Friday, December 28, 2012

Neither poetry nor imagination (Srila Sridhar Maharaj)

Excerpt from Subjective Evolution of Consciousness 
— The Play of the Sweet Absolute 

Questions & Answers with Srila Sridhar Maharaj

Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
We should understand that we are living in the plane of misconception. The whole thing is false. It is all a part of illusion. Within the world of illusion, some thing may have its place, but when we deal with the real truth, however, we will conclude that everything here is like a dream. This whole world is like a dream, a misconception. Any part of this world will therefore also be misconception. What is real, what is truth, will become apparent when a thing is judged in connection with the real world. The association of saints who have a genuine connection with spiritual reality promotes this transaction.

What is real and what is unreal? Whatever has a connection with the real self, with the soul, is real. Soul is consciousness in the world of pure consciousness. Whatever is connected with the mind in the mental world of false ego, is all false. A part of the false is also false, extremely false. But it has got its negative utility.

Everything is true only by having connection with the Absolute Truth. Everything is there in the absolute. So the finite cannot produce anything which is not in the infinite. The finite world, therefore, is rather a shadow or a perverted reflection of the whole truth. The foundation of my argument is as follows: Caitanya Mahaprabhu explained that while Sankaracarya has denied the existence of this perverted reflection, we cannot dismiss it. If it does not exist, then why has Sankara come to preach Vedanta? Illusion means "this is not that." One thing may appear to be some thing else. An illusion is not what it appears to be, but it is not nonexistent. In that way it is real. It has its existence.

Within the real world which is created by the help of the Lord's internal energy, svarupa-sakti, this world of misconception has no place. But in a relative way, the conditioned world has an indirect relationship with the unconditioned world. So maya is existing. In that sense it is true. But it is false in that it cannot give you the desired result you are searching after. In that sense it is all false.

Dr. Marchetti:
Vaisnavism says that this material nature is real as a reflection. But it is not real as the absolute reality of the spiritual world. Could you explain?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
Reality is composed of unreal substance and real substance. We may see it like that. This is the world of misconception. Misconception means "I think something is mine, but really it is not mine." Everything belongs to the Absolute. Everything belongs to Him. But we say "it is mine," and we quarrel with each other. Actually, everything within this world is the property of another. But as a result of misconception, we fight with each other and so many reactions result from that fight. The difficulty is that the soul is entangled in this mock fight. Otherwise this world of fighting and misconception has no value. But the dust of spirit, a very infinitesimal part of the spiritual reality, is entangled in this world and concerned with this world of mock fighting. Without the spiritual energy within this world, nothing would remain. A magician's sleight of hand is all based on misconception. It is false. Still we are perplexed by his tactics. That is also true. A magician or hypnotist can show what is not real to be real, and yet while we are under his spell we cannot deny its reality.

Everything, including our own self, belongs to Krsna. But the difficulty arises when we see something other than Krsna. Separate interest. The consciousness of separate interest is the root of all evils. We are one with Krsna, but whenever the seed of separate interest sprouts, and we think we have some separate interest, that we are not included in the interest of Krsna, that is the root of such misconception.

                                  bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syad
                                  isad apetasya viparyayo smrtih
                                  tan-mayayato budha abhajet tam
                                  bhaktyaikayesam guru-devatatma
                                  (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.37)

(Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord. This bewildering, fearful condition is effected by the potency for illusion, called māyā. Therefore, an intelligent person should engage unflinchingly in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, whom he should accept as his worshipable deity and as his very life and soul.)

In this way, the scriptures have given a diagnosis of the disease or concoction of false conception. We are living in a fool's paradise. And the very beginning of material existence that we can trace is at the inception of a separate interest. The first deviation from advaya-jnana is a conception of separate interest.

How can we know what is actually real?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
The scriptural name is sraddha, or faith. That is the developed state of sukrti, or spiritual merit. When our faith is developed, it leads us to sadhu sanga, the association of saints. The agents of the divine world, who are in the plane of reality — the nirguna wave beyond this world of creation  come to establish some connection with reality in our soul. That is the deepest element. The connection with saints produces faith, and faith can see reality.There is a world which is only approachable by faith — sraddhamayo'yam loka. Just as color is seen by the eyes and sound is perceived by the ear, that world can be perceived only by faith. Only faith can see and feel it. The Supreme Reality cannot be perceived with any other senses. Faith is the real function of the soul and that is awakened by the agents of Vaikuntha, the saints. By faith one's association with saints increases, and by this transaction the culture of reality takes place. Gradually this process makes us become fully conscious. At that time we realize that this world in which we are living is all transient and that our home is elsewhere. Our real home is located in the world of pure consciousness.

Is that the same process by which the materialist sees this world as real?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
No. Realization of spiritual reality is independent of all material contamination or misconception. That injection into our soul is given by Vaikuntha, by the eternal associates of Visnu. Perceiving spiritual reality is the function of the soul, not of the material ego or senses. It is independent of that. When a patient is unconscious, the doctor gives him an injection. Then consciousness comes and after that he can cooperate with the doctor by describing his symptoms. But before one can cooperate with the doctor, the doctor does different things to help the unconscious patient. In the same way, when we are fully engrossed in our material engagement, the saints from the higher plane of reality act like doctors to inject some understanding of divinity into our consciousness. In this way they try to awaken our spiritual self-interest, our consciousness of the soul.

Dr. Singh:
Once Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja asked us to prove that matter comes from life, by using science. I didn't know how to start. How can we prove that matter comes from life?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
The definition of evolution given by Darwin is that life comes from the fossil. But we say just the opposite. Evolution from inside of consciousness is the cause of our seeing the different things of this world. The evolution is from within. Evolution is not from the outside, as we might ordinarily think. This is the teaching of Vedanta. Reality does not develop from imperfection to perfection; it is only that a part of the perfection seems to be imperfect. To theorize that the imperfect is producing perfection is ludicrous.

It is far more reasonable and easy to conceive that a part of the perfection has somehow become imperfect. It is perceived by us to be imperfect. That is the natural and more reasonable conclusion. We have to accept something of what Darwin says but where does the fossil come from? And that the fossil can produce the infinite is a foolish idea.

The body is amazing the doctors with so many wonderful phenomena. They cannot fathom so many questions. How is it built? How are consciousness, intelligence, and genius centered in the brain? That wonderful thing which we find in the brain, the thought of the genius, is not produced by a material thing. The starting point must be the wonderful thing. We say that really exists  that wonderful thing, the source of all wonders.

Everything is full of wonder. If we analyze the atom, we will be in wonder. Only we impose limitations. But when we analyze the atomic parts of wood or stone, we will be in wonder. The infinite is everywhere. Perfection is everywhere. The trouble is that with our limited thinking we have produced a world of limits. But we who are captured by the "scientific" way of thinking are not ready to admit that. That is the puzzle. From the biggest to the smallest, from the lowest to the highest, everything is wonderful. But we won't admit that. We will go to the fossil and say that the fossil is producing everything. But what is that fossil?

Dr. Marchetti:
But how can we prove to the scientists that matter comes from life? These are philosophical arguments. The scientists will say, "What is the utility of philosophical arguments?"

Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
In the beginning of the electric generation, the famous scientist Michael Faraday gave a public demonstration of the power of electricity. In one experiment, Faraday generated electricity. With the current generated by his dynamo, he was able to move some pieces of paper. After watching the wave of current move some pieces of paper, a lady challenged him, "What is the utility of your electricity, Dr. Faraday?" And he said, "Madam, would you please tell me, what is the utility of a newborn babe?"

Is death philosophical? Death is there to frustrate all other things if you don't take shelter in philosophy. Philosophy can only face the greatest enemy, death. And death is not limited to a particular thing; it will include the whole world. The sun, the moon, the stars, this globe, and everything else will vanish in due course of time. The scientists themselves tell us so. If we want to live beyond the plane of death, philosophy will help us have an eternal life of eternal peace. Only philosophy can give us that.

All these sciences of technology are simply an attempt to increase the glamour of this life. They are all enemies of the soul, deadly enemies. All of them lead us but to the grave. The grave is true and only dealing with the grave philosophically will relieve us. Otherwise, we are all finished. These materialistic scientific conceptions are cunning enemies surrounding us. They are tempting us, "Live in the material world; We shall help you." This is illusion.

Dr. Marchetti:
When you said that the world is in the mind, isn't that idealism?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
Berkeley's idealism: not that we are in the world, but the world is in our mind. Of course in a higher sense, we are not concerned with the mind. The material mind is also a part of the world of misconception. The soul is living in the soul region, and the mind, ego, and everything else is dependent on the soul. If the soul is withdrawn, nothing remains. Here also, if life is gone, the body will perish.

If the souls are withdrawn from this world, nothing will remain. The soul is reality. This mundane reality is to be described as a misconception which appears in the soul much the same as a dream appears in a person. The soul himself is unconcerned. And if the soul is returned to the world of soul, and consciousness is withdrawn from this plane, nothing remains. It is all darkness. And it cannot exist independently. So this material reality is created by the soul's revolting attitude, his unhealthy attitude. Just as a man who is in a diseased condition experiences delirium.

Disease is the cause of delirium. The delirium itself has no independent existence. The hallucination does not exist outside his mind. If you want to remove the delirium, you must treat the patient. His brain needs medicine. When he is treated, the world of delirium vanishes. In a similar way, the soul has developed a diseased condition, and he suffers from delirium. And as the collective souls are suffering collectively from this delirium, this world appears real. Collectively so many misguided delirious persons are being connected or disconnected with this material reality.

Dr. Murphey:
Then what is the difference between the world of reality and the material world?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
This material world is only a reflection of complete reality; it is a conception we find exciting to us. Compelled by local interest of enjoyment, we have embraced this creation of the Lord. With our spiritual vision covered by the spectacles of prejudice, we are seeing things in a distorted way. The Lord is not to be blamed; our spectacles should be blamed. Everything is meant for him; the only difference in our vision of reality is that our vision is tainted with the colors of our different kinds of selfish interests. And the different planetary systems in the material world are different sub-planes in the plane of enjoyment or exploitation. Our distorted consciousness is the source of the different colors of the things that surround us.

And when these illusory conceptions are fully removed, we will find that everywhere it is Krsna and Krsna only. And when the conception of Godhead as Lord and Master is removed, then receiving his impetus of activity from Krsna consciousness, the soul will find himself in Vrndavana. But in order to attain that stage, we must have no consciousness of this body, or the mind, or the country conception, the nation conception, or the globe conception. All planes of limited conception must be crossed. From soul to Supersoul, the soul must enter deeper and deeper into reality. You will find everything there. There you will find that Radharani and Krsna in Vrndavana is not false. It is neither poetry nor imagination.

The only requirement is that we must develop our deeper nature, our self-identification, through self-determination. In Hegel's language, self-determination is the fulfillment of all of us. Self-determination in the Vaisnava conception means svarupa-siddhi, spiritual identity. Who am I? What is my deeper self beyond my mind or my intelligence? Where am I? What is my inner self-interest? I must enter the plane of reality, I must get back my proper self. And in Krsna's connection I will enter the environment and see what the world really is.

If I am given some wine or some poison, then I shall become beside myself. I shall see things in a distorted way. I will be unable to recognize my sister or mother and actuated by animal nature, I will see everything as an object for my enjoyment. The crude tendency of lust will cover my vision of everything. Then again when I am sober, I shall see the same things, but my perception of them will be changed. In this way we must be prepared to go deeper beneath the surface reality, and find out who we are, what is our real self-interest. We should try to see the paraphernalia of reality according to our genuine self-interest. Through self-determination we must learn to see things the opposite of the way we are seeing them at present. We must try to understand how to find ourselves. And by surrendering ourselves to Krsna's interest, then we shall try to go back home, back to Godhead.


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