Vanity thought #218. More debates.

Not long ago I complained I don’t get enough meaningful input during the day to reflect upon in this blog. Today I have too much and I wish someone would turn it off.

Most of the day I spent thinking about things instead of chanting but there were long periods when I prayed for the Holy Name to replace all the ideas rushing through my mind. Why doesn’t the Holy Name become meaningful for me? Why doesn’t it occupy my mind and attract all my senses? More on the senses to follow.

For the past three days I was following a religious debate on the pages of my local newspaper, today it came to an end, I hope. There was no resolution, just one of the parties decided that no debate is worth fighting about. When the arguments degrade to the level of name calling and personal offenses there’s no point trying to prove anything anymore.

Both sides belong to the defenders of religion group and so in the eyes of the neutral public misbehavior by one party cast a shadow on both and on religion in general as well. It is better stop it until it turned really ugly.

So I got a little breather in this regard but picked up two other issues almost simultaneously.

The first was about Prabhupada and astronomy, the Sun, the Moon, the stars, the universe, the good old Moon landing, and the authority of Prabhupada and his infallibility as a jagat-guru, the spiritual master of the whole universe.

Everyone can understand and sympathize with people who can’t get their heads around Prabhupada’s insistence that NASA didn’t go to the Moon, it makes us look ridiculous in the eyes of the world. We can’t tell people with a straight face that the Sun is closer to the Earth than the Moon, too. Or how about “each universe has only one Sun” statements?

In fact the entire Srimad Bhagavatam cosmography is a source of endless confusion and embarrassment. Lots of devotees just avoid the subject to save themselves from troubles. The fact that our ISKCON scientists are still unable to reconcile two models of the universe doesn’t help either. The fact that their explanations, however cheerful, do not make any sense only adds to the problem.

They do not make any sense in a sense that they can’t easily show how the universe looks like anything that is described in Bhagavatam. Most people expect an easy solution – a hanging model, perhaps, you stand in one place and the universe looks like what we’ve been taught at school, you stand in another place and the universe has one Sun that is closer to the Earth than the Moon and there’s Mount Sumeru and all that.

I don’t know what they are going to put in the Temple of Vedic Planetarium, they still have time to work it out. That temple is going to be so massive, so much bigger than the current temple housing Sri Sri Radha Madhava, and it’s main purpose is to prove that Bhagavatam cosmology is not mythology. It would be a major disappointment if it fails in that task.

On the other hand, if it pulls it off, we are all good and clear to rule the world.

In the meantime I’m going to stick “the world is not what it seems” excuse for a little longer. It can’t be completely wrong – the world IS an illusion, at least in the sense that it appears to be godless and disconnected from Krishna.

This is how my argument goes – the world is designed to mislead us in so many ways that we can’t really talk about it being objective. Nothing here is what it seems, we might be lulled in the false sense of security one moment only to face death the next. We might look at the same thing and have totally different impressions about it. Just talk to football supporters of opposing teams about penalties, yellow cards and offsides – they will never agree on what has happened on the field, even with multiple replays in slow motion they would still insist on diametrically opposite interpretations.

Another phenomenon, discovered a hundred years ago but not kept on the down low in popular science discussion, is that in this world the mere act of observing the object changes its condition. It was one of the very first findings in quantum mechanics – it is impossible to find precise condition of the system, the more you measure it the more it changes. You can’t find the position of an electron without sending it in another direction. You can’t capture it, weigh its mass, and send it on its former way, it will become lighter just due to the fact that you tried to weigh it. That’s the principle, it might become heavier instead, who cares.

In that regard there was an unfinished joke in the latest Louie episode. He knew the gist of the joke already but didn’t know how to present it properly. It goes something like this – jungle animals are talking about humans, they all kind of agree that humans have two legs and two arms but no one could agree with the lion who insisted that humans have faces permanently fixed in horror, and they are always shitting their pants.

This is another example how the mere fact of observation has a profound effect on the object to the point that other observers do not recognize it anymore.

This is what could be happening with our universe, too. Bhagavatam describes the universe how people like Narada Muni see and experience it, we describe it how we see it in our telescopes. Needless to say that Narada Muni has a completely different body, travels according to completely different principles, and he doesn’t make stuff up.

We, on the other hand, use tools that are merely extension of our imperfect senses. We figured out ultrasound and infrared but it’s still only about adjusting the dials on the duplicate of our imperfect hearing and sight. We have no idea if the sense could work under completely different principles and perceive objects in a completely different way.

Thus, when Narada Muni sees Chandra, the Lord of the Moon, he can come to his house, have sumptuous dinner, have a big singing and dancing party and we would be seeing only dead rocks and dust. Perhaps all the partying and wine and cheese tasting is happening in other dimensions, just like a flat, two dimensional coaster on the table has no clue to the contents of the glass standing on it. As a perfect two-dimensional object it wouldn’t even know the concepts of “on top” and “inside”.

So, scientists see what they see, they are not wrong, the Moon simply shows itself to them as it should appear to imperfect scientists, but we acquire our knowledge from people who see so much more in so many ways and we don’t have reasons to mistrust our sources, and I leave it at that. I leave it to our scientist to figure out the exact explanations, dimensions or any other reasons.

As far as Prabhupada is concerned – he didn’t invent anything, he only repeated what is in the shastras. We can’t say he was wrong on this or that subject – he wasn’t, we should direct our accusations to the shastras instead. Even if the Moon landing wasn’t denounced in Srimad Bhagavatam Prabupada judged it by the criteria given there, it wasn’t his decision to make. Bhagavatam says there are demigods on the Moon and so astronauts must have been somewhere else. At least they weren’t on the Moon from our books, they might have been on the Moon of their own visions.

The third problem would have to wait, it’s getting late already, I hope it won’t be eclipsed by yet more stuff cramming into my head tomorrow.

I’m going to go to bed thinking about how Prabhupada had absolutely no concern for the teachings of modern science. I have my doubts now and then but he didn’t have any, he had full and absolute faith in shastras and Krishna.

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