Vanity thought #1109. What if I told you..?

A couple of months ago Louis CK had an episode on his show dedicated to God. A large part of his monologue was straight about God and the rest was even more about God than his direct words.

In his speech he didn’t say anything profoundly meaningful, just general banter about God and heaven and people’s expectations. I don’t know why people keep talking about this, the concept is so hopelessly outdated that Christians should issue a new vision of the future, the current legacy version with Saint Peter sitting at the gates checking credentials can’t be taken seriously anymore. There are so many jokes about it no one knows how to perceive it as a real thing.

Louie has made a few pertinent observations, though, like when he asked the audience who there hopes to go to heaven and picked on a young man:

    – You’re 28 and already you’re a lock for heaven. You’ve done enough good in your ten adult years
    that you couldn’t possibly make a mistake..

Aren’t we the same? Don’t we take reaching Kṛṣṇa for granted in our first years, no, days in Kṛṣṇa consciousness? It takes a while to realize that we actually never been in Kṛṣṇa consciousness yet, that real devotional service is still ahead of us, so far we have no idea when it’s going to start. Probably not in this lifetime.

I mean pure devotional service that starts only after liberation. Until then it’s just serving our false ego albeit by enlisting Kṛṣṇa’s help. If we look at ourselves honestly, it’s not even us trying to help Kṛṣṇa, we want Him to help us in whatever it is we decide to do.

And as time goes by we inevitably make embarrassing mistakes, too, which we forgive ourselves by citing api cet su durācāro verse (BG 9.30).

The possibility of Kṛṣṇa forgiving us shouldn’t even arise – our errors are not made in relationships with Him, it’s just us serving our material bodies. He doesn’t care enough about that to be offended. We do not have personal relationships with Him yet so there’s no possibility of offense and so no questions of forgiveness.

Of course we have relationships with the Holy Name and the Deities and our spiritual master and we can offend them easily but there’s a question of how big percentage of these relationships is actually with Kṛṣṇa rather than some other aspect of Absolute Truth. I’d say it’s zero, our realization is not advanced enough to be connected to Him directly. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Next Louie questions the existence of Heaven itself. He says that we expect too much of God – He created this whole amazing universe for us and then we want yet another, even more awesome place for the whole eternity? Is there an end to our greed?

Then Louie addressed people who claim that there’s no God – how can they be so sure? How can they argue with others’ beliefs? “I believe in God – No, you don’t – Yes, I do” What is the meaning of this argument? It’s senseless. Even when atheists claim that they don’t believe in God – how do they know? Their eyes can see only for a hundred yards while God might be standing right behind them all the time.

That argument is straight from our books – our senses are too limited to declare anything with any certainty, and God IS the closest person to us, standing right within our hearts, and we can’t see Him.

Louie also said he envied people who have faith. They wake up every morning and feel God in their lives while he feels nothing and it makes his life empty. Good point, too.

And then he went off a tangent – if God is our father and we are His children? Where is our mother? What has He done to her? There’s no good answer to that, forget Louie’s attempts at being funny about it. We ourselves would have to think twice before answering that question.

Kṛṣṇa is the seed giving father and we are His children but who is our mother? Material nature? That’s not a satisfying answer – we do not seek maternal relationships with material world, those who worship Durgā do. Are we, as devotees, supposed to be motherless?

Funny how “maternal” and “material” are so close as if talking about the same thing.

I think this whole “Kṛṣṇa is our father” analogy is made for the western audience, it doesn’t exist in our literature, afaik, Kṛṣṇa’s actual children in Dvārakā notwithstanding. We relate to Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu as our master and we see ourselves as His servants. Our actual father and mother are different devotees who have their own relationships with Him.

Anyway, what I found remarkable about that episode is not what Louie said about God but what he said about women.

When I was doing reviews of Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson I came to think of him as a worshiper of the Absolute Truth in the form of the universe. For him there’s no higher reality, no higher object, no higher substance, and no higher truth than the universe. Universe is his equivalent of God.

For Louie, God is women. He doesn’t know any higher aspect of the Absolute than women, the opposite sex. It might be not as exalted as seeing universe as God but it’s legitimate in its own right – Kṛṣṇa is the pure sex life. “According to regulative principles”, we always add, but I don’t think we actually add anything by saying this, only rob the concept of its beauty by diverting the discussion into arguments about rules.

Pure sex is Kṛṣṇa – it’s all attractive, after all, the most potent attractive force in the whole world. It’s definitely Kṛṣṇa, as far as we know. Its attraction is stronger than our interest in a blue boy we see in the pictures, we can’t give it up no matter what we try. That’s a different topic, though, let’s leave it for now.

Anyway, for Louie, pure, selfless, spontaneous attraction to women is the highest truth in this world. When he falls in love his entire life, entire being changes. He suddenly has purpose and energy and hopes. Love brings every best quality there is in his entire being – how can we say it’s not Kṛṣṇa?

In this episode he just got off a relationship and was heartbroken. Nothing went wrong, it’s just that his woman had to leave the country. Louie went to talk to a very strange shrink who happens to live in this building and they had the most interesting conversation ever.

    – So you took a chance on being happy, even though you knew that later on you would be sad.

    – Yeah.

    – And now… you’re sad.

    – Yeah.

    – So..? What, what, what’s the problem?

    – I’m too sad. Look, I liked the feeling of being in love with her, I liked it. But now she’s gone and I miss her and it sucks. And I didn’t think it was gonna be this bad, and I feel like, why even be happy, if it’s just gonna lead to this? It wasn’t worth it.

    – You know, I’m not entirely sure what your name is, but you are a classic idiot. You think spending time with her, kissing her, having fun with her, you think that’s what it was all about That was love?

    – Yeah.

    This is love, missing her. Because she’s gone, wanting to die, you’re… so lucky.

    – Don’t you see, this is the good part. This is what you’ve been digging for all this time. Now you finally have it in your hand, this sweet nugget of love, sweet, sad love and you wanna throw it away. You’ve got it all wrong.

    – I thought this was the bad part.

    – No! The bad part is when you forget her. When you don’t care about her. When you don’t
    care about anything. The bad part is coming so enjoy the heartbreak while you can, for God sakes.

I mean there’s so much in there that we can relate to. If we replace “her” with “Kṛṣṇa” it would appear as coming straight from our books, and not the introductory stuff but discussions on the highest rasa.

I’ve done this once already, two years ago – substituted women in Louie’s monologue with Kṛṣṇa and it came out embarrassingly private (here).

I’m not in the mood today to translate this dialogue into devotees’ feelings for Kṛṣṇa, you do it on your own, my words are not grave enough to discuss this subject.

What I want to say instead is that this highest rasa of love in separation can exist even with a lesser aspect of the Absolute than Kṛṣṇa Himself.

Now, think of our own lives – are we always as emotionally charged about our service as Louie was about that woman? No way, maybe it happens every now and then but it’s certainly not our normal state of mind.

The other possibility that opens here is even more mind-blowing – what if I told you that our understanding of the Absolute is similarly incomplete and so where Louie has relationships with women, devotees have relationships with Kṛṣna, Neil deGrasse Tyson has relationships with the universe, we have relationships with something else?

What is *our* highest realization of the Supreme? Obviously it’s not Kṛṣṇa Himself – that’s an ideal level, our goal, but not our current stage. Is it our guru? For some – probably, for many not.

I’m afraid I’m not ready to discuss the answers today, my mind needs settling into this idea and thinking it through. The complications and possibilities are are innumerable, and then it needs to be “realized” in one way or another. Certainly a job for another day.

Vanity thought #799. Right on the money

Louis CK has popped up on my radar again and I’m curious why I’m noticing this man so much. This time I wasn’t looking for him, I was reading about something else and there he was, with as sound advice as ever.

There’s this young man, Dustin Moskovitz, who is in the Guiness Book of Records as the youngest billionaire ever. He happened to be on the team that started Facebook and even though he left that company long time ago his original shares made him a billionaire when Facebook went public. The question was put to him how he feels about his money. That’s when he quoted Louis CK:

I never viewed money as being “my money” I always saw it as “The money” It’s a resource. If it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system

Isn’t it just great? I mean how many people in the world are obsessed with money? How many don’t think twice about concept of “my money”? It’s all pervasive, and yet here we have a man with the most sober attitude of all time.

It’s just a resource, it’s neither yours nor theirs, it pulls around certain people and its purpose is to be spent, that’s all.

As devotees, of course, we see Lakshmi, as well as any other resource, as Krishna’s property that needs to be spent for His pleasure but otherwise Louis CK is amazingly right on the money. He already figured out that it doesn’t belong to anybody here, he just doesn’t know the real owner yet.

Also as devotees, we should admit that we spend money on ourselves. No one that I know follows the Vedic formula of giving fifty percent away but even if we did, it would still leave fifty percent as legitimately ours. Well, Louis CK’s attitude is even better than that – none of it is yours, or mine, it just needs to be spend in a certain way.

So the question is not whose money it is or who it is given to, it’s not even the question is how it is ultimately spent, it’s the need to spend it that’s important here.

It’s easy to consider pros and cons of any particular spending scheme, whether it’s done for Krishna or whether there are some selfish motives, it’s not very interesting.

What is interesting is that money needs to be “flushed back into the system”, you can’t just sit on it.

In this regard there’s a story of Avanti brahmana in Srimad Bhgavatam (SB 11.23). Before that brahman turned into an exemplary devotee he was very rich. Usually the problem with wealth is the way people acquire it, which is often less than savory and so karma eventually catches up, but in this case the wealth was acquired legitimately.

The problem was that it wasn’t spent.

The brahmana was miserly, the chief reason for his downfall was that he didn’t spent money neither on his family nor on himself: “He would not even allow sufficient gratification for his own body at the suitable times,” as Krishna tells us. Then he lost his wealth, realized that it was his stinginess that cost him his fortune, and became a renunciate.

This is probably the only time when NOT spending money for your own sense enjoyment is mentioned as a cause of a falldown, usually it’s the other way around.

This also gives us an important lesson in yukta vairagya vs phalgu vairagya – denying yourself your allotted pleasures is a false renunciation, proper renunciation is to go along with Lord’s plan for you. If you are given a certain amount of resources you have to engage it, not renounce it, and that’s true even for non-devotees.

Btw, Louis CK said that thing about money when he unexpectedly made a million dollars in ten days and was completely overwhelmed by the experience. What happened is that he decided to ditch usual agents and distributors for his show and offered to download it to anybody anywhere for five dollars, he only asked not to steal it, and in ten days he was a millionaire. The way he spent his money wasn’t kosher, but most of it he just gave away, leaving himself only about ten percent.

Dustin Moskovitz went even further – he invests his money into other people’s ideas and helps them grow. He does not give in charity per se, he gives it to people who will “flush it back into the system” in the best way possible.

This is a very responsible way to deal with wealth, even if these people don’t know anything about Krishna, the true proprietor.