Published on April 18th, 2010 | by Harmonist staff32
Science’s Dirty Secret
For better or for worse, science has long been married to mathematics. Generally it has been for the better. Especially since the days of Galileo and Newton, math has nurtured science. Rigorous mathematical methods have secured science’s fidelity to fact and conferred a timeless reliability to its findings.
During the past century, though, a mutant form of math has deflected science’s heart from the modes of calculation that had long served so faithfully. Science was seduced by statistics, the math rooted in the same principles that guarantee profits for Las Vegas casinos. Supposedly, the proper use of statistics makes relying on scientific results a safe bet. But in practice, widespread misuse of statistical methods makes science more like a crapshoot.
It’s science’s dirtiest secret: The “scientific method” of testing hypotheses by statistical analysis stands on a flimsy foundation. Statistical tests are supposed to guide scientists in judging whether an experimental result reflects some real effect or is merely a random fluke, but the standard methods mix mutually inconsistent philosophies and offer no meaningful basis for making such decisions. Even when performed correctly, statistical tests are widely misunderstood and frequently misinterpreted. As a result, countless conclusions in the scientific literature are erroneous, and tests of medical dangers or treatments are often contradictory and confusing.
Replicating a result helps establish its validity more securely, but the common tactic of combining numerous studies into one analysis, while sound in principle, is seldom conducted properly in practice.
Experts in the math of probability and statistics are well aware of these problems and have for decades expressed concern about them in major journals. Over the years, hundreds of published papers have warned that science’s love affair with statistics has spawned countless illegitimate findings. In fact, if you believe what you read in the scientific literature, you shouldn’t believe what you read in the scientific literature.
“There is increasing concern,” declared epidemiologist John Ioannidis in a highly cited 2005 paper in PLoS Medicine, “that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims.”
Ioannidis claimed to prove that more than half of published findings are false, but his analysis came under fire for statistical shortcomings of its own. “It may be true, but he didn’t prove it,” says biostatistician Steven Goodman of the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. On the other hand, says Goodman, the basic message stands. “There are more false claims made in the medical literature than anybody appreciates,” he says. “There’s no question about that.”
Nobody contends that all of science is wrong, or that it hasn’t compiled an impressive array of truths about the natural world. Still, any single scientific study alone is quite likely to be incorrect, thanks largely to the fact that the standard statistical system for drawing conclusions is, in essence, illogical. “A lot of scientists don’t understand statistics,” says Goodman. “And they don’t understand statistics because the statistics don’t make sense.”
Read the entire ScienceNews article here.
My honest comment would be that we should not think that “science” has an agenda or any dirty little secrets. It is not science we should doubt or question, because true science is Vedic.
Let’s face it, science is not the villain here. It is the “scientists” who pay for their sex life and meat eating with huge salaries that they don’t deserve but which are many times payed with tax dollars of hard working honest people who actually do an honest day’s work for their wages.
The title of the article is misleading and misconceived.
Let’s not convict science here, when it is actually the evil little sense gratifying scientists that are the real issue.
True science benefits mankind and advances civilization on the evolutionary worlds of this material universe.
Now, whether or not nuclear science has been ultimately good for mankind is yet to be seen. More than likely this nuclear science business is going to turn this lovely planet into a wasteland of radioactive Hell that lies desolate for the next few millions years.
KB das, we should have some compassion for these scientists. They are caught up in thinking that sense indulgence is the purpose of existence and they take advantage of others because they have no experience of bhakti. We are not far from their mentality, especially without good association. You should become a good devotee and set the example for them, rather than dishing out harsh criticism. Only bhakti “benefits mankind and advances civilization.”
Dear Gauravani Das,
You write about KB das
“You should become a good devotee and set the example for them, rather than dishing out harsh criticism.”
KB Das is right and you don’t need to show your concern over his humility and be that judgmental as to call a dog a dog is no abuse.
Even Prabhupada would call them so and who are you to consider it otherwise.
Even nowadays, supposedly senior devotees are making their offspring into doctors, lawyers and scientist etc so you will be right for them; as nowadays the fashion is about wearing dharmic costumes and giving an image.
Sometimes being heavy serves its purpose to make people too dull for high philosophical points to understand a chastisement by a devotee.
I don’t believe that there is senior devotees or junior devotees when the fight is against materialistic atheistic people who is misusing Krishna’s resources and killing His cows. I am not ready to be compassionate to these brats.
Srila Prabhupada’s 40-year-old words, used to preach to young hippies, may not be the best approach to preaching now. In the current environment, his statements could be misconstrued as religious fanaticism, especially when parroted by practioners whose experience pales in comparison to his own.
Our sampradaya is very progressive and Prabhupada worked hard to bring dignity to Mahaprabhu’s movement in the Western world. Don’t ruin it.
Prabhupada made some of his own spiritual offspring into scientists, And he did not preach that devotees should not become doctors, lawyers or politicians. In fact he often encouraged them to do so.
As for nondevotee scientists, I am sure there is a gradation of them, some theistic, some agnostic, some atheistic, some vegetarian, some honest, some dishonest, etc. You do not follow the example of Srila Prabhupada merely by calling all of them demons. While he may have at times spoken broadly about science and its scientists negatively and with strong words, this is not all he did or said about them. He shoed compassion for them and dealt politely with them in person. And above all he set an example of bhakti for them to follow. Thus I think Gauravani’s point is well taken. example speaks louder than precept.
I am not so sure that Prabhupada “made his own spiritual offspring into scientists”. These men already had their educations or were working on them when they became devotees. Prabhupada didn’t make them into scientists, they were already studying science. He just dovetailed their propensities into devotional service. If they would have been farmers he would have encouraged them to farm for Krishna.
In the end, the scientific arm of ISKCON did little to nothing to advance the mission of Mahaprabhu.
Prabhupada engaged men with scientific careers to do that in devotional service. However, it is the preachers and not the scientists that are pushing the movement forward.
People are inspired by moral and religious people, not by scientists who cannot prove scientifically that Krishna is the Absolute Truth.
We are dealing with faith. Science cannot discover God, so the scientist himself ultimately must turn to faith to make any progress.
What the world needs now is farmers not scientists.
Remember…… you can’t eat nuts and bolts.
Dear BV Swami,
Pamho. My respect goes to You as You have known Srila Prabhupada and He is Your Spiritual Master.
I can’t judge Your comments but I can understand that a Spiritual Master is not expected to conform to a stereotype but preaches according to time and circumstances. So I will tend to think that the domain of my thoughts may not have its place here in this forum if Your objectives is to preach to the Scientists community and this forum may be your tool.
But if this is not the case, perhaps You should not say that“Prabhupada made some of his own spiritual offspring into scientists, And he did not preach that devotees should not become doctors, lawyers or politicians. In fact he often encouraged them to do so. ” as it is absolute bogus claim.
And about parroting, there is no more to say than whatever is already there in the Sastras such as Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatam. Also that we are just instrument who can shed light of the Sastras on eternal truth but it is not our own light; we usually think of “OUR REALIZATION” but it is just an understanding. I also think it is humbler to say what our Spiritual Master has said rather than saying what we think.
Dear Gauravani dasa,
ALRIGHT BE PROGRESSIVE AS YOU LIKE AND MAKE ISKCON INTO ONE OF THOSE WAYS TO ATTAIN GOD BUT THIS IS NOT OF THE MINDSET THAT I HAVE.
I don’t clearly get what you mean by current environment but it is always about chewing the chewed; I think that it is you who is evolving and mistakenly thinking that the environment with the people are evolving with you.
I am parroting what Srila Prabhupad has said as I believe that whatever knowledge of the Sastric order cannot be understood according to the constructivist philosophy.
Oh! Please I beg, Don’t be that progressive that You end thinking that we should change the four principles!!
You also asked me about not to ruin the dignity of Mahaprabhu’s Movement’s dignity, Is it so fragile? Mahaprabhu Himself proclaimed that “You are willing to come, come. If you want to go, go.” i WILL ASK YOU- do you think that by coming you did something great? No, it is just that you could not find something higher and this applies to any person who will come to know about this movement, they will not find anything higher.
Gauravani is not a member of ISKCON.
By “current environment” he means time and circumstances, which change, as should outreach to others in order that it appear relevant in new times. Look at the difference in the outreach strategies of Thakura Bhaktivinoda, Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, and A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for example. They differ in significant ways relative to their different audiences. Parroting is not what is required, but rather shedding light on eternal truths in consideration of time and circumstances. This requires realization as opposed to mere memorization.
Ram: You also asked me not to ruin the dignity of Mahaprabhu’s Movement. Is it so fragile?
No, the dignity of Mahaprabhu’s movement is not fragile.
The material conception of dignity is fragile–it changes with time and circumstance. Worldly dignity and the selflessness of an uttama-adhikari cannot be compared.
As Swami stated, it is our obligation as devotees to shed light on “eternal truths in consideration of time and circumstances.” Our acaryas have done this, not by repeating, but by exercising their heart, applying the teachings, and continuously deepening their selfless love of Krishna. Love of Krishna spreads love of Krishna. Bhakti comes from bhakti, for bhakti. “This requires realization as opposed to mere memorization.” To claim that bhakti is spread by memorization and repetition is an insult to bhakti.
While some areas of modern science are susceptible to dishonest statistical manipulation (from medical field to climatology) one should not assume that somehow the value of science has been diminished. I have no doubt that faced with a medical emergency, the author of this article would proceed towards the nearest hospital without any misgivings or delay.
Cheating is far, far more prevalent in the realm of religion than in science… and the same principle applies: buyer beware!
Count me in on your side of the equation, Kulapavana, i.e. that of reason and rationalism. Religionists customarily repulse me almost to the same extent as do politicians, to be quite frank. It is indeed funny how they habitually try to pick holes in modern science and scholarship when their own dogmas and belief systems tend to be, for the most part, replete with even larger gaps and elements which can legitimately be described as doctrinal sophistry of the most relativistic nature. The irony is that enjoying the fruits of science all they want does not seem to be that much of a bother at all.
And how about your dogmatic belief in science over anything else?
The idea that farming and science are two dissociate fields is a false one. In fact, the very definition of farming/agriculture imply a scientific process. Truth is science is almost impossible to live without as is survival, faith, the arts, or any other aspect of humanity. The trick is to keep each where they belong or bring them together where the joining is on humanity’s best interest.
Yes, farming is a true science. And the results are always undeniable, obvious, and tangible.
You can cheat people and claim to be a great religionist by some word jugglery – people do it all the time – but you can’t cheat Mother Earth by claiming you are a great farmer. She will simply not be impressed. The crop is the proof of your science.
What is the proof of the science of religion? It is tangible too: it is love of God, it is love of other beings, it is inner peace, it is living in harmony with the world, it is happy society, it is happy members of the congregation. If you can’t produce THAT, you are just a pretender, just another cheater.
Where is your crop?
I am only a high school graduate (1967), but I became interested recently in a degree offered by the local community college in “Dairy Science.”
You are wrong about this. Several of my Godbrothers were encouraged by Srila Prabhupada not to drop out of school and furthermore to pursue higher degrees in the fields of science and philosophy. He also encouraged some of his disciples to seek political offices. The spirit of his encouragement is explained in his own words below.
“Human intellect is developed for advancement of learning in art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology, economics, politics, etc. By culture of such knowledge the human society can attain perfection of life. This perfection of life culminates in the realization of the Supreme Being, Visnu. . . When advancement of knowledge is applied in the service of the Lord, the whole process becomes absolute. The Personality of Godhead and His transcendental name, fame, glory, etc., are all nondifferent from Him. Therefore, all the sages and devotees of the Lord have recommended that the subject matter of art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology and all other branches of knowledge should be wholly and solely applied in the service of the Lord. Art, literature, poetry, painting, etc., may be used in glorifying the Lord. . . . Similarly, science and philosophy also should be applied in the service of the Lord. There is no use presenting dry speculative theories for sense gratification. Philosophy and science should be engaged to establish the glory of the Lord. Advanced people are eager to understand the Absolute Truth through the medium of science, and therefore a great scientist should endeavor to prove the existence of the Lord on a scientific basis. Similarly, philosophical speculations should be utilized to establish the Supreme Truth as sentient and all-powerful. Similarly, all other branches of knowledge should always be engaged in the service of the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gita also the same is affirmed. All “knowledge” not engaged in the service of the Lord is but nescience. Real utilization of advanced knowledge is to establish the glories of the Lord, and that is the real import. Scientific knowledge engaged in the service of the Lord and all similar activities are all factually hari-kirtana, or glorification of the Lord.”
You also wrote,
If there is no more to say than why have so many devotees written commentaries on the sastra? Why did Baladeva Vidyabhusana write a commentary on the Gita when Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura had already written one? Thakura Bhaktivinoda wrote two commentaries on the Gita. Why did Prabhupada write one? The fact is that the parampara is an ongoing commentarial lineage.
It is not a question of saying what we think as opposed to what our guru says. It is about srotriyam and brahma nistham. One who has these qualifications can comment in a meaningful way and even appear to differ from other commentators, as Sri Baladeva has done in relation to his predecessor Sri Visvnatha Cakravarti and Srila Prabhupada has done in relation to Thakura Bhaktivinoda. To differ so is not to differ in siddhanta, but to differ on details or to bring out nuanced meanings and implications of the scriptural statements while keeping the same overall conclusion (siddhanta). After all, Sri Krsna’s words in the Gita have unlimited meaning.
Dear BV Swami,
You are singing the Kirtana and as well as trying to dance on the tune.
Your Godbrothers has not become scientists or philosophers after Prabhupada told them to continue with their education. You are defending a defeated claim as writing about scientist is not writing about the Krishna Conscious scientist.
We should discourage people from becoming mundane scientist, doctors or lawyers as these are hectic life style and there is no time for devotional service in these careers. It is people equipped with Vedic Knowledge who are true scientist.
I think you should revisit the following questions:
What is transcendental knowledge?
What about followers of the descending path who are actually on the ascending path?
Translation of a Song by Seventh Goswami Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura:
1) With great enthusiasm I spent my time in the pleasures of mundane learning, and never worshiped Your lotus feet, O Lord. Now You are my only shelter.
2) Reading on and on, my hopes grew and grew, for I considered the acquisition of material knowledge to be life’s true goal. How fruitless those hopes turned out to be, for all my knowledge proved feeble. Now I know that all such erudition is actually pure ignorance.
3) All the so-called knowledge of this world is born of the flickering potency of Your illusory energy (maya). It is an impediment to the execution of devotional service to You. Indulgence in mundane knowledge verily makes an ass of the eternal soul by encouraging his infatuation with this temporary world.*
4) Here is one person who has been turned into such an ass, who for so long has carried on his back the useless burden of material existence. Now in my old age, for want of the power to enjoy, I find that nothing at all pleases me.
5) Life has now become agony, for my so-called erudite knowledge has proven itself to be worthless ignorance. Material knowledge has now become a pointed shaft and has pierced my heart with the intolerable, burning pain of ignorance.
6) O Lord, there is no treasure worth seeking in this world other than Your lotus feet. Bhaktivinoda abandons all his mundane knowledge and makes Your lotus feet the sum and substance of his life.
You merely state the obvious: devotees should not become materialists and material knowledge in and of itself does not foster spiritual progress. No one is arguing against this point. However, my objection is to the broad brush with which you condemn science. You complain that devotees are encouraging their offspring to becomes scientists, etc. Perhaps they are, but I would imagine that they are doing so in the same spirit that Srila Prabhupada encouraged some of his students to pursue careers and degrees, not to become materialists but to become devotees scientists, etc. And after all, most devotees will be householders and as such they need a profession. If you are a householder, what kind of work do you do and does it make you a non devotee to do it? Of course not. Such is the power of bhakti.
You write: “my objection is to the broad brush with which you condemn science. You complain that devotees are encouraging their offspring to become scientists, etc.”
Yes, I condemn Science and devotees encouraging their offspring to become scientist because
1. It is causing the rat race of human civilization
2. It encourages a capitalistic/consumerism/ corrupt society
3. It gives rise to a situation where Offspring and devotee parents has not enough faith in a Vedic philosophy of life; just look at their life style
4. We cannot expect a person to undergo training in a school of thought where there is demoniac education by non devotees and non devotee classmates and yet expect a child to grow out like a lotus from mud
5. Offspring and parents are not contributing enough to uplift any Mahaprabhu society but are getting puffed up and are living lavishly to show off: What is their contribution? Is it not a brain drain that is affecting the society of devotees? It gives rise to a misdirection of human intelligence
6. The poor is becoming poorer and the rich is becoming richer
7. Science is under the influence of the Gunas- where an ignorant science will : teach mothers to kill their children, inseminate cows artificially, play with genetics, create medicine which has side effects, more illness and perpetual dependency on modern medicines, create unemployment, create machine or products that cause pollutions, deplete our natural resources, cause climate change, blow millions in armaments and moon travel, cause famine, encourage meat eating, gambling and intoxication. Will offspring not contribute to these developments? Or is it that these scientist devotee working only for the society of Mahaprabhu?
Perhaps they are, but I would imagine that they are doing so in the same spirit that Srila Prabhupada encouraged some of his students to pursue careers and degrees, not to become materialists but to become devotee scientists, etc.
What is the use of a devotee scientist in a society where Vedic truth is above empirical analysis and where the words of the Sastra are everything?
Has the offspring been given education in Gurukuls where they are taught to hear about the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Is it that offspring are given education of Bhagavad Gita or Bhagavatam before they are allowed to pursue further education in careers and degrees?
Has parents understood the fact that this human birth is very rare?
Can we say that the society of devotees is successful in their attempts of preaching and producing a new generation of devotees that can revive the movement?
THIS IS YET TO BE CHECKED by Spiritual leaders who are siding and making a compromise with a modern materially motivated society; instead of creating a new way of living
And after all, most devotees will be householders and as such they need a profession. If you are a householder, what kind of work do you do and does it make you a non devotee to do it? Of course not. Such is the power of bhakti.
Work should not consume all of our time and give us full opportunity to practice simple living and high thinking.
Bhakti is Bhakti and it does not mean that you can have it at any cost AND BY ANY WAY. The choices we make are determinant… It is us who choose the way our life is.
A request from me would be to please give me the reference of the following text you sent me:
“Human intellect is developed for advancement of learning in art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology, economics, politics, etc….”
You ask, “What is the use of a devotee scientist in a society where Vedic truth is above empirical analysis and where the words of the Sastra are everything?”
I have already answered this by citing the words of my guru in the reference provided above.
Ram das writes:
“Yes, I condemn Science and devotees encouraging their offspring to become scientist because
1. It is causing the rat race of human civilization
2. It encourages a capitalistic/consumerism/ corrupt society…”
Guns don’t kill people… people kill people…
Science is just a tool. In good hands it can do good things.
Why just condemn science as bad for spirituality? How about money? Money is even worse than science when it comes to corruption of individuals and the society. Money corrupted quite a few devotees appointed by Prabhupada as leaders for his movement. It was not science that corrupted them, was it? Why then should we condemn only science, Ram das Prabhu?
Do you see my point?
Your claim rama is wrong. Praphupada asked svarupa damodara maharaja to finish his PhD even when he was fed up of it and also wanted to just join him. In fact, he was not even attending many programs here.
I personally feel the work he was doing had equal importance to number preaching game you are glorifying. I mean by that count, Christians and Muslims have outsmarted us by some margin.
I am hopeful that people like you will be in minority in the future and not the dominant voice of GV. Though I can be sadly wrong!
Gurukuls and education systems of Christians have fared poorly compared to other secular systems in the modern time. Do you have any alternative? It is easy to just sit and criticize and say everybody is a demon but can’t we find demons within us rather than looking outside always. Isn’t that better? In fact, many Christians would not want to send their children to school where a celibate bishop is there. Similar with Hare Krsnas. Would you say people should ban religion because of abuse in the name of religion? Your arguments make Dawkins looks good!
We should discourage people from becoming mundane scientist, doctors or lawyers as these are hectic life style and there is no time for devotional service in these careers.
Then why did Krishna encourage Arjuna to fight? A warrior has a hectic lifestyle.
If one cannot take up bhakti one can engage in niskama-karma-yoga: offering the fruits of one’s efforts, which are driven by karma and desire. Do this with sincerity and your mundane desires will disappear; then you can pray like Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
It depends on how you choose to define success. What meaning is there in “preaching” if all that happens is people get involved at a socioreligious level, bound by outward forms of the tradition without developing the inner life the forms are meant to cultivate (and ultimately be expressions of)? A good idea might be to become Krsna conscious yourself before worrying about saving the world. Then you will become attractive and by your example people will become interested in Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Bashing science and modern society in general is not going to further Mahaprabhu’s cause in the eyes of most people today; it only makes you look like a religious fanatic.
You seem to think that to be flexible in presenting Gaudiya siddhanta is to somehow sell out to modern “demonic” society. This is a misconception and again smacks of fundamentalism. While we are not interested in compromising our ideals (simple living and high thinking) we do recognize that to present Gaudiya Vaisnavism in a climate where such things are often not valued the presentation needs to be couched in language that people can relate to. This is what skillful presentation is–adjusting the outward details for one’s audience while maintaining the essence of the teachings.
It’s ridiculous, in my opinion, to say that working as a doctor, lawyer or scientist is too hectic and does not leave enough time for devotional life. Bhaktivinoda Thakur was a judge! Srila Prabhupada worked as a chemist for a pharmaceutical company. These are the examples of our purva acharyas. They worked and supported their families and they were also totally focused on Krsna bhakti.
Ram – What type of society are you advocating? A functional, progressive society will be populated with people with all sorts of training who engage in all sorts of different jobs to make society run smoothly. Dr’s are needed in society – afterall, people get sick now and they will in future. Why should a devotee not learn medicinal science and engage him/herself as a dedicated health care provider? Your arguments seem fanatical to me.
The truth is that most people will not live as renunciates and therefore will have to work to support themselves and their families when they marry and have children. Devotee children should be trained as devotees and also be given a practical education that will allow them to support themselves and their families. Every person is different and each of us has a natural proclivity for certain types of work. I have a degree in cell biology and biochemistry and have worked in the research products and diagnostics fields for over 20 years. I have not had to spend any more time in my profession than most others who work to support themselves and their families.
Furthermore, my education and profession has not weakened my faith or impeded my practice of sadhana bhakti.
I do have one comment on the article itself as well. It is a huge misrepresentation to say that most scientists don’t understand statistics or that they misuse the math to falsify results. Scientists are human and, as such, we know they suffer from the four basic defects of humanity the same as all other humans. It should come as no surprise that some people cheat and falsify results. Nor should we be surprised that there are some people who are ill informed when it comes to statsitical analysis.
In theory, you are correct about being a professional and a bhakta at the same time as exemplified most notably by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. However, in practice it is not as easy as it might sound. I remember hearing that a disciple of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta was saying something to that effect and glorifying Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Srila Prabhupada confirmed it and replied “yes, but my Guru Maharaja was a sannyasi”
I was there when Prabhupada said this. Jayatirtha was complaining about me ( new sannyasi) encouraging Danavir to take sannyasa when he was serving nicely in New Dvaraka along with his wife. Jayatirtha raised many objections to my preaching and Prabhupada dismissed them one by one. finally Jayatirtha said, (paraphrasing) “But Prabhupada BVT was a householder.” To which Prabhupada loudly replied “Yes, but my Guru Maharaja was a sannyasi”
Let me know when you are ready for sannyasa, KB. 🙂
Internally, I am getting more settled and detached. Maybe you don’t know, but my marriage didn’t work out and I got divorced 14 years ago and raised my kids alone with my son helping a lot to raise his two little sisters while I was working long hours.
Now, even my youngest daughter is about grown, has her driver’s license and is very involved with Gadi prabhu’s son Japa. They appear to be a good couple. My daughter Kamala is a great girl very mentally sound and able to be a good wife to the right boy.
As far as formal sannyasa, I don’t see at this time that it is a realistic goal for me. That should be reserved for honorable and dignified bhaktas that are worthy of such honor in the Vaishnava society. Sannyasa is today more of a noble honor than a standard ashram for every man fleeing the tribulations of household life.
However, if I were ever to take sannyasa I don’t know of a senior Godbrother that I would be more honored to accept it from than your holiness. Your rasik mood is highly desirable association almost exactly akin to my own aspirations as far as quality of sadhana. So, it is hard for me to ever think of more desirable service and association.
I live a very simple life anyway. I have had the same old van for the last ten years. My house is a very simple wood house that is not more more than a glorified shack.
Still, in Florida this shack is worth something.
I have lived a hard life. Being married to a deaf girl, rocky marriage, divorce and 14 years of single parenthood has been a learning process. I don’t even need to mention anarthas.
Emotionally, I have been through the ringer, lost absolutely all interest in married love, relationship and women. I took the hard road to realization, but I finally got to the point to where I totally and fully understand the futility of worldly love and have lost any and all interest or desire for such. It is such a great space to finally be free from sexual energy and attraction.
As to whether or not I take sannyasa it would never be my own choosing but just submission to my senior Godbrother in obedience to the will of Srila Prabhupada and Sri-Sri Gaura Nitai. Admittedly, I am not there quite yet because even legally I am still obliged to be here and supporting my 16 year old daughter for about another year or so.
I have already told my kids that within the next few years I plan on giving my property over to them and going into bhajan, penance and tapasya and traveling to Mayapura/Vrindavan. My parents bought me this house, so I will in turn give it to my kids soon and have them take over paying the bills and property taxes and I am going into bhajan or parivrajaka, whichever is the obvious path for me at that time.
I have often fantasied the idea of building a little kutir in the back of my little shady grove full of old growth trees and just living on whatever scraps of food my kids throw my way. I certainly do plan on being renounced in the next few years, though I never pondered very much doing it officially within the Saraswata Gaudiya society. Sannyasa is a preaching ashram and I know the virtues of extolling the glories of the Lord to open ears and how it is incumbent upon all the devotees to preach, but as of yet I haven’t seen any indications from Srila Prabhupada except and apart from this first suggestion of yours. I do take it as a possible sign, depending on how serious you are about the idea. Otherwise, my goal is service to such a senior Vaishnava anyway, either in white or saffron vesha.
Right now it is just us two brahmacaries here most of time – my son and i. He is also a devotee and we have lots of great discussions on the whole gamut of spiritual topics. We have both been layed-off work for the last year and have really enjoyed setting around here studying, learning and researching the whole gamut of spiritual teachings. So, I am very attached to my son also because he is a very beautiful person who has the promise to be much more the devotee and teacher than I could ever be. I am quite sure he will far surpass any spirituality I might have attained in this life.
Honestly, taking sannyasa right now would be much easier for me than not, because I hate working like a dog for peanuts, but have done this for many years in order to raise the three children. However, that will have to wait for a couple more years, though it would be much simpler to just take sannyasa and live by begging and preaching.
That sounds too good to be true. Surely, I will never enjoy such bliss serving Srila Prabhupada, but rather suffer unlimited strife in a mundane struggle for existence.
“Scientists, animated by the purpose of proving themselves purposeless, constitute an interesting subject for study.” – Alfred North Whitehead
Unless we come with a different system which can provide incentive to people in terms of economical/material gain and at the same time, provide a impetus for spiritual growth, we cannot really seriously challenge the modern economic system. The problem confronting the practitioners of spiritual discipline is that the economical systems in operation are not congenial for such lifestyle.