ISKCON Skopje, Macedonia
In the first half of the 1800's, Charles Dawin (1809-1882) conducted a scientific
investigation of the plants and animals on the Galapagos Islands off the coast
of South America. He noted that species that had migrated from the mainland
had physically changed over generations to better adapt to the special environment
of the islands. This observation formed the germ of his theory of evolution.
"Science consists in grouping facts so that general laws or conclusions may
be drawn from them," was Darwin's own account of his method. Yes, this is what
goes by the name science. The same definition was used by Henri Poincare (1854-1912);
but he gave it a little twist to show that it is unintelligent to surrender
one's faith to anything and everything that claims to be science.
Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.The point here is that it is possible to make anything out of a pile of facts. Scientists build theories out of facts, but such a theory may still not be science--going by the definition that science is supposed to trace out the cause from effects (the facts). If the facts are assembled to obscure rather than to reveal the cause, that assembly is not scientific. The facts may seem to demonstrate that creatures living in a new environment adapt to that environment over generations. But was it reasonable for Darwin to build his theory of evolution from such facts? When the atmosphere in British cities became sooty due to the smoke of the factories of the Industrial Revolution (which was taking place when Darwin was born), it was noted that white-winged moths developed a natural sooty coloring on their wings. Formerly when they alighted upon a pale surface like the side of a whitewashed house, their white color blended with the background. This was a protection against enemies. After the landscape became spotty with the soot from factory chimneys, the moths' coloring gradually changed so that they fit into the new look of things. When some of these sooty-colored moths were removed from the sooty environment, after some generations their coloring reverted to white again. Fine, but this is not a demonstration of an evolutionary process that gradually reconfigures these moths as a higher form of life. We cannot reasonably conclude from the fact that these moths seemed to adapt in a limited manner to a new environment, that it is logical to suppose that if we keep a tribe of monkeys in a king's palace and let them breed for a thousand years there, that they will produce a king fit to sit on the throne. In the Vrndavana area one observes many old royal palaces that have been homes to monkeys for many generations. But these monkeys remain as ignorant and mischievious as the monkeys that live in the trees. What is a good Vaisnava explanation for the morphology of adaptation? Krsna is the intelligence behind material design. Krsna helps his parts and parcels fulfill their material desires. He adjusts the design of their physical embodiment so that they can better cope with a new environment. He is so amazing in all that He does!
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There is a big window in this room that opens to a nice balcony. The balcony looks out upon a mountain covered by forest. On top of the mountain is a huge cross that is lit up at night. For the so-called orthodox Christian the cross is the symbol of Christ's self-sacrifice for our sake: "He died that we may live. " Srila Prabhupada did not like this at all. Once when he once visited a Christian institution, he was given a room to stay in. After he had been in the room for a short while he called for his servant and ordered him to removed a crucifix hanging on the wall. He remarked how offensive it was, a "deity" that glorified the cruel murder of the spiritual master. Often Srila Prabhupada criticized the Christians for their doctrine of "salvation by the blood of Jesus. " They think that because Jesus died for us we don't have to do anything except believe in him. In fact many Christians argue that to make a serious attempt to be good is an offense against Christ's mercy. One should live a "normal" (means: sinful) life and just have faith in Jesus. Wear the cross around your neck and everything will be all right, no matter what you do. Not long ago I read somewhere that many of the women who perform in dirty movies insist to their directors that they be allowed to wear just one thing during the filming: a crucifix!
Not everyone saying unto me 'Lord! Lord!' will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father Who is in heaven. [Matthew 7:21]The Gnostic Christians taught that Jesus came to teach gnosis (the Greek word for jnana, transcendental knowledge). The Gnostics are not considered "bona fide" by so-called orthodox Christians. In fact a Gnostic sect called the Cathars was a great embarrassment for the Christian heirarchy of Europe because the Cathar perfecti (priests) were more respected by the people for their pure lifestyle. The celibacy of the Catholic priests was laughable when compared to that of the perfecti. The perfecti were moreover strict vegetarians and teetotalers. They taught that the soul is a spiritual spark that reincarnated until it achieved gnosis; then it entered the spiritual world. Gnostics did not accept that Christ was really crucified. Nor did they accept that a Christian would be delivered from the material world for only "believing" in Jesus while continuing a life of sense gratification. For the Gnostics the cross was a symbol of the path of liberation. The vertical beam of the cross was the way up from matter to spirit, and the horizontal beam was the border between the material and spiritual worlds.
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Thinking of Christians brought to my mind the moralists. Christians serve as a good example of mundane religionists; mundane religionists are moralists. Why is moralism something different from Vaisnavism?
But big moralist, they cannot understand. They'll see, "Why the father has spoken lie to his son. He's not a good father. " They'll mistake. Father is always friend. Father cannot be enemy. But for the benefit of the rascal child sometimes he has to say like that. That "If you take the medicine I'll give you cake. " So those who are mundane moralist, they cannot understand this thing, because they are mundane platform. The another example is that Yudhisthira Maharaja. He was asked by Krsna that "You speak lie to Dronacarya that 'Your son is dead. '" Yudhisthira Maharaja refused. For this he had to see hell. He was more moralist than Krsna. For this moral activity he had to visit hell.Often people who profess moralism, who harshly criticize devotees for moral "lapses" like telling lies while distributing books, are themselves complete hypocrits. But there are moralists who are sincere about being good. Where is their fault? It is found in their taking comfort in material existence. That is why they remain mundane, despite their honesty. What does it mean to take comfort in material existence? It means they take comfort in associating with the opposite sex. Oh, it may all be nice and legal, only with wife or husband. But. . .
It is therefore said in the sastras, yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham: materialism is based on sex, whether licit or illicit. [Bhag. 5. 14. 22p]The moralist feels secure at home in the presence of his bodily attachments in the form of wife and children. His moral vision emanates from his warm nest. He thinks "goodness" ultimately translates into nice family life. Religion and God are appendages of family happiness. The moralist/mundane religionist gets inspired by family sentiment to do good deeds and religious activities. The adorable innocent children, oh, they need to go to church or temple to stay so sweet and lovable. And wifey looks so pretty when her head is bowed in prayer. That input of sattva-guna just makes everything at home so much more tender and cuddly and emotional! This is maya. "What! How can you say that! This is. . . this is religious human life! This is. . . this is dharma! We're honest grhastas! We don't make a false show of renunciation just to collect money! We live by the sweat of our brow and we fulfill all our responsibilities. We're not enjoyers! We do our duty and keep God at the center as we do it!" It is the gross bodily conception that you keep at the center. That is the inspiration for your duty, piety and morality. Your goodness is rooted in warm, moist, pulsating flesh, blood, fat, and stool. "Now that's enough! I've never heard anything so hurtful in all my life! You guys, you induce people with the false hope that they can just throw off the burden of their responsibilities and walk away. You take their money and possessions and you promise them that the Lord will pay them back with spiritual strength so that they can be renounced for the rest of their lives. But sooner or later they wake up out of that dream you put them in. They realize that renunciation is acheived only after a full life of pious grhasta life. This is Bhagavata philosophy, for crying out loud. Look! Look at this verse:"
nettham pumsam viragah syat
tvaya kevalina mrsa
manyase yady upasamam
If you think that simply awakening the sense of renunciation will detach one from the material world, I must say that unless full knowledge is awakened, simply changing dresses as you have done cannot possibly bring detachment.
nanubhuya na janati
nirvidyate svayam tasman
na tatha bhinna-dhih paraih
Material enjoyment is indeed the cause of all unhappiness, but one cannot give it up unless one has personally experienced how much suffering it is. Therefore one should be allowed to remain in so-called material enjoyment while simultaneously advancing in knowledge to experience the misery of this false material happiness. Then, without help from others, one will find material enjoyment detestful. Those whose minds are changed by others do not become as renounced as those who have personal experience. [Bhag. 6. 5. 40, 41]"See? See? This is the Srimad-Bhagavatam speaking!" Actually that is Prajapati Daksa speaking in the pages of Srimad Bhagavatam. Unfortunately he is not speaking Bhagavata philosophy here; he is criticizing the great sage-devotee Narada Muni. He is arguing that Narada Muni's giving sannyasa to his sons will not help them advance. In fact, Narada's preaching is the real Bhagavata point of view. The exchange I wrote above, between the moralist and the devotee, is exaggerated for dramatic effect; but in fact I did have this conversation (in a more basic way) with a grhasta Godbrother in 1977 in Geneva. He actually picked up the Sixth Canto and read aloud Prajapati Daksa's words to me. He seriously thought that these two verses represent the philosophy taught by Sukadeva Gosvami to Maharaja Pariksit.
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Now, the Internet address I'm giving you next is something of a joke. But it suggests an idea that, if executed seriously, could be of great use to devotees. When will some Vaisnava computer graphics whiz create a Deity worship program so that devotees may do a full puja on their computers? The software could be written for a range of Deities: Radha-Krsna, Gaura-Nitai, Jagannatha-Subhadra-Baladeva, Laksmi-Nrsimha, like that. Bathing, dressing, naivedya offering, arati, could be done by clicking and dragging, like in this little demo program (it is really too simple, and also too stupid): www.snapjax.com/buddha.htm