I recently heard a short clip from a comedian once styled as “the dean of counterculture comedians.” His humorous satire drives home a point worth considering, man’s influence over the earth. I invite you to hear the clip, a coarse analysis, followed by a much more refined theistic one. Hat tip to “The Mark Levin Show” which provided the Carlin sound track.
George Carlin speaks about man’s egoistic thinking that he can “save the planet.” Click on the player to hear it:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja speaks on man’s inability to change the environment:
Sridhara Maharaja: Many years ago, a German scholar expressed his opinion that Bhagavad Gita is the highest spiritual literature. His point was that Bhagavad Gita clearly advises us not to try to correct our environment, but to correct ourselves, to adjust with the environment. That is the key to the advice of Bhagavad Gita: “Cure thyself.” We have no power to bring about changes in the environment. That is arranged by the divine will. Our environment, the sum total of all the forces acting outside us, is irremovable. We have no ability to interfere with our environment; that will only be a useless loss of energy. Rather, we must try to correct ourselves so that we can adjust with the circumstances outside us: this is the key to our success in life (tat te ‘nukampam susamiksamano). We have our duty to perform, but we must not aspire after the results of our activities; the results depend on Krsna (karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana). We make our contribution; at the same time, thousands of millions of others are contributing, creating the environment. So, we must do our duty, but we will have to accept the ultimate result as best, because it is arranged by the Absolute.
There are so many results to our individual activities, but we must see how the Absolute Will harmonizes everything and adjust ourselves accordingly. Our responsibility lies only in discharging our duty. We must never aspire after any definite environment; the environment will go on in its own way. We have no power to change it. Rather, we must try our best to change our own self so that we may come in harmony with the environment
Our responsibility is never in enjoying the results of our actions. Because we work for a particular result and don’t obtain it, should we be discouraged? No. We should go on doing our own duty. Whatever we contribute should be offered to the infinite, and the infinite will mold the results in His own way. Krsna says, “Never aspire after any particular result for your action. At the same time, don’t be idle. Don’t be worthless. Go on discharging your duty without depending on any outside consequence.”
Student: Will we have to remember Krsna while we are doing this?
Sridhara Maharaja: Yes. Then we will be able to come in connection with Krsna and gradually we will come to realize that our environment is friendly to us. When the reactions of our previous actions disappear, we will find that every wave is carrying good news to us. When our egoistic attitude vanishes, we will find ourself in the midst of sweet waves all around. We should try to do away with whatever wrong we have done hitherto. We must do our duty and never expect any definite result, but cast it towards the infinite.
And then one day will come when our egoistic feeling will dissolve and from within, our real self, a member of the infinite world, will spring up and awaken, and we will find ourselves in the sweet waves of that environment. There, everything is sweet. The breeze is sweet, the water is sweet, the trees are sweet, whatever we come in contact with is sweet, sweet, sweet.
Our internal ego is our enemy, and to dissolve that ego, we must do our duty as we think fit, but never expect any response according to our will. If we adopt this karmayoga then in no time we will find that the wrong ego, which was always expecting something crooked for its selfish purpose, has vanished; the broad, wide ego within has come out, and we are in harmony with the whole universe. The harmonious world will appear before us, and the cover of selfish desires will disappear.
The cause of our disease is not outside us, but within us. A paramahamsa Vaisnava, a saint of the highest platform, sees that everything is all right. He finds nothing to complain about. When one can see that everything is good and sweet to the furthest extreme, he comes to live in the plane of divinity. Our false ego creates only disturbance, and that ego should be dissolved. We should not think that the environment is our enemy. We must try hard to detect God’s grace in whatever comes to us, even if it comes as an apparent enemy. Everything is the grace of the Lord, but we can’t see it; rather, we see the opposite. The dirt is in our eyes.
Actually, everything is divine. It is all the grace of the Lord. The disease is in our eyes. We are diseased, and if the disease is cured, we shall find that we are in the midst of a gracious world. Only the coverings of desire deceive us from having a real estimation of the world. A bonafide student of the devotional school will accept such an attitude towards the environment and towards the Lord. We have to think that God’s will is everywhere. Even a blade of grass cannot move without the sanction of the Supreme Authority. Every detail is detected and controlled by Him. We have to look upon the environment with optimism. The pessimism is within us. Our ego is responsible for all sorts of evil.
—The Search for Sri Krishna