April 15 2009

Here’s #10 from Ananga Manjari dd in the CIS:

“Can you please explain the difference between religion and faith?”

Answer: 

 How many essays do you want? 🙂

 Your question is rather vague also. You have not defined either religion nor faith, as you understand them, or as others generally take them.

 Briefly, religion nowadays is taken as a social protocol, with certain rites and rituals. Most people only skate on the surface without ever penetrating the deeper aspects. Thus their practice of religion is superficial. Many people also list a particular religion as their religion just because they were born in a particular family and country etc. They have no particular affinity to it, it is just another label attached to this body.

 Some people however want to penetrate a little deeper and gain a personal experience and realization of their religion, and deepen their faith.

There are many people who have rejected the standard religions such as Catholicism or various types of Christianity. There are many faith-based expressions such as Pentecostal, various forms of Protestants etc. These are people who wanted to get away from the shallow ritualistic show of formulated religion and actually experience God. However, they themselves have become religions and their so-called spontaneous expressions have become shows only.

 Take for example the so-called ‘charismatic’ Christian religions practiced by the ‘born-again’ Christians. A great show is made of being touched by some preacher

charismatic-preacher.jpg

and then fainting in ‘ecstasy’ or spiritual delerium.

 charismatic_chaos02.jpg

But it is an emotional show only. Ask such persons if they can tell you anything about God, and they cannot.

 Unfortunately due to a lack of knowledge, any kind of sentimental experience beyond the ordinary scope of daily life is taken as a ‘spiritual experience’ when in fact it has nothing to do with real spiritual life. Simply some adjustment of the mind or intellect is taken as spiritual but these types of experiences are within the three modes of nature and are products of bewildered persons’ minds and senses.

Its not just the Christians either, most people of the world have only a superficial understanding based on their identification with their temporary bodies. The real spiritual plaform can only be experienced when we understand we are not this body. When we rise above the demands and gratification of the body, mind, and intellect, and we connect with Brahman in His three features, then we can experience the divine. This also requires the guidance of a self-realized soul, someone who has actually seen the absolute truth and can accurately convey it to others. It is a science, not a sentiment.

 Therefore Srila Prabhupada says that Krsna consciousness is neither religion nor faith, both of which can be changed. Krsna consciousness is the actual experience of God in his different features, under guidance of shastra and guru. He often said that the Krsna consciousness movement is an educational movement meant for the upliftment of all mankind.

In this interview in New York on July 14 1976 with a reporter from Newsweek Srila Prabhupada stressed this educational aspect of his ISKCON: 

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[TD3] 

“They continued on for some time, with Wanda asking about the gurukula system, about our standards of education and behavior, and how would we deal with criminals. At one point she asked Srila Prabhupada “Are you prepared to die?”
Prabhupada replied by asking her the same question. “You are not prepared? Why don’t you answer?”
“Pardon me?”
“You are not prepared to die?”
Wanda was caught, and hesitated a little. “I haven’t thought about it too much.”
Srila Prabhupada psychoanalyzed her. “Why you are asking me, ‘Why’? Because you are afraid. You are not prepared to die.”
“Perhaps that’s the reason,” Wanda conceded.
“Everyone will die,” Prabhupada told her. “You prepare or not prepare, you’ll die. It doesn’t matter whether you are prepared or not. Death must be there.”
Ramesvara added, “Our philosophy, as Prabhupada said in the beginning, is that spiritually there is no end. There is no such thing as death for the soul, self-realized soul. There is simply death of the body.”
“These things are discussed,” Srila Prabhupada said, quoting the Bhagavad-gita. “Na hanyate hanyamane sarire. Find out this verse. It is an educational movement, it is not a religious movement, sentiment. One requires to be educated; then he is completely on the spiritual platform.”

Even if somehow they go beyond the bodily identity, they still mistake their true identity due to a lack of proper information and guidance.

In a class in Toronto on June 21 1976 Srila Prabhupada explained this:

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[TD2]

He said that education means to know what is eternal: “They do not know what is sanatana. They think that if I dress in a certain way and if I am born in a certain community, then I become sanatana-dharma. No. Everyone can become sanatana-dharma. But they do not know what is the meaning of sanatana. Every living entity is sanatana. And Krsna, God is sanatana. And there is a place where we can meet together, that is sanatana-dhama. Suppose I return to that sanatana-dhama and there is God, sanatana, and I am sanatana, so what is our sanatana activities? Does it mean that when I go to sanatana-dhama I become God? No. You do not become God. Because God is one. He’s the Supreme Lord, master, and we are servant.

“Here every one of us, we are claiming to become Krsna. But when you return to the sanatana-dhama, then we — unless we are qualified we cannot go there — then we eternally engage in the service of the Lord. That is sanatana-dharma. So you practice it. The sanatana-dharma means this bhakti-yoga. Because we have forgotten. Everyone is trying to become God. Now practice here how to become a servant of God. And if you are qualified, factually, that now you are rest assured that you have become a servant of God, that is bhakti-marga. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, gopi-bhartur pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah. When you are expert in becoming the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord, hundred times down, servant, then you are perfect. But here everyone is trying to become the Supreme Lord.”

        Your humble servant,
        Hari-sauri dasa

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