“Srila Prabhupada gives an example of how if you hear a thing enough times, you believe it even if there is really no reality to it. But that is all about what material propaganda is all about. You just keep hearing the same thing again and again and again. Even if it doesn’t make sense, you believe it because it must be true!” – Radhanath Swami
Prabhupada gives an example of a young man and he had a whole group of friends around him; and they wanted to disturb his mind. So, they all met without him and said, “Let us really make him in anxiety and let us all have a conspiracy. Whenever we meet him we say, ‘Ah! You have become a ghost!’” .So, they all agreed.
So, this young man went to one friend, and (the friend) said, “Ah! You are a ghost! You are a ghost!”
“Ghost? I am the same person I always was.”
“No, you are a ghost!” and the friend runs away.
“Something is wrong with that person.”
And then he meets his next friend.
“Ah! Ghost! Ghost! You have become a ghost!”
“I am not a ghost! I am the same friend you always had!”
“No! No! You are a ….” He runs away.
And after about a dozen of his friends say, “Ghost! Ghost! You’ve become a ghost!”, he actually became depressed! He was thinking, “I have become a ghost. I am a ghost!”
Srila Prabhupada tells another story of how the influence of others can change our perception of reality. Prabhupada said when he was young, he went to a cinema. And there was a famous British comedian of the name Max Linder. And he said he was going to a ballroom dance. And on the way, he had very beautiful formal attire for a ballroom dance with long tails and traditional. So on the way, he sat on a park bench and some naughty boys, they went from behind – he didn’t see – and they nailed some of his clothes to the bench. And when he got up, they ripped. But he didn’t know it and he went to the ballroom and he started dancing. And people were looking at him, because the back of his thighs were showing, part of his rear side was showing and this is a formal British dance.
And all these aristocratic people, they said – “What is this?”
“What is what?”
So, many people were saying things about him. So, he went to the bathroom to see. He looked in the mirror and he saw, “My God! I am exposed!” But, he was very intelligent because he knew human psychology. So, he went right back into the ballroom and started dancing so enthusiastic, with such dynamics that he was just vibrant and people were looking at him.
And they were asking him, “What is that?”
He said, “Oh! You don’t know that’s the new fashion?” And he kept dancing and dancing very proudly.
“This is the new fashion!” So, what happened is everyone in the ballroom started ripping the back part of their clothes off exposing their rear ends and their thighs and was dancing. And everyone there was thinking this is the new fashion. And everyone was dancing with great excitement and enthusiasm.
“So this is how propaganda, the influence of others, can really affect our whole thinking of reality. The society around us, we assume things to be true because they have just always been considered that way by so many people.” – Radhanath Swami
They say – “When the blind leads the blind, they both fall into the ditch.”