Question: Does the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra do any practical good for the world?
As most of us know, the fundamental problem in economics is to reconcile the unlimited desires of people with the limited resources of the world. All of us perpetually seek happiness by fulfilling our desires. Two conflicting forces within our hearts determine our desires: the centrifugal force that allures us to external objects, and the centripetal force that draws us inwards to the Lord within. The centrifugal force is multiplied manifold by the western culture in which the ads, the billboards, the music, the movies all seduce us toward external pleasure. So, the centrifugal force often becomes the driving force of our lives. Consequently, the haves exploit the
resources of the world disproportionately, leaving little, if any, resources for the have-nots. For example, the US has 5% of the world's population, but consumes 30% of the world's resources and produces 30% of the world's waste. If the whole world started consuming the way the US did, we humans would need three to five planets. Needless to say, we have only one planet. Can political changes like, say, displacing the US from its present unilateral superpower status solve this problem? No. Because the US has already exported its consumer culture all over the world, so that whoever gains financial and political power will end up doing what the US is doing now. We see this in India already to some extent. Those who have made it big over the past two decades of globalization have increased their consumption
dramatically (perhaps "disastrously" would be a more appropriate word) The only real solution to the current economical and ecological mess is to
recognize and address its cause: the aggravated centrifugal force. Throughout the world, India is famed as the motherland of deep spiritual wisdom and profound mystical experience. Why? Because the Vedic wisdom-tradition of India has developed time-tested spiritual technologies like meditation, prayer and yoga for activating the centripetal force and thus gaining access to inner happiness. The Vedic wisdom-tradition declares that the chanting of the Hare Krishna mahamantra is the most practical and potent way to connect us with the Lord within, who is an inexhaustible source of ever-increasing happiness. So today when humanity critically needs
to equip itself with non-material forms of enrichment, if it is to avoid self-destruction, why should India continue to neglect its unique national legacy and acceding mutely, nay joyfully, to cultural takeover by the West? Instead, by learning and sharing the spiritual technology of chanting, Indians can do the greatest practical good for the world.
(The author is associate-editor of ISKCON's global magazine)