IMAGINATION & EXPERIENCE = FAITH
Learning is not exactly just taking authority. It is also thinking, comparing different sources of knowledge, how they fit to each other, where they are complementary and where they differ and what is more likely to match our experience and our thoughts, our imagination. Because this is all we have: experience and imagination. What is beyond our experience might be only described by imagination, right?
This is very true, but let's go deeper and let’s define what imagination is. it's images in your mind. for example you see a snake, then you close your eyes and through a neat device called imagination you can still see the snake, but not through your eyes, but through your mind. this is one type of imagination. you imagine things you have already seen. let's call it the eye imagination. then another type of imagination is that which puts images in your mind you don't remember ever seeing. for example in a dream you see a face you have never seen before, you are in a place which you don't remember ever visiting etc. this is the mind imagination. what i would like to point out is that you are not in charge in any of those processes. first of all for the eye imagination you need to accept the authority of your eyes in order to have it and the mind imagination you are accepting the authority of your mind. sometimes you don't believe in your eyes. just like tom and jerry cartoon, a character sees something strange and he blinks several times or shakes his head fast just to make sure he's not being deluded. that means that you and the eyes are two different things. another point is that things you see also do not depend on your choice. if you're born in an African tribe which is cut off from the rest of the world and if i ask you to imagine a man, you will imagine a man who is black, cuz that's the only race you have seen. you do not decide where you are born, neither about things which you see in this world. your life is a movie and images are so to speak flashing in front of your eyes whether you like them or not. your freedom of choice is limited by the circumstances you are in. with the mind imagination, you are basically depending on some "unexplainable accident" by which the dream or image of a phenomenon which you have never seen before comes to you, so again another authority, something beyond you. it's not you who decides that you are going to have an imagination of that unknown phenomenon. if you were deciding it, it would not be unknown. Here’s an interesting sloka on this topic:
ye śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya
teṣāṁ niṣṭhā tu kā kṛṣṇa
sattvam āho rajas tamaḥ
Arjuna said, O Kṛṣṇa, what is the situation of one who does not follow the principles of scripture but worships according to his own imagination? Is he in goodness, in passion or in ignorance?
tri-vidhā bhavati śraddhā
dehināṁ sā svabhāva-jā
sāttvikī rājasī caiva
tāmasī ceti tāṁ śṛṇu
The Supreme Lord said, according to the modes of nature acquired by the embodied soul, one's faith can be of three kinds-goodness, passion or ignorance. Now hear about these.
śraddhā bhavati bhārata
śraddhā-mayo 'yaṁ puruṣo
yo yac-chraddhaḥ sa eva saḥ
According to one's existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired.
Our imagination or simply faith therefore, although seemingly free is actually conditioned and conditioning. The beginning of realization of the Complete Whole is imagination. We cannot perceive the Complete Whole by our limited senses directly and that is why we imagine the Complete Whole. Our imagination however is conditioned by the different modes of material nature mentioned above. One who lives in the state of goodness, in other words cultivates knowledge, lives pure life will imagine according to that. One who lives in the mode of passion, always hankering after sex, money, fruits of his actions, results, will imagine according to that and one who lives in ignorance will also imagine according to his particular state, so we have to get these conditionings out of our imagination before we have a truly unbiased viewpoint.
We are completely conditioned and because we are presently in ignorance, we can understand that our choice of authorities have not been…well…to put it nicely…that wise. Unless we acknowledge this, any attempt to know the Complete Whole is completely futile.
One may argue that we might be completely conditioned, that’s true, but we do have an experience of things. Taking all the conditioning of our thinking, etc,
the experience by itself without giving it any value is ours and unique. No one perceives the world as you do. But let’s say that one year ago at this time, you were taking sunbath in Hawaii. You
are not having the sunbath right now so one may say that it is again in one sense beyond your experience. What makes the difference is your remembrance. Through this wonderful device you can
recall memories of the experiences you had previously from your subconscious.
Theoretically, therefore we could say that you could possibly remember everything that is within your experience.
Before we accept someone as an authority, who knows about things beyond our exp., we have a chance to ascertain whether the authority is bona fide or not. We compare things he says with things which are within our exp. If there’s a match, then we develop trust. It’s just like a Vedic astrologer –first he tells you about your past, and then if there’s a match and it’s true, he tells you about future. If he gets the past wrong, then you don’t have to waste time asking him about future. You know he’s a cheater. In other words, if the authority is completely perfect, it must know of everything within your experience.
The problem is however, that we are presently unable to remember everything within our experience. This is due to remembrance’s ugly little brother called forgetfulness. This little trickster is harassing us when we try to find keys, remember the day of our wife’s birthday, or a place where we hid one million dollars 10 years ago. Furthermore, there are things you want to forget but you can’t. And there are things which you want to remember but you can’t. There are things you don’t want to forget, but you will. And there are things, which you don’t want to remember, but you will. So it is a great disturbance. Sometimes we do manage to forget a bad memory and indeed we are able to remember where we put the keys. In order to do that though, you again need the help of remembrance. If you do not remember what logical analysis means at the time you need it, you’re going to be in a mess even if you are a logical superman.
From this you can see that we cannot trust our experience either. We cannot verify things beyond our experience neither we can verify things within our experience. We’re completely dependent and although fully controlled, we still think we’re free. This false sense of independence is ironically the root cause of our bondage.
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate
The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.
You are reading this because you can, not because you want. If it was solely because you wanted, then you could do it anytime, but that’s not the case. You have to go to bed, you have to take a break to eat something, you need to go to a job, so many things are restricting us from doing what we want. Everything we do is heavily conditioned by material nature. But because we forget this, we become disturbed. This disturbance is due to our illusion of being the doer being threatened and this same illusion is the cause of our entanglement in the cycle of action and reaction.
dehy ajño 'jita-ṣaḍ-vargo
necchan karmāṇi kāryate
The foolish embodied living entity, inept at controlling his senses and mind, is forced to act according to the influence of the modes of material nature, against his desires. He is like a silkworm that uses its own saliva to create a cocoon and then becomes trapped in it, with no possibility of getting out. The living entity traps himself in a network of his own fruitive activities and then can find no way to release himself. Thus he is always bewildered, and repeatedly he dies.
SB 6.1.52 original edition
As long as we want to maintain the illusion of being independent in our actions, we have to take reaction for our activities and this means we need to take another material body. Bhagavadgita calls the body “a field of activities”. It is a field where the fruits of our action grow. Thus we suffer again and again the painful bodily experience of birth, death, old age and disease.
One who is attached to the result of his work is also the cause of the action. Thus he is the enjoyer or sufferer of the result of such actions.
Bg 2.47 purport
The word Vedas is therefore not a sectarian terminology, but refers to any book, which teaches people how to attain liberation from such false bodily conception via regulations.
The word veda means "book of knowledge." There are many books of knowledge, which vary according to the country, population, environment, etc. In India the books of knowledge are referred to as the Vedas. In the West they are called the Old Testament and New Testament. The Muhammadans accept the Koran. What is the purpose for all these books of knowledge? They are to train us to understand our position as pure soul. Their purpose is to restrict bodily activities by certain rules and regulations, and these rules and regulations are known as codes of morality. The Bible, for instance, has ten commandments intended to regulate our lives. The body must be controlled in order for us to reach the highest perfection, and without regulative principles, it is not possible to perfect our lives. The regulative principles may differ from country to country or from scripture to scripture, but that doesn't matter, for they are made according to the time and circumstances and the mentality of the people.
(Beyond Birth And Death 1: We Are Not These Bodies)