The Myth of Scarcity
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Jun 19, CANADA (SUN) Chapter Six, Journey of Self-Discovery by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
"Contrary to popular belief, current statistics show that the earth produces enough food to easily support its entire population. Yet greed and exploitation force over twenty-five per cent of the world's people to be underfed and undernourished. Srila Prabhupada condemns unnecessary industrialization for contributing to the problem of hunger and for creating unemployment, pollution, and a host of other problems. In the following speech, recorded on May 2, 1973, in Los Angeles, he advocates a simpler, more natural, God-centered lifestyle.
ime jana-padah svrddhah
hy edhante tava viksitaih
[Queen Kunti said:] "All these cities and villages are flourishing in all respects because the herbs and grains are in abundance, the trees are full of fruits, the rivers are flowing, the hills are full of minerals, and the oceans are full of wealth. And this is all due to Your glancing over them." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.40)
Human prosperity flourishes by natural gifts and not by gigantic industrial enterprises. The gigantic industrial enterprises are products of a godless civilization, and they cause the destruction of the noble aims of human life. The more we increase such troublesome industries to squeeze out the vital energy of the human being, the more there will be dissatisfaction of the people in general, although a select few can live lavishly by exploitation.
The natural gifts such as grains and vegetables, fruits, rivers, the hills of jewels and minerals, and the seas full of pearls are supplied by the order of the Supreme, and as He desires, material nature produces them in abundance or restricts them at times. The natural law is that the human being may take advantage of these godly gifts of nature and thus satisfactorily flourish without being captivated by the exploitative motive of lording it over material nature.
The more we attempt to exploit material nature according to our whims, the more we shall become entrapped by the reaction of such exploitative attempts. If we have sufficient grains, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, then what is the necessity of running a slaughterhouse and killing poor animals?
A man need not kill an animal if he has sufficient grains and vegetables to eat. The flow of river waters fertilizes the fields, and there is more than what we need. Minerals are produced in the hills, and the jewels in the ocean. If the human civilization has sufficient grains, minerals, jewels, water, milk, etc., then why should we hanker after terrible industrial enterprises at the cost of the labor of some unfortunate men?
But all these natural gifts are dependent on the mercy of the Lord. What we need, therefore, is to be obedient to the laws of the Lord and achieve the perfection of human life by devotional service. The indications by Kunti-devi are just to the point. She desires that God's mercy be bestowed upon her and her sons so that natural prosperity will be maintained by His grace.
Kunti-devi mentions that the grains are abundant, the trees full of fruits, the rivers flowing nicely, the hills full of minerals, and the oceans full of wealth, but she never mentions that industry and slaughterhouses are flourishing, for such things are nonsense that men have developed to create problems.
If we depend on God's creation, there will be no scarcity, but simply ananda, bliss. God's creation provides sufficient grains and grass, and while we eat the grains and fruits, the animals like the cows will eat the grass. The bulls will help us produce grains, and they will take only a little, being satisfied with what we throw away. If we take fruit and throw away the skin, the animal will be satisfied with the skin. In this way, with Krsna in the center, there can be full cooperation between the trees, animals, human beings, and all living entities. This is Vedic civilization, a civilization of Krsna consciousness.
Kunti-devi prays to the Lord, "This prosperity is due to Your glance." When we sit in the temple of Krsna, Krsna glances over us, and everything is nice. When sincere souls try to become Krsna's devotees, Krsna very kindly comes before them in His full opulence and glances upon them, and they become happy and beautiful.
Similarly, the whole material creation is due to Krsna's glance (sa aiksata). In the Vedas it is said that He glanced over matter, thus agitating it. A woman in touch with a man becomes agitated and becomes pregnant and then gives birth to children. The whole creation follows a similar process. Simply by Krsna's glance, matter becomes agitated and then becomes pregnant and gives birth to the living entities. It is simply by His glance that plants, trees, animals, and all other living beings come forth. How is this possible? None of us can say, "Simply by glancing over my wife, I can make her pregnant." But although this is impossible for us, it is not impossible for Krsna. The Brahma-samhita (5.32) says, angani yasya sakalendriya-vrttimanti: Every part of Krsna's body has all the capabilities of the other parts. With our eyes we can only see, but Krsna can make others pregnant merely by looking at them. There is no need of sex, for simply by glancing Krsna can create pregnancy.
In Bhagavad-gita (9.10) Lord Krsna says, mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram: "By My supervision, material nature gives birth to all moving and nonmoving beings." The word aksa means "eyes," so aksena indicates that all living entities take birth because of the Lord's glance. There are two kinds of living entities--the moving beings, like insects, animals, and human beings, and the nonmoving beings, like trees and plants. In Sanskrit these two kinds of living entities are called sthavara-jangama, and they both come forth from material nature.
Of course, what comes from material nature is not the life, but the body. The living entities accept particular types of bodies from material nature, just as a child takes its body from its mother. For ten months the child's body develops from the blood and nutrients of the mother's body, but the child is a living entity, not matter. It is the living entity that has taken shelter in the womb of the mother, who then supplies the ingredients for that living entity's body. This is nature's way. The mother may not know how from her body another body has been created, but when the body of the child is fit, the child takes birth.
It is not that the living entity takes birth. As stated in Bhagavad-gita (2.20), na jayate mriyate va: The living entity neither takes birth nor dies. That which does not take birth does not die; death is meant for that which has been created, and that which is not created has no death. The Gita says, na jayate mriyate va kadacit. The word kadacit means "at any time." At no time does the living entity actually take birth. Although we may see that a child is born, actually it is not born. Nityah sasvato 'yam puranah. The living entity is eternal (sasvata), always existing, and very, very old (purana). Na hanyate hanyamane sarire: Don't think that when the body is destroyed the living entity will be destroyed; no, the living entity will continue to exist.
A scientist friend once asked me, "What is the proof of the soul's eternality?" Krsna says, na hanyate hanyamane sarire: "The soul is not killed when the body is killed." This statement in itself is proof. This type of proof is called sruti, the proof established by that which is heard through the disciplic succession from the Supreme. One form of proof is proof by logic (nyaya-prasthana). One can get knowledge by logic, arguments, and philosophical research. But another form of proof is sruti, proof established by hearing from authorities. A third form of proof is smrti, proof established by statements derived from the sruti. The Puranas are smrti, the Upanisads are sruti, and the Vedanta is nyaya. Of these three the sruti-prasthana, or the evidence from the sruti, is especially important.Pratyaksa, the process of receiving knowledge through direct perception, has no value, because our senses are all imperfect. For example, to us the sun looks like a small disk, but in fact it is many times larger than the earth. So what is the value of our direct perception through our eyes? We have so many senses through which we can experience knowledge--the eyes, the ears, the nose, and so on--but because these senses are imperfect, whatever knowledge we get by exercising these senses is also imperfect. Because scientists try to understand things by exercising their imperfect senses, their conclusions are always imperfect. Svarupa Damodara, a scientist among our disciples, inquired from a fellow scientist who says that life comes from matter, "If I give you the chemicals with which to produce life, will you be able to produce it?" The scientist replied, "That I do not know." This is imperfect knowledge. If you do not know, then your knowledge is imperfect. Why then have you become a teacher? That is cheating. Our contention is that to become perfect one must take lessons from the perfect teacher.
Krsna is perfect, so we take knowledge from Him. Krsna says, na hanyate hanyamane sarire: "The soul does not die when the body dies." Therefore this understanding that the soul is eternal and the body is temporary is perfect.
Kunti-devi says, ime jana-padah svrddhah supakvausadhi-virudhah: "The grains are abundant, the trees are full of fruits, the rivers are flowing, the hills are full of minerals, and the oceans are full of wealth." What more could one want? The oyster produces pearls, and formerly people decorated their bodies with pearls, valuable stones, silk, gold, and silver. But where are those things now? Now, with the advancement of civilization, there are so many beautiful girls who have no ornaments of gold, pearls, or jewels, but only plastic bangles. So what is the use of industry and slaughterhouses?
By God's arrangement one can have enough food grains, enough milk, enough fruits and vegetables, and nice clear river water. But now I have seen, while traveling in Europe, that all the rivers there have become nasty. In Germany, in France, and also in Russia and America I have seen that the rivers are nasty. By nature's way the water in the ocean is kept clear like crystal, and the same water is transferred to the rivers, but without salt, so that one may take nice water from the river. This is nature's way, and nature's way means Krsna's way. So what is the use of constructing huge waterworks to supply water?
Nature has already given us everything. If we want wealth we may collect pearls and become rich; there is no need to become rich by starting some huge factory to produce auto bodies. By such industrial enterprises we have simply created troubles. Otherwise, we need only depend on Krsna and Krsna's mercy, because by Krsna's glance (tava viksitaih), everything is set right. So if we simply plead for Krsna's glance, there will be no question of scarcity or need. Everything will be complete. The idea of the Krsna consciousness movement, therefore, is to depend on nature's gifts and the grace of Krsna.
People say that the population is increasing, and therefore they are checking this by artificial means. Why? The birds and beasts are increasing their populations and have no contraceptives, but are they in need of food? Do we ever see birds or animals dying for want of food? Perhaps in the city, although not very often. But if we go to the jungle we shall see that all the elephants, lions, tigers, and other animals are very stout and strong. Who is supplying them with food? Some of them are vegetarians and some of them are nonvegetarians, but none of them are in want of food.
Of course, by nature's way the tiger, being a nonvegetarian, does not get food every day. After all, who will face a tiger to become its food? Who will say to the tiger, "Sir, I am an altruist and have come to you to give you food, so take my body"? No one. Therefore the tiger has difficulty finding food. And as soon as the tiger is out, there is an animal that follows it and makes a sound like "fayo, fayo," so that the other animals will know, "Now the tiger is out." So by nature's way the tiger has difficulty. But still Krsna supplies it food. After about a week, the tiger will get the chance to catch an animal, and because it does not get fresh food daily, it will keep the carcass in some bush and eat a little at a time. Since the tiger is very powerful, people want to become like a lion or a tiger. But that is not a very good proposition, because if one actually becomes like a tiger one won't get food daily, but will have to search for food with great labor. If one becomes a vegetarian, however, one will get food every day. The food for a vegetarian is available everywhere.
Now in every city there are slaughterhouses, but does this mean that the slaughterhouses can supply enough so that one can live by eating only meat? No, there will not be an adequate supply. Even meat-eaters have to eat grains, fruits, and vegetables along with their slice of meat. Still, for that daily slice of meat they kill so many poor animals. How sinful this is! If people commit such sinful activities, how can they be happy? This killing should not be done, but because it is being done people are unhappy. However, if one becomes Krsna conscious and simply depends on Krsna's glance (tava viksitaih), Krsna will supply everything and there will be no question of scarcity.
Sometimes there appears to be scarcity, and sometimes we find that grains and fruits are produced in such a huge quantity that people cannot finish eating them. So this is a question of Krsna's glance. If Krsna likes, He can produce a huge quantity of grains, fruits, and vegetables, but if Krsna desires to restrict the supply, what good will meat do? You may eat me, or I may eat you, but that will not solve the problem.
For real peace and tranquillity and a sufficient supply of milk, water, and everything else we need, we simply have to depend on Krsna. This is what Bhaktivinoda Thakura teaches us when he says, marabi rakhabi--yo iccha tohara: "My dear Lord, I simply surrender unto You and depend on You. Now if You like You may kill me, or else You may give me protection." And Krsna says in reply, "Yes. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: Simply surrender exclusively unto Me." He does not say, "Yes, depend on Me, and also depend on your slaughterhouses and factories." No. He says, "Depend only on Me. Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami: I will rescue you from the results of your sinful activities."
Because we have lived so many years without being Krsna conscious, we have lived only a sinful life, but Krsna assures us that as soon as one surrenders to Him, He immediately squares all accounts and puts an end to all one's sinful activities so that one may begin a new life. When we initiate disciples we therefore tell them, "Now the account is squared. Now don't commit sinful activities any more."
One should not think that because the holy name of Krsna can nullify sinful activities, one may commit a little sinful activity and chant Hare Krsna to nullify it. That is the greatest offense (namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhih). The members of some religious orders go to church and confess their sins, but then they again commit the same sinful activities. What, then, is the value of their confession? One may confess, "My Lord, out of my ignorance I committed this sin." But one should not plan, "I shall commit sinful activities and then go to church and confess them, and then the sins will be nullified and I can begin a new chapter of sinful life." Similarly, one should not knowingly take advantage of the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra to nullify sinful activities so that one may then begin sinful acts again. We should be very careful. Before taking initiation, one promises to have no illicit sex, no intoxicants, no gambling, and no meat-eating, and this vow one should strictly follow. Then one will be clean. If one keeps oneself clean in this way and always engages in devotional service, his life will be a success, and there will be no scarcity of anything he wants."
Journey of Self-Discovery, 6-1
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.