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Object-Knowledge, Not Truth
Gunther: Abrupt climate change: since you made some references towards the loss of topsoil due to agriculture and also a few remarks on climate change in your article on the politics and morality of food, I wanted to share the following information (from the ShiningWorld forum) with you (link here).
I wrote the short information about abrupt climate change in July 2015 (that’s about three or fourt months after I started to study Vedanta). In general, it sounds quite radical, even downright unbelievable. But for the inquirer it can be a great impetus to fully submerge oneself in studying Vedanta. After all, what is more important than self-inquiry, especially with the information in the background that society as we know it might not survive for long?
But to forego any misinterpretation: I am not sharing this information so that it becomes widely known among the ShiningWorld community. I have no interest in that! And I even would definitely discourage it (if you had a hard time bringing the message forward that “life eats life,” then just imagine bringing the message forward that society might disappear within the next few years!! It would create much distress and even hatred among most people, as can be seen by the example that many climate scientists in the USA applied officially for asylum in Germany, Denmark, the UK, Sweden, etc.).
Sundari: I did not have trouble bringing the “life eats life” message to anyone. Some people may have had trouble with it, but that is their problem, not mine, as this is not my view or belief. It is just a statement of fact and irrefutably true about how the field of existence operates. Your views on climate change are not based on irrefutable knowledge and cannot be conflated with this statement, and certainly not with self-knowledge.
Gunther: I am just sharing it with you because I personally found it truly LIBERATING that our society is not going to survive for many more decades (apparently, it is possible to disappear any time soon due to certain feedback loops within nature: permafrost, disappearing North Pole ice, growing economies, etc.).
Sundari: This is just opinion, Gunther, nothing more. Scientists are not Isvara and they never take Isvara into account, because they believe the apparent reality is real.
Gunther: In any case, life changes and disappears! This is not particularly new information for us Vedantins! After all, we know that this reality exists, but it is not true! We know that life as we know it changes all the time. Life as such could disappear any time (it is all up to Isvara). It is nothing shocking to us, only to our jivas who have made plans for the upcoming years! ☺
Sundari: Thank you for sharing your article and views. We are pleased that you are taking such an interest in the forum, but I must say this kind of article is not really what we have in mind to be discussed on the forum. It seems to have a fear-mongering slant to it, which is the antithesis of self-knowledge. Fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. But you are right that fear may be useful to beginners to turn the mind inwards and to self-inquiry. For an inquirer starting out on the path, fear can produce great bhakti for Isvara and for finding the truth, but ultimately fear is self-defeating and immobilizing unless it is directed towards Isvara.
Gunther: Both Vedanta and abrupt climate change share certain similarities, in my understanding:
1. Both seem unbelievable at first.
2. Both are only accessible for certain qualified seekers.
3. And both can be truly liberating in the end.
I would love to hear your opinion on the stuff above. But it is not absolutely necessary. The intent of this email is to show you my gratitude for your article. To support you emotionally, to support your good work so you keep on doing similar things!
Again, it is not my intent to spread the information about abrupt climate change, even if it appears to the contrary. ☺
Sundari: Who would be the ones qualified for this kind of knowledge – and what independent body of knowledge is there to decide on the necessary qualifications? You cannot compare whoever they would be to those qualified for self-knowledge, nor are there any valid qualifications other than those set down by the scripture for moksa. Although the field of existence, or apparent reality, is run by natural laws which cannot be contravened without consequence, it is impossible to say with any certainty how those consequences play out. Only Isvara knows.
Vedanta (self-knowledge/satya) is about moksa, freedom from the apparent reality. Self-knowledge is that which stands independently of all opinions and beliefs and that which is always true and always good – in all situations and circumstances. This is why you can trust it. Object-knowledge must be true to the object to be knowledge – and even then, that does not automatically qualify it as knowledge, or Truth with a capital “T.” Knowledge of climate change is object knowledge (mithya), which may be knowledge and it may not be. It may be your belief that the future is apocalyptic, but that does not make it Truth, no matter how much “scientific proof” you have for your views. Even though it is obvious to anyone that the climate is going through changes and becoming less and less predictable, whether or not this is caused by human intervention or the result of natural cycles, it is still all Isvara.
And one very important fact to remember: climate change is Isvara but Isvara is not climate change.
The issue with your questions is not to confuse satya with mithya. Vedanta is satya, the world is mithya. They are not the same and exist in different orders of reality. As stated above and as you well know, something like climate change is the field of existence/Isvara; no one is doing anything. It’s just macrocosmic ignorance and it will play out how it plays out. As drastic as things may appear to be on the surface, no one can say what Isvara has in mind for this little lila. It is our belief that society will somehow adapt, that it is not “too late for change” and that life will go on, until it does not anymore. If it is in a few decades or a few billion years from now, what does it matter to awareness? This is all a movie after all. Karma yoga as always is the only sane approach for the jiva, self-realised or not.Self-knowledge allows us to live without fear of ANY outcome and to embrace the beauty of life. A doomsday approach is not helpful and is deeply tamasic; there have always been plenty of those ideas in the apparent reality, and they are pointless.
There are some real changes being made; even though it appears to be very late, who knows for sure? This could just be the beginning of a completely new phase of life for this creation. We think the show will go on!
~ Love from us, Sundari