Faith

Faith and suffering

Question: 
If I accept that Krishna is in control of everything, why should I have to suffer?


Our Answer:
We're all completely helpless and only by Krishna's grace can we accomplish anything. That however, doesn't mean that Krishna approves of whatever happens. We tend to suffer to the degree that our faith in Him isn't strong. After all, He says in Bhagavad-gita, 5.29, "A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries."

We get reactions from past lives that may seem unfair because we can't see the whole picture. Only when we become spotlessly pure devotees can we transcend all karmic reactions.

If you once tell Krishna in all sincerity, “From now on, I am Yours,” He will take care of you, and help you sort out all difficulties. Srila Prabhupada once said if you have a problem you can go to the Deity, and say: “My dear Sir, this is my problem,” and then explain the problem.

We suffer due to lack of faith, but we can build our faith by acting on whatever faith we already have.

Origin of scripture

Question: 
Aren't all scriptures written by humans? If so, how is it possible to have faith in them?


Our Answer:
The scriptures—specifically, the Vedas—themselves explain that although they appear within human society for our benefit, they weren't written by ordinary humans, but by beings empowered by God with the necessary vision. They're like the instruction manual for how to live in this world; and most instruction manuals aren't written by the inventors themselves.

In Sanskrit the scriptures are called apaurusheya, not of human origin. Ultimately, all scriptures are given to us by the Supreme Person, who delegates responsibility to others for disseminating them.

You can test the validity of scriptural statements by acting according to them and seeing if the predicted benefit is attained. Blind doubt is just as bad as blind faith. You have to test the statement, as far as is possible, in order to have faith.

Evidence for Krishna

Complexity: 
Easy

from Back To Godhead Magazine, #36-05, 2002

People who doubt there’s life after death sometimes say, “No one has ever come back to tell us about it.”

But what if someone claimed to have come back? Would we believe him? What kind of proof would we want?

Trying to prove that Krishna is God presents a similar challenge.

Someone might ask, “If Krishna is God, why doesn’t He come and prove it?”

Well, there’s evidence that He does come. For example, when He came five thousand years ago, millions of eyewitnesses saw Him, He did things only God can do, and Vyasadeva, a reporter with impeccable credentials, kept track of it all.

Vyasadeva recorded not only Krishna’s matchless deeds but also the testimonials of the greatest spiritual authorities of the time, a time when large numbers of people pursued spiritual realization with every ounce of their being. The consensus of these saints and sages—masters of spiritual learning and discipline—was that Krishna is God.

People today tend to doubt the credibility of Vyasadeva’s writings, thanks in large part to a smear campaign started by the British during their takeover of India. Yet despite their efforts, the light of the Srimad- Bhagavatam and other books from Vyasadeva’s prolific pen keeps shining. Great Western thinkers who received the Vedas without prejudice were astounded. Vyasadeva’s writings were superior to anything they had ever come across.

But what about the “stories” Vyasadeva wrote? Was there really a boy named Krishna who lifted mountains and killed monsters? Scholars for whom Vyasadeva’s “mythology” seems incompatible with his erudite philosophical works might propose that Vyasadeva didn’t write both things. But that argument fails if we look at just one example of his work: Srimad-Bhagavatam. There Vyasadeva has written both profound philosophy and—as the climax, no less—charming stories about Krishna.

The great leaders of India’s spiritual lineages since Krishna’s time have concluded that a great philosopher like Vyasadeva wouldn’t frivolously insert fanciful stories into his treatise on the Absolute Truth. Vyasadeva’s gravity alone is solid evidence that his stories of Krishna’s exploits tell of actual events.

Like many nineteenth-century scholars, anyone who reads the Vedic literature with an open mind is sure to be awed. But readers need help, too. Traditionally, a student of the Vedas gets guidance from a self-realized person coming in a line of authorized teachers. Four main lines have directed India’s spiritual culture for hundreds of years, and each of them asserts that Krishna, or His expansion Vishnu, is God.

I find it disturbing to read media coverage of Krishna conscious events that refers to devotees as worshipers of “the god Krishna.” For the average person in the West, the writer might as well be saying we worship “the god Zeus.” Why would anyone take seriously a group of people who have arbitrarily chosen to worship one god out of a whole stable of contenders?

But our choice is far from arbitrary. It’s founded in the Vedic scriptures, the credibility of saints of respected spiritual lines, and the realized conviction, persuasive writings, and pure character of Krishna’s emissary His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Religion Versus Faith

Complexity: 
Easy

from Back To Godhead Magazine, #35-02, 2001

In 1969, just a few years after Srila Prabhupada started his movement in the West, he prepared a test for his disciples. Those who passed the test would receive a Bhakti Sastri degree, signifying their understanding of the basic philosophy of Krishna consciousness.

I came across the test recently and was surprised to find that eight of its fifteen questions deal with the same point: How to distinguish between religion and faith. Srila Prabhupada obviously felt this was an extremely important point.

Prabhupada taught that Krishna consciousness—God consciousness—is different from what is generally called "religion." Taking up the practices of Krishna consciousness is not the same as converting from one religion to another. Hare Krishna devotees never say they converted from Christianity, Judaism, or some other faith. Prabhupada came not to make converts to Hinduism, he would say, but to give genuine spiritual knowledge.

Because Krishna consciousness is the eternal function of the soul, it can’t be changed, as we might change our beliefs from one religion to another. We are all spiritual beings, by nature servants of God. To be Krishna consciousness is to understand our true nature and act accordingly. It’s that simple.

Our Krishna consciousness is already there; we simply have to awaken it. We can’t remove Krishna consciousness from our very being any more than we can stop breathing, or any more than we can remove sweetness from sugar or liquidity from water.

The Sanskrit word dharma is sometimes translated as “religion,” but dharma actually means “essential characteristic.” The dharma of fire is heat; the dharma of the soul is service to God.

Service is inescapable because it’s intrinsic to the soul. We try to avoid service to God, but we’re forced to serve Him indirectly through our subordination to His material energy. We might declare that we can live without serving others, but we must at least admit that we’re unwilling servants of time, moving us unimpeded toward death.

Krishna consciousness can rightly be called a science. Students of Krishna consciousness are studying truth, or the nature of reality. The soul’s eternal function of service is a reality that shines forth whether we call ourselves Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, or atheist.

Religious traditions are meant to awaken us to the one true religion: service to God. Srimad-Bhagavatam says that the best religion brings us to pure, uninterrupted, unmotivated loving service to God. It doesn’t say that the best religion is Hinduism, a word absent from the Vedic scriptures. The religion promoted by the Vedas is called sanatana-dharma, the eternal occupation of the soul.

The strife between adherents of various religions will end when everyone understands this non-sectarian, scientific definition of religion. Srila Prabhupada wrote dozens of books to enlighten people about this principle. Those books are available all over the world to anyone eager to rise above temporary religious designations and move on to eternal, universal truths.