Common sense as soul’s proof

Srila Prabhupada many times gave an example to disprove Darwin’s theory; if life comes from chemicals then why is it that in state laws all over the world a murderer is hanged while a thief is just arrested? He used many such examples to show that by common sense it can be proved that life comes from life and not chemicals. Another example he often used was that in every language, when a man dies, it is said that he has gone away. This is common sense shared by everyone, that something living has left the dead body. When I was new in devotional service (for some years) whenever I used to read these statements from Srila Prabhupada’s books I used to think that how is it that Srila Prabhupada is trying to make a point about something using common sense? This is because the idea of using commons sense can be defective (unreliable). This is because what I perceive by common sense is not necessarily correct. Someone may say that; according to my common sense life comes from matter.

Later I came to understand (by mercy) something very interesting. Scientists say that life comes from chemicals, but for that they neither have any observational nor experimental support that conclusively proves this fact. In such circumstances, even according to modern scientific methods, priority should be given to knowledge gained by common sense. Otherwise anyone can come and say anything according to their imagination. In any society laws should be based on accurate knowledge and thus unless proof is available, common practices followed for centuries cannot be changed.

So in this case, Srila Prabhupada is exposing the scientists’ cheating in establishing Darwin’s theory without proof, and then he establishes the point that people’s common sense says that life is different from matter. So in society, the soul’s existence should be accepted. We see that Srila Prabhupada would always attack scientists by saying  “can bring a dead body back to life?” or “at least create a mosquito in your laboratory” and then when they reply that “we will be able to do it in the future” then Prabhupāda would say “this is rascaldom. Trust no future however pleasant”. This is exactly the point – Srila Prabhupada means that “you are establishing something in the society without having any support for it and when asked for the proof you say that we will do it in future. This is cheating. First you have to prove something, and then you can establish it.”

Srila Prabhupada would also give the example; “Suppose I say that I possess millions of dollars, and when you ask me for some money I say, “Yes, I will now give you a big postdated check. Is that all right?”” (LCL 2)

This means that I say I will have some money in the future but you now help me with something, say get me a house or land and I give a postdated check, which means a promise to give money in future. So this will not at all be practical – no businessman will accept this. Similarly scientists say “leave all the old rules and regulations – and accept that there is no life after death” and when asked for proof they say “we will prove it in the future”. So this should not be accepted by any sane society.

Now there is one wonderful thing about common sense. Common sense means the sense that is common to a particular group. For example for people staying in northern hemisphere it is common sense to think that May month means hot season while for people staying in southern hemisphere it is a common sense to think that May month means cold season. So generally common sense means the sense common to a particular group, and it is mainly based on previous experiences of the whole group.

One develops common sense by experience – for example a child gets the sense that fire burns by getting burnt once or twice by fire. So in absence of some proper proof a sense common to a larger group is to be given higher authenticity. Now the sense that life is separate from matter is, to everyone’s surprise, common to each and every living entity (even the scientist who says life comes from matter). The point is that every living entity has the desire to live forever – be he a cat, a dog, or a human being (including scientists who believe life comes from matter). But the experience common to each living entity is that everyone has to die and cannot live forever. Still his desire to live forever doesn’t change. This is something surprising. Generally a child who doesn’t know that fire burns, after two to three burns develops a sense that fire does burn and stays away from it. Similarly a person learns many things by experience. But why doesn’t any of the living entities learn by experience that everyone has to die and thus give up this desire to live forever? This is due to the common spiritual origin of each living entity as soul. This desire is common to all and as it is spiritual it cannot be changed lest the living entity loses its living character. So besides proof by the sastras, we can also support this point by common sense that life is different from matter, and since every living entity shares this sense in common, society should be designed according to this.




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