tapāmy aham ahaṁ varṣaṁ
nigṛhṇāmy utsṛjāmi ca
amṛtaṁ caiva mṛtyuś ca
sad asac cāham arjuna
You’ve dedicated your whole life towards making this discovery. You received prestigious awards for your work. You became known throughout the world. You didn’t think it was possible in the beginning, that from spending so many hours inside of a laboratory you’d come upon something so important. Your research will change the way people live. You have made a difference in the world.
What is the discovery of which we speak? Actually, the specifics don’t really matter. There have been many such discoveries in the course of recorded history. Now imagine that the discovery gets nullified later on. Someone else does research that completely debunks your conclusion or makes it irrelevant. Impossible to believe? It has already happened many times. The scientific community has removed the status of planet for an astral object, so it can most certainly reverse the findings of one scientist. At one point the consensus was that the earth was flat. At one time they warned the world of a coming ice age. Several years later they reversed course.
In each instance, if anyone disagreed with the findings, if any person raised objections, they were affixed with negative labels like denier, kook, quack, and fool. The rational person is justified in asking the scientific community, “What exactly do you believe? Can you decide already?”
The basis for the scientific research is progress, the idea of improving upon things. The person who raises objections gets accused of being against progress. “You want people to suffer? You don’t want to advance the human condition?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada makes a brilliant observation in this regard. He says that at the very foundation of progress is imperfection. Basically, you can only progress from something if the starting point is flawed. Since science is endless progress, it means that at every point there is imperfection. Whatever is declared today to be settled science is merely another point in time of imperfection. At some point in the future there will be progress, making today’s findings irrelevant.
It is something like purchasing the latest smartphone and being excited about it. What is really happening is that there is excitement for a product that will look stale and outdated in a few years. Though it is new today, through the course of time it will be rejected for the newer model. This means that today’s version is imperfect. It is not the greatest thing to come about.
The reason for mentioning this is that the science of self-realization, bhakti-yoga, starts from the point of perfection. There is no progressing from the truth that the individual is spirit soul, transcendental to the matter that surrounds it. You can’t go beyond the highest truth that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the source of everything, that He controls the heat, the rain, the weather, the workings of time, the material nature, and how the law of karma operates. As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, all truths rest upon Him, like pearls on a string.
mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat
kiñcid asti dhanañjaya
mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ
sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva
“O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.7)
An integral aspect to the material nature is change. People should adapt to the changing nature of society, to the way the environment around them shifts. To do otherwise would be silly. But it should always be remembered that life itself cannot be lived any better than through following the teachings of the Supreme Lord. In any point in time, in any land, by people of any type of body, the perfection of living is being devoted in thought, word and deed to God the person.
Knowing that He is a person is vital; otherwise even the believers in God will fall into devotion to material objects. They will look to philanthropy as their calling in life, though that does nothing but lift up the material fortunes of others. It is no different, really, than working in industry and advancing the cause of technology. Indeed, the more one becomes immersed in material life, the more they forget God.
The more they forget Him, the more miserable they become. They regress instead of progress, in spite of the advanced standard of living around them. The original system of self-realization is still available today. In the past it came down through the saintly kings, and today the acharyas hold it with them for safe keeping. They have the theoretical knowledge and show the practical example through the way they live. Some of them are so merciful that they travel around the world to bring others back into the light.
They are known as parivrajaka because they constantly move, and the message they bring is the sound of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The person who hears this sound and then maintains a routine to continually hear makes progress in consciousness all the way to the point of perfection, which stops rebirth.
For discovery today glorified,
But in future can be nullified.
Of science this is the way,
At any point progress at play.
From original point nowhere to go,
From true identity as spirit to know.
And that to Supreme Spirit related,
In Vedas all this from beginning stated.