Late last year I talked about a documentary called 7 Deadly Sins. There was one still left and it’s been over a month since last entry on that topic so I thought I should complete the series and be done with it.
The last sin covered in season finale was sloth. It’s a curious one, we don’t consider it a sin per se. Vedas often mention various sins, like killing a brāhmaṇa or killing a cow, but we, as devotees, do no concern ourselves with those. Sins lead to unpleasant reactions and, according to Vedas, need to be atoned, but we follow Kṛṣṇa’s instructions in Bhagavad Gītā (2.45):
“The Vedas deal mainly with the subject of the three modes of material nature. O Arjuna, become transcendental to these three modes.”
We know that atonement done according to injunctions of the Vedas does not solve the real problem, the illusion that it is US who does all the actions and it is US who suffers results. As long as we live under this illusion material nature will force our bodies to act in their illusory self-interest and some of these actions will be considered sinful. Canceling results of one does not stop us from doing it again because it’s in our conditioned nature.
We want to become transcendental to all of that and the only way to rise over this illusory platform is to develop devotional service to Kṛṣṇa. That way the propensity to enjoy workings of the material nature will disappear from our hearts and we will finally disconnect from the illusion.
That is not right either – we should not treat devotional service as a tool to achieve liberation, but as far as such tools go, bhakti is the best.
So we do not have “sins” in our practice, we have offenses against the Holy Name, the Lord, and His devotees. Things like greed, lust or envy do not concern us directly, only in as much as they affect our service. They are aftereffects of our illusion, once it goes away, they will go, too, automatically and without any extraneous endeavor. Our propensity to commit offenses, however, might still remain. Unlike greed or lust envy can manifest on the spiritual platform, too. Well, I don’t know how it goes in the spiritual world but down here we have examples of liberated individuals who do not wish to serve the Lord and would rather merge with the brahmajyoti, presumably out of envy.
Where does sloth fit in all this? Nowhere. We have lots of verses on greed, even more on lust, envy is known to have caused troubles, but sloth is rarely mentioned at all. Maybe because it’s not an action in itself and so it’s not considered a sinful act. It is mentioned as a symptom of the influence of the mode of ignorance, rarely as anything else, even when combined with laziness. Nothing good comes out of it, sure, but nothing particularly bad either. It’s not every day that inaction due to laziness leads to disastrous consequences, and that is the only important consideration I can think of. Sloth becomes particularly bad when it causes us to fail to execute our duties. Slumping off on a sofa in your free time is nowhere near seducing your neighbor’s wife.
Of course we can also argue that we do not have free time from devotional service and sloth, therefore always stops us from performing our spiritual duties. The practitioners would reply that remembering Kṛṣṇa fits with lying on the sofa just fine.
Things are slightly different in the Christian world. Rarely we can translate their ontology into ours and vice versa. Their Trinity is not our Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva, and neither it is three plenary expansions of the Lord overseeing the material world. Their God Father sounds more like Brahmā, their Holy Spirit is more like Paramātmā, but it’s impersonal, not a four armed, brilliant form of the Lord, and we are all sons of God in the manner Jesus was.
Their sloth is not exactly laziness, though, the actually sinful part of it is indifference and apathy, and mostly spiritual one. What they find deadly in it is what we find deadly in impersonalism. Indifference to devotional service which can, perhaps, be also explained as considering bhakti to be on the level of karma-kāṇḍa because we are too lazy to do that either. It’s a stretch but it’s close.
So, the show… Turned out it wasn’t suitable for devotional audience, especially their second segment. It started off with an evolution of this:
It was about a gym where people go to relax while they are losing weight. They’ve got the machines that shake or massage your body parts while you don’t have to do anything. They’ve got other machines in the similar vein, too, but I’m too lazy to figure out how they actually work.
They also offer a tongue patch, which is a square inch of metal mesh stapled to one’s tongue. It makes swallowing solid food very painful so people have to drink prescribed shakes instead. It’s a forced way to diet, I guess. They’ve got a former Olympic swimmer there who became obese and lost the willpower to exercise.
This loss of willpower is the major reason everyone there gives for their inability to fight obesity. Is it sinful? I don’t see how, it’s just the mode of ignorance, you can’t fight it, modes are too strong, you can only try and avoid it by expressing interest in other activities. It’s pretty much like our devotional service – you can’t start it yourself, you have to get the taste for it from someone else and pray it rubs off on you.
Second segment was about people too lazy to have sex so they invent increasingly sophisticated sex toys. It’s not about masturbation, it’s about substituting sex with actual, willing partners because they can’t be bothered to actually get up and do it. There was one Dutch couple there trying one of the devices. The boy is a university student, his girlfriend lives on her own. First, he talked about his day – I go to school for like, three-four hours, then I come home and chill for a while. I spend a lot of time on the Internet (and they showed his computer rig). Girlfriend looked a bit busier but she cheerfully went along with it, too. He then rolls a joint on camera.
As for his relations with his girlfriend he says that during the week he is busy (smoking weed and surfing) so he doesn’t have time for sex, and so the remote sex machine helps. “How far does your girlfriend live?” he is asked – “About half an hour away.”
Modern people are just THAT lazy.
The third segment was no less outrageous. It was about a drive-through funeral home. Relatives and friends no longer have to shift around their schedules to create time for the wake and saying last goodbyes, the drive through is open whole day and they don’t even have to get out of the car, they just pass by the window where they can see their beloved departed lying in the coffin with, perhaps, one or two close relatives by his side. Takes less than fifteen seconds, not counting the time to get there, and you are out, guilt free and with clear consciousness.
I don’t know what to say, these people just squeeze last drops of humanity out of themselves. In such a state devotional service is nearly impossible and all we can hope for is that somehow somewhere they have heard the Holy Name and will still get a human form of life in their next birth.
None of these cases would be even imaginable only a few years ago and so to me it looks like a solid proof that the world is, indeed, going to the dogs, and rather fast. Now the only question is how fast and how deep this animal like indifference will spread. I’m worrying about this due to my unhealthy fixation on devotees who seriously think that ISKCON will go up and up along with the rest of the world, those who think that our future lies in hitching our society to progress we see around us. What progress?