René Descartes was a great thinker, an eminent Christian scholar, and his thoughts have arguably shaped the foundations of Christianity.
Unfortunately, he got at least one basic thing wrong, “cogito ergo sum” – translated as “I think, therefore I am”. This statement shows Descartes’ ignorance. Consciousness is not dependent on “thinking”.
Consciousness is the fundamental symptom of life – all living entities have lower or higher consciousness, some can think at a more advanced level based on how evolved their consciousness is, and some at a less advanced level.
Who am I to be criticizing the great Descartes? Yes. I must admit that I am not even a tiny fraction of that mighty thinker. I am just a little recovering atheist. But my knowledge, that is not mine, it is not original. I am not speaking on anything that I have come up with myself, but relying on the words of God Himself. The Bhagavad Gita is quite literally “The Song of God”. I rely on the Bhagavad Gita. But there are way too many mis-translations and misinterpretations of this Divine Book unfortunately, which have been written by speculators with a poor fund of knowledge.
So I rely on the great Acharyas, teachers who received this knowledge in disciplic succession from God. If I threw a mango from the top of a tree to the ground, it would smash, and become unfit to consume, but if I organized a chain of people from the topmost branch of the mango tree to the ground, with ladders and so on, as needed, then the mango could make it safely into my hands.
In the disciplic succession, Parampara, each person in the chain acts as an honest messenger – they repeat everything exactly in line with what their predecessor did, without any addition or subtraction – and you can verify what they said by checking up on what their spiritual master said. So, even if a particular link in the chain may be accepted as ordinary (though none of them can actually be ordinary, that is a matter for another day), still, the message is pristine and perfect.
So I rely on the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is 32nd (from Krishna, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead), 28th(from Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, the Literary Incarnation of Krishna), or 11th(Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Krishna Himself, appearing as His devotee to show us how to be one) link in the chain originating from God Himself. And even though I have not met Srila Prabhupada personally, I am a disciple of His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari, who is a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada, which makes my spiritual master 33rd, 29th, or 12th in line from God Himself. Not only my own spiritual master, but I have benefited from the thousands of disciples of Srila Prabhupada, and I have benefited from many other souls who are in other branches of the same tree of disciplic succession, going back at least 5,000 and 500 years. However, the knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita has been extant in civilized society in our Universe for at least 40 Million years. However, as the Universe is 114 Trillion years old, this knowledge is that ancient in this Universe.
However, as this Universe is just like a flash in the pan, a proverbial flash of lightning in the fabric of eternity, this knowledge is actually eternal.
The fact that my knowledge is not “original” but is coming from a long line of teachers originating from God Himself, that is my only strength. On the purity, strength, and intelligence of these great souls, I dare say Descartes is wrong.
A crude example is that a small child may say 2+2=4, not know how that is so, but it does not change the fact that the child is right. The child heard this from someone who does understand numbers and addition, so on the strength of that person’s knowledge, the child is right.
Or let’s take the example of a normal person, perfectly capable when sober, but when they are intoxicated, they are no better than an animal, at least temporarily. If another man were to kill the drunken person, would that not count as murder? So even a short-term mental disability is not grounds for ny mistreatment.
Now take for example two sons of the same father. One, the elder, is strong, intelligent, and capable… the other, younger, let’s say, for the purpose of this example, a whimpering idiot, cannot learn anything, cannot do much, and cannot, for the life of him, stand up to his brother. Comparing
If the capable boy were to propose to the father that they kill the retarded younger son, because, he might say, let’s face it, he’s no better than an animal, would the father agree? Even if the father agreed with the elder son’s assessment of the younger brother, still, he would not allow the younger son to be killed, even with his long-term disability.
On the streets of various cities in the world, I have personally met many drunk or drugged humans, and to be honest, they are actually lower than some animals!
Animals are no less than the mentally challenged human, whether long-term or short-term. They are spirit souls encaged in a body and mind that don’t permit higher consciousness, not very difficult from a drunk or drugged human. But this conflation of thinking with the presence or absence of a soul has caused a grave injustice in this world.
If only Descartes was fortunate enough to receive instruction from the Song of God!
सर्वयोनिषु कौन्तेय मूर्तय: सम्भवन्ति या: ।
तासां ब्रह्म महद्योनिरहं बीजप्रद: पिता ॥ ४ ॥
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kuntī, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/14/4/
Descartes’ grave error has encouraged the Christians around the world to commit murder with impunity. They interpret the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” as “Thou shalt not kill another human unnecessarily”. This is leading hosts of Christians into endless lifetimes of suffering birth, death, old age, and disease, being born as animals repeatedly, only to be mercilessly slaughtered.
In modern times there is really no excuse for eating meat. Fruits, Roots, Nuts, Vegetables, Grains are abundantly available and milk products obtained from Ahimsa farms can be made available too.
Christians and others who follow any kind of spiritual tradition need to rise above the sad ignorance of Descartes and stop eating meat unless it were a matter of life and death, because Meat is not for spiritualists, meat is for animals, even if the animals happen to be in human form.