“All the instructions of Bhagavad-gita are intended to awaken this pure consciousness, and therefore we find at the last stage of the Gita’s instructions that Krishna is asking Arjuna whether he is now in purified consciousness. Purified consciousness means acting in accordance with the instructions of the Lord. This is the whole sum and substance of purified consciousness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)
Friend1: What would you say to the people who complain that God threw us into this land to fend for ourselves, without any guidance?
Friend2: How would you reach that conclusion?
Friend1: Just see how much of a struggle there is. Difficult questions to answer on a daily basis. How should we treat our neighbor who is making too much noise? Should we cut off that friend who is annoying and offensive from time to time? That relative who made a lifestyle choice that we strongly disagree with – how should that be handled?
Friend2: You are saying that there is no guidance from above?
Friend1: Trial and error. Scientific studies. Experience from past generations.
Friend2: That is ascending knowledge.
Friend1: Which means?
Friend2: Basing everything solely on experience. Observation and experiment, which are the foundation of science. When you hear someone refer to “overwhelming scientific evidence,” make sure they are able to produce results from actual experiments, with strict controls. Otherwise, their evidence is not even underwhelming; it’s nonexistent.
Friend1: You mean there has to be the presence of a stimuli on one side and the absence of one on the other.
Friend2: If I want to see the impact of drinking coffee, the most basic test will have one group of coffee drinkers and one group that doesn’t take it.
Friend1: Makes sense to me.
Friend2: Okay, but with some contentious issues today there are no such experiments. The proponents of a specific stance say that it is too risky to test any significant population for the absence of a particular treatment.
Friend1: Wow, that’s silly. So we should just accept what they say blindly?
Friend2: That is what they want. Anyway, so there are defects even with the scientific method. You can’t account for every variable in an environment. Moreover, you can’t go back infinitely into history to study everything that has ever happened to people.
Friend1: You are making my point. God put us in this world and our only option is to speculate.
Friend2: One nice comparison I heard recently is that the Vedas are like the instruction manual for the creation.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: If you produce a new product, it usually comes with an instruction manual. Even software has a guide of some sort, a help system.
Friend1: A software development kit. Some people can actually figure out on their own, though. They install the air conditioner without looking at the manual. They learn how to use the television through trial and error.
Friend2: Yes, there is no doubt that man has come very far in terms of material comfort through figuring things out on their own. The issue to me is that this doesn’t represent real progress.
Friend1: What does, then?
Friend2: Peace. Is the generation with smartphones more at peace than that which preceded them? Does the existence of advanced medical treatment today mean that people are in generally better health than previous time periods?
Friend1: I don’t think so. Everyone is upset all the time. They have so many ailments, starting from childhood. There is a pill for every ill, and no one seems concerned about the long term impact of such treatment.
Friend2: Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, the Puranas, the Upanishads – these are different versions of the same instruction manual, tailored to different audiences, of varying levels of intelligence. In summary, there is something for everyone.
Friend1: But how would those ancient texts be applicable to today?
Friend2: That is the test for authenticity. See if they make an impact. The principles presented are timeless. Birth and death, the material nature, the devouring tendency of lust combined with wrath, the variety in species, the influence of personal desire, the position of the soul with respect to other souls, the difference in nature of the Supreme Soul, His personal side, the way to worship Him, the path towards escaping repeated birth and death – the instruction manual is for every time period of life, for every kind of person.
With new technology construction,
Accompanying manual for instruction.
Like SDK with smartphone use extending,
Give birth to applications unending.
So God not into this world to throw,
Without some way for Him to know.
Vedas and branches guidebooks to read,
Towards transcendence to lead.