Dharma – The Way of Transcendence
Dharma – The Way of Transcendence:
Amidst all the anticipation, anxiety, and hype swirling around the year 2000, we may find ourselves searching for some sure guidance as we enter the new millennium. Dharma: The Way of Transcendence provides it. Written by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, whom scholars and spiritual leaders worldwide recognize as the most distinguished teacher of Indian culture and philosophy in the modern age, Dharma answers essential questions thoughtful people ask in every millennium: Who am I? What are my deepest needs? How can I fulfill them?
Srila Prabhupada writes, “The body and the mind are but superfluous outer coverings of the spirit soul. The spirit soul’s needs must be fulfilled. The need of the spirit soul is that he wants to get out o the limited sphere of material bondage and fulfill his desire for complete freedom. He wants to get out of the covered walls of the greater universe. He wants to see the free light and the spirit.” To learn what that free light and spirit are, and how you can see them, read Dharma.
Table of Contents of Dharma – The Way of Transcendence:
Chapter 1: What is Dharma?
Chapter 2: Yes to Krishna, No to Illusion…
Chapter 3: Seeing the Free Light and the Spirit
Chapter 4: The True Goal of Dharma
Chapter 5: What the Senses are Meant For…
Chapter 6: Defining the Absolute Truth
Chapter 7: Seeing God Within
Chapter 8: The Perfect Social Order
Chapter 9: The Sure Way to Know God
Chapter 10: The Sword of Remembrance
Chapter 11: Hearing of Krishna with Faith
Chapter 12: Cleaning the Heart by Hearing of God
Chapter 13: Escaping the Clutches of Harmful Desires
Chapter 14: Bhakti-yoga: The Quickest Way to Peace and Bliss
Chapter 15: Bhakti-yoga is Science, Not Sentiment
Chapter 16: When the Krishna Sun Rises in the Heart
We have purposely denoted dharma as “occupation” because the root meaning of the word dharma is “that which sustains one’s existence.” A living being’s sustenance of existence is to coordinate his activities with his eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord, Krishna. Krishna is the central pivot of living beings, and He is the all-attractive living entity or eternal form amongst all other living beings or eternal forms.
Each and every living being has his eternal form in the spiritual existence, and Krishna is the eternal attraction for all of them. Krishna is the complete whole, and everything else is His part and parcel. The relationship is one of the servant and the served. It is transcendental and is completely distinct from our experience in material existence. This relationship of servant and the served is the most congenial form of intimacy. One can realize it as devotional service progresses.
Everyone should engage himself in that transcendental loving service of the Lord, even in the present conditioned state of material existence. That will gradually give one the clue to actual life and please him to complete satisfaction.
We are all hankering for complete self-satisfaction, or atma-suprasada, but first we must know what the real self is. The word atma, or “self,” refers to the body, the mind, and the soul. Actually, we are the spirit soul covered by two kinds of “garments.” Just as a gentleman is covered by his shirt and coat, so I, the soul, am covered by a gross body consisting of the physical senses and a subtle body consisting of mind, intelligence, and false ego. A person covered by false ego identifies with his body. When asked who he is, he will answer, “I am an American,” or “I am an Indian,” etc. But these are bodily designations; they are not his real identity.
The Vedic literature teaches that one begins to understand his real identity when he thinks, aham brahmasmi: “I am Brahman, or spirit soul.” Therefore the Vedanta-sutra says, athato brahma jijnasa: “Now one should inquire about spirit.” The human form of life is meant for advancing in knowledge of spirit, and this knowledge is the beginning of real happiness.
Everyone is hankering for happiness because by nature we are happy: anandamayo ’bhyasat (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12). As spirit souls we are naturally happy, blissful. But we are suffering because we have been covered by five gross material elements—earth, water, fire, air, and ether—and three subtle material elements—mind, intelligence, and false ego. Materialists, identifying themselves with these coverings, seek satisfaction through these gross and subtle elements of the body. In other words, they simply seek sense gratification, the happiness of the body.
In the material world everyone is working hard only for this happiness. Some people try to be happy by gratifying the physical senses, and some try to be happy by gratifying the mind in such pursuits as art, poetry, and philosophy. But neither gross nor subtle sense gratification can give us real happiness, because real happiness belongs to the soul. And we actually see that although people are endeavoring throughout the whole world for bodily comforts, for sense gratification, they’re not happy. They cannot be happy, because the basic principle of happiness is missing.
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