A person who tries to be a goswami is careful not to engage in those activities that are harmful to his spiritual development. For example, he refrains from taking intoxicants (including all sorts of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and so on); from having illicit sex; from gambling; and from eating meat, fish, and eggs.
Often people try so hard to find happiness through sense pleasure that they may attempt to gratify several or all of their senses at the same time. For example, you may simultaneously be watching TV, listening to the radio, munching potato chips, sipping beer, and smoking a cigarette. Perhaps you may have your arm around the shoulders of your girlfriend or boyfriend. You may also have a magazine at your side, which you look at during commercials. You try to fill up every sense; yet still you’re not satisfied; still you want something more.
The most ironic thing about a life of crime is that it is based on a lie—the lie of materialism. The reason kids in poor neighborhoods idolize the local hoods is because they think that such hoods are happy. They see that by material standards the crooks are “successful”—they’ve got nice clothes, jewelry, flashy cars, the respect of others, pretty girls, lots of cash, and so on. But if such kids knew that material wealth and false lordship were not synonymous with happiness, then they wouldn’t see crooks as successful. So it is this big lie—the materialistic concept of success—that causes many youngsters to follow in the footsteps of hoods.
Each body has a multitude of different labels and characteristics. This in itself isn’t bad; just like it is not bad for people to wear different-colored clothes. What is bad is that due to identifying the body as the self, we wrongly consider the person to be the labels that are on his body.
Mystic yogis, by the practice of mystic or psychic powers, can do things that ordinary people consider very wonderful and miraculous. Such yogis then exploit the people, claiming that they are God Himself. And millions of foolish people believe such charlatans and blindly follow them. This is very unfortunate.
If the passing away of the body meant the end of your existence, then you, the self who existed along with the “childhood” body, should have ceased existing when that “childhood” body ceased to exist; and you, the self who existed along with the “adolescent” body, should have ceased existing when your “adolescent” body ceased to exist. The fact that you continued to exist, even though your body (bodies) did not, proves that your existence does not depend upon the continuing existence of a body.
Many Chinese and Japanese acupuncturists (possibly out of a desire to “prove” the existence of chi to skeptical Westerners) have invented all sorts of electrical technological gadgetry to monitor the flow of chi through the meridians and to precisely locate the acupuncture points. So although chi cannot be perceived directly, its presence can be detected by a meter that monitors electrical activity.
Unfortunately, most of humanity spends the majority of its time in the culture of ignorance. We cultivate ignorance by serving our tongue, belly, genitals, and other senses like obedient slaves. The vast majority of our energy goes into this mad pursuit of sense pleasure. Left with frazzled nerves, frustration, anger, jealousy, envy, greed, hate, loneliness, and confusion; we seek an escape in alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and a myriad of other legal and illegal consciousness dimmers. This is the cultivation of ignorance.
Everyone is engaged in action. The law of karma means that there are reactions to every action and that a person must endure the reactions to his actions.
So knowing who you are is a very practical necessity. The question “Who am I?” is not a philosophical football meant to be kicked around coffeehouses by pseudo-intellectuals. It’s a real-life question. Nothing is more important and more relevant than to know who you are.