Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What is good?

In today's world, everyone does some sort of good to others...well...at least that is what they think. However, there are some genuine thinkers and activists who take up a good cause and run with it. Martin Luther King Jr wanted to do good for the community at large by helping the African American community of USA. Mahatma Gandhi did the same for the people of India and so did Mohammed Ali Jinnah for the people of Pakistan. Nelson Mandela fought against racial discrimination, Mother Teresa against social inequity and poverty. At a more smaller scale, everyone of us common man take up a profession or act with some "good" in mind. As an urban planner, I want to make this world a better place. A doctor would profess goodness by helping the sick. A theoretical physcist would claim good by way of intellectual emancipation by answering fundamental definitions of life such as what is this universe? where did I come from? etc. Everyone has some sense that what they do or represent is actually "good" and that gives them the motivation to do more. I am sure even terrorist operate on the same platform of some twisted "goodness" that they contribute to their own clan, ethnicity, religion, region or leader.

So...really...what then is "good"?

In my opinion, "good" is akin to "selfless act". If I have to quantify loosely, if any given act of mine is part selfless and part selfish, then the part that is selfless is "good" and the rest is not. So an act, according to me, can either be completely (100%) good and or partially (as low as 1% or less) good or in other words an act can be 100% selfless or as low as 1% selfless. So "good" is as good as "selfless" in my book. If I compare this to the examples above of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mandela and even the terrorist, surely these people contribute some "selfless" act for their cause.

To add to this cause of selflessness is the concept of time, if this selfless act has temporary results, then the value of good, in my opinion actually is less. In other words, if I have to select an act out of my free-will that is selfless (aka good) but if that selfless act only gives temporary results or temporary goodness, then, really am i really doing good? Because if I purposefully take up something investing my limited resources to a cause (albeit selflessly) but I know will only yield temporary relief, then in one sense, is this temporary relief really good? In my opinion, a selfless act is good but a selfless act with temporary results is of lower quality goodness.

Therefore, if we want to do the best goodness to others, then, we have to act selflessly but act in such a way that it yeilds permnanent results and not temporary. The concept of "permanent" or "eternal" is applicable only within the domain of the soul and Supersoul and not matter. From that standpoint, what Srila Prabhupada did as an act of "selflessness" is the "purest" and the "highest" form of "good" any man can do to a fellow human and actually all species of life.

Why....because his act gives eternal freedom from the bondage of cyclical suffering that comes to us in various forms such as sociology, economics, politics, religion, basic living needs etc. What is his act of selflessness...to tirelessly encourage people to accept God into their lives beyond superficial rituals, by encouraging people to give up bad-habits, and ultimately give what no man has given...that is to encourage and inspire people to chant the Holy Names of Krishna in an unprecedanted scale.

All of Prabhupada's acts have such repurcussion which no cost-benefit analysis can quantify. That is correct, people giving up bad habits (inspired by Prabhuapada) such as meat eating, intoxication, gambling and reckless sexual behavior has saved the Federal Government billions of dollars of benefit money over a period of one's life. Is this not good from an economic standpoint? Giving up bad habits has imparted stability, productivity and positive feelings thus enhancing social & economic relationships at the domestic and community level. Prabhupada inspired everyone to be good productive citizens...and the best part is he did not even explicitly fight for this cause. Being a good productive and equitable citizen, while is the life goal for most activist, for the movement started by Prabhupada, it was a by-product...why because his goal was permanent (not temporary).

Equal rights, alleviating poverty, politics etc all are good for brief periods of time, but what Prabhupada wanted to give us was to transcend all suffering all together. While he stressed the value of character and discipline, he taught us the ultimate purpose in life is to "love God with all Thy heart, mind and soul". This he taught us by first correcting our character and at the same time (simultaneously) call out God's names. When we become a self-controlled disciplined individual giving respect to all living entities including the plants and animals and at the same time call out God's names, he said and also demonstrated through his practical life that love for God will gradually invoke within us. This, Prabhupada said, is the fullest and most comprehensive solution to all problems of life now and forever.

In conclusion, the two criteria for a "good" act are:

1. degree of selflessness associated with the act and
2. the amount of time the goodness endures as a result of the act

Therefore, in my humble opinion, yes...there are many great people who have done good in the past for brief periods and in the future will do good to others for brief periods, but none can compare to Prabhupada who did and does acts which are pure, 100% selfless and timeless and that in my opinion is the highest and purset form of "good" one living entity can do to another. We should aspire to do good like he did.

To such a tireless, and selfless master, I bow down in full prostration.

Please do a good act that can permnanetly solve your problems. Chant Hare Krishna.

Hare Krishna

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