740612 - Conversation B - Paris

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada



740612R2-PARIS - June 12, 1974 - 31:17 Minutes



(Conversation with M. Lallier, noted French Poet)


Yogeśvara: ...and Mr. Lallier has a reputation among young literary circles in France as being a very good poet.

Prabhupāda: He's good poet?

M. Lallier: No. (laughs)

Jyotirmayī: And he also learned a lot in the philosophy. Before he came, he already knew a little Bhagavad-gītā, Vedānta. So he has a lot of questions. There's some points, he likes very much Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and some, he says that maybe in the Vedānta philosophy is different things.

M. Lallier: She says that I knew that entire philosophy, but I knew it very badly, very... I'm not a great philosopher. No, not at all.

Prabhupāda: Which philosophy?

Yogeśvara: What kind of philosophy are you familiar with?

M. Lallier: Oh, I'm very interested by Indian philosophy, and I think it's the most high, the higher, the highest philosophy. But it's difficult to understand for us.

Yogeśvara: He says he thinks that Indian philosophy is the highest in the world, but he finds it difficult to understand.

Prabhupāda: Hmm. (aside:) You call Bhagavān. We are talking of philosophy. Then let them hear.

Pṛthu-putra: He said it is very hard to applicate this spiritual philosophy in our modern world.

Prabhupāda: (aside:) Call Karandhara also. You also hear the philosophy. So what is that philosophy?

Nitāi: He's talking about the Vedānta philosophy that he is studying, but... He thinks it's the highest, but he finds it very hard to understand and apply.

Prabhupāda: So which part he finds very..., very hard to understand?

Yogeśvara: (French)

M. Lallier: I think the relation between the, the, the body, material body, and the ātmā...

Yogeśvara: The soul?

M. Lallier: The soul, and the soul. The relation between the two parts...

Bhagavān: To apply the fact that the soul exists and the body exists? How to practically apply that difference between the body and the soul?

M. Lallier: Yes.

Bhagavān: Is that what you...?

M. Lallier: And the relation between the two parts, between body and soul.

Bhagavān: In other words, you recognize that there's difference between body and soul, and how to practically apply it?

Devotee: (French)

M. Lallier: I think, perhaps, there is some peoples for whom there is no difference between the soul and body.

Prabhupāda: Who says?

M. Lallier: Oh, spiritual masters.

Prabhupāda: Who's that spiritual master, says soul and the...

M. Lallier: Oh, I don't know very... I think you are one of them. Or...?

Prabhupāda: No, we don't say. We say spirit soul is different from the body. Just like you are living, staying in this room. The room and you are two separate things. Because you are staying in the room, it does not mean you are room, or the room is your self. Does it mean?

M. Lallier: Yes.

Prabhupāda: It means so? Because you are staying in this room, you are this room?

M. Lallier: No. But... No, I... I understand that... There is some difficulties for me about the signification of two Sanskrit words, which are puruṣa and prakṛti. Is there any relation between those two, those two...?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Puruṣa means the enjoyer, and prakṛti means the enjoyed.

Bhagavān: Can you understand English?

M. Lallier: No. (devotee translates Prabhupāda's answer)

M. Lallier: I learned before that puruṣa means the great man.

Yogeśvara: He says he also learned somewhere that puruṣa can refer to any great man or great person.

Prabhupāda: So in the material world everyone thinks that he's very great person. That is the disease. Everyone thinks that "I am the great." This is called māyā.

(Yogeśvara and other devotees translate Prabhupāda's answers into French throughout)

M. Lallier: Yes, I... Yes, Yes.

Prabhupāda: Therefore, the living entity is called puruṣa, and that puruṣa wants to enjoy the prakṛti.

M. Lallier: Is it possible to... (French)

Pṛthu-putra: (translating) Is it possible for the soul to enjoy the material nature?

Prabhupāda: It is not possible, but he's trying to do that. That is the disease. Just like in your country, Napoleon, he tried his best to use whole Europe to be controlled by him. So he made some attempt, but he is finished now. The Europe is there, but he's gone away. Similarly, it is just like... The example is: Just like a fly wants to enjoy the fire. He comes with force there, and he is finished. Similarly, in this material world, every, all living entities, they're trying to enjoy. With great force, they are coming. And different capacities, they try to enjoy, but they themselves become finished. The things remain where it was. So, so many living entities... Just like the example, the fly, is very proper. So many flies are coming, phut! phut! phut! phut! in the big fire. You have no experience here?

Jyotirmayī: Yes.

M. Lallier: Why living entities does go to material...?

Yogeśvara: Why does the living entity try to enjoy material nature in such a way?

Prabhupāda: The, the... When he forgets that he cannot enjoy—the only enjoyer is God, Kṛṣṇa—when he forgets this principle he wants to enjoy.

M. Lallier: Yes.

Prabhupāda: That is called illusion, māyā. Actually he cannot enjoy, but forgetting Kṛṣṇa, the real enjoyer, he wants to enjoy. That is his... Just like a child imitates the mother for cooking. The other day, in Geneva, the fire ceremony was going on. The mother was offering oblations, and the child also immediately took some, and he... You have seen that?

Yogeśvara: Yeah.

Prabhupāda: So he's not fit for that business, but he imitates. That is childish. Sometimes goes to the kitchen, wants to make foodstuff, preparation, and he is given some toys, "You just play with it." So every living entity is part and parcel of God. So God is enjoyer, God is controller. So he wants to imitate God. That is called māyā.

M. Lallier: (French)

Pṛthu-putra: (translating) So what should the soul do if he cannot imitate God?

Prabhupāda: Yes, the soul... Just like the same example: the child should be guided by the father and mother; similarly, we should be guided by God, Kṛṣṇa. That is our normal life. And the guidance is given personally by Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā. So if you follow the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā and be guided by God, then you are happy exactly like a child is happy when he's under the protection of the parents.

M. Lallier: Yes. Why does the soul forgets, forget his relation...

Devotee: With Kṛṣṇa.

M. Lallier: ...with God?

Bhagavān: Why does the soul...?

Prabhupāda: He does not forget, but he... Just like the same example. You call it forgetfulness or imitation. Just like the child was offering. He was not required to offer oblation, but he was imitating the mother. That is natural. According to Vedic instruction, we are all living entities. God is also a living entity, but He is chief. Nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13), that He is the topmost living entity, leader of the all other living entities. Eko yo bahūnāṁ vidadhāti kāmān. The supreme one is maintaining all other living entities. So we are maintained, and He is maintainer. So sometimes... (to translator:) Yes, explain. There is... Sometimes it happens the father maintains the children, but the same child sometimes gives up the protection of the father: "Why shall I live under the guidance of...? I shall become independent." There are many instances in your Western countries. He's happy being under the protection of the parents, but he rebels, he goes away. So that he can do. But if the father is very big, very rich, and the son leaves home and goes away to live independently, he suffers so much inconveniences, and that is his choice.

M. Lallier: What does he destroy? He destroys soul?

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

Pṛthu-putra: (French) (translating) So when one has fallen too low in the material life, how can he come back to his original condition?

Prabhupāda: By surrendering to God, Kṛṣṇa.

M. Lallier: Is it possible if we are, for example, a fly, to..., to became religious?

Yogeśvara: If one has fallen so far that he has taken the body of a fly or a mosquito, can he still return to Kṛṣṇa?

Prabhupāda: Yes. As he degraded from the body of Brahmā to fly, similarly, he can also ascend from the body of a fly to the body of Brahmā.

Karandhara: The process of falling down, descending, can be reversed, and one can evolve back up, ascend back up. It may take a lot of time and a lot of births, but...

M. Lallier: But why? We in France, for instance, or in occidental world, we are accustomed to think..., to think that the phenomena of consciousness is only a characteristic... (break) What is the signification of...?

Yogeśvara: Of that degradation in the human species?

M. Lallier: Yes, of the flow of the four ages.

Yogeśvara: So, so far, to this point, we've been speaking about a gradual evolution of consciousness through the species. So what is the explanation, what is the reason for which there is a degradation of the human consciousness through the four ages?

Prabhupāda: Where there is evolution, there must be degradation. Otherwise, what is the meaning of evolution? Why it should be stagnant? If you go, ascend, then you can descend also. Now, the Mr. Nixon was elected president, and why he's being dragged, "Come down"? He is not coming down, but he has already come down, degradation. Nobody likes him.

M. Lallier: Yes.

Prabhupāda: And the more he sticks to his position, he's becoming unpopular. So his degradation is already complete, but because he's in the office, post, he does not agree that "I am degraded." But from the public point of view, he's degraded. Is it not?

M. Lallier: Yes. But do you think it is possible now to..., to predict, to prevent degradation?

Yogeśvara: He says now there's been this degradation of human consciousness throughout the ages. So do you think it is possible now to stop this course of events, to stop this degradation in human consciousness?

Prabhupāda: That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. We are trying to stop this degradation of the human society.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Is that like in Parīkṣit Mahārāja's kingdom where, although it was Kali-yuga, the influence of Kali was not experienced by the people because of the strict obeyance to the laws of God?

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: We read in the Bhāgavatam how in King Parīkṣit's..., under his rule, the people, there was no place for the personality of Kali to live, even though it was Kali-yuga. So is this possible even today?

Prabhupāda: Yes, why not? If you follow these four principles—no illicit sex, no gambling, no intoxication, no meat—then you'll..., you are secure. But who is going to accept this?

Karandhara: The young man can understand that the degradation has occurred because of ignorance. The knowledge has been forgotten by which the upliftment, or evolution, can continue. So Prabhupāda and this movement, we're re-presenting that knowledge. The knowledge has always been there, but it's been lost. It's been forgotten. So if that knowledge is re-presented, and made available, then that ignorance becomes dispelled, and the advancement can again go on.

M. Lallier: Yes, but degradation is not...? Is it not a law of nature?

Karandhara: Well, the law, the dynamic, or the dynamics of the law is the preponderance of godlessness.

Prabhupāda: No, the law is all right. Suppose one is degraded to become a criminal, thief, but he can be raised also to become a high, saintly person.

Karandhara: I think what he's asking, Prabhupāda, isn't the degradation... Because in the Vedas it outlines the ages succeeding one another, and there're different characteristics, isn't it inevitable that it's going to occur, that the devolution occurs inevitably, without anyone's being able to change it?

Prabhupāda: No. It is just like winter season. The season is winter, but still, you can keep yourself warm. If you like, you can keep yourself in warm. So

daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
(BG 7.14)

Nature's course is very strong, going on, according to the program, but,

mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāṁ taranti te:
(BG 7.14)

"Anyone who surrenders unto Me, he's above this degradation."

Yogeśvara: (to Pṛthu-putra) You tell Prabhupāda how he's (M. Lallier) helping with the translation work.

Pṛthu-putra: After we translate your books in French, he reads the copies over, and he arranges the style to make it flow, you know, and he corrects the errors, grammatical errors.

Prabhupāda: Hmm. Grammatical errors is different, but philosophical...

Bhagavān: No, not philosophy.

Pṛthu-putra: Not philosophy. (pause) He's reading your books.

Prabhupāda: So you're understanding?

M. Lallier: Not always, and I simply... It's difficult to understand.

Bhagavān: Theological.

M. Lallier: Yes, I think it's difficult because I am not pure; not difficult because...

Bhagavān: The philosophy. The philosophy is not difficult.

Yogeśvara: He's suggesting that, perhaps, the difficulty he is having in understanding your books is that he is not yet pure.

Prabhupāda: Yes, that may be. Bhakti line is for the purest. I was explaining this morning, purification. Tat-paratvena nirmalam (CC Madhya 19.170). Nirmalam means pure. The more you become Kṛṣṇa conscious, you become pure.

Bhagavān: Becoming pure is not so difficult. There's facility here if you want to become pure. To take prasādam and chant with the devotees is not difficult.

M. Lallier: Yes, but to understand that prasādam is the way to become pure...

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: You just have to taste it. (laughs)

M. Lallier: Isn't it..., isn't it necessary to be pure already?

Yogeśvara: He says in order to understand the purifying effects of this prasādam, don't we already have to be pure to understand it?

Pṛthu-putra: Or the books.

Prabhupāda: No, if you eat the prasādam, you'll be purified. (indistinct aside comments by devotees)

Yogeśvara: Our spiritual master was explaining in Geneva to a reporter that there are different levels of understanding. It's not that we always have to have a philosophical understanding of things in order to appreciate them. Sometimes we can just appreciate that this prasādam tastes so very good. That's also correct.

M. Lallier: Yes, but in occidental countries, we have a tendency to try to understand things by a mental way.

Karandhara: Well, that can also be done. You can hear, listen to the philosophy, and then... But in order to really examine it thoroughly, you have to experiment with a hypothesis. We say if you chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and eat prasādam, you become pure. So that may be a hypothesis so long as you don't try it. But as you try it, you come to realize it as being an actual fact. (Pṛthu-putra translates) Just like if a doctor advises you to take a certain medicine for a cure of an illness, you may not have the understanding to know how that cure is going to work. But if the doctor is actually qualified, and you follow his orders, then you'll become cured, even if you didn't understand it in the beginning.

Bhagavān: The problem is if you don't try.

Karandhara: Or make sure you have a qualified remedy, a qualified medicine or doctor. One way you can see doctors... One way doctors are checked out is if they have successful..., if they have had success in the past. You go to a friend and ask him, "Can you recommend a doctor who's cured you?" And he'll recommend, "Yes, you go to here. He's cured me." So if you're trying to find a spiritual master, one evidence of his potency is his disciples, how pure are his disciples. If you see that his disciples are becoming pure, then you can understand that here is a spiritual master who is giving something real. But sometimes the knowledge will come after the appreciation; sometimes the appreciation will come after the knowledge. It can work either way.

Bhagavān: So I think we can go. It's time for Prabhupāda's massage. (devotees offer obeisances and leave) Hare Kṛṣṇa. All glories to Prabhupāda.

Prabhupāda: Hare Kṛṣṇa. (end)