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Living With An Alien

Sounds like something out of an 80's horror movie...

But it's real life.

Who wouldn't remember that famous and horrifying scene from Ridley Scott's "Alien" masterpiece. A poor astronaut, trapped within a space station, screams in terror as an alien controls her from within and eventually bursts from her womb. Although it may seem fantastical, this is happening to us right now, even though we may not have been attacked by some creepy face-hugging aliens, as far as we know.

An Alien, according to the Oxford English dictionary, means a creature from a different world. We may that, at present, we don't have any experiance of creatures from another atmosphere, but if we consider what we understand and accept as the self, we will find that it is actually very alien to us. Let me explain.

Our present experience of existence is life inside the body. The body is constituted of five material elements; Earth, water, fire, air and ether. And more subtly; the mind, intelligence and the false ego. Although we cannot perceive the latter three with our eyes, they are present by their functioning and we can understand that they are there. On even more subtle level, there is the soul. The soul is perceived through consciousness. Matter, from it's unmanifested form in gross elements, becomes manifest upon the souls presence in the body, and that same matter gradually grows for some time, but ultimately diminishes and goes back to the unmanifested state. It is constantly changing and therefore the body is, in one sense, non-existent. But the soul is always remaining, the person is always there throughout all the changes of the mind and the gross body. The soul is the powerhouse of the material body. There are the material elements, and the subtle material coverings, but all of them are simply inert without the presence of the soul. As soon as the soul leaves the body, all of these coverings become useless. They no longer work, and no amount of chemical supplement or anything material can revive the body once the soul has left.

So from this, we can understand that we are different from the body. Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, confirms all of this in His Bhagavad-Gita when he says:

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change. [BG 2.13]

That spiritual particle within the body is the eternal and ever spiritual individual living entity. Beyond and before his existence within the material body, which he has been entrapped for longer than one can trace out the history, he existed within the spiritual atmosphere, wherein he properly belongs. The consciousness is eternal, therefore it belongs to a sanatan, or eternal, atmosphere. We can understand this to be our natural state of existence because we are always yearning for it within this world. Although eternity, bliss and knowledge does not exist here, we still strive to attain them. Everyone is looking to extend his life unlimited, everyone is trying to become very educated and everyone is trying to find happiness. The desire for our natural state of existence permeates our current state. Everyone is searching for this eternal, blissful life but they do not know where to find it. It just like this "burster" scene in the alien movie. The girl and her associates are trying very hard to relieve her of her burden and they perform a surgical operation and try to kill the creature. Why not just let it happen? Because it is natural to fight for a pleasant existence, to return to condition where one isn't in anxiety.

However, when the soul misidentifies himself with the material body, he is always in anxiety, because he is subject to a constant barrage of the various pangs of material existence, which manifest in seven ways. The four principle problems of life are birth, death, old age and disease. No one wants to to die: to leave everything he has worked so hard for behind; his family, hearth, job, bank balance and reputation. No wants to become old: To be gradually forgotten by the more youthful generations, and to lose control of his life and senses as he becomes decrepit. Of course, we are very adverse to becoming diseased: to lose our energy, vitality, health and beauty. Most certainly, no-one wants to take birth, which is a torturous condition of life wherein the soft and vulnerable child is forced into a cramped womb and is bitten by worms, burned by intestinal acids, and blinded by constant darkness for almost a year continuously. Furthermore, each living enity within the material world is under the tyranny of threefold kinds of miseries at every moment, and they are known as adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika. Infirmities of the mind and body are ever present in our daily life. No-one can say he has perfect health or condition of mind or body. Sufferings caused by other living entities are practically natural, in so many ways we are harassed by insects, aggressive animals, thieves, rogues and rascal politicians. On a larger scale, the damage which is caused by the demigods, the appointed administrators of the material universe and it's happenings, manifest in the form of earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes etc. In no way is a living entity free from the pains of this bodily existence.

As previously mentioned, however, this is an alien situation. The jiva spirit soul, in his natural existence, is eternally full of bliss and knowledge, being in his healthy position, serving the transcendental Supreme Personality of Godhead directly in pure love. He is situated in the eternal atmosphere of the spiritual world, where everything is absolute and personal, as opposed to the world of relativity and dead matter. How did we end up in such contrary life on temporality? There was a time when the different parts of a body rebelled against the stomach. The hands where collecting food and feeding the mouth, which was chewing the food, and the legs of the body walked to and fro to collect various foodstuffs. After some time, the parts of the body became upset that "we are working so hard, and this nonsense stomach is simply enjoying all day while he eats he fruits of our labor." The foolish parts of the body did not realize that their very existence depended on the satisfaction of the stomach. So in their foolishness, they decided to abstain from supplying to the stomach. It was wasn't long before they became very weak, and lost all their power to do anything at all. it was only then they could realize what a terrible mistake they has made by neglecting their proper function.

This story is precisely our own situation, because we are all spirit part and parcels of the complete whole. lord Krishna confirms in the Bhagavad-Gita that we are his eternal parts and parcels thus:

The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal frag-mental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind. [BG 15.7]

The constitutional function of the part is to serve the whole. A cog in the machine serves the purpose of the machine, a hand serves the body, a citizen serves the state and so on. Therefore, being a complete spirit soul, we are fully satisfied in our normal spiritual life, because we act in our healthy and natural function as a direct servant of God. But by accepting the alien body as our self, we become illusioned to instead serve our material senses. At some point in time, the living entity accepted the material body as himself, along with many other material bodies as well, in varieties of forms, from fish to trees to celestial beings. When he accepts in this way, he becomes controlled by the desires and necessities of the body. The body wants food, sex, sleep and desires generally to fight in some way or another. The body is manifestation of the minute living entities desire to lord it over material nature in imitation of the Supreme Spirit, Parabrahman, Krsna. In whatever form of body he has, he has to fulfill these basic needs and as a result he also has to suffer the above mentioned frailties of conditional life.

Now, just like that alien within the womb of the girl, we are accepting something very unpleasant as reality. However, unlike that unfortunate girl, our alien experience is simply illusory. The girl, if she did not have an alien within her womb, would most likely have a normal human child instead. Because it is natural for a woman to have children. In the same way, the jiva souls function is to serve. So whether we serve the material body, which can be compared to the creepy baby alien, or we serve Krishna, which can be compared to a healthy and beautiful child, we serve. We cannot avoid that. This is called Dharma. Just like saltiness cannot be removed from salt. If it were removed, it would no longer be salt. If we serve the material senses, we become subject to material nature, which is contrary to our interest of eternal blissful life, and if we serve Krishna, who is completely transcendental, that life is simply a natural consequence of that service because it is on the transcendental platform.

The burster alien is just like our material body because having once accepted it as such, such a conception eventually kills our own, real self. Once the alien was within the womb, it was only a matter of time before the host of the alien was killed. Similarly, when we want to enjoy the facilities of this material body, we have to go on accepting new bodies to continue enjoying. In due course of time, without acting according to the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures, or in full god-consciousness, we act on the platform of animals, simply satisfying the basic needs of the body. In this way material nature prepares a body that is just suitable for our desires and purpose. In the Srimad-Bhagatavam, such persons are identified as good as animals:

One who identifies his self as the inert body composed of mucus, bile and air, who assumes his wife and family are permanently his own, who thinks an earthen image or the land of his birth is worship-able, or who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there, but who never identifies himself with, feels kinship with, worships or even visits those who are wise in spiritual truth—such a person is no better than a cow or an ass. (SB 10.84.13)

The human form of life is not meant for wasting like an animal. Animals cannot go beyond the basic survival necessities of the body. But in the human form, we have the opportunity to free ourselves from this alien, burdensome lump of matter we call a body and return to our joyful and fully spiritual life in the sanatana-dhama, the spiritual world. That process is very simple, and it was inaugurated 500 years ago by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: The chanting of the holy names of God, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. This is the most simply process to serve Sri Krsna, thereby reawakening our dormant love for him.

In conclusion, the material body is completely alien to our actual existence. By acceptance of the unreal material body as our-self, we kill our real selves by neglecting to use this valuable form of human life to understand God, the self is and the relation between the two. Such a discovery is only available in the human form because in this form we have the intelligence to try and fight the pushes of the senses, perform austerity and practice yoga. Think about it like this, all the crew of the spaceship in that alien movie could only try to help the lady with the alien in her belly on account of their higher intelligence. Had the same movie taken place with the Russian space dog crew of the 60's, the movie would have been a lot shorter and a lot less exciting, because animals have no such intelligence to understand the problems of life and how to solve them. So instead of simply going with this alien existence, accepting the sufferings of life as unavoidable, we should try to apply our intelligence and serve God, Krishna, by performing devotional service instead of forced and miserable service to the body and it's senses.

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