Saturday, December 30, 2017

Why the four regulative principles are generally useful

For starters, what are the four regulative principles? They have been prescribed by Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada and are sort of common rules for Vaishnavas and Hindus desiring to be more serious in spiritual life. One can also consider them as a religious rule.
  • No meat-eating, including fish or eggs
  • No illicit sex (including that which, even within marriage, is not for the procreation of children)
  • No gambling
  • No intoxicants
Next question is, why follow them, if you are not Vaishnava or Hindu? Because 
  1. they are not limited to a particular religious conviction 
  2. save you a lot of trouble 
  3. promote spiritual life.
I see them as guardian angels. It's like not having a car. You save yourself a lot of work, which is necessary to get and keep a car, you don't run over anyone and you don't have a bad conscience to ruin the earth for you and your descendants, because you are obsessed with the crazy idea of needing a ton of metal to drive your rotten bones through the area. Instead of all this you are free to do something spiritually uplifting. Sacrifice the transient to make the eternal easier to cultivate. Regulative principles can be extended endlessly, but they can also be reduced to one thing: Make it easier for the Spirit of God to flow into the soul.

The four regulative principles are like guardian angels.
Another advantage is that you don't give any religious community reason to complain about bad behavior. One should not be a nuisance to anyone unnecessarily, especially not as a follower of Jesus. If you follow the four principles, Buddhists and Hindus will respect you for the renunciation of meat, fish and eggs, Muslims and Jews will like you for the renunciation of the consumption of impure and forbidden things. It's like being a gentleman, a man of good, courteous conduct. And you want to be a gentleman, not an ogre, don't you? Jesus does not ask for four regulative principles, but He will rejoice if His followers behave properly. Of course the adversaries and slaves of sense gratification may not be happy with you following this principles. You can't be everybody's darling.

Ideally, one should only impose the regulative principles on oneself and not take vows. This is because spiritual progress should not be enforced and a vow easily becomes a judgment. It should always be "you shall," not "you have to." Nor should they be imposed on others. After all, more sensual people are not able to keep to them. It's not their fault, it's their nature. God will take care of them in other ways. However, there is no reason not to declare the regulative principles a mandatory law in special communities and places

There is, however, a great danger that will ruin everything on the spot. If you take pride in complying with the regulative principles, you are worse than a repentant sinner. Those who adhere to regulative principles should therefore always take a very critical look at themselves. Never scornfully look down on other people. Obeying this regulative principles makes you a gentleman in spiritual life, but a real gentleman is not smug, arrogant and conceited.

And one thing is still very important: without love for God and for neighbor, observing the four regulative principles is spiritually completely worthless and even an abomination.

No meat-eating: Eating vegetarian or vegan food has become popular in recent years. Nobody sane wants to be responsible for the horrors of the meat industry, deadly epidemics and the gigantic environmental destruction. What's more, word has got around about how unhealthy meat is. But the renunciation of flesh has been present for thousands of years in the spiritually more advanced people and communities.

The fact that food has a substantial influence on the human mind and body can be observed by everyone. It's not for nothing: you are what you eat. Meat-eaters get fat and sluggish and look increasingly like corpses. It is almost impossible to talk to them about higher spiritual things because they do not understand anything properly. In the case of long-term meat eaters, one can even say which kind of meat he likes best, because he looks increasingly like a pig or a cattle or whatever. God has ordered vegetarian nutrition for man. Thus man remains a human being.

No illicit sex: This is certainly the most demanding rule. It is also preached by the New Revelation and we find it everywhere in Christianity. Celibacy. Even in marriage. You ask why? Because people have limited strength and sex life is at the expense of spiritual development. The more lecher you are, the less you understand spiritual things. You may still understand them with your head, but no longer with your heart, and then you really don't understand anything. The divine spiritual things require renunciation, self-control and above all purity of heart. Otherwise, you will meet destruction.

The New Revelation demonstrates this fact in a quite entertaining way. There we find bishop Martin meeting Satan in the hereafter, who shows him to be a breathtakingly beautiful woman. Martin became literally crazy and wanted to become Satan's little helper, even in the personal presence of Jesus. But Jesus saved him.

Or when the spirit of Elisabeth Hüttenbrenner visited Jakob Lorber. Our poor scribe was barely able to write: "But if you weren't so heavenly beautiful, I could write easier! But when I look at you, I would much rather hug you and die in such a heavenly embrace than wiggle my pen and paper!" Elisabeth solved the problem by standing behind Lorber. Human weakness. Even prophets are struggling with it.

One has to understand that God and the angels are love and wisdom in person and therefore supernatural beautiful and attractive. One cannot approach them without self-control and purity of heart without falling dead (or worse) on the spot. The great love of the angels destroys unprepared people, therefore they cover themselves up or behave reservedly. If someone who is not a master of his senses approaches the divine spiritual things, he runs the risk of his spiritual life being completely ruined.

Still there is the question: How on earth do you ever want to live up to that demanding rule? Answer: There are a lot of helpful things like an orderly marriage life and the community of renounced and wise people. But according to the current circumstances you will probably only be able to approach this ideal. I deem this to be sort of normal. If humans could control their reproductive organs so easily, they would probably have died out long ago. Even heroes of renunciation fail to fully comply with this regulation. But that's not so bad as long as you remain humble. If you truthfully admit to being a weak sinner, Jesus can save you. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. But the days of the flesh are numbered anyway.
A yogi needs to be master of his senses

No gambling: Those who have never been addicted to gambling may find this regulation easy and perhaps even unnecessary. In fact, however, the addiction to gambling has a downright devastating force and violence, which is why one should not be reckless. Numerous people and families have already been ruined by betting offices, casinos and gambling machines. Avoid them like hell. The greatest danger is that which cannot be detected in time. Even lottery games should be avoided.

No intoxicants: Since the enjoyment of intoxicants already impairs the earthly and natural life, it should not be too difficult to understand that they are not conducive to spiritual life. Drunk people may communicate with all sorts of spirits, but what comes out even in better circumstances is at best something an ordinary person could have told you.

Intoxicants are not only drugs, but also alcohol, nicotine, caffeine. Even cocoa and sugar can be counted among them, as they have a stimulating and addictive effect. Addiction is always an obstacle in spiritual life, because one should become a servant of God, not a slave of any substance.

In every religion, we find one or two concessions on drugs. Christians are not directly forbidden to drink wine, Muslims have replaced alcohol with coffee and sugar, Hindus chew betel nuts. Sometimes a narcotic drug is included in the worship, like wine among Christians. Nevertheless, it would be good to abstain as far as possible from narcotics, especially if they were prohibited by the state or religion.

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