How should we respond to classes that seem confusing and contradictory to the standard philosophical understanding
Transcription by – Sesa Vishnu Das
Edited by – Sesa Vishnu Das
Question : what should we do when we hear some classes which are confusing often in this classes things are spoken that contradict what we normally hear in the normal classes and read in prabhupada books? Instead of feeling inspired, enlivened or educated after hearing such classes we end up feeling bewildered. How should we respond to such classes?
Answer: Krishna consciousness is individual in a sense that Krishna is individual and we are individuals and each soul individually serves Krishna. And when the soul individually serves Krishna at that time Krishna individually reciprocates with that soul also. So because it is an individual heart to heart process and the heart also use the head. So Krishna may inspire and illumine different devotees (by inspire I refer to the heart and by illumine I refer to the head) in different ways. When we find certain classes difficult for us to relate with, we find certain classes confusing then we can choose to hear those classes that inspire us. we have to understand that same Krishna can manifest through different people and what may seem confusing to me may be inspiring to someone else. This is with respect to classes where the philosophy itself is correct but the presentation is somewhat confusing or may be the concepts that are discussed are themselves very complex. Sometimes things go above my head. Some devotees like to go things above their head so that they can rise and catch those things otherwise they find that all the times my head is low and there is nothing to raise my head. Some devotees want something new and something interesting. And the classes that seem to be complex often cater to that need for some intellectually stimulating stuff. That’s with respect to these classes. When we find it difficult to comprehend then it is not that we have to necessarily hear those classes and trouble ourselves. We can hear those classes that inspire us. Through that we can keep moving in our Krishna consciousness. Now if we feel that these classes contain something which is not just complex in terms of being difficult to understand but is also questionable in terms of not being philosophically consistent with what we have heard or what we have read in prabhupada books then we should clarify with some senior devotees. If we can clarify with the speaker itself then that is good but if we can’t then we can clarify from some of the senior devotees about what exactly is the correct understanding. Then we can move forward. And now if we are in a position of authority and we are sure that certain point that is spoken in the class is wrong then we can through the appropriate means and through the right sensitivity convey to that particular devotee that this particular point was wrong. That devotee may not accept and he may try to justify whatever I am saying is right and the speaker may also try to interpret scripture to prove one’s point. At that time we don’t have to get into a debate because in general it’s not that we have to be absolutely monistic in our understanding of the philosophy. Monism refers to oneness. It’s not that all of us have to have exactly identical understanding of the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. In some cases, some understanding may be different. The classic example of this difference would be say the conception of varnashrama. How Varnashrama is to be implemented in today’s world? Practically every ISKCON leaders are very advanced and thoughtful souls but their opinions are different and they may try in their own ways to implement it. this is in respect to the application aspect of the philosophy. But even with the conceptual aspect of the philosophy there can be differences in explanation of things and it is not necessary that everybody has the same explanations. For example different acharyas give different explanations of the same verse. Here again we are assuming that whatever understanding that particular devotee is given is because it is contradictory to what we have normally heard doesn’t necessarily mean that it is wrong. It can be one particular understanding which is also accepted. Now problems can come especially when that particular contradictory understanding is portrayed as the only correct understanding. A normal understanding is considered as a wrong understanding. This can be with respect to many issues. This can be with respect to say can people who are not born in India, can they become actual vaishnavas, can they become initiating Guru? Or it can be about during the time of bhaktivinode thakur’s time there were various controversies which was the actual holy place? Now there are a lot of contradictions and confusions going on about which were the actual holy places like actual location of Mayapur dham, Yogapith (the actual birthplace of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu). Like that there have been controversies throughout histories and if one particular individual says that their understanding which is contradictory is the only understanding and other understandings are wrong then that may become a matter of concern and then we may report to the appropriate authorities and then they can deal with the issue. But if we find that the appropriate authorities don’t consider that a very serious matter then we should also not get worried by these things. Our primary purpose is to pursue our Krishna consciousness and our philosophy is the foundation of Krishna consciousness. Then whatever classes we have heard and whatever inputs we have all that has helped us till now to practice and that understanding has helped others also to practice. So it is not that just because of one class where some contradictory things are presented then we have to radically revise all our understanding and think that whatever we have learnt is wrong and right now I have to relearn everything. Now if that particular frame of understanding, way of looking at things fascinates us very much we want to learn more about it. then we can take the guidance of the senior devotees and may be do a deeper study of the subject to learn what is the actual understanding. So overall we should know that whatever we study the purpose is Krishna. Vaidaischa sarvair aham eva vedya- by all knowledge I am to be known. The word Veda in a restrictive sense can refer to just the four vedas but in a generic sense it can refer to knowledge in general. Therefore by all knowledge it is Krishna who is to be known. And we also know that smartavyam .. vishno … the purpose of all rules and regulations is to always remember Krishna and to never forget Krishna. All rules and regulations are servants of this principle rule. Therefore the purpose of hearing classes is also to remember Krishna. So if hearing certain classes distracts our mind from focusing on Krishna then we should know that this is pratikulyasya varjanam. Let me put these aside and findout those classes which will help me to fix my mind on Krishna. And if we find the class disturbing then we can find out ways and means by which we can get a clear understanding or correct the understanding in the cases when the understanding is inappropriate. Thank you hare Krishna.