Vanity thought #766. Droppings of wisdom

Lois C.K. had appeared on Conan O’Brien show and packed in two major ideas into a six minute segment, complete with examples and multimedia.

Officially it’s called Louis C.K. Hates Cell Phones but cell phones were kind of secondary to what he really said.

First, he started with explanation why he doesn’t allow his daughters to use cell phones, and it wasn’t just because mobiles are bad for children, it’s because he defines his role as a father very differently:

– I just don’t let them have it, it’s easy, just say “No, you can’t have it, you know, it’s bad for you”
– But I want…
– I don’t care what you want…

Conan: I love “I don’t care what you want”
Lois: I’m not there to make them happy.

Pause, laughter, Conan trying to say something, then Lois explains:

Lois: I’m not raising children, I’m raising grownups that they are going to be.

This is actually a very mature approach to child education – it’s goal should be preparing people for future life, not for making kids feel comfortable.

Think of it – there’s no way you can give children any spiritual education if you simply try to meet their immediate material needs. In fact, our entire life should be nothing but preparation for death and going back to Krishna. Yes, we have a lot of things to do before we die but we should always think how they fit in the overall arch of our lifetime, which should end with fully surrendering to Krishna.

Everything we do and everything we learn should be subservient to this overarching task. We don’t live to be happy and comfortable, human life is not meant for that, it’s meant only for preparation to become Krishna’s devotees.

This knowledge will never come on its own, nothing in this world is built to elicit it, rather the opposite, it’s only guru and Krishna who can actually make our human lives worthwhile, make them really human, so Lois is totally right here – father’s job is give kids what they can’t find here on their own. Of course he isn’t going to teach his kids Krishna consciousness but we know better, he just reminds us of the principle itself.

Moving on, Lois talks about how phones destroy our interpersonal communications, how real people are being replaced with speech bubbles in message applications and how it strips our counterparts of all humanity. This is not restricted only to the phones, of course, it’s a much larger problem – how instead of human contact we choose to interact with letters popping up on our screens.

Facebook was recently in the news on this subject when some researches published results of their studies on how facebooking affects our real lives and how it distorts our perception of lives of others.

More interesting, though, was Lois’ explanation for our addiction to talking to gadgets – we are afraid to be on our own. We use gadgetry to dumb the overwhelming feeling of sadness and loneliness that pervades our real lives. We just don’t want to face this reality, we would do everything to avoid meeting it.

There are two aspects to this realization – lack of mode of goodness in our lives and acceptance of life as a source of suffering, Buddhist style.

At one point Lois talks about simply being yourself, just sitting there not doing anything in particular and just being yourself. That won’t happen without influence of the mode of goodness. People covered by passion can’t sit and people covered by ignorance will end up taking some kind of intoxicants. Only people in goodness can simply be in the moment and observe the world around them as well as workings of their own bodies and minds.

This is still very far from spiritual realization of ourselves as krishnera nitya dasa but mode of goodness is very favorable to spiritual progress anyway.

Second part of Lois’ realization is that our lives, deep inside our hearts, are empty. There’s nothing in there, there’s no one to be with, and all our external relations can’t reach there, they are too superficial for that.

This fills Lois with untold sadness, which, I guess, is a good thing, but if it doesn’t lead one to search for Krishna then all the benefits become wasted. In Lois’ case he welcomes the sadness because it actually makes him feel good, it relieves his heart, and because it leads to his body releasing counter-agent chemicals to make him feel happy again.

He describes this experience as a “trip”, which completely devalues the realization itself. It becomes all about his own feelings, not about finding the purpose to his life. He finds this trip better than usual coping methods, phones included, and this means that he remains stuck in his desire to be the enjoyer of the material nature.

Is he a person ripe for accepting Krishna consciousness? He’s a pretty open and accessible guy, I’m sure one can easily contact him via e-mail or twitter, so should someone try and tell him about Krishna?

I’m in two minds about this – on one hand it’s our service, on the other hand it looks somewhat exploitative, predatory even, something that would fit Jehovah Witnesses rather than devotees. I feel like it would be more about adding to our own score of converted souls rather than about a genuine concern for Lois’ spiritual well-being.

Maybe it’s because Lois didn’t go on TV to advertise his search for God but rather to tell people that his search is over, that he figured how to deal with his sadness himself, and he is actually giving out advice rather than seeking help.

He might be a good candidate but that is not enough – one should actually want to become a devotee before we can tell them about Krishna’s glory, only then it would become sankirtana, if we volunteer without being asked it would be namaparadha instead.

But isn’t it what we supposed to do when we go out on sankirtana – tell about Krishna to everyone we meet? True, but in our public addresses we do not give out very much, only the basic spiritual knowledge – you are spirit souls, you should take care of your spiritual health, Hare Krishna mantra is a recommended method for this age etc, but nothing about actual glory of the Holy Name unless people are interested and receptive.

Maybe one day Lois will come across a Hare Krishna pamphlet and remembers it in one of those moments when he sits down and tries to be himself. He seems to have established this rule – everything external and temporary can’t be deep and spiritual, which is fine. Maybe he’ll get some prasadam somewhere and it turns his entire being upside down and he throws all his assumptions out of the window.

Search for Krishna is a very personal matter, TV appearances are too public and too prestige related to be taken seriously. It’s better for Lois to hear about Krishna when it’s not done in response to his pursuit of fame.

I think this should be the rule when approaching all other celebrities or politicians. Lord Chaitanya refused to meet King Prataparudra as long he behaved like a king, only when the king became a humble street sweeper and dressed accordingly he was granted Lord’s audience.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, on the other hand, gave somewhat different lessons, but that’s a thought for another day.