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