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In this lecture Acaryadeva speaks about metaphysical assumptions which are the basis of America's system of democracy today while at the same time any form of religious claim is rejected, and about transcendental consciousness which is a sort of theistic stoicism.



Bg 2.54

arjuna uvaca

sthita-prajnasya ka bhasa

samadhi-sthasya kesava

sthita-dhih kim prabhaseta

kim asita vrajeta kim


Arjuna said: O Krsna, what are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?


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 Arjuna wants to know the symptoms of a transcendental person.


Srila Prabhupada uses the significant word “transcendental” in his translation and purport. This notion of transcendental is the antidote for materialism. Materialism is the belief that matter is the centre of reality and everything else that exists is based on matter and can be derived from it. Consciousness is not matter. Materialists will say it is derived from matter by studying the brain.


 The transcendental view is that there are things in this world which are real and cannot be reduced to matter or a special kind of matter.


 Krsna lays out some facts which directly indicate that materialism is an incomplete explanation of matter: Dehino ‘smin yatha dehe … Bhagavad-gita says we are souls that posses a body, not bodies with a soul like a little spiritual battery. Consciousness is traced to the soul, not the body. Materialistic philosophers try to present a stupid argument to demonstrate that consciousness is derived from the body: Consciousness is associated with the brain and the nervous system, if we do something with the nervous system it changes consciousness, therefore it comes from the brain. If that logic was true if I fiddle around with them, I would prove that electric light is produced by light bulbs. A light bulb conducts electricity. However, the nervous system - the body -conducts consciousness, it doesn’t create it.


 Metaphysical means that which is beyond the physical. We have no empirical evidence that there is anything like yesterday or justice. Hume pointed out, how do you derive a metaphysical fact from a physical fact? The short answer is that you cannot logically do it. The attempt to justify morality like justice, fairness, etc. without reference to a spiritual reality fails. Thomas Jefferson who wrote the declaration of independence understood this. He didn’t attempt to derive a metaphysical fact from a physical fact. He claims the metaphysical fact that we all are created equal. Equality is not a physical fact.


Jefferson said that this claim is self-evident in order to avoid an infinite regress of proves. (You can doubt everything that someone says with “how do you know?” Just as there is blind faith there is also blind doubt. In our culture blind doubt isn’t even a term because it is intellectually respectable even if you have no good reason for it. ) Therefore Aristotle introduced self-evidence. Lord Caitanya said that about the Vedas and Thomas Jefferson also used that term in reference to the claim that all people are created equal: “We hold this truth for self-evident.” He made two metaphysical claims: That we are created and that we are equal.


 Our political system democracy is based on metaphysics, a transcendental word view, yet the ground rule is to only accept scientific facts and not religious claims. However, the claim that we are equal is not a scientific fact since we cannot empirically proof it. This is a major contradiction which most people don’t notice.


Arjuna is here asking Krsna for a spiritual science, observable symptoms.  Nowadays it is popular to say one doesn’t follow any religion yet one is spiritual. There is a danger of separating religion (certain types of external behaviour) from spirituality (internal states of consciousness).


That means to say that someone can be spiritual even if his behaviour is outrageous, like religious leaders exploiting women. There should be some behavioural component to a spiritual state of existence. Spirituality must transform my behaviour.


Krsna is here recommending theistic stoicism. Most of the universe is dead and unconscious, even our body. The soul is animating the body. However, there is a universe which is alive and conscious and this is the spiritual world, the home and natural environment for the soul.


Krsna says when you are really aware of spiritual reality you understand yourself as spiritual being and everyone else (not just human beings) as well.


A note on species-ism:


 If you accept that people can have deep emotional relationships with pets you accept them as persons. How can we discriminate who is worth living because we like one kind and not the other? While pets are given all rights other animals who have the same capacity to feel and are equally conscious can be mercilessly slaughtered! This shows that America’s objective legal policy is madness. The rights of conscious feeling beings come from their own existence and not from our whims. When we really see things spiritually, we care about all people. If we understand that every living being is eternal when we see people suffering over material things our impulse is to relieve them from suffering but especially to give them knowledge.


From Questions & Answers:


Q: Do you have to be religious in order to be spiritual?


 A: Taking religious to mean complying with a sense of duties, Krsna says, if someone is truly enlightened he has no more religious duties but even an enlightened person should continue to perform the basic principles in order to set an example and not mislead people.


Also, if we realize ourselves as spiritual persons we develop more and more the desire to be in a community with other souls out of love, compassion and friendship.