Yesterday’s last point that we are simply not destined to see the true form of the universe is actually pretty important. We might agree with it theoretically, on principle, but that doesn’t stop us from trying again and again.
Some devotees are not interested in these debates, of course, but indifference should not be confused with enlightenment. It’s lethargic and animal like, that’s all. Pets around the house also don’t participate in intellectual dinner talks, and neither are women, for that matter. I mean traditionally it’s the gentlemen who retire with expensive drinks and cigars and indulge in highbrow talks on abstruse topics.
Discussing the true shape of the universe is our equivalent of that. One might say it’s demeaning to women but I’d argue it’s equally critical of men, too. It doesn’t lead to enlightenment, it’s narcissistic self-absorption and mutual adulation, that’s all. The fact that people are arguing doesn’t matter, these “gentlemen” usually had different opinions, too. High intelligence of your opponent speaks of the quality of your own intelligence, too. I think that’s how the phrase “insulting to one’s intelligence” came about – we all like enemies worth debating, we want our intelligence to be stimulated by the fight.
I don’t want to offend devotees discussing the Flat Earth issue but some of their arguments have become just like that – insulting to one’s intelligence. This assessment puts me together with the same “gentlemen” I was just criticizing here, no one above that, otherwise we would be able to see the Mount Meru with our own eyes. I realize that I shouldn’t be critical but that’s how mind and intelligence work in the material world, and that brings me back to the initial point – we are not destined for greatness in Kali yuga, no matter what we try.
We can’t free ourselves from offensive attitude and that prevents us from developing love of Godhead. This much we know and agree on, but the same principle applies to attaining all other forms of knowledge, too. We can’t see the universe for what it is because of our material impurities and our diminished intelligence. By intelligence here I don’t mean the intellect but the ability to control one’s mind. We just don’t have it in Kali yuga. The material element of intelligence becomes affected by the lower guṇas and as a result it does not perform up to its potential.
The śāstric statement that intelligence is born our of false ego covered by the mode of passion confuses things even further, but, regardless, unless intelligence acts and the mode of goodness it will not produce knowledge. Under the influence of passion it will produce initial illusion of attaining the desired result but in the end it’s destined to fail, and under the influence of ignorance there’s no hope whatsoever.
Modern science is driven by passion, it gives us hopes and fuels our aspirations but sooner or later it realizes that it was on the wrong path and needs to correct its course with new and better theories. Somehow wannabe philosophers of science think it’s a feature and not a bug but we should know better. Science is good at making promises and that’s what it lives for – for the initial adrenaline rush of a discovery. When it eventually fails they justify themselves by pointing out at various inventions that came out as practical applications of their theories. Quantum mechanics gave us brain scans and lasers, for example, and modern medicine without this technology wouldn’t be modern. It totally justifies our theoretical research and once we get to play with lasers the fact that quantum theory is still not reconciled with relativity stops to matter.
That’s what we, the common folk, need the science for – for the amusing and occasionally useful gadgets. These days people can’t imagine life without mobile phones, they consider them not only useful but essential to their well-being, but it’s only a matter of perspective. CAT scans and other medical advances could be considered absolutely useful but, just like with everything in the mode of passion, they only create initial promises of healthy and trouble free life.
With better diagnostics come better drugs, with better drugs come inevitable side effects that need to be treated by other drugs, and at the end of the day we have the US spending more money on drugs than other countries spend on food or military. It’s not progress, it’s an expensive addiction. That is the inevitable result of acting under the mode of passion – results never commensurate with investments.
The sad truth about addiction is that it overpowers remains of our intelligence. Sometimes we can’t even admit that we are addicted. It’s not only about alcoholics either – some people can’t admit they are addicted to their phones, some can’t admit being addicted to internet games, addictions take many forms and often are very hard to spot for the person affected. Even when we realize we are doing something wrong the mind and senses are too strong to resist and we try the same thing over and over again and regret our decisions every time.
That’s why we can’t let go of our attempts to understand the world. We might concede our inability to comprehend the spiritual realm but we assume everything inside the universe as fair game. We want to know everything here and we do not accept our limitations. If not us then our followers will pick up the fight and discover new phenomena or better explain the existing ones.
When it comes to śāstra we retain the same attitude – the books are there to be studied and they would provide us with better knowledge. In some aspects they would intersect with modern science and then we hope to defeat the scientists with our superior and infallible sources. That’s what we hope to achieve with Vedic Planetarium anyway.
Śrīla Prabhupāda had no illusions on this matter – TOVP was meant to impress the common folk and give them the alternative to science. He also wanted to defeat Darwinism for that reason. What effect it was supposed to have on devotees, however, was never clear. Why are we arguing about this as if it would change anything in our service? For us the main part of TOVP is the deities, not planets suspended above them.
What drives us here is the same motivation as the one that drives materialistic scientists. We can hear that the universe is inconceivable even for the demigods but it doesn’t stop us. We can hear that in Kali yuga its true form will be hidden but it doesn’t stop us. All this knowledge was meant to achieve is impressing outsiders but right now preaching is the last thing on our minds. And for what little achievement do we accuse each other of disloyalty to Śrīla Prabhupāda? It sounds foolish, doesn’t it?