Yesterday I used the example of punishment of Kali by Mahārāja Parīkṣit to try and better understand how Kali works. He is not a violent demon, I concluded, he is more like a kid goofing around when no one is looking.
This makes sense. Kali yuga is not there to snatch control of the universe from the Lord, it’s just an increase in the mode of ignorance with all that follows. It’s not an asuric challenge, it’s not a battle for supremacy, it’s just time when stupidity prevails.
The first sign of ignorance is assuming that one is his own body and that the goal of life lies in sensory pleasures. We can look at is as degradation of pure consciousness from ānanada maya to anna maya, from transcendental bliss to the pleasure of stuffing yourself with food. At the very bottom are some primitive microorganisms whose main function is to consume stuff. They are very good at it and when there’s food they grow exponentially. Animals are a few steps above but anyone who has seen dogs going crazy over treats knows that getting food is their primary objective in life. They’d forget everything for a juicy bite, even their guard duties.
Even in the human society food is supremely important. Armies can’t fight on an empty stomach, they say, which means that people are ready to sacrifice their lives for some political or patriotic cause but not if they are still hungry. Get some food first then go and die without a second thought.
My point is that as ignorance increases jīvas become attracted to lower and lower modes of enjoyment. Material elements encapsulate the soul starting from the subtle and progressing to the gross ones. Enjoyment of the mind is still considered higher than enjoyment of the gross senses even without Vedas telling us about it – poetry, science – that kind of thing. When people think they need to elevate themselves this is the stuff they go for – feelings, abstract ideals, convictions, relationships, love. Once they get hooked they can forego lower creature comforts, too.
Goodness and passion move jīvas up the ladder, ignorance pulls them down (if you start from goodness then passion pulls you down, too). The more ignorance is there the less intelligence we have, less knowledge, less appreciation for knowledge, less will to control ourselves and so on. It’s not a particularly demoniac attitude, just ignorance, as I said.
What happens next is that we start looking at the world from our own degraded position. Whatever brings pleasure to ourselves and our senses becomes a golden standard of knowledge. Ānanda maya manifests itself in full knowledge of the Absolute, anna maya reduces “Absolute” to what is eatable and no other aspect of the Absolute is even conceived on that platform. We are somewhere in the middle and we define the Absolute by what brings pleasure to us. It might be love, it might be service to humanity, it might be service to one’s country, it might be service to one’s family. The truth could lie in drugs, alcohol, women, sex, or always on full internet access on your mobile.
In this condition we consider ourselves as pace setters for the rest of the world to follow. Or if we choose some role model then we want the world to follow him or her instead. That’s how we define progress – whatever we do is good, whatever other people do is degradation and corruption. My favorite saying on this matter is that whoever drives slower than you is a retard and whoever drives faster is a suicidal maniac.
Last year the US Supreme Court legalized the right to same sex marriage, for example. Gays and their supporters have been waiting for it for a long time, it’s been a struggle and they invested themselves heavily into it. Consequently, they judge the rest of the world through the prism of LGBT rights. More rights – the country is progressive, less rights – the country is lagging behind and needs to catch up.
Feminism works the same way, too – they judge other countries and societies by how they treat their women. Vegans also display the same attitudes but about animal rights. Caring for the environment is another direction of progress, and so is eating “healthy”. Democracy is always big and it’s a common denominator for all progressives around the world. Whatever cause one accepts it becomes a yardstick to judge others, it’s just how ignorance manifests itself. Whatever we think we “know” becomes “truth” and others need to learn it, too.
This attitude leads to ridiculous declarations like “Islam is out of step with the rest of the world”. I chose Islam here because it’s a popular religion to debate these days but they say the same thing about Catholics or Hindus, too. They say it without thinking and completely miss the point that religions are supposed to MAINTAIN the traditions, they are not supposed to run after progressive liberals. It’s not a race – from Islam’s view, but because liberals are all about progress they want religion to run along, too.
They expect religion to keep up with science, too, though most them have given up on Biblical explanations of the universe. Still they think that because science discovers so many things and pushes boundaries of the human knowledge religions must develop in the same direction, too.
In short – they want us to be in step with them as if their steps are somehow special. We, as aspiring devotees, have our own progress towards knowledge, we have our own steps, our own goals and our own milestones. Why don’t they try and keep pace with us? Really, why?
Because Kali yuga. It increases ignorance while our path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is meant to increase goodness. They are drawn to the lower forms of enjoyment while we try to develop attraction to the higher ones instead. For us it’s swimming against the current while they go with Kali yuga flow, that’s all.
Devoid of actual knowledge they don’t even realize how far they have drifted and, speaking of Islam, they consider women covering their faces as either being forced to do so or mentally ill. When Muslims say that pre-marital sex must be severely punished they don’t get it at all because in modern society pre-marital sex is an absolute must, and with a good number of partners, too. It was only a few decades ago when it was still a no-no in the West but now it’s become totally forgotten and it’s Muslims who are declared weird.
It’s actually funny to see how self-absorbent, self-centered and self-indulgent modern people are, they are like animals and they don’t even realize it anymore, the ability for abstract thinking and looking at issues from different angles is gone, it’s always my way or highway now.
In that sense we should be proud to be out of step with progress of their delusion.