Buddhist monks engaged in mock debate at the Seda Monastery
Last night I spoke to some of our brahmacaris and youth on the subject of argument and debate in Krishna consciousness. It was not a scheduled talk but I was a rather inferior substitute for Jayadvaita Swami, who was sick and still recuperating in Sweden.
I began by explaining that although spiritual life can help one to attain inner tranquility and personal peace, still we should not mistakenly reject verbal argument as a technique in offering spiritual logic to others.
If we’re overly concerned with popularity, with people liking us, then our preaching style may slowly drift towards accommodating the ideas of those around us. Our potency will be reduced, and we’ll effectively have nothing to contribute. Eventually we’ll end up unpopular.
And if we’re overly concerned with impressing others as to how right we are, how superior our ideas are, without listening to others first, then we may drift towards intolerance and fail equally miserably as communicators.
Yet, even if we strive for a delicate balance between those two extremes, verbal preaching to the newcomer usually involves some kind of confrontation between firmly-held ideas.
Since some of our basic messages are always popular, and some always unpopular, we will, at some stage, have to make a forceful presentation. Jiva Goswami says that a person can actually come to Krishna consciousness by the forceful arguments of a Vaishnava, and its a technique that Srila Prabhupada used to great effect.
I described some of the ways in which people offer illogical thinking in their rebuttal of Vaishnava philosophy, and how we need to learn the various types of weak argument that actually seem strong to the untrained.
We split in to groups and then had a go at debating for around 25 minutes. I asked everyone to get actively involved in vigorous, verbal argument. The result was very lively. Kirtan afterwards, followed by pizza, chips, and ice-cream. No arguments.
You can see the recording of this evening, plus a lot more films (you will have to wait for two minutes for it all to download properly) , by clicking HERE.