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Radhadesh, Belgium
7 June 2004

A Vaisnava is. . .

krpalu, akrta-droha, satya-sara, sama
nidosa, vadanya, mrdu, suci, akincana
sarvopakaraka, santa, krsnaika-sarana
akama, aniha, sthira, vijita-sad-guna
mita-bhuk, apramatta, manada, amani
gambhira, karuna, maitra, kavi, daksa, mauni

Devotees are always merciful, humble, truthful, equal to all, faultless,
magnanimous, mild and clean. They are without material possessions, and
they perform welfare work for everyone. They are peaceful, surrendered to
Krsna and desireless. They are indifferent to material acquisitions and
are fixed in devotional service. They completely control the six bad
qualities--lust, anger, greed and so forth. They eat only as much as
required, and they are not inebriated. They are respectful, grave,
compassionate and without false prestige. They are friendly, poetic,
expert and silent.

--CC. Madhya 22. 78-80


"It is said by Vaisnava authorities that even the most intelligent person cannot understand the plans and activities of a pure devotee. "

--Purport to Bhagavad-gita, 9. 28


"I was sitting alone in Vrndavana, writing. My Godbrother insisted to me, Bhaktivedanta Prabhu, you must do it. Without accepting the renounced order of life, nobody can become a preacher. ' So he insisted. Not he insisted: practically my spiritual master insisted through him. He wanted me to become a preacher; so he forced me through this Godbrother; You accept. ' So, unwillingly I accepted. '

--Lecture on Disappearance Day of Kesava Maharaja, October 21, 1968

A friend

"Convey my ardent affection and blessings for all the boys and girls. I am very much hopeful of my movement. Please keep steady, follow all my instructions scrupulously, chant Hare Krsna and Krsna will give you all strength. "

--Letter of July 24, 1967

A poet

"And then, in 1936 . . . during this Vyasa-puja day, whatever I studied about our relationship with my guru maharaja, I expressed in this poetry, and since that day my Godbrothers used to call me poet'. And Guru Maharaja also very much appreciated this poetry . . . So anyway, this poetry is Adore, adore ye all this happy day, Blessed than heaven, sweeter than May. ' So I heard that the month of May is very pleasing in the Western countries, so I compared the happiness of this day with May Day . . . 'When he appeared at Puri, the holy place, my lord and master, His Divine Grace. '"

--Lecture on the Disappearance day of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Hyderabad, December 10, 1976


Srila Prabhupada: "A devotee is expert. This means that he is willing to do anything. He does not say because he is a brahmana he cannot do a menial task. "

--From Vaisnava Behavior and The Twenty-six Qualities of a Devotee By Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, page 197


What is metalogic?

In ISKCON, devotees engage in metalogic every day, although if they are asked to define metalogic, most will not know what to say.

When we attend Bhagavatam class in the morning or Gita class in the evening, what we hear is an explanation of the meaning (logic) of a Sanskrit verse. That explanation, however, is not in Sanskrit. If a resolution would be passed that all Bhagavatam and Gita classes must be held in Sanskrit language only, very, very few ISKCON devotees would be able to understand what was taught in those classes.

In the original language of the BBT editions of these books, Srila Prabhupada's explanation (his Bhaktivedanta Purports) of the Sanskrit is in English. Thus English is the language that tells us what the Sanskrit is saying. A language that explains another language is called a metalanguage. And the meaning, the philosophy, the logic, that we learn from that explanation is the metalogic.

Metalanguage is language about language. Metalogic is logic about logic.

Here's an example from arithmetic. "Two plus two equals four" is arithmetic; "two plus two equals five" is meta-arithmetic. How is that? In arithmetic, two plus two does not equal five. Thus that statement cannot be called arithmetic. But the same statement can be used to teach us about arithmetic: why this statement cannot exist in arithmetic. Hence two plus two equals five is meta-arithmetic.

Here's something interesting from the Internet about Sanskrit:

Words in Sanskrit are instances of pre-defined classes, a concept that drives object oriented programming [OOP] today. For example, in English 'cow' is a just a sound assigned to mean a particular animal. But if you drill down the word 'gau'--Sanskrit for 'cow'--you will arrive at a broad class 'gam' which means 'to move. From these derive 'gamanam', 'gatih' etc which are variations of 'movement'. All words have this OOP approach, except that defined classes in Sanskrit are so exhaustive that they cover the material and abstract --indeed cosmic--experiences known to man. So in Sanskrit the connection is more than etymological.

It was Panini who formalised Sanskrit's grammer and usage about 2500 years ago. No new 'classes' have needed to be added to it since then. "Panini should be thought of as the forerunner of the modern formal language theory used to specify computer languages," say J J O'Connor and E F Robertson. Their article also quotes: "Sanskrit's potential for scientific use was greatly enhanced as a result of the thorough systemisation of its grammar by Panini. . . . On the basis of just under 4000 sutras [rules expressed as aphorisms ], he built virtually the whole structure of the Sanskrit language, whose general 'shape' hardly changed for the next two thousand years. "

And so computer programmers today are seriously considering Sanskrit as the language of choice for programming. Getting back to the point of metalanguage and metalogic, this appreciation of the precise logic of Sanskrit has come about from outside the language itself. Computer programmers were not using Sanskrit to begin with. Their need for a high-precision language brought them, through discourse in other languages (natural languages like English and artificial "machine languages"), to Sanskrit's door.

Now that we have an idea what metalanguage and metalogic are, I want to plunge into the depths of "logical incompleteness. "

There are different systems of logic. A particular system will function on the basis of a particular body of axioms. In In2-MeC of 17 May, I explained what an axiom is. Euclidean geometry is a system of logic based on axioms that apply to 2-dimensional space. They do not work in terms of curved space.

The logic of Euclidean geometry is "complete. " That means that all truths that this geometry has in its power to tell us are derived from its axioms. To get a handle on why the word "complete" is used, think of a board game like checkers which is played according to a few simple rules. If we were to interrupt a checkers game halfway through the play, we would find the positions of the pieces--i. e. where on the board the black pieces are vis-a-vis where the red ones are--to be explainable from the rules. Hence the logic of checkers is complete. If the logic were incomplete, we would be unable to trace the mid-play configuration of pieces on the board back to the starting layout by deducing from the rules. We'd take a hard look at the pieces, we'd study the rulebook, then scratch our heads and muse, "I'm missing something here. "

An example of a logically "incomplete" board game is Go, the most popular game in Japan. Go's rules are so simple a child can learn them easily. Yet the permutations of play are so complex that it is said no two Go games are ever the same.

In 1931 Kurt Gdel demonstrated his incompleteness theorem, which rocked the world of Western logic and mathematics. That world hasn't recovered to this day; it would be good if devotees could understand why. What Gdel proved is quite simple, really, though it is hard to explain in a way that is easy to follow. At the heart of his theorem is the unarguable assertion that no axiom can be proved inside its own system of logic. Axioms are "givens. " They are not supposed to be proved; they are supposed to be used to prove other things. In the In2-MeC entry of 17 May I told about the Euclidean axiom, that the sum of the angles of any triangle (as long as it is a 2-D triangle) is 180 degrees of arc, or exactly half a circle. Within the rules of Euclidean geometry, this cannot be proved.

Gdel's theorem starts with that assertion--that an axiom can't be proved within the system of logic that the axiom is part of--and comes to a devastating conclusion about all systems of logic that are complex enough to include arithmetic. I'll quote a mathematician named Rudy Rucker, who's rendered Gdel's theorem into the least-puzzling explanation that I've yet seen.

The proof of Gdel's Incompleteness Theorem is so simple, and so sneaky, that it is almost embarrassing to relate. His basic procedure is as follows:

Someone introduces Gdel to a UTM, a machine that is supposed to be a Universal Truth Machine, capable of correctly answering any question at all.

Gdel asks for the program and the circuit design of the UTM. The program may be complicated, but it can only be finitely long. Call the program P(UTM) for Program of the Universal Truth Machine.

Smiling a little, Gdel writes out the following sentence: "The machine constructed on the basis of the program P(UTM) will never say that this sentence is true. " Call this sentence G for Gdel. Note that G is equivalent to: "UTM will never say G is true. "

Now Gdel laughs his high laugh and asks UTM whether G is true or not.

If UTM says G is true, then "UTM will never say G is true" is false. If "UTM will never say G is true" is false, then G is false (since G = "UTM will never say G is true"). So if UTM says G is true, then G is in fact false, and UTM has made a false statement. So UTM will never say that G is true, since UTM makes only true statements.

We have established that UTM will never say G is true. So "UTM will never say G is true" is in fact a true statement. So G is true (since G = "UTM will never say G is true"). "I know a truth that UTM can never utter," Gdel says. "I know that G is true. UTM is not truly universal. "

Think about it--it grows on you . . .

With his great mathematical and logical genius, Gdel was able to find a way (for any given P(UTM)) actually to write down a complicated polynomial equation that has a solution if and only if G is true. So G is not at all some vague or non-mathematical sentence. G is a specific mathematical problem that we know the answer to, even though UTM does not! So UTM does not, and cannot, embody a best and final theory of mathematics . . .

What Gdel showed, in essence, is that following Truth means to be led outside the logical box within which our discussion of Truth began. Truth leads us from logic to metalogic to meta-metalogic. . . Ultimately Truth is transcendental. A conscious person with awakened intelligence can appreciate that Truth is different from all logical systems that sooner or later end up chasing their own tails.

The philosophy of Krsna consciousness acknowledges the same. Hence there are two levels of bhakti: vaidhi, which is "logic-based" in that it refers to logos, the scriptural "word" (Greek logos--from which we get the word logic--means "word"); and raga. which is consciousness-based in that it refers to the spontaneous attraction of the devotee to Sri Krsna, the object of His devotee's ecstatic love.

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