Recorded on May 15, 1973,
In Cheviot Hills Park, Los Angeles
Śrīla Prabhupāda is accompanied by Dr. Singh and other students.
Detecting the Spirit Soul
Dr. Singh. Scientists find it very hard to see the spirit soul. They say its existence is very doubtful.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. How can they see it? It is too small to see. Who has that seeing power?
Dr. Singh. Still, they want to sense it by some means.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. if you inject someone with just one hundredth of a grain of very venomous poison, he dies immediately. No one can see the poison or how it acts, but it is acting nevertheless. So why don't the scientists see the soul by its action? In such cases we have to see by the effect. The Vedas say that because of the minute particle called the soul, the whole body is working nicely. If I pinch myself, I immediately feel it because I am conscious throughout the whole of my skin. But as soon as the soul is out of my body, which is the case when my body dies, you can take the same skin and cut and chop it, and nobody will protest. Why is this simple thing so hard to understand? Is this not detecting spirit?
Dr. Singh. We may detect the soul in this way, but what about God?
Śrīla Prabhupāda. First of all let us understand the soul. The soul is a sample God. If you can understand the sample, then you can understand the whole.
Modern Science: Help or Harm?
Dr. Singh. Scientists are in the process of trying to create life.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. "Process of"! "Trying to"! That we kick out; that we do not accept. A beggar is saying, "I am trying to be a millionaire." We say, "When you become a millionaire, then talk. Now you are a poor beggar; that is all." The scientists say they are trying, but suppose I ask you, "What are you?" Will you say, "I am trying to be..."? What are you now? That is the question. "We are trying" is not a proper answer, what to speak of a scientific proposition.
Dr. Singh. Well, although they haven't been able to create life so far, they say that soon they should be able to do so.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Any rascal may say that. If you say, "In the future I shall be able to do something extraordinary," why should I trust or believe you?
Dr. Singh. Well, the scientists say they have done so much in the past and they will accomplish more in the future.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. In the past there was death, and people are dying now. So what have the scientists done?
Dr. Singh. Helped them.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Scientists have helped to minimize the duration of life! Formerly men lived one hundred years; now they seldom live more than sixty or seventy years. And the scientists have discovered atomic energy; now they can kill millions of men. So they have helped only in dying. They have not helped in living, and still they dare to declare that they will create.
Dr. Singh. But now we have airplanes and -
Śrīla Prabhupāda. The scientists cannot stop death, they cannot stop birth, they cannot stop disease, and they cannot stop old age. So what have they done? Formerly people used to become old, and nowadays they are becoming old. Formerly people used to become diseased, and now they are becoming diseased. Now there is more medicine - and more disease. So what have they accomplished? Scientists have not helped improve the order of the world. We are going to challenge all the rascal scientists who say that life has grown out of matter. The fact is that matter has grown from life.
The Illusion of Progress
Śrīla Prabhupāda. How long can science cheat people? One hundred years, two hundred years? They cannot cheat them for all time.
Dr. Singh. Cheating has been going on since time immemorial, so perhaps they think they can continue forever.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Not since time immemorial! Science has been cheating people for only the past two or three hundred years, not before that.
Dr. Singh. Oh, really?
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes, for the last two hundred years they have been preaching that life comes from matter - not for thousands of years. And the cheating will be finished in another fifty years.
Dr. Singh. Yes, now there is a so-called anti-intellectual movement. People are rebelling against science and modern progress.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. And what is that science? It is not science! It is ignorance. Ignorance is passing for science, and irreligion is passing for religion. But this cheating cannot go on for long, because some people are becoming intelligent.
Dr. Singh. In Newsweek, one of the largest magazines in the United States, there was an article about the degradation of Christianity. The article included a cartoon picturing the devil causing earthquakes. There was recently a very large earthquake in South America that killed many thousands of people. The cartoon attributed such things to the devil, and right next to him it showed Richard Nixon presenting himself as a follower of Christ but bombing Southeast Asia. In this cartoon, the devil turned to Richard Nixon and said, "It's hell keeping up with Christians."
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes, people will criticize in that way. People are becoming advanced. How long can they be cheated by so-called science and so-called religion? If Mr. Nixon loves his countrymen, why does he not love his country's cows? They are also born in the same land, and they have the same right to live. Why are they killed? "Thou shalt not kill." But the animals are being killed. That is imperfection. Kṛṣṇa embraces both the cows and Rādhārāṇī.(18) That is perfection. Kṛṣṇa even talks with the birds. One day on the bank of the Yamunā River, He was talking with a bird, because He speaks even in the languages of the birds. An old lady saw this and was struck with wonder: "Oh, He is talking with a bird!"
Dr. Singh. You mean He was actually talking the way the birds talk?
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. One of Kṛṣṇa's qualities described in the Vedas is that He can speak any language. He is the father of all living beings, and the father can understand the language of his children.
Kṛṣṇa is the supreme enjoyer. Actually, except for those who are Kṛṣṇa conscious, no one can have any real knowledge, nor can anyone enjoy. One simply suffers, but he thinks the suffering is enjoyment. This is called māyā, or illusion. In America people work hard day and night, and they think, "I am enjoying." This is māyā. A conditioned soul cannot enjoy anything; he simply suffers, but he thinks he is enjoying.
Therefore, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the conditioned soul is likened to the camel. The camel is very fond of eating thorny twigs that cut his tongue. While he is eating them, blood issues from his tongue and mixes with the thorny twigs. They become a little tasty, and he is thinking, "Oh, these twigs are very nice." That is called māyā. Māyā means "that which is not." Mā means "not," and yā means "this." So māyā means "not this." That is the explanation of māyā, or illusion. The scientists are in māyā because they think they are improving things and becoming happy. But this world, along with everything in it, will eventually be finished because it is māyā; it is not what we think it is. As Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explains, the materialists are thinking they are becoming victorious, but they are actually being defeated.