“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)
रस-वर्जं रसो ऽप्य् अस्य
परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते
rasa-varjaṁ raso ‘py asya
paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
“I have heard you discount this concept before, but it doesn’t seem terribly off to me. It is based on a combination of the Vedas and the conclusion of saintly people. The idea is that there is certainly a God. He is a kind being. He is compassionate. Every living thing is His child; hence the term ‘harijana.’
“The presentation is that the highest ideal for the human being is service to man. This is actually service to God. It pleases Him the most. I don’t have to go into great detail, as you can already identify the type of work that falls into this category. My question is why do you discount the notion? Why are you not in support? Do you think that the Supreme Lord will not be pleased if we help out those in distress? What is the basis for your counterargument?”
The starting point should always be authority. Any person can say anything. In the battle between competing dogmatic insistence or blind allegiance, there is no clearly defined winner. The opinion of one person is as good as the next. This means that there is equal weight given to the opposing argument, however a person chooses to define it.
If I say that disservice to man is the highest ideal, who can properly argue? I can claim that man is generally sinful, as they do great harm to others. Therefore, disservice is the way to go. Act as a sort of governing body, providing punishment to those who are deserving.
My argument holds as much weight as the one on the other side. We can debate each other for hours and hours without reaching a conclusion. Moreover, neither path is perfect. You cannot serve all of humanity, and neither can I properly punish every person who has done harm to others.
The saint following in the Vaishnava tradition of spiritual life will immediately notice this flaw:
“Why are you only serving man? Do you not think that God created the animals? From where does their strength come? They have a vital force inside, as well, and you would surely agree that everything has a source. This world did not emerge from nothing.
“Then why do you limit your application of benevolence to the human species? Why do you provide medical treatment to an ailing human being while simultaneously cutting the throat of an innocent cow? Why do you not care for the rivers, streams, mountains, valleys, meadows and trees with the same level of interest? Why do you not lament their condition at having their natural intelligence suppressed due to the bodily condition?”
The Vedas are scientific in nature. That is to say blind faith is neither encouraged nor suggested. Learn the principles of spiritual life from someone who has seen the truth. They are described as tattva-darshi, and they were able to reach that position through the help of their own teacher.
The scientific view says that serving only the bodily condition of another living entity is not really service at all. The common comparison is to the medical patient who is ill. They may have certain dietary restrictions imposed by the doctor. In a mood of compassion, if I were to offer something from the prohibited list, that “service” might end up killing the recipient.
In the same way, simply feeding the hungry and providing financial assistance to the less fortunate will not do much for them in the long run. The practice of deity worship is an easy target for ridicule, but there is a science to it. At the foundation is the idea of connecting with the Supreme Lord in truth, understanding that He has transcendental features. One who knows Him then sees the spiritual equality of every living being and can then support them accordingly. They can elevate them to the same level of consciousness, which pleases Bhagavan the most. This is a higher taste, which feeds the hunger of the soul.
In speculation argument’s realm,
Any fool provided speaker’s helm.
Endless debate and no resolution,
Imperfect every proposed solution.
From shastra the standard raised,
Where direct service praised.
Higher taste to the soul giving.
Way that eternally happy living.
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