A philosopher once lamented, “From the crooked timber of humanity, how can we obtain straight things?” What exactly is ‘crooked’ with us? Well, to begin with, we have the four defects. Our senses are imperfect, we get illusion-ed, we commit mistakes, and we have a tendency to cheat (to cover up for our mistakes). We are also afflicted by lust, anger, greed, madness, pride, and illusion.
The way out of illusion is the process of self-realization. By understanding who we are and what our relationship with God is, we can understand that we are presently in illusion and that it is no good. Self-realization and God realization begin with dissatisfaction. When we are dissatisfied, then we can search out liberation in our original state. By finding out our true nature, we can become free from the miseries of illusion. But we must not think that we are happy in illusion. To accuse the transcendentalist or spiritualist of being morbid because of his extreme criticism of the material world and its attractions is false. Rather, it is morbid to think that this life, which leads only to death, is everything. It is morbid to think that one is enjoying his body and its sensual pleasures when every day one can see side by side a beautiful young girl and a decrepit old woman and observe how quickly the change takes place. It is morbid to try to squeeze pleasure out of the body, mistaking the body for the real self. To treat the body as the self is as foolish as to try to eat by putting foodstuffs in one’s ear rather than one’s mouth. We can see from common affairs or learn from the Gita that we constantly change our body, but the real self exists eternally. The craziness of thinking that our eternal self is the temporary body is illusion. But because the majority of people are in illusion- consciousness, this has become the standard of sanity in modern civilization. The proper use of the human form of life is to inquire with dissatisfaction about this state of suffering in illusion. Usually when someone is afflicted with a disease, he will say with a feeling of dull resignation, “All right, let me go to the doctor.” But one who inquires, “Why do I have to suffer? Who am I? Why must I endure disease and old age?” is intelligent. When such a process of inquiry begins, the sincere, determined searcher finally ends with God.
THE CROOKED TIMBER OF DIVINITY
Amazingl y there is a form of the Supreme Lord manifested in wood. The Lord appears in a somewhat “crooked” way. The story is as follows – Five thousand years ago Kpl).a, Baladima, and Subhadra visited Kuruk~etra in Their chariot on the occasion of a solar eclipse. The king of Orissa, Indradyumna, became very anxious to establish a temple of Kpna, Balarama, and Subhadra. Therefore he got a sculptor to carve the Deities.
But there was a contract between the sculptor and the king that the sculptor would work behind closed doors and the king could not disturb him. When many days had passed the king thought, ‘What is this worker doing?’ So he forcibly opened the door, and he saw that the forms were unfinished. But after that the sculptor would not finish carving the Deities. Therefore the king said, ‘Never mind; I shall worship this unfinished Deity.’
So you see Jagannatha in this form because King Indradyumna wanted to worship Him in this form. And the king started the temple of J agannatha in Orissa, at Puri.
Now all over the world millions of devotees joyfully pull Lord Jagannatha , His brother Balarama and Their sister Subhadra in a festival called Ratha-yatra. Atheistic people may call it that the Jagannatha Murti was made of wood, and the car was also made of wood, but the spiritual bliss can be exacted from anything. Even accepting the whole affair as wooden, a Krsna consciousness person can understand that wood is nothing but display of Krsna’s energy. So it is the Krsna consciousness energy that gives us transcendental bliss, just like it is the electric energy passing through copper cable which gives us electric light and heat.