Philosophy of Krishna Consciousness
There are many ways to look at this question. First it can be considered that the father sometimes has to punish the son/daughter in order to teach him a lesson. Often the son sees this as pain and suffering, but in reality it is instructional. If we accept that the material world is only a reflection of our real home in the spiritual world and that we are spiritual - only temporarily in the body - then we can understand that our entire existence here is a training for us to see that the material world is a place of suffering, it is temporary, and we should aspire to get out and reach the spiritual world.
Another point is that Krishna places us here with instructions how we should live a God-centered life, or even just a pious life, according to scriptures, while honoring each other, the earth, etc. However, if we choose to ignore the instructions then the consequences are not God's fault, but rather the reactions to our own behavior. God is just letting the consequences come.
In order to understand this, one must understand the nature of true love. If one is forced or drugged into "love," that love is not real. You may agree to love but you are agreeing because there is a gun at your head, or because you are not in control of your mind. Only one who loves voluntarily in full understanding of their emotion and sacrifice is in true love.
Krishna wants true love. He wants us to turn to Him because we want to love Him and sacrifice for Him. For Him to get true love He must leave us alone to make our decision. If we are looking for happiness and love in the material world we cannot have pure Love of God. If we turn to Him, however, He will reciprocate with us.
Otherwise, He creates a place where we can try material love and enjoyment. Although conditions often appear very painful here, in reality we cannot get hurt because we are spiritual beings, only temporarily here in the material world. Krishna leaves us here to make our choices. We have the instructions (in scripture) how to live here in the best way possible, but we must freely choose to follow. He won't get involved - except when we ask Him to. Then things become clear and we can see things as they are.
by Laxmimoni dasi
The spiritual world is infinite, and to describe exactly what kind of life exists there is basically impossible, especially when our frame of reference is so limited. It would even be very difficult to try and describe life in India to someone from the United States.
Different places have different types of 'life' and different people will judge the descriptions they hear by different expectations, thus deciding what they think is "good" and what's "undesirable" based on faulty ideas of what the reality is. Please keep that in mind while I try to give you a hint of what is there.
At least I can say that in the spiritual world there is no birth, death, disease and old age. Each living being there has an eternal loving relationship with Krishna, in one of 5 basic emotional relationships: (1) passive, (as plant or animal for example), (2) as servant, with great awe and respect, (3) as a friend, (of two types, either as an equal, close friend, or as a friend mixed with some degree of respect and veneration), (4) as a parent, and finally (5) as a lover.
Each spiritual soul has one of these relationships with the Lord and is totally happy in that exchange, eternally. There, every word is a song, every step is a dance, and everything and everyone is engaged in loving service to the Lord and to each other. Nothing deteriorates, yet nothing is stagnant either (see I told you it was inconceivable ;-)
Different activities are going on daily, yet they are always fresh and exciting. Srimati Radharani cooks for Krishna and never makes the same dishes twice, devotees are chanting Krishna's glories and never tire of saying them, and never run out of things to say!
I would suggest that for you to get a more intimate and clear understanding of life in the spiritual world you read Krishna Book by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. It's available from Krishna.com or any Hare Krishna temple, wherever you may be. This book will help you to understand more deeply the wonderful pastimes of the Supreme Person and His friends and family in the Spiritual World.
by Laxmimoni dasi
No. The mind is one of the senses...it is the chief of the senses. Generally it's always scheming, "the senses want this thing so how can I get it?" It's the job of the intelligence to become strong to control the mind and in turn control the senses. That's what yoga is for - to develop sense control by controlling the mind with the spiritual intelligence so when the senses are asking for something the intelligence will say to the mind, "don't chase after that thing, it's bad for us, better to chant Hare Krishna!" and then the mind will be controlled and focus on chanting.
The consciousness of a person is to some extent determined by past karma, in the sense that you get a body with certain inclinations and desires due to previous karma, and also the consciousness is determined by the association one keeps. As you associate with people, you will take on their inclinations...also what you eat greatly affects your consciousness; if you eat sinful food, non-offered food, or food in the passionate and ignorant modes, then that will lead your consciousness in that direction. If you associate with saintly persons your consciousness will become saintly; you'll act in a saintly manner and develop saintly habits.
One thing you should know about karma...both good and bad karma are bad! Both good and bad karma make you take birth in this material world! Good karma may get you a better situation, with a better body, etc. and bad karma may make your life miserable, but ultimately any material body is miserable; it's temporary and dies, it gets old and diseased...so best to act for Krishna, free of personal desire, and thus avoid all karma whatsoever.
by Laxmimoni dasi
This is a tricky question because of the word "requires." I guess you can say faith doesn't require actions; one can be lying in a hospital unable to move and still have great faith in God. But faith generally inspires actions that show how one feels. You might say, "If I love someone, do I have to prove it by my actions?" Well, if you don't act like you love someone then how will they know? Or if you act like you don't love them, but say you do, maybe they won't believe you!
Krishna is in the heart, so you can't fool Him. He knows just how much faith you have, but still actions speak loudly, sometimes louder than words, so if you don't act as if you have faith, you might want to ask yourself "why not?"
by Laxmimoni dasi
Very often a living entity has performed pious acts in previous lives, which cause one to be attracted to transcendental, spiritual subjects. It is certainly possible that you are such a soul, that, having had previous spiritual activity but not yet reaching perfection, you are continuing on your spiritual path.
The human form of life is very precious and to come into contact with Krishna, even more rare. The soul who actually takes up the process seriously is even rarer still, and, finally, Krishna says that one who achieves perfection, sa mahatma sudurlabhah - "such a great soul is very rare."
So, if you can remain fixed in your determination and engage steadily in Krishna's service, you can achieve perfection - as you are already a rare soul.
Can someone become truly renounced simply as a result of being depressed with material life, or is renunciation only possible for highly educated spiritualists?
by Laxmimoni dasi
True renunciation means giving up the desire for personal sense gratification and working only to satisfy the senses of the Lord. One who gives up something because they don't want to suffer is still acting for personal sense gratification. Thinking that, "I want to avoid suffering" is a selfish motive, and therefore not true renunciation. It will be temporary and will not result in self-realization.
If consciousness doesn't arise from any material combination, what is the Krishna conscious explanation of cloning?
by Laxmimoni dasi
Cloning just produces another body; a soul must still enter that body for there to be conscious life in it. The materials that are being combined are all coming from cells originally created by God.
There's a joke about a scientist who comes to God and says, "Now I can create life by myself. We no longer need God. You are finished." God replies, "please demonstrate." The scientist then begins to pick up some chemicals from the earth, and the Lord stops him, saying, "No! You must supply your own ingredients!"
From what I've read on cloning, it seems that that one sheep has been the only notable "success," whereas others' efforts, especially in the human sphere, haven't been very successful. Ultimately, it's Krishna's will, enacted through His material energy, which places a soul within a body, no matter how the body is created.
by Laxmimoni dasi
There are many demigods that are great Vaishnavas, and others who are tinged with various degrees of material desire, but still they are Vaishnavas. The present Lord Brahma is a pure devotee.
Being a sannyasi (renounced preacher) does not necessarily make one a pure devotee. Many sannyasis, though in the renounced order, are impersonalists and not Vaishnavas at all. However the word, "sannyasa" is also used to indicate someone who has a renounced mentality and is dedicated to the service of the Lord by his mind, words and actions. Although he may not be in Sannyasa vesh (dressed in saffron cloth), he is a sannyasi because of his mentality.
This is the level of sannyas that Lord Krishna is speaking of in the 6th chapter of Bhagavad-gita in verses 1 & 2. So in one sense, all pure Vaishnavas are sannyasis, (renounced from the desire for personal material sense gratification), but not all sannyasis (those in the renounced order of life) are pure Vaishnavas!
Actually, Krishna Consciousness is based on the Vedas. Veda literally means "knowledge," so there should be no problem in dovetailing one's desire for knowledge.
There are two types of knowledge; that which deals exclusively with mundane things, and that which deals with the relationship between the material word, the spiritual energy and the spirit soul (you and I). Mundane knowledge can be dovetailed by using the results of that knowledge in the service of Krishna, and the other knowledge can be used to extricate yourself from the cycle of repeated birth and death. And within the Vedic literature there's knowledge about politics, military science, medicine, agriculture, drama etc.; practically everything can be seen in relationship to Lord Krishna, far more than one can know in one lifetime.
As far as the propensity for renunciation; that is also easily "dovetailable." Real renunciation is described in the Bhagavad-gita chapter 6, verse 1:
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: 'One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty.'"
We often think of renunciation as "giving up" something - living in poverty, or walking rather than driving a car – however, since nothing is ours in the first place (it all belongs to Krishna!), what can we renounce? We may walk into a bank and shout, "I renounce all the money in this bank!" But since the money isn't ours in the first place, it's a crazy declaration to make. Therefore, Lord Krishna describes renunciation as above: doing one's duty without being attached to the results, giving the results to Krishna. This is true sannyas, or renunciation.
Both rejection of something and attachment to something are signs of personal desire. We want to avoid those things which give us pain or discomfort and get those things which we perceive as giving us happiness. Or perhaps we want to appear renounced or wealthy, so that we can gain fame or adoration. All these motivations are selfish. A true renunciate will see pebbles and gold, friends and enemies, as the same...neither hating nor desiring anything...but simply doing one's duty to the best of his/her ability, and allowing the Lord to do His will in terms of awarding or withholding the result.
I hope that this is helpful.
Do all living entities, even microorganisms like the single-cell amoeba or virus, have both soul and Supersoul?
Hare Krishna! Thanks for this question. It's clear you're thinking deeply on these topics.
Yes EVERY living entity has a soul and a Supersoul. Actually Paramatma, (Krishna) is within every ATOM, but the jiva soul is within every living entity.