(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Dec 2011, Sasolburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Animals are different, since they are acting upon instinct and nature, and therefore there is no accountability. In the Vedic or the eastern context we speak of karma (the law of action and reaction) and that every action has a reaction. So it is explained that whatever is happening to us today is the result of previous karma (previous actions). So in this way nothing is exactly happening by chance, but things are happening due to what we have done in the past…. that is the idea of karma, and with our actions of today we are creating the future – we are influencing the future.
So that is interesting – that our actions have reactions. Well, when I first heard that, I found it very interesting and you also see it in the west, and: ‘as you sow you shall reap’. It is coming back in the cross-cultural scriptures, and I noticed that the man is the architect of destiny. From there of course spirituality comes in. Understanding that the Supreme proprietor is everything and certainly not the human being. When you enter into a nature reserve, then you see some animals behind fences because human beings are in control, and they decide where some animals go and which one goes where. Maybe in previous times lions were also found here, but not anymore, since we decided that they don’t go well together with our picnic spot, and so therefore, there are no more lions.
Mankind tends to control and take control. We are governing the entire planet, but it is said in the Bhagavad-Gita Gita that we cannot claim proprietorship, since if we do this then we are over stepping our boundaries. For instance, what if you found a piece of land and put a fence around it and claimed it as yours? We call that squatters and so on. So the point is that the land was here long before us. The land was here and different people came at different times and claimed this land as theirs…. and again and again people claimed:
“This is my land…. it is mine!”
But for how long? We have seen many big empires that so much power that is now faded away. It looks like that once the British were everywhere but these days they are less and less…. and that England is not doing so well. It is economically struggling…. quite a bit. When you visit there, then you see that. Especially outside of London, life is not at all economically as comfortable as it is in South Africa, where life in many ways is not bad at all…. if I look at it in my travels. So we are seeing that empires come up and disappear, and that history has shown many empires………………………………………Therefore in the thirteen chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita Gita it is making the point that:
‘Man is not the proprietor of this world. Man is the caretaker.’
As human beings, we are the caretakers and not proprietors! That is the concept of the Vedic literature, and as human beings, one should be acting in this world on behalf of God and His interest, His values and be like an agent. A caretaker is like an agent. He is supposed to represent his proprietor…obviously, yes everyone has some independence and that is not a problem, but it cannot be excessive and it cannot go against the purposes of the proprietor!