Chakra Discussions

Are we in darkness?

by Subhadra-mayi dasi

Posted November 1, 2004

We tend to see ourselves as spiritual, advanced people who have an enlightened world view. Our vision of the world and the happenings in it are God-centred: "That rain shower is a sign that the demigods are pleased. An earthquake is a punishment from God." Everything is described in relation to God and that is a sign of spirituality. The more we see God's hand in everything, the more advanced we are.

Scripture tells us how to live an ideal life, but we are not necessarily that qualified to understand it. We have a spiritual hierarchy who guides us on our path and who tells us when we are deviating. We have a deep faith in this process, until we see behaviors within those who are guiding us that don't fit the process. We are shocked. "We are losing those who are our connection to God."

Someone else comes along who points out these irregularities. This person calls for a separation, saying those who represent the faith are corrupt, and wanting to start up a new movement, with a clean slate.

Those who want to follow the new movement get banned, or worse. We become confused. We lose our faith in our spiritual authorities and scripture. We don't follow blindly anymore. We are progressing. We see now that we weren't so spiritually advanced before.

Who thinks I'm describing the way an ISKCON devotee is experiencing spiritual life and life in ISKCON? I'm actually not doing so. I described life in the Dark Ages in Europe and the beginning of the Reformation with Luther. Interesting, no?

The Bible, written down 2000 years ago, must have been a spiritually advanced book for that time. 1700 years later, it was considered pretty backwards, especially when it talks about creation, the universe, creation of life and so on.

Srimad Bhagavatam . . . genius! Written down 5000 years ago? Pretty mind-boggling! Now I'd like to ask a question: What purpose did the Bhagavatam have? As far as I can see, it was to educate people. It gave structure to an ideal society.

Is it possible that there were natural phenomena that they couldn't explain at the time and they gave it a religious twist so not to cause a stir in that ideal society? I'm talking about the creation of myths. Any possibility?

I'm asking because I still see devotees believing such things as Rahu eating the moon or sun. Are we really supposed to take that literally or can we see it as a story with a purpose? Telling uneducated people just anything with the purpose of trying to make them see God in everything?

When we swallow such stories blindly, today, are we living in the Dark Ages? Do we twist ourselves to justify it because we are afraid to offend Bhagavatam? Or do we ramble a catchy line about Kali-yuga?

I'd like to know because I find one thing extremely sad: that we have this tradition of repeating the parampara, that new knowledge cannot replace scientific mistakes, that we don't see through the purpose of why certain things are written. Can't we just question those matters and see them for what they are?

Are we afraid of examining that because we think it may ruin our spiritual life? Does our spiritual life depend on seeing God through everything in nature and the creation in the way Bhagavatam describes it? Are we not qualified to try to understand scripture in that sense? Is that an explanation as to why our spiritual life falls apart when we lose faith in our spiritual authorities?

Anyone? No, that's too open an invitation for irrationality! I'd like to hear from anyone who can answer me on all this, who understands and applies this quote from Leonardo Da Vinci: "Whoever in discussion adduces authority uses not intellect but memory."