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The Proper Method to Know God (UF 3-29-08)

Page history last edited by Malati Manjari 16 years ago

This lecture was given on 3-29-08 at the University of Florida. Acaryadeva explains how there are things that can be epistemologically known and others which cannot be known. In order to understand God we have to turn to another method which is Bhakti Yoga.

Part 1


Part 2


na me viduh sura-ganah

prabhavam na maharsayah

aham adir hi devanam

maharsinam ca sarvasah

Bg 10.2



Neither the hosts of demigods nor the great sages know My origin or opulences, for, in every respect, I am the source of the demigods and sages.

From the lecture:

There is an ontological principle stated here which entails an epistemological argument: This verse talks about the nature of existence (ontology). Because of the way things exist they can be known in a certain way. So an object can be known through a special method which is perfect for this specific object (i.e. heat and cold are measured with a thermometer.) There are different methods to know everything.


Epistemology means how to know things, but there is an epistemological great divide:  Things we can know through mastering them under laboratory conditions and others which we cannot. Most science is based on controlled experiment. However, a huge part of the universe is not under our control. Of those things some are not under our control because we haven’t yet gotten to them, but in principle they are knowable, they can be known in future. Other things in principle can not be studied or known through controlled experiment because they are greater than us:  A being that is physically and cognitively far more powerful than we are cannot d be studied through controlled experiment.

Simple example: An ant crawling on Acaryadeva’s arm: The ant knows the shape and topography of the arm better than he, but the ant doesn’t know the whole person beyond it.  We can be compared with the ant, we know a lot about the topography of the earth, but it is beyond our capacity to know its origin.  So if there are beings in the universe which are physically and cognitively greater than us we wouldn’t we able to know them by controlled experiments.

When something is the source of something else it sets us an epistemological relationship in terms of knowablity. If I do produce something I know what I produce, but the product cannot know me as the producer directly. It depends on me for information regarding how I produced it (i.e. parents give us the information how we were conceived). The Absolute is the source of everything: This sets up an asymmetrical epistemological relationship: God knows us perfectly as the source of our existence, but we cannot know God exactly as He knows us.

The choice of the method predetermines the range and extend of things I can know. If I choose a thermometer as a method of investigation it limits and predetermines the things I know, namely temperature. If I chose the method of controlled experiments I am predetermining that I will only be able to know things inferior to me because these are the only things I am able to know. Things beyond my control cannot be known.

If you say that only those things that can be known through controlled empirical experiment can be accepted as definitely known then that statement cannot empirically be verified. If I say you cannot really something. The whole of spirituality is to give you another method of knowing things that are greater than you.

If we look at the basic moral notions of justice and equality it tends to come from religion historically (people like Jesus). Human equality wasn’t known to the Greeks and Romans. To write all this off as illusion and say that most people who ever lived are insane is trying too hard to avoid the issue. Just as the greatest moral systems come from religions, the greatest works of architecture, sculpture or literature were inspired by metaphysical ideas.

If we apply even for graduate school we have to please or satisfy those in a higher position and convince them that we are worthy to study there. If we want to approach and know the greatest person, God, we also have to please Him and convince Him that we want to be taken seriously. It is not on God.  It is irrational to approach God in a challenging way.

If there is a God and I want to design an experimental method which is appropriate to the object that I am trying to understand I would design a process which is bhakti yoga. Yoga means a discipline, a process through which we try to understand spiritual things, and bhakti means through devotion. Bhakti Yoga means that we try to systematically through spiritual discipline connect ourselves to the Supreme Consciousness through cultivating love and devotion.

We are all connected by gravitational force, but the real relationship between us in on a different level. Consciousness is connected to consciousness in the strongest way through love and that is the relationship between ourselves and the Supreme Consciousness.











However, there are other things which in principle are not subject to controlled experiments because they are more powerful than us.