Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew; do they worship different Gods? Many people conclude this to be the case. And due to this idea, so much sectarian violence and intolerance takes place. Recognition that all living beings are equal spirit soul, a spark of the one Supreme Soul, brings harmony to each individual and to the world.
Embracing The True Equality Of All Beings
Jagad Guru: You know, one time I remember seeing a television show. And Jimmy Carter, the president, the former president of the United States, he was saying something to the fact that the Egyptians and the Jews were really okay and there was really no reason for them to be fighting because, after all, as he put it, he said, “I really feel close to both the Jews and the Egyptians because we all worship the same God, the God of Abraham.” So what he’s saying, of course, is that there are many Gods. And that Abraham’s got his God, and then the descendants of Abraham are part of that tribe, part of that group. This is a false idea of religion.
So, in other words, the Jews and the Mohammedans, and the Christians should really be brothers and friendly and everything. But what about the people outside of that? Because they worship a different God, therefore of course, there can’t be peace. This is their idea: that there are many gods, and that each of these different gods has different names. And some people follow one god, and some people worship another god. They don’t understand that there’s one God and that same one Supreme Being has many names. This they can’t figure out. They can’t understand how one person, how one being can have many names. They can’t understand this. Even though I, myself, have so many names. And even an ordinary person has so many names. They think God can’t have many names. So if we call God Govinda or Krishna, and somebody else calls God Jehovah or Allah, therefore we are worshipers of different gods, according to these people. Not knowing that it’s the same Supreme Being Who has different names, according to His characteristics, His pastimes and His qualities.
Just like, you know, you’ve got a businessman, he’s sitting in his office. And he’s sitting in his big desk and his secretary says, “Mr. Jones,” over that little intercom thing. “Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones.” And he says, “Yes?” And his wife calls him up and says, “Honey?” And the little kid runs through the door, his son runs through the door, jumps up on his lap and says, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” And his mistress calls him something else again. (laughter) In fact, the wife can have so many names just for her husband, “Huggy-poo,” (laughter) So many names that they won’t want anyone else to hear. “Don’t call me that in front of anybody.” (laughter) Secret names. So a person has his names, his nicknames, so many names. Here in the Philippines, guys have got so many names. (laughter) I, myself, I have names – Siddhaswarupananda, Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, Jagad Guru, Chris Butler, Siddha. What’s some other ones? I don’t even know all my names already (laughter). It’s a real problem for my books and stuff, you know. What name do we use in the front? (laughter) It’s a real problem. Because marketing, you see, it’s very simple, you can’t have too many names or they forget it’s by the same author. One book I put out in one name, the other book I put out under another name. They can never figure out it’s the same guy so it’s a real problem. So if I can have so many names and you can have so many names, then why God cannot have many names? Why? It’s so stupid idea, ridiculous idea.
God is one entity and He has different names according to the different qualities that He possesses; according to the different entities who are relating to Him in different ways. Some more reverential, some less reverential, some more intimate, some less intimate. God has so many names. There’s not many gods all fighting in the sky over our loyalty. (laughter) They’re simply thinking team spirit.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, our great great grandfather spiritual master in our disciplic line of teachers, he said, “The greatest enemy of man, the greatest enemy of mankind is this party spirit,” Party spirit. “My team, your team! Oooo!” Like they have all these gangs now, yeah? This is the party spirit. Catholics! Protestants! And the Protestants themselves are now divided into so many teams. The Assembly of Goddies, so many, I don’t even know them. Southern Baptists, the Southern Baptists convention, Baptist. I don’t know all their names, so many. And they all have this little schism. Fighting. Team spirit. My team versus your team.
One time… it’s really interesting. You’ll find, for some reason boxers all of a sudden, boxers have all become religious. You notice that? (laughter) The boxers have all become very religious. And they all, before the fights, in the newspaper you read, before and after fights they are always giving glory to God. And it’s really interesting especially when they both call themselves Muslims, followers of Allah. They’re saying, “Allah will be with me.” And the other guy has just said, “Allah’s with me.” (laughter) Whose side is Allah on, you know? (laughter) One of them loses, the other one wins, the other… usually… sometimes, they are both named Mohammed too. Mohammed in the white trunks and Mohammed in the red trunks. (laughter) So one of the Mohammedans gets knocked out then the other one praises Allah. (laughter) What is this? But if one was a Christian and one is a Mohammedan, oh then there’s a fight between the gods no doubt. (laughter) So it’s not a question of George Foreman versus Muhammad Ali. It’s a question of Allah versus Jehovah. So they even bring down their schisms, their little, their sectarian fighting, even they want to bring it down to the level of sports and everything. Can’t get away from it. And they wear their crosses sometimes on their neck. They don’t wear it because they want to be reminded of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in order to cry, in order to actually feel the sorrow and the suffering and actually take part in that and become a servant of Jesus. But it’s simply as a badge, simply a badge. That’s all. “This is my team.” This is my team. This is not religious life.
Religion means when you understand that you are the eternal servant of God. And that everyone, all living entities, are part and parcel of God. Everyone is God’s servant. Everyone is God’s servant. Some may be realizing it, some don’t realize it, but everyone is God’s servant. Some may be acting on it, some may not be acting on this fact. But it doesn’t matter, they are still God’s servant and should be respected as such.
Religion is not something that you can join or quit. Sometimes people come and they say, “I would like to join this. I’d like to join. How can I join?” I never know what to say! I always go, “Uh!” I never know what to say to the people. Even after a lecture like this, there’ll probably be somebody who’ll come up here and ask me if they can join. Or maybe somebody from television land’s going to write in and say, “How can I join?” (laughter) “I really like what you said. How can I join your team?” Don’t know what to say. You want to join a team, there are so many teams to join. GO! Go join something, you know. Become a Rotarian! Become a Lion’s Club member, or whatever. (laughter) Join a baseball team you know, “Rah! Rah! Rah!!” against the other guys, right? And gangs, there are so many gangs, go join a gang. But if you want to understand your identity and develop your love for God then you can apply this process in your life. And yes, you need association with other people who are trying to develop their love for God. So yes, we have a center – you can come and hear to try to apply to your life and have spiritual association by hearing and singing God’s names. Trying to understand, applying. This is… of course you need spiritual association. But not, “This is my team! This is our team versus the other team!” This party spirit is very much against the spirit of love for God. It is against true religion. So therefore, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, he was feeling very sorry that this party spirit is making it so that people cannot see each other as we are and that is God’s children.
Just like in India, you have this problem. So much problems with the Muslims versus the Hindus. Why is this? Because neither one is actually perceiving the person within the body. They don’t see a spark of God in a particular kind of body with a particular kind of dress. They don’t see like that. They don’t see as a saintly person. A saintly person sees the spark of God, the child of God. And he has black body, or blue body, white body – it doesn’t matter. But over there they look and they go, “Ooh, Mohammedan. Ooh, don’t touch me!” (laughter) Or that Mohammedan will look, “Oh, Hindu heathen. Hindu, idol worshipper.” They don’t see a spark of God. They don’t see child of God, my brother. If you have a brother, and he shows up to you in a whole different kind of clothing, you still see him, “Oh it’s my brother! Oh what funny clothes you got on, brother!” But he’s still your brother. You still experience that he’s your brother, right? Is that not right?
Jagad Guru: So similarly if you understand your spiritual identity and that you’re a child of God, the Supreme Spirit, then when you see another spirit soul, another child of God, then you experience, “Oh my brother! What a funny kind of body he has!” (laughter) It doesn’t matter. Just like you see walking down the street, four legs, (laughter) the dogs are also our brothers. They’re living entities, spirit soul, part and parcel of God in the body of a dog. Our brothers are everywhere! Children of God. If they’re not God’s children you tell me whose children they are! (laughter) Huh? Whose children? Whose children?
Sometimes people say like that, they say, “You know, animals don’t have souls.” These are the people who identify themselves as the body, and they identify the soul as their possession. They don’t know that they ARE the spirit soul and they possess a body. Okay? They think, “I am the body and I possess a soul. And that guy over there, he’s the body too, but he doesn’t possess a soul, therefore I can eat him.” This is really why they want to say it like that, because they want to eat it.
Even not… for a long time, in America, in the United States, did you know that the Catholic Church did not for many many many years, they went for a long time debating on whether or not Indians had souls. (laughter) They’re debating whether or not Indians had souls. “Do you think he has a soul? He doesn’t act like it.” (laughter) No.
We’re not, it’s not that we’re the body and we possess or don’t possess a soul. We are the soul within the body, and we possess a human body. And some other spirit soul possesses a dog body. Now, if there isn’t anyone in that body, then who’s walking around in it? (laughter) You tell me who’s walking around in that body if there’s no one in there? Who comes when you tell him (clicks fingers), “Hey come!” Who’s coming? There’s someone in there! He goes, “Oh there’s someone calling me!” And he goes. And you go, “Hey, get away!” Then he goes, “Ow ow!” and he runs away! (laughter) Who’s seeing all this? The materialists just say, “Oh it’s just chemical reaction. It’s just chemical reactions going on.”
One time, I was telling people at home, in their television, who watch television. In America they love dogs. They have so many dogs. I tell them that, “You look in the eyes of your dog, and you tell me that no one’s there. You look in the dog’s eyes. You’re looking at him and he’s looking at you.” (laughter) Who’s looking at you? You’re looking at someone, right? And he’s looking at you. There’s a saying, “The eyes are the window to the soul,” yeah? So even with the animals like this you can see there’s someone in there looking at me.
And dogs and cats, sometimes they also experience the same thing. They’re doing something and then they don’t know you’re there. And then you come in and you’re looking at them, and then they look at you. And it’s like they look embarrassed, you know? (laughter) I don’t know if here you’ve experienced that. In America you have a lot of experiences with this. People experience their dog didn’t know they were there, then the dog found out they were there. There’s someone in there. That’s why you have a relationship.
There’s a saying in America, “Dog is man’s best friend.” They forgot that God is man’s best friend. So (laughs/laughter) they have this saying that D-O-G is man’s best friend. So dog is man’s best friend, you see. But then they deny the existence of the person. So they’re saying no one is man’s best friend. Either someone’s in the body, right, or not! If they say no one’s in the body, there’s no spirit soul in that body, there’s no person, there’s no entity, there’s no self in that body relating to me then it means that I’m saying… if I’m saying dog is man’s best friend then I’m saying no one is man’s best friend. Man is just having an illusory relationship with a piece of matter, you know. He’s talking to his dog, petting his dog, having this friendship. When the dog gets hit by a car and dies, he cries. We all know there’s a person in there.
Now this person that’s in there that’s the spirit soul. That’s the part and parcel of God. That person that’s in the body of the dog that had to leave when it got hit by a car, who you feel very sorry that that person had to leave, that person, that’s the spirit soul within that body. That is a child of God. While he’s in a lower form of life, like an animal form of life, then he cannot, he doesn’t have the facility to develop his relationship with God. In other words, he can’t come to our lectures and hear and try to understand who he is. (laughter) All he’s interested in is eating, sleeping, sex and fighting. You can invite him here tonight, he won’t know what to do. He can’t apply. You can try to teach him chant on beads. He can’t apply, (laughter) you see. It’s very difficult for him. You try to give him beads, immediately he starts eating it. All he can think of – eating. Or sleeping, if he was here he’d probably be sleeping already.
So the human form of life is the take-off point to God’s kingdom. So although people say animals have no soul, in fact, there is a spirit soul in the body of an animal. But it’s true that, yes, the living entities in bodies of animals, they have a very difficult time understanding their relationship with God. It’s not the body for God consciousness. The spirit soul, the child of God, ultimately gets to take on a human form of life again and if he uses that human form of life properly then he goes back to God. If he uses that human form to develop his understanding of his relationship with God, he develops his love for God, then at the finish of the human body he goes back to God. So it is not that there is no one in the body of an animal or that the person in the body of the animal is not a child of God.
Augustine, you know Augustine, they call him Saint Augustine. We can’t accept he’s a saint, we’re very sorry to say. We would like to but we cannot accept because he followed this idea that there is a dog soul, and a duck soul, and a cat soul eternally. He doesn’t say what happens to these duck souls, dog souls; so he’s saying that God created children who could never know Him. Try to understand this. The proposition here put forward by Augustine and other Christian theologians is that an animal is an animal soul, there’s a human soul and then a dog soul. And only the human souls can ever know God.
But, in fact, like in the Bible, Jesus makes it very clear that all of God’s children… or all living entities are God’s children, when he gave the example, when he told his followers, “Why are you worried about what you’re going to wear? Aren’t the lilies of the field, doesn’t God take care of His own? Look how nice these lilies of the field are, look how nice their clothes are, they’re so beautiful. And doesn’t God even take care, doesn’t the Supreme Father even take care of the birds? These other children of His? Is this not the business of the father, feeding His children?” So he’s saying, “Here’s God, He’s taking care of all of His children! Even the birds, God is taking care of them.”
And there’s that story of, who was that with Balaam? The guy’s name was Balaam, right? And he had his donkey. And when an angel came, this is in the Old Testament. When the angel came and stood on the road, the donkey saw the angel, the agent of God but Balaam didn’t, and Balaam was supposed to be a spiritual teacher, an advanced spiritual person. How is it that the donkey can see an agent of God and stop and Balaam did not? And the angel ends up chastising Balaam because he started beating his donkey, “Come on! Go! Go! Go!” And finally the angel said, “Hey why are you beating him? He’s just stopping because he saw me!” It’s a person.
The fact is, every living entity is a spark of God and has the potential to see God, to know God. Now what they’re saying is that God created certain of His children, certain souls, He created them, but He created them in such a way that they would never, for all eternity, ever to be able to know Him. That they would always be separated from Him, they’d never know Him. They exist. It’s a dog’s soul, he’s a living entity, and obviously a child of God, but they can never know God. But in fact, the majority of God’s children can never know Him then. There’s a lot more ants than humans. How many ants are there in this world? How many humans? There’s probably more ants under this one building then there are people in the whole world. But all those living entities can never know God! They’re always stuck, they’re ant souls eternally. We don’t accept this.