Archive for June, 2003

Are Vaisnavas Democrats or Republicans? Part II

June 7th, 2003

For the last month I have been traveling throughout the northeast to get the association of my visiting Godbrothers. I gained many realizations in their association, but the constant traveling, late nights, and irregularity made writing very difficult. As a result, I haven’t sent my journal in a while. You can expect, however, to again receive regular journal entries. I’ll start by sharing some of the responses to my last few entries.

Someone wrote, “I thought your article was going to be about politics, not critical thinking.”

My article was about critical thinking. The reference to politics was just a convenient example to explain the need for critical thinking. Krishna consciousness is about “what to do and what not to do.” In that sense, it couldn’t be more about critical thinking. Of course, we shouldn’t misunderstand critical thinking to be analytical ability. One can be very analytical and still not be a critical thinker if one is unable to approach an issue neutrally. I’ve seen so-called broad-minded people parrot phrases like “pro-choice” without ever broaching the obvious issue at hand–whether or not that “choice” is usurping another’s right to life–or apparently educated people men espousing “the right to life,” only to walk under the golden archway the next minute joining the ranks of “93 billion served.”

Critical thinking, however, does not contradict faithfulness; both attitudes are essential to learning. To master any subject one must both faithfully follow the directions of the appropriate experts in the field of that study and raise doubts if their teachings appear equivocal. My recent article, however, saw more of a need to focus on thoughtfulness–the necessity to honestly question our prejudices in the pursuit of knowledge. (In following blindly, there is always a chance that whatever one has accepted faithfully is not actually what the teacher has espoused, but those teachings skewed by our conditioning. Similarly, if one tries to understand things independent of authority solely by analysis, one’s conclusions will certainly be distorted by imperfection and bias. Therefore, Bhagavad-gita advocates submission and inquiry [4.34], and the Bhagavatam recommends faithfulness and thoughtfulness [1.2.13].)

I received the following excerpt from a feminist magazine in response to my article “Are Women Less Intelligent?”:

From the psychologist JoAnn Deak (author of ‘Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters’):

“The new information has staggering implications. All brain research before the year 2000 is dated. There is now enough research to show there are significant differences between male and female brains. Male and female brains also process differently. The male brain is more compartmentalized, using one part of the brain for a singular task. In contrast, the female brain uses many parts for a singular task and also engages both hemispheres. What’s more, the limbic system, which houses the brain’s emotional center, is more sensitive and more active in females. While researchers now say that all thought is attached to emotion, in females the emotional component is more intense and more integrated with the rational brain. Not that every male and female fit these predispositions, but research supports the theory that 80% of the sexes follow the pattern.”

Another devotee contributed an interesting insight on the same issue from the prominent social scientist Eric Fromm:

“In contemporary capitalistic society, the meaning of equality is transformed. By equality one refers to the equality of automatons; of men who have lost their individuality. Equality today means ‘sameness’ rather than ‘oneness.’ It is the sameness of abstractions, of the men who work in the same jobs, who have the same amusements, who read the same newspapers, who have the same feelings and the same ideas. In this respect, one must also look with some skepticism at some achievements which are usually praised as signs of our progress, such as the equality of women. Needless to say I am not speaking against the equality of women; but the positive aspects of this tendency for equality must not deceive one. It is part of the trend toward the elimination of differences. Equality is bought at this very price: women are equal because they are not different anymore. The proposition of Enlightenment philosophy l’ame n’a pas de sexe, the soul has no sex, has become the general practice. The polarity of the sexes is disappearing, and with it erotic love, which is based upon this polarity. Men and women become the same, not equals as opposite poles. Contemporary society preaches this ideal of unindividualized equality because it needs human atoms, each one the same, to make them function in a mass aggregation, smoothly, without friction; all obeying the same commands, yet everybody being convinced that he is following his own desires.”

And finally, I received an an interesting political analysis in reference to my article “Are Vaisnavas Republicans or Democrats?”:

“Vaisnavas are republicans (conservative) with themselves and democrats (liberal) with others.
“Republicans are democrats (liberal) with themselves and republicans (conservative) with others.”
“Democrats are democrats (liberal) with themselves and democrat (liberal) or republican (conservative) with others depending on which gets them the vote.”

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