“All our senses are imperfect. We claim to observe everything and anything, but we must admit that we can observe things under certain material conditions only, which are also beyond our control. The Lord is beyond the observation of sense perception.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
“I just bought the tickets,” Dennis texted his brother. “They weren’t very expensive; I was surprised. I went directly to the box office to get them, so as to avoid the convenience charges.” These were tickets to a hockey game; Dennis’ favorite team was coming to town. Fortunately, his brother was also in town at the time, so the two could go together.
The tickets were bought a week in advance, and as the day of the game approached, the weather forecast grew more and more ominous. “The first winter storm of the year,” read the headlines on the local news channels. The forecast called for between six to ten inches of snow. Making matters worse was the fact that the snowfall was predicted to begin right at the time of the game’s start.
“We’ll be driving home just when the snow is starting to accumulate,“ Dennis complained to his brother. “This is terrible. Maybe we shouldn’t go. Or maybe we could leave after the second period.”
“It’s just ten inches, right?” his brother asked. “That’s not very much. Don’t you remember that time many years back when we drove in that real blizzard?”
“Oh yeah! I totally forgot about that. That was insane. It was at night, and it looked like we were driving into nothingness.”
“There were no lights on that road, either. When we leave the game, at least we’ll be able to see. It might take a while, but I think we should be able to get home fine.”
“Man, that night was crazy. I remember just laughing at how we had no idea where we were going. We couldn’t even read the exit signs.”
Dennis and his brother went to the game and had a good time. And sure enough, the snowfall started picking up as they headed towards their car in the parking lot. “Maybe you should drive home,” Dennis said to his brother.
His brother happily agreed, and the ride home was no picnic. The only thing in their favor was that there were barely any cars on the road. Others must have heeded the many warnings from state officials to remain indoors.
The brothers had to drive very slowly, and some of the roads weren’t ploughed at all, but they eventually made it home safely. Then came a new problem: where to park. The local roads were in much worse shape than the highways they had used to get home. There were already two cars in the single lane driveway, and parking in the street was going to be very difficult. It would also make the car vulnerable to being buried in the snow through the ploughing that would occur the next morning.
“I have an idea,” said Dennis’ brother. “You go and try to push the other two cars up as far as possible in the driveway. Then I’ll take the third car and see if it fits.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Dennis replied. He then proceeded to move each car up as far as possible, with his brother serving as the handy guide outside making sure no contact was made with either the garage or the cars in front.
“Would you look at that?” Dennis said happily as he saw that the third car fit into the driveway without a problem. “That car fits just fine. It doesn’t even jut out into the street. You know, I’m so stupid. Last year we had that snowstorm that was much worse. We got like three feet of snow, and I left my car in the street. It didn’t occur to me to try to fit it in the driveway.”
“Well, now you know. Next time you won’t have the same problem, “ said his brother.
“Yeah, but I wish I would have known this last year.”
This exchange triggered an insightful reflection in the mind of Dennis’ brother:
“What you’ve just learned today, how and where to park your car for a snowstorm, in the works of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is referred to as the ascending process of knowledge gathering.”
“What does that mean?” asked Dennis.
“Basically, you work your way up towards higher knowledge. You figure something out today and then use that knowledge tomorrow. You figure out something else tomorrow and add that on top of what you previously learned. This is how the entire field of material science operates. A long time back they didn’t know anything about electricity. They did various experiments and the like. Then a printer from America proposed some tests to see if lightning was electricity. The experiments confirmed the hypothesis, and the knowledgebase for electricity thus expanded.”
“So if you work your way up, you’ll eventually reach full enlightenment?” asked a curious Dennis.
“That’s the thing. You won’t. The ascending process is limited. It is said that the way to understand the Absolute Truth is the descending process. You take knowledge from the top that is then passed down. Like what you learned about the parking of your car during snow, you could pass that on to someone else. They wouldn’t have to run the same experiment. They would accept the knowledge from you, and the knowledge would be perfect. So knowledge of God is meant to come down in the same way. There is no experiment to find Him, because He is beyond the perceptions of the material senses. That is what the name Adhokshaja means.”
As he had been doing his whole life, Dennis again learned from his elder, wiser brother. The rest of the night was spent in discussion on more topics covered by His Divine Grace in his many works, the most famous of which are the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Those works themselves are part of the descending process, links in the chain to provide the transcendental light to the soul otherwise trapped in the blinding blizzard of the material world.
Fearful of oncoming storm of snow,
How with car on roads to go?
Problems from there not to quit,
Then how cars into driveway to fit.
In this way knowledge to ascend,
But for God must from top descend.
Adhokshaja one way He is known,
Revealed to one by His mercy alone.