Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
Making a "Case" for the Reconstitution of Srila Prabhupada's "Mission"
Rasing Our Spiritual Standards

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Chapter 4
Openness to Challenge

Part 2

“Being Open to Challenge is a Healthy and Desirable Quality”

Being open to challenge is a healthy and desirable thing. It does not mean, however, that a disciple may now see the guru in a relative position. It does mean that the disciple feels the freedom to question and to be satisfied by logic and reason based on sastra. This is the example set in Arjuna putting questions to Krishna, and throughout the Srimad-Bhagavatam as the sages question the speakers. The speakers therein do not assert their authority to discourage questions; rather they welcome the opportunity to speak and clear away the questioner’s confusion. In the Bhagavatam the questioner is often glorified for asking questions.

And, as pointed out earlier,

“The only way we can be certain that our map of reality is valid is to expose it to the criticism and challenge of other map-makers. Otherwise, we live in a closed system–within a bell jar, rebreathing only our own fetid air, and more and more subject to delusion.”

A discussion on openness to challenge naturally leads, therefore, to a discussion of criticism.

Quotes Applicable to Chapter 4 Discussion.

Our chief want in life is someone who will make us do what we can. —Emerson.

The finding of arguments for a conclusion given in advance is not philosophy, but special pleading. —Bertrand Russell.

Power breeds isolation. Isolation leads to the capricious use of power. In turn, the capricious use of power breaks down the normal channels of communication between the leader and the people whom he leads. This ultimately means the deterioration of power and with it the capacity to sustain unity in our society. — George Reedy

Leadership is action, not position. — Donald H. McGannon

The man who uses force admits that his ideas have given out. — Chinese Proverb

What makes the difference between a man that is truly great and one that is merely rich and powerful? It is the simple things that make the difference. Honesty, knowing right from wrong, openness, self-respect, and the courage of conviction. —Variation on wording of Governor David L. Boren

The value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. — Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Anyone who has begun to think places some portion of the world in jeopardy. — John Dewey

The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar … Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have … always been derided as fools and madmen. — Aldous Huxley

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. — Saul Bellow

Most ignorance is vincible ignorance: we do not know because we do not want to know. — Aldous Huxley

Genuine ignorance is … profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open-mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish waterproof to new ideas. — John Dewey

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