From Controlling to Surrender

by Ras Gopal Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 12.3.43
kalau na rājan jagatāṁ paraṁ guruṁ
prāyeṇa martyā bhagavantam acyutaṁ
yakṣyanti pāṣaṇḍa-vibhinna-cetasaḥ

O King, in the Age of Kali people’s intelligence will be diverted by atheism, and they will almost never offer sacrifice to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the supreme spiritual master of the universe. Although the great personalities who control the three worlds all bow down to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, the petty and miserable human beings of this age will not do so.

The impulse to find the Absolute Truth, the source of all existence, has motivated philosophers, theologians and other intellectuals of various persuasions since time immemorial, and continues to do so today. However, soberly analyzing the ever-increasing plurality of so-called philosophies, religions, paths, ways of life and so on, we find that in almost all cases the ultimate objective is something impersonal or formless. But this idea of an impersonal or formless Absolute Truth has serious logical flaws. According to ordinary rules of logic, a particular effect should directly or indirectly embody the attributes, or nature, of its own cause. Thus that which has no personality or activity could hardly be the source of all personality and all activity.

Our irrepressible proclivity to philosophize about the ultimate truth often expresses itself through philosophical, scientific and mystical attempts to discover that from which everything emanates. This material world, which is a seemingly limitless network of interactive causes and effects, is certainly not the Absolute Truth, since scientific observation of material elements indicates that the stuff of this world, material energy, is endlessly transformed into different states and shapes. Therefore, one particular instance of material reality cannot be the ultimate source of all other things.

We may speculate that matter in some shape or other has always existed. This theory, however, is no longer attractive to modern cosmologists, such as those at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And even if we do posit that matter has always existed, we still must explain the source of consciousness if we want to satisfy our philosophical impulse toward discovering the Absolute Truth. Although modern empirical fanatics state that nothing is real except matter, everyone commonly experiences that consciousness is not the same kind of substance as a stone, a pencil or water. Awareness itself, in contradistinction to the objects of awareness, is not a physical entity but rather a process of perception and understanding. While there is ample evidence of a systematic interdependent relationship between matter and consciousness, there is no rigid empirical evidence whatsoever that matter is the cause of consciousness. Thus the theory that the material world has always existed and is therefore the ultimate truth does not scientifically or even intuitively explain the source of consciousness, which is the most fundamentally real aspect of our existence.

Furthermore, as demonstrated by Dr. Richard Thompson of the State University of New York at Binghamton and confirmed by several Nobel laureates in physics who have praised his work, the laws of nature governing the transformation of matter simply do not contain sufficiently complex information to account for the inconceivable complexity of events taking place within our own bodies and those of other life forms. In other words, not only do the material laws of nature fail to account for the existence of consciousness, but they cannot explain even the interaction of material elements at complex organic levels. Even Socrates, the first great Western philosopher, was disgusted with the attempt to establish ultimate causality in terms of mechanistic principles.

The heat and luminosity of the sun’s rays demonstrate to the satisfaction of any rational man that the sun, the source of the rays, is certainly not a dark, cold globe but rather a reservoir of almost unlimited heat and light. Similarly, the innumerable instances of personality and personal consciousness within creation are more than adequate to demonstrate the existence, somewhere, of an unlimited reservoir of consciousness and personal behavior. In his dialogue Philebus, the Greek philosopher Plato argued that just as the material elements in our body are derived from a vast reservoir of material elements existing within the universe, our rational intelligence is also derived from a great cosmic intelligence existing within the universe, and this supreme intelligence is God, the creator. Unfortunately, in Kali-yuga many leading thinkers cannot understand this and instead deny that the Absolute Truth, the source of our personal consciousness, has consciousness and personality. This is as reasonable as saying that the sun is cold and dark.

In Kali-yuga, many people present cheap, stereotyped arguments, such as “If God had a body or personality, He would be limited.” In this inadequate attempt at logic, a qualified term is falsely presented in a universal sense. What really should be said is, “If God had a material body or a material personality like those we have experienced, He would be limited.” But we leave out the qualifying adjective material and make a pseudouniversal assertion, as if we understood the full range, within total reality, of bodies and personality.

Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other Vedic literatures teach that the transcendental form and personality of the Absolute Truth are unlimited. Clearly, to be truly infinite God must be not only quantitatively but also qualitatively infinite. Unfortunately, in our mechanistic, industrial age we tend to define infinity only in its quantitative sense, and thus we fail to notice that an infinity of personal qualities is a necessary aspect of infinity. In other words, God must have infinite beauty, infinite wealth, infinite intelligence, infinite humor, infinite kindness, infinite anger and so on. Infinite is an absolute, and if anything we observe in this world is not contained, somehow or other, within our conception of the Absolute, then that conception is of something limited and not of the Absolute at all.

Only in Kali-yuga are there philosophers foolish enough to proudly define the most absolute of all terms — God — in materialistic, relative ways and then declare themselves enlightened thinkers. No matter how big our brain may be, we should have the common sense to place it at the feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

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