Such love is pure, and asks for nothing in return. This is the characteristic that distinguishes love for its perverted material counterpart, lust, in which personal gain is the essential motive. Thus, even the sexual union of man and woman can be used in the service of God. It is extremely good fortune for a child to be born from parents engaged in self-realization, for from his earliest moments he lives in an atmosphere uncontaminated by lust and greed and he takes in the principles of spiritual life with his mother's milk. Such children can be conceived only when the parents unite specifically for that purpose and insure the good qualities of their offspring through their own purification of consciousness. The first duty of parents is to be able to deliver their children from ignorance, from the bodily concept of life. And family life dedicated to that purpose is conducive to self-realization and as such need not be renounced by one who is serious about the ultimate goal of life.
But sex for any other purpose - sex to exploit the body for enjoyment, to fuel the delusions of the ego - is the cause of bondage, and will ultimately lead to disease and unwanted progeny. Sex more than anything else fixes our false identification of ourselves with the body, rivets us into the flesh, and addicts us to mundane forms of aggrandizement. Sexual desire can never be satisfied, for it grows by what it feeds on. This perpetually frustrated desire causes a deep and abiding (and also subtle) rage, which deepens our illusion. The twin delusions of desire and hate drive us on through interminable bodily incarcerations, hurtling us over and over into forms that fill us with fear, suffer the unending onslaughts of injury and disease, disintegrate while we still occupy them, and are inevitably destroyed. In reality, none of this happens to us, but we have erroneously identified ourselves with the body and have thereby taken these torments upon us. Material existence is an illusory affair which we have imposed upon ourselves by our desire to enjoy separately from God. Sex is the essence of that enjoyment. Sex, therefore, is at the heart of our illusion.
And yet this desire for sexual enjoyment can be purified. Once purified, lust turns to love. Gradually, by the process of Krishna consciousness, we begin to experience our eternal nature and to taste the remarkable flavor of our natural love for God, of which sex is a perverted reflection. And as we experience our constitutional nature, we lose interest in the material substitutes that used to attract us. We don't become insensitive to our previous objects of attraction, but we begin to see them in their proper perspective - we love them as part and parcel of God, because they are part and parcel of God. Our lust is gradually transformed back into love again. Thus, the revival of pure consciousness is based not on the repression or suppression of desire, but on its respiritualization.
This was the original reason for the restrictions on sex that one would generally find in the various religions. They were meant to enable us to experience the higher pleasure of spiritual love. Unfortunately, now only the restrictions and the negations survive, while the real reason for them has been largely forgotten. But the viable path of self-realization is open once again. It may seem, at this point, that the sex drive is easy to talk about overcoming, but not so easy to actually overcome. This is only true if one artificially represses the desire for sex. But if one simply takes up the positive practice of bhakti-yoga, especially reciting the name of the Lord in the company of devotees, you will find it not only easy but relishable. Don't believe us just because we say so. Try it and see.
Intoxication refers to the taking into the body of various substances that are not required for bodily maintenance and have stimulating or depressive effects on the mind and body. Under this heading, the Vedic Scriptures include everything from tea, coffee and tobacco, with their caffeine and nicotine, to liquor and other more powerful drugs. Countless people in this age depend on some such intoxicants for stimulation or relief from anxiety, but any objective observer will understand that such enjoyment or relief is only transitory and therefore has no real substance.
Instead, there are many detrimental results coming from such intoxicating habits. They cause dependency on material, worldly supports, and this dependency can increase with the strength of the intoxicant, up to the point of addiction. These habits generally cause loss of bodily or mental health, resulting eventually in disease, premature aging, and inability to fix the mind intelligently and steadily on any subject or problem. In this way, such habits impede spiritual advancement by binding a person with material attachments and at the same time agitating the mind so that it cannot be fixed in meditation on the self and God beyond. With the use of stronger drugs cleanliness is gradually destroyed - witness the usual living conditions of addicts, alcoholics and drug-dependent youths. Of course, the stronger the intoxicant, the more pronounced the effects, but we can easily observe in these days how the use of intoxicants gradually leads towards dependence on stronger ones (all current statistics bear this point out).
With a yearly cash income exceeding $60 billion, the illegal drug industry is America's leading business, ranking ahead of even Exxon, says Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia. Drug abuse has penetrated all levels of society, from grade schools to the elite circles of politics, industry, and entertainment. Perhaps most shocking of all is the widespread use of drugs in the nation's armed forces.
On May 26, 1981, an EA-6B electronic warfare plane crashed on the flight deck of the nuclear carrier Nimitz. Medical tests showed that 6 of the 14 Navy men killed in the accident had been users of marijuana. Congressional investigators learned that three of them were probably high when they died.
"Sure a lot of people on this boat smoke grass. So do I, but look around you, friend, look around. Who the hell don't?" wrote one Nimitz crewman to the Los Angeles Times.
A department of Defense Drug Study released earlier this year a paper which reveals that 47% of young enlisted men had used marijuana with the previous month. 58% admitted they had used pot during past year. A survey of Sixth Fleet sailors stationed in the Mediterranean Sea showed that 50% had used drugs or alcohol on duty. But what about the officers? The statistics on the young lieutenants and captains would probably be even more shocking considering that the officers have more money to spend.
The military has removed 3,300 soldiers from duty at nuclear weapons installations because of drug and alcohol abuse. General Richard Ellis, the head of the Strategic Air Command, revealed that the Air Force conducts surprise busts at nuclear missile and bomber bases. In one raid at a B-52 base, 40 people were arrested. Most of the men worked in support and maintenance areas, but an undisclosed number were also members of bomber crews! Just imagine what would happen if a stoned bomber crew went crazy.
In 1973, investigators found that 10% of the U.S. troops on the lines of freedom in West Germany were using heroin monthly, or more often.
What's being done about it? Every Navy ship is now required to carry portable urine analysis kits so commanders can run spot checks on their crews. Drug education and enforcement programs will be strengthened. But W. Donald Steward, the Pentagon investigator who first documented the drug problem in the armed forces warns, "The military does a great job of putting out brush fires here and there, but they never attack the heart of the problem."
The heart of the problem lies deep within the person who feels a need for drugs. This is an internal problem that cannot be solved by any amount of external coercion. The government has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars to control the drug problem, but the number of drug users keeps expanding. As long as the desire for intoxication remains within a person's heart, he will find a way to satisfy that desire.
And as if illegal intoxication in our armed forces isn't enough, the regular fellow with a 9 to 5 routine is also implicated heavily.
The use of drugs by factory workers, white collar workers and executives on the job costs the American economy an estimated $26 billion a year - including $16.6 billion in lost productivity, Newsweek magazine reported recently.
DRUG ABUSE: THE COST TO THE ECONOMY
A government-sponsored study by the Research Triangle Institute revealed the staggering economic toll of drug use (its 1977 findings have been adjusted for inflation to reflect the costs in 1983 dollars).
Absenteeism, slowdown, mistakes and sick leave $4.9 billion
Drug-related deaths 1.3 "
Imprisonment 2.1 "
Leaving jobs for criminal careers to support habits 8,3 "
Treatment in rehabilitation centers, in hospitals and by doctors $1,9 "
Administration of treatment programs, research and training 367 million
Federal, state and local expenditures for courts, police and prisons $5,2 billion
Alarm systems, locks and other preventive steps for businesses and individuals 1,6 "
Property destroyed during criminal acts 113 million
The magazine said the loss to the economy could be much larger, since the figure is based on 1977 government-sponsored survey. The magazine adjusted the figures to 1983 dollars taking inflation into account.
"A ton of cocaine a year is consumed in the Silicon Valley," said a California drug consultant quoted by the magazine. "Some of the small electronics companies are going under because of drugs."
As another example of the growing problem, Newsweek pointed to a recent arrest of 21 guards at the San Onofre, Calif., nuclear plant for suspected drug use.
The widespread desire for intoxication indicates that the average person's daily experience is devoid of satisfaction. Then the drug wears off, and users must return to their original unsatisfactory condition of consciousness.
According to the sages of ancient India, however, this dull consciousness is not the original condition of the living being. The inner self is actually meant to naturally experience ever increasing transcendental pleasure. This pleasure is experienced when the inner self establishes a link with the Supreme Self. The spiritual science of India is based on the principle of spiritual pleasure, and God is recognized as the reservoir of all such pleasure. By practicing techniques of meditation, the inner self can gradually be brought into contact with the Supreme Self. Great mystics have described the experience as like diving into a great ocean of pleasure. This pleasure isso vital and intense that it surpasses every known type of pleasure in the world. For most people, the sexual orgasm is the highest type of pleasure imaginable, even more pleasurable than drugs. But sages who have experienced the supercharged ecstasies of spiritual realization consider them the ocean of spiritual pleasure. This spiritual pleasure is not simply some impersonal explosion of energy. It is experienced as a highly controlled reciprocal exchange of pleasurable sensations between the individual self and the Supreme Personality of Godhead in modes resembling, for instance, the pleasurable the pleasurable exchanges between friends or lovers.
The principle technique for awakening the inner source of pleasure is mantra meditation. It works. The mantras revealed in the Vedic literatures are the most powerful weapons for destroying the desire for drugs.
There are an estimated eight million known alcoholics in America. Dr. Andre Ivy, former head of the Clinical Science Department of the University of Illinois, notes that the number of alcoholics is increasing by four hundred and fifty thousand each year. A recent survey has disclosed that 75 percent of all crimes and 60 percent of all divorces have drinking in their background. Meanwhile, the National Safety council revealed that 50 percent of all traffic deaths are caused by drivers who had been drinking. Twenty thousand persons die and four hundred thousand are injured annually in accidents caused by drinking drivers. To say that drinking is one of America's most serious problems is certainly an understatement.
What kind of people become alcoholics? Dr. Robert Fleming, one of the leaders in the World Health Organization, says, "Most alcoholics are not psychiatric cases; they are normal people." The conclusion reached in a fifty-six-page report issued by the World Health Organization is: First, nobody is immune to alcoholism. Second, total abstinence is the only solution."
The same report opened with this statement: "Alcohol is a poison to the nervous system. The double solubility of alcohol in water and fat enables it to invade the nerve cell. A man may become a chronic alcoholic without even having shown symptoms of drunkenness."
Thus, we see that alcoholism can start with simple social drinking, not with a problem personality. To understand this we should note that the alcoholic content of beverage as such as beer, wine, and whiskey, is made up of ethyl alcohol, a habit-forming drug.
So why don't people give it up? For one thing, people are gullible. Through subliminal advertising and peer pressure, the average man can be made to do anything. After a sufficiently extensive campaign, the deluded public could be induced to fill ice-cream cones with feces and exclaim to each other how delightful the taste is.
We are sometimes told that great saints, the emblems of sobriety, have endorsed the taking of alcoholic beverages. But there is no foundation for such claims. It is just a rationale to drink and then pat oneself on one's back that he is following in the footsteps of some great religious personality. This is especially the habit of adherents to the Western religious traditions. Take Jesus and the Bible for example. In Biblical times, all fruit of the vine was called wine, whether it was fermented or not. There are thirteen different words used in Hebrew and Chalde, and four in Greek. The common word in Greek was oinos. This Greek word corresponds to yain in Hebrew, vinum in Latin, and wine in English. However, in classical Biblical usage these words refer simply to grape juice.
In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Bible, the Hebrew word for grape juice is translated thirty-three times as the Greek word oinos. It is also used to denote other kinds of drinks, such as lotus fruit and dates.
According to Professor Samuel Lee of Cambridge University, the root of this word in Hebrew is yain or wine. The word does not generally refer to intoxicating liquor made by fermentation, but more so to a thick, non-intoxicating syrup produced by boiling to make it storable. The grape syrup was stored in new wineskins to prevent fermentation. It was referred to as "new wine," even though it was only grape juice. The thick syrup was similar to our grape jellies and would be squeegeed onto bread or dissolved in water, to be reconstituted as a very desirable grape drink.
Indeed, why would we assume that a teacher of God consciousness, of the highest level or reality, would endorse intoxication, an escape from reality? It is absurd! And a close look at the Biblical literature confirms this again and again. We learn from the Bible that intoxicating beverages are habit-forming (Proverbs 23.35), result in violence (Proverbs 4.17), and distract its imbibers from God (Amos 6.6). Thus, intoxication is detrimental both materially and spiritually. Drugs and strong drink should be avoided at all costs.
At this point, many will become impatient, thinking themselves moderate in their behavior and thus not in need of some sermon on drug-taking. But, aside from the fact that the drug problem does involve Everyman (as we have indicated earlier), the casual reader should be aware of the devastating effects of the "lighter" drugs, such as coffee, tea and cigarettes.
The next time you remember that what you are drinking symbolizes the plantation system in their subject lands. The plantation's sole purpose was to produce wealth for the colonizers - tobacco, rubber, cotton, tea, coffee, cocoa, etc. - all of which had little or no nutritional value. The name subsequently given to them, "cash crops," is quite an appropriate label.
Cash crops became established in world trade, even after their emancipation from formal colonial control. Third World countries were "economically hooked" on these crops as their only means of survival. Coffee, for example, the second most valuable commodity in world trade, is the economic life blood of fourteen developing countries.
Obviously, cash crops usurp land - often unnecessarily - that could be growing food for an undernourished local population. Instead, people starve so others in richer countries can have their coffee and cigarettes. And the ironic thing is that the same coffee and cigarettes are killing the people in richer countries.
The ingestion of drugs, irrespective of what form or for what reason, predisposes one towards an almost limitless variety of physical and mental illnesses. With so many qualified experts consistently affirming the dangers of drug ingestion (indeed, the cigarette packages themselves issue a clear warning...), it is amazing to realize that the consumption of drugs continues to accelerate. Is it that drugs impair one's reading ability, or one's mental faculties?
Apart from widely recognized dangers associated with the harder drugs, how many people recognize their commitment to the lighter ones? Well known to the former category are the hallucinatory drugs of addiction which we have already mentioned. But in the latter category are also dangerous drugs which, by their nonrecognition, can inflict serious damage upon the organism without any suspicion to provide protection. And the classic examples are mentioned above: coffee, tea, and cigarettes.
The U.S. Surgeon General's 1982 Report on smoking says that 130.000 deaths will occur during the year as a result of cancer (from smoking). Of these, 85 percent could have been avoided if the victims had not smoked. The Surgeon General's Report added that "smoking is also the major cause of laryngeal, oral and esophageal cancers and is a 'contributory factor' to bladder, kidney and pancreatic cancers." And everybody pays for the smoker's selfish habit. If you stand next to someone who is smoking, you are forced to inhale the fumes - you run the risk of getting cancer. Further, every year, smoking-related disease costs about $13 billion in health-care expenses nationwide in the USA. About a third of that is spent by the government through Medicare and Medicaid programs. Also, it is estimated that about 584,000 wage earners and their families are being put on the Social Security disability rolls every year for the same reason. These programs, of course, are supported by taxpayers' money - you are paying for them. Because of this self-centered habit, everyone suffers.
And as far as the coffee problem goes, the renowned David A. Phillips, Ph.D., has this to say, "Whether tea, coffee, cocoa, and meat are consumed, the gradual accumulation of oxalic acid, inherent in each of these, will actively degenerate the kidneys, developing integrative crystals and kidney stones."
Today, Americans drink at least 450 million cups of coffee every day. New Yorkers alone drink 2 million cups every twenty minutes, while seven cups produce acute toxic effects.
It's interesting how people will look upon an amphetamine user with dismay, but not think twice about a coffee user. Coffee has been called 'liquid speed' and is commonly acknowledged to be a form of amphetamine. Two cups of coffee raise the metabolism ten to twenty-five percent the equivalent of ten milligrams of amphetamine sulfate, which explains why amphetamine abusers are invariably heavy users of coffee and caffeine pills.
But the lift doesn't last. Caffeine saps energy. After a fleeting elation, one comes crashing down, developing dependence and depression. This is the problem with intoxication in general - you will not stay high forever. It is temporary, illusory. And once you come down, you're in the same situation that you were in before - generally you're in a worse situation - and you wasted your money and your time.
We only have so much time in this human form of life, and if we squander it on stop-gap solutions, what kind of foolishness is that? An intelligent person does not spend his life chasing shadows. If one wants the pleasure that intoxication promises, he will obviously have to search for it elsewhere. One will not find genuine, lasting pleasure from intoxication any more than one will find that he is becoming physically fit by exercising in his dreams.
We do not give much credence to what goes on in our dreams because they are temporary. When we wake up, they are finished. Lord Krishna elaborates on this in Bhagavad-gita:
nasato vidyate bhavo
nabhavo vidyate satah
ubhayor api drsto'ntas
tv anayos tattva-darsibhih
"Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent there is no endurance, and of the existent there is no cessation. This the seers have concluded by studying the nature of both." (BG 2.16)
Thus, Lord Krishna confirms that things of a temporary nature - such as dreams and the pleasure derived from taking drugs - are actually nonexistent; they have no substance. They don't last. And, when we think about it carefully we are ready to admit that temporary pleasures are insubstantial. They simply distract us from pursuing real pleasure, which exists only on the spiritual platform. But the problem arises in our day-today life: "temporary pleasure sure seems real!" So does a good dream. However, seeming real does not qualify something as being real. Refraining from drugs helps one to deal with reality. The highest reality is God; so when one is fixed in God consciousness, he learns how to stay high forever.
For many, it has been tough-luck economy, but you wouldn't know it from the piles of money being gambled away in every corner of the United States. Never before have so many people used so many ways to bet.
Legal poker and black-jack dens are burgeoning in the North Dakota wheat fields and the paved-over orchards of Southern California. For the benefit of bettors at tracks from Seattle to Hialeah, thoroughbreds dash, dogs chase mechanical rabbits and humans slam jai-alai balls.
Regardless of fixes and other scandals, armchair experts shovel billions of dollars in sports wagers through bookies' windows from "glitter gulch" in down-town Las Vegas to the dingy glass cage behind a phony lingerie store in New York City. Parimutuel operations are bidding jackpots so high that a Florida jai-alai hall recently paid nearly 1 million dollars to a syndicate that made a cinch bet by paying half a million dollars to play every possible combination of winners in a "pick six" parlay.
In what some social critics describe as a craze that reflects basic changes in public attitudes towards work and money, gambling has been multiplying so rapidly that experts measure it in fractions of the national economy.
Consultant and author John Scarne, described as the world's foremost authority on gambling, has used surveys of nearly 100,000 gamblers to peg the total volume of bets - most of them illegal and half of them bet privately between individuals - at about one third of the gross national product. That would represent more than 1 trillion dollars annually - nearly $4,500 for every man, woman and child. Some experts doubt the figure is that high. But federal research have cited estimates as high as 32 billion dollars a year for the amount wagered with professional bet takers such as bookmakers and numbers racketeers alone.
Legal gambling now totals more than 24 billion dollars a year, according to a Maryland-based trade group called the Public Gambling Research Institute. A stream of recent laws permitting lotteries, race betting and bingo has left only four states - Mississippi, Indiana, Utah and Hawaii - that still prohibit all forms of gambling.
On the horizon are technical innovations designed to boost gambling even more: flashy, coin-operated lottery machines, cable television links and telephone banks permitting instant transmission of wagers all over the nation.
The prospect of an unchecked gambling spree alarms some observers, but the evidence clearly shows that Americans see nothing wrong with games of chance. An 80 percent surveyed in a 1982 Gallup Poll endorsed legal gambling.
Nowhere is the gambling rage more prevalent than in Atlantic City, where the gross winnings of all nine casinos, before expenses and taxes, soared 36 percent to 1,5 billion dollars last year. Visitors, defying the recession, numbered more than 27 million, up from 19 million in 1981.
With the action this year just as brisk, Harrah's casino is upping its ante with another 200-million-dollar hotel and gambling hall under construction on the Boardwik. Resorts International in October will begin a 1,000-room addition to its 721-room hotel, and other structures are planned by the Golden Nugget casino, the Hilton hotel chain and Holiday Inns, Inc., the world' biggest owner of casinos.
A day among Atlantic City bettors shows how thoroughly qualms have receded among middle-class families who used to be uncomfortable with gambling. Harrah's child-care center for gambling parents is a few steps from the dice tables and whirling slot machines. Big bettors with $1,000 in cash and credit lines of $5,000 or more enjoy free rooms, food and drinks at some of the casinos. Resorts International charters a 48-seat plane for 12 free round trips weekly for freewheeling players from New York City.
Those who want to wager without leaving home are putting up with legal gambling's worst odds and buying 3,8 billion dollars worth of state lottery tickets annually, up more than 30 percent in just one year. In the last 10 months, new drawings have begun in Washington State, Colorado and the District of Columbia. Even though lotteries return less than half of the money wagered in prizes - compared with payoffs of 75 to 88 percent in horse-race bets and casino games - public response to them has been overwhelming. In Washington State and Colorado, more tickets had to be hurried into circulation after bettors snapped up nearly 80 million in the first few weeks. States with longer experience with lotteries are spurring heavier betting by offering new games and bigger prizes. New York's lottery, already huge, boosted revenue 80 percent to 646 million dollars last by adding a three-digit daily numbers.
As excited as legal operators are about America's apparent love affair with gambling, criminal organizations are even more enthusiastic. Despite predictions that legal betting would cut into gambling rackets, law-enforcement agencies estimate that illegal wagers still outweigh their lawful competition by at least 7 to 1. In Washington, D.C., police estimate that the numbers gross about 250 million dollars a year - several times the amount spent on the capital's new lottery.
Since the advent of lotteries, police say, numbers racketeers have been able to keep most of their customers by increasing payoffs, offering door-to-door service, extending credit and allowing people to play for as little as 25 cents a day. Backroom operators take advantage of the legal lotteries by using the state's number for their own games, thereby hitching a free ride on televised drawings and publicity paid for by the state. "Our biggest problem right now is the illegal booking of the state lottery" says Capt. Dennis Deneen, vice-control commander for the Chicago police.
The boom in televised athletics is pushing sports betting, estimated at 60 to 75 billion dollars a year, to new highs among the nation's biggest illegal pastimes, exceeded only by traffic in illicit drugs, estimated at 79 billion dollars a year. Two states, Montana and Washington, allow taverns and other small businesses to run non-profit pools in which customers try to guess combined scores in football and state agency to take conventional bets on which team will win, a business tried but abandoned as unprofitable by Delaware a few years ago. Sports bookies often are cited as the main source of bribes to police, prosecutors, and local politicians. In his New Complete Guide to Gambling, John Scarne reports: "No other form of illegal gambling... enjoys such effective police and political protection as illegal bookmaking."
Police prosecutors reply that gambling has low priority because the public doesn't consider it a serious offense and as few as 2 percent of police officer's cases result in prosecution.
Still, reminders of the painful consequences of illegal betting crop up again and again. Four former Boston College basketball players last year were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for taking bribes to reduce their team's score so that gamblers could beat the point spreads. In March, Baltimore Colts quarterback Art Schilchter went to the FBI after losing $389,000 to illegal bookmakers by betting on games.
WHO WINS? WHO LOSES?
One fact that helps explain declining opposition to gambling: Previously wary governments and religious groups are now among the biggest profit makers, promoters and proprietors of legal games. Gambling authorized by state law includes 18 government lotteries and 42 states where churches and other nonprofit organizations usually have sole right to sponsor bingo for cash prizes. On the average, according to the Public Gambling Research Institute, the government share of gambling grosses is about 40 percent for lotteries, 5 percent for racing and jai-alai, 5.5 percent for Nevada casinos and 8 to 12 percent for Atlantic City casinos. For states that go into gambling in a big way, the infusion of money can be enormous. In Nevada, gambling pays more than half of the state budget through direct taxes and an additional 35 percent through taxes on related business and employees. But most of the money, because it was acquired in a dubious way, is generally used toward a dubious end. And everyone involved suffers. Among those most clearly hurt by gambling are an estimated 1 million compulsive gamblers, plus their families and business associates. Connecticut and Maryland have tried to meet the problem by committing part of betting revenue to psychological treatment for gambling addicts. "So far, the treatment center in Bridgeport, Conn., has tried to help 75 compulsive gamblers, some of them on the verge of suicide," says director Patricia Nere.
Critics also say that gambling preys on those who can afford it least - persons with low incomes. A study of Michigan players confirmed that people with less money spent a bigger percentage of their small incomes on the lottery - although less in absolute terms than was spent by those with higher incomes. Other complaints focus on the crime and cheating that are sometimes linked to gambling's lure of easy money. Since the advent of gambling, per capital crime in the Atlantic City area has tripled. A police check of records at various casinos there revealed that 1,2 million dollars was lent to 25 underworld figures, including some who are said to have cashed borrowed chips to finance drugs and prostitution. The report prompted the New York Times to editorialize that the casinos "are providing easy credit to gangsters and letting compulsive gamblers destroy themselves."
Other scandals support the old contention that no contest is too prominent or too sophisticated to be ragged. Two officials of the Pennsylvania lottery were convicted of perjury and theft by injecting liquid weight into numbered table tennis balls so that only two of the 10 could be blown up to a plastic tube by a machine that selected the winning number. Three jockeys were accused last February of taking $500 bribes from an undercover policeman to pull back horses at New Jerseys' Meadowland track. In April, the police chief and public safety manager in Denver were suspended pending an investigation of alleged wrong-doing in bingo for police charities.
Scandals aside, experts see several forces behind the current gambling binge, starting with growing frustration caused by years of economic troubles. "Historically, people are more willing to gamble when times are hard," says Mr. Santopietro, deputy executive director to the California Horse Racing Board.
Others blame the gambling rage on a decline of moral values and the work ethic. In a study of legalized betting, the Twentieth Century Fund, a New York research group, concluded: "Gambling's get-rich-quick appeal appears to mock capitalism's core values: Disciplined work habits, thrift, prudence, adherence to routine and the relationship between effort and reward."
For many gamblers, the lure can be as simple as a desire for fun. "We come back for excitement, the entertainment," says a Kansas farmer on a recent trip to Las Vegas. "It is like a fantasy land, really, so different from what we're used to." Adds a retired businessman from California who has come to Las Vegas for 30 years, "I like the atmosphere and the action. It's a great place to relax."
For whatever reason, so many Americans enjoy wagering that the gambling binge is expected to continue. With states loosing federal aid and wage earners rebelling against taxes, "I'd say that by the end of the decade the number of states with lotteries will probably double," says Colorado lottery director Owen W. Hickey. Even in Bible Belt states, such as Alabama and South Carolina, bills for horse betting and lotteries are gaining ground.
It all points to more boom times ahead for gambling operators as Americans give in to their urge to buck odds and take a chance - on anything.
And yet it should be obvious that gambling is synonymous with cheating, with dishonesty. Everyone gambles to win, whether we admit it or not. And to win, we will go to great lengths - even farther than most of us know.
Five thousand years ago, when the personality of Kali requested Maharaja Pariksit to designate his place of residence, the King gave Kali four places to live - where there was gambling, drinking, prostitution and meat-eating. Where there is gambling, the other prominent symptoms of this age of cheating and hypocrisy automatically appear. The hotel casinos in Las Vegas are, without a doubt, the last word in the degeneration of the soul. Crap tables, twitching show girls, cocktails and medium rares, vie for the attention of the endless chain of suckers that flock there each day. Yet our culture has become so corrupt that even the prestigious American Medical Association (the guardian of America's health and well-being) have no second thoughts about holding a convention there.
Further, gambling breeds an attitude of contempt for human life. Last year a scandal emerged from the intensive care unit of Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas. The employees were making bets on how long critically ill patients would live. Some of the employees were overly anxious about their bets, and would tamper with the oxygen supplies or other life support systems of heavily wagered patients. One nurse in particular, who styled herself, 'the angel of Death,' allegedly turned off equipment on at least six critically ill patients.
They used to build treatment centers for heroin addicts. Now they are building them for the compulsive gamblers. This is actually meant as a sop for those who protest the increase in government-sanctioned gambling. The first one opened last year outside Baltimore, Maryland. The National Commission of Gambling estimates that there are over a million haricot compulsive gamblers, and predict with the rise of legal gambling that the total will shortly rise over three million.
One survey of police enforcement of gambling laws found that 80% of the police believe that profits from illegal gambling are used to finance other illegal activities such as loan-sharking and drug distribution. In half of the sample cities, local independent criminal organizations were said to control gambling operations. Very few gambling cases result in trials of fact; usually the case is dismissed or the operator pleads guilty and is given a low fine, often under two hundred dollars, which only amounts to a day or two's profit. Perhaps most disturbingly, a growing body of citizens are beginning to regard gambling as another "plaintifless" crime on the same level as prostitution, marijuana, and homosexuality, all of which though largely illegal, are considered the exclusive domain of so-called private morality. But they cannot say activity. The hellish mentality of the compulsive gambler has been described by one expert as follows: "They run into enormous financial difficulties - borrowing or even stealing from others, including their families. Heavy debt is a constant fact of life for compulsive gamblers. They sleep poorly, and are indifferent towards eating and affection. They may drink a good deal, and they're tense and irritable. They consider suicide. But they always think about the next bet."
The gambler is simply being driven by the mode of passion as described in the Bhagavad-gita: "That worker who is attached to the fruits of his labor and who passionately wants to enjoy them, who is greedy, envious and impure and moved by happiness and distress, is a worker in the mode of passion." (BG 18.27). But a gambler (everyone gambles to one degree or another) thinks that with his manipulative ways he can acquire more and more wealth, and thus enjoy more and more sense gratification.
But certain laws defy his dreams. The laws of nature, which are controlled by the Supreme Lord Krishna, aren't subject to the gambling man's bets. In fact, these laws control him at every throw of the dice, at every game of black-jack, at every flick of the queen of hearts.
How can we bet against the stringent laws of this world? What are these laws? Take, for example, fire. Suppose you were to make a bet that fire will not burn. Will you win? Is there any possibility to win the bet? No. Because the law of fire will dictate: burn! The best gambler in the world would lose the bet; he would be burned. This material creation that we live in is composed of innumerable such laws that control us - at every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Life after life we travel, transmigrating from one species of life to another according to our work, or karma. This karma determines our next situation in life; by works against the sanction of God, I suffer in the form of poverty, or disease or similar afflictions. Karma, therefore, is the law of punishments and rewards. In that way our pleasure and pains, our bodily beauty and our degree of wealth, are all predestined. But what we do with them does not take control of our life, not chance or even karma.
Of course, it may appear that when one works very hard, he is amply rewarded. But what about that man who works hard and achieves nothing? Someone may walk into a casino and with his first throw of dice, or his first fling at a slog machine, hit the jackpot. While others, despite playing the games for years, win little or nothing. Just luck? Hardly. This is the law of karma. And it is also the result of not submitting to the laws of God.
In conclusion, then, the term "chance" in gambling is a denial of the laws of God. One thinks that there is a loop-hole somewhere in the system - there's a place to beat the odds - there's chance to win. In other words, one comes under the conception that he's independent and he thinks that there are no laws governing pleasure. "I can beat the odds and win some new pleasure. I just have to hit the right number, pull the right card, spin the right digit!" He thinks he can abrogate the will of the Supreme.
But, what about the law of old age? Is is possible to find the loop-hole of eternal youth? And what about the law of death? Is there a possible "chance" that death won't come and take us away? Thus, chance is the materialist's mentality, epitomized in the games of gambling which lead to the complete degradation of the soul.
The soul is not independent - he is a servant of God. But a gambler is saying: "I am independent, I am a controller, I can change the odds, and win more pleasure for myself." In this way everyone caught in the material world is a gambler, to one degree or another. Actually, our real destiny (if we so choose) is to live eternally, full of pleasure, with Krishna. So why waste this human form of life which is a unique facility to attain that eternal realm, Krishna's abode? Why gamble?
In gambling casino, if you play, you undoubtedly lose. Why? Obviously all the games and tables are under the control of the the house - the casino owner. In the same way, if while in this human form of life we decide to gamble with the laws of nature, then we will be cheated, by the owner and controller of this larger house, the Supreme Lord.
The Lord is described as the greatest of cheats. But his cheating is different - it is simply an act of mercy. He cheats us out of our illusion of being enjoyers.
In the game of Russian roulette, one never knows when the loaded chamber will call his number and blow his brains out. The game is dangerous - yet men playit. Actually, as Russians, Americans, or whatever, we are all playing Russian roulette, by denying the supremacy of the Supreme Lord, and our existence as His eternal servants. Again, at some unknown time we will be blown away by death - once again cheated by the laws of nature. And who knows when our number of human existence will come up again simply because we decided to gamble our lives away.
The Krishna Consciousness Movement is inviting all the spirit souls of this world to engage in acts of devotional service, to get off the wheel of karmaand repeated birth and death. If one wants to multiply his earnings (not only double it or triple it, but actually increase it millionfold) then he should immediately take to the service of Lord Sri Krishna.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada describes the offering of service to Krishna as one's eternal bank account. Whatever one puts into this bank is never lost - even after death. The soul continues his service to the Lord and gains the Supreme Personality of Godhead Who alone promises to take the surrendered soul back home, back to Godhead.
The conditioned soul in this world mistakes happiness for what is actually only a temporary forgetfulness of misery. For instance, in colonial America, the dunking stool was used as a form of punishment in which the criminal was tied to a platform that was repeatedly lowered beneath the water with the victim periodically raised gasping for breath. Just imagine the relief upon breathing in air before again being dunked. Breathing would appear to such a person as a great luxury, although in actuality it is a rather mechanical part of life which ordinarily we take for granted; and while taking breathing for granted, we pursue "real" pleasure. Thus, in conditions that are miserable, we take relief to be a great pleasure.
The same logic may be applied to taking intoxication, eating meat, having illicit sex, and gambling - as well as all other forms of mundane pleasure. The so-called "pleasure" is not pleasure at all, but it is simply a forgetfulness, a temporary relief from the suffering and misery of material existence.
Here we may object and say that writer is being willfully obtuse. "He can't possibly believe that material existence is all suffering and no happiness. Maybe all of his pleasure has simply been a cessation of misery, but I've experienced genuine joy in my time!"
But let us analyze our endeavors for material happiness, which fall into three basic categories. First, we endeavor for something and we don't get it; we get it, but doesn't live up to our expectations; we are thus also miserable. Third, we endeavor for something, we get it, it lives up to our expectations, but we lose it after some time; we are ultimately defeated - if we simply try to enjoy materially. Everything in the material world will fall into one of the above three categories. Material existence leads to misery. Even the temporary cessation of misery, which we take for enjoyment, must come to an end, even though we don't want it to.
We search for unending happiness. This is natural, for the soul is eternal and spiritual happiness is essentially dynamic - a constant in a place where everything must came to an end. The physical law known as entropy will have everything crash down around us, nothing escaping permanently. We are like travellers in a desert who see an apparition of an oasis, with blue waters sparkling under date palms. Although the oasis is not there when we arrive, we continue to see it further away. And in this way we spend our lives in a grand illusion. Spiritual pleasure is hard to understand unless one experiences it through realization. Even the so-called pleasure of the material world is like that - just try to explain to someone who never tasted sugar what sweetness is. He simply would not understand. And a vicarious experience just doesn't do the trick.
The last several generations of man, especially in Western countries, have proven that material sense gratification (which is embodied in meat-eating, intoxication, illicit-sex, and gambling) cannot give real satisfaction. For the generation of atomic technology also brought forth generations of frustrated youth - from hippies to punk rockers. Offered the fruits of the most materially advanced nation on Earth, its own children reject them as inadequate. This phenomenon lays bare the failure of our society to recognize its wrong direction, its failure to recognize the spiritual nature of man. Many talk of material happiness but real joy is conspicuous in this world by its absence. And everyone fights for pleasure in desperation.
Spiritual advancement, not material sense gratification, is the real necessity of our civilization. The evolutionary pattern of life itself culminates in the spiritual emancipation of man. Atheists will try to dissuade us with their grandiose schemes for exploiting and thus enjoying the material world. But it should be realized that all their plans are doomed to failure.
This small pamphlet has dealt with four of the materialist's most cherished enjoyments. But we have seen the stark truth behind these heinous activities. The very thing they embrace as the cure is the cause of their disease. Materialistic persons, unable to recognize the importance of the regulative principles outlined in this work, will lead a hellish life. Not only in some future life, but in this one as well. We ask the reader to carefully consider the facts presented in this pamphlet, and then to fully embrace the four principles of freedom.
The Four Regulative Principles
by Varnadi dasa
With the fear of losing freedom, no one likes to be restricted. If we are confronted with rules and regulations stating that we shouldn't do this or that, we naturally keep our distance. Yet restriction doesn't necessarily mean loss of freedom. Restrictions for our own benefit are a requirement for freedom.
According to the ancient Vedic teachings, the present age we live in, Kali-yuga, is the age of quarrel, hypocrisy, and degradation. We only have to open a newspaper or to look around us to realize the accuracy of this assertion. And things are bound to get worse as time goes by.
The Four Pillars of Sinful Life
Still, the effects of Kali-yuga can be avoided by rejecting certain activities. The Srimad-Bhagavatammentions these activities as suna(meat-eating), striyah(illicit sex), panam(intoxication), and dyutam(gambling).
To most modern people, the ability to engage openly in these acts is a sign of freedom, but they are unaware of the bondage and karmic reactions involved. The freedom they speak of is the freedom of a football--to be kicked from here to there.
The Four Regulative Principles
These so-called sense-gratificatory acts are a sign of degradation below the human level. The scriptures therefore advise four regulative principles to keep us on the human level. They directly counteract the four pillars of sinful life and uplift us to the stage from which we can approach spiritual life.
To many people being a vegetarian means being a fruitcake, but reality shows that meat-eating has caused global problems that make one wonder whether those who favor it should not be considered nuts. For instance, research and comparative studies over the past twenty-five years show that a meat-based diet is the number-one cause of heart disease and cancer.
More than half the world's grain production (1 billion tons annually) is fed to livestock, returning only a seventh in consumable meat. The remaining 860 million tons become inaccessible for human consumption--a loss representing almost half a kilo of grains a day for every person on this planet. This kind of inefficiency is the chief cause of the present world hunger problem. Besides that, the production of meat is one of the main factors of the destruction of our environment.
More than 25 billion animals and a much larger amount of aquatics are mercilessly slaughtered for food yearly--hardly a sign of civilized humanity. It makes us merciless and devoid of compassion for all that lives, humans included.
Although these few points are topics on which volumes of books could be written, our main concern here is to show the usefulness of the principle of nonviolence. Vegetarianism is not an end in itself, but a first step toward an individual's living in harmony with himself and the world.
No Illicit Sex
We seem to have liberated ourselves from the foolish and primitive shackles of sexual restraint. Yet serious problems have caught up with our progressive march toward newer and stranger sexual practices.
A plague of sexually transmitted disease claims ever-increasing victims. Most prominent and difficult to handle is AIDS. Now an estimated 12 million adults and 1 million infants are infected, and the expectations for the year 2000 are an estimated total of 30-40 million. So far a steady 40% of the cases have proven fatal.
Promiscuity also generates detrimental social effects. Unwanted children have escaped the gauntlet of birth control and abortion (50 million annually). Since they are raised with insufficient affection and guidance, they easily fall prey to bad association. City streets and jails abound with these youngsters. And it all began with some sexually preoccupied parents.
Why this nightmare? Why can't we just enjoy a full and healthy sex life? Perhaps we have the wrong idea about the purpose of sex. Sex is meant for having children--the natural result of sexual union. But we try to avoid nature's arrangement with contraceptives and abortions and thus spoil society. Then if nature tries to tell us that unrestricted sexuality is unnatural, we complain or blame a merciless God. The idea is not to give up sex altogether but to follow its real purpose.
What about overpopulation? Overpopulation is a myth. The burden lies in the type of population. Therefore we advocate regulated sex and better children over unrestricted sex and unwanted progeny. Sexual pleasure should not be an excuse for a careless way of life full of detrimental side effects.
Therefore we don't find unwanted children, abortion or contraception in ISKCON. We only indulge in sex within marriage, and then only to have children that will be raised in Krishna consciousness. By following the original purpose of sex, nature does not retaliate.
Sex for any other purpose is the cause of bondage and will ultimately lead to disease or unwanted progeny. Sex, more than anything else, fixes our false identification of ourselves with the body, and sexual desire can never be satisfied, for it grows by what it feeds on. Yet this desire for sex can be purified, and once purified it turns to love. By the process of Krishna consciousness we awaken our eternal nature and natural love of God, of which sex is just a perverted reflection.
Intoxication refers to taking into the body substances that are not required for bodily sustenance and have altering effects on the mind and body. Vedic scriptures therefore include as intoxication everything from tea, coffee and tobacco to liquor, heroin and other more powerful drugs.
Nowadays countless people depend on these substances to stimulate their otherwise boring lives or relieve the many anxieties of urban life. But any objective observer will conclude that such enjoyment or relief is transitory and insubstantial.
Such habits have detrimental results. Besides the huge cost and resultant crime, addiction and loss of bodily and mental health eventually ends in disease, premature aging, and the inability to fix the mind intelligently and steadily on any subject or problem. Thus such habits impede spiritual advancement. Beyond this, the use of stronger and stronger intoxicants gradually destroys austerity and cleanliness, which the living conditions of drug-dependent persons confirm.
Drug abuse has penetrated all levels of society, from grade schools to the elite. The craving for artificial pleasure reveals that the average person's daily life lacks real satisfaction and pleasure. Yet after the effect of the drug wears off, the user must return to his usual unsatisfactory condition of consciousness.
To those for whom intoxication has become an integral part of their daily lives, intoxicants may seem to be just another part of reality. But seeming real doesn't qualify something for being real. If we want to deal with reality, we should stop stuffing our brains with unreality. Refraining from drugs helps one become eligible to understand reality, and the highest reality is God. One fixed in God consciousness stays high forever.
Five thousand years ago, when the personality of Kali asked Maharaja Parikshit to designate where he could live, the King gave Kali four places--places of gambling, drinking, prostitution and meat-eating. Where there is gambling, the other prominent symptoms of this age of cheating and hypocrisy automatically appear.
The treatment centers that used to be opened for heroin addicts are now opened for the compulsive gamblers. Compulsive gamblers run into enormous financial difficulties--borrowing or even stealing from others. Heavy debt is a constant factor in their lives. They sleep poorly, usually drink a lot, and are tense, irritable, and indifferent toward eating and affection. They often consider suicide and always think of the next bet.
Any gambler thinks that with his manipulative ways he can get rich and enjoy. But certain laws defy these dreams, like the laws of nature, which are controlled by the Supreme Lord. These laws are not subject to betting.
Can you bet against disease? Can you bet against old age? Can you bet against death? No, you will never be able to try your luck with the most stringent law of nature: karma. Therefore the term "chance" in gambling is a denial of the laws of God. One thinks that somewhere in the system is a loophole, a place to beat the odds, a chance to win--but there isn't.
The soul is not independent, he's a servant of God. But the gambler thinks, "I'm independent, I'm the controller, I can change the odds." In this way everyone caught in the material world is a gambler to one degree or another. If we decide to gamble with the laws of nature, we will be cheated. The Lord is described as the greatest of cheats, but His cheating is different. It is an act of mercy, for He cheats us out of the illusion of being enjoyers.
In Russian Roulette, you never know when the loaded chamber will blow out your brains. The game is dangerous, yet men play it. By denying the supremacy of the Supreme Lord and our existence as His eternal servants, we are all playing Russian Roulette.
In time, we will again be blown away by death, again be cheated by the laws of nature. Who knows when our number of human existence will come up again--simply because we decided to gamble our lives away.
Pleasure and Defeat
The conditioned soul in this world mistakes happiness for temporary forgetfulness of misery. Thus in conditions that are miserable, we take relief to be pleasure. The same logic may be applied to the four pillars of sinful life.
The so-called pleasure of the material realm is not pleasure at all.
In our endeavors for material happiness, we either don't get what we want,
or we get what doesn't live up to our expectations, or we get what we want
but we cannot keep it. Just by trying to enjoy, we are defeated. Material
existence leads to misery, and even the temporary cessation of misery must
Spiritual advancement, not material sense gratification, is the real necessity of our civilization. We have dealt here with four of the materialist's most cherished enjoyments, but we have seen the stark truth behind these heinous activities. The very thing embraced as the cure is the cause of disease.
The Krishna consciousness movement invites all the spirit souls of this world to recognize the importance of the four regulative principles outlined here and to engage in acts of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who alone promises to take the surrendered soul back home, back to Godhead.