Dialectical Spiritualism: Thomas Hobbes


Jan 10, 2017 — CANADA (SUN) — Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from  Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

Syamasundara dasa: It is Hobbes who declared, "Whatever exists is matter, and whatever changes is motion." For him, mental or spiritual entities are not realities in their own right, but are merely by-products of matter. Spirit and mind perish when the material basis is destroyed.

Srila Prabhupada: Spirit is not a combination of material conditions. If so, why not combine matter in such a way as to produce living spirit, living forms?

Hayagriva dasa: Hobbes believed that a "substance incorporeal" is contradictory because nothing exists in the world but bodies. He defined God as "a most pure, simple, invisible, spirit corporeal."

Srila Prabhupada: Why invisible? When Krsna came, He was certainly visible, for Arjuna was talking to Him face to face. God's visibility or invisibility depends on God's own good will. He is visible to one who is competent or perfect. Not only was He visible to Arjuna, but He reciprocated by answering Arjuna's questions. If we become qualified like Arjuna, we can see God and talk with Him. Then God will give direct instructions. God is invisible for one who is imperfect, but for one who is perfect, He is certainly visible.

Syamasundara dasa: Empiricists maintain that the only proof we have of anything is through our senses.

Srila Prabhupada: We say that since the senses are imperfect, whatever you believe through them is imperfect. This is very simple. When the sun rises in the morning, it is many millions of miles away, but can a child tell how far away it is? Who can really tell how far away the sun is?

Syamasundara dasa: They have invented certain instruments to measure distance.

Srila Prabhupada: Therefore they have learned from some authority. Because they could not measure with their own senses, they have turned to instruments. But we should take the help of the expert instrument driver, Sri Krsna. What is the value of our senses if they are imperfect?

Syamasundara dasa: So the mind or soul is not simply a physiological system?

Srila Prabhupada: The soul is a different energy. Heat and light emanate from the same source, fire. Nonetheless, heat is not light, and light is not heat. Sometimes we may feel heat, but that does not mean that there is light. Sometimes we may have light, but that does not mean that there is heat. Still, heat and light come from the same source.

Syamasundara dasa: How is it that the soul and mind are different from the body?

Srila Prabhupada: They are not different, but they are being manifested in different phases. At the moment, we are experiencing sunshine, and we are feeling heat from the sun, but if we approach the sun, we feel much more intense heat. If we approach very closely, we will be disintegrated.

Syamasundara dasa: But how is it that the soul is not produced by the body? How do we know that it is not a mere by-product?

Srila Prabhupada: At death, all the physical parts of the body are present. But why is the man dead? What is missing? His heart may be present, but why is it not beating? All the parts of the body may be present, yet you can see that the body is dead. What is it that is missing?

Syamasundara dasa: Impulses are no longer being sent from the brain to the heart.

Srila Prabhupada: But why has the brain stopped? The brain's construction is all there. What is missing? Why not replace what is missing? If you are a mechanic, and the machine stops, you should be able to find the defect and immediately repair it. But no one has been able to do this with the body, no scientist or philosopher. They cannot meet such a challenge.

Hayagriva dasa: Hobbes is best known as a political philosopher, and in his most famous work, The Leviathan, he set forth his socio-political theories, as Machiavelli had done in The Prince. Hobbes's ruling body, or monarch, his "mortal god," who was under the immortal God, was the Leviathan, who would rule above the law. Now, according to the Vedic conception, is the king, or head of state, above the law?

Srila Prabhupada: No. The king is also under the law. As we understand it from Bhagavad-gita, Sri Krsna imparted His laws to the sun god. Since the sun god followed these laws, he is, compared to a common man, a supremely elevated being. The king is supposed to be the representative of God in the state, and the king's perfection lies in following the laws of Krsna. If the king follows the order of Krsna, the king's orders are final. In Bhagavad-gita (4.1-2), Krsna says that He originally imparted the laws of Bhagavad-gita to the sun god, Vivasvan, who imparted them to Manu, the father of man, who in turn imparted them to Iksvaku, and in this way Bhagavad-gita was received via disciplic succession and imparted to the rajarsis, the saintly kings. If the king rules according to Bhagavad-gita, he cannot be subjected to any other law. If the king follows the laws given by God, he is above mundane laws and conventions.

Hayagriva dasa: Hobbes compares man to a machine ultimately made by God, but he does not consider this machine to be controlled directly by God but by the Leviathan, the king or ruler.

Srila Prabhupada: No. God is situated in everyone's heart, and every moment He is witnessing the actions of the soul. He knows what the soul desires, and He sees how the soul is manipulating the machine of the body. This is clearly explained in Bhagavad-gita:

isvarah sarva-bhutanam
hrd-dese'rjuna tisthati
bhramayan sarva-bhutani
yantrarudhani mayaya

"The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, 0 Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy." (Bg. 18.61) If a person wants to enjoy this material world as a human being, God gives him the opportunity to become a human being, and if he wants to enjoy it as a dog, God gives him the body of a dog. This is all God's mercy. As long as the individual living entity wants to enjoy this material world, God gives all facility through a particular body. The body itself is material and is supplied by prakrti, material nature. The machine is composed of material ingredients supplied by prakrti, which follows the orders of Krsna, and it is given for the enjoyment of the living entity. The living entity, or jiva, sits in that machine and travels, just as a person travels in a car. He receives a particular machine in some species on some planet. There are innumerable planets, and over eight million different species. Due to his contact with material nature, the living entity desires so many things, and God is so merciful that He supplies all facilities. At the same time, God is a friend to everyone, and when the jiva is prepared to understand ultimate happiness from God, God says, "Give up all your nonsensical plans and surrender unto Me." This is the living entity's perfection, and if he does not come to this perfect stage, he will constantly desire so many things. God will then supply an unlimited number of machines to go here and there, and up and down, within this universe. Either you go up, or you come down. When you come down, you enter the lower species, and when you go up, you enter the higher species. These include the demigods like Lord Indra and Lord Brahma. There are different types of life, and some endure millions of years, while others endure only a few moments. In any case, every opportunity is given by the Supreme Lord because He is the supreme controller. Man proposes, and God disposes. As long as we continue to propose this and that, we'll never be happy, but when we agree to comply with God's plans, we will attain happiness.

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust


| The Sun | News | Editorials | Features | Sun Blogs | Classifieds | Events | Recipes | PodCasts |

| About | Submit an Article | Contact Us | Advertise | HareKrsna.com |

Copyright 2005, 2017, HareKrsna.com. All rights reserved.