Can’t escape this big old controversy. It popped up everywhere I looked in the past couple of weeks, particularly in the story of Kala Krishnadasa I mentioned a few days ago.
The starting point is that Srila Prabhupada’s opinion is clear on this – we are capable of turning away from Krishna and this is the reason we are here. That’s what I am going to stick with no matter what other views are there, that would be a wise thing to do since our goal is to escape from this world and we achieve that by staying with Prabhupada.
I don’t know what happens with people who choose to leave his shelter and I don’t want to find out myself. It’s too risky.
That is actually the end of the debate. There’s nothing more to argue, the decision has been made and it’s irreversible.
Having said that – the question still bothers many devotees and many of them (us) need confirmation that Prabhupada indeed wasn’t wrong. He was sure of it but we need to prove it to ourselves, too.
I don’t know why. Will it make our faith stronger? It’s a double edged sword, I warn you. Once you get yourself dragged into this argument sooner or later doubts will start creeping in your mind. Sooner or later you will feel the weight of counterarguments, sooner or later you will be forced to at least admit their plausibility.
I don’t know what they will be and on what exact points but it is bound to happen, it’s the nature of the debate, it’s the nature of this world. Perhaps at first we thought that observing it for a while won’t harm us in any way since Krishna’s existence is indisputable so a little curiosity about how jivas actually live here appeared innocent enough, and then curiosity killed the cat.
Perhaps at first we were strong, dedicated, fired up brahmacharies, then we thought that to become complete and rounded in our knowledge we need to know how women live in this world, too, and observing them for a little while won’t do us any harm. We all know what happened next.
This is not a misogynistic proposition – I’m simply stating a fact that we tend to overestimate ourselves and we set us arbitrary, if not outright wrong objectives, and we pay dearly for that.
I see the same attitude in trying to solve the origin of the soul riddle, too.
Still, it needs to be addressed since it’s not possible to stop people from taking interest in it. We just need a better approach. For example, any argument that even hints at Prabhupada’s mistakes is to be avoided at all costs. We just cannot afford listening to that.
In Lord Chaitanya’s time there was a very, very strict rule about listening to mayavada philosophy. We don’t get as much exposure to straight up mayavada now but listening to anyone trying to prove that our founder acharya was mistaken is just as dangerous and, perhaps, should serve as a litmus test for us just as mayavadic ideas were a litmus test five hundred years ago.
Second, we should avoid positioning any arguments and especially acharya’s quotes in this debate as pro and anti. We’d better try to find an explanation that accommodates both. We should avoid “this clearly proves that the other side is wrong” conclusions. There are no winners and losers in a debate with attitudes like this, only losers, nobody wins.
When these ground rules are laid the scope for the debate doesn’t really allow any debate at all, at least not with the views usually presented to us as the challenge. I’m afraid all we can debate safely is how both contradictory explanations can be reconciled.
Now that I have made it clear I’ve lost most of my interest in going our on the Internet and reading up on what exactly wrong with our view that we actually CAN come here from the spiritual world on a personal business.
I always assumed that this is the principle of our independence – we are free to choose, free to turn away from the Lord and try other options. I don’t know what will happen to all our philosophy if we take that option away from us. What will be left of our personalities? Do we even have personalities? Say we come from tatastha region, never been anywhere before, never engaged in any personal relationships, then we come down here, still no clue as to our real nature and for the vast majority of us no prospect of returning home in the foreseeable future.
Even the word “returning” would not be applicable. The name of this blog would make no sense, and neither would be the name of Prabhupada’s original magazine – Back to Godhead.
God knows how many implications that would bring. Can we forge any spiritual identity we want for our future life with Krishna? Is there any range of options in that regard? Any at all?
How do we know which rasa we should pay more attention to? Not pointing any fingers but it’s hard to avoid the choice presented to us in this regard.
And what about responsibility? If we have never been to the spiritual world we are here effectively against our own will. I mean if we had no knowledge or experience of both options, was it really a fair choice? Given how so many souls really, really suffer under the influence of their false ego it brings up the old Christian “how God can do this to the people” accusation. I thought we were past that from day one in Krishna Consciousness. Now it’s back on again?
What is that we disagree exactly with here in regards to our origins? Surely it can’t be basic things such as above. Do we disagree that we came from tatastha shakti? I don’t think we state otherwise, we belong to tatastha shakti after all. Is there some area where we were sitting for a while until we came down here? I don’t see why not. Perhaps we were put there on probation, to cool off and make a rational choice, and then we did. We can’t deny that some souls here look extremely happy, if only for short periods of time.
Perhaps there’s no shastric reference for this course of events but we don’t have much of shastric reference for any goings on in the spiritual world in general. We do have descriptions of gopis becoming proud of their position and Krishna disappearing on them. To me, this is a clear propensity to fault. Earlier I was saying we tend to overestimate ourselves and it could be said that we tend to do this in the material world only but here is the example of gopis thinking themselves to be the best women in the world, which they are, but it still cost them losing Krishna’s direct association.
Then there’s our qualitative similarity with Krishna, meaning we share at least some of His traits, even if to a minute degree. What if one of this traits is the desire to manipulate things? Desire to enjoy whatever little control that we have? It’s far better applied here than there. Here we can build entire universes as Brahmas, can’t do that in the spiritual world, can we?
This proposition – material world can offer something that can’t be realized in the spiritual world, is very interesting. I don’t think it can’t be proven wrong in every aspect.
We are here because we can’t do these things there, that’s enough proof already.
Anyway, this post is getting too long for one day. Maybe I will continue on this subject tomorrow, maybe not.
I really don’t want to get bogged down in “he said – she said” type of arguments but I need to read up on what proponents of infallibility say exactly. Let’s see how it goes, perhaps I’ll wash my hands off the whole idea.