tad viddhi pranipatena
upadeksyanti te jnanam
tat--that knowledge of different sacrifices; viddhi--try to understand; pranipatena--by approaching a spiritual master; pariprasnena--by submissive inquiries; sevaya--by the rendering of service; upadeksyanti--initiate; te--unto you; jnanam--knowledge; jnaninah--the self-realized; tattva--truth; darsinah--the seers.
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.
The path of spiritual realization is undoubtedly difficult. The Lord therefore advises us to approach a bona fide spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession from the Lord Himself. No one can be a bona fide spiritual master without following this principle of disciplic succession. The Lord is the original spiritual master, and a person in the disciplic succession can convey the message of the Lord as it is to his disciple. No one can be spiritually realized by manufacturing his own process, as is the fashion of the foolish pretenders. The Bhagavatam says: dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam--the path of religion is directly enunciated by the Lord. Therefore, mental speculation or dry arguments cannot help one progress in spiritual life. One has to approach a bona fide spiritual master to receive the knowledge. Such a spiritual master should be accepted in full surrender, and one should serve the spiritual master like a menial servant, without false prestige. Satisfaction of the self-realized spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual life. Inquiries and submission constitute the proper combination for spiritual understanding. Unless there is submission and service, inquiries from the learned spiritual master will not be effective. One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master, and when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple with genuine spiritual understanding. In this verse, both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned. One should not only hear submissively from the spiritual master, but one must also get a clear understanding from him, in submission and service and inquiries. A bona fide spiritual master is by nature very kind toward the disciple. Therefore when the student is submissive and is always ready to render service, the reciprocation of knowledge and inquiries becomes perfect."
(Bhagavad Gita As It is 4.34)
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
What makes some different from others among us is that although we only "know" or possess a conceptual understanding of the truth, and don't actually realize what we have, or in other words are factually "unenlightened" while some others of us may actually realize or "know" the truth through direct spiritual cognition, all of us have a quality that no amount of transcendental realization can make up for our lack of usage of -- we have our intelligence by which we may learn to discriminate between what is and what is not valid evidence at least, in support of the truth.
Except for those few of us who are liberated, we are all of us conditioned living entities. As part of our conditioning process we are conditioned to react to every accusation made against us with a defense, and we are also taught that the best defense is a strong offense. Thus to the charge that as conditioned living entities we are merely eating, sleeping, mating and defending, particularly with respect to this later claim, we admit that there is truth to it, and add that we are also very good at it. We are somewhat bewildered, however, by the request that we should elevate ourselves above our animal-like existences and stop responding, as polished cats and dogs, or as domesticated primates rather, to our neuro-semantic programming.
Thus, even within the boundaries of our own Krsna conscious society, which is supposed to be a place that is free of such anxieties and have raised ourselves up to the position of at least the ascendance of our human intelligence over our beastly brains and lower natures, we see that we live in a world of accusation and counter accusation, of attacking and defending almost continually, and all of this within a society wherein we are all of us supposed to feel welcome, loved and safe. Why is it then that we feel sometimes that it would be safer to walk into a piranha infested lake or fall into a pit filled with tigers and snakes than to enter into an assembly of such saintly souls, as many of those who make us feel this way purport themselves to be?
Those of us who have adopted any position that stands in the way of the free for all exploitation and consequent rape and massacre of the innocents are always being attacked and defending. We are always defending and always looking for a better and more convincing accusation against those from whose attacks and accusations we feel we must defend ourselves. And as all those who are schooled in the art of manipulation know, nice guys finish last, for it is not by reason or through any exposition of the truth that such matters are settled. It is he who comes up with the best accusation that wins. That is the way of it outside of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, and unfortunately also apparently the way it is inside of it, irrespective of party line or allegiance. Be ye ISKCON or Rtvik or Gaudiya Math, it's all same for same, for are we not devotees? Are we not men?
Putting things into the proper context and perspective, seeing the "whole" truth rather than whatever bits of it might prove the more useful to us and convincing of others of our arguments is not what we are about. We do not easily come to the position of thinking contextually, or beyond ourselves, but see ourselves rather as being the center of everything. To do otherwise is counter-intuitive, it goes against the grain and practically requires an act of faith. But it is required of us to place things into such a context in order at least to encourage both others and ourselves not to damn, but rather to forgive those who are the worst of the worst of all offenders to us, those who after hearing all that we have said still dare not only to disagree with the conclusions we have reached, but to call into question both our objectivity and the processes that we have employed to arrive at our conclusions as being not at all, and not scientific in the least, what to mention calling into question the evidences which support our fanciful conclusions, and pointing out their deficit.
To have hatred and anger towards the "unenlightened" or those who do not agree with us and even dare to accuse us of error, keeps our empathy in check and robs us of the one wealth that can be afforded even to our greatest enemy -- our compassionate regard of them. Plus it allows us a double benefit, that of being able to continue to puff ourselves up in our own minds to such positions as we crave; that of being the saviors of humanity, the protectors of the faith, some passionate sense of identity, which if one were actually to listen to it, only screams out "Me! Me! Me!" Rather than "I only aspire to be a servant of a servant of a servant of Srila Prabhupada's lotus feet."
In the last several months I have witnessed a continuance of all of this in the attitudes and behavior of some (but not all) of the Rtvik pundits towards Rocana dasa, whose accusations that they have not come up to the standard by which the truth is to be proven among the Vaisnavas has led to some reaction. Instead of responding with sound argument, realization, or at least some new slant on the issue (difficult to come up with at this late date), they have continued to sidestep the issues that Rocana dasa has raised by attacking the person rather than addressing the points he has made.
Continuing their attempts at character assassination by calling into question both Rocana's character and his motivation, they continue to insult the intelligence of those who are better informed while continuing to take advantage of the innocence and naiveté of their general readership.
Such pundits continue to put forth nonsense claims such as the claim that Rocana dasa is supportive of the bogus ISKCON guru program and corrupt GBC -- something that every reader of the Sun and everyone who is actually familiar with Rocana dasa through his writings will immediately see as being completely preposterous. To the dispassionate observer, such rhetoric appearing on their websites seems to reflect the complaint of a madman, flying directly in the face of the truth, obvious to any person actually familiar with Rocana das through his writings.
Such complaints seem to be made by a person who is completely lacking in spiritual insight and integrity, who will stop at nothing and sacrifice anyone just to achieve his own selfish ends. Oh, we can hear it, deaf to everything else, but upon whom will your vengeance be visited? Not just upon the guilty. Dig two graves: one for yourself and your godbrothers and the other for your Spiritual Master's, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada's reputation. For try as you might, you will never escape the fact that by virtue of his acceptance of you as his disciple, you are also his representative and he will be judged by your actions.
So astounding is this trend and tendency exhibited by some of the Rtvik pundits, and especially by one of them, that by making such outrageous and obviously false claims against one who simply disagrees with them, that not merely an unbalanced mind is suggested, as would simply be the case if only one person was making such claims and also listening to them. but what about all those who hear such insanity and offer no objection to it?
What does this suggest of them, something even more insidious? By going along with this type of exposition, does it not also suggest that if they are not quite as insane themselves, that they are completely dispossessed of the high ideals and moral fiber that they wish to be seen as being the exemplifiers and possessors of by those who have come under their sway? That they are in actuality quite immoral and unscrupulous, if not utterly depraved, and that they are quite willing and even eager to destroy anyone who gets in their way? So overcome with lust for prestige, jealousy, anger and hatred, that they would ally themselves with the very devil himself to get what they want, and would stop at nothing, even the exploitation and manipulation of the innocent who rely upon them as being the only well of water in the wilderness, the only source of the truth? They have apparently already done so.
Such persons seem to me to depend upon rhetoric, not upon reason for the convincing of their audience. And it works, not in all cases, but sufficiently enough to suit their purposes. They know that they need not support even their most dishonest accusations that fly in the face of all evidence, to create belief in those whom they wish to manipulate.
Possessed of a greater degree of sophistication than their audience, such persons are aware that as conditioned living entities, we are tacitly conditioned to accept even mere accusations as being the truth. Especially when such accusations are being made by one whom we have come to accept as someone we can trust, as the Rtvik rank and file have been conditioned to come to think of their pundits as being persons they can trust. To not trust them, especially in light of the fact that there is no dissenting opinion forthcoming from among them which would allow one, a simple member of the rank, to ally oneself with, places anyone who dares to offer any other opinion or contradiction in a position that is both spiritually (from the position of blind faith, not from that of seeing faith) and socially perilous. It freezes the mind with fear, cowing the would be objector into silence. In such a social condition, even should one be familiar with the fact that the claims being made by one's accepted spiritual authorities do not in fact match up with the facts, such a realization is denied or avoided. It is instinctual and a survival mechanism, and it is very, very sudra.
Knowing this, such authorities know that merely to assert, is to prove their claims and arguments to their congregation, who wish to believe as much as they fear not to believe them.
The Rtvik pundits themselves have mis-identified themselves with their own concocted theories. They have, in fact, become so attached to them that any challenge to their beliefs is taken as being a personal attack upon them. That is why they feel so threatened and why they react so viciously, as if their very existences have been threatened, when it is simply the position they have accepted as being reflective of reality that is being brought into question and challenged.
Due to their misidentification of themselves with their false egos (which include the metaphysical models or pet theories such as their Rtvik beliefs) they see it as their duty and beholding to react and defend against such challenges -- not with reason, which they have sadly never learned the good use of, but with what has always stood good before in its stead… good old fashioned **** slinging and character assassination.
It is not their adopted positions which they are defending, but their very own false egos, which have become so entertained with the metaphysical models that have given meaning to their existences and garnered for them such false prestige and attention that they are no longer distinguishable from them. Thus it is not their pet theories that they are defending, but their own very livelihoods, if not their existences, for without Rtvik, which has puffed them up into such gigantic figures, what are they otherwise? What do those with power and position crave most? More power and prestige. This is the disease of material existence.
Thus all challenges made to Rtvik-vada they can only see as being threatening not to the truth, not to Srila Prabhupada, not to Krsna consciousness, but to their own existences. And this is why they react so viscously and with such hatred towards those who call into question their speculative theories and fanciful conclusions.
This is an example of how form is substituted for fact by the self delusional and confused.
Accusations generate so much interest and anxiety because of the way that our minds have been trained since childhood, to accept an accusation as being the truth. This is our conditioning and as conditioned souls, as product and process we react in this way due to the structural relationship between child and parent that we were exposed to. The parent asserts or accuses and the child defends against it. Thus every assertion or accusation made in our direction promotes fear and garners the attention of others, for just as siblings react when it is their brother or sister being punished and not themselves, we feel safe when we see others being punished, knowing that the attention is off of us and our own sins, at least for a while.
Rocana dasa has shown remarkable restraint by not responding to the Rtviks' attempts at vilification of him with the same kinds of personal attacks that have been made against him. He has instead simply stuck to his guns, in a manner of speaking, continuing to maintain and assert that the Rtviks have neither proven their claims or even come to the position of being able to look at their own evidence and examine it objectively in order to ascertain whether in reality, it may be seen as truly convincing of their claims or otherwise, as his own position papers, such as "A Word And A Staple" contend. In other words, Rocana dasa has consistently refused to sink down to their level, and thus it is no mystery why they hate him, for it is in the nature of the envious always to hate better men.
This behavior upon the part of the Rtvik pundits is, in my esteem, indicative that these persons are highly irresponsible in regards to the safeguarding of their master Srila Prabhupada's mission, and casts them in the very unfavorable light of lacking in even the maturity of an adult perspective, what to mention one of any transcendental insight.
The truth is the truth and the truth will always remain the truth, and a lie will always remain a lie. But how can one determine the difference, one who has not as yet been blessed (or cursed) with this spiritual sight that is alluded to in the verse and purport of Bhagavad-gita? And how can we, or they themselves prove it to them or to themselves? The answer to this is, that Krsna is so merciful that he gives even to the blind the means by which to see. Krsna gives to us the shastra, and the words of Guru and Sadhu, and by these even those of us who walk in perpetual darkness have always to hold before us a great light.
Rocana das has not called upon the Rtviks to do anything more than should be expected of anyone claiming to be possessed of the Absolute Truth. He only asks the Rtviks to reveal it by the light of that one great light, to which the Rtviks make no reply in the manner that is demanded of them, not by Rocana das, but by the standards set by the preceptors of our line.
In the pramana-khanda portion of Sri Jiva Goswami's Tattva-sandarbha we may find what these Rtvik pundits principally despise, which is not Rocana dasa surprisingly, but that which Rocana dasa advocates. The very things which darkness and ignorance always fear and despise -- the means by which those who are walking in the darkness may be brought out into the light.
Sri Jiva states that before such spiritual truths can be determined, that the reliable means for determining the facts must be determined. He then goes on to detail the best method for determining such facts that is available to normal men, or in other words, the Scientific Method consisting of Sense Data (SD) and what the Classicists, men such as Aristotle referred to as Pure Reason, and then goes on to detail for us what is wrong with them.
The first portion of the scientific method (SD) is dependent, of course, upon the perception of our senses and another curious thing, which even today our Western Science cannot fully understand, a synergy between the brains and the senses that affects perception to such an extent that it even colors, adds and detracts to and from the things that we see. Those of us who are familiar with the modern day laws of optics may think that they appreciate the truth of the following true statement:
In other words, in the process of "seeing" some of the light rays that are emanating from some object, or more aptly referred to as emanating from some space-time event traveling to the lens of the eye and then through it, reversing in the process before the reversed image is registered on our retinas. We do not see things upside down because of this eye-brain synergetic system, which before we have even the first conscious perception of what we are seeing reverses the image yet again and adds color, form and a great deal more to it before it is displayed to us, fitted in to our geographical co-ordinates which the brain uses to file and store the data gained by us through this means of perception.
The fathers of Western philosophy and civilization, such men as Aristotle, without even having any familiarity with these modern day optical laws, nevertheless understood this principle so well that they pointed out that the expression "I see" is actually incorrect. Aristotle corrected it to "I have seen" to reflect the understanding that seeing something isn't as simple a thing as one imagines it to be. That however brief a time exists between the impact of the light upon the lens of our eyes and our perception, during which the brain, through a process unbeknownst to us, edits the image into what we finally see.
This is true of all the other sense also, the nose, the ear, the taste and the touch, we are never at all aware of what we are experiencing directly, and this is all referred to as the darkness of ignorance that we are born into.
Observing all of this so far, the reasonable conclude, along with Sri Jiva, that there is simply no escape in the direction of Atheism from at least partial agnosticism, i.e. from the recognition that all ideas (from the Greek eidolon), including all images are somewhat conjectural and inferential and that therefore, this part of the scientific method alone is not a very reliable method for determining that which may be known even of the material nature, what to speak of that beyond the perception of the material senses.
Aristotle has somehow or other escaped the aforementioned conclusion, and up until quite recently, most of our scientific community have continued to escape it by simply asserting or assuming that some method exists by which the uncertainty of perception can be transcended by means and methods at human kinds' command and disposal, and by which employment we might finally arrive at certitude regarding general principles.
Since Hume, however, this faith in the West has gradually broken down, and though various philosophers have admitted to this, it is not an understanding that is generally admitted to or paraded about. For after all, we are grown up men and women. What an embarrassment it would be to admit we were lost and then have to add insult to injury by asking for help from the spiritualists, and worse upon worse, from those who believe in Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The nightmares of the demoniac are made up of things like this, so "mums" the word, and in general we keep all of this a secret while the world goes on continuing to believe that the Absolute Truth is in our sights and that we have already at our disposal the means to exploit it for our financial gain and sense gratification.
The fact however remains that there is absolutely no way in Hell by which certain conclusions may be derived from the juggling of approximates, say about a once of this and a smidgen of that, of deriving at an absolute conclusion from perception when perception is not absolute.
That is half of the scientific method which Sri Jiva alludes to and finds to be inadequate, and that is half of the method that the Rtviks are employing, and with further reductionism than even the senses can be guilty of.
In Part Two, we will examine the second half of the scientific Method or Pure Reason which the Rtviks aren't even bothering with, detailing what is wrong with it, and also how it may be employed (and must be employed) as an assist. Then we will go on to educate the Rtviks on exactly how, according to Sri Jiva and all of the Vaisnava Acharyas who have ever lived, to maintain that the truth must be established. And then we will see if any among them are brave enough to employ it.
(To be continued…)
All glories to Srila Prabhupada
YS George Smith