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Absolute Truth and Relative Topics | Nietzsche
A lesson in apologetics | Bimba-pratibimba Concept
Brahman and Paramatma worship | Discrimination (viveka)
Absolute Truth and Relative Topics
The material world is ever changing.
Could the idea of an ultimate conclusion be utopia only?
Murari Krsna Das
The whole idea in philosophy is to reach the platform of knowing or perception of the Absolute Truth, in order to achieve liberation. Ultimately, this is a problem of knowing the reality. But, at this point appears the famous One-Many problem of philosophy. How can we regard the reality? As a One or as a Many? Can everything be regarded as a unity, as a single unifying principle? Is the world a One or a Many? At one hand, the "diversity" is a fact of our experience. Anyone can perceive that there are many different kind of things and many different things. At the other hand, there is an innate tendency to reduce the world's diverse phenomena to a single basic kind or a single basic stuff. This is monism. There are also some arguments for monism: (1) ultimately everything in the world is related to everything else, the Absolute being the means of this relatedness; (2) any two things are, in a sense, the same, etc. The characteristic feature is the breaking down of distinctions.
According to the Vedic conception, there are three sources of knowledge (pramanas): perception, inference and testimony. Yet, in essence, the process of knowing is of two kinds: (1) rational and (2) intuitive. In rational thinking or inference, a thought is built up from simpler thoughts, which are in turn built up from still simpler thoughts. In Sanskrit inference is called anumana. This anumana is analyzed thoroughly in Nyaya. Aristotle also investigated systematically the principles of inference or logic in his work called "Organon." He realized that ultimately logic is only a tool (organon means instrument in Greek), a technique of a correct discourse. The reasoning can be analyzed into units of reasoning, called arguments. An argument is composed of at least two statements, one of which (the conclusion) is claimed to follow necessarily from the other statement or statements (the premise or premises). The premises must be logically connected with the conclusion, in other words, the argument is valid if it has a logical form. If the logical form is followed and the premises are true the conclusion is true with certitude. But, in fact, the deductive argument has nothing new to say. The truth found in the conclusion exists already in the premises. The conclusion is tautological. In Logic the only concern is to establish the correctness of the formalism.
On the contrary, the intuition is concerned to establish or recognize the truth. Intuition is a vision (the word comes from the Latin tueri = to see), a process of knowing the truth. In Sanskrit, the term Veda denotes "that which is known", comes from the root vid, "to know." This root is a cognate of the Latin vid, which means "to see," as in the word video. As a matter of fact, the Vedas have been "heard" or "seen" through a kind of 'internal television,' an intuitive process.
Now, rationally the universe is a "many" and intuitively is a "one." But to see the world in both ways at once, as unity and diversity, appears inconceivable. Human logic is unable to solve this. The solution resides in the concept of acintya bheda-abheda tattva of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The Absolute Truth as a simultaneous unity and diversity is inconceivable for logic. The Absolute Truth can be seen, perceived, experienced by a higher state of consciousness. This is the experience of Krsna consciousness, as 'part' of a 'unified' Absolute. The meditation process is to move towards a consciousness of Everything. This is done by including more and more of the world in one's field of consciousness and regard it in connection with Krsna's interest. Everything can be used in devotional service by a process of expanding the consciousness. The formula is 'and that too'. By contrast, in the impersonal approach, one strives toward the Void that underlies all things. This involves continually shrinking the field of consciousness towards a consciousness of Nothing. The formula is 'neti, neti.'
The awareness of the direct identity of the individual soul and the Absolute in Krsna consciousness is sometimes misunderstood as being a Mayavada conception. Vedanta-sutra refutes this:
"The Gopala-tapani Upanisad establishes Lord Krsna as the Supreme Absolute Truth. Yet this Upanisad also declares that the devotee should think, 'I am he' (so 'ham). But this does not mean that the devotee should think he is identical to the Supreme Lord. It means one should meditate upon Krsna's pastimes in ecstasy. Devotees who become fully absorbed in meditation upon Sri Krsna's lila sometimes cry out in ecstasy, 'I am Krsna!'" (Vs. 3.3.46 paraphrase by Suhotra Prabhu)
The same is found in SB 6.16.63:
"Persons who try to reach the ultimate goal of life must expertly observe the Supreme Absolute Person and the living entity, who are one in quality in their relationship as part and whole. This is the ultimate understanding of life. There is no better truth than this."
and SB 10.30.3:
"Because the beloved gopis were absorbed in thoughts of their beloved Krsna, their bodies imitated His way of moving and smiling, His way of beholding them, His speech and His other distinctive features. Deeply immersed in thinking of Him and maddened by remembering His pastimes, they declared to one another, 'I am Krsna!'"
Now, regarding the topics under discussion, the reality or truth is only one. Srila Prabhupada says:
"Truth is truth, and that is absolute. You may manufacture relative truths, but the Absolute truth is one. If we have no knowledge of the Absolute Truth, we emphasize relative truths."
"The hard fact is that truth is not accepted by ordinary men. Truth is truth. Either it is in your mind or not; truth is absolute. Only highly elevated persons can understand the truth. Out of many truthful men, perhaps only one can understand Krsna as He is."
"Gross matter, as well as subtle mind, intelligence, and ego are Krsna's separated material energies. The living entity, the individual soul (jiva) is also Krsna's energy, but he is superior to the material energy. When we make a comparative study of Krsna's energies, we find that one energy is superior and that another is inferior, but because both energies are coming from the Absolute Truth, there is no difference. In a higher sense, they are all one. In the material world, everything is created, maintained, and then annihilated, but in the spiritual world, this is not the case. Although the body is created, maintained, and annihilated, the soul is not."
So, there is only one reality, one truth, one soul. In SB 4.22.29, purport, Srila Prabhupada says:
"The spirit soul is one, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is manifested in svamsa and vibhinamsa expansions. The jivas are vibhinamsa expansions. The different incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are svamsa expansions. Thus there are different potencies of the Supreme Lord, and there are different expansions of the different potencies. In this way, for different reasons there are different expansions of the same one principle, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This understanding is real knowledge, but when the living entity is covered by the upadhi, or designated body, he sees differences, exactly as one sees differences in reflections of oneself on water, on oil or in a mirror. When something is reflected on the water, it appears to be moving. When it is reflected on ice, it appears fixed. When it is reflected on oil, it appears hazy. The subject is one, but under different conditions it appears differently. When the qualifying factor is taken away, the whole appears to be one. In other words, when one comes to the paramahamsa or perfectional stage of life by practicing bhakti-yoga, he sees only Krsna everywhere. For him there is no other objective."
This is the awareness of the direct identity of the individual soul and the Absolute in the way of unity. As discussed above, this involves trying to include more and more of the world for Krsna's service in one's field of consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada says: "The Absolute Truth is true for everyone, and the relative truth is relative to a particular position. The relative truth depends on the Absolute Truth, which is the summum bonum. God is the Absolute Truth, and the material world is relative truth. Because the material world is God's energy, it appears to be real or true, just as the reflection of the sun in water emits some light. That reflection is not absolute, and as soon as the sun sets, that light will disappear. Since relative truth is a reflection of the Absolute Truth, Srimad Bhagavatam states: satyam param dhimahi. 'I worship the Absolute Truth.' (SB 1.1.1) The Absolute Truth is Krsna, Vasudeva. Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. This cosmic manifestation is relative truth; it is a manifestation of Krsna's external energy. If Krsna withdrew His energy, the universal creation would not exist. In another sense, Krsna and Krsna's energy are not different. We cannot separate heat from fire; heat is also fire, yet heat is not fire. This is the position of relative truth. As soon as we experience heat, we understand that there is fire. Yet we cannot say that heat is fire. Relative truth is like heat because it stands on the strength of the Absolute Truth, just as heat stands on the strength of fire. Because the Absolute is true, relative truth also appears to be true, although it has no independent existence. A mirage appears to be water because in actuality there is such a thing as water. Similarly, this material world appears attractive because there is an all-attractive spiritual world."
In conclusion, as long as one will see only relative truths, an ultimate conclusion is a futility. This leads to skepticism.
Nietzsche on GodSynthesis of Science and Religion
(c) 1987 Bhaktivedanta Institute
Section Seven, Essay three, p.398:
William Deadwyler (Ravindra Svarupa Dasa):
...sometimes critics of some established notion of divinity should be understood as not denying God or the divine as such but merely a particular, faulty conception of God. I agree. Socrates, for instance, was accused of atheism. But his "atheism" was really a symptom of his higher realization of God. People sometimes mistakenly think even of themselves as atheists when at heart they are not. People have told me "I don't believe in God", and when they explained to me what they meant by "God", I could truthfully say to them "Well, I don't believe in the same God you don't believe in."
Nietzsche, the great evangelist of the dead God, was not, in my understanding, a true atheist. For he once remarked, "I should be able to believe in a God who could dance". As a believer in Krishna, who is known as Nataraja, the great dancer, I see that Nietzsche's faith was unfulfilled and frustrated by the idea of divinity available to him. But unfulfilled faith is not atheism.
Nietzsche - additional info
Bh. Tod Desmond
Nietzsche was in fact a devotee of Krsna. He once said "I could be the Buddha of Europe." Like Buddha, Nietzsche too merely pretended to be an atheist. He lied for Krsna. In the second to last section of Beyond Good and Evil, #295, Nietzsche describes his secret God, code named Dionysus, as the pied piper in everyone's heart, the philosopher great with a disciplic succession. This is Krsna, about whom Nietzsche was not only well aware, but quite in love with.
Nietzsche was a devotee of Krsna using in the West the same strategy Buddha used in the East. (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.24: "Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist.") In Beyond Good and Evil #40 he said, "Whatever is profound loves masks; ... Might nothing less than the opposite be the proper disguise for the shame of a god?"
In the Gay Science #106 he had a disciple say to his master: "But I believe in your cause and consider it so strong that I shall say everything, everything that I still have in my mind against it."
The innovator laughed in his heart and wagged a finger at him. "This kind of discipleship," he said, "is best; but it is also the most dangerous, and not every kind of doctrine can endure it."
Just two aphorisms later, at a very significant #108, Nietzsche dropped his most famous line:
After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave - a tremendous, gruesome shadow. God is dead; but given the ways of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown.
It was no accident that Nietzsche said God is dead and combined that statement with Buddha and the most sacred Vedic number, 108. Nietzsche knew exactly what Buddha did, and he was following the same strategy, as evidence by GS #106 cited above. About God's shadow being in a cave and Buddha's, let us hear what else Nietzsche said about caves. "Does not one write books precisely to conceal what one harbors? Indeed, he will doubt... whether behind every one of his caves there is not, must not be, another deeper cave. ... Every philosophy also conceals a philosophy; every opinion is also a hideout, every word also a mask. (Beyond Good and Evil #289)
This recalls us to the early quote, BGE #40, when Nietzsche said profound things love masks, and precisely the opposite would be the mask of a god. Did Nietzsche really play the Buddha game? He said himself, "I could become the Buddha of Europe." (KSA 10, 4) He also said, "The strange family resemblance of all Indian, Greek, and German philosophizing is explained easily enough, where there is affinity of languages, it cannot fail, ... everything is prepared at the outset for a similar development and sequence of philosophical systems. (BGE#20) In the second to last section of Beyond Good and Evil, #295, in which Nietzsche plainly describes his God, and plainly admits he is using a secret code name, Dionysus, a.k.a Krsna:
The genius of the heart, as that great concealed one possesses it, the tempter god and born pied piper of consciences whose voice knows how to descend into the netherworld of every soul, ... Of whom am I speaking to you? ... no less a one than the god Dionysus, that great ambiguous one and tempter god to whom I once offered, as you know, in all secrecy and reverence, my first-born ... for I have found no one who understood what I was doing then.
Meanwhile I have learned much, all too much, more about the philosophy of this god, and, as I said, from mouth to mouth - I, the last great disciple and initiate of the god Dionysus - and I suppose I might begin at long last to offer you, my friends, a few tastes of this philosophy, insofar as it is permitted me? In an undertone, as is fair, for it concerns much that is secret, new, strange, odd, uncanny.
Even that Dionysus is a philosopher, and that gods, too, thus do philosophy, seems to me to be a novelty that is far from innocuous and might arouse suspicion precisely among philosophers. ... For today, as I have been told, you no longer like to believe in God and gods. Perhaps I shall also have to carry frankness further in my tale than will always be pleasing to the strict habit of your ears? Certainly the god in question went further, very much further, in dialogues of this sort and was always many steps ahead of me."
Nietzsche's God, code named Dionysus, is a genius in the heart of every soul, a pied piper (or flute player), and a master at the art of philosophical dialogue, a philosophy, moreover, that is handed down from master to disciple "from mouth to mouth." Other than Socrates (whom some people claim Nietzsche is secretly describing), the only other philosophical dialogues worthy of discussing are the Vedas. And so we turn to the most famous of all, the Bhagavad-gita, in which Krsna affirms: "I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas."
Nietzsche also said "I could only believe in a God who could dance." This too is Krsna. Nietzsche was clearly a devotee of Krsna, the king of the atheists was in fact a great devotee of God. If we can prove this to people we will win a great victory for Lord Krsna and all his devotees.
If anyone wants more information I have plenty of quotes to back up the fact that Nietzsche was indeed a devotee of Krsna playing the Buddha pastime. For example, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the "old Pope" told Zarathustra, "You are more pious than you know. Some god in you must have converted you to your godlessness." In the Dawn #96 Nietzsche said: "However much progress Europe may have made in other respects, in religious matters it has not you attained to the free-minded naivete of the ancient Brahmins: a sign that there was more thinking, and that more pleasure in thinking was customarily inherited, four thousand years ago in India than is the case today." In the Dawn #113 he said, "The Brahmins give expression to this ... I believe in this whole species of inner experience we are now incompetent novices groping after the solution of riddles: they knew more about these infamous refinements of self-enjoyment 4,000 years ago." Using Sanskrit terms in this next aphorism, Nietzsche admits he is trying to be hard to understand, though the fact that he says his soul "flows like the Ganges" is a big clue:
"It is hard to be understood, especially when one thinks and lives gangasrotagati [as the current of the Ganges flows] among men who think and live differently - namely, kurmagati [as the tortoise moves], or at best 'the way frogs walk,' mandukagati. (I obviously do everything to be 'hard to understand' my self!) - and one should be cordially grateful for the good will to some subtlety of interpretation. (Beyond Good and Evil #27)
Professing to be wise, they became fools...
(a lesson in apologetics)
"Let me explain the problem science has with Jesus Christ." The aging atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand. "You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"
"So you believe in God?"
"Is God good?"
"Sure! God's good."
"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"
"Are you good or evil?"
"The Bible says I'm evil."
The professor grins knowingly. "Ahh! THE BIBLE!" He considers for a moment. "Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help them? "Would you try?"
"Yes sir, I would."
"So you're good...!"
"I wouldn't say that."
"Why not say that? You would help a sick and maimed person if you could... in fact most of us would if we could... God doesn't.
"He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?"
The elderly man is sympathetic. "No, you can't, can you?" He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. In philosophy, you have to go easy with the new ones. "Let's start again, young fellow."
"Is God good?"
"Is Satan good?"
"Where does Satan come from?" The student falters.
"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he?" The elderly man runs his bony fingers through his thinning hair and turns to the smirking, student audience. "I think we're going to have a lot of fun this semester, ladies and gentlemen." He turns back to the Christian.
"Tell me, son, is there evil in this world?"
"Evil's everywhere, isn't it? Did God make everything?"
"Who created evil?
"Is there sickness in this world? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness. All the terrible things - do they exist in this world? "
The student squirms on his feet. "Yes."
"Who created them?"
The professor suddenly shouts at his student. "WHO CREATED THEM? TELL ME, PLEASE!" The professor closes in for the kill and climbs into the Christian's face. In a still small voice: "God created all evil, didn't He, son?"
The student tries to hold the steady, experienced gaze and fails.
Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace the front of the classroom like an aging panther. The class is mesmerized. "Tell me," he continues, "How is it that this God is good if He created all evil throughout all time?" The professor swishes his arms around to encompass the wickedness of the world. "All the hatred, the brutality, all the pain, all the torture, all the death and ugliness and all the suffering created by this good God is all over the world, isn't it, young man?"
"Don't you see it all over the place? Huh?"
"Don't you?" The professor leans into the student's face again and whispers, "Is God good?"
"Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?"
The student's voice betrays him and cracks. "Yes, professor. I do."
The old man shakes his head sadly. "Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you seen Jesus? "
"No, sir. I've never seen Him."
"Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?"
"No, sir. I have not."
"Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus... in fact, do you have any sensory perception of your God whatsoever?"
"Answer me, please."
"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."
"You're AFRAID... you haven't?"
"Yet you still believe in him?"
"That takes FAITH!" The professor smiles sagely at the underling. "According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son? Where is your God now?"
[The student doesn't answer.]
"Sit down, please."
The Christian sits...Defeated.
Another Christian raises his hand. "Professor, may I address the class?"
The professor turns and smiles. "Ah, another Christian in the vanguard! Come, come, young man. Speak some proper wisdom to the gathering."
The Christian looks around the room. "Some interesting points you are making, sir. Now I've got a question for you. Is there such thing as heat?"
"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."
"Is there such a thing as cold?"
"Yes, son, there's cold too."
"No, sir, there isn't."
The professor's grin freezes. The room suddenly goes very cold. The second Christian continues. "You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can go 458 degrees F below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold, otherwise we would be able to go colder than 458. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it."
Silence. A pin drops somewhere in the classroom.
"Is there such a thing as darkness, professor?"
"That's a dumb question, son. What is night if it isn't darkness? What are you getting at...?"
"So you say there is such a thing as darkness?"
"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something, it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker and give me a jar of it. Can you give me a jar of darker darkness, professor?"
Despite himself, the professor smiles at the young effrontery before him. This will indeed be a good semester. "Would you mind telling us what your point is, young man?"
"Yes, professor. My point is your philosophical premise is flawed to start with and so your conclusion must be in error...."
The professor goes toxic. "Flawed...? How dare you...!""
"Sir, may I explain what I mean?"
The class is all ears.
"Explain... oh, explain..." The professor makes an admirable effort to regain control. Suddenly he is affability itself. He waves his hand to silence the class, for the student to continue.
"You are working on the premise of duality," the Christian explains. "That, for example, there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science cannot even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism but has never seen, much less fully understood them. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, merely the absence of it."
The young man holds up a newspaper he takes from the desk of a neighbor who has been reading it. "Here is one of the most disgusting tabloids this country hosts, professor. Is there such a thing as immorality?"
"Of course there is, now look..."
"Wrong again, sir. You see, immorality is merely the absence of morality. Is there such thing as injustice? No. Injustice is the absence of justice. Is there such a thing as evil?" The Christian pauses. "Isn't evil the absence of good?"
The professor's face has turned an alarming color. He is so angry he is temporarily speechless.
The Christian continues. "If there is evil in the world, professor, and we all agree there is, then God, if He exists, must be accomplishing a work through the agency of evil. What is that work, God is accomplishing? The Bible tells us it is to see if each one of us will, of our own free will, choose good over evil."
The professor bridles. "As a philosophical scientist, I don't vie this matter as having anything to do with any choice; as a realist, I absolutely do not recognize the concept of God or any other theological factor as being part of the world equation because God is not observable."
"I would have thought that the absence of God's moral code in this world is probably one of the most observable phenomena going," the Christian replies.
"Newspapers make billions of dollars reporting it every week! Tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?"
"If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do."
"Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"
The professor makes a sucking sound with his teeth and gives his student a silent, stony stare.
"Professor, since no-one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a priest?"
"I'll overlook your impudence in the light of our philosophical discussion. Now, have you quite finished?" the professor hisses.
"So you don't accept God's moral code to do what is righteous?"
"I believe in what is - that's science!"
"Ahh! SCIENCE!" the student's face splits into a grin. "Sir, you rightly state that science is the study of observed phenomena. Science too is a premise which is flawed..."
"SCIENCE IS FLAWED..?" the professor splutters.
The class is in uproar.
The Christian remains standing until the commotion has subsided. "To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, may I give you an example of what I mean?" The professor wisely keeps silent.
The Christian looks around the room. "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?" The class breaks out in laughter.
The Christian points towards his elderly, crumbling tutor. "Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain... felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain?"
The Christian shakes his head sadly. "It appears no-one here has had any sensory perception of the professor's brain whatsoever. Well, according to the rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science, I DECLARE that the professor has no brain."
The class is in chaos.
The Christian sits... Because that is what a chair is for.
It refers to a philosophical relationship of God and jiva. The relationship between a figure and its reflection is one of dependence of the reflection on the object for its existence. Both have a real existence, but at the same time the figure is not dependent in any way on the reflection. In the same way God is completely independent, and the jiva, though real, is dependent at all times on the Supreme Lord. There is a relationship, but it is one way. This is in contrast to Ramanuja's doctrine of visistadvaita, which uses the example of the soul and the body to express the relation of God and the jiva. Madhva criticizes this, since the Lord is too intimately related to the jiva. If the body moves, the soul must move with it. If the jiva commits sin, the Lord must get affected. This does not hold true in Madhva's example. Mukti for Madhva means to realize one's relationship as pratibimba to God, or as we would say, nitya krsna dasa.
Brahman and Paramatma worship
Prabhupada generally says that the speculators worship Brahman and the yogis worship Paramatma. But in both cases there is no surrender. Brahman has no features and is identical with the worshiper, how can there be surrender or bhakti? In the case of the Paramatma, as far as I can guess from what I have read in Prabhupada's books, the yogis appreciate the beauty of that figure, but that seems to be a contemplation without much exchange. SP also often added that the yogis take the Paramatma to be an image of themselves.
- a characteristic of intelligence (SB 3.26.30)
(Michael Paul Gallagher SJ: Traditions of Spiritual Discernment as relevant to NRM's in Europe. Based on "Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius", Loyola Univ. Press, Chicago, 1952, p. 329-333. Published in ISKCON Communication Journal, Vol. 3, No.1, June 1995)
"Ignatius sees consolation as coming from God, marked by an increase of love, and as leading to potentially good decisions, and desolation as coming from the bad spirit, marked by disturbance and restlessness, and leading to 'continual deceptions'. A golden rule is never to change a commitment when in desolation, because 'in time of desolation... we can never find the way to a right decision.' ...for discernment, a person must be inwardly free and must be in consolation. But both freedom and consolation are vulnerable. With this as a hinge, Ignatius proposes a much more sophisticated attention to the process of one's spiritual movements. Pay attention not only to the moods of consolation but to their overall orientation. Use the test of time and of where all this is leading you. Examine 'the beginning and middle and end of the course of thoughts' and experiences. If all the fruits are good and lasting, this offers the best available confirmation that the roots are in God. But if at some stage, an element of the less good creeps, beware. ...typical examples of such signals of danger after early euphoria: some closing of the heart, some opting for rigidity, some inclination not to listen to the advice of friends, an impulsiveness, a separation from previous roots (in family or church), a fundamentalism, an inability to dialogue, indeed an inability to discern. Often it goes hand in hand with a shrinking of the field of communication to those in the inner circle, ...being afraid to explore questions about self-deception with a friend or counselor outside immediate circle.include("../sys/bottom.php"); ?>