“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.2)
“Don’t waste so much time describing God, the Almighty, the Divine, Bhagavan, whatever you want to call Him. You write and write, lecture and lecture, teach and teach, but this is not how people will learn. They have to experience at the individual level. You can’t bring that experience to them. There is only one way to know something. Let the Almighty be revealed from within.”
This is one argument made against the kirtanam and shravanam processes of bhakti-yoga, where a person sings about and describes God, while another group attentively listens. The knowledge isn’t made up. It doesn’t come from the magical touch of a realized soul. It isn’t suddenly discovered.
It does descend. The original source is Achyuta, the one who never falls down. If something goes wrong in the transfer, if the chain breaks at some place, there is no need to worry. If the knowledge of that amazing science for realizing the self gets lost, the Supreme Lord Himself intervenes to start the process going again.
This descending process of knowledge gathering is the only way to know God. Of course the individual must experience the relationship themselves; no one can make another person self-realized. Still, there has to be some instruction. A person will not stumble upon the truth of the spirit soul being the source of identity, living beyond the present lifetime, on their own. Someone has to teach it to them.
The descending process additionally saves much valuable time. The benefits are seen already in so many aspects of life, particularly with those things which we avoid, where direct experience is lacking.
1. Running with scissors
Since children are generally happy and carefree, they are known to run from place to place. Something simple like reaching the elevator after exiting an office inside of a building, the children will happily run, perhaps racing to see who can get to the destination first.
Thus the warning about running with scissors becomes significant. Scissors are for cutting; hence they are a sharp object. Running is moving with increased speed. If something should go wrong, the scissors can do great damage. The accident potential is high. I know this even if I have never done it myself. It’s common sense, but so much time is saved when accepting the instruction from authority figures first.
2. Putting my hand in fire
The fire gives off heat. It is used to cook food. The warmth extends past the immediate surrounding area. I have been told not to put my hand in fire. Thus far I have heeded the advice. Do I need to actually make a test? Should I experience for myself in order to understand? This is crazy. I am not going to burn my hand intentionally. I will trust what others tell me. They know what they are talking about.
3. Jumping off a bridge
It is a long way down. For some of the larger bridges in metropolitan areas, there are no documented cases of people surviving a fall. In fact, people are known to intentionally jump off as a way to prematurely end life. It is a unique experience for sure, but not one I am willing to try. I will take the word of others that jumping off is not a good idea.
The skeptic may put forward the counterargument that others have personally experienced these things and that the knowledge is coming from them. Yet the same applies with spiritual life. Others have experienced connection with the Divine, known as yoga. They have witnessed a change in consciousness, effected through hearing and especially chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Accepting their testimony is not limited to a theoretical exercise. They have found liberation even prior to quitting the body. They did not merely wait for the afterlife to experience benefits. I want that same peace, shanti. I want that same bliss, ananda. I have yet to experience it, but I trust their judgment and wisdom, for such high character is not found anywhere else.
Danger with scissors to run,
Damage from accident done.
Not yet off a bridge to jump,
Authority experience to trump.
With spiritual life the only way,
Trusting first what descending to say.
Then to feel the same on my own,
Finding happiness bhakti’s alone.
Categories: the three