Not too long ago I wrote a post on the Kali Yuga, and different Hindu – and in some cases specifically Vaisnava Hindu – practices that are “prescribed” in order for a jivan to navigate his/her way through this “dark age.” Specifically worship of the form of Vishnu called Venkateshwara, recitation of the Mahamantra, or the Hare Krishna Mantra, and a certain meal time prayer reminding us that the food, the eating and the eater are all Brahman (the ultimate, impersonal, divine Reality).
Now I want to write about navigation through this age in much more general terms that all can relate to regardless of any particular leanings, spiritually. And I was greatly inspired by a video and a short writing, both by a cousin of mine (who to my knowledge is not Hindu), both in response to the bombing at the Boston Marathon. So I may just need to quote him at some length here.
The Kali Yuga, the dark age, is one in which people are distant from one another. People are confused. About their place in the world, confused about their source and destination, and their relation to one another while they are here.
My cousin wrote that we “as humans, came together on that horrific day (referring to the Boston tragedy). Although we weren’t right next to each other…It seemed that we were. Only to see days later, that that connection was lost once again. Lost in a vortex that it seems only a tragedy can create.” I think I know what he meant here. I think he meant that tragedies open up a window for us to have a glimpse at our true Oneness. To feel true unity. But we squander it when we get sucked back into what Hindus call Maya, the delusion of separation of one “form” from another.
I am a Hindu but even I struggle to find solace in the Bhagavad-Gita on the “problem” of what we call “mental illness.” But I fear that this is an age when this scourge will become rampant. And I am of the mind that the things that happened in Boston, at that Colorado movie theater, at Sandy Hook, are a result of mental illness.
My cousin wrote “People make up the fact that ‘It’s in our DNA’. No, we put that in our own minds. We made up these lies to make murdering on certain accords OK. And it never will be. We always have a choice.” I think he is referring to capital punishment, and the eye-for-an-eye sentiment in general that may never go away from our society. Remember Gandhi said “An eye for an eye will make us all blind.” I have to agree to some of the point my cousin makes.
The Boston Marathon bombing is being politicized because the bombers were Muslims, and militant Muslims have come to be looked at as nothing but an extreme political party. But really it is mental illness on a large scale. I do not wish to minimize the issues in the world which lead Muslim extremists to take the actions they do. But these actions are still failure to deal with a problem rationally. Many mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, are characterized by “irrational” trains of thought. This is simplifying things, but in the grand scheme of things, that is what we have. Irrationality. And it is rampant. Mental illness comes not only from the individual’s genetic code. I would argue that irrational thinking comes from confused sense of logic. Confused logic comes from a repeatedly contradictory example. And contradictory examples come from irrationality of our examples. Our society as a whole is our role model. So blame the individual or blame the society. It doesn’t matter. The root will generally be the same. I can’t say I can put into words what that root is. But I know it is there. And I know that it is the cause of the darkness in the world. We each have an Inner Light. But the veil is piled over us so thickly in these dark times, that in every age sometimes only one person in the entire world will ever become aware of the Light. Some will consider this self-realized soul an Avatar, though I think the true meaning of Avatar in the Hindu sense is a little different then a jivan who finally becomes aware of his conditional predicament and decides to do something about it using Universal Love as a sword.
If you subscribe to popular conceptions as to what the Kali Yuga is, it will last for many many thousands of years before things begin to brighten again. If that is the case then it would behoove us to start taking a look at the issues we have in this world which separate us – openly, and with love.
My relative wrote, and I think many of us will agree, that we have to stop thinking of ourselves as (in our case) as “Americans” and instead to think of ourselves as people first. I think this is a good start but we also have an advantage over eras past when the world on the whole, was much more tribal than it is now. The U.S. is a big place, and the only border rivalries are over sports! Sure territorial wars of a much more serious nature occur in a lot of places in the world to this day, but on the whole, it is better than before.
At this point I would like to close by quoting, at length, the video which I mentioned above, on the subject of love. I was moved by it in its blunt honesty, and its sense of universal love laid bare:
“We need to come together and know that we can love one another, and not separate ourselves with the things that make us different…I can’t say I know every single one of you…I can’t say we always agree on things…but I can say this…” (At this point, the speaker looks directly into the camera, unblinking, without a hint of hesitation in his voice) “I love you. I love every single one of you. I may never know you, but just know that tomorrow, a week from now, three, four years from now, we can still love each other this much. And we don’t need a tragedy to love one another. We need to love and care for one another, no matter the differences.”
Jai Hari Aum.