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Timisoara, Romania
5 August 2004

Mail Call!

A sannyasi Godbrother responded to 2 recent In2-MeC articles, one on atoms and another on scholars as snakes.

I just read in full those 2 articles you directed me to. 1st class.

Another point for the great sage [who wrote for the ISKCON MacNewsletter]: whatever definitions scientists may give for 'atom' probably don't apply to Vyasadeva's paramanu.

The original meaning of paramanu and atom was the same ('the smallest particle'), but what came to be called atom in western science was soon found not to be the smallest.

I replied thus:

Regarding the atom vs paramanu: quantum physics doesn't support any pictograph of atomic and subatomic particles. All those images of electrons spinning around an atomic nucleus like moons around a planet are rendered invalid by quantum "fuzziness. " An atom is a state of energy. Subatomic particles are likewise states of energy; they are only described as particles for convenience's sake. Given all that, I didn't take up the issue of the atom and its parts vs the indivisible paramanu because it seems doubtful to me that the concept of "parts" of an atom can be taken very far. If it doesn't have a definite form, it can't have definite parts.

In the latest series [Dr. Don Key's seminar on Scientific Certainty], I write about the senses, their nerve pathways to the brain, and the brain's interpretation of sense data. It's interesting that neuroscience admits that at every synapse (junction between nerve endings) on the way to the brain--which means nerve cell by nerve cell--the "message" carried from the senses is reorganized so that by the time it reaches the brain it does not resemble what the senses inputted. Here too the point of "the world as we know it is just appearance" raises its head. What a scientist "sees" is really just the imagery in his own brain.

So philosophically speaking, the modern atom is just an intellectual image resulting from scientific speculation upon experimental data. But in a more objective way, the perceptions that go into supplying the data from which that intellectual image of the atom is drawn are also just appearance--what appears in the brain after a long journey of alteration and interpretation by the nervous system. And then even before that, there's the question of the limited and imperfect sense organs to begin with.

The paramanu revealed in the Bhagavatam is objective. The atom is subjective. This is my conclusion. I am very inclined to argue that our "modern" universe looks so different from the Vedic universe because we have Kali Yuga bodies which are congenitally defective when compared to the human bodies of earlier ages. Compared to Satya, Treta, and Dvarapara Yuga persons, we are like a race of thalidomide babies, born with major deformations in our senses, mind and intellect.

And thus those who try to argue pratyaksa over sabda (even within ISKCON) are like armless, legless, eyeless freaks of nature raving incoherently from slackened, drooling mouths.

That's why we have to hear from Srila Vyasadeva.

My sannyasi Godbrother answered:

Thank you for your further thoughts. It's great, esp the conclusion. Presumably you'll publish it on your blog.

> And thus those who try to argue pratyaksa over sabda (even
> within ISKCON) are like armless, legless, eyeless freaks of
> nature raving incoherently from slackened, drooling mouths.
> That's why we have to hear from Srila Vyasadeva.

This should be posted in every room in every ISKCON temple.

A few years ago I was speaking with an Indian born neurosurgeon based in London. He told me that scientists don't actually know how the brain works. The generally accepted theory is of transference of impulses between neurons, but it's never been demonstrated.

And that man cuts open heads for a living. . .

A letter from a reader about Dr. Don Key's most recent seminar:

Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Last week I started to write a letter to you praising your journal as a whole, but complaining about Dr. Don Key's presentation. As I was writing, a light went on in my head as I thought about what an ass this Don Key seems like, giving so much importance to sense inputs. Now, after reading the third part of this presentation, it's more obvious. Of what use is sense data in determining reality when the sense objects can't even be verified to be real themselves? That question was a big push in my philosophical inquiries about nine years ago. If Don Key hasn't considered this paradox, then he's more of an ass than I thought.

p. s. Thank you for sharing this journal. It's awesome

Our reply:

Hare Krsna! Thank you for your comments. I am glad you saw the real light of Dr. Don Key's seminar on sense perception. The paradox you observe is precisely the point of it. Much of the debate between different viewpoints (liberal versus conservative and so on) that devotees conduct on different websites is shipwrecked on the reef of this paradox. Personally, I hardly ever am interested to reply to the so-called "issues" that are raised in these debates. My standpoint is: you have to know what is real first before you go arguing that someone else is wrong in the way they see things.

This question came in from a Bhaktin the other day:

Now and then happiness seems to be just another emotion that comes and goes as all mood changes do. Evidently though, during the kirtan and puja and lectures in the lokal Nama Hatta, I am aware of being happy in a more genuine (lasting?) way. Could Your Holiness comment on this? all glories to the vaisnava's.


Hare Krsna! Your query is answered by Lord Krsna Himself (Bg 10. 9):

mac-citta mad-gata-prana
bodhayantah parasparam
kathayantas ca mam nityam
tusyanti ca ramanti ca

The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.

Here Krsna uses the word ramanti for happiness. He is speaking of transcendental happiness, which He equates with satisfaction (tustanti). When He speaks of material happiness in the Gita, He uses the word sukha which is a dualism of duhkha (suffering). Sukha is inseperable from duhkha. They are two sides of the same coin of material consciousness. Therefore we cannot remain materially happy for very long. Because it is material, sukha degrades into dissatisfaction. But spiritual happiness is different. It is both a state of pleasure and satisfaction, a combination that never happens in material consciousness. How we may attain this transcendental happiness is clearly explained by the Lord in the above verse: 1) always think of Krsna, 2) devote your life to Him, 3) associate with devotees, 4) and in that association hear about and discuss Sri Krsna.

This letter came to In2-MeC from a lady reader addressed to Dr. Don Key's wife, Mollar.

Dear Molly,

As a fellow long-suffering wife, I appeal to you to stop the good Doctor from giving any further seminars for the time being.

My poor husband Tony hasnt been the same since Dr Don started his lectures series. Although never the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, at least he didnt use to glow in the dark.

Now everything is Don this and Don that. Apparently Im not real any more and theres no proof that I exist!

Mrs. Mollar Key answered this lady privately. We at In2-MeC do not have a copy of her answer. We think, though, that Molly must have cited her favorite saying: "In heaven everything is fine, you've got your good thing, I've got mine. "

Well, I said How dyou think your dinner gets on the table every night?

Thats not real either he says.

But because he wants to pretend to eat it, I have to cook anyway. Whatever next?

I gather the Doctor is well-known to that nice Mr. Swami, so perhaps you know him also. Please ask him to resume writing as he has such a beneficial effect on my poor Tony.

I hope your frog is well. It must be exciting for him to be out of his well.

My regards to the Doctor, and I hope he doesnt take this the wrong way.

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