Is There Not A Risk Of Corruption With Descending Knowledge

[Krishna's lotus feet]“In three out of the four millenniums (namely Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga and Dvapara-yuga) people had the honor to be able to understand transcendence through the path of disciplic succession. However, in the present age, people have no interest in the disciplic succession. Instead, they have invented many paths of logic and argument. This individual attempt to understand the supreme transcendence (called the ascending process) is not approved by the Vedas. The Absolute Truth must descend from the absolute platform. He is not to be understood by the ascending process.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 18)

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“One of the many distinctions with genuine Vedic culture is this delineation between types of knowledge gathering. Namely, there are the ascending and descending processes. With respect to realizing the Absolute Truth, that which is beyond birth and death and the entirety of space, only the descending process works.

“It is the ascending process with which we are more familiar. This is how modern science operates. Posit a theory. Form a hypothesis. Then get to work trying to prove the theory, using observation and experiment.

“We will set aside the corruption aspect for a moment. I am well-aware how there is circular logic, with a credentialing system based on mutual cooperation. You publish a paper and have your friends give the stamp of approval. This is known as peer-review, and there is reciprocation. I might not even read what you studied; I approve immediately based on the relationship.

“You would have to admit that significant discoveries have been made through this ascending process. So much of the world which was previously a mystery is now known. Why can’t the process continue until someone reaches the origin, the explanation to it all?

“With the descending process, are we not relying on blind faith? To say that we must consult a higher authority at first, are we not placing too much power into the hands of a few? They can literally put forward any order or idea, and we have to blindly accept.”

There is implicit trust within the ascending process, as well. I have faith that the pilot will take the aircraft to the stated destination. I trust the person on television giving the extended weather forecast. Though I am researching on my own, I believe the scientists and their published observations, which form the basis of my furthering the cause.

There are certainly risks with the descending process of knowledge. In the Ramacharitamanasa, there is the story of King Pratapabhanu. He happens to run into an old rival after getting lost in the forest. He does not properly identify the person, who then takes advantage by posing as a spiritual guide.

If a medical professional gives us the wrong treatment, we could be severely injured. We place trust in their authority, in the knowledge that falls from them. It is descending in the sense that we haven’t conducted the research for ourselves. We simply do not have the time. We trust the expertise of others.

The reason for the recommendation of the descending process in spiritual life is that there is no other way to understand the Absolute Truth. We cannot research into the entirety of history. We cannot go back and witness what took place at the time of creation. We don’t even have prior recollection of the time spent in the womb. We have to accept the information on the authority of our parents.

The prominence of the ascending process of knowledge gathering is actually a visible defect to the current period of time known as Kali. As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, in previous ages there was reliance on the disciplic succession.

This process is easy to understand. You have the original source of knowledge. They pass on wisdom to one or a few exalted personalities. Those people then have their own disciples, and pretty soon you have something like a large tree of connected branches and leaves.

[tree]This ensures that the knowledge remains available, that the valuable time spent in the human life does not have to be wasted on making discoveries of temporary significance. A person might bless their fortune that they live in a time after the discovery of the law of gravity, but people appearing prior to that time had similar experiences through life.

Namely, they went through birth, old age, disease and death. They experienced the changing bodies, from boyhood to youth to old age. They had ups and downs, highs and lows. They enjoyed the senses and also suffered from too much indulgence. They experienced elation at good fortune and torturous lament at debilitating loss.

Therefore, the advancements from ascending knowledge have not brought much of a difference, except for perhaps a larger blanket of general malaise. The link to the Absolute Truth is lost in the sea of endless discoveries aimed at providing increased satisfaction to the senses which can never be fully satisfied.

Rather, the descending process is the superior way. Even when accepting the information directly from the source, there is not an expectation of blind allegiance. It is not that the thinking capacity should be turned off or suppressed. Rather, a person should deliberate fully and reach their own conclusion as to the validity of the message.

इति ते ज्ञानम् आख्यातं
गुह्याद् गुह्यतरं मया
विमृश्यैतद् अशेषेण
यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु

iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ
guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā
vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa
yathecchasi tathā kuru

“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63)

If we are unable to make such a decision at first, there is no harm in at least attempting the principles of spiritual life that descend from the higher authorities. For instance, there is nothing lost and everything to gain in the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Krishna's lotus feet]We can see for ourselves if controlling anger, passion, rage, and addiction to unwanted activities is beneficial or not. We can test whether it is possible to see a link to the Divine in everywhere we go, in everything we do, and in every person we encounter, both within the human population and outside of it.

In Closing:

In every person we see,
A spirit soul is he.

In everything we do,
Within gains and losses too.

A link there existing,
Parampara in vision assisting.

Such that eventually the origin found,
And no longer to ignorance bound.

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1 reply

  1. Radhe Radhe ❤️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❤️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram

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