The Philosophy Of Oneness
Some philosophers do not believe in the soul’s natural knowledge. Nor do they completely believe in material logic. Others, accepting the idea of the soul’s natural knowledge, believe in one God. Filled with various mental speculations, they take shelter of a rapt trance of meditation. However, their meditational trance is not the real thing. It is only a trick. In their pretended meditation they pretend to break through the walls enclosing the material world and then they pretend to see the world of spirit. Why is their meditation only a pretense? The spiritual world is revealed only in a genuine trance of meditation. It is not revealed in this pretended trance. Seeing only the subtle material world, the world of thoughts, they think they have seen the final spiritual abode of the spiritual beings. In truth they have taken shelter of the world of subtle matter, the world of thoughts.
The world of subtle matter and the world of gross matter are different in this way: The world of gross matter is the world perceived by the material senses, and the world of subtle matter is the world of thoughts perceived by the mind. Subtle matter was manifested before gross matter was manifested. This the material world is divided into two parts: the world of the gross material elements, and the subtle, effulgent world of thoughts. The “astral body” described by the Theosophists is an effulgent material body made of thoughts. This is the subtle material body, or the mind.
The subtle glorious world described in Patanjali’s Yoga-sastra and in the philosophy of the Buddhists is again only the subtle material world, the world of thoughts. The spiritual world is different. It is different from the gross and subtle material worlds, and it is also different from the “liberation” (kaivalya) described in Patanjali s Yoga-sastra. Patanjali’s Yoga-sastra does not describe the world of the spirit. In describing the practices performed by the aspiring yogi, the Yoga-sastra explicitly describes the soul and his relationship with God. However, in describing liberation, the Yoga-sastra does not say anything about God or about the liberated soul’s relationship with God. If the intention is that the individual souls and God have merged and become one, then the yoga philosophy is not different from impersonalist Monism (advaita).
The philosophy described by Patanjali in his yoga-sastra does not bring eternal auspiciousness to the spirit souls. The philosophy of the Yoga-sastra may be considered one of many philosophies that stay in between the world of gross matter and the world of spirit. That is why the souls seeking true spiritual happiness do not like it.
This World is Created to Enjoy Sense Pleasures or to Accumulate Piety…
Some philosophers say God created this world to give us an opportunity to enjoy sense pleasures. Then, after sinlessly enjoying and enjoying many sense pleasures, we will perform pious deeds and attain God’s mercy. However, if God head truly created this material world for the souls’ pleasure, He would not have created it with so many defects. After all, He is all-powerful, and whatever He wishes is done at once. If He had created the material world for the souls’ pleasure, He would have made it faultless. If He created the material world for the souls’ performing pious deeds, He would have made it very different from the way it is. Of this there is no doubt. Why is there no doubt of this? Because in the
material world pious deeds are not easily performed by every creature.
That Because of the First Living Entity’s Sin…
Thinking about the virtues and faults of this world, some moralist monotheists concluded that this material world is not a place of unalloyed pleasures. Indeed, the sufferings outweigh the pleasures. They decided that the material world is a prison to punish the living entities. If there is punishment, then there must be a crime. If there were no crime, then why would there be any punishment? What crime did the living entities commit?
Unable to properly answer this question, some men of small intelligence gave birth to a very wild idea. God created the first man and placed him in a pleasant garden with his wife. Then God forbade the man to taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Following the evil counsel of a wicked being, the first man and woman tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge, thus disobeying God’s command. In this way they fell from that garden into the material world filled with sufferings. Because of their offense, all other living entities are offenders from the moment of their birth. Not seeing any other way to remove this offense, God Himself took birth in a human-like form, took on His own shoulders the sins of His followers, and then died. All who follow Him easily attain liberation, and all who do not follow Him fall into an eternal hell. In this way God assumes a human-like form, punishes Himself, and thus liberates the living entities. An intelligent person cannot make sense of any of this.
To accept this mixed-up religion one must first believe these rather implausible things: “The living entity’s life begins at birth and ends at death. Before birth the living entity did not exist, and after death the living entity will no longer stay in the world of material activities. Only human beings have souls. Other creatures do not have souls.” Only extremely unintelligent persons believe this religion. In this religion the living entity is not spiritual in nature. By His own will God created the living entities out of matter. Why are the living entities born into very different situations? The followers of this religion cannot say. Why is one living entity born into a house filled with sufferings, another living entity born into a house filled with joys, another living entity born into the house of a person devoted to God, and another living entity born into a wicked atheist’s house? Why is one person born in a situation where he is encouraged to perform pious deeds, and he performs pious deeds and becomes good? Why is another person born in a situation where he is encouraged to sin, and he sins and becomes bad? The followers of this religion cannot answer all these questions.
Their religion seems to say that God is unfair and irrational. Why do they say that animals have no souls? Why do birds and beasts not have souls like human beings? Why do the human beings have only one life, and, because of their actions in that one life are rewarded in eternal heaven or punished with eternal hell? Any person who believes in a truly kind and merciful God will find this religion completely unacceptable.
The followers of this religion have no power to worship God selflessly. In general their idea is that by cultivating fruitive work and speculative philosophy one should work to make improvements in the material world and in this way please God. By building hospitals and schools, and by doing various philanthropic works, they try to do good to the world and thus please God.
Worship of God by performing fuitive work (karma) and by engaging in philosophical speculation (jnana) is very important to them. They have no power to understand pure devotional service (suddha-bhakti), which is free of fruitive work and philosophical speculation. Worship of God done out of a sense of duty is never natural or unselfish. “God has been kind to us, and therefore we should worship Him.” These are the thoughts of lesser minds. Why is this not a good way to worship God? Because one may think, “If God is not kind to me, then I will not worship Him.” In this way one has the selfish, bad desire to get God’s kindness in the future. If one wishes that God will be kind by allowing one to serve Him, then there is nothing wrong with that desire. But the religion under discussion does not see it in that way. This religion sees God’s kindness in terms of one’s enjoying a happy life in this material world .
Excerpted from “Tattva-viveka” of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Commentary on verses 23-27