Reality by itself and for itself

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Reality: by Itself and for Itself by Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Maharaja

Isavasyam – everything is meant for God. That is the Hegelian theory: reality is by itself and for itself.

Hegel is the founder of Ideal Realism, so he says, “Reality is by itself and for itself.” “By itself,” means that he is His own cause; no one has created Him. Otherwise, whoever had created Him would have primary importance. “For itself,” means that God exists only to fulfil His own purpose. This is the universal truth: everything is for Him, and nothing is for anyone else. So, when we think that the things around us are meant for us, or for our nation, or for the human beings, this is all a false calculation, and knowledge based on such a miscalculation has its reaction.

“To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I am eating something; it is entitled to eat me. In the Manu Samhita, the word mamsah is used to indicate meat. Mam means “Me,” sah means “he”. Mamsah means “me-he”. What is the meaning? I am eating him, and he will eat me afterwards as a reaction. He is entitled to devour me, as I am at present devouring him. This is the underlying meaning – every action, whatever it is, has its reaction. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (3.9):

yajnarthat karmano ‘nyatra, loko ‘yam karma-bandhanah tad-artham karma kaunteya, mukta-sangah samacara

“Unless work is done as a sacrifice for Visnu, one’s own work will be the cause of bondage; therefore work on My behalf, and free yourself from the chain of action and reaction.” Bhagavad-gita says that any work, no matter what it is, causes a reaction. For example, you may nurse a patient. Apparently , it is a good thing, but you are giving the patient medicine that comes from killing so many insects, trees, creepers and animals. You may think that your nursing is a very pure duty, but you are causing a disturbance in the environment, and you will have to pay for that. In this way, whatever we do here cannot be perfectly good.

The German philosopher Kant has said, “Without good will, no action can be perfectly good.” But we are of the opinion that even good will is impossible here in this mundane plane. According to Kant, good will is a pure thing, whereas no action here can be perfect, but we say that even good will is impossible in the relative calculation of the world, because we are plodding in the mud of misunderstanding.

Pure knowledge comes only from above, and we have to learn to accept that. When that sort of understanding comes within us, it is known sraddha, or faith. Faith is also a great thing. We should have faith that if we do our duty towards the absolute, then all our duties to the environment in all directions are automatically done (krsna bhakti kaile sarva karma krta haya). By satisfying Krsna, the whole universe becomes satisfied, for one who is dear to Krsna is dear to the whole universe (yasmin tuste jagat tustam prinito jagat). Just as by watering the root of the tree all the leaves and branches are automatically nourished, by fulfilling one’s duty towards Lord Krsna all one’s duties are automatically fulfilled.