“There are many research scholars and philosophers who study sex life or some other subject, but according to Bhagavad-gita, such research work and philosophical speculation have no value. That is more or less nonsensical. According to Bhagavad-gita, one should make research by philosophical discretion into the nature of the soul. One should make research to understand with what the self is concerned.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.8-12 Purport)
Friend1: Do you ever run into people that feel the need to praise science?
Friend2: As in the class taught in school? The one included amongst math, history, social studies, gym, and the like?
Friend1: No, more abstract than that. Just in general. Anytime a new story gets published hailing a particular advancement in therapy. A new finding related to the solar system.
Friend2: I see. I know that such people exist, but I have never really encountered them.
Friend1: It always seems weird to me.
Friend1: It is like they are defensive about something, but I don’t know who is challenging them.
Friend2: If I had to guess, it is a response to the insistence on religion.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Such as one particular faith says that the earth is a certain number of years old. Accept it as truth. Do not question. Believe only in what the book says.
Friend1: Oh, right. You might be on to something there. Question for you, then. Is Vedic culture the same way?
Friend2: The same as what?
Friend1: Insisting on only accepting what the books say. Don’t venture into science. No need for observation and experiment.
Friend2: Hmm. There is that whole difference between the two types of knowledge gathering: ascending and descending.
Friend1: And isn’t the ascending process matched with what modern science is trying to accomplish?
Friend2: You could definitely say that.
Friend1: Then it is condemned. Would not someone raise objections to that? Modern science has done so much good for people. You no longer have to suffer through the brutal winters. Man has figured out how to drill into the earth to extract petroleum, which is then converted into home heating oil. The same on the other side with air conditioning. Do your sacred texts allow the same ability?
Friend2: Well, first I would tell you that happiness and sadness have not changed. Neither have the seasons:
मात्रा-स्पर्शास् तु कौन्तेय
तांस् तितिक्षस्व भारत
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
I never said that the ascending process was condemned outright. The idea is that it is a waste of time when trying to figure out the meaning of life.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada describes it as a revolt against the established truth. The meaning is that the highest truth is already there. No need to discover it. The truth is passed down from the original person. That is the meaning of the descending process. Accept from a valid authority and save valuable time.
Friend1: Well, how do we determine which authority is genuine and worth trusting?
Friend2: There is always that issue, no matter which option you choose. Even in the ascending process people extend so much faith. Look at what they said about hydrogenated fats. No problem. Keep eating them. Sure beats eating butter.
Friend1: And then they recently reversed course.
Friend2: Now not only are such fats bad for you, they actually accelerate heart disease. People accepted based on the authority of a medical degree, but that trust was misplaced. Anyway, there are tests for validity with respect to the Absolute Truth. Find the right source and then accept the information. Don’t be blind, either. Make a test of it yourself. That is called vijnana, or practical realization. See for yourself if the principles recommended make a difference in life. These truth-bearers have experienced everything themselves. That is to say they firmly believe in the Absolute Truth and the need for connecting with Him. They see Him in every aspect of life, and so He is never lost to them.
यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र
सर्वं च मयि पश्यति
तस्याहं न प्रणश्यामि
स च मे न प्रणश्यति
yo māṁ paśyati sarvatra
sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati
tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi
sa ca me na praṇaśyati
“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.30)
Hydrogenated fats the way,
Now something different to say.
Science reversing on cure,
But trust them again for sure.
Acharyas as wasted time viewing,
Better the Absolute principles reviewing.
Whose Truth valid in every time,
Only in descending process to find.