Carl Jung: Seeker Without a Guide
Carl Jung (1865-1961) was a student of Freud who broke with him and began his own school of psychiatry. He is best known for his work in exploring the unconscious and for championing the importance of philosophy, religion, and mysticism in understanding the human mind.
Disciple: Jung gave the following criticism of Sigmund Freud: "Sexuality evidently meant more to Freud than to other people. For him it was something to be religiously observed.... One thing was clear: Freud, who had always made much of his irreligiosity, had now constructed a dogma. Or rather, in the place of a jealous God whom he had lost, he had substituted another compelling image, that of sexuality."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is a fact. He has taken sexuality to be God. It is our natural tendency to accept a leader, and Freud simply abandoned the leadership of God and took up the leadership of sex. On the other hand, if we accept the leadership of Kṛṣṇa, our life becomes perfect. All other leadership is the leadership of māyā [illusion]. There is no doubt that we have to accept a leader. Although Freud would not admit it, he accepted sex as his leader, and consequently he was constantly speaking about sex. Those who have taken God as their leader will speak only of God, nothing else. Jīvera 'svarūpa' haya-kṛṣṇera 'nitya-dāsa' [Cc. Madhya 20.108]. According to Caitanya Mahāprabhu's philosophy, we are all eternal servants of God, but as soon as we give up God's service, we have to accept the service of māyā.
Disciple: Jung sees the mind as being composed of a balance of the conscious and the unconscious, or subconscious. It is the function of the personality to integrate these. For instance, if one has a strong sex drive, he can sublimate or channel it into art or religious activity.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is our process. The sex impulse is natural for everyone in the material world. But if we think of Kṛṣṇa embracing Rādhārāṇī or dancing with the gopīs, our sex impulse is sublimated and weakened. If one hears about the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs from the right source, lusty desire within the heart will be suppressed, and one will be able to develop devotional service.
Disciple: This would be an example of what Jung would call integration or individuation, whereby the energies of the subconscious sex impulse are channeled into conscious, creative activity directed toward God realization.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: What we must understand is that Kṛṣṇa is the only puruṣa, the only enjoyer. If we help Him in His enjoyment, we also receive enjoyment. We are predominated, and He is the predominator. On the material platform, if a husband wants to enjoy the wife, the wife must voluntarily help him in that enjoyment. By helping him, the wife also becomes an enjoyer. Similarly, the supreme predominator, the supreme enjoyer, is Kṛṣṇa. And the predominated, the enjoyed, are the living entities. When the living entities agree to help Kṛṣṇa's sex desire, they become enjoyers.
Disciple: What is meant by Kṛṣṇa's sex desire?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: You might say "sense enjoyment." Kṛṣṇa is the supreme proprietor of the senses, and when we help Kṛṣṇa in His sense enjoyment, we also naturally partake of that enjoyment. The sweet rasagullā [a confection made from milk] is meant to be enjoyed, and therefore the hand puts it into the mouth so that it can be tasted and go to the stomach The hand cannot enjoy the rasagullā directly. Kṛṣṇa is the only direct enjoyer; all others are indirect enjoyers. By satisfying Kṛṣṇa, others will be satisfied. Upon seeing the predominator happy, the predominated become happy.
Disciple: Psychologists say that quite often the subconscious is acting through the conscious, but that we do not know it.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. The subconscious is there, but it is not always manifest. Sometimes a thought suddenly becomes manifest, just as a bubble will suddenly emerge in a pond. You may not be able to understand why it emerges, but we may assume that it was in the subconscious state and suddenly became manifest. That subconscious thought which is manifest does not necessarily have any connection with one's present consciousness. It is like a stored impression, a shadow or a photograph. The mind takes many snapshots, and they are stored.
Disciple: Jung could see that the soul is always longing for light, and he wrote of the urge within the soul to rise out of darkness. He noted the pent-up feeling in the eyes of primitive people and a certain sadness in the eyes of animals. He wrote, "There is a sadness in animals' eyes, and we never know whether that sadness is bound up with the soul of the animal or is a poignant message which speaks to us out of that existence."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Every living entity, including man, is constitutionally a servant. Therefore everyone is seeking some master, and that is our natural propensity. You can often see a puppy attempt to take shelter of some boy or man, and that is his natural tendency. He is saying, "Give me shelter. Keep me as your friend." A child or a man also wants some shelter in order to be happy. That is our constitutional position. When we attain the human form, when our consciousness is developed, we should take Kṛṣṇa as our shelter and our leader. In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa tells us that if we want shelter and guidance, we should take His. Sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66]. This is the ultimate instruction of the Bhagavad-gītā.
Disciple: Jung would say that our understanding of Kṛṣṇa as the supreme father and the cause of all causes is an archetypal understanding shared by all humans. All people have the tendency to understand someone to be their supreme father and primal cause, and they will represent Him in different ways. The archetype, however, is the same.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, it is exactly the same. Kṛṣṇa, or God, is the supreme father. A father has many sons, and all men are sons of God, born of their father. This is an experience common to everyone at all times.
Disciple: Jung believed that because there are so many subconscious factors governing our personality, we must awaken to them. Unless we do so, we are more or less slaves to our subconscious life. The point of psychoanalysis is to reveal as many aspects of our subconscious life as possible and enable us to face them.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is what we are teaching. We say that presently the soul is in a sleeping state, and we are telling the soul, "Please wake up! Please wake up! You are not this body! You are not this body!" It is possible to awaken the human being, but other living entities cannot be awakened. A tree, for instance, has consciousness, but he is so packed in matter that you cannot raise him to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A human being, on the other hand, has developed consciousness, which is manifest in different stages. Lower life forms are more or less in a dream state.
Disciple: Whereas Freud was sexually oriented, Jung was more or less spiritually oriented. In his autobiography—Memories, Dreams, Reflections—Jung writes, "I find that all my thoughts circle around God like the planets around the sun, and are as irresistibly attracted by Him. I would feel it to be the grossest sin if I were to put up any resistance to this force." Jung sees all creatures as parts of God and at the same time unique in themselves. He writes, "Man cannot compare himself with any other creature; he is not a monkey, not a cow, not a tree. I am a man. But what is it to be that? Like every other being, I am a splinter of the infinite Deity ..."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: It is also our philosophy that we are part and parcel of God, just as sparks are part of a fire.
Disciple: Jung further writes in his autobiography, "It was obedience which brought me grace.... One must be utterly abandoned to God; nothing matters but fulfilling His will. Otherwise, all is folly and meaningless."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Very good. Surrender unto God is real spiritual life. Sarva-dharmān parityajya [Bg. 18.66]. Surrender to God means accepting that which is favorable to God and rejecting that which is unfavorable. The devotee is always convinced that God will give him all protection. He remains humble and meek and thinks himself as one of the members of God's family. This is real spiritual communism. Communists think, "I am a member of a certain community," but it is a man's duty to think, "I am a member of God's family." God is the supreme father, material nature is the mother, and living entities are all sons of God. There are living entities everywhere—on land and in the air and water. There is no doubt that material nature is the mother, and according to our experience we can understand that a mother cannot produce a child without a father. It is absurd to think that a child can be born without a father. A father must be there, and the supreme father is God. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness, a person understands that the creation is a spiritual family headed by one supreme father.
Disciple: Concerning God's personality, Jung writes this: "According to the Bible, God has a personality and is the ego of the universe, just as I myself am the ego of my psychic and physical being."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. The individual is conscious of his own body, but not of the bodies of others. Besides the individual soul or consciousness in the body, there is the Paramātmā, the Supersoul, the superconsciousness present in everyone's heart. This is discussed in Bhagavad-gītā [13.3]:
kṣetra-jñaṁ cāpi māṁ viddhi sarva-kṣetreṣu bhārata
kṣetra-kṣetrajñayor jñānaṁ yat taj jñānaṁ mataṁ mama
"You should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its knower is called knowledge."
Disciple: Recalling his difficulties in understanding God's personality, Jung writes, "Here I encountered a formidable obstacle. Personality, after all, surely signifies character. Now, character is one thing and not another; that is to say, it involves certain specific attributes. But if God is everything, how can He still possess a distinguishable character? ... What kind of character or what kind of personality does He have?"
Śrīla Prabhupāda: God's character is transcendental, not material, and thus He has attributes. For instance, He is very kind to His devotee, and this kindness may be considered one of His characteristics or attributes. Whatever qualities or characteristics we have are but minute manifestations of God's. God is the origin of all attributes and characteristics. As indicated in the śāstra [scriptures], He also has mind, senses, feelings, sense perception, sense gratification, and everything else. Everything is there unlimitedly, and since we are part and parcel of God, we possess His qualities in minute quantities. The original qualities are in God and are manifest minutely in ourselves.
According to the Vedas God is a person, but His personality is unlimited. Just as my consciousness is limited to this body and His consciousness is the superconsciousness within every body, so I am a person confined to this particular body and He is the superperson living within all. As Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gītā [2.12], the personality of God and the personalities of the individual souls are eternally existing. Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna on the battlefield, "Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings, nor in the future shall any of us cease to be." Both God and the living entity are eternally persons, but God's personality is unlimited and the individual's personality is limited. God has unlimited power, wealth, fame, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation. We have limited, finite power, knowledge, fame, and so on. That is the difference between the two personalities.
Disciple:: Jung found that philosophies and theologies could not give him a clear picture of God's personality. He writes this: "'What is wrong with these philosophers?' I wondered—evidently, they know of God only by hearsay."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is also our complaint. The philosophers we have studied have failed to give any clear idea of God. Because they are speculating, they cannot give concrete, clear information. As far as we are concerned, our understanding of God is clear because we simply receive the information given to the world by God Himself. Kṛṣṇa is accepted as the Supreme Person by Vedic authorities; therefore we should have no reason not to accept Him as such. Nārāyaṇa, Lord Śiva, and Lord Brahmā possess different percentages of God's attributes, but Kṛṣṇa possesses all the attributes cent percent, in totality. Rūpa Gosvāmī has analyzed this in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, which we have translated as The Nectar of Devotion.
In any case, God is a person, and if we study man's attributes, we can also know something of God's. Just as we enjoy ourselves with friends, parents, and others, God also enjoys Himself in various relationships. There are five primary and seven secondary relationships that the living entities can have with God. Since the living entities take pleasure in these relationships, God is described as akhila-rasāmṛta-sindhu, the reservoir of all pleasure. There is no need to speculate about God or to try to imagine Him. The process for understanding is described by Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā [7.1]:
mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu
"Now hear, O Arjuna, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt." You can learn about God by always keeping yourself under His protection, or under the protection of His representative. Then without a doubt you can perfectly understand God; otherwise there is no question of understanding Him.
Disciple: Jung goes on to point out the difference between theologians and philosophers. He writes, "At least they [the theologians] are sure that God exists, even though they make contradictory statements about Him.... God's existence does not depend on our proofs.... I understand that God was, for me at least, one of the most certain and immediate of experiences."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is a transcendental conviction. One may not know God, but it is very easy to understand that God is there. One has to learn about God's nature, but there is no doubt about the fact that God is there. Any sane man can understand that he is being controlled. So who is that controller? The supreme controller is God. This is the conclusion of a sane man. Jung is right when he says that God's existence does not depend on our proof.
Disciple: Jung continues to recall his early spiritual quests in this way: "In my darkness ... I could have wished for nothing better than a real, live guru, someone possessing superior knowledge and ability, who would have disentangled me from the involuntary creations of my imagination."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. According to the Vedic instructions, in order to acquire perfect knowledge, one must have a guru. Tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet [MU
naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaraṇyās
"O best of the great personalities, I am not at all afraid of material existence, for wherever I stay I am fully absorbed in thoughts of Your glories and activities." The devotee's consciousness is always drowned in the ocean of the unlimited pastimes and qualities of the Supreme Lord. That is transcendental bliss. The spiritual master teaches his disciple how to always remain in the ocean of God consciousness. One who works under the directions of the ācārya, the spiritual master, knows everything about God.
Disciple: In 1938 Jung was invited by the British government to participate in celebrations at the University of Calcutta. Of this Jung writes, "By that time, I had read a great deal about Indian philosophy and religious history and was deeply convinced of the value of Oriental wisdom." On this visit, Jung spoke with a celebrated guru, yet he avoided so-called holy men. He writes, "I did so because I had to make do with my own truth, not to accept from others what I could not attain on my own. I would have felt it as a theft had I attempted to learn from the holy men to accept their truth for myself."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: On the one hand, he says he wants a guru, and then on the other, he doesn't want to accept one. Doubtlessly there were many so-called gurus in Calcutta, and Jung might have seen some bogus gurus he did not like. In any case, the principle of accepting a guru cannot be avoided. It is absolutely necessary.
Disciple: Concerning consciousness after death, Jung feels that after death the individual must pick up at the level of consciousness which he left.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, and therefore, according to that consciousness, one has to accept a body. That is the process of the soul's transmigration. An ordinary person can see only the gross material body, but accompanying this body are the mind, intelligence, and ego. When the body is finished, these remain, although they cannot be seen. A foolish man thinks that everything is finished at death. But the soul carries with it the mind, intelligence, and ego—that is, the subtle body—into another body. This is confirmed by the Bhagavad-gītā, which clearly explains that although the body is destroyed the consciousness continues. According to one's consciousness, one acquires another body, and again, in that body, the consciousness begins to mold its future lives. If a person was a devotee in his past life, he will again become a devotee after his death. Once the material body is destroyed, the same consciousness begins to work in another body. Consequently we find that some people quickly accept Kṛṣṇa consciousness whereas others take a longer time. This indicates that the consciousness is continuing, although the body is changing. Bharata Mahārāja, for instance, changed many bodies, but his consciousness continued, and he remained fully Kṛṣṇa conscious.
We may see a person daily, but we cannot visualize his intelligence. We can understand that a person is intelligent, but we cannot see intelligence itself. When one talks, we can understand that there is intelligence at work. But why should we conclude that when the gross body is dead and no longer capable of talking, the intelligence is finished? The instrument for speech is the gross body, but we should not conclude that when the gross body is finished, intelligence is also finished. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre: [Bg. 2.20] after the destruction of the gross body, the mind and intelligence continue. Because they require a body to function, they develop a body, and that is the process of the soul's transmigration.
Disciple: Jung felt that the individual's level of consciousness could not supersede whatever knowledge is available on this planet.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. One can supersede it, provided one can acquire knowledge from the proper authority. You may not have seen India, but a person who has seen India can describe it to you. We may not be able to see Kṛṣṇa, but we can learn of Him from an authority who knows. In the Bhagavad-gītā [8.20] Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna that there is an eternal nature. On this earth we encounter temporary nature. Here things take birth, remain for some time, change, grow old, and are finally destroyed. There is dissolution in this material world, but there is another world, in which there is no dissolution. We have no personal experience of that world, but we can understand that it exists when we receive information from the proper authority. It is not necessary to know it by personal experience. There are different stages of knowledge, and not all knowledge can be acquired by direct perception. That is not possible.
Disciple: Jung sees earthly life to be of great significance, and what a man carries with him at the time of his death to be very important. He writes, "Only here, in life on earth, can the general level of consciousness be raised. That seems to be man's metaphysical task." Since consciousness survives death, it is important that a man's consciousness be elevated while he is on this earth.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, one's consciousness should be developed. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, if one's yoga practice is incomplete or if one dies prematurely, his consciousness accompanies him, and in the next life he begins at the point where he left off. His intelligence is revived. Tatra taṁ buddhi-saṁyogaṁ labhate paurva-dehikam [Bhagavad-gītā 6.43]. In an ordinary class we can see that some students learn very quickly while others cannot understand. This is evidence for the continuation of consciousness. If one is extraordinarily intelligent, the consciousness he developed in a previous life is being revived. The fact that we have undergone previous births is also evidence for the immortality of the soul.
Disciple: Jung points out that there is a paradox surrounding death. From the viewpoint of the ego, death is a horrible catastrophe—"a fearful piece of brutality." Yet from the viewpoint of the psyche—the soul-death is "a joyful event. In the light of eternity, it is a wedding."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, death is horrible for one who is going to accept a lower form of life, and it is a pleasure for the devotee, because he is returning home, back to Godhead.
Disciple: So death is not always joyful for the soul?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. How can it be? If one has not developed his spiritual consciousness—Kṛṣṇa consciousness—death is very horrible. The tendency in this life is to become very proud, and often people think, "I don't care for God. I am independent." Crazy people talk in this way, but after death they have to accept a body according to the dictations of nature. Nature says, "My dear sir, since you have worked like a dog, you can become a dog," or, "Since you have been surfing in the sea, you can now become a fish." These bodies are awarded according to a superior order. Karmaṇā daiva-netreṇa [SB 3.31.1]. In whatever way we interact with the modes of material nature, in that way we are creating our next body. How can we stop this process? This is nature's way.
If we are infected by some disease, we will necessarily get that disease. There are three modes of material nature—tamo-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, and sattva-guṇa [the modes of ignorance, passion, and goodness]—and our bodies are acquired according to our association with them. In general, the human form affords us a chance to make progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, especially when we are born in an aristocratic family, a brāhmaṇa [intellectual] family, or a Vaiṣṇava [devotee] family.
Disciple: Despite his many interesting points, Jung seems to have had a limited understanding of Indian philosophy. He does not understand that saṁsāra [the cycle of birth and death] has a goal, although it appears to be endless. Nor does he seem to know of Kṛṣṇa's promise in the Bhagavad-gītā that man can overcome earthly existence by surrendering unto Him.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Overcoming earthly existence means entering into the spiritual world. The spirit soul is eternal, and it can enter from this atmosphere into another. Kṣṇa clearly explains this in the Bhagavad-gītā [4.9]:
janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so 'rjuna
"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode O Arjuna." Those who continue to revolve in the cycle of birth and death acquire one material body after another, but those who are Kṛṣṇa conscious go to Kṛṣṇa. They do not acquire another material body.
Disciple: Śrī Kṛṣṇa says this repeatedly throughout Bhagavad-gītā.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, and those who are not envious of Kṛṣṇa accept His instructions, surrender unto Him, and understand Him. For them, this is the last material birth. For those who are envious, however, transmigration is continuous.
Disciple: Concerning karma, Jung writes this: "The crucial question is whether a man's karma is personal or not. If it is, then the preordained destiny with which a man enters life presents an achievement of previous lives, and a personal continuity therefore exists. If, however, this is not so, and an impersonal karma is seized upon in the act of birth, then that karma is incarnated again without there being any personal continuity."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Karma is always personal.
Disciple: Jung goes on to point out that Buddha was twice asked by his disciples whether man's karma is personal or not, and each time he fended off the question and did not discuss the matter. To know this, the Buddha said, "would not contribute to liberating oneself from the illusion of existence."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Buddha refused to answer because he did not teach about the soul or accept the personal soul. As soon as you deny the personal aspect of the soul, there is no question of a personal karma. Buddha wanted to avoid this question. He did not want his whole philosophy dismantled.
Disciple: Jung gives his own conclusion in this way: "Have I lived before in the past as a specific personality, and did I progress so far in that life that I am now able to seek a solution?"
Śrīla Prabhupāda: As we have mentioned earlier, that is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā [6.43]: tatra taṁ buddhi-saṁyogaṁ labhate paurva-dehikam: "On taking rebirth, one revives the consciousness of his previous life and tries to make further progress."
Disciple: Jung continues, "I imagine that I have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer, that I had to be born again to fulfill the task that was given to me."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is a fact.
Disciple: "When I die, my deeds will follow along with me—that is how I imagine it."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is personal karma.
Disciple: Jung continues, "I will bring with me what I have done. In the meantime it is important to insure that I do not stand at the end with empty hands."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If you are making regular progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, your hands will not be empty at the end. Completeness means returning home, back to Godhead. This return is not empty. A Vaiṣṇava does not want emptiness—eternal life with Kṛṣṇa is our aspiration. Materialists are thinking that at the end of life everything will be empty; therefore they conclude that they should enjoy themselves as much as possible in this life. That is why sense enjoyment is at the core of material life; materialists are mad after sense enjoyment.
Disciple: Jung believed that one is reborn due to karma, or selfish action. He wrote, "If karma still remains to be disposed of, then the soul relapses again into desires and returns to live once more, perhaps even doing so out of the realization that something remains to be completed. In my case, it must have been primarily a passionate urge toward understanding which brought about my birth, for that was the strongest element in my nature."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That understanding for which he is longing is understanding of Kṛṣṇa. This Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā [7.19]:
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
One's understanding is complete when one comes to the point of understanding that Kṛṣṇa is everything. Then one's material journey comes to an end: tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti [Bhagavad-gītā 4.9]. When one's understanding of Kṛṣṇa is incomplete, Kṛṣṇa gives instructions by which one can understand Him completely. In the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa says, asaṁsayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛnu: "Now hear from Me how you can understand Me completely and without any doubt" [Bhagavad-gītā 7.1]. If we can understand Kṛṣṇa completely, we will take our next birth in the spiritual world.
Disciple: Jung conceived of a persona, which seems identical with what we call the false ego. He wrote, "The persona ... is the individual's system of adaptation to, or the manner he assumes in dealing with, the world. A professor, for example, has his own characteristic persona. But the danger is that people become identical with their personas—the professor with his textbook, the tenor with his voice. One can say, with a little exaggeration, that the persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: One's real persona is that one is the eternal servant of God. This is the spiritual conception of life, and when one realizes this, his persona becomes his salvation and perfection. But as long as one is in the material conception of life, one's persona is that one is the servant of one's family, community, body, nation, ideal, and so on. In either case the persona is there and must continue, but proper understanding is realizing that one is the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. As long as one is in the material conception, one labors under the delusion of the false ego, thinking, "I am an American," "I am a Hindu," and so on. This is the false ego at work. In reality we are all servants of God. When we speak of a "false ego," we imply a real ego, a purified ego. One whose ego is purified understands that he is the servant of Kṛṣṇa.
Disciple: For Jung, the purpose of psychoanalysis is to come to grips with our subconscious, shadow personality. Then we can know completely who we are.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That means attaining real knowledge. When Sanātana Gosvāmī approached Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Sanātana said, "Please reveal to me who and what I am." In order to understand our real identity, we require the assistance of a guru.
Disciple: Jung says that in the shadow personality of all males there is a bit of the female, and in all females there is a bit of the male. Because we repress these aspects of the shadow personality, we do not understand our actions.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: We say that every living entity is by nature a female, prakṛti. Prakṛti means "female," and puruṣa means "male." Although we are prakṛti, in this material world we are posing ourselves as puruṣa. Because the jīvātmā, the individual soul, has the propensity to enjoy as a male, he is sometimes described as puruṣa. But actually the jīvātmā is not puruṣa. He is prakṛti. Prakṛti means the predominated, and puruṣa means the predominator. The only predominator is Kṛṣṇa; therefore originally we are all female by constitution. But under illusion we attempt to become males, enjoyers. This is called māyā. Although a female by constitution, the living entity is trying to imitate the supreme male, Kṛṣṇa. When one comes to his original consciousness, one understands that he is not the predominator but the predominated.
Disciple: Jung wrote of the soul in this way: "If the human soul is anything, it must be of unimaginable complexity and diversity, so that it cannot possibly be approached through a mere psychology of instinct."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: According to Caitanya Mahāprabhu, we can understand the soul through training. We should understand that we are not brāhmaṇas [intellectuals], kṣatriyas [administrators], sannyāsīs [renunciants], brahmacārīs [celibate students], or whatever. By negation we can understand, "I am not this, I am not that." Then what is our identity? Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ: [Cc. Madhya 13.80] "I am the servant of the servant of the servant of Kṛṣṇa, the maintainer of the gopīs [Kṛṣṇa's dearmost servants, the milkmaids of Vṛndāvana]." That is our real identity. As long as we do not identify ourselves as eternal servants of Kṛṣṇa, we will be subject to various false identifications. Bhakti, devotional service, is the means by which we can be purified of false identifications.
Disciple: Concerning the soul, Jung further wrote, "I can only gaze with wonder and awe at the depths and heights of our psychic nature. Its nonspatial universe conceals an untold abundance of images which have accumulated over millions of years.... "
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Since we are constantly changing our bodies, constantly undergoing transmigration, we are accumulating various experiences. However, if we remain fixed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we do not change. There is none of this fluctuation once we understand our real identity, which is, "I am the servant of Kṛṣṇa; my duty is to serve Him." Arjuna realized this after hearing the Bhagavad-gītā, and he told Śrī Kṛṣṇa,
naṣṭo mohaḥ smṛtir labdhā tvat-prasādān mayācyuta
sthito 'smi gata-sandehaḥ kariṣye vacanaṁ tava
"My dear Kṛṣṇa, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy, and I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions" [Bhagavad-gītā 18.73].
So after hearing the Bhagavad-gītā Arjuna comes to this conclusion, and his illusion is dispelled by Kṛṣṇa's mercy. Arjuna is then fixed in his original position. And what is this? Kariṣye vacanaṁ tava: "Whatever You say, I shall do." At the beginning of the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa told Arjuna to fight, and Arjuna refused. At the conclusion of the Bhagavad-gītā Arjuna's illusion is dispelled, and he is situated in his original constitutional position. Thus our perfection lies in executing the orders of Kṛṣṇa.
Disciple: Jung noted that the world's religions speak of five different types of rebirth. One is metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls, and, according to this view, "one's life is prolonged in time by passing through different bodily existences; or, from another point of view, it is a life-sequence interrupted by different reincarnations.... It is by no means certain whether continuity of personality is guaranteed or not: there may be only a continuity of karma."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: A personality is always there, and bodily changes do not affect it. However, one identifies himself according to his body. For instance, when the soul is within the body of a dog, he thinks according to that particular bodily construction. He thinks, "I am a dog, and I have my particular activities." In human society the same conception is there. For instance, when one is born in America he thinks, "I am an American, and I have my duty." According to the body, the personality is manifest—but in all cases personality is there.
Disciple: But is this personality continuous?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Certainly the personality is continuous. At death the soul passes into another gross body along with its mental and intellectual identifications. The individual acquires different types of bodies, but the person is the same.
Disciple: This would correspond to the second type of rebirth, which is reincarnation. Jung wrote, "This concept of rebirth necessarily implies the continuity of personality. Here the human personality is regarded as continuous and accessible to memory, so that when one is incarnated or born, one is able, at least potentially, to remember that one has lived through previous existences and that these existences were one's own—that is, that they had the same ego—form as the present life. As a rule, reincarnation means rebirth into a human body."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Not necessarily into a human body. From Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam we learn that Bharata Mahārāja became a deer in his next life. The soul is changing bodies just as a man changes his clothes. The man is the same, although his clothes may be different:
vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛhṇāti naro 'parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny
anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī
"As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones" [Bhagavad-gītā 2.22]. When a coat is old and cannot be used anymore, one has to purchase another. The man is the same, but his clothes are supplied according to the price he can pay. Similarly, you "purchase" a new body with the "money" (karma) you have accumulated in your life. According to your karma, you receive a certain type of body.
Disciple: The third type of rebirth is called resurrection, and Jung notes that there are two types of resurrection. "It may be a carnal body, as in the Christian assumption that this body will be resurrected." According to the Christian doctrine, at the end of the world the gross bodies will reassemble themselves and ascend into heaven or descend into hell.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This is simply foolishness. The gross material body can never be resurrected. At the time of death the living entity leaves this material body, and the material body disintegrates. How can the material elements reassemble themselves?
Disciple: Jung further wrote that on a higher level resurrection is no longer understood in a gross material sense: "It is assumed that the resurrection of the dead is the raising up of the corpus gloriaficationis, the subtle body, in the state of incorruptibility."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This type of "resurrection" is applicable only to God and His representatives, not to others. In this case, it is not a material body that is "raised up," but a spiritual one. When God appears, he appears in a spiritual body, and this body does not change. In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa says that he spoke to the sun-god millions of years ago, and Arjuna questions how this could be possible. Kṛṣṇa replies that although Arjuna had been present he could not remember. It is possible for one to remember only if one does not change bodies-changing bodies means forgetting. But the Lord's body is purely spiritual, and a spiritual body never changes. According to the Māyāvādī conception, the Absolute Truth is impersonal, and when He appears as a person He accepts a material body. But those who are advanced in spiritual knowledge, who accept the Bhagavad-gītā, understand that this is not the case. Kṛṣṇa specifically says, avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam: "Because I appear as a human being, the unintelligent think that I am nothing but a human being" [Bhagavad-gītā 9.11]. This is not the case. Impersonalists have no knowledge of the spiritual body.
Disciple: The fourth form of rebirth is called renovation, and this applies to "the transformation of a mortal into an immortal being, of a corporeal into a spiritual being, and of a human into a divine being. Well-known prototypes of this change ore the transfiguration and ascension of Christ, and the bodily assumption of the mother of God into heaven after her death."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: We say that the spiritual body never dies but that the material body is subject to destruction. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre: [Bg. 2.20] the material body is subject to destruction, but after its destruction the spiritual body is still there. The spiritual body is neither generated nor killed.
Disciple: But aren't there examples in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam of a kind of ascension into heaven? Didn't Arjuna ascend?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, and Yudhiṣṭhira. There are many instances—especially Kṛṣṇa Himself and His associates. But we should never consider their bodies material. They didn't go through death of any sort, although their bodies traveled to the higher universe. But it is also a fact that everyone possesses a spiritual body.
Disciple: The fifth type of rebirth is indirect and is called "participation in the process of transformation." Examples of this type may be the initiation ceremony or the twice-born ceremony of the brāhmaṇa. "In other words," Jung wrote, "one has to witness, or take part in, some rite of transformation. This rite may be a ceremony.... Through his presence at the rite, the individual participates in divine grace."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, one's first birth is by one's father and mother, and the next birth is by the spiritual master and Vedic knowledge. When one takes his second birth, he comes to understand that he is not the material body. This is spiritual education. That birth of knowledge, or birth into knowledge, is called dvija, "second birth."
Disciple: Thus far we have discussed only Jung's autobiography. In one of Jung's last books, The Undiscovered Self, he discussed the meaning of religion and its utility in the modern world. He wrote, "The meaning and purpose of religion lie in the relationship of the individual to God (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) or to the path of salvation and liberation (Buddhism). From this basic fact all ethics is derived, which without the individual's responsibility before God can be called nothing more than conventional morality."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: First of all, we understand from the Bhagavad-gītā that no one can approach God without being purified of all sinful reactions. Only one who is standing on the platform of pure goodness can understand God and engage in His service. From Arjuna we understand that God is paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān: [Bg. 10.12] He is "the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier" [Bhagavad-gītā 10.12]. Paraṁ brahma indicates the Supreme Brahman. Every living being is Brahman, or spirit, but Kṛṣṇa is the paraṁ brahma, the Supreme Brahman. He is also paraṁ dhāma, the ultimate abode of everything. He is also pavitraṁ paramam, the purest of the pure. In order to approach the purest of the pure, one must become completely pure, and to this end morality and ethics are necessary. Therefore, in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we prohibit illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling—the four pillars of sinful life. If we can avoid these sinful activities, we can remain on the platform of purity. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is based on this morality, and one who cannot follow these principles falls down from the spiritual platform. Thus, purity is the basic principle of God consciousness and is essential for the re-establishment of our eternal relationship with God.
Disciple: Jung saw atheistic communism as the greatest threat in the world today. He wrote, "The communistic revolution has debased man far lower than democratic collective psychology has done, because it robs him of his freedom not only in the social but in the moral and spiritual sense.... The state has taken the place of God; that is why, seen from this angle, the socialist dictatorships are religious, and state slavery is a form of worship."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, I agree with him. Atheistic communism has contributed to the degradation of human civilization. The communists supposedly believe in the equal distribution of wealth. According to our understanding, God is the father, material nature is the mother, and the living entities are the sons. The sons have a right to live at the cost of the father. The entire universe is the property of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the living entities are being supported by the supreme father. However, one should be satisfied with the supplies allotted to him. According to the Īśopaniṣad, tena tyaktena bhuñjīthāḥ: we should be satisfied with our allotment and not envy one another or encroach upon one another's property [Īśo mantra 1]. We should not envy the capitalists or the wealthy, because everyone is given his allotment by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Consequently, everyone should be satisfied with what he receives.
On the other hand, one should not exploit others. One may be born in a wealthy family, but one should not interfere with the rights of others. Whether one is rich or poor, one should be God conscious, accept God's arrangement, and serve God to his fullest. This is the philosophy of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and it is confirmed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. We should be content with our allocations from God and concern ourselves with advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If we become envious of the rich, we will be tempted to encroach upon their allotment, and in this way we are diverted from our service to the Lord. The main point is that everyone, rich or poor, should engage in God's service. If everyone does so, there will be real peace in the world.
Disciple: Concerning the socialist state, Jung further wrote, "The goals of religion—deliverance from evil, reconciliation with God, rewards in the hereafter, and so on—turn into worldly promises about freedom from care for one's daily bread, the just distribution of material goods, universal prosperity in the future, and shorter working hours." In other words, the communists place emphasis on immediate tactile rewards.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This is because they have no understanding of spiritual life, nor can they understand that the person within the body is eternal and spiritual. Therefore they recommend immediate sense gratification.
Disciple: Jung believed, however, that socialism or Marxism cannot possibly replace religion in the proper, traditional sense. "A natural function which has existed from the beginning—like the religious function—cannot be disposed of with rationalistic and so-called enlightened criticism."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The communists are concerned with adjusting material things, which can actually never be adjusted. They imagine that they can solve problems, but ultimately their plans will fail. The communists do not understand what religion actually is. It is not possible to avoid religion. Everything has a particular characteristic. Salt is salty, sugar is sweet, and chili is hot or pungent. These are intrinsic characteristics. Similarly, the living entity has an intrinsic quality. His characteristic is to render service—be he a communist, a theist, a capitalist, or whatever. In all countries people are working and rendering service to their respective governments—be they capitalists or communists—and the people are not getting any lasting benefit. Therefore we say that if people follow in the footsteps of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu by serving Kṛṣṇa, they will actually be happy. Both communists and capitalists are saying, "Render service to me," but Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-dharmān parityajya: "Just give up all other service and render service unto Me, and I will free you from all sinful reactions" [Bhagavad-gītā 18.66].
Disciple: Jung feels that materialistic Western capitalism cannot possibly defeat a pseudo religion like Marxism. He believes that the only way the individual can combat atheistic communism is to adopt a nonmaterialistic religion. He wrote, "It has been correctly realized in many quarters that the alexipharmic, the antidote, should in this case be an equally potent faith of a different and nonmaterialistic kind...." So Jung sees modern man in desperate need of a religion that has immediate meaning. He feels that Christianity is no longer effective because it no longer expresses what modern man needs most.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That nonmaterialistic religion which is above everything—Marxism or capitalism—is this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Kṛṣṇa has nothing to do with any materialistic "ism," and this movement is directly connected with Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. God demands complete surrender, and we are teaching, "You are servants, but your service is being wrongly placed. Therefore you are not happy. Just render service to Kṛṣṇa, and you will find happiness." We support neither communism nor capitalism, nor do we advocate the adoption of pseudo religions. We are only for Kṛṣṇa.
Disciple: Concerning the social situation, Jung wrote, "It is unfortunately only too clear that if the individual is not truly regenerated in spirit, society cannot be either, for society is the sum total of individuals in need of redemption."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The basis of change is the individual. Now there are a few individuals initiated into Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and if a large percentage can thus become invigorated, the face of the world will change. There is no doubt of this.
Disciple: For Jung, the salvation of the world consists in the salvation of the individual soul. The only thing that saves man from submersion into the masses is his relationship to God. Jung wrote, "His individual relation to God would be an effective shield against these pernicious influences."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, those who take Kṛṣṇa consciousness seriously are never troubled by Marxism, this-ism, or that-ism. A Marxist may take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but a Kṛṣṇa conscious devotee would never become a Marxist. That is not possible. It is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā that one who knows the highest perfection of life cannot be misled by a third- or fourth-class philosophy.
Disciple: Jung also felt that materialistic progress could be a possible enemy to the individual. He wrote, "A [materially] favorable environment merely strengthens the dangerous tendency to expect everything to originate from outside—even that metamorphosis which external reality cannot provide, namely, a deep-seated change of the inner man...."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, everything originates from inside, from the soul. It is confirmed by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and others that material progress is essentially an expansion of the external energy—māyā, illusion. We are all living in illusion, and so-called scientists and philosophers can never understand God and their relationship to Him, despite their material advancement. Material advancement and knowledge are actually a hindrance to the progressive march of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We therefore minimize our necessities to live a saintly life. We are not after luxurious living. We feel that life is meant for spiritual progress and Kṛṣṇa consciousness, not for material advancement.
Disciple: To inspire this deep-seated change in the inner man, Jung feels that a proper teacher is needed, someone to explain religion to man.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. According to the Vedic injunction, it is essential to seek out a guru—a person who is a representative of God. Sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstraiḥ. The representative of God is worshiped as God, but he never says, "I am God." Although he is worshiped as God, he is the servant of God—God Himself is always the master. Caitanya Mahāprabhu requested everyone to become a guru: "Wherever you are, simply become a guru and deliver all these people who are in ignorance." One may say, "I am not very learned. How can I become a guru?" But Caitanya Mahāprabhu said that it is not necessary to be a learned scholar, for there are many so-called learned scholars who are fools. It is only necessary to impart Kṛṣṇa's instructions, which are already there in the Bhagavad-gītā. Whoever explains the Bhagavad-gītā as it is—he is a guru. If one is fortunate enough to approach such a guru, his life becomes successful.
Disciple: Jung also laments the fact that "our philosophy is no longer a way of life, as it was in antiquity; it has turned into an exclusively intellectual and academic affair."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is also our opinion: mental speculation has no value in itself. One must be directly in touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and using all reason, one must assimilate the instructions given by Him. One can then follow these instructions in one's daily life and do good to others by teaching Bhagavad-gītā.
Disciple: On one hand, Jung sees an exclusively intellectual philosophy; on the other, denominational religions with "archaic rites and conceptions" that "express a view of the world which caused no great difficulties in the Middle Ages, but which has become strange and unintelligible to the man of today."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is because preachers of religion are simply dogmatic. They have no clear idea of God; they only make official proclamations. When one does not understand, he cannot make others understand. But there is no such vanity in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is clear in every respect. This is the expected movement Mr. Jung wanted. Every sane man should cooperate with this movement and liberate human society from the gross darkness of ignorance.
Socrates: He Knew Himself—to a Certain Extent
Socrates (470-399 B.C.) turned the attention of his contemporaries toward questions of ethics and virtue. His behavior eventually so angered the authorities in Athens that he was sentenced to death if he didn't recant his views. He refused and voluntarily drank poison.
Disciple: Socrates strongly opposed the Sophists, a group of speculators who taught that the standards of right and wrong and of truth and falsity were completely relative, being established solely by individual opinion or social convention. Socrates, on the other hand, seemed convinced that there was an absolute, universal truth or good, beyond mere speculation and opinion, that could be known clearly and with certainty.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: He was correct. For our part, since we accept Kṛṣṇa, God, as the supreme authority, the Absolute Truth, we cannot refute what He says. Kṛṣṇa, or God, is by definition supreme perfection, and philosophy is perfect when it is in harmony with Him. This is our position. The philosophy of this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is religious in the sense that it is concerned with carrying out the orders of God. That is the sum and substance of religion. It is not possible to manufacture a religion. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam manufactured religion is called kaitava-dharma, just another form of cheating.
Our basic principle is dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam [SB 6.3.19]. The word dharma refers to the orders given by God, and if we follow those orders we are following dharma. An individual citizen cannot manufacture laws, for laws are given by the government. Our perfection lies in following the orders of God cent percent. Those who have no conception of God or His orders may manufacture religious systems, but our system is different.
Disciple: The Socratic dialectic usually sought gradually to arrive at an understanding of the essence of a particular moral virtue—for example, self-control, piety, courage, or justice—by examining proposed definitions for completeness and consistency. Socrates wanted to establish more than just a list of universal definitions, however. He tried to show that any particular virtue, when understood in depth, was not different from all the others. The unity of the virtues thus implied the existence of a single absolute good. For Socrates, the goal of life is to rise by means of the intellect to a realization of this absolute good. A person who had attained such knowledge of the good would be self-realized in that he would always do the good without fail. A soul who had thus realized the good was said to be in a healthy or sound state, or to have attained wisdom. Socrates' name for the single absolute good was "knowledge."
Could one say that Socrates was a kind of jñāna-yogī?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Socrates was a muni, a great thinker. However, the real truth comes to such a muni after many, many births. As Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā [7.19]:
bahūnā janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare."
People like Socrates are known as jñānavān, wise men, and after many births they surrender themselves to Kṛṣṇa. They do not do so blindly, but knowing that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the source of everything. However, this process of self-searching for knowledge takes time. If we take the instructions of Kṛṣṇa directly and surrender unto Him, we save time and many, many births.
Disciple: Socrates terms his method maieutic, that is, like that of a midwife. He thought that a soul could not really come to knowledge of the good by the imposition of information from an external source. Rather, such knowledge had to be awakened within the soul itself. The teacher's business is to direct, encourage, and prod a soul until it gives birth to the truth. The maieutic method therefore suggests that since the soul is able to bring the truth out of itself, knowledge is really a kind of recollection or remembrance. If so, then there must have been a previous life in which the soul possessed the knowledge it has forgotten. This suggests, then, that the soul (understood as something involving intelligence and memory) exists continuously through many lives and, indeed is eternal.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, the soul is eternal. And because the soul is eternal, the intelligence, mind, and senses are also eternal. However, they are all now covered by a material coating, which must be cleansed. Once this material coating is washed away, the real mind, intelligence, and senses will emerge. That is stated in the Nārada Pañcarātra: tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. The purificatory process takes place when one is in touch with the transcendental loving service of the Lord and is chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam: [Cc. Antya 20.12] one must cleanse the heart. All misconceptions come from misunderstanding. We are all part and parcel of God, yet somehow or other we have forgotten this. Previously our service was rendered to God, but now we are rendering service to something illusory. This is māyā. Whether we are liberated or conditioned, our constitutional position is to render service. In the material world we work according to our different capacities—as a politician, a thinker, a poet, or whatever. But if we are disconnected from Kṛṣṇa, all of this is māyā. When we perform our duty in order to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness, our duty enables liberation from this bondage.
Disciple: It is interesting that nowadays we find the kind of relativism taught by Sophists like Protagoras to be again very widespread. "If you believe it, then it is true for you." Socrates took up the task of vigorously combating this position, trying to demonstrate by strong arguments that there must be an absolute truth that is distinguishable from the relative and that must be categorically acknowledged by everyone.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is what we are also doing. The Absolute Truth is true for everyone, and the relative truth is relative to a particular position. The relative truth depends on the Absolute Truth, which is the summum bonum. God is the Absolute Truth, and the material world is relative truth. Because the material world is God's energy, it appears to be real or true, just as the reflection of the sun in water emits some light. That reflection is not absolute, and as soon as the sun sets, that light will disappear. Since relative truth is a reflection of the Absolute Truth, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam states, satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi: [SB 1.1.1] "I worship the Absolute Truth." The Absolute Truth is Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva. Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya. This cosmic manifestation is relative truth; it is a manifestation of Kṛṣṇa's external energy. If Kṛṣṇa withdrew His energy, the cosmos would not exist.
In another sense, Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa's energy are not different. We cannot separate heat from fire; heat is also fire, yet heat is not fire. This is the position of relative truth. As soon as we experience heat, we understand that there is fire. Yet we cannot say that heat is fire. Relative truth is like heat because it stands on the strength of the Absolute Truth, just as heat stands on the strength of fire. Because the Absolute is true, relative truth also appears to be true, although it has no independent existence. A mirage appears to be water because in actuality there is such a thing as water. Similarly, this material world appears attractive because there is actually an all-attractive spiritual world.
Disciple: Socrates held that the highest duty of man was to "care for his soul," that is, to cultivate that healthy state of the soul which is true knowledge, the attainment of the good. When a man becomes fixed in such knowledge he will as a matter of course act correctly in all affairs, he will be beyond the dictates of the passions, and he will remain peaceful and undisturbed in every circumstance. Socrates himself seems to have attained such a state, as his own behavior at the time of his death illustrates: he calmly drank the poison hemlock rather than give up his principles. He seems to have realized knowledge of at least some aspect of the Absolute Truth, although we must add that he never spoke of it as a person or gave it a personal name.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is the preliminary stage of understanding the Absolute, known as Brahman realization, realization of the impersonal feature. When one is further advanced he attains Paramātmā realization, realization of the localized feature, whereby he realizes that God is everywhere. It is a fact that God is everywhere, but at the same time God has His own abode. Goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūtaḥ [Bs. 5.37]. God is a person, and He has His own abode and associates. Although He is in His abode, He is present everywhere, within every atom (andāntara-stha-paramāṇu-cayāntara-stham [Bs. 5.35]). Like other impersonalists, Socrates cannot understand how God, through His potency, can remain in His own abode and simultaneously be present in every atom. The material world is His expansion, His energy (bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca [Bg. 7.4]). Because His energy is expanded everywhere, He can be present everywhere. Although the energy and the energetic are nondifferent, we cannot say that they are not distinct. They are simultaneously one and different. This is the perfect philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference.
Disciple: Socrates held that "all the virtues are one thing-knowledge." He saw goodness and knowledge as inseparable. This union of the two seems to reflect features of sattva-guṇa as described in the Bhagavad-gītā.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Sattva-guṇa, the mode of goodness, is a position from which we can receive knowledge. Knowledge cannot be received from the platform of passion and ignorance. If we hear about Kṛṣṇa, or God, we are gradually freed from the clutches of darkness and passion. Then we can come to the platform of sattva-guṇa, and when we are perfectly situated there, we are beyond the lower modes. In the words of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [1.2.18-19]:
naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā
bhagavaty uttama-śloke bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī
tadā rajas-tamo-bhāvāḥ kāma-lobhādayaś ca ye
ceta etair anāviddhaṁ sthitaṁ sattve prasīdati
"For one who regularly attends classes on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and renders service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact. As soon as irrevocable loving service is established in the heart, the effects of nature's modes of passion and ignorance, such as lust, desire, and hankering, disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness, and he becomes completely happy."
This process may be gradual, but it is certain. The more we hear about Kṛṣṇa, the more we become purified. Purification means freedom from the attacks of greed and passion. Then we can become happy. From the brahma-bhūta [SB 4.30.20] platform we can realize ourselves and then realize God. So before realizing the Supreme Good, we must first come to the platform of sattva-guṇa, goodness. Therefore we have regulations prohibiting illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling. Ultimately we must transcend even the mode of goodness through bhakti. Then we become liberated, gradually develop love of God, and regain our original state. Muktir hitvānyathā rūpam svarūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ [SB 2.10.6]. This means giving up all material engagements and rendering full service to Kṛṣṇa. Then we attain the state where māyā cannot touch us. If we keep in touch with Kṛṣṇa, māyā has no jurisdiction. Māyām etāṁ taranti te [Bg. 7.14]. This is perfection.
Disciple: Socrates took the oracular gnothi seauton, "know thyself," to enjoin "care of the soul." Care of the soul, as we have seen, involved an intense intellectual endeavor, a kind of introspective contemplation or meditation. It gradually purified the self, detaching it more and more from the body and its passions. Thus through the contemplative endeavor entailed by "know thyself," a person attained knowledge and self-control, and with that he also became happy.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is a fact. Meditation means analyzing the self and searching for the Absolute Truth. That is described in the Vedic literatures: dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ [SB 12.13.1]. Through meditation, the yogi sees the Supreme Truth (Kṛṣṇa, or God) within himself. Kṛṣṇa is there. The yogi consults with Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa advises him. That is the relationship Kṛṣṇa has with the yogi. Dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ tam. When one is purified, he is always seeing Kṛṣṇa within himself. This is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā [5.38]:
santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti
yaṁ śyāmasundaram acintya-guṇa-svarūpaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
"I worship the primeval Lord, Govinda, who is always seen by the devotee whose eyes are anointed with the pulp of love. He is seen in His eternal form of Śyāmasundara, situated within the heart of the devotee." Thus an advanced saintly person is always seeing Kṛṣṇa. In this verse, the word śyāmasundara means "blackish but at the same time extraordinarily beautiful." Being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa is of course very beautiful. The word acintya means that He has inconceivable, unlimited qualities. Although He is situated everywhere, as Govinda He is always dancing in Vṛndāvana with the gopīs. There He plays with His friends and sometimes, acting as a naughty boy, teases His mother. These pastimes of the Supreme Person are described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Disciple: As far as we know, Socrates himself had no teacher in philosophy. Indeed, he refers to himself as "self-made." Do you believe that one can be self-taught? Can self-knowledge be attained through one's own meditation or introspection?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Ordinarily everyone thinks according to the bodily conception. If I begin to study the different parts of my body and seriously begin to consider what I am, I will gradually arrive at the study of the soul. If I ask myself, "Am I this hand?" the answer will be "No, I am not this hand. Rather, this is my hand." I can thus continue analyzing each part of the body and discover that all the parts are mine but that I am different. Through this method of self-study, any intelligent man can see that he is not the body. This is the first lesson of the Bhagavad-gītā [2.l3]:
dehino 'smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati
"As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change."
At one time I had the body of a child, but now that body is no longer existing. Nonetheless, I am aware that I possessed such a body; therefore from this I can deduce that I am something other than the body. I may rent an apartment, but I do not identify with it. The body may be mine, but I am not the body. By this kind of introspection, a man can teach himself the distinction between the body and the soul.
As far as being completely self-taught, according to the Bhagavad-gītā and the Vedic conception, life is continuous. Since we are always acquiring experience, we cannot actually say that Socrates was self-taught. Rather, in his previous lives he had cultivated knowledge, and this knowledge was simply continuing. That is a fact. Otherwise, why is one man intelligent and another man ignorant? This is due to continuity.
Disciple: Socrates believed that through intellectual endeavor—meditation—a person can attain knowledge or wisdom, which is nothing else but the possession of all the virtues in their unity. Such a person always acts in the right way and thus is happy. Therefore the enlightened man is meditative, knowledgeable, and virtuous. He is also happy because he acts properly.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā [18.54]. Brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati: when one is self-realized, he immediately becomes happy, joyful (prasannātmā). This is because he is properly situated. One may labor a long time under some mistaken idea, but when he finally comes to the proper conclusion, he becomes very happy. He thinks, "Oh, what a fool I was, going on so long in such a mistaken way." Thus a self-realized person is happy.
Happiness means that one no longer has to think of attaining things. For instance, Dhruva Mahārāja told the Lord, svāmin kṛtārtho 'smi varaṁ na yāce: [Cc. Madhya 22.42] "Having seen You, my Lord, I don't want any material benediction." Prahlāda Mahārāja also said, "My Lord, I don't want material benefits. I have seen my father—who was such a big materialist that even the demigods were afraid of him—destroyed by You within a second. Therefore I am not after these things."
So real knowledge means that one no longer hankers for anything. The karmīs [fruitive workers], jñānīs [speculators], and yogis are all hankering after something. The karmīs want material wealth, beautiful women, and good positions. If one is not hankering for what one does not have, he is lamenting for what he has lost. The jñānīs are also hankering, expecting to become one with God and merge into His existence. And the yogis are hankering after some magical powers to befool others into thinking that they have become God. In India some yogis convince people that they can manufacture gold and fly in the sky, and foolish people believe them. Even if a yogi can fly, what is his great achievement? There are many birds flying. What is the difference? An intelligent person can understand this. If a person says that he will walk on water, thousands of fools will come to see him. People will even pay ten rupees just to see a man bark like a dog, not thinking that there are many dogs barking anyway. In any case, people are always hankering and lamenting, but the devotee is fully satisfied in the service of the Lord. He doesn't hanker for anything, nor does he lament.
Disciple: Through jñāna, philosophical inquiry, could Socrates have realized Brahman?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Disciple: But what about the realization of Bhagavān, Kṛṣṇa? I thought that Kṛṣṇa can be realized only through bhakti, devotion.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, one cannot enter into Kṛṣṇa's abode without being a purified bhakta [devotee]. Kṛṣṇa states that in the Bhagavad-gītā [18.55]. Bhaktyā mām abhijānāti: "One can understand Me as I am only by devotional service." Kṛṣṇa never says that He can be understood by jñāna, karma, or yoga. The personal abode of Kṛṣṇa is especially reserved for the bhaktas, and the jñānīs, yogis, and karmīs cannot go there.
Disciple: What do you mean when you say that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the ultimate goal of life? Does this mean always being conscious of Kṛṣṇa?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, we should always be thinking of Kṛṣṇa. We should act in such a way that we have to think of Kṛṣṇa all the time. For instance, we are discussing Socratic philosophy in order to strengthen our Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore the ultimate goal is Kṛṣṇa; otherwise we are not interested in criticizing or accepting anyone's philosophy. We are neutral.
Disciple: So the proper use of intelligence is to guide everything in such a way that we become Kṛṣṇa conscious?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That's it. Without Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we remain on the mental platform. Being on the mental platform means hovering. On that platform, we are not fixed. It is the business of the mind to accept this and reject that, but when we are fixed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness we are no longer subjected to the mind's acceptance or rejection.
Disciple: Right conduct then becomes automatic?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, as soon as the mind wanders, we should immediately drag it back to concentrate on Kṛṣṇa. While chanting, our mind sometimes wanders far away, but when we become conscious of this, we should immediately bring the mind back to hear the sound vibration of "Hare Kṛṣṇa." That is called yoga-abhyāsa, the practice of yoga. We should not allow our mind to wander elsewhere. We should simply chant and hear the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, for that is the best yoga system.
Disciple: Socrates could have avoided the death penalty if he had compromised his convictions. He refused to do this and so became a martyr for his beliefs.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: It is good that he stuck to his point yet regrettable that he lived in a society in which he could not think independently. Therefore he was obliged to die. In that sense, Socrates was a great soul because although he appeared in a society that was not very advanced, he was still such a great philosopher.
Origen: The Original Christian Mystic
An influential founder of the Christian Church, Origen of Alexandria (A.D. circa 185—circa 254) ranks among its most prolific writers and teachers. Known as the father of Christian mysticism, he taught reincarnation—and was martyred for it.
Disciple: Origen is generally considered the founder of formal Christian philosophy, because he was the first to attempt to establish Christianity on the basis of philosophy as well as faith. He believed that the ultimate spiritual reality consists of the supreme, infinite person, God, as well as individual personalities. Ultimate reality may be defined as the relationships of persons with one another and with the infinite person Himself. In this view, Origen differs from the Greeks, who were basically impersonalists.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Our Vedic conception is almost the same. Individual souls, which we call living entities, are always present, and each one of them has an intimate relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In material, conditioned life, the living entity has forgotten this relationship. By rendering devotional service, he attains the liberated position and at that time revives his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Disciple: Origen ascribed to a doctrine of the Trinity, in which God the Father is supreme. God the Son, called the Logos, is subordinate to the Father. It is the Son who brings the material world into existence. That is, God the Father is not the direct creator; rather, it is the Son who creates directly, like Lord Brahmā. The third aspect of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit, who is subordinate to the Son. According to Origen, all three of these aspects are divine and co—eternal. They have always existed simultaneously as the Trinity of God.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: According to the Vedas, Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead. As He confirms in the Bhagavad-gītā: ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ. "I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds" [Bhagavad-gītā 10.8]. Whether you call this origin the Father or the Holy Spirit, it doesn't matter. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the origin. According to the Vedic conception, there are two types of expansions: God's personal expansions, called viṣṇu-tattva, and His partial part-and-parcel expansions, called jīva-tattva. There are many varieties of personal expansions: puruṣa-avatāras, manvantara-avatāras, and so on. For the creation of this material world, the Lord expands as Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Maheśvara (Śiva). Viṣṇu is a personal expansion, and Brahmā is a jīva-tattva expansion. Between the personal viṣṇu-tattva expansions and the jīva-tattva expansions is a kind of intermediate expansion called Śiva, or Maheśvara. The material ingredients are given, and Brahmā creates each universe. Viṣṇu maintains the creation, and Lord Śiva annihilates it. It is the nature of the external potency to be created, maintained, and dissolved. More detailed information is given in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
In any case, the jīvas, or living entities, are all considered sons of God. They are situated in one of two positions: liberated or conditioned. Those who are liberated can personally associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and those who are conditioned within this material world have forgotten the Supreme Lord. Therefore they suffer within this material world in different bodily forms. They can be elevated, however, through the practice of Kṛṣṇa consciousness under the guidance of the śāstras (scriptures) and the bona fide guru.
Disciple: Origen believed that it is through the combined working of divine grace and man's free will that the individual soul attains perfection, which consists of attaining a personal relationship with the infinite Person.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, and that is called bhakti-mārga, the path of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān. The Absolute Truth is manifested in three features: Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān. Bhagavān is the personal feature, and the Paramātmā, situated in everyone's heart, may be compared to the Holy Spirit. The Brahman feature is present everywhere. The highest perfection of spiritual life includes the understanding of the personal feature of the Lord. When one understands Bhagavān, one engages in His service. In this way, the living entity is situated in his original constitutional position and is eternally blissful.
Disciple: Origen considered that just as man's free will precipitated his fall, man's free will can also bring about his salvation. Man can return to God by practicing material detachment. Such detachment can be made possible by help from the Logos, the Christ.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is also our conception. The fallen soul is transmigrating within this material world, up and down in different forms of life. When his consciousness is sufficiently developed, he can be enlightened by God, who gives him instructions in the Bhagavad-gītā. Through the spiritual master's help, he can attain full enlightenment. When he understands his transcendental position of bliss, he automatically gives up material bodily attachments. Then he attains freedom. The living entity attains his normal, constitutional position when he is properly situated in his spiritual identity and engaged in the service of the Lord.
Disciple: Origen believed that all the elements found in the material body are also found in the spiritual body, which he called the "interior man." Origen writes: "There are two men in each of us.... As every exterior man has for homonym the interior man, so it is for all his members, and one can say that every member of the exterior man can be found under this name in the interior man." Thus for every sense that we possess in the exterior body, there is a corresponding sense in the interior bpdy, or spiritual body.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The spirit soul is now within this material body, but originally the spirit soul had no material body. The spiritual body of the spirit soul is eternally existing. The material body is simply a coating of the spiritual body. The material body is cut, like a suit, according to the spiritual body. The material elements—earth, water, air, fire, etc.—become like clay when mixed together, and they coat the spiritual body. It is because the spiritual body has a shape that the material body also takes a shape. In actuality, the material body has nothing to do with the spiritual body; it is but a kind of contamination causing the suffering of the spirit soul. As soon as the spirit soul is coated with this material contamination, he identifies himself with the coating and forgets his real spiritual body. That is called māyā, ignorance or illusion. This ignorance continues as long as we are not fully Kṛṣṇa conscious. When we become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious, we understand that the material body is but the external coating and that we are different. When we attain this uncontaminated understanding, we arrive at what is called the brahma-bhūta [SB 4.30.20] platform. When the spirit soul, which is Brahman, is under the illusion of the material bodily conditioning, we are on the jīva-bhūta platform. Brahma-bhūta is attained when we no longer identify with the material body but with the spirit soul within. When we come to this platform, we become joyful.
brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me" [Bhagavad-gītā 18.54]. In this position one sees all living entities as spirit souls; he does not see the outward covering. When he sees a dog, he sees a spirit soul covered by the body of a dog. This state is also described in the Bhagavad-gītā.
vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ
"The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]" [Bhagavad-gītā 5.18]. When one is in the body of an animal, he cannot understand his spiritual identity. This identity can best be realized in a human civilization in which the varṇāśrama system is practiced. This system divides life into four āśramas (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra) and four varṇas (brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, and sannyāsa). The highest position is that of a brāhmaṇa-sannyāsī, a platform from which one may best realize his original constitutional position, act accordingly, and thus attain deliverance, or mukti. Mukti means understanding our constitutional position and acting accordingly. Conditioned life, a life of bondage, means identifying with the body and acting on the bodily platform. On the mukti platform, our activities differ from those enacted on the conditioned platform. Devotional service is rendered from the mukti platform. If we engage in devotional service, we maintain our spiritual identity and are therefore liberated, even though inhabiting the conditioned, material body.
Disciple: Origen also believed that the interior man, or the spiritual body, also has spiritual senses that enable the soul to taste, see, touch, and contemplate the things of God.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. That is devotional life.
Disciple: During his lifetime, Origen was a famous teacher and was very much in demand. For him, teaching meant explaining the words of God and no more. He believed that a preacher must first be a man of prayer and must be in contact with God. He should not pray for material goods but for a better understanding of the scriptures.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is a real preacher. As explained in Vedic literatures: śravaṇaṁ kīrtanam [SB 7.5.23], First of all, we become perfect by hearing. This is called śravaṇam. When we are thus situated by hearing perfectly from an authorized person, our next stage begins: kīrtanam, preaching. In this material world, everyone is hearing something from someone else. In order to pass examinations, a student must hear his professor. Then, in his own right, he can become a professor himself. If we hear from a bona fide spiritual master, we become perfect and can become real preachers. We should preach about Kṛṣṇa for Kṛṣṇa, not for any person within this material world. We should hear and preach about the Supreme Person, the transcendental Personality of Godhead. That is the duty of a liberated soul.
Disciple: As far as contradictions and seeming absurdities in scripture are concerned, Origen considered them to be stumbling blocks permitted to exist by God in order for man to pass beyond the literal meaning. He writes that "everything in scripture has a spiritual meaning, but not all of it has a literal meaning."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Generally speaking, every word in scripture has a literal meaning, but people cannot understand it properly because they do not hear from the proper person. They interpret instead. There is no need to interpret the words of God. Sometimes the words of God cannot be understood by an ordinary person; therefore we may require the transparent medium of the guru. Since the guru is fully cognizant of the words spoken by God, we are advised to receive the words of the scriptures through the guru. There is no ambiguity in the words of God, but due to our imperfect knowledge, we sometimes cannot understand. Not understanding, we try to interpret, but because we are imperfect, our interpretations are also imperfect. The conclusion is that the words of God, the scriptures, should be understood from a person who has realized God.
Disciple: Origen did not believe that the individual soul has been existing from all eternity. It was created. He writes: "The rational natures that were made in the beginning did not always exist; they came into being when they were created."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is not correct. Both the living entity and God are simultaneously eternally existing, and the living entity is part and parcel of God. Although eternally existing, the living entity is changing his body. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre [Bhagavad-gītā 2.20]. One body after another is being created and destroyed, but the living being himself exists eternally. So we disagree when Origen says that the soul is created. Our spiritual identity is never created. That is the difference between spirit and matter. Material things are created, but spirit is without beginning.
na tv evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ sarve vayam ataḥ param
"Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be" [Bhagavad-gītā 2.12].
Disciple: Origen differed from later Church doctrine in his belief in transmigration. Although he believed that the soul was originally created, he also believed that it transmigrated because it could always refuse to give itself to God. So he saw the individual soul as possibly rising and falling perpetually on the evolutionary scale. Later Church doctrine held that one's choice for eternity is made in this one lifetime. As Origen saw it, the individual soul, falling short of the ultimate goal, is reincarnated again and again.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is the Vedic version. Unless one is liberated and goes to the kingdom of God, he must transmigrate from one material body to another. The material body grows, remains for some time, reproduces, grows old, and becomes useless. Then the living entity has to leave one body for another. Once in a new body, he again attempts to fulfill his desires, and again he goes through the process of dying and accepting another material body. This is the process of transmigration.
Disciple: It is interesting that neither Origen nor Christ rejected transmigration. It wasn't until Augustine that it was denied.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Transmigration is a fact. A person cannot wear the same clothes all of his life. Our clothes become old and useless, and we have to change them. The living being is certainly eternal, but he has to accept a material body for material sense gratification, and such a body cannot endure perpetually, just as our clothes cannot last forever. All of this is thoroughly explained in the Bhagavad-gītā:
dehino 'smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati
"As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change" [Bhagavad-gītā 2.13].
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
"The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another, as the air carries aromas. Thus he takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another" [Bhagavad-gītā 15.8].
So, this proces of transmigration will continue until one attains liberation and goes back home, back to Godhead.
Thomas Aquinas: In Search of Divine Essence
Thomas Aquinas (1225?—1274) was the leading Christian philosopher of the middle ages. He led an austere life as a celibate monk, writing prolifically and teaching widely.
Disciple: Thomas Aquinas compiled the entire Church doctrine in Summa Theologiae, which constitutes the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church. Aquinas did not make Augustine's sharp distinction between the material and spiritual worlds, or between secular society and the city of God. For him, both material and spiritual creations have their origin in God. At the same time, he admits that the spiritual world is superior to the material.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: When we speak of "material world," we refer to that which is temporary. Some philosophers, like the Māyāvādīs [impersonalists], claim that the material world is false, but we Vaiṣṇavas prefer to say that it is temporary or illusory. It is a reflection of the spiritual world, but in itself it has no reality. We therefore sometimes compare the material world to a mirage in the desert. In the material world there is no happiness, but the transcendental bliss and happiness existing in the spiritual world are reflected here. Unintelligent people chase after this illusory happiness, forgetting the real happiness that is in spiritual life.
Disciple: Aquinas agreed with both the statements of Anselm and Abelard: "I believe in order that I may understand," and, "I understand in order that I may believe." Thus reason and revelation complement one another as a means to truth.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Since human reason is not perfect, revelation is also needed. The truth is attained through logic, philosophy, and revelation. According to the Vaiṣṇava tradition, we arrive at the truth through the guru, the spiritual master, who is accepted as the representative of the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead. He transmits the message of the truth because he has seen the Absolute Truth through the disciplic succession. If we accept the bona fide spiritual master and please him by submissive service, by virtue of his mercy and pleasure we can understand God and the spiritual world by revelation. We therefore offer our respects to the spiritual master in the prayer:
yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto 'pi
dhyāyan stuvaṁs tasya yaśas tri-sandhyaṁ
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam **
"By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Kṛṣṇa. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master, offering respectful obeisances unto his lotus feet at least three times a day" [Śrī Gurv-aṣṭaka 8]. We can understand God if we please the spiritual master, who carries the Lord's message without speculation. It is stated in the Padma Purāṇa: sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ [Brs.
Disciple: For Aquinas, God is the only single essence that consists of pure form. He felt that matter is only a potential and, in order to be real, must assume a certain shape or form. In other words, the living entity has to acquire an individual form in order to actualize himself. When matter unites with form, the form gives individuality and personality.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Matter in itself has no form; it is the spirit soul that has form. Matter is a covering for the actual form of the spirit soul. Because the soul has form, matter appears to have form. Matter is like cloth that is cut to fit the body. In the spiritual world, however, everything has form: God and the spirit souls.
Disciple: Aquinas believed that only God and the angels have nonmaterial form. There is no difference between God's form and God's spiritual Self.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Both the individual souls and God have form. That is real form. Material form is but a covering for the spiritual body.
Disciple: Aquinas set forth five basic arguments for God's existence: first, God necessarily exists as the first cause; second, the material world cannot create itself but needs something external, or spiritual, to create it; third, because the world exists, there must be a creator; fourth, since there is relative perfection in the world, there must be absolute perfection underlying it; and fifth, since the creation has design and purpose, there must be a designer who planned it.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: We also honor these arguments. Also, without a father and mother, children cannot be brought into existence. Modern philosophers do not consider this strongest argument. According to the Brahma-saṁhitā, everything has a cause, and God is the ultimate cause.
īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam
"Kṛṣṇa, who is known as Govinda, is the supreme controller. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, for He is the prime cause of all causes" [Brahma-saṁhitā 5.1].
Disciple: He also states that the relative perfection we find here necessitates an absolute perfection.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, the spiritual world is absolute perfection, and this temporary material world is but a reflection of that spiritual world. Whatever perfection we find in this material world is derived from the spiritual world. Janmādy asya yataḥ [SB 1.1.1]. According to the Vedānta-sūtra, whatever is generated comes from the Absolute Truth.
Disciple: Today, some scientists even admit Aquinas's argument that since nothing can create itself in this material world, something external, or spiritual, is required for initial creation.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, a mountain cannot create anything, but a human being can give form to a stone. A mountain may be very large, but it remains a stone incapable of giving shape to anything.
Disciple: Unlike Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas maintained that God created the universe out of nothing.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, the universe is created by God, certainly, but God and His energies are always there. You cannot logically say that the universe was created out of nothing.
Disciple: Aquinas would contend that since the material universe could not have arisen out of God's spiritual nature, it had to be created out of nothing.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Material nature is also an energy of God's. As Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā:
bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
"Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies" [Bhagavad-gītā 7.4]. All of these energies emanate from God, and therefore they are not unreal. They are considered inferior because they are God's separated material energies. The sound that comes from a tape recorder may sound exactly like the original person's voice. The sound is not the person's voice itself, but it has come from the person. If one cannot see where the sound is coming from, one may suppose that the person is actually speaking, although the person may be far away. Similarly, the material world is an expansion of the Supreme Lord's energy, and we should not think that it has been brought into existence out of nothing. It has emanated from the Supreme Truth, but it is the inferior, separated energy. The superior energy is found in the spiritual world, which is the world of reality. In any case we cannot agree that the material world has come from nothing.
Disciple: Well, Aquinas would say that it was created by God out of nothing.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: You cannot say that God's energy is nothing. His energy is exhibited and is eternally existing with Him. God's energy must be there. If God doesn't have energy, how can He be God?
na tasya kāryaṁ karaṇaṁ ca vidyate
na tat-samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dśyate
parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate
svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca
"The Supreme Lord has no duty to perform, and no one is found to be equal to or greater than Him, for everything is done naturally and systematically by His multifarious energies" [Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.8 [Cc. Madhya 13.65, purport]]. God has multi-energies, and the material energy is but one. Since God is everything, you cannot say that the material universe comes from nothing.
Disciple: Like Augustine, Aquinas believed that sin and man are concomitant. Due to Adam's original sin, all men require salvation, which can be obtained only through God's grace. But the individual has to assent by his free will for God's grace to function.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, we call that assent bhakti, devotional service.
ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ
sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ
[Cc. Madhya 17.136]
"Material senses cannot appreciate Kṛṣṇa's holy name, form, qualities, and pastimes. When a conditioned soul is awakened to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and renders service by using his tongue to chant the Lord's holy name and to taste the remnants of His food, the soul's consciousness becomes purified, and gradually Kṛṣṇa reveals who He really is" [Padma Purāṇa].
Bhakti is our eternal engagement, and when we engage in our eternal activities, we attain salvation, or liberation. When we engage in false activities, we are in illusion, māyā. Mukti, liberation, means remaining in our constitutional position. In the material world, we engage in many different activities, but they all refer to the material body. In the spiritual world, the spirit engages in the Lord's service, and this is liberation, or salvation.
Disciple: Aquinas considered sins to be both venial and mortal. A venial sin is one that can be pardoned, but a mortal sin cannot. A mortal sin stains the soul.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: When a living entity disobeys the orders of God, he is put into this material world, and that is his punishment. He either rectifies himself by good association or undergoes transmigration. By taking on one body after another, he is subject to the tribulations of material existence. The soul is not stained, but he can participate in sinful activity. As soon as we are in contact with the material nature, we come under the clutches of the material world.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3.27):
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate
"The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities which are in actuality carried out by nature." In the beginning of the Bhagavad-gītā it is said:
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
"For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain" [Bhagavad-gītā 2.20]. It may appear that the soul comes into existence and dies, but this is because he has accepted the material body. When the soul is liberated, he doesn't have to accept another material body. He can return home, back to Godhead, in his original spiritual body.
The soul was never created but is always existing with God. If we say that the soul was created, the question may be raised whether or not God, the Supreme Soul, was also created. Of course, this is not the case. God is eternal, and His parts and parcels are also eternal. The difference is that God never accepts a material body, whereas the individual soul, being but a small particle, sometimes succumbs to the material energy.
Disciple: Is the soul eternally existing with God in a spiritual form?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Disciple: So the soul has a form that is incorruptible. Is this not also the form of the material body?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The material body is an imitation. It is false. Because the spiritual body has form, the material body, which is a coating, takes on form. As I have already explained, a cloth originally has no form, but a tailor can cut the cloth to fit a form. In actuality, this material form is illusory. The elements of this material form originally have no form. They take on form for a while, and when the body becomes old and useless, they return to their original position. In the Bhagavad-gītā [18.61] the body is compared to a machine. The soul has his own form, but he is given a machine, the body, which he uses to wander throughout the universe, attempting to enjoy himself.
Disciple: Aquinas considered that sex is meant exclusively for the begetting of children, and that the parents are responsible for giving their children a spiritual education.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is also the Vedic injunction. You should not beget children unless you can liberate them from the cycle of birth and death.
gurur na sa syāt sva-jano na sa syāt
pitā na sa syāj jananī na sā syāt
daivaṁ na tat syān na patiś ca sa syān
na mocayed yaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum
"One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother, or a worshipable demigod" [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.5.18].
Disciple: Aquinas argued that sex for reasons other than propagation is "repugnant of the good of nature, which is the conservation of the species." Considering today's overpopulation, does this argument still hold?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The conservation of the species doesn't enter into it. Illicit sex is sinful because it is for sense gratification instead of for begetting children. Sense gratification in any form is sinful.
Disciple: Concerning the state, Aquinas, like Plato, believed in an enlightened monarchy, but in certain cases he felt it is not necessary for man to obey human laws if they are opposed to human welfare and are instruments of violence.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, but first of all we must know what our welfare is. Unfortunately, as materialistic education advances, we are missing the aim of life. Life's aim is declared openly in the Vedānta-sūtra: athāto brahma jijñāsā. Life is meant for understanding the Absolute Truth. Vedic civilization is based on this principle, but modern civilization has deviated and is devoting itself to that which cannot possibly relieve us from the tribulations of birth, old age, disease, and death. So-called scientific advancement has not solved life's real problems. Although we are eternal, we are presently subjected to birth and death. In this age of quarrel (Kali-yuga), people are slow to learn about self-realization. People create their own way of life, and they are unfortunate and disturbed.
Disciple: Aquinas concludes that if the laws of God and man conflict, we should obey the laws of God.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. We can also obey the man who obeys the laws of God. It is useless to obey an imperfect person. That is the blind following the blind. If the leader does not follow the instructions of the supreme controller, he is necessarily blind, and he cannot lead. Why should we risk our lives by following blind men who believe that they are knowledgeable but are not? We should instead decide to take lessons from the Supreme Person, Kṛṣṇa, who knows everything perfectly. Kṛṣṇa knows past, present, and future, and what is for our benefit.
Disciple: For Aquinas, all earthly powers exist only by God's permission. Since the Church is God's emissary on earth, the Church should control secular power as well. He felt that secular rulers should remain subservient to the Church, which should be able to excommunicate a monarch and dethrone him.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: World activities should be regulated so that God is the ultimate goal of understanding. Although the Church, or the brāhmaṇas, may not directly carry out administrative activities, the government should function under their supervision and instructions. That is the Vedic system. The administrators, the kṣatriyas, used to take instructions from the brāhmaṇas, who could deliver a spiritual message. It is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā [4.1] that millions of years ago Kṛṣṇa instructed the sun-god in the yoga of the Bhagavad-gītā. The sun-god is the origin of the kṣatriyas. If the king follows the instructions of the Vedas or other scriptures through the brāhmaṇas, or through a bona fide church, he is not only a king but a saintly person as well, a rājarṣi. The kṣatriyas should follow the orders of the brāhmaṇas, and the vaiśyas should follow the orders of the kṣatriyas. The śūdras should follow the instructions of the three superior orders.
Disciple: Concerning the beauty of God, Aquinas writes: "God is beautiful in Himself and not in relation to some limited terminus.... It is clear that the beauty of all things is derived from the divine beauty.... God wishes to multiply His own beauty as far as possible, that is to say, by the communication of His likeness. Indeed, all things are made in order to imitate divine beauty in some fashion."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, God is the reservoir of all knowledge, beauty, strength, fame, renunciation, and wealth. God is the reservoir of everything, and therefore whatever we see that is beautiful emanates from a very minute part of God's beauty.
yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā
tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ mama tejo-'ṁśa-sambhavam
"Know that all opulent, beautiful, and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor" [Bhagavad-gītā 10.41].
Disciple: Concerning the relationship between theology and philosophy, Aquinas writes: "As sacred doctrine is based on the light of faith, so is philosophy founded on the natural light of reason.... If any point among the statements of the philosophers is found contrary to faith, this is not philosophy but rather an abuse of philosophy, resulting from a defect in reasoning."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is correct. Due to material, conditioned life, every man is defective. The philosophy of defective people cannot help society. Perfect philosophy comes from one who is in contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and such philosophy is beneficial. Speculative philosophers base their beliefs on imagination.
Disciple: Aquinas concluded that divine revelation is absolutely necessary because very few men can arrive at the truth through the philosophical method. It is a path full of errors, and the journey takes a long time.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is a fact. We should directly contact the Supreme Person, Kṛṣṇa, who has complete knowledge. We should understand His instructions and try to follow them.
Disciple: Aquinas believed that the author of sacred scripture can be only God Himself, who can not only "adjust words to their meaning, which even man can do, but also adjust things in themselves." Also, scriptures are not restricted to one meaning.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The meaning of scriptures is one, but the interpretations may be different. In the Bible it is stated that God created the universe, and that is a fact. One may conjecture that the universe was created out of some chunk, or whatever, but we should not interpret scripture in this way. We present the Bhagavad-gītā as it is, without interpretation or motive. We cannot change the words of God. Unfortunately, many interpreters of scripture have spoiled the God consciousness of society.
Disciple: In this, Aquinas seems to differ from the official Catholic doctrine, which admits only the Pope's interpretation. For him, the scriptures may contain many meanings according to our degree of realization.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The meaning is one, but if we are not realized, we may interpret many meanings. It is stated in both the Bible and the Bhagavad-gītā that God created the universe. In the Gītā we find that Lord Kṛṣṇa states, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate: "I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me" [Bhagavad-gītā 10.8]. If it is a fact that everything is an emanation of God's energy, why should we accept a second meaning or interpretation? What is the possible second meaning?
Disciple: Well, in the Bible it is stated that after creating the universe, God walked through paradise in the afternoon. Aquinas would consider this to have an interior, or metaphorical, meaning.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If God can create, He can also walk, speak, touch, and see. If God is a person, why is a second meaning necessary? What could it possibly be?
Disciple: Impersonal speculation.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If God is the creator of all things, He must be a person. Things appear to come from secondary causes, but actually everything is created by the supreme creator.
Disciple: Aquinas seems to have encouraged individual interpretation. He writes: "It belongs to the dignity of divine scripture to contain many meanings in one text, so that it may be appropriate to the various understandings of men for each man to marvel at the fact that he can find the truth that he has conceived in his own mind expressed in divine scripture."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. If one's mind is perfect, he may give a meaning, but, according to our conviction, if one is perfect, why should he try to change the word of God? And if one is imperfect, what is the value of his change?
Disciple: Aquinas doesn't say "change."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Interpretation means change. If man is imperfect, how can he change the words of God? If the words can be changed, they are not perfect. So there will be doubt whether the words are spoken by God or by an imperfect person.
Disciple: The many different Protestant faiths resulted from such individual interpretation. It's surprising to find this viewpoint in Aquinas.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: As soon as you interpret or change the scripture, the scripture loses its authority. Then another man will come and interpret things in his own way. Another will come and then another, and in this way the original purport of the scripture is lost.
Disciple: Aquinas believed that it is not possible to see God in this life. He writes: "God cannot be seen in His essence by one who is merely man, except he be separated from this mortal life.... The divine essence cannot be known through the nature of material things."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: What does he mean by divine essence? For us, God's divine essence is personal. When one cannot conceive of the Personality of Godhead, he sees the impersonal feature everywhere. When one advances further, he sees God as the Paramātmā within his heart. That is the result of yoga meditation. Finally, if one is truly advanced, he can see God face to face. When Kṛṣṇa came, people saw him face to face. Christians accept Christ as the son of God, and when he came, people saw him face to face. Does Aquinas think that Christ is not the divine essence of God?
Disciple: For a Christian, Christ must be the divine essence.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: And didn't many people see him? Then how can Aquinas say that God cannot be seen?
Disciple: It's difficult to tell whether Aquinas is basically impersonalist or personalist.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That means he is speculating.
Disciple: He writes about the personal feature in this way: "Because God's nature has all perfection and thus every kind of perfection should be attributed to Him, it is fitting to use the word 'person' to speak of God; yet when used of God it is not used exactly as it is of creatures but in a higher sense.... Certainly the dignity of divine nature surpasses every nature, and thus it is entirely suitable to speak of God as a 'person.'" Aquinas is no more specific than this.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Christ is accepted as the son of God, and if the son can be seen, why can't the Father be seen? If Christ is the son of God, who is God? In the Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa says, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: [Bg. 10.8] "Everything is emanating from Me." Christ says that he is the son of God, and this means that he emanates from God. Just as he has his personality, God also has His personality. Therefore we refer to Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Disciple: Concerning God's names, Aquinas writes: "Yet since God is simple and subsisting, we attribute to Him simple and abstract names to signify His simplicity, and concrete names to signify His subsistence and perfection; although both these kinds of names fail to express His mode of being, because our intellect does not know Him in this life as He is."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: One of God's attributes is being. Similarly, one of His attributes is attraction. God attracts everything. The word kṛṣṇa means "all-attractive." What, then, is wrong with addressing God as Kṛṣṇa? Because Kṛṣṇa is the enjoyer of Rādhārāṇī, His name is Rādhikā-ramaṇa. Because He exists, He is called the Supreme Being. In one sense, God has no name, but in another sense He has millions of names according to His activities and attributes.
Disciple: Aquinas maintains that although the names apply to God to signify one reality, they are not synonymous because they signify that reality under diverse aspects.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: God's names are there because He has different features and activities.
Disciple: But Aquinas asserts that no name belongs to God in the same sense that it belongs to creatures.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The names of creatures are also derived from God. For instance, God appeared as the boar incarnation, and therefore a devotee may be named Varāha dāsa, which means "servant of God in His boar incarnation." This name is not created; it refers to the activities of God.
Disciple: Aquinas believed that names of God that imply relation to creatures are predicated of God temporarily. He writes: "Though God is prior to the creature, still, because the signification of 'Lord' includes the idea of a servant and vice versa, these two relative terms, Lord and servant, are simultaneous by nature. Hence God was not 'Lord' until He had a creature subject to Himself.... Thus names which import relation to creatures are applied to God temporarily, and not from eternity, since God is outside the whole order of creation."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: God is always existing as the Lord, and His servants are existing everlastingly with Him. How can He be the Lord without a servant? How can it be that God has no servants?
Disciple: Well, the contention is that creatures were created at one point in time, and before that, God must have been by Himself.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is a material idea. It is the material world that is created, not the spiritual world. The spiritual world and God are existing everlastingly. The bodies of creatures in this material world are created, but God is always in the spiritual world with countless servants. According to our philosophy, there is no limit to the number of living entities. Those who do not like to serve are put into this material world. As far as our identity as servants is concerned, that is eternal, whether we are in the material world or the spiritual world. If we do not serve God in the spiritual world, we come down into the material world to serve the illusory energy of God. In any case, God is always the master, and the living entity is always the servant.
Disciple: Aquinas felt that the less determinate God's name, the more universal and absolute it is. He therefore believed that the most proper name for God is "He who is."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Why? If God is active and has created the entire universe, what is wrong in addressing Him according to His activities and attributes?
Disciple: Aquinas claims that the very essence of God is the sheer fact of His being, the fact that He is.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: He is, certainly, but "He is" means that He is existing in His abode with His servants, playmates, hobbies, and paraphernalia. Everything is there. We must ask what is the meaning or nature of His being.
Disciple: It seems that Aquinas was basically an impersonalist.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. He could not determine whether God is personal or impersonal. His inclination was to serve God as a person, but he had no clear conception of His personality. Therefore he speculated.
Disciple: In the Vedas, is there an equivalent to "He who is"?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oṁ tat sat is impersonal. This mantra, however, can also be extended as oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya. The word vāsudeva means "one who lives everywhere" and refers to Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. God is both personal and impersonal, but the impersonal feature is secondary. According to Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā:
brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham amṛtasyāvyayasya ca
śāśvatasya ca dharmasya sukhasyaikāntikasya ca
"And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal, imperishable, and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness" [Bhagavad-gītā 14.27]. What is the purport to that?
Disciple [reading]: "The constitution of Brahman is immortality, imperishability, eternity, and happiness. Brahman is the beginning of transcendental realization. Paramātmā, the Supersoul, is the middle, the second stage in transcendental realization, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate realization of the Absolute Truth."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is divine essence.
Jean-Paul Sartre: Is the Supreme Being Nothingness?
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), was perhaps the most prominent exponent of existentialism in the twentieth century.
Disciple: Descartes and Leibnitz believed that before the creation the concept of man existed in essence in the mind of God, just as a machine exists in the mind of its manufacturer before it is constructed. Sartre takes exception to this. In The Humanism of Existentialism, he writes: "Atheistic existentialism, which I represent, is more coherent. It states that if God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before he can be defined by any concept, and that this being is man, or, as Heidegger says, human reality."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But where does human reality come from? There are also other realities. Why is he stressing human reality?
Disciple: As for man's origin, Sartre would say that man is "thrown into the world."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Thrown by whom? The word "throw" implies a thrower.
Disciple: Sartre isn't really interested in a thrower. "Existentialism isn't so atheistic that it wears itself out showing God doesn't exist," he writes. "Rather, it declares that even if God did exist, that would change nothing. There you've got our point of view. Not that we believe that God exists, but that we think that the problem of His existence is not the issue."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But if you and others exist, why doesn't God exist? Why deny God and His existence? Let them all exist.
Disciple: Since Sartre sees man as having been thrown into the world and abandoned, for him, God is dead.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Abandoned by God does not mean that God is dead. You have to admit that you are condemned to the material world, but just because you are condemned, you should not think that God is also condemned. God is always in Vaikuṇṭha. He is not dead.
Disciple: Sartre believes that because we have been abandoned, we must rely on ourselves alone.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But God has not abandoned us. God is not partial. He does not accept one person and abandon another. If you feel abandoned, it is because you have done something that has brought this condition about. If you rectify your position, you will be accepted again.
Disciple: But Sartre would deny God's existence, particularly that of a personal God.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But his denial should be based on some logic or reason. Why mention the word "God" if God does not exist? God is there, but Sartre denies God's existence. This is inconsistent. If God does not exist, why even mention the word? His proposal is that he does not want God to exist.
Disciple: He wants to set the whole question aside in order to place emphasis on man, on human reality.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If you believe in your existence, why not believe in the existence of another? There are 8,400,000 different species existing in multifarious forms. Why shouldn't God exist? According to the Vedic understanding, God is also a living being, but He is different in that He is the chief, supreme living being. According to the Bhagavad-gītā, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat [Bg. 7.7]. There is no living being superior to God. We all experience the fact that there are beings more intelligent than we. God is the ultimate intelligence. Why can't a person who exceeds all others in intelligence exist? There is no question of "if God exists." God must exist. In the śāstras He is described as the superlative personality, as the super-powerful, super-intelligent being. We can see in this world that everyone is not on an equal level, that there are varying degrees of perfection. This indicates that there is a superlative, and if we go on searching—either for wealth, intelligence, power, beauty, or whatever—we will find that God possesses all qualities to the superlative degree, and that every other living entity possesses His qualities partially. How, then, can we rationally deny His existence?
Disciple: According to Sartre, the first principle of existentialism is that "man is nothing else but what he makes of himself." This can be true only if there is no God to conceive of human nature.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If man is what he makes of himself, why doesn't man exist as a superman? If his capacities are completely independent of anyone else, why is he in his present situation?
Disciple: That is also Sartre's question. He therefore emphasizes man's responsibility. "But if existence really does precede essence," he writes, "man is responsible for what he is. Thus existentialism's first move is to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If man is responsible, who gave him this responsibility? What does he mean by responsibility? You feel responsible to someone when someone gives you duties to discharge. If there is no duty, or overseer, where is your responsibility?
Disciple: Sartre sees man as being overwhelmed by his very responsibility. He is in anguish and anxiety because he has the freedom to change himself and the world.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This means that man is in an awkward position. He wants peace, but he does not know how to attain it. But this does not mean that peace is not possible. Peace is not possible for a man in ignorance.
Disciple: Anxiety arises from responsibility. Man thinks that he has to choose properly in order to enjoy something. If he chooses wrongly, he must suffer.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, responsibility is there, but why not take it to transfer yourself to a safe place where there is no anxiety? It may be that you do not know of a safe place, but if there is such a place, why not ask someone who knows? Why constantly remain disappointed and anxious? The safe place where there is no anxiety is called Vaikuṇṭha. The word Vaikuṇṭha means "no anxiety."
Disciple: Sartre believes that the task of existentialism is "to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him.... And when we say that a man is responsible for himself, we do not only mean that he is responsible for his own individuality, but that he is responsible for all men."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Suppose I want to benefit you, and you are free. Your freedom means that you can accept or reject my good intentions. How can I be responsible for you if you don't obey? How can you be responsible for me? Sartre claims that you are responsible for others, but if others do not follow your instructions, how can you be considered responsible? This is all contradictory. Unless there is some standard, there must be contradiction. According to the Vedic version, God is the Supreme Person, and we should all be His obedient servants. God gives us some duty, and we are responsible to carry that duty out. Our real responsibility is to God. If we reject God, society becomes chaotic. Religion means avoiding chaos and meeting our responsibility to God by fulfilling our duty. Responsibility rests on us, and it is given by God. If we make spiritual progress by fulfilling our duty, we can finally live with God personally.
Disciple: Sartre claims that the existentialist does not actually want to deny God's existence. Rather, "the existentialist thinks it very distressing that God does not exist because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him...If God didn't exist, everything would be possible. That is the very starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist..."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This means that he does not know the meaning of God. As we have many times said, God is the Supreme Being, the Supreme Father who impregnates material nature with countless living entities. As soon as we accept material nature as the mother, we must accept some father. Therefore there is a conception of God the Father in all human societies. It is the father's duty to maintain his children, and therefore God is maintaining all the living entities within the universe. There is no question of rationally denying this.
Disciple: Well, Sartre at least makes the attempt. He writes: "Since we have discarded God the Father, there has to be someone to invent values. You've got to take things as they are. Moreover, to say that we invent values means nothing else but this: Life has no meaning a priori. Before you become alive, life is nothing; it's up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing else but the meaning that you choose."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Therefore everyone invents his own meaning? If this is the case, how will people ever live peacefully in society? Since everyone has his own idea of life, there can be no harmony. What kind of government would exist?
Disciple: At one point Sartre turned to Marxism.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But in Communist countries, there are very strong governments. It is not possible for a people to avoid government or leadership.
Disciple: Regardless of the form of government, Sartre believes that man is basically free. In fact, Sartre maintains that man is condemned to be free, that this is a fate from which man cannot escape.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If man is condemned, who has condemned him?
Disciple: Man is condemned by accident, thrown into the world.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Is it simply by accident that one person is condemned and another blessed? Is it an accident that one man is in jail and another is not? What kind of philosophy is this? Such so-called philosophy simply misleads people. Nothing is accidental. We agree that the living entity is condemned to this material world, but when we speak of condemnation, we also speak of blessedness. So what is that blessedness?
Disciple: Sartre argues that man is condemned in the sense that he cannot escape this freedom. Since man is free, he is responsible for his actions.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If you are responsible, then your freedom is not accidental. How is it you are accidentally responsible? If there is responsibility, there must be someone you are responsible to. There must be someone who is condemning you or blessing you. These things cannot happen accidentally. His philosophy is contradictory.
Disciple: Man's nature is an indefinite state of freedom. Man has no definite nature. He is continually creating it.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This means that he is eternal. But the living entity does not change accidentally. His changes take place under certain regulations, and he attains specific bodies according to his karma, not by accident.
Disciple: But we have no fixed nature in the sense that today I may be happy and tomorrow unhappy.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is true to some extent. When you are placed into the sea, you have no control. You move according to the waves. This means that there is a power that is controlling you. However, if you put yourself in better circumstances, you will be able to control. Because you have placed yourself under the control of material nature, you act according to the modes of material nature.
prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
ahaṅkāra-vimūḍhātmā kartāham iti manyate
"The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature" [Bhagavad-gītā 3.27]. Because you are conditioned, your freedom is checked. When you are thrown into the ocean of material existence, you essentially lose your freedom. Therefore it is your duty to get yourself liberated.
Disciple: Because we are one thing today and something else tomorrow, Sartre says that our essential nature is "nothingness."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: You are nothing in the sense that you are under the full control of a superior power, being carried away by the waves of māyā. In the ocean of māyā, you may say, "I am nothing," but actually you are something. Your somethingness will be very much exhibited to you when you are put on land. Out of despair, you conclude that your nature is that of nothingness. Sartre's philosophy is a philosophy of despair, and we say that it is unintelligent because despair is not the result of intelligence.
Disciple: Although the basis of our nature is nothingness, Sartre maintains that man chooses or creates his own nature.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is a fact. Therefore you should create your nature as something, not nothing. In order to do that, however, you have to take lessons from a higher personality. Before philosophizing, Sartre should have taken lessons from a knowledgeable person. That is the Vedic injunction:
tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet
samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham
"In order to learn the transcendental science, one must humbly approach a spiritual master who is learned in the Vedas and firmly devoted to the Absolute Truth" [Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.12].
Disciple: Sartre sees our nature as always in the making, as continually becoming.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: It is not in the making. It is changing. But man can make his nature in the sense that he can decide not to change. He can understand that changes are taking place despite the fact that he does not want them. Man can mold his nature by deciding to serve Kṛṣṇa, not by dismissing the whole matter and, out of confusion and disappointment, claiming to be nothing. The attempt to make life zero is due to a poor fund of knowledge.
Disciple: Sartre sees that we are constantly choosing or making our life, but that everything ends at death. That is, man is always in the process of becoming until death. At death, everything is finished.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Death means changing into another body. The active principle on which the body stands does not die. Death is like changing apartments. A sane man can understand this.
Disciple: Although man has no determined nature other than nothingness, Sartre sees man as a being striving to be God. He writes: "To be man means to reach toward being God. Or if you prefer, man fundamentally is the desire to be God."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: On the one hand, he denies the existence of God, and on the other, he tries to be God. If there is no God, there is no question of desiring to be God. How can one desire to be something that does not exist?
Disciple: He is simply stating that man wants to be God. As far as God's existence is concerned, he prefers to set this question aside.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But that is the main question of philosophy! God has created everything: your mind, intelligence, body, existence, and the circumstances surrounding you. How can you deny His existence? Or set it aside as not relevant? In the Vedas, it is stated that in the beginning God existed, and the Bible also states that in the beginning there was God. In this material universe, existence and annihilation are both temporary. According to the laws of material nature, the body is created on a certain day, it exists for some time, and then it is eventually finished. The entire cosmic manifestation has a beginning, middle, and end, But before this creation, who was there? If God were not there, how could the creation logically be possible?
Disciple: As far as we've seen, most philosophers are concerned with resolving this question.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Not all philosophers are denying God's existence, but most are denying His personal existence. We can understand, however, that God is the origin of everything, and that this cosmic manifestation emanates from Him. God is there, nature is there, and we are also there, like one big family.
Disciple: Sartre would not admit the existence of an originator in whom things exist in their essence prior to creation. He would say that man simply exists, that he just appears.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: A person appears due to his father and mother. How can this be denied? Does he mean to say, "I suddenly just dropped from the sky"? Only a fool would say that he appeared without parents. From our experience we can understand that all species of life are manifest from some mother. Taken as a whole, we say that the mother is material nature. As soon as a mother is accepted, the father must also be accepted. It is most important to know where you came from. How can you put this question aside?
Disciple: Sartre believes that man's fundamental desire is the "desire to be." That is, man seeks existence rather than mere nothingness.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is so. Because man is eternal, he has the desire to exist eternally. Unfortunately, he puts himself under certain conditions that are not eternal. That is, he tries to maintain a position that will not endure eternally. Through Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we attain and retain our eternal position.
Disciple: Sartre feels that man wants solidity. He is not satisfied with being a mere being—for—itself. He also desires to be being—in—itself.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Nothing in the material world exists eternally. A tree may exist for ten thousand years, but eventually it will perish. What Sartre is seeking is actual spiritual life. In the Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa speaks of another nature, a nature that is permanent, sanātana.
paras tasmāt tu bhāvo 'nyo 'vyakto 'vyaktāt sanātanaḥ
yaḥ sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu naśyatsu na vinaśyati
"Yet there is another unmanifest nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is" [Bhagavad-gītā 8.20]. After the annihilation of this material universe, that eternal nature will abide.
Disciple: This desire to be being-in-itself is the desire to be God, which Sartre maintains is man's fundamental desire.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This is more or less Māyāvādī philosophy. The Māyāvādīs believe that when they attain complete knowledge, they become God. Because man is part and parcel of God, he wants to be united with God. It is like a man who has been away from home for a long time. Naturally he wants to go home again.
Disciple: Sartre believes that this desire to be God is bound to fail.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Certainly, it must fail. If man is God, how has he become something else? His very desire to be God means that he is not God at the present moment. A man cannot become God, but he can become godly. Existing in darkness, we desire light. We may come into the sunshine, but this does not mean that we become the sun. When we come to the platform of perfect knowledge, we become godly, but we do not become God. If we were God, there would be no question of our becoming something other than God. There would be no question of being ignorant. Another name for Kṛṣṇa is Acyuta, which means, "He who never falls down." This means that He never becomes not—God. He is God always. You cannot become God through some mystic practice. This desire to become God is useless because it is doomed to frustration.
Disciple: Therefore Sartre calls man a "useless passion."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: A man is not useless if he attempts to be Kṛṣṇa conscious. The attempt to be Kṛṣṇa conscious and the attempt to be Kṛṣṇa are totally different. One is godly, the other demoniac.
Disciple: Sartre then reasons that because it is impossible to become God, everything else is useless.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is foolishness. You are not God, but God's servant. You have chosen to attempt to become God, but you have found this to be impossible. Therefore you should give up this notion and decide to become a good servant of God, instead of a servant of māyā, illusion. That is the proper decision.
Disciple: Sartre concludes that since things have no reason to exist, life has no essential purpose.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Nothing can exist without a purpose, which is given by the supreme being, the cause of all causes. The defect in such philosophers is that they do not have sufficient brain substance to go further than what they superficially see. They are not capable of understanding the cause of all causes. Many modern scientists also maintain that nature, prakṛti, is the sole cause of existence, but we do not ascribe to such a theory. We understand that God is behind nature, and that nature is not acting independently. Nature is phenomena, but behind nature is numina, God, Kṛṣṇa.
In the Bhagavad-gītā, philosophy like Sartre's is called demoniac. Demons do not believe in a superior cause. They consider that everything is accidental. They say that a man and a woman unite accidentally, and that their child is the result of sex and nothing more. Therefore they claim that there is no purpose to existence.
asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te jagad āhur anīśvaram
aparaspara-sambhūtaṁ kim anyat kāma-haitukam
"They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust" [Bhagavad-gītā 16.8]. This type of philosophy is called demoniac because it is of the nature of darkness, ignorance.
Disciple: For Sartre, being-for-itself refers to human consciousness, which is subjective, individual, incomplete, and indeterminate. It is nothingness in the sense that it has no density or mass.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Because he is so materialistic, his senses cannot perceive anything that is not concrete. According to Vedic philosophy, the senses and their objects are created simultaneously. Unless there is an aroma, the sense of smell has no value. Unless there is beauty, the eyes have no value. Unless there is music, the ears have no value. Unless there is something soft, the sense of touch has no value. There is no question of nothingness. There must be interaction.
Disciple: Since man's essential nature is an undetermined nothingness, Sartre believes that man is free to choose to be either a coward or a hero. Our situation is in our own hands.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If you are tossed into the world by some superior power, what can you do? How can you become a hero? If you try to become a hero, you will be kicked all the more because you are placed here by a superior power. If a culprit under police custody attempts to become a hero, he will be beaten and punished. Actually, you are neither a coward nor a hero. You are an instrument. You are completely under the control of a superior power.
Disciple: Well, if someone is attacking you, you have the power to choose to be a hero and defend yourself, or to run.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: It is not heroic to defend oneself. That is natural. If that is the case, even a dog can be a hero when he is attacked. Even an ant can be a hero. Heroism and cowardice are simply mental concoctions. After all, you are under the control of a power that can do what He likes with you. Therefore there is no question of your becoming a hero or a coward.
Disciple: Suppose someone is in danger, and you rescue him. Isn't that being heroic?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: All you rescue is the exterior dress. Saving that dress is not heroism. It is not even protection. One can be a real hero only when he is fully empowered or fully protected. Such a person can only be a devotee, because only Kṛṣṇa can fully protect or empower.
Disciple: Being free, man is subject to what Sartre calls "bad faith," a kind of self-deception. Through bad faith, man loses his freedom and responsibility.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: You certainly have limited freedom to choose, but if you choose improperly, you have to suffer. Responsibility and freedom go hand in hand. At the same time, there must be discrimination. Without it, our freedom is blind. We cannot understand right from wrong.
Disciple: A man in bad faith drifts along from day to day without being involved, avoiding responsible decisions.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This means that he has decided to drift. His drifting is a decision.
Disciple: Sartre believes that bad faith must be replaced by a solid choosing, and by faith in that choice.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But if he makes the wrong decision, what is the value of his action? Moths fly very valiantly and courageously into the fire. Is that a very good decision?
Disciple: Due to bad faith, people treat others as objects instead of persons. Sartre advocates rectifying this situation.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: He speaks of bad faith, but what about good faith?
Disciple: If bad faith is the avoidance of decisions, good faith would mean making decisions courageously and following them out, regardless of what these decisions are.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But what if your decision is wrong?
Disciple: For Sartre, it is not a question of right or wrong.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Then whatever decision I make is final and absolute? This means that the moth's decision to enter the fire is a proper decision. This is the philosophy of insects. If man can do as he pleases, where is his responsibility?
Disciple: Sartre believes that the fate of the world depends on man's decisions. Obviously, if man decides properly, the world would be a better place.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Therefore we are trying to introduce this Kṛṣṇa consciousness in order to make the world into Vaikuṇṭha, into a place where there is no anxiety. But this is not a blind decision. It is the decision of a higher authority; therefore it is perfect.
Disciple: Many people call Sartre's philosophy pessimistic because he maintains that man is a "useless passion" vainly striving in a universe without a purpose.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Sartre may be a useless passion, but we are not. No sane man is useless. A sane man will follow a superior authority. That is Vedic civilization. If one approaches a bona fide spiritual master, he will not be bewildered. Sartre believes that the universe is without a purpose because he is blind. He has no power to see that there is a plan. Therefore, as I have already mentioned, the Bhagavad-gītā calls his philosophy demoniac. Everything in the universe functions according to some plan. The sun and moon rise, and the seasons change according to plan.
Disciple: For Sartre, man stands alone in the world, yet he is not alone if he is a being-for-others. Man needs others for his own self-realization.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This means that man requires a guru.
Disciple: Sartre does not speak of a guru but of interaction with others for self-understanding.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If this is required, why not interact with the best man? If we require others to understand ourselves, why should we not seek the best man for our own understanding? We should receive help from the man who knows. If you take the advice of one who can give you the right direction, your end will be glorious. That is the Vedic injunction. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet [MU
Disciple: Sartre feels that in the presence of others, man is ashamed.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Man is ashamed if he is not guided by a superior. If you are guided by a superior, you will be glorious, not ashamed. Your superior is that person who can lead you to the glory of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Give God the Nobel Prize
On an early-morning walk, Śrīla Prabhupāda points out to his disciples how insignificant are man's scientific achievements compared to God's limitlessly complex creation. (June 1974, Geneva)
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Just look at this fig. In this one fig, you find thousands of seeds—and each tiny seed can produce another tree as big as the original fig tree. Inside each little seed is a whole new fig tree.
Now, where is that chemist who can do such a thing: first, make a tree, and then, make the tree bear fruit, and next, make the fruit produce seeds—and finally, make the seeds produce still more trees? Just tell me. Where is that chemist?
Disciple: They talk very proudly, Śrīla Prabhupāda, but none of these chemists and such can do any of these things.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Once a big chemist came to me and admitted, "Our chemical advancement, our scientific advancement, is like a man who has learned to bark. So many natural dogs are already barking, but no one pays any attention. But if a man artificially learns the art of barking, oh, so many people will go to see—and even purchase tickets for ten dollars, twenty dollars. Just to see an artificial dog. Our scientific advancement is like this."
If a man makes an artificial imitation of nature, say by barking, people go to see and even pay money. When it comes to the natural barking, no one cares. And when these big so-called scientific rascals claim they can manufacture life, people give all sorts of praise and awards. As for God's perfect, natural process—millions and millions of beings born at each moment—no one cares. People don't give God's process very much credit.
The fool who concocts some imaginary scheme for creating living beings from dead material chemicals—he is given all credit, you see: the Nobel Prize. "Oh, here is a creative genius." And nature is injecting millions and millions of souls into material bodies at every moment—by the arrangement of God—and no one cares. This is rascaldom.
Even if we suppose you could manufacture a man or animal in your laboratory, what would be your credit? After all, a single man or animal might be created by you, but millions and millions are created by the Lord. So we want to give credit to Kṛṣṇa, who is really creating all these living beings we see every day.
Disciple: Prabhupāda, you remember Aldous Huxley, who in Brave New World predicted a process of genetically screening babies, of breeding men for certain traits? The idea would be to take one strain of traits and breed a class of working men, take another strain of traits and breed a class of administrators, and take still another strain of traits and breed a class of cultured advisors and scholars.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Once again, that is already present in God's natural arrangement. Guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ: [Bg. 4.13] according to one's qualities and activities in his past life, in his present life he gets a fitting body. If one has cultivated the qualities and activities of ignorance, he gets an ignorant body and must live by manual labor. If one has cultivated the qualities and activities of striving passion, he gets a passionate body and must live by taking charge of others—administration.
If one has cultivated the qualities and activities of enlightenment, he gets an enlightened body and must live by enlightening and advising others.
So you see, God has already made such a perfect arrangement. Every soul receives the body he desires and deserves, and the social order receives citizens with required traits. Not that you have to "breed" these traits. By His natural arrangement, the Lord equips particular souls with particular kinds of bodies. Why even try imitating what God and nature already do perfectly?
I told that scientist who visited me, "You scientists—you are simply wasting time." Childish. They are just imitating the dog's barking. The scientist pays no attention, gives no credit to the real dog doing the real barking. Actually, that is today's situation. When the natural dog barks, that is not science. When the artificial, imitation dog barks, that is science. Isn't it so? To whatever degree the scientist succeeds in artificially imitating what the Lord's natural arrangement is already doing—that is science.
Disciple: When you heard, Prabhupāda, about the scientists claiming they can now produce babies in a test tube, you said, "But that is already being done in the mother's womb. The womb is the perfect test tube."
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Nature is already doing everything with utter perfection. But some puffed-up scientist will make a shabby imitation—using the ingredients nature supplies—and get the Nobel Prize.
And what to speak of actually creating a baby—let us see the scientists produce even one blade of grass in their proud laboratories.
Disciple: They should give the Lord and Mother Nature the Nobel Prize.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, yes.
Disciple: Really, I think they should give you the Nobel Prize. You've taken so many foolish atheists and created devotees of God.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, I—I am a "natural dog," so they'll not give me any prize. [Laughs.] They will award the prize to the artificial dogs.