Talking About Experts

[Shrila Prabhupada]“The Vedic scriptures and the acharyas, or saintly teachers, are compared to expert boatmen, and the facilities of the human body are compared to favorable breezes that help the boat ply smoothly to its desired destination.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shri Ishopanishad, 3 Purport)

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Friend1: I saw an interesting thing on television the other day.

Friend2: What was that?

Friend1: They had this college professor on as a guest and he was talking about the upcoming mid-term elections.

Friend2: And you found that interesting?

Friend1: Let me finish, please. It struck me that this person likely has a PhD. They are teaching so many students. They are an acknowledged authority for this particular area. And yet they have no clue what will happen this upcoming election.

Friend2: Yeah, those things are difficult to predict.

Friend1: Moreover, someone without those credentials could just as easily give the same analysis. This “expert” person is really only guessing. They speak as if they are intelligent, but the subject matter is not a science.

[elections]Friend2: Right. Political science means trying to study results after the fact. Then circumstances change after that, so you can’t really use your past research to accurately predict what will happen in the future, though you try.

Friend1: Then I got to thinking. How many more of these experts are there? They have them for psychology. They have them for art and literature. But really, what do they know? These things are always changing. Just because you spend time studying something doesn’t mean that you’ll really know it. But these people are still so respected.

Friend2: I hear you, man. It’s not like they are teaching people simple math formulas. They are not teaching how to pronounce words in a specific language. They are more or less speculating. Moreover, they have to be wrong many times in the future.

Friend1: Yes! That dawned on me too. Unless someone is wrong, how can you do future research? I don’t have to do any more work to find out if two plus two equals four. I know that it does. It will be this way forever. Yet the research done in these colleges shows that what we know now isn’t absolute. Progress means forever changing. Progress means things are always getting revised. Revision can only exist if there is imperfection.

Friend2: Exactly. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would talk about this frequently. The ultimate conclusion that is Vedanta has not changed. It has been the same since the beginning of time. We are spirit soul, distinct from the covering that is the body. Matter, when viewed and used improperly, is maya, or illusion. Brahman is spirit, the Absolute Truth. We come from Parabrahman, the Supreme Truth.

Friend1: And Brahman is happiest when in the company of Parabrahman. Yoga is the way to connect with the Supreme Truth, and bhakti-yoga is the culmination of all yogas. The purpose to our existence is bhakti-yoga. Yeah, that’s the final word; nowhere to progress from there.

Friend2: Perhaps you can describe it in your own terms. You can use art to express what this means to you in your path towards ultimate liberation. You can apply the principles of bhakti-yoga in different ways based on time and circumstance. But the underlying truths do not change. The experts in the field simply relay what past teachers have taught them. They are parrots in a sense. They would be more than happy to be called this.

Friend1: I thought about that too. There is an honesty to the disciplic succession that is missing with these so-called experts, I think. The people on television must know that they are playing in a field of relativity. They must know that they’ve been wrong so many times before. They must know that they have no clue what will happen in the future. And yet they don’t acknowledge any of this when sitting on their lofty perch. They don’t give a disclaimer at the beginning of the instruction period. They gladly take the salary given to them and then remain mum on the truth, that their work is not flawless.

Friend2: Yeah. It gives you a new perspective on what an expert actually is. Someone who knows the Supreme Truth is the only expert. This is because they know the purpose to life. They know why we make mistakes, why we cheat, why we have imperfect senses, and why we are easily illusioned. They know why we suffer from mental disease, why we get grief from other living entities, and why we get attacked suddenly by natural disasters. They are constantly mindful of the impending event known as death, and so they try to make sure others consider it as well.

Friend1: Right. And it’s not to bring them down, either. It’s not to depress them. It’s to wake them up to the mission of the human life. It’s to help bring them towards real happiness. It’s to bring them into real knowledge, where they themselves can become expert in the only field worth studying, the science of self-realization.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend2: And then remember that these real experts are not acknowledged on nearly the same level. They get a lot of grief. They get dismissed as being sentimentalists or rigid ideologists. This name-calling doesn’t deter them, though. They know that they speak the truth. They accepted the information on faith in the beginning from their spiritual teachers, and they had that information validated through their own practice.

Friend1: Okay, I think I’m done venting now. I’m glad I at least know about these real experts. I know that they advise me to always chant: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I hope to do that from now on, taking strength from their confidence in both the power of bhakti-yoga and the ability of its beneficiary to deliver anyone who is sincere on its path.

In Closing:

Man on expert’s chair sitting,

In predicting future not quitting.


But of their past mistakes what about?

Flaws their speculations not without.


The Absolute Truth real expert knowing,

Transcendental light to others showing.


From Krishna is God, to progress no room,

Chant His names and become expert soon.

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