Saintliness: Shared or Solitude
by Mukunda Goswami
Posted April 8, 2003


War in Iraq - population 23 million - could mean
millions of civilian deaths both there and maybe worldwide. No matter how
you slice it, war is hell. Is there a solution? Maybe.

The lives of acknowledged saints like Vyas Muni, Ramanuja and
Madhvacharya indicate a concern for suffering humanity. Interestingly, the
English affix 'muni' stems from the Latin 'munus', meaning gift, as well as
duty, while the term 'munificent' derives from 'munificus', meaning
bountiful. The six goswamis of Vrindavan, apparent retirees and renunciants,
wrote voluminously in isolation. But they did so with the express aim of
relieving 'the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir
to' -- in the early sixteenth century and what they foresaw beyond.

Nevertheless, it is known that spirituality and saintliness are
private and personal activities. Internal development is key to
transcendental advancement. Without hours of daily private meditation and
personal study, how can one achieve high levels of any kind of learning?
Meditation can mean adopting a laissez faire attitude toward the world. But
should we be blissfully aloof, and praise those who make caves in the rock
face? If saintly symptoms are all hidden, how are we to cure the world's
ills?

Both positions have merit according to the
Gita, and if we cast our glance back through history, we see how the
protection of citizens was a natural consequence of well-ordered religious
life.

Godliness is not the sole property of hermetic saints, but a gift
meant for all. It's overly judgemental, callous and decidedly UNspiritual
to think that the millions who die in natural disasters, unjustly under
political leaders, in the womb and in wars get what they deserve by
suffering the results of their karmic destiny.

We live in a time when violence is commonplace, and tragedy immanent.
If and when disaster strikes, only
one thing will remain, spiritual reality. Whether things get
better or worse, the self and God will remain untouched. That's not an
argument for disinterestedness, it's a reminder of what's important.

God is not a cheap purchase. Unfortunately, many charlatans know
how to appear generous, liberal and kind. And fanatical evangelists in my
humble opinion should be barred from the category of effective
spiritualists.

Alternatively, those who generously advocate the supremacy of God and
kindly awaken the self are actually compassionate. They have the potency to
remedy distress and are truly MUNIficent!