“The father and the spiritual master are on the same platform because a spiritual master is the second father. The higher classes are called dvija, twice-born. Whenever there is a question of birth, there must be a father. The first birth is made possible by the actual father, and the second birth is made possible by the spiritual master.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.24.13 Purport)
Friend1: Alright, so I recently heard some teachings against television.
Friend2: You have to be more specific. What teachings? From which person? And what kind of television?
Friend1: All kinds. Basically, don’t even have one in your home. The person is obvious, a teacher of the bhakti-yoga way of life. A practicing devotee who travels around the world and gives seminars. By the way, that is another problem I have. Where did they get this idea to have seminars?
Friend2: As opposed to what, lectures?
Friend1: Yeah, or just basic Krishna-katha. Hari-katha. Topics of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Is that insufficient nowadays? We need seminars, as if we are respected professors teaching students who don’t know better?
Friend2: I don’t know. I’m not familiar with the issue. My guess would be it is for attracting people, to increase the attendance numbers. They must think that just discussing the Supreme Lord and His pastimes would not be enough.
Friend1: Too sectarian. Too Hindu. Anyway, so the teaching was against television. In a world of duality you present something as absolute fact. Of course they reference so many studies conducted as to why viewership means wasting your time.
Friend2: Let me guess, you don’t like studies either?
Friend1: The idea is that television is bad association. It is connecting with people interested in sense gratification. And yet to support your opinion, you don’t rely on shastra. You don’t use common sense. You create authority figures out of the same sense enjoyers.
Friend2: The people conducting the studies.
Friend2: I’m guessing that you think television is okay?
Friend1: That’s not what I am saying. There is this absolute position presented, when we know that there is nuance in this world.
Friend2: Well, what would your argument be? Let’s say that you used shastra instead of scientific studies.
Friend1: This is so easy to explain. The Vedas are aural in origin. That is to say they are passed down first by word of mouth. One person speaking, another hearing. That person in the audience then assumes the other role later on.
Friend2: The student becomes the teacher.
Friend1: Of a new generation, with a different audience. The Vedas are also known as the shrutis, or that which is heard. Make your own experiment of it. Try reading a book for an entire day. Then on another day watch only television. Assess at the end to see how you feel. I guarantee that in most cases you will feel much better after having read.
Friend2: Because of the hearing component.
Friend1: Granted, the subject matter will have an influence. Still, you will learn so much more by hearing. My general rule is that images appeal to emotion and sound to intellect. That is why television news does not cover issues in-depth, whereas on the radio you get more intelligent discussion. If not intelligent, then at least thought-provoking.
Friend2: For sure. Then you are in agreement with this no-television thing. What are you so upset about?
Friend1: I think it’s the hypocrisy. It’s as if these people teaching have never violated the rules. When in fact, I know most of them have. They used to abuse drugs. They treated their parents poorly. They may have committed crimes. Now they are sitting on a lofty perch, so easily judging others. I think that is what I have a problem with.
Friend2: What do you want them to do? Not teach? Stay silent? The mauna-vrata.
Friend1: Have some shame, at least. I don’t know. It’s the attitude that rubs me the wrong way. Are they not embarrassed of their past?
Friend2: Should they be? There is a reason approaching a bona fide spiritual master and accepting his instructions are known as the second birth. The brahmana is a dvija, which means “twice-born.”
Friend1: The first birth is from the parents.
Friend2: Which every person earns automatically. There is no extra effort required. Let me ask you this. Are you embarrassed by what you did as a baby?
Friend1: What do you mean, like wearing diapers and drooling?
Friend2: And trying to eat everything in sight. Crying for no reason. Not willing to share. Fighting with your siblings.
Friend1: I don’t really remember those things. Plus, all children are like that to some degree.
Friend2: The same applies to life in general. Everyone has an embarrassing past, since sense gratification draws us towards unproductive behavior. The second birth means that the first birth should be more or less forgotten. Why get hung up on things that you did through ignorance? You are in knowledge now. You are in a position to help others escape the cycle of birth and death. No reason to be so down on yourself for things every person succumbs to.
Friend1: I mean I guess you are right, but I’m sticking with my initial assessment. It’s the impression I get, that’s all.
Friend2: That the teacher can do no wrong, that their way is the only way?
Friend1: Yes! That’s exactly it.
Friend2: Okay, so find a better teacher. The more a person connects with God in the truest sense, the more humble they become. They are embarrassed to consider themselves a devotee, since they know for sure the shortcomings they have. Nevertheless, they stay in that transcendental position, understanding that anything else is reverting back to the first life, which proved fruitless and lacking ananda.
From teacher’s seminar to present,
Emphasis that on television should relent.
Because to sense gratification resorted,
Position by countless studies supported.
But how presenter that hypocritical so,
Since of embarrassing past to know?
Idea that guru meeting life’s second chance,
No need for at past ignorance to glance.