“Vedic knowledge is not a question of research. Our research work is imperfect because we are researching things with imperfect senses. We have to accept perfect knowledge which comes down, as is stated in Bhagavad-gita, by the parampara disciplic succession. We have to receive knowledge from the proper source in disciplic succession beginning with the supreme spiritual master, the Lord Himself, and handed down to a succession of spiritual masters.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)
Friend1: One of the four defects of man is imperfect senses.
Friend2: Like mistaking a rope for a snake. Thinking that in the distance in the desert is a reservoir of water, when really the visual is the result of heat on the surface of the sand.
Friend1: It makes sense to me, no pun intended. We can’t see through walls. We can’t talk to people far away without the assistance of technology. I understand that the relevance is for understanding God, ultimately.
Friend2: Don’t try to measure Him. He is Adhokshaja, which means that blunt instruments will not register a proper reading. We see the deity in the temple and know that it is a certain height and weight. Yet that is not accurate in assessing the Supreme Lord. He is this entire universe and more. He is the atom and also the entire creation. Ponder that for a second.
Friend1: The idea is to consult Vedic authority. The parampara system. Learn about God from someone who knows. They know because they similarly heard from someone who was realized. Ascend the chain and you eventually reach Bhagavan.
Friend2: That is also how you know the parampara is valid. If at some point you reach a teacher who says that they just figured everything out on their own, there is a defect.
Friend1: Listen, we can go down the skeptical route and try to argue each point along the chain, but today I want to focus on the senses aspect.
Friend1: If my senses fail me, if they are not perfect, how am I supposed to understand God?
Friend2: Umm, I think we just covered that.
Friend1: If I hear from the guru, the spiritual master, is that not using the senses? If I taste prasadam, sanctified food offered before the deity, is that not also sense interaction? If these senses are imperfect, then how is the engagement helping me?
Friend2: These are good questions. Think of it like the difference between body and spirit. We are spirit soul, atma. We are not the body, which is maya. It is the material energy, and we are originally part of the spiritual energy.
Friend2: Yet we have this body right now. We cannot discard it. Suicide doesn’t help in gaining liberation. The idea is to use what we have for the right purpose. A change in direction. Then the nature of the elements changes. The maya goes to Brahman. It is difficult to understand; it can only be realized, and with great effort at that.
Friend1: So the nature of the senses will change, also?
Friend2: Absolutely. They are still imperfect in the way of taking measurement, but they are the conduit for interacting with the world around us. The senses engaged in bhakti-yoga will get to experience genuine spiritual life, which is beyond the senses.
Friend1: Okay, but because of my defects can’t I get cheated easily? Won’t I be prone to following a pretender?
Friend2: That is why the only way to truly know Bhagavan is to get His favor first. He sends the proper guru when there is a sincere desire. The guru then shows the way towards understanding the Supreme Lord, for keeping Him always with you through consciousness.
Friend1: Krishna consciousness.
Friend2: Chanting the holy names, which though involving the senses is not a material activity: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.