Twin Towers of Material Life

The sickening images of two hijacked passenger jets smashing down two huge office towers knots my gut and floods me with raw, confusing feelings.

Sorrow. For the terrified, doomed passengers, the thousands of unsuspecting office workers buried or burned alive, and the hundreds of heroic firefighters crushed when the mighty steel-framed edifices melted and collapsed on them within an hour. For their devastated children, spouses, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends.

Anger. At the inhuman zealot hijackers and their lying masters. At pig-headed politicians on all sides who talk and spend money and never compromise. At the inevitable spiral of measures and countermeasures now sure to destroy peace and multiply the pain.

Frustration. With a society that mercilessly slaughters animals and the unborn, oblivious to the endless, horrific reactions.

Betrayal. By a billboarded mirage of enticements collapsed in a pile of smoldering rubble. By marketers of false material happiness and security who have cheated me and left me in pain with no customer-service desk in sight.

Detachment. I want to disaffiliate from this world. I’ll do my duties and live my life, but after seeing this, how can I again believe that I or anyone else belongs in such a disgusting, hellish place?

Krishna, the goal of life! What a good time to remember You!

The warrior Arjuna once pried a bit and asked to see his divine friend Krishna’s form as the material universe. Arjuna soon regretted it, for in His universal form Krishna opened His huge, ferocious, shaming mouth and sucked in everyone. His razor-sharp teeth sliced and chewed innumerable arms, legs, trunks, and heads, like those being picked today from the dusty New York rubble.

Seeing Krishna as inevitable death, Arjuna changed his attitude toward Him. Arjuna cursed himself for being too familiar and begged Krishna’s forgiveness. He lost the sense of friendship and intimacy that Krishna enjoyed. Instead, Arjuna recoiled into a more common pose of fear before God almighty.

Arjuna then begged Krishna to withdraw His ugly, terrible material form and show Himself again as his beloved friend and charioteer. Krishna happily complied.

Today I have seen Krishna’s horrible form of material nature. Let me be like Arjuna. Humbled, sobered, let me pray to see Krishna in His eternal loving form. Let me forget my longstanding fascination with His material energy, for its backside is death.

Gratitude. I thank Srila Prabhupada for giving me a chance to live my insignificant life in Krishna consciousness.

At a victims’ memorial service at the National Cathedral, Reverend Billy Graham, “America’s Preacher,” said, “I have been asked hundreds of times why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign and He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a ‘mystery.’ “

Reverend Graham is honest. I wonder if he would appreciate Prabhupada’s explanation of the Vedic answer. In a nutshell, it’s this:

Evil exists because our purpose in coming to this world is selfish and godless and therefore evil. God is neutral; if we want to materially enjoy ourselves without Him, He lets us try. However, as spiritual beings we are built to love God, not matter. Material suffering reminds us of that fact. When one seeks and finds happiness in God, Krishna, not in buildings and power and shesh, then material suffering becomes a great incentive for loving God, the true purpose of human life.

The happiness of loving God is not a beggar’s banquet for material losers. It is an endless, varied feast, rich, healthy, and satisfying, unfettered by anxiety or guilt.

Philosophy aside, these terrorist attacks are a terrible tragedy. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. Should I give blood or send a check? For now, I’m writing this in hopes that someday, by Krishna’s grace, some of them find comfort in Krishna consciousness.

To all who suffer over this disaster and its descendents: you may get retribution, but will it end your suffering? Enjoyment and suffering are the twin towers of material life. Please instead lovingly call out the name of God as you address Him. Or join us in chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.