How do we know when we are speculating / on the mental platform?

 

BY: DAMAGHOSA DASA

Unless one is under the shelter of a realized spiritual master, his understanding of the Supreme is simply foolishness” quote from TLC

LA July 13 1971—Prabhupāda: Unless one is prepared that “I am accepting somebody as my spiritual master. I must accept whatever he says,” if there is any doubt, that I cannot accept his words verbatim,” then one should not accept him as spiritual master. That is hypocrisy

I find these statements by Srila Prabhupada to be an indicator of ones faith in Srila Prabhupada. Over time we find so many devotees who will come up with their own interpretations of what Srila Prabhupada meant when he said such and such. Or they will fabricate their own philosophy or twist, instead of the Acaryas words. Just Like Prabhupada told us that the Gaudiya matha came up with their own version of Srila Bhaktisiddhantas orders for the matha’s continuation-by having self interested views, and then the result-they fought in the courts for 40 years or more. And then the same exact thing happened in iskcon. This is called mental speculation or existing on the mental platform, of accepting and/or rejecting the minds proposals instead of the proposals for obedience to the order of our bona fide spiritual master.

To explain this business of mental speculation in a simple way, he gave us the example of when the guru says a rope is a snake- then for the disciple, it is a snake. Being conditioned means, by definition, we don’t know what is really good for us, and that is why we accept advice from a bona fide spiritual master. Having a bona fide spiritual master means by whose order following we wont make mistakes. The four defects, explained as being in illusion, imperfect senses, making mistakes and the propensity to cheat, is overcome by unconditional acceptance of the order of the bona fide spiritual master.

To not put trust in ones own powers of speculation and just do what the guru tells us to do, right now, is called first class faith. And it is this very strong unwavering faith which is the secret to advancement in spiritual life. Srila Prabhupada often quotes Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur who in his purport tells us that satisfaction of the spiritual master is how the Lord becomes satisfied and by not satisfying the spiritual master then God is never satisfied.

So how do we know when we are speculating or on the mental platform especially in this age of hypocrisy where nobody wants to accept anything anybody else will say and just argue endlessly? Or they don’t even give some quotes from guru and sastra to prove their position?(see list of quotes at end)

One example is the one where a lusty man wanted to have sex with a well know prostitute but her fee was very high and he could not afford her. This man also had a very pious wife who would always try to satisfy her husband and knowing his inner desires went to that same prostitute and began to serve her without any pay. After a short while the prostitute asked what is it woman, that you want? The woman told her that her husband wanted to have sex with her but couldn’t pay the fee. So they both arranged a time for him to come meet with her. The prostitute cooked a nice meal for that man and served him on two different plates. One was served on gold the other was an iron plate. After eating she asked the man, which one tasted better, the one on the gold plate or the iron plate? He confessed, they both tasted the same. Then the prostitute explained that the pleasure of sex life is always the same no matter what type of body you may have-either a so called high class body or so called low class body, but the pleasure is still the same since it is only an itching sensation of two bodies. It is simply our minds that makes us think one is better than the other, just like the same food , but on two different plates. This is called the mental platform or speculation. And practically speaking,at one time or another, we all suffer from this malady.

There are four platforms of consciousness. Bodily or sensual, mental, intellectual , and spiritual. By following the orders of the bona fide spiritual master, means we are taken off the lower three platforms and immediately placed on the spiritual platform. Srila Prabhupada often gave the example of an apprentice working with the master electrician. The apprentice doesn’t know much about electricity, but if he follows the instructionsverbatim of his master electrician, then his work also becomes perfect.

This is how he can immediately become expert in this field, by totally accepting the words of advice of his mentor.

But after some time this same apprentice starts to “think” he knows as much as his master electrician and then goes about his business speculating about so many things.

And we all know then what happens-he gets electrocuted for making some mistake.

Getting electrocuted is a serious thing and similarly not obeying the orders of the bona fide spiritual master is also very serious. The fourth offense that we supposedly should recite every day is to give some concocted interpretation to the chanting of the Holy Names. This means concocting or speculating over the entire range of the Krsna Conscious philosophy, not just for the chanting itself.

Another example of mental platform or speculation is this. Srila Prabhupada explains in one place that material life means- clearing the burden of self created activities. How we solve these problems is usually not correct. For example, we may be sitting in a very sunny spot on some temple room floor and getting really hot by staying there, so we think, if I just move a couple feet over here, there is some shady spot where I wont get so hot. So we move there and think , now my problem is solved. But the real problem is not the hot floor, but is having this material body, which causes us pain. Another time Srila Prabhupada was commenting on some fly that was causing some distress and he said there again, that this fly is not the problem but the body is the real problem because it is us in this body which must suffer the threefold miseries. So we move to get out of the heat and kill the fly or remove it from the room and “think”our problem is now solved. Yes that one small problem is solved, but these and other much larger ones are still coming along and we will have to solve them in turn. This problem solving process never ends in this material world but a fool thinks that if he can become expert in problem solving, then he is first class !! The example I always liked is the one about the dunking stool in medieval times. The man on the dunking stool is thrown down into some river until he is almost dead from drowning, then brought back up for some gasps of air at which time he is thinking-Ah life is good, I can now breathe again. So when our problems are temporarily solved we think life is good. Cessation of misery is taken to be happiness, and when we can solve some problem we “think” we are now happy.

This is the material life of constant mental speculation and living on the mental platform of accepting and rejecting all things presented by Maya devi for our imprisonment.

Now, as conditioned souls, we sometimes carry this same materialistic mentality over into our spiritual life by “thinking” we know as much or maybe even more than our bona fide spiritual master. When we don’t accept his clear explanations this means we think we know more than our spiritual master. This mentality means we can interpret what he says, even though something may not need any interpretation at all.

There is one particular place where Srila Prabhupada gives us the example of where interpretation is both needed and not needed.

He says….

Feb 20 1967 SF

In no dictionary you will find that kuru-kṣetra is meant by body. Neither there is any chance. Interpretation is required when you cannot understand the word very clearly. In that case you can interpret. Just like the example is gaṅgāyāṁ ghoṣapali: “There is a neighborhood which is known as ghoṣapali on the Ganges.” Now one may question how on the Ganges, Ganges is water, there can be a neighborhood? Then you can interpret that “It is not on the Ganges water, but it is on the bank of the Ganges.” Then there is chance of interpretation. But when you can clearly understand that “The thing is like this: Kurukṣetra is a place, and that is a place of pilgrimage,” why should you interpret that Kurukṣetra means the body? In this way Bhagavad-gītā is being misinterpreted. ….The person who does not know what is Kṛṣṇa, if he tries to comment upon the transcendental knowledge imparted by Kṛṣṇa, that is simply impudent. So in this way, if we try to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is, then we become liberated, we become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, we become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious.

Some conclusions-

So in the above lecture by Srila Prabhupada he explains when interpretation is both needed and not needed. When something is very clear like the word Kuruksetra, a place of pilgrimage, to interpret it as something else is out of the param para and therefore,demonic, and shows one is operating on the mental platform and not the spiritual platform. Similarly, we have so many instances where something is very clearly described by Srila Prabhupada yet the devotees refuse to accept his direct explanation and prefer instead to use their fertile imaginations and speculate something entirely different. Not only is this an offense to their chanting the Holy Names, but it also causes much distress to a large number of devotees by misguiding them. Leader means one who repeats exactly what the spiritual master says. No interpretation, no speculations, no mental platform. Just repeat a thing as it was spoken by the spiritual master. Don’t add, don’t subtract, don’t multiply, just repeat exactly what the bona fide spiritual master has said. That way, as postal peons, the mail from the spiritual world will get to where it is going-undamaged unchanged and still the original, and still potent.

Srila Prabhupada was once told he has done so many wonderful things but he refused the honor and said the only credit he would take is that he only repeated exactly what his spiritual master told to him.

—————————————————–

Below are some quotes where Srila Prabhupada explains the process of mental speculation or existing on the mental plane of consciousness.

Every devotee knows or should know the definition of pure devotional service.

“One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 3: “The Status Quo” : SB 3.27: Understanding Material Nature : SB 3.27.20 : PURPORT :

Devahūti very intelligently says, “One may theoretically analyze and say that by knowledge he has become freed, but actually, as long as the cause exists, he is not free.” Bhagavad-gītā confirms that after performing such speculative activities for many, many births, when one actually comes to his real consciousness and surrenders unto the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, then the fulfillment of his research in knowledge is actually achieved. There is a gulf of difference between theoretical freedom and actual freedom from material bondage. The Bhāgavatam (10.14.4) says that if one gives up the auspicious path of devotional service and simply tries to know things by speculation, one wastes his valuable time (kliśyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye). The result of such a labor of love is simply labor; there is no other result. The labor of speculation is ended only by exhaustion. The example is given that there is no benefit in husking the skin of an empty paddy; the rice is already gone. Similarly, simply by the speculative process one cannot be freed from material bondage, for the cause still exists. One has to nullify the cause, and then the effect will be nullified. This is explained by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the following verses.

 

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 3: “The Status Quo” : SB 3.32: Entanglement in Fruitive Activities : SB 3.32.32 : PURPORT :

The opportunity for direct touch with the Personality of Godhead is given in Bhagavad-gītā, where it is also said that those who take to other processes, namely theprocesses of philosophical speculation and mystic yoga practice, have much trouble.After many, many years of much trouble, a yogī or wise philosopher may come to Him, but his path is very troublesome, whereas the path of devotional service is easy for everyone. One can achieve the result of wise philosophical speculation simply by discharging devotional service, and unless one reaches the point of understanding the Personality of Godhead by his mental speculation, all his research work is said to be simply a labor of love.

 

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 7: “The Science of God” : SB 7.7: What Prahlada Learned in the Womb : SB 7.7.37 : PURPORT :

“One who is transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed toward all living entities. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto the Lord.” (Bg. 18.54) If one advances further from the brahma-nirvāṇa platform, one enters the stage of devotional service (mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām [Bg. 18.54]). The word adhokṣajālambham refers to keeping the mind always engaged in the Absolute Truth, who is beyond the mind and material speculation. Sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ. This is the result of Deity worship. By constantly engaging in the service of the Lord and thinking of His lotus feet, one is automatically freed from all material contamination. Thus the word brahma-nirvāṇa-sukham indicates that when one is in touch with the Absolute Truth, material sense gratification is completely nullified

Books : Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – 1975 Edition : Cc. Adi-lila : Adi 8: The Author Receives the Orders of Krsna and Guru : Adi 8.15 : PURPORT :

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvati Ṭhākura comments in this connection that people in general, in their narrow-minded conception of life, create many different types of humanitarian activities, but the humanitarian activities inaugurated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are different. For logicians who want to accept only that which is proven through logic and argument, it is a fact that without logic and reason there can be no question of accepting the Absolute Truth. Unfortunately, when such logicians take to this path without the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, they remain on the platform of logic and argument and do not advance in spiritual life. However, if one is intelligent enough to apply his arguments and logic to the subtle understanding of the fundamental spiritual substance, he will be able to know that a poor fund of knowledge established on the basis of material logic cannot help one understand the Absolute Truth, which is beyond the reach of imperfect senses. The Mahābhārata therefore says: acintyāḥ khalu ye bhāvā na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet. (Mahābhārata, Bhīṣma-parva 5.22) How can that which is beyond the imagination or sensory speculation of mundane creatures be approached simply by logic? Logic and argument are very poor in spiritual strength and always imperfect when applied to spiritual understanding. By putting forward mundane logic one frequently comes to the wrong conclusion regarding the Absolute Truth, and as a result of such a conclusion one may fall down to accept a body like that of a jackal.

Books : Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – 1975 Edition : Cc. Adi-lila : Adi 8: The Author Receives the Orders of Krsna and Guru : Adi 8.32 : PURPORT : rupa-raghunatha-pade haibe akuti kabe hama bujhaba se yugala-piriti :

One must be a submissive student of the six Gosvāmīs, from Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī to Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. Not following their instructions but imagining how to worship Gaurasundara and Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa is a great offense, as a result of which one clears a path to hell. If one neglects the instructions of the six Gosvāmīs and yet becomes a so-called devotee of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, he merely criticizes the real devotees of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. As a result of speculation, he considers Gaurasundara to be an ordinary devotee and therefore cannot make progress in serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.

Books : Teachings of Lord Caitanya – 1968 Edition : TLC 11: Service to the Lord :

“My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of knowledge or in speculation, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired results. A person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, and one who engages simply in speculative knowledge cannot achieve the desired result of self realization. The only gain is trouble.”

Lectures : General Lectures : Lecture on Teachings of Lord Caitanya — Seattle, September 25, 1968 : 680925LE.SEA :

Tad viddhi praṇipātena. If you want to understand the spiritual science, then you have to approach to a person where you can completely surrender yourself. Because everyone is proud: “Oh, who can teach me? Why shall I go to a spiritual master? I know everything.” That is the general mentality. Therefore Bhagavad-gītā gives us direction that you should go to a person where you can fully surrender. So you have to find out a bona fide spiritual master where you can surrender your pride. Then tad viddhi praṇipātena. Praṇiptena means surrender. Paripraśnena. If you find out such, if you are fortunate enough to find out some person where you can surrender, then you can put questions before him. That Sanātana Gosvāmī is putting, that “What is my position? I think that I am very learned man, I am born of very aristocratic family and so on, so on, but actually, I do not know what I am. What is my position?” This is paripraśna, inquiry. Surrender, inquiry, and sevayā. That answer should be received in service mood

London aug 29 1973

Because those who are not Kṛṣṇa conscious, they are hovering on the mental plane. They cannot, there cannot be any fixed up morality, honesty, dishonesty. No. And rascals will also say yato mata tato patha. Means, whatever you think is all right, that is all right. According to you, your conception this is right, and according to my conception, both of them are right. How both of them can be right?

So this contradiction, opposing elements, will continue unless there is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So this is not a fact that the karma-vādīs simply by discharging your duties nicely… This is… On principle, it is all right. But we must know what is actual morality. There are so many examples. Just like when there is war, to kill the enemies, that is morality. But in peaceful condition if you kill a person that is immorality or sinful. The process is the same, morality or immorality, the process is the same. But sometimes it is moral, sometimes immoral. So how it will be standardized? Therefore Bhāgavata says dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam [SB 6.3.19]. Real dharma, real religion, morality, honesty, they can be decided on the words of the Supreme Lord. That is the… When Kṛṣṇa says “This is all right,” then it is all right. When Kṛṣṇa says it is not right, then it is not right. This is our decision. We Kṛṣṇa conscious men, we simply accept. And that is a fact. That is a fact in this way because Kṛṣṇa is the greatest authority, Supreme Being. Supreme means the greatest authority

April 1 1971 bombay

In the Bhagavad-gītā also, we find: ācāryopāsanam. We have to follow the footprints, footsteps, of the ācāryas, because they can give us right direction. And one who does not follow the ācāryas and creates and manufactures his mental concoction, his version will not be accepted.

Sept 5 1971 london

So long we shall be on the mental platform there will be no fixity of conclusion. That is not possible. We have to accept something for the time being, then again reject it. Therefore all mental speculators differ. Nāsau munir yasya mataṁ na… A philosopher is not philosopher until he differs from other philosophers. Nāsau munir yasya mataṁ na… Unless you place a different thesis he will not be accepted as a good philosopher.

… Therefore, through the philosopher you cannot come to the right conclusion.Tarkeṇa aprāptaś ca. If you simply go on arguing that will also not help you. If you simply read scriptures that will also not help you. Because there are different scriptures. Bible is different from Vedas and Vedas is different from Koran. So tarka… by argument you cannot come to the conclusion, by simply reading scriptures you cannot come to the conclusion. By following the philosophers you cannot come to the conclusion.Therefore the truth is very confidential. Dharmasyārtha… guhyam. It is kept very confidentialThen how to have it? Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ [Cc. Madhya 17.186]. You have to follow the great personalities who have actually realized God. That is the conclusion.

Feb 20 1967 SF

In no dictionary you will find that kuru-kṣetra is meant by body. Neither there is any chance. Interpretation is required when you cannot understand the word very clearly. In that case you can interpret. Just like the example is gaṅgāyāṁ ghoṣapali: “There is a neighborhood which is known as ghoṣapali on the Ganges.” Now one may question how on the Ganges, Ganges is water, there can be a neighborhood? Then you can interpret that “It is not on the Ganges water, but it is on the bank of the Ganges.” Then there is chance of interpretation. But when you can clearly understand that “The thing is like this: Kurukṣetra is a place, and that is a place of pilgrimage,” why should you interpret that Kurukṣetra means the body? In this way Bhagavad-gītā is being misinterpreted. ….The person who does not know what is Kṛṣṇa, if he tries to comment upon the transcendental knowledge imparted by Kṛṣṇa, that is simply impudent. So in this way, if we try to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is, then we become liberated, we become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, we become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious. 

—–Original Message—–
From: Vidura Das <vidura108@hotmail.com>
To: yasoda nandana <yasoda1008@yahoo.com>; mahesh_agtsp <mahesh_agtsp@yahoo.co.uk>; vadi <prabhupadaman@hotmail.com>; dasdasdas <dasdasdas@aol.com>
Sent: Sun, 1 Jul 2018 1:00 pm
Subject: The false pride that makes one think that he can write better than the previous ācāryas

 

TRANSLATION

 

“Whatever you might write due to false pride, trying to surpass Śrīdhara Svāmī, would carry a contrary purport. Therefore no one would pay attention to it.

 

PURPORT

 

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has many ṭīkās, or commentaries, following the paramparā system, but Śrīdhara Svāmī’s is first. The commentaries of all the other ācāryas follow his. The paramparā system does not allow one to deviate from the commentaries of the previous ācāryas. By depending upon the previous ācāryas, one can write beautiful commentaries. However, one cannot defy the previous ācāryas. The false pride that makes one think that he can write better than the previous ācāryas will make one’s comments faulty. At the present moment it has become fashionable for everyone to write in his own way, but such writing is never accepted by serious devotees. Because of false pride, every scholar and philosopher wants to exhibit his learning by interpreting the śāstras, especially Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in his own way. This system of commenting in one’s own way is fully condemned by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Therefore He says, ‘artha-vyasta’ likhana sei. Commentaries written according to one’s own philosophical way are never accepted; no one will appreciate such commentaries on the revealed scriptures.

Link to this page: https://prabhupadabooks.com/cc/antya/7/134

 

 

 

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