Why Oh Why Didn’t I take the Blue Pill?

By Jeevanmulkta Das
When push comes to shove, some of us tend to align with science and scientists rather than shastras and guru. Indeed, when presented with what seems like irrefutable scientific data, most will abandon ship and the captain and swim over to the science barge and waltz with the scientists!

When push comes to shove, some of us tend to align with science and scientists rather than shastras and guru. Indeed, when presented with what seems like irrefutable scientific data, most will abandon ship and the captain and swim over to the science barge and waltz with the scientists!

The moon landing is one such an issue. So what if the acharya had taken a determined and clear-cut stance against this particular issue? Can he outshine the magic of science? Can he compete with gizmos and gadgets with their captivating capacitive touch screens? Can he outsmart bounced off lasers on the surface of the moon to measure its distance from the earth with an accuracy of an inch?

Apparently not.

Those who rather have scientists oversee and ratify their religious beliefs, support their dual stance with various arguments. The bolder ones are now openly stating, ‘sometimes the shartras and guru are… plain wrong!’ The not so bold ones try to hurl the blame way back in the distant past, on to some obscure sage for having misinterpreted or miscalculated something. Still others think that perhaps we are comparing a two-dimensional astrological model with a three-dimensional astrophysical model and coming up with naught. And a rare few, the clairvoyant types, with a direct feed to the Akashic Records, think that perhaps we need to factor in a fourth dimension, or open a third eye or something to decipher the Vedic version. None of the above groups are willing to concede that perhaps it is science that has got it wrong.

Then there are the die-hard ‘maximalists’ who believe in the Vedas from cover to cover. These unwavering men and women have scant regard for scientists and their bag of tricks. Their belief in guru and shastras is total, so much so that the scientific minded amongst us gets affronted by their stony stance and accuse them of having ‘blind’ faith.

But ‘blind’ faith in guru and shastras is not really blind, rather, it is a conscious position taken after a thorough examination of all the available options. See, here is the thing. There are many Schools of Thought (SoT) out there with different opinions, ideas and interpretations. We pick one up (after due diligence of course) and generally stick with it because we believe in its teachings, have made the choice after due diligence, have the intellectual integrity to stand by our belief and so on.

Now, SoTs strongly discourage us from borrowing bits from other SoTs. This is largely done by laying extraordinary emphasis on sampradaya and parampara. Unlike most people think, disciplic succession is merely a system by which to protect the set teachings of a bona fide SoT from getting contaminated by external influence. Even Krishna supports this arrangement for he says, ‘evam parampara praptam…. go to a SoT that is careful about delivery, where the teachings are not whimsically spoiled by meddlers—and learn the truth.’

Now science, for all practical purposes, is a SoT. What is more, it is a school that is inimical towards religious ideologies. Thus, borrowing bits from science to shore up our SoT’s conclusion, with the naïve and whimsical hope that maybe we can make it, ‘seem more secular, scientific, user-friendly and what not, is contrary to the idea of sampradayic or paramparic teachings.
Take the moon landing issue for instance. Our religious texts do not support the idea. Based on that, in a rare show of inexplicable defiance, the acharya has gone out on a limb to explicitly state that the moon landing is a hoax. In short, as per our SoT’s ideology, the moon landing cannot have happened.

The modern-day science SoT however insists that they did go to the moon.
Now, upon seeing the vast array of glitzy gizmos and gadgetry around us and hearing everybody and his uncle waxing eloquently on the glories of science, we decide… maybe they did go to the moon after all.

What happens next?

Well, it’s like when Eve sank her teeth into that forbidden apple. Like she did, ‘we too will suddenly see our nakedness.’ Basically, we will be forced to reexamine our faith from out-of-the-box perspective—and maybe have second thoughts. This is not unusual. Often we forget exactly what led us up to believe in something and when forced to reexamining it afresh—we may have second thoughts. On rare occasions, it might even precipitate an existential crisis sort of a moment. It happens to the best of us. We cross forty, and suddenly we think OMG, what have we been doing with our lives!

In the religious context, this later-date reexamination made without the benefit of myriads of tiny toeholds of realization that originally helped us understand the ideology in the first place, may precipitate that ‘existential crisis sort of a moment.’ It could then snowball into an unstoppable unraveling of our Krishna Consciousness. We might think it is just one issue (referring to the moon landing) and that the damage can be contained… that our love for Krishna will endure and see us through.

It might. But the chances are equally great that our mind will not allow us this luxury. Indeed, once it has ‘tasted blood,’ it will fatalistically continue to ferret out other seemingly dubious religious ideologies to be similarly crosschecked with the science yardstick. Very soon, all the seemingly unscientific bits in the Vedas will be ‘jumping up like fish in the hot waters of your feverish mind,’ all similarly begging to be crosschecked. That bit about water of the Ganges being transported in a fleet of airplanes down the celestial corridor all the way to the moon… I seriously doubt if it will make the cut. Multiple-headed gods…I do not think so. Blue God with Kandarpa-koti-kamaniya being the Supreme… you decide.

In short, there is a strong likelihood that everything from Indra to Indragopa will come crashing down like a pack of cards. Why? Because, like I said before, this is a philosophical understanding; it is indeed a delicate and precariously balanced structure. It is all very real of course, and was originally built on tiny toeholds or glimpses of realizations. But there is no way it can stand up to a later-date rigorous reexamination, especially at a time when your convictions are old and your faith has somewhat faded.

So ideally, we should NOT borrow bits from here and there and wholly believe in our particular SoT’s ideology. Ideally, we should build a fence around it to protect it from external influence. Ideally we should have ‘blind’ faith in our SoT’s ideology and ignore ideologies from other SoTs including that from the science camp. Here ‘blind’ means locked and bolted down for protection. Not open for whimsical reexamination for the simple reason that we may be able to reinvest the energy, the conviction and faith we had invested in it earlier to get it right. Locked and bolted down because we are happy with the decision and now fear losing it.
But the problem with the science SoT is that most consider it to be God’s voice booming across the ether! There is far too much reverence for it.

Really is science as infallible as we think? Let us test its track record for intellectual integrity and see how sincere it is about faithfully presenting the truth.

We believe in God and in the soul. But does science believe in God, in the soul? The answer is ‘no.’ Science has an axe to grind with religion and is therefore consciously and deliberately lying to us on matters concerning the spirit. In short, while they may have intellectual integrity coming out of their ears in most other fields of study, when it comes to anything that is remotely spiritual, science immediately goes into a denial mode and begins to lie through its teeth. Since spirit is everywhere and intrinsically connected to matter, the level of science’s denial and deception is on a fairly large scale. To quantify this, let us assume that every fifth statement made by science is a deliberate lie.

There is more! Now, science has convinced us that everything in this world goes tick-tock tick-tock by some mechanical or chemical or physiological process. They have detailed explanations on how things work and happily ram all this down our throats in classrooms. They will tell us, ‘oh it is just silly oxygen mixing with hydrogen that gives us water, or, oh it is just silly gravity that is keeping the planets in their position…’ and so on. Even we, for heaven’s sake, are reduced to a bunch of chemical reactions doing their thing! Indeed, the whole spiel is delivered in such a patronizing manner that most kids think that scientists created the world!!

But is this the true picture? Heavens no! Far, far from it! The reality is, although at a superficial level everything does seem to work in the mechanistic fashion, after a certain depth, mechanistic reality gives way to mystical reality! The minute we dig in a little deep, we see spirit in effervescent action! In short, there is a diabolic amount of Matrix-like deception engineered by the Supreme Lord in the material world! It exists because Krishna wants us to think that we are the doers—and he goes to great lengths to hide his hand!

Now we cannot discern Krishna’s hand, but scientists regularly uncover the God-made deception. They are flummoxed and cannot explain why such and such a thing works in such and such manner and most of all are utterly bewildered by the runaway complexity of everything! In short, scientists stare at the face of God on a daily basis, and know him more intimately than the best of god-men!

But are they ever going to tell us about all these close encounters? Are they ever going to introduces us to our maker with whom they consort on a daily basis? Nooo! On the contrary, they are happy to extend it and blithely take credit for a lot of things! Thus, science is so adept at keeping a lid on God that if one were to audit science for sincerity and quantify it, one could very well say that every second statement they make is a deliberate lie.

Now, when deception is indeed their first, middle and last name, who is to say that the rest of what they say or do is true? Given that every second statement that science makes is a lie, how can we be sure of what they are saying about the moon? How can we be sure that they have not deliberately obscured a crucial fact?

Why then are we using this SoT’s ideology to weigh the Vedas? Why then are we using this SoT’s ideology to malign the acharya? What is the rationale in using a science that practices deception on such a large scale to measure anything? When Scientology or for that matter Christianity can accept the oddities in their respective religions without batting an eye lid, why are we feeling so compelled to iron out the kinks in ours?

Frankly, measuring everything with the scientific yardstick indicates that we have not yet fully given up our previous ‘way of life’ or dharma. It indicates that we have not yet fully surrendered to the dharma or way of life that Krishna supports and upholds. Indeed, if Krishna’s call to give up all religions required Arjuna to give up his dharma as a Kshatriya, one that is just marginally different from Krishna’s way, then surely Krishna is asking us to abandon our scientific mindset that is patently contrary and inimical to religious ideologies as well.

One last point. After many years of studying science’s myopic perspective and seeing its wholesale deception at close quarters, one begins to develop a healthy disrespect for it. And, if you were a guru with a vision, and intent on spreading God consciousness, you would soon have realized that the game that science plays is diabolic and demoniac. In short, pretty soon you gain the firm conviction and identify science as your enemy number one. Previous acharyas had similarly identified number one enemies such as the impersonalists, the sahajiyas, caste Brahmins and so on and had declared war on them. Srila Prabhupada’s enemy number one was science and scientists. In fact, he had explicitly stated, ‘I have come to this world with a two-pronged mission: One, to establish Krishna as the Supreme Lord and two, to defeat the rascal scientists.’ The dictionary meaning of rascal is an unscrupulous, dishonest person; a scoundrel. He relentlessly attacked them so much so that there are some even amongst us who are upset by it!

So yes, if we want to be known as true followers Srila Prabhupada, then like it or not, we have to be willing—eager even—to be suspicious of science and its designs, with the heightened sensibilities of a conspiracy buff! Like the thief crucified by the right of Jesus had sympathized with the master and gained eternal life, we too should be taking this opportunity to declare our unconditional support and solidarity with the master—and win, win and win. Where is the sense in jeopardizing an eternity of happiness by whimsically, immaturely, aligning ourselves with something that the materialists salivate over?

To my mind, the only reason Srila Prabhupada took a conscious and defiant stance against the moon landing issue was because he could see that when push comes to shove—when science tantalizes us with what seems like irrefutable proof—most of us will swim away like mice from a sinking ship. By taking a deliberate and resolute stance on the moon landing issue—one that would separate the men from the mice—my beleaguered captain tried to teach us to be men of substance, willing even, to go down with the ship.

Posted in From the desk of Caru Das.