Sunday, March 12, 2006

Say “NO!” to the TV

“Desires multiply misery. Try to be satisfied with all that you have.”

Children who see violence on the screen behave more aggressively, regardless of country, sex, socio-economic position, or even if they have emotional problems. The effects of television are interdependent: aggressive children choose violent programs and those who see these programs become more aggressive.

You should not have a TV in your house. The TV produces loneliness and TV-addicts, which is contrary to a communicative family life. We need to understand that addiction to the TV is an obstacle to daily family life and in the creativity and spontaneous ability to play of our children.

Aggressive behaviour, obesity, the use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco and junk food, are all the negative results that children suffer by watching too much television. The TV also has a major influence regarding sexual behaviour.

“Care more for other people and less your own self-centred concerns. Learn to depend on God’s mercy.”

The television has become one of the main forms of entertainment in the modern world. For the majority of people in today’s society, the TV has invaded our lives and privacy in such a dramatic way that in many places it remains on 24 hours a day. In America, people watch TV an average of four hours daily. This dependency, or addiction, to watching TV, and its creation and promotion, exploits some of the most basic conditions of the human existence.

The first condition is laziness, which make people think that whilst watching TV they are learning something, or that they are being entertained. Actually, neither of these is effectively happening. The reality is that the mind is being polluted with all kinds of garbage. This stimulates in the Tele-viewers the desire to break the principles of Dharma, the religious duties prescribed for humankind. This is achieved by the constant bombardment of all types of violence, through promoting the killing of defenceless animals for the consumption of their cadavers, of endless lustful desires, of pornography and illicit sex, of gambling, greed, envy and jealousy, etc. All these are no more than the promotion of a path leading to a hellish life.

As fallen, conditioned souls, we are highly inclined to easy pleasures, to laziness, gossip, criticism, and to blame others for the problems we face in life.

The process of spiritual education in the Vedic culture has the following fundamentals:

I. To learn to be grateful for everything beautiful and special that we have received in life.

II. To feel compassion to all those who suffer due to the ignorance of our own misdeeds.

III. To understand that human life is a school of love and that in all circumstances we are servants in some way or other. Therefore, it is best to voluntarily serve the purpose of the Creator, by being useful in this life in order to grow spiritually.

IV. To understand that the principle of egoistical pleasure is lust, selfish desire, and that this constitutes the real human illness. The cure is to live for God’s pleasure, according to His Will, the Supreme Truth; thereby living in a way that unconditionally benefits all living beings on this planet that we share.

As you can see, not one of these values is commonly promoted on the TV. To the contrary, the TV keep us confused with the false idea that that out true identity is the material body, and that we are owners of temporary worldly things. In this way, we forget, again and again, our greater responsibilities as human beings.

Knowledge of the Truth starts by appreciating one’s identity as anti-material consciousness; not a body of flesh and bone that is conditioned to sickness and old age. By studying the Vedas under the guidance of a genuine spiritual master, a second understanding arises showing the whole world as being controlled by the Supreme Lord, and that He is situated within the heart of every living entity as the Supreme Controller and witness of everything we do. As such, we need to recognize the existence of the natural law of action and reaction for each thought, word and action we make.

Finally, we arrive at the understanding that there exists an eternal world where we can go to live once we have arrived at the perfection of our existence; having now overcome the cycle of repeated birth and death. There, we can live in our own pure spiritual nature, which is Sat – eternal, Cit - full of knowledge, and Ananda – in a blissful state. These qualities of the soul arise on developing a loving relationship of service to God.

Everything that informs us against this understanding and that inspires us contrary to such illumination is a dangerous pollution for an individual. Television is so dangerous because of its ease of access, with its power to influence easily the population, and for its methods in which it appeals to the lower instincts of the conditioned soul, with its gossipy nature and its sensual, violent images.

Television is a perfect instrument of manipulation for unscrupulous governments devoid of spiritual vision. In this way, the individual and collective problems of today’s civilization are only liable to get worse.

It is also undeniable that the same technology can be properly used to watch programmes that develop our consciousness. Even so, it is to be understood that the TV contaminates more than it benefits. That is why the first step to keep a nice atmosphere at home, for our children and our own well-being, is to remove the television from one’s home, or to keep it in a secondary place exclusively to watch videos and documentaries that promotes spiritual values.

People in today’s world treat the TV as their Guru, their teacher, where everyday they sit in front of “him” to fill their heads with garbage. This takes up all the time in which a person should be listening to the spiritual master and the sacred scriptures to fill one’s life with positive energy to do beautiful things.

It is also clear that the majority of people no longer have an altar (place for prayer) at home, nor do they sanctify their food as an offering, giving thanks to God. The majority of people aspire to a sensual and superficial “Hollywood” lifestyle, even if this means that others suffer.

Even then, it is not enough just to take the TV out of the home; one must remove all kinds of alcoholic beverages and intoxicating substances. One should desist from using all products that involve the killing of animals and eat a strictly vegetarian diet. Even more, one should practice and promote chastity, having sexual relationships only within marriage whilst maintaining a sacred consciousness. It is also recommended not to gamble. All the above will protect a person’s religious principles of compassion, austerity, cleanliness and truthfulness.

We must look for a higher taste. It is not difficult. Simply by keeping the company of people who struggle for a better world, then we will have higher goals in life, deep friendships and support to help maintain our families with a high quality of life. Otherwise, the TV will continue to be the family Guru and its contamination will assure a miserable end to the family atmosphere. I request you from my heart: be brave, make the difference and discover the wealth of a dynamic life with transcendental values.

Srila Guru Maharaj

Editor Gopananada dasa


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