The conversation between a “Mensa member” and Srila Prabhupada I mentioned yesterday is a nice case study in trying to preach to the “intelligent”.
First of all, on krishna.org site it’s introduced as “Conversation with Member of the Mensa Society” without giving any names, as if the devotees maitaining the site thought that being a Mensa member is enough to justify posting it online. On vanipedia, however, we can learn that it was actually Dr Weir who met with Prabhupada, and another, unidentified Mensa man. That doesn’t make it stand out so much.
I think that this difference in presentation made krishna.org version convey undue respect to the power of one’s intellect. It’s as if normally we are preaching to average (dumb) people and that’s why we don’t succeed, but if we talk to someone with high IQ then we have a chance of real indepth conversation and accepting Krishna consciousness would be so easy.
It wasn’t the case, even though Dr Weir and his friend were pretty favorable towards religion in general and Krishna consciousness in particular.
What actually happened is a demonstration that high IQ means having a lot of information, not so much knowledge, and almost zero realization.
Srila Prabhupada was simply presenting Krishna Consciousness as it is, as he had always done, and it was an unfamiliar territory of Dr Weir so he tried to steer it towards what he knew by comparing us with unitarians (a branch of Christianity). Srila Prabhupada didn’t know anything about unitarians so he repeated the usual story about the name of Christ being derived from Krishna.
And then it got weird.
Prabhupada was talking about our often used analogy of serving Krishna as watering roots vs watering leaves. Dr Weir jumped on it and said that we can pour water on tea leaves and make a nice beverage. Yeah, right, but that doesn’t help the tree, it’s a completely unrelated approach.
Then Prabhupada talked about asking your mother to determine who you father is. Dr Weir(d) jumped in again and said some mothers would not necessarily tell the truth.
Right, said Prabhupada, but generally we accept that mother has child’s best interests at heart so she doesn’t cheat. But what if she cheats, insisted Dr Weir(d). Well, if she cheats that’s your misfortune, but generally we accept that mother doesn’t cheat, just as a lawyer doesn’t cheat his client. If he does, it’s a misfortune, but it’s not the principle.
Dr Weir(d) couldn’t agree with it. He wanted an analogy that covers all possible scenarios or no analogies at all.
Then it went on about cheating for a while. Prabhupada said that if you deliver wrong information then you are a cheater whether you do it consciously or not. Honest mistakes do not count.
If you’ve ever been to an astrologer there’s usually a lot of stuff they tell you that they have only very vague ideas about and so you were being cheated. They might be sincere and everything but astrology is such a vast subject that most of what they say is less than educated guesses.
Prabhupada’s point is very simple – if you don’t know something to be correct [from infallible authorities] but present it as truth, you are a cheater.
You say “this is verily the truth” but you don’t know, you imagined it to be true only five minutes ago, that makes you a cheater.
Dr Weir couldn’t agree with it, and so on and on it went.
It was about accepting mother’s authority in finding out who the father was, if you remember. Very simple, but high IQ-ed Mensaits couldn’t comprehend or accept it.
Then there was a lengthy detour about Sun and planets that have one side in the light and one in the shade. For some reason Dr Weir(d) couldn’t agree with it. He somehow insisted that it’s all in the mind of an observer.
He just wanted to talk about subjectivity and some other unrelated concepts but if you are planet rotating around the Sun then no matter where the observer is, of even if nobody’s watching at all, you will always have one side turned towards the Sun and the other side in the dark. What’s there to argue about? Well, if you are Mensa member, you will always find a reason…
Then the conversation went all over the place, touching on this, touching on that, Prabhupada was often quiet for a long periods of time and his disciple Syamasundara tried to steer the discussion towards Krishna Consciousness talking points. He wasn’t very successful because minds of these two intellectuals were remarkably unsteady.
I can’t hold all the twists and turns in my memory, one thing I remember is how Syamasundara tried to illustrate that scientific progress serves the same base animal instincts – eating, sleeping, mating and defending. It didn’t quite work out as Dr Weir(d) brought in Freud with his fancy notion of inadequacy, as if it somehow changes the driving force being sense gratification.
Prabhupada and Syamasundara managed to corral the good doctor but he escaped by citing Jung and the necessity for spiritual side and then lamenting that in twentieth century people were losing interest in religion, which was basically confirming Prabhupada’s point without conceding defeat of science.
There was another point missed by Dr Weir towards the end – that silence means speaking only of Krishna. They have talked about activities of a spiritual person for a bit but when Syamasundara mentioned what real silence is, the doctor continued talking about people being addicted to background noise or sounds of a radio and being unable to just be silent. Syamasundara’s point about real silence just didn’t register and went unnoticed. High IQ or not, there are deficiencies everywhere.
Basically, what high IQ means is that your brain can process more information in shorter periods of time, but it doesn’t do it “better”, the same errors and same deficiencies will always be there. If you have a luxury of reading that conversation slowly you can see that the doctor’s mind was indeed very fast, but since you are not constrained by time and you can always dig up more information, his advantage disappears and all you can see is the debris.
Fast or slow, if mind is uncontrolled it can’t see the truth. If you don’t accept a higher authority, you won’t know the truth.
At one point Doctor Weir acknowledged the value of simplicity, that to be a spiritual person you don’t need to think fast and know a lot, and that powerful mind is a distraction in its own. Unfortunately, that realization didn’t stay with Dr Weir for very long – his hungry mind needed to chomp on something else and moved on.
We, the slow learners, should stay on that for a while longer. We don’t need to process a lot of info, we don’t need to read a lot of books in record times. We need to accept one or two simple principles and sincerely implement them in our lives.
There’s no need for us to think fast, and so there should be no particular deference shown to people with high IQ.