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Philosophy Discussion on B. F. Skinner

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SKINNER.SYA
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Philosophy Discussion on B. F. Skinner - 53:56 Minutes


Śyāmasundara: This philosopher is B. F. Skinner. He is actually a psychologist, but he has a philosophy also. That philosophy is...

Prabhupāda: (indistinct) psychology is part of philosophy. (indistinct) better than that philosophy.

Śyāmasundara: Anyway, the philosophy is that the Christian idea that inside the body there is a person is outmoded, because the science has discovered that a person's behavior and his reactions are simply a product of his environment, his conditioning; so he can make a fool out of a wise man or a wise man out of a fool simply by changing the surroundings and the conditions.

Prabhupāda: Why the man has not been able to change the surroundings of death, birth? What is his philosophy?

Śyāmasundara: Well, he said that problem can be never be solved.

Prabhupāda: Then how he says it can be explained by surroundings?

Śyāmasundara: He only talks about behavior.

Prabhupāda: Behavior, that's all right. Whatever behavior, in the ultimate, goal, everyone is dying so how man can change this condition? Then he can say that there is no God, there is no soul.

Śyāmasundara: His idea is that he wants..., he has one idea: that is to be able to control human behavior.

Prabhupāda: What he wants to do? By a man's behavior... Every man is eating. How he can control? He cannot control.

Śyāmasundara: By what they call method of reinforcement. Supposing... He says that men have become too free, so our whole society, culture, is ruined because men are too free.

Prabhupāda: No. We are not free. We, according to our Vedic civilization, we are controlled by the Vedic knowledge. We are not free.

Śyāmasundara: He says that, in a way. He says that everyone is conditioned by their environment.

Prabhupāda: No. We are conditioned by nature, not by environment. Just like there is excessive heat, excessive cold. He is conditioned by nature. You cannot avoid it. So where is his..., molding this environment. You cannot make winter season into summer season or summer season into winter season.

Śyāmasundara: No. But he says you can train a man to accept certain values by reinforcing, rewarding them when they are right and punishing them when they are wrong.

Prabhupāda: That means there are living conditions, he wants to make them further conditioned.

Śyāmasundara: Yes.

Prabhupāda: That is the idea.

Śyāmasundara: Perfect control over everyone.

Prabhupāda: So that is already there. The Vedic injunction means the (indistinct), they are conditioned, so that under conditions they also can be fruitful(?). What is his idea?

Śyāmasundara: He says that society should be full of love and security and harmony, and everyone should work in unison. But because people have freedom to choose what they want, then too much freedom, the society is falling apart.

Prabhupāda: That is Western society, not the society controlled by the Vedic literature. Just like marriage in Vedic society, that is a religious obligation. They cannot cancel. The freedom, the so-called freedom is allowed in the upstart Western society.

Śyāmasundara: So he says we have to change all this now.

Prabhupāda: Then we have to take to the Vedic principles. That is the way.

Śyāmasundara: His idea is taken from his work with rats and pigeons.

Prabhupāda: His authority is rats and pigeons. Our authority is Vedavyāsa. (laughter) That is the difference. Our authority is Kṛṣṇa. Our authority is Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Manu, and his authority is rats and pigeons. That is the difference between the West and East.

Śyāmasundara: He shows scientifically that you can train a rat to push..., of many buttons, he will push the one that gives him food. If he pushes one button and the food comes, then he will continually press that button. So he says you can condition a man by rewarding him when he is right and punishing him when he is wrong.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is the whole Vedic literature - the heaven and hell. If you do like this, then you go to heaven, and if you do like this, you go to hell. If you do like this, you go to Godhead. That is the Vedic literature. It is already there. (Sanskrit). (Sanskrit), therefore if one chants like this, he goes back to home, back to Godhead. And this morning I was speaking, "If you want to be naked, then you become tree." (indistinct) servant, and if he wants to serve Kṛṣṇa, (indistinct). These things are there the Vedic literature. They are controlled. That is real conditioning. Real controlling means there is no mistake. If these rats and cats are controlling, then maybe you take rats' and cats' authority, and others may take tigers' and others' authority. This is stated already. The authority must be (indistinct).

Devotee: He isn't saying how we should control people. He is simply putting forth the idea that people should be controlled. He doesn't say... In fact, he admits that he doesn't know what the aim or goal is, or how exactly we should control it. He is simply putting forth that according to the Vedic system, the correct thesis that man can be controlled.

Prabhupāda: Man is already controlled, already controlled. Just like Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā that you are already under the dangerous laws, under the control of the stringent laws of material nature. And you are feeling inconvenienced, just like the threefold miserable condition. (indistinct-greeting guests) So there is no doubt about it. We are controlled. Nobody can say "I am free." We are controlled. When we are being controlled, we are feeling some inconvenience. So we are advising that you be under the control of Kṛṣṇa.

Devotee: (indistinct) ...come criminals, and they are causing disruption in this society. So he says that that is our fault. He says that everyone from childhood should be trained in a controlled environment and then be conditioned to a certain pattern so that they will not commit what is crime and will only do what is good. In other words, they become like robots. So what they do is program these robots. They're programmed to do a certain thing.

Prabhupāda: So that program is already there. But if you create your own program, you do not follow the standard program. That is the defect.

Śyāmasundara: This program, because Skinner himself believes in Judeo-Christian ethics combined with a scientific tradition. But he fails to answer how it is possible to accept those ethics without accepting something like an inner person with an autonomous concept. In other words, he says we can program society to be good to your neighbor, to love one another, to be honest, upright, like that. But he is still not sure how it would be possible without accepting a free will.

Prabhupāda: The defect is that these programs are being forwarded by some rascal. Therefore they are defective. If they would have been forwarded by perfect man, then you would have actual (indistinct). Now one rascal is forwarding some program, another rascal next time (indistinct) this is true. So this is going on in Western world. Because according to Bhāgavata we belong to the category of dogs, hogs, camels. So what is the benefit of a dog's program and (indistinct) by camel's program. If they are on the, basically there is nothing but dogs, hogs, camels and asses, then suppose dog has given some program and the camel says, "No. This program is better than this one." And the ass comes, he introduces another program, "This program is better than this program." So either of these programs, because they are made by dogs, hogs, asses and camels, they cannot be perfect. Take a program from a real human being. Then it is perfect. The defect is there. One philosopher is proposing something, another philosopher is proposing something... That is (indistinct) especially in the Western countries, they are doing so independence (?). But the Vedic civilization there is no independence. They must follow the Vedic injunction. As I have said several times, the Vedas says that the stool of cow is completely pure. They do not argue that "Formerly you say that the stool of animal is impure. Now you are saying that the stool of animal, cow, is pure. So how can we accept?" There is no such thing. The Vedas says, even it is stool, but the Vedas says the stool of cow is perfectly pure. Yes. No contradiction. Our presentation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is like that. But Kṛṣṇa says, "(indistinct), as it is." There is no question of altering or changing according to circumstances. We know Kṛṣṇa is perfect. Whatever He has said, it is all right, in all conditions. That is our belief. We do not deviate. So similarly, if the direction is taken for training from the perfect, that is the best. And if the direction is taken from the process of (indistinct) philosophy, hogs, dogs, and asses, and camels how can you take? (indistinct) something, (indistinct) something, (indistinct) analysis something, so the whole society will be (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: Yes. He says from sunrise (?), he says everyone is conditioned anyway. Everyone is conditioned.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Everyone is conditioned, that is a fact. Unless he is conditioned, there is no question of material life. Material life means conditioned life. There is no question of material life. Material life means conditioned life. There is no question of freedom. Just like prison life. Prison life means conditioned life. You may be a first-class prisoner, a second-class, a third-class prisoner, that is another thing, but as soon as you are put within the walls of the prison house, you are conditioned. That is a fact. Similarly, anyone who has accepted this body (Sanskrit). Just like Bhāgavata says, nayam deha dehabhajam nrloke. Nrloke. Everyone is conditioned, accepting this material body. But he says nayam deha deha-bhajam nrloke. But those who have accepted this material body in the human society, for them it is not good to be engaged in sense gratification like dogs, hogs and camels. Everyone who has got this material body, he is conditioned. But, so when one gets the body of a human being, he should not be so conditioned like the dogs, hogs, camels. This is the truth, that we are conditioned. We have got the body. We have got the bodily necessity. We have to eat, we have to sleep, gratify our senses, protect ourself from fear. The conditions are there, but still, we can make the conditions better. How? Tapo. We have to undergo austerities, penances. Just like we, we don't say, "No sex life," but "No illicit sex life." This is better life.

Devotee: Skinner also believes that we have to control activities, but he himself is not willing to undergo these austerities.

Prabhupāda: Therefore he is useless. Example is better than precept. By example he cannot prove. Therefore his precept has no value.

Atreya Ṛṣi: Another thing he says that if you tell the society to get comforts, material comforts, have peace, in relationship with man to man, benefits one's own self on a very false ego level.

Śyāmasundara: Humanitarian.

Prabhupāda: What is that humanitarian? I kick you, you kick me.

Śyāmasundara: He says that now the conditions that control us are haphazard. Some are designed by selfish men to exploit others.

Prabhupāda: Why (indistinct) that he is perfect man?

Śyāmasundara: He says that we can design a culture that will survive due to its being moral, set, upright, honest, hard-working, all-typical American.

Devotee: What about the standard? Someone has to be God in order to set the standard.

Śyāmasundara: He said, "Between God and I, I must admit that God is (indistinct)." (indistinct) quote. He says that "Between myself...," between himself... He says there is a curious similarity between himself and God, adding, however, that "Perhaps I must yield to God in point of seniority." He wants to play God.

Prabhupāda: He wants to play God.

Śyāmasundara: He wants to design the culture.

Prabhupāda: What is his conception of God?

Śyāmasundara: Senior qualities.

Prabhupāda: That's right. (laughter) We accept that. Nityo nityānām. (laughter) We accept that. That is Vedic. That is Vedic. He is also living being, but who is the superior, chief living being? That is Kṛṣṇa. Just like we are also living beings, but you accept me as chief of the society. Similarly, there are innumerable living entities all over the universes, all over the creation, but who is the chief of them? That is God, the leader. Our philosophy is to follow the leader, Kṛṣṇa.

Devotee: But Skinner has no idea that there is an actual representative of God on earth that could set up such a perfect society. Therefore he is dreaming about setting one up in the future while the real representative is actually present with us now. He is thinking of the future.

Prabhupāda: When was he thinking?

Devotee: He is thinking that someday... He is thinking that it can be done. He is living now.

Śyāmasundara: That is his picture. (shows book to Prabhupāda) That is Skinner playing the organ, and it quotes him, saying...

Prabhupāda: So inform him that "Your theory is that God's representative..." He is expecting God's representative?

Devotee: No, no. I'll tell you what he says about God. He says that the belief in God arose due to man's inability to understand his world, but that man no longer needs such a fiction.

Prabhupāda: Then one has to believe him?

Śyāmasundara: Yes.

Devotee: He also says that we have the capacity to take matters into our own hands. We don't have to ruin it by some controller far away who we have no control over.

Prabhupāda: But that you cannot do. You cannot take the question of birth, death, old age in your hands. How he says that you shall be able to take matters into your own hands?

Śyāmasundara: Well, most scientists like that accept those problems as inescapable problems. But while we are here, let us have the best life we can.

Prabhupāda: But if he can give you better life, where there is no death, there is no old age, there is no disease, why not accept it?

Devotee: We only accept that as a (indistinct) life here. This life you may remain eternal. We have no (indistinct) beyond this life, nor are we willing to accept.

Prabhupāda: That is your conclusion. This cannot be corrected. This cannot be corrected. That they cannot live. They accept it. But there, after death, it is done. But if we give some thought that after death you can attain, what does he say? After death, if there is a life of blissful knowledge, so why don't they take it?

Devotee: Well, a lot of scientists consider that to be a, simply a psychological way of avoiding the issue now. They say, "Let us take matters in our hand right now. Don't try to..."

Prabhupāda: The idea is we have not been able to take the matter in hand to stop death. That is not possible.

Devotee: They think by endeavoring, they will. They say that for so long this idea that we have a life after this life, that kept people complacent, without working up to their own conclusion. Now if you cast out that idea, you forget that idea of an afterlife and you look at here and now, then you will become...

Prabhupāda: You are working. The dogs and hogs are working, day and night. Why they are working? If you (indistinct), they are already working. They are already working like animals, day and night. We sing that, śīta ātapa bāta bariṣana e dina jāminī jagi re. They are already working. They are not free.

Devotee (2): (indistinct)

Prabhupāda: (indistinct) can make that.

Devotee: They're the ones who have actually neglected taking into consideration the real problem, they slide over the real problem, that is birth, death, old age and disease. And they are fiddling around in very small matters - social problems, political problems.

Prabhupāda: These social problems are automatically solved. If one becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious, social problems will be solved automatically.

Atreya Ṛṣi: The scientists have been offering a spiritual solution, but a spiritual solution also includes all other...

Prabhupāda: All material solutions.

Atreya Ṛṣi: And they are trying to solve political problems, and they are unable to. This is the...

Prabhupāda: That means less intelligent. They have a poor fund of knowledge. And they are philosophers.

Atreya Ṛṣi: And they have no...

Śyāmasundara: And they call their process social engineering. For instance, they say a criminal does not become bad because he is naturally bad but it's because of his environment. So if we train him in such a way he will be good, and we can...

Prabhupāda: Just like in the Western countries, the social (indistinct), the killing of animals - it is taken not bad. In other societies it is taken as bad. How is that? There are two contradictory societies. One society says that nonviolence is nice, better, but another society says no, violence is better. Then how will I (indistinct)? Which society is good, which society bad? How you will decide?

Devotee: He has no way of deciding.

Prabhupāda: No. There is no way. If you come to the Vedic life, then you will know.

Śyāmasundara: So we should propose this to Skinner: "We will accept your process if you take direction from us."

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Devotee: He accepts that there should be some process, but he doesn't know what it is. He obviously has not...

Prabhupāda: The process is, just like we say, Vedic injunction: sa gurum eva abhigacchet. He must approach guru.

Atreya Ṛṣi: His idea is that the process should be man-controlled. Our society is being controlled by man.

Prabhupāda: It is man-controlled. It is man-controlled. Our society is being controlled by me.

Śyāmasundara: He says that the best way to release the beneficial energy in the people is to build a world in which people are naturally good and in which they are rewarded for wanting what is good for their culture.

Prabhupāda: Yes. This is Kṛṣṇa society. The atheists, let him study, let him come, let him understand.

Devotee: His critics... The critics of this theory that we can condition everyone to a certain program are very fearful that someone unscrupulous will be driving us on.

Prabhupāda: No. That we cannot take, I mean, to accept guru as unscrupulous. Therefore we take paramparā. He is coming directly from God. He is perfect. Therefore this paramparā system is bona fide. We cannot accept any rascal to become guru. Guru must be in the paramparā system. He is receiving the knowledge directly from God, Kṛṣṇa.

Śyāmasundara: This is their dilemma now, that they cannot find any standard of behavior. Formerly people's behavior was motivated by deprivation. They wanted more economic gain because there was hunger. But now we have everything, so no one wants to work anymore. So now there is nothing that satisfies people enough to make them behave.

Prabhupāda: Therefore the Vedānta gives for him: athāto brahma jijñāsā. Now we have got enough to eat, enough to enjoy. Now we inquire about Brahman. This is the business we should (indistinct). So this is our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. We are giving knowledge about Brahman, or the Supreme. We are not concerned about giving you some scientific invention, some this invention, that invention. We are giving the ultimate benefit. Now, just like I have come to America with this hope, that "Americans are not properly (indistinct), they have no (indistinct) problems. If I go there, if I speak to them about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they will be able to take." So if we, the human society, has come to such standard, then the next point is, now they should eat peacefully, sleep peacefully and sense gratification peacefully and, making the mind peaceful, inquire about the Supreme Absolute. This is ideal life.

Śyāmasundara: This will provide the stimulus which will..., so the people will react favorably, to behave favorably, simply by performing these activities?

Prabhupāda: The experience is... We have got experience that this material world is full of misery. Everyone will (agree). Otherwise why he is trying to adjust? Now we have got information from Bhagavad-gītā,

mām upetya tu kaunteya
duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ
saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gataḥ
(BG 8.15)

Kṛṣṇa says, "Anyone who comes to Me, back to home, back to Godhead, he does not come again to this material world which is full of misery." Mām upetya kaunteya duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam, nāpnuvanti... (BG 8.15).

Śyāmasundara: But then what is the stimulus? Why will they...?

Prabhupāda: This is stimulus. You are (indistinct) suffering miserable condition of life, and we are offering that "You take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, you go to a place where only there is blissful life and knowledge." What is that?

Devotee: Ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ (BG 8.16).

Prabhupāda: No. Mām upetya.

Devotee: Mām upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate. "From the highest planet in this material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death takes place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again."

Prabhupāda: So there are many others. There are many planets, that is a fact. So there is a planet where Kṛṣṇa lives, and if you go there, you live perfectly. You are trying to go to the moon planet, but here it says, ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino... (BG 8.16) What is that? (break)

Śyāmasundara: So we have to condition people that every time they press our button, Hare Kṛṣṇa button, they get some pleasure.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Ānandāmbudhi-vardhanam. Ceto-darpaṇa... Every time he gets some higher knowledge, and his dirty heart he can clean. And therefore his spiritual beliefs become (indistinct). Whereas in the material world, what it says, ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ...

Devotee: Punar āvartino 'rjuna.

Devotee (2): Again returning. Mām upetya tu kaunteya.

Prabhupāda: Read the translation.

Devotee: "From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again."

Prabhupāda: In the material world there are higher planetary systems, lower planetary systems, and we sometimes go higher planetary, sometimes down, according to our karma. But wherever you remain, you cannot avoid birth, death, old age and disease. "But if you come to My planet, then there is no more birth." What is that objection of this (indistinct)?

Śyāmasundara: He only wants to find out. He doesn't know himself what is the...

Prabhupāda: He doesn't know anything. He is a fool. What does he know? He has to learn.

Devotee: He more or less admits that he is not a perfect personality.

Prabhupāda: So who he accepts as perfect?

Devotee: He says "I am not happy."

Prabhupāda: Nobody is happy. How you can be happy? No one in this material world can be happy. How you can be, you are also one of them. Why you are claiming a better position? Nobody can be happy. We say nobody can be happy. Duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam (BG 8.15). Anyone who is living in this material world cannot be happy.

Śyāmasundara: It seems that Skinner should be very ripe(?), or he is very ripe, because he wants it to be a society where it is controlled and it is...

Prabhupāda: So let him come and study the society. He is a philosopher and intelligent. Invite him.

Śyāmasundara: What about this statement? He says that "I can take any person at young age, any person with me, any person, and I can, at random, and I can train him to be any kind of specialist I might select-doctor, lawyer, even beggarman or thief, regardless of his talents or his nature, his tendencies or abilities."

Prabhupāda: So that means training should be given from childhood. That is the whole idea.

Śyāmasundara: But is that true?

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Śyāmasundara: We can train anyone to become anything.

Prabhupāda: Anything. Just like there is a story, the Tarzan. Tarzan. And he was living in the society of monkeys, and he learned how to jump from one tree to another. (laughter)

Devotee: If someone has a natural kṣatriya tendency, he cannot become a Vaiṣṇava?

Prabhupāda: No. There is no such barrier. Anyone can become Kṛṣṇa conscious. Anyone. Just like...

Devotee: What about brāhmaṇa? Brāhmaṇa too? Someone who is naturally a (indistinct).

Prabhupāda: By coming...

Śyāmasundara: Everyone has become śūdra now. You say everyone is born śūdra.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Devotee: In the Vedic age wouldn't everyone want to become a brāhmaṇa? Why train someone as a śūdra?

Devotee (2): It is progressive. It takes time. It is a whole progressive path. That is the whole Vedic culture, that everyone, no matter what...

Prabhupāda: And all the śūdras can be made brāhmaṇas. But where all the śūdras are coming? All the śūdras are ready to become brāhmaṇas? How you can explain? We are inviting everyone to become Kṛṣṇa conscious.

Śyāmasundara: He is just saying that it is possible that you can mold anyone into anything.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes. Possible, yes.

Devotee: But if they won't accept, if they won't accept...

Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. That is karma.

Śyāmasundara: But he says there is no possibility of their not accepting, if you form the conditioning as the way. That they must accept by conditioning.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is also possible. But who is going to make that?

Devotee: How one can supremely control all conditions that would free one from karmic reaction? How could they control the environment?

Śyāmasundara: By punishment and reward. By punishing them when they are wrong...

Devotee: Say he had a house, and he was doing that, and all of a sudden there was a flood came and the house... How could he control the environment?

Śyāmasundara: Of a person, not of a house.

Devotee: That is what I mean. How can you control the environment if that person is going to be punished and rewarded when he wants...

Prabhupāda: He says from childhood.

Śyāmasundara: He is talking about child. Infant.

Prabhupāda: Infant. Yes. That is possible. That is possible. Just like our children, from childhood they are dancing.

Śyāmasundara: Here is a picture of his child. He put his child in a box when it was born. Now this is her today, twenty-seven years later. He conditioned her in this box for a year.

Devotee: How long?

Śyāmasundara: For some time. And she came out better, healthier and happier than normal children, because they kept the temperature the same, because it was germ-free, there was no disease and always cleaned by rotating...

Prabhupāda: That means he protected the child from all calamities.

Devotee: Yes.

Prabhupāda: So that is fortunate. If you can protect... Therefore I repeatedly said that our Dallas center should be taken as very much important place. All our children must go.

Śyāmasundara: Make the environment perfect.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That I have repeatedly said.

Devotee: The reason he built the box, he could not control the environment.

Prabhupāda: No, no, box, you are speaking box, (indistinct) different box. That is another thing. But the perfection is required.

Devotee: His supposition of being able to control the environment completely is imperfect, because he can't control the environment perfectly. Even if he builds his child a box, what if there is a fire in the house and the box burns down? How he can control that environment?

Śyāmasundara: Right now, the level of their experiments are relatively small. For instance, they have created teaching machines where a child is put in front of the machine and a question is asked, and if the child answers it correctly he gets the reward.

Prabhupāda: Another nonsense. The thing is that the Vedic conception of raising children, brahmācārya, that system is perfect.

Śyāmasundara: Not by machine.

Prabhupāda: No, this is (indistinct). We are not machines.

Śyāmasundara: No. But he says that when the answer is given correctly by the child, then he is rewarded by him.

Prabhupāda: The answers and questions are already there. That is (indistinct). Just like we say that tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). There is question and answer. Therefore in order to understand the transcendental science, we must go to guru, gurum eva abhigacchet. And then what is the symptom of guru? Samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham. Guru means who has learned knowledge by the paramparā system. Śrotriyaṁ brahma. The result is that he is perfectly a devotee.

Śyāmasundara: Suppose we had a machine and one of our children was given the question "Who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead?" And then there were three possibilities, and if she pushed "Kṛṣṇa," some reward would come out.

Prabhupāda: She has to push some button to take out Kṛṣṇa.

Śyāmasundara: Just like the answer has three choices: Kṛṣṇa, Durgā, Kālī. Which one is the Supreme Personality? So if she chooses Kṛṣṇa and then he gets rewarded. So in the future he will always think Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Prabhupāda: Why must think? Why not take a live master?

Devotee: Yes. He says that that can be done also, but he is saying that they should be rewarded when they say the right answer.

Śyāmasundara: He says that this will solve the problem of not enough teachers in our schools, public schools, not enough teachers for our children. A huge class, and the children have only one teacher. So there's not enough individual time given to each student.

Prabhupāda: So why not produce many teachers? That we (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: No one wants to teach anymore. No one wants to teach anymore.

Prabhupāda: Why?

Devotee: They don't know what to teach.

Prabhupāda: Because they do not know how to teach, and they are simply teaching (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: They don't get enough pay, so many reasons.

Prabhupāda: So our teachers do not ask any payment. They go freely. Why don't you take advantage of these teachers?

Devotee: One thing they (indistinct) Prabhupāda, that we are thinking in terms of Vedic culture, and they say well, if this Vedic culture was previously existing, then why did it dissolve? Why did it fall apart and now we have to make a new one?

Prabhupāda: That is not (indistinct). A new way we cannot. If you want perfection, you must take to Vedic culture, because it is not with the four defects of human beings. Anything introduced for... Just like we are pushing on this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, and some of the students are falling back. How (indistinct)? That is not the defect of the institution. That is some other power. So people might have fallen from the standard of Vedic culture, but they cannot invent any new one. That is it.

Devotee: That is the same thing we say about the scientific process. The scientific process isn't imperfect, it is just the masters who are imperfect. They claim that the empiric process is perfect. We have not developed it to perfection.

Devotee (2): For instance, they would say if our students are falling back, that is because of the environment.

Prabhupāda: They are not falling back. Some of them (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: Some of them...

Prabhupāda: That is (indistinct) anyway.

Śyāmasundara: So he says that ideally, if our environment was conditioned in such a way that they were rewarded for doing good things and punished for doing bad things, that they would not go away.

Prabhupāda: They would be punished, but they don't care for punishment. Just like it says in the lawbook that if you steal, you'll be arrested, but they don't care for your lawbook, the thief. What can you do? That independence is already there. The lawbook says that if you commit theft you will be punished, and he is actually punished. But if he doesn't care for punishment, then what can you do? Punishment is already there.

Śyāmasundara: For instance, he gives an example that, let's say that in an institution there is lunch served for one hour between twelve and one, and at one o'clock the door is closed and locked, sharply. So automatically everyone who wants to come must come before one o'clock, otherwise they will be punished.

Prabhupāda: That's all right. If anyone prefers to starve, they may not come. That law will be not be obligatory to a person who prefers to starve.

Devotee: That isn't the point. The critics make difference. He says that free will can be essentially eliminated. He says you no longer have the choice to be agreeable or not agreeable.

Prabhupāda: No. That is not possible. That is another foolishness.

Devotee: Just like the child he was training, that if he ever missed a meal he would be severely punished. Then he may never want to miss a meal.

Devotee: Or he may never want to take a meal out of (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: Actually, his idea is not to let them be punished but to reward.

Prabhupāda: This is the (indistinct), that the thief has learned from the lawbooks, from the religious books, that stealing is bad. If one steals he'll be punished. Because in the human society the scriptures that they have got. No scripture will say that you should steal, for example, neither the lawbook will say that you steal. So if you have heard from scriptures and from lawbooks that stealing is criminal, and by committing this sinful activity I shall be punished, and if you have seen also that anyone who has violated this law and stolen others' property has been arrested and policeman has taken him to the jail, he has seen, he has heard, he has completely experienced, but still, why does he steal? What is the answer?

Devotee: Impelled. Because (indistinct) as a human being. He has a tendency because of the four defects of a human being.

Prabhupāda: Then the question arises, how to rectify these defects?

Śyāmasundara: He says by changing the social environment. By changing the social environment.

Prabhupāda: But he cannot do.

Devotee: But in my experience changing the social environment...

Prabhupāda: The social environment is already there, but still you will be punished.

Śyāmasundara: But his idea is that if you reward them for not stealing that they will not steal. If you reward them sufficiently.

Prabhupāda: First of all let him come to the point of not stealing. Then you will be all right. (indistinct)

Śyāmasundara: But if you pay him more, then he won't steal.

Prabhupāda: That you cannot. That you cannot. That is not possible.

Atreya Ṛṣi: The reward and punishment system, Prabhupāda, is motivational. It's not that you pay him more and you pay him less or you punish him. The thing is, he says that...

Prabhupāda: No, no. Who pays? Suppose I am going to steal and get one dollar. And if you pay me three dollars, then I may not steal. Then next point will be when there will be four dollars, I'm going to steal.

Atreya Ṛṣi: No. He is not going to pay you three and four dollars. What he is suggesting is that the reason one steals is not so much that... There are other reasons, like he likes to break the law because he is angry at the law.

Prabhupāda: Therefore the person, why he likes to break the law? That is the question.

Atreya Ṛṣi: That is a good question. Because he is angry or he thinks that his friends would appreciate him more, and he thinks that his friends are more important. That is why he thinks that if you change the social environment then the reward would come...

Prabhupāda: How you can change the social environment?

Śyāmasundara: Those rewards are quantitative. Just like the pigeon gets a certain number of kernels of corn.

Atreya Ṛṣi: (indistinct)

Śyāmasundara: But how do you know? You don't know what he said. Listen to what he said. He said that each time that a criminal avoids doing bad, he is given some advantage, some material advantage.

Devotee: So we understand that material advantage isn't satisfying.

Śyāmasundara: That is the difference between the pigeons and the man. The pigeons are satisfied with a few kernels of corn. They don't want more than they can eat. But a man wants more and more and more.

Devotee: In the Bhagavad-gītā Arjuna asks the same question.

Prabhupāda: So this is the important point, that what you are thinking rewarding, that is not. He will think it is insignificant. So what (indistinct). If you give me five dollars, if I steal I will get twenty-five dollars. Why shall I accept your reward?

Śyāmasundara: So what about if I don't steal, my friends will like me. If I do steal, my friends will hate me.

Prabhupāda: But if you have got for friends only thieves, then who will object? "Oh, you are very nice, you are very expert." Why should you mix with such friends? (indistinct) Birds of the same feather flock together.

Śyāmasundara: He says there are three things that this society has that keeps people from disobeying, that is God...

Prabhupāda: This is all speculation. It has no meaning.

Śyāmasundara: ...God, the police, and what other people will think.

Prabhupāda: But if you have no idea of God, what is God, and why am I expecting that you will fear God? You do not know what is God, and you are talking of God.

Devotee: So he says social environment in the highest essence that has to lead to controlling nature.

Prabhupāda: Here the thing is that these are all childish suppositions. The real thing is that he should be educated. He should be educated. This should be done. He should be educated from the very beginning that "You are not this body." This is the beginning of real religion. He is talking this way and that. Education is required. Without education these things cannot be taught - by rewarding, by this way, by that way, by machine... It is all nonsense, everything. The first education is that every children should be taught from the very beginning that "You are not this body," and he should be taught the nature of the soul. Then he will come to the Supreme Soul. Then he will gradually come to the relationship between the Supreme Soul and the individual soul. And when he develops love for the Supreme Soul he will not violate the order of the Supreme. So that is our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.

Śyāmasundara: Like Sarasvatī. She thinks Kṛṣṇa lives in her heart, and she's always thinking of that.

Prabhupāda: Yes. She is hearing, she is being educated, and that fact she is now feeling. Similarly, if we educate all our children in that way, they will be nicely grown-up children.

Śyāmasundara: There is an interesting comparison to be made. They have tried to set up a community along this philosophy just near our New Vrindavan. This is the place, in the hills of Virginia, and some of the... It's interesting to see what their code is compared to ours. Their code is that all are entitled to the same privileges, advantages and respect. Private property is forbidden except for such things as books and clothes, and even then there is community clothing which is all shared. No one is allowed to boast of an individual accomplishment or to gossip or to have any negative speech or to be intolerant of any other's beliefs.

Prabhupāda: You cannot be. It is simply dream. If you simply dream, it will be never be fruitful. But our philosophy is that everyone is thinking as servant of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore we have no competition. We want to serve Kṛṣṇa center.

Śyāmasundara: He says that's the main difficulty. He says there is still competition going on.

Prabhupāda: So much more, because he has not changed the mind. The mind is thinking how to become master. So as soon as you want to become master, I want to become master, he wants to, there must be some... But our teaching is different. We become servant, servant of Kṛṣṇa. Even there is competition, but that competition is center in Kṛṣṇa.

Śyāmasundara: Their process is if someone obeys these laws, he is reinforced. That means they'll put a sign up saying "So and so clean..."

Prabhupāda: That is nonsense. Putting signboard. That is just... Caitanya Mahāprabhu's formula: ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam (CC Antya 20.12), cleansing the heart. That is the process. By putting signboard, philosophy cannot be learned. That is no good.

Śyāmasundara: They put a sign that "So and so cleaned this room today. He is a good boy."

Prabhupāda: You will clean automatically like that, with clean heart.

Devotee: That is the difference.

Śyāmasundara: Another thing is that they reject the idea of modesty and sin. They say that sex is all right. It is a pleasant pastime like anything else. Freedom of sex life.

Prabhupāda: Just like animals. Sex life like animals.

Śyāmasundara: They said.

Prabhupāda: (indistinct) say that. (indistinct)

Śyāmasundara: They do not reinforce the sin of sex life.

Prabhupāda: Sex life, we don't say it is sin, but there is rules and regulations of sex life.

Śyāmasundara: However, they have contraceptive methods, because to bring children into the equation at this time is not good.

Prabhupāda: That is nonsense. That is the difficulty, that these people are coming as philosophers teaching. Rascals. That is the difficulty with the present society. (indistinct) Dogs, hogs, camels, and asses. They are taking the position of teacher. That is the defect. We don't take (indistinct) like that. Dogs, hogs, we cannot accept.

Śyāmasundara: They are making life into an equation, like a mathematical formula. Competing like that. But it doesn't work.

Prabhupāda: It will not work.

Devotee: It says he has a seventy-percent turnover. That means that people get disgusted and leave, seventy percent of them every year.

Prabhupāda: Leave? Why?

Śyāmasundara: Because it says that those who are more competent, they still expect special recognition for their talent, and so they make this demand that we cannot reinforce that kind of behavior. So we deny them and then we go away.

Devotee: So it seems that the whole philosophy (indistinct) and then in the course of there, the whole material world is attached to sex life, so that the whole thing is that all the philosophies that they are inventing are so that they may have liberty to think that they are free and that they are (indistinct). That is all.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Devotee: That is their whole thing. All their philosophy tries to have good sex life so that they don't have to think that they will be punished. So if I can have this freedom then I am right.

Prabhupāda: Yes. The real point is sense gratification. Freedom of sense gratification. That is their point. But these fools, they do not know that by sense gratification you are entangling yourself in repetition of birth and death.

Śyāmasundara: So Skinner nonetheless allows himself some relaxation. He drinks vodka and tonic in the late afternoon (laughter) and sees an occasional movie. He reads George Simon detective novels once in awhile and enjoys the company of friends. He has two children and his grandchildren. There is a note from his diary: "Sun streams in (indistinct) room. My hi-fi is midway through the first act of Tristan and Isolde. A very pleasant environment. A man would be a fool not to enjoy himself in it. In a moment I will work on a manuscript which may help mankind. So my life is not only pleasant; it is earned or deserved. And yet, yet, I am unhappy."

Prabhupāda: In that sense he is a truthful man. Yes. Truthful.

Śyāmasundara: He wants to... He is trying to understand.

Prabhupāda: He cannot. That is not the way of understanding. The Vedic way is that you first approach a guru. That is the Vedic way. He cannot personally search for the truth. That is not possible. (end)