Pursue the Truth from Wherever it Comes
Published on June 6th, 2011 | by Harmonist staff6
By B. R. Sridhara-Deva Goswami
We find that people are always reluctant to go beyond the conception that they currently hold. Wherever a person is, in whatever plane of knowledge—or ignorance also—he is attached to that conception. Such is the case not only in religion, but everywhere.
At the same time, all people accept some sort of authority. Some people accept the Bible, some the Koran; the Hindu class will accept something else, while the tribal Africans yet another thing. But when a comparison is to be drawn, the people must come out of their local bigotry and approach the matter with an open mind; they will have to come out into the broad daylight, under the open sky, and will have to consult—to compare, to reject, and to accept. Otherwise, where is the chance of progress? Because whatever the conception in which one is presently situated, he is attached to that. Such is the situation everywhere, and not only in religion.
For example, every nation may boast that “We are the first-class military power.” But when the test comes, when there is war, then it is decided who is who! Russia boasted “We have the power to control the whole world”; others also have claimed this. In the beginning of the second Great War, Emperor Tojo of Japan said, “We are prepared for a hundred years of war! The Europeans will fight together and be finished, and we will be Emperor of the whole world”. This was his boast but as it was shown, to think something is one thing, and reality is another.
There was one Arabian gentleman who became a bhakta. He once said, “From the beginning, I had the tendency to go through the religious books of all the nations. In the course of that I found that the Indian religious writers have covered, in space and in time, a huge field the most vast and ancient. In the Bible it is told that the world was created a few thousand years ago; but Indian theology says that so many evolutions and dissolutions have taken place. So many creations and dissolutions have occurred throughout history; the entire solar system has been dissolved, and again created, and again dissolved. And the history of such vast spans of time is to be found in those writings of India. Time has been treated in such a more spacious way there, as compared to its treatment by other theologians of the world. And such a treatment is given not only of time, but space also: the creation of the universe itself, how it was begun, formed, and is ended.”
Both geographically and historically, that gentleman found that what has been given in the Indian theological books is such that nothing can come in comparison with it.
And he was astonished also to discover, how from beyond this body, and beyond this universe, those rsis could gather knowledge of such a graphic and spacious nature, collected from the planes beyond the known world. And further, that this knowledge has been distributed by the propounders of the Indian religious scriptures. So that man concluded: “This must be the broadest amongst all religious conceptions.” And he was attracted to search for the truth through that way.
Wherever the real thing, the real religious truth, is found, we must be open to accept that for its own intrinsic value and not be guided by the physical, mundane affinity from where I have got my body, or my country, and so on. We must rise above all this material consciousness and be a clear student; with complete openness we shall be an enquirer after the truth from wherever it comes. Only with this spirit can we overcome the fear of our own progress.
Satyam param dhimahi!! That is guiding spirit of the Bhagavata. And therefore, we may have to be willing to learn from outside the tradition if we find the tradition is less developed in some ways than the other.
So very glad to see this written here. It works both ways. Our wonderful Vaisnava tradition with it’s very advanced understandings of the possible relationships between the soul and God, is nonetheless baffled in giving good instructions for how us Jivas should live together with each other. Besides some very general and not very emphasized instructions on brotherly love, the tradition focuses on prayojana tattva, and the sadhanas to get there. In other words leaving this world. I suppose Rupa Goswami and his descendents felt there was plenty in traditional culture to support a healthy society, but our position is not like that. We have dysfunction everywhere in our Vaisnava sangas, with very little help coming from within the tradition. Yet there is a big resistance to getting tangible help from without. The thinking that if we just chant Hare Krishna all our problems (anarthas) will go away, has been shaken by thirty or forty years of madness. The self-help section of the bookstores are filled with valuable information gathered by intelligent persons who have addressed the very issues we struggle with. Communication seminars can catalyze more self awareness in a weekend than years of unconscious sadhana. Looking where we do not look in our tightly bound Vaisnava worldview will have much more effect than going over the same old ground… what have we found.. the same old anarthas.. There is more than one way to take a run at the mountain. What about the south face?
Good post, prabhu… I’m all with you on that one…
I think when a tradition engages in an extensive bashing of everyone and everything on the outside, it’s members are very reluctant to look for truth and solutions somewhere else, despite experiencing obvious failures of their own methods. It is all sreyas and preyas: short term gain at the expense of the long term stability and progress.
May we have the courage to pursue the long term vision.
“Because whatever the conception in which one is presently situated, he is attached to that”
“…we shall be an enquirer after the truth from wherever it comes. Only with this spirit can we overcome the fear of our own progress.”
Essential points in understanding the value of comparative religion (and all life experiences, for that matter) in fortifying one’s faith in a particular path, the path which she finds to be most appealing to her sincere inquiry and progressive in her understanding of true spirit.
yato buddhim upAdAya
mukto’TAmIha tAn zRNu
I have many teachers, all of whom have been taken up as shelters by “my intelligence”…. By making use of this knowledge gathered through “my intelligence”, I am able to wander through this world in complete liberty (11.7.32)
“‘One certainly cannot get complete knowledge from only one guru.’ In the highest stage of devotion, we must see that guru is everywhere. In the land of Krsna, all are gurus; our transformation should be towards that. Everything in the spiritual world, the entire environment is our guru and we are servants. To enter into Vaikuntha or Goloka means that on all sides we must see guru & pay our respects. There is gradation of course, but all are guru.” Sri Guru and His Grace
This reminds me of the chapter in Sri Guru and His Grace where it is said that one must check who the guru’s guru was, and to go as far back as you need in the disciplic timeline for validity.
It also goes to reveal the sad truth that people accept without basis and reject without tasting.