Monday Morning Greetings 2021 #17 – Unmasking the Truth

April 26th, 2021

I hope this will be the last COVID article I write, but I honestly have little choice what I write. It’s not easy to come up with something of substance to communicate every week. I have to just grab whatever realization comes by the time I have to start writing my next post and run with it. Sometimes my inspiration is a topical issue. Hopefully I have the empowerment to see those issues through the eyes of śāstra, and also to get the facts right about what I am commenting on. That’s the challenge.


Someone asked me if making a recommendation about wearing masks is śāstra. I didn’t make a recommendation about masks. I made a recommendation to be independently thoughtful in order to avoid letting ideological predispositions overly influence one’s opinions. For that purpose, to help test my readers’ objectivity, I presented what I thought was a reasonable study on masks that had challenged my own understanding. Before I sent it, I then checked the reasonableness of that study with people I highly trust. After it was published, most of the people I got feedback from thought my last article was fair. Two academics, one trained in the field of logic and another in rhetoric, however, independently questioned the fairness of my presentation. A spirited conversation ensued. One of the main points of my article was that we should be open-minded and detached, and follow where the facts lead, even if that forces us to turn around a previously held position. Those discussions convinced me that in order to balance my presentation, I should include the comprehensive and up-to-date study testing the efficacy of masks that one of them sent me. I have posted that below. [1] I am convinced that holding a forum where the expression of opposing opinions is welcome, even if we vigorously oppose them, is the best way to bring the most people to the healthiest consensus.


When I think about these discussions and the attempt to get to the bottom of any of these issues, it always brings me back to the title of my last article, which is also commensurate with the problem I saw when I started trying to deeply understand these issues: “Whom do you trust?” I think the conclusion of my last post still holds in relation to the quandary of the modern age, which is identifying reliable authority.


Now, “whom do I trust?” I’m not sure in these matters, but there is one thing I did learn from Śrīla Prabhupāda that can be applied in all endeavors to understand the truth—without sincerely wanting and praying for the truth, no matter whether that truth conforms to our desires or not, and in addition cultivating the detachment to accept that truth, we will always be susceptible to the false authority of cheaters and rogues.


So, my main topic is really not about masks. It’s about the need to be detached, thoughtful, and the willingness to consider points of view different from one’s own, and I hope this article reaffirms my commitment to that.


I think I have had my fill of topical commentary for a while. I pray that next week Krishna inspires me to write more directly about transcendence. And that is my final conclusion on unmasking the truth.




[1] A summary of 58 studies on the effectiveness of masks can be found in Table 3 of “A rapid review of the use of face mask in preventing the spread of COVID-19”, published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies Advances (Volume 3, 2021). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666142X20300126?via%3Dihub#tbl0003. The table can also be viewed on page 6 of the PDF version of the study.

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