May 11, 2017 CANADA (SUN) Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.
VII. GERMAN IDEALISM
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)
Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer was impressed that the religion of India has endured for more than four thousand years. He writes that such a
religion "cannot be arbitrarily invented superstition, but must have its foundation in the nature of man."
Srila Prabhupada: Within the Vedic religion there are two basic sects: Mayavadi and Vaisnava. Both acknowledge the fact that the material
world is flickering and transient and that there is another life in the spiritual world. For the Mayavadis, spiritual life means merging into the Brahman effulgence, and for the Vaisnava it means associating personally with God in His abode, Goloka Vrndavana, Vaikuntha. Both envision a spiritual life attainable after death.
Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer considered Indian religion to be based on the denial of the will.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, denial of the will for material happiness, but it is not the will itself that is denied. While denying the will for material
happiness, we must assert the will for spiritual happiness. When denying one thing, we must accept something else. No one can remain in a neutral position. Paraih drstva nivartate (Bg. 2.59). We give up the inferior for the superior.
Syamasundara dasa: For Schopenhauer, there are three means of salvation: aesthetic, ethical, and religious. Through aesthetic salvation, contemplation of the Platonic ideals through poetry, music, and art, we are
transported above passion, desire and willing.
Srila Prabhupada: This is nothing new. It is mentioned in Bhagavad-gita, and the students of this Krsna consciousness movement abandoned
their abominable living habits because they received a better life with
superior thoughts, philosophy, food, song, poetry, and art. When the
mind is filled with Krsna, there is no chance in its engaging in the contemplation of nonsense.
Syamasundara dasa: Aesthetic salvation is a temporary experience. When we look at a beautiful painting, for instance, we momentarily transcend the lower levels of consciousness and become desireless.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we admit that this may be the case, but we wish
to remain in that higher consciousness continually, not momentarily.
This is possible through practice. By practice, a child learns to read and
write, and thus becomes educated. It is not a momentary thing. If we
practice Krsna consciousness daily, lower consciousness will automatically vanish. Sri-vigrahdradhana-nitya-ndnd-srhgara-tan-mandiramarjanadau (Sri Gurv-astaka 3). The spiritual master engages his disciples in the temple worship of the Lord. You cannot derive benefit from
worshipping the Deities unless the aesthetic sense is applied with reverence and respect.
Syamasundara dasa: According to ethical salvation, we should attempt to satisfy the will. When it is satisfied, no new desires can arise. This
brings permanent happiness.
Srila Prabhupada: Apart from the individual will, there is the supreme
will. If we satisfy the supreme will, we are happy. Yasya prasadad
bhagavat-prasado (Sri Gurv-astaka 8). Our philosophy is that by satisfying the spiritual master, the representative of God, we satisfy the supreme
will. It is not our will that is to be satisfied, but the will of God.
Syamasundara dasa: By religious salvation, the most effective type of
salvation, the will is denied through asceticism. In this way, Schopenhauer believed that we could attain the state of nirvana, nothingness.
Srila Prabhupada: Such people claim that when there is no longer any
sense of pleasure and pain, there is no world. The fact is, there are three
stages: waking, sleeping, and total unconsciousness. In all three stages,
the will is there. A person can emerge from a state of total unconsciousness and immediately remember his waking state and his dreams. Therefore the will is there. The will cannot be killed because it is the function
of the soul. Since the soul is eternal, willing is also eternal. The will may
be suppressed for some time, however. For instance, after death, when
a living entity enters a womb, he spends the next nine months developing
his next body, and there is a suspension of the will. However, according
to your will, you develop a certain type of body. When you emerge from
your mother's womb, the willing process resumes. Death means a suspension of the will for a few months, that's all. If you train your willing
process improperly, you have to suffer life after life, but if you train it
properly, you can go to Vaikuntha immediately after death.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust