Philosophy Discussion on Edmund Husserl

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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Śyāmasundara: Today we are discussing one German philosopher named Edmund Husserl, and he started a school of philosophy known as phenomenology. The definition of phenomenology is "a descriptive analysis of inner experience or subjective processes, or the intuitive study of essences." So the idea behind this philosophy is that to find out the essences of things, to describe the data of our consciousness without any bias or prejudice or..., ignoring all theories and scientific facts, everything, but simply looking at a thing or a phenomenon and trying to understand what it is by analyzing our inward or intuitive knowledge of things.

Prabhupāda: That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness-real consciousness. Just like at the present moment I am thinking "Indian"; you are thinking "American." But if you introspect, you are American or I am Indian, so if you go on researching, you'll come to conclusion that "I am Kṛṣṇa's." That is real platform, when one understands that "I am part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa."

Śyāmasundara: Their method begins with the things themselves, they say "to the things themselves," or in other words, they begin from phenomenon.

Prabhupāda: Yes (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: To reject all theories, scientific experiments, all these things.

Prabhupāda: When you study the phenomenon - the body - this is phenomenon, that "I am this body or not?" Then you come to the conclusion that "I am not body. I am the soul. Then what for I am soul, I (indistinct)?" Then you will get from Krsna, "I am part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa."

Śyāmasundara: They say that the phenomenon...

Prabhupāda: Just like one can analyze in this way: I am sitting on this comfortable, I mean, seat, cushion. Why I am sitting here? Because it is giving comfort to my body. Then I come to the study of body: Why I am maintaining this body? Because I am the soul, I am living in this body. Then ultimately I love my self, my soul. I love this seat because it gives shelter to my body. I love this body because it gives shelter to my soul. I love this soul because it is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore ultimately I love Kṛṣṇa. Is it not? That is pure consciousness.

Śyāmasundara: They say that the phenomena, or the things, are the ways or the manifestations in which objects present themselves through their appearances.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Śyāmasundara: This object...

Prabhupāda: This phenomenon... Phenomenon means it comes and it goes. (indistinct)

Śyāmasundara: According to their way of thinking, the appearance of the phenomenon comes and goes, but the phenomenon itself is changeless.

Prabhupāda: That is not phenomenon. That is called noumena in philosophical language. Noumena. You can see the difference from noumena. Noumena. Phenomenon is (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: Well, he gets into noumena later, but he says... Just like this is a picture. It appears as this picture like this now, but in some time it may not appear like this, but still "picture," the idea "picture" or the essence "picture" exists independently of its appearance in this form.

Prabhupāda: That picture is also phenomenon ultimately, that idea of picture.

Śyāmasundara: That phenomenon. Yes. But if... It's a permanent type of changeless idea, picture. Even it may have many appearances which come and go, but the idea of "picture" is permanent, or changeless. Is it not?

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is confirming our theory of spiritual world as permanent. Just like here, the picture of a tree, that is phenomenon. But the picture, is that now original? Just like sometimes there are dolls, show dolls; that is phenomena. But the idea behind the dolls, that is permanent. Beautiful girl standing on the showcase, that is a doll. That is phenomenon. But a beautiful girl is not phenomenon; that is fact. This is a crude example. Similarly, this material world is phenomenon. That is explained by Śrīdhara Swami, that because the spiritual is true, fact, therefore the phenomenal expression of the spiritual world amidst matter appears to be true. This material world, phenomenal world, is not fact, but because it is representation of a fact, therefore it appears as fact. That is phenomenology.

Śyāmasundara: He outlines three techniques for finding the essences of things. The first step is called the phenomenon of phenomenal logical reduction, which begins by excluding consideration of everything transcendent, including all theories or scientific knowledge - everything - only presenting to our immediate senses the objects to be considered, without any preconceived idea of what is that object. So he calls this the suspension of judgment. Suspend all judgment about an object - just look at it, and the object itself will be intuitively understood. This is his idea.

Prabhupāda: Yes. If you study the object scrutinizingly, then you will come to the conclusion, the source of that objective idea.

Śyāmasundara: He says that only this knowledge is absolutely certain.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is called brahma-jijñāsā. In the Vedānta-sūtra it is called brahma-jijñāsā, inquiring about brahma. That is the prerogative of human life. In the human life one can make inquiries what is the ultimate source, cause. And in animal life it is not sought. So if such inquisitive is not there, then it is animal. Just like at the present moment the newspaper is full of fighting news. But these things are animal news. Such kind of fighting was there also in the animal life - dogs and dogs fighting. They are not very important. Real important thing is what I am. That is real important. Just like Sanātana Goswami inquired from Caitanya Mahāprabhu, "So what I am? I do not want to suffer, but I have to suffer." These (indistinct), they are busy with the suffering, how they, this party or that party, but we are busy, "Why you are suffering?" That is human life, athāto brahma jijñāsā, why you are suffering. Not that superficially you see people are suffering and giving some relief, and then again suffering, again relief. (Sanskrit) But they don't inquire, "Why suffering?" That is intelligent. That is human life. These rascals, they have established this United Nations for the last twenty-five years, and they never inquire that "We have tried so much, but still, why you could not stop war?" The establishment of U.N. was that there should be no war, because they had very bitter experience of the World..., Second World War. So they established this United Nations, but the (indistinct), just like the Americans, they thought that "We are very rich. We have got..., we are very powerful, so under the girth of this United Nations, we shall control over all the world." That was the policy. So this superficial phenomenon, as just might have seen, will not help us. We must go deep to the root, why people are suffering. That is intelligence.

Śyāmasundara: Well, their idea is to reduce everything to the level of pure consciousness.

Prabhupāda: That is pure consciousness.

Śyāmasundara: But by examining a phenomenon purely, without any other consideration, he says that each thing has its given content or its principle of principles, as an object of intuition. Or he calls it also a thing of authentic reality. Just like a leaf. If you look at a leaf, and you have no consideration of previous knowledge where do these things come, what is a leaf, anything, then the authentic reality of that leaf will present itself to my consciousness. It will be self-evident what is that leaf.

Prabhupāda: You don't take... That means that analytical study of the leaf.

Śyāmasundara: Yes. But without any previous knowledge - as if I knew nothing about leaves before, but I begin to look at the leaf and it will be self-evident what that leaf is.

Prabhupāda: So you can talk any nonsense. (laughter) Then what is the use of going to school? There is no need of opening so many schools and colleges. You go on studying, you can know all knowledge and talk all kinds of nonsense. Is that perfect?

Śyāmasundara: No. He says that if a man has a clear intelligence that he will be able to understand the essence of that...

Prabhupāda: But why these schools are there? Every day we see, actually, from the most intelligent persons, scientist, he has to go to a school. Not that at home, by speculating and talking nonsense, they have become a scientist. They will never become.

Śyāmasundara: But if evidence from that leaf - that it is the color green, for instance...

Prabhupāda: Still, you have to learn how the color green comes in.

Śyāmasundara: Well, he calls that kind of knowledge - how the color green comes in - you must exclude that kind of consideration; only...

Prabhupāda: That I am saying. Then he doesn't require to ask anybody. He has to speculate himself and think any kind of way he likes. He wants (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: No. He wants to understand the object in its self-evidence...

Prabhupāda: What is that self-evidence?

Syamasundara: ...not that it's the color green, that...

Prabhupāda: Then what is his study? Color green everyone is seeing. So what is his specific purpose of studying?

Śyāmasundara: By studying the appearance of the leaf, the phenomenon, its nature or its essence will become self-evident - why the leaf is structured in a certain way, what is the...

Prabhupāda: (indistinct) How you can know the structure of this leaf, why it is green some portion, why it is yellow, why there are stem, how it comes...? Do you mean to say that these things should automatically come if I speculate on this?

Śyāmasundara: That is his contention.

Prabhupāda: Then it is nonsense. It will not come. We have to go to a botanist to study.

Śyāmasundara: Well, what about before they had botanists? They didn't know anything about leaves before?

Prabhupāda: No. Botanistism may not be there, but the knowledge was there.

Śyāmasundara: But they... Five hundred years ago there were no...

Prabhupāda: Five hundred years... Since the beginning of the creation. Why do you say five hundred years? You cannot... Five millions of years ago...

Śyāmasundara: That's using an example that five hundred years ago, when we had no microscopes, we had no idea...

Prabhupāda: But the knowledge was there. That is Vedic knowledge. Knowledge was there. Just like five millions of years ago there was no scientist (indistinct), analytical laboratory. But the Vedic knowledge is that cow dung is pure. Now you analyze at the present moment scientifically you'll find yes, it is pure. So wherefrom this knowledge came? There is no need of scientist if this knowledge was there. That is Vedic knowledge.

Śyāmasundara: Well, what about someone who has no recourse to Vedic knowledge or any authority...

Prabhupāda: Then he is a fool. However you may speculate, he is a fool.

Śyāmasundara: But for thousands of years man has been in contact with leaves, and they have not had Vedic scriptures to read...

Prabhupāda: Vedic scripture was there. They did not read. That's all.

Śyāmasundara: So does that mean they have no knowledge about leaves?

Prabhupāda: No. They may have partial knowledge, I mean to say, perfect knowledge. Just like the same example: cow dung is the stool of an animal, but it is stated in the Vedic language, Vedic literature, that it is pure. Now if you analyze it, as modern scientifically in the laboratory, you will find it is pure. Therefore all perfect knowledge was there in the Vedas. So whatever is stated there in the Vedas, that is perfect knowledge. There may be botanists or no botanists; the knowledge is there.

Śyāmasundara: So in order to understand anything, I have to consult Vedic scriptures.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is the process: tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva abhigacchet samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham (MU 1.2.12). So to understand anything, that is the Vedic process: either material science or spiritual science, you must approach the guru. And that is being followed everywhere. You cannot become botanist by speculating at home. You have to go...

Śyāmasundara: No. He doesn't say you have to become a botanist.

Prabhupāda: So any, anything, whatever you may be, you cannot become perfect without hearing from another perfect. This is nonsense, that you go on speculating and the proof will come. This is nonsense.

Śyāmasundara: Well, I know. That is nonsense. That isn't what he's saying. He's saying that if you look at an object, the nature of that object will be self-evident; that it isn't that we have to know everything about the object, but the nature of it, the essence of it will be self-evident.

Prabhupāda: No. The nature is... Sometimes a child takes this, asks his father: "What is this, Father? What is this?" "The case of a spectacle." Therefore he gets the knowledge. That is nature.

Śyāmasundara: But if there was no-one...

Prabhupāda: But if the child will speculate, well then (indistinct) speculate?

Śyāmasundara: Well this isn't a philosophy for children exactly. It's supposedly for very intelligent men.

Prabhupāda: Anyone who is following the principle, he's no better than a children. He's a child. This man is no better than a child, because he is speculating something important. He wants to study this leaf without any other sense. Then he is a child.

Śyāmasundara: But the nature of that leaf...

Prabhupāda: Whatever nature is already there. Nature of the leaf is already there, but you cannot understand it by speculating.

Śyāmasundara: We can't understand that it's green and that it grows?

Prabhupāda: Well, simply understanding green is not complete study of the leaf. The main questions are why it is green? Why the other leaf is yellow? That is real enquiry. Why this flower is red and that flower is white? And why the leaf is green? This is the real enquiry, "Why?"

Śyāmasundara: That isn't possible to understand...?

Prabhupāda: How it is possible? You explain how is it possible.

Śyāmasundara: Well, you were just saying before that if someone analyzes everything scrutinizingly, they will find out that it is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. But unless they are able to make that analysis, then what is the point of analyzing? Shouldn't we have the freedom to analyze something?

Prabhupāda: Suppose that when he says to analyze, analyze. When he will not take help? (indistinct) analyze.

Śyāmasundara: This is just the first step of his process. There are three steps. The first step is simply to reduce the phenomenon to their self-evident (indistinct)...

Prabhupāda: What is that self-evidence?

Śyāmasundara: ...that it is green, that it grows on trees - those simple things that anyone can see, they're self-evident.

Prabhupāda: That's all right.

Śyāmasundara: That we don't have to consult any authority about or have any knowledge about previously. We can see those things.

Prabhupāda: That's all right.

Śyāmasundara: That's the first step. Then the second step is to make a universal reduction, to find out which things are common to all leaves, what things initially, this single appearance has the same thing in common with all appearances of leaves. Then... He calls these the ideas which underlie the pure phenomenon, like greenness and growth, things like that, basic principles, he calls these the changeless forms, changeless forms. Just like when this leaf is gone, it has disappeared, the color green will still exist somewhere; it is always existing. And the idea of growth will always exist somewhere. So that's the second step. He says that these changeless ideas, like greenness and growth, must be applied to phenomenon to give them stability or a basis, and thus rescue them from a state of constant change and unreality. So he is seeking to find out something permanent inside the temporary appearances of things. So he says that the essence of something is unlike the phenomenon by virtue of its universality. In other words, the experience that this leaf is green can be shared by all persons alike. Everyone will see that the leaf is green, not that one person will see it as yellow or another person will see it as grey. But that greenness that everyone sees, that is its self-evident nature, or essence of that leaf. So as an example, he gives the example of... We see a green object, for example, and green color is imminent in our consciousness, but when we postulate the transcendent color, it is not immediately sensed but merely described scientifically as existing in light waves measuring 550 millimicrons in length. In other words, the knowledge that that greenness is caused by certain light waves as measured by scientists is not important to him. The real idea is that that immediate greenness is shared by everyone, that is the nature of that leaf. Then the third...

Prabhupāda: Direct perception.

Śyāmasundara: (indistinct) Then the third step is an analysis of the correlation between the phenomenon of (sic:] cognitation and the object of cognitation. In other words, he says we must make a distinction between the appearance and that which appears - the leaf in this form and leafness as a permanent idea. So...

Prabhupāda: So why not study why sometimes it is leafless and why there is leaf? Why during winter season there is no leaf, and the springtime the leaves come out? Why? That is also phenomenon, changes. So therefore the next step will be that how the changes take place, and why the changes take place. That is real philosophy. Simply if you are satisfied that leaves are there, green leaves, that's all right; and there is no leaves, that's all right - that is not very intelligent. This is phenomenon. There is no leaf and there is leaf. So this is childish. Childish satisfies... Child does not enquire, "My dear father, why sometimes there is leaf and sometimes no leaf?" He is satisfied there is no leaf, that's all right; there is leaf, that's all right.

Śyāmasundara: No this..., I've just outlined the process, and as you say, if we stop at that point it may seem childish. But the idea is that it is a process and that you do inquire next...

Prabhupāda: But he says that we are not concerned with the process. We are simply concerned with the leaf as we see it.

Śyāmasundara: Yes. And then he takes the next step. Now, why is there no leaf at a certain time? And then you go on inquiring in that way. But he...

Prabhupāda: You inquire from whom?

Śyāmasundara: You inquire from your intuition.

Prabhupāda: Just see. This is nonsense.

Devotee: According to that philosophy, if one looks inside a body, a person's body, the essence of the body is the soul. So by looking at the body can we detect the soul within?

Śyāmasundara: Materially, yes. Just like before... Our Western scientists have never read Vedic literature, but they understand why there is leaves on a tree at a certain time and why not. It's not a very difficult thing to understand.

Prabhupāda: This is speculation. If we do not follow the standard knowledge, (indistinct), then you have to speculate. Same thing, same example: if we do not take this information who is your father from your mother, then you have to speculate. This is the same example. But if there is process to understand who is my father simply by asking my mother, why shall I speculate?

Devotee: We went over this intuition yesterday, that intuition is experience. Actually it is experience. So that intuition about the soul, one must have a memorable experience of the soul. But we haven't had that. We have not had experience of the soul, so how can we have intuition?

Devotee (2): Nor do we have direct perception. Nor do we have direct perception of the soul. We cannot see the soul. Not with these eyes.

Śyāmasundara: No. This... All that I've described so far is only the first part of this process to understanding... He comes to the idea eventually that everything is spiritual, or noumenal, that what we see is merely a reflection. He comes to that point. So far, all I've described is the first part, so I don't think, if we make judgments on the philosophy so far, that it makes (indistinct). But actually he was very, very thoughtful and spent many years on this philosophy. So he's not stupid. He hasn't just concocted something. But his ideas are...

Prabhupāda: These arguments, he may not be stupid, these arguments, but arguments, one can..., a very learned man can be called stupid. (laughter) Because as soon as he... If you take by argument (indistinct), that's all.

Śyāmasundara: But if you judge his argument..., his whole philosophy, on only seeing part of it, then that doesn't seem fair.

Prabhupāda: Now we are coming to (indistinct). He says that we are concerned with only the phenomenon, what we see.

Śyāmasundara: Starting with that. Starting with that. Reducing everything to the...

Prabhupāda: Starting with that, that's all right. But how he'll come to the perfect knowledge? Not by speculation. That is our point.

Śyāmasundara: But...

Prabhupāda: And intuition is also wrong way. You cannot come to the perfect knowledge by speculation or intuition. You must approach a person who knows (indistinct). The same example repeated: you cannot understand who is your father by speculation and intuition. You must approach your mother and ask her, "Who is my father?" That will be perfect knowledge. That is the process. But when..., if you insist on that "Without asking my mother I will understand my father by speculation or intuition," that is nonsense. That is stupidity. That stupid he is.

Śyāmasundara: If you are still so primitive and juvenile in your understanding that you don't even know there's such thing as a father, first you have to find out that there is such thing as father, then you can ask who is father. These Western philosophers...

Prabhupāda: But if he does not know that there is need of father for my birth, then he's a (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: No. I'm just giving you example. These Western philosophers, they have no..., they're starting from zero, from zero point. They have no knowledge whatsoever. So I begin with the idea...

Prabhupāda: But zero, that is our point. From zero knowledge you cannot go to the perfection by zero speculation. That is our point. You, if you are zero, you must go to someone who is one. And when zero is added to one, it becomes ten. Otherwise you go on adding zero, zero, zero - it is all zero.

Śyāmasundara: But if you do not there is such thing as father-let's say you are so infantile you do not know that "I have father" - first of all you must discover...

Prabhupāda: Therefore I say it is childish. Only the foolish child knows that he doesn't require any father, "My mother is everything." Just like these foolish scientists, they are thinking the nature is everything. Nature is mother. Just like a small child on the lap of the mother, he knows simply, "My mother is everything." But when he is grown up, he understands that "I have a father."

Śyāmasundara: Yes.

Prabhupāda: Similarly, these so-called scientists who does not see God behind this nature, they are just like the same child. They are simply amazed with mother's activities, mother nature. That is called śakta. The worshipers of Goddess Kālī and Goddess Durgā are like that. They simply see the supremacy, the wonderful activities of the mother. But when he is grown up, he knows that "My mother has a controller, has a husband, who is my father."

Śyāmasundara: But these philosophers, especially Husserl, because there is so much confusion and chaos in the world of philosophical thought, they wanted to start from the beginning, from zero knowledge, from wiping everything away and beginning over again. So first of all they started with the phenomenon, because that's what you can see first, just like if you were a newborn child. Then they began...

Prabhupāda: Newborn child, first business is to inquire from the mother, "Mother, what is this?" "Mother, father, what is this?" That is nature.

Śyāmasundara: That's what he's doing.

Prabhupāda: But you begin with zero, but to make this zero something, you have to ask somebody. But he does not agree to that.

Śyāmasundara: No. Who can he ask? He doesn't know who to ask.

Prabhupāda: That is different thing. But you have to ask.

Śyāmasundara: So he says by intuition...

Devotee: I think the idea is that you can tell me who is the father, but I can't understand who the father is when I try to perceive it myself. You have given me a word or a thought, "This is your father," but actually the meaning of "father" has nothing beyond that word or thought unless I understand that I have father. Maybe I might call it by a different name than father.

Devotee (2): No, no.

Devotee: By you saying "This is father" or "This is leaf," it's just a semantic label you have put on that. For me to understand leaf, I must perceive it for myself, because leaf or father may mean something completely different for me and you.

Śyāmasundara: His idea is first of all you have to understand what is leaf or what is father. Then you can understand where the leaf came from, where the father came from. He wants to start from the point of having no knowledge about anything and building up gradually. So they begin with only the bare phenomenon, understanding what is the bare phenomenon. Because there's no authority for them to ask, these Western philosophers. They don't know where is the authority. So the only authority you can rely on is that which is self-evident, those things, those intuitive...

Prabhupāda: So if there is no authority, then why he is anxious to become authority? Why he's philosophizing? Let everyone learn from intuition, self-study. Why he's writing such books?

Śyāmasundara: Because he wants to understand the nature of things.

Devotee: He wants to help other people understand the nature of things.

Prabhupāda: He does not want that his books should be read by anyone.

Śyāmasundara: Yes. He wants to understand the nature of things so that he can help others...

Prabhupāda: That means that he becomes authority. He becomes authority. If he wants to become authority, why he should deny other authority?

Śyāmasundara: He doesn't deny another authority, he just doesn't know which authority is the real, correct authority.

Prabhupāda: Well, that we know. Therefore we say that Vedic knowledge is authority. That is the difference between the Western philosophers and the Indian philosophers. They accept the authority of the Vedas.

Devotee (2): Well, even when one chooses a spiritual master, it's not as if he accepts anybody that comes along. He must have some criteria for choosing that person, and that criterion must begin with an observation of phenomena because that's all he has to work with. It's not as if you take any bhogī who is walking down the street and say, "All right, you become my spiritual master."

Prabhupāda: No. There is standard. There is standard. That is also authority. The Vedas says, tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva abhigacchet, abhigacchet śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham (MU 1.2.12). These are the qualities - śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham. So accepting an authority as spiritual master, you have to check this, whether he is śrotriyam, whether he is brahma-niṣṭham. Śrotriyam means whether he has heard perfectly from his spiritual master, and by hearing, whether he is completely, firmly standing on brahma (indistinct). These are the two qualities. So anything, you have to learn the same thing from authority.

Śyāmasundara: Well, if Kṛṣṇa is seated in the intelligence...

Devotee: Also, isn't it possible that someone who has no exposure...

Prabhupāda: Even if you take Kṛṣṇa as authority, then you accept authority.

Śyāmasundara: I'm saying that because Kṛṣṇa is there in the..., is the prowess of all..., the intelligence of all intelligent men, is it not possible if someone has no exposure to the Vedic authorities, that he can still approach the Absolute Truth through clear intelligence?

Prabhupāda: Yes. That means he has to take lesson from Kṛṣṇa from within. That Brahmā took.

Śyāmasundara: That's his whole idea, to turn within to get the answer. By wiping away all of the prejudices.

Prabhupāda: So that is a perfect method. Just like Brahmā, there was nobody externally, but Brahmā got all the knowledge from inside, internally. Tene brahma hṛdā ādi-kavaye. Ādi-kavi, the Brahmā, he learned all the knowledge from Kṛṣṇa. Where is Kṛṣṇa? He was alone. No. Hṛdi, (indistinct). Kṛṣṇa is within the heart, (indistinct).

Śyāmasundara: Just like one of Husserl's predecessors, Descartes, we discussed him before, he wanted the same platform, the same basis of understanding. So his only thought, his first thought, was cogito ergo sum: "I think, therefore I am." Eliminating all other thoughts, conclusions, there is at least that one thing: "I think, therefore I am." So he wants to start on the same basis, by wiping away all understanding and knowledge and beginning from the objects themselves, and reducing from those things, the essence of those things, to the truth.

Devotee: Isn't that jñāna-yoga?

Prabhupāda: Hm?

Devotee: Isn't that the same thing as jñāna-yoga?

Prabhupāda: No. Jñāna-yoga does not think that. Jñāna-yoga means you have to receive jñāna, knowledge, from others.

Śyāmasundara: Just like he uses another example...

Prabhupāda: They are called adaksi (?]. Adaksi, simply that sense perception. That's all. So they are not perfect.

Śyāmasundara: No. But not... Behind sense perception he also proceeds to the other levels. For instance, there's a..., he has to distinguish between the phenomenon of a sound, of a sound, and the constituting or intelligible essence of sound. From one particular sound, try to understand the nature of sound in general - what is sound. He says the intelligence comes into play then.

Prabhupāda: Sound is a symptom of the sky. When there is sound, there is sky.

Śyāmasundara: So that would be the next logical understanding, intuitive understanding.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Śyāmasundara: Behind hearing one sound, the proof of that understanding of sound in general is the sky, like that. In an elective process, this is a process for understanding these things.

Prabhupāda: On the whole, his process is mental speculation.

Śyāmasundara: So he says that in things there is a self-evident truth. In everything there is something self-evident that makes it true. Is that not possible?

Prabhupāda: That self-evidence is certain (indistinct). Just like this leaf, that you see the greenness of the leaf, but that is not all. If you actually want to study that leaf, simply the superficial vision of the leaf as green is not all.

Śyāmasundara: No.

Prabhupāda: So a person who has adaksi, sense perception, they cannot have perfect knowledge. He has seen simply phenomenon. Behind this phenomenon they cannot see. Therefore their knowledge is imperfect.

Devotee: So then if we (indistinct), Lord Brahmā took instruction from within his heart, we can understand that he had a pure heart, he was able to take instruction from Kṛṣṇa from within, that his heart was pure.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Devotee: But when that contaminated consciousness, in..., that kind of knowledge is unacceptable to him, in that contamination.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That's it.

Śyāmasundara: It's just like if I understand the science that the greenness has a wavelength of 550 millimicrons per second...

Prabhupāda: So how does he know this measure?

Śyāmasundara: Well, if..., I'm saying "if." How does that understanding, scientific understanding, help my understanding of the greenness? It doesn't really enhance anything, just to know that it is a wavelength of light, greenness.

Prabhupāda: So if you are satisfied that the..., with the external feature of the leaf, if you don't want to go deep into the matter, then that is also knowledge-superficial knowledge.

Śyāmasundara: No. He wants to go deep into the matter.

Prabhupāda: How he can go deep into the matter? Because he doesn't want to consult anybody, and he cannot see beyond that superficial greenness. There are so many things which are not visible to our view. They are outside.

Śyāmasundara: Just like you have said that the sound was a symptom of the sky, that...

Prabhupāda: That..., that..., that symptom the sky we understand from the scientist, not that personally I have understood that sound is a symptom of the sky. It is the scientists, those who are dealing with physics, they say that the sky, the symptom of sky is sound.

Śyāmasundara: Well, it seems like I could...

Prabhupāda: That is (Sanskrit). That is not sense perception. That is a perception received from other authorities.

Śyāmasundara: So it seems like I could come to that same conclusion without consulting a scientist, that I could...

Prabhupāda: You cannot. That is our version. You cannot. Because simply you are puzzled with the sound, that's all. So wherefrom the sound comes, you have to approach the authorities.

Devotee: It seems like with his method he could get to the point of ahaṁ brahmāsmi. He'll recognize the spiritual substance behind everything eventually, just like the growing..., starting with the point of the leaf. He can gradually reach the point of understanding that it is spirit.

Prabhupāda: Then gradually.

Devotee: (indistinct)

Śyāmasundara: He does reach that point. In the end part of his philosophy he comes to that point of understanding everything is spirit, but we're just at the beginning of outlining the process.

Prabhupāda: But how he can understand the existence spirit simply by speculation?

Śyāmasundara: Just like you were saying that the knowledge could come from within - how something, what is the substance behind something, of a leaf or a flower.

Prabhupāda: That is already described: then he must be very pure.

Devotee: (indistinct) for anyone though or just for himself?

Śyāmasundara: Any human living entity, human entity, can follow the same process if he's intelligent. Anyways, to proceed: it says that after this phenomenal, logical reduction, the residue or the essence of the thing which remains is characterized in a threefold structure. In other words, after you analyze one phenomenon, you could use certain essences of that phenomenon. Those essences are composed of three things.

Prabhupāda: Three dimensions.

Śyāmasundara: In a way three dimensions. The first one is the phenomenological ego. He says first of all that there are two egos - there is the phenomenological ego and the transcendental ego - what we would call the jīvātmā and the Supersoul. The phenomenological ego is the psychological or empirical ego, which is found in the passing stream of consciousness, or the false ego: the ego that identifies with the events and the stream of events of day-to-day life in this world - what I think I am. And the transcendental ego is the observer behind that stream of consciousness. But his idea is that, still down on this phenomenological level, the phenomenological ego deals with appearances as an activity - that is, cogitates upon appearances which we've passed through by perception. These objects pass through my perception. My phenomenological ego cogitates on those objects and gives what I call the world a structure.

Prabhupāda: That means he knows that he has got another vision.

Śyāmasundara: Yes. But he's still dealing on the lowest level now, just to really understand things (?]. He says that this ego as truer subjectivity - that is the understanding that "I am" - is the wonder of wonders, and he considers that it is a mystery that the world should contain a being which is aware of its own existence. The phenomenological ego becomes a fundamental fact of the universe in which all truth is found. In other words, beginning with this understanding that "I am existing," that "I am this," becoming aware of myself, this is the springboard or launching pad to know the truth. And an animal, he does not have that knowledge, subjective...

Prabhupāda: So how you developed that knowledge, better knowledge than...?

Śyāmasundara: That is the mystery.

Prabhupāda: ...better knowledge than the animal?

Śyāmasundara: That is what he calls the mystery. That gradually that...

Prabhupāda: Then next mystery will be: there is somebody who is better than you.

Śyāmasundara: He comes to that conclusion.

Prabhupāda: Then it is better to consult that better than you. Why you shall go down to the animal status?

Śyāmasundara: No. He says that we are above the animal status because we can understand what we are.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Now how you become more than the animal status?

Śyāmasundara: Well, that he doesn't deal with.

Prabhupāda: So the conclusion should be: as I am better than the animal status, therefore somebody there is who is better than me. Is it not good to suggest like that?

Śyāmasundara: He says that the transcendental ego is better than the...

Prabhupāda: So why not ask the transcendental ego? Why you speculate?

Śyāmasundara: This is what he calls the intuition, transcendental ego, his understanding of things.

Prabhupāda: Anyway, there is a transcendental ego, it is better to consult it.

Śyāmasundara: That's what he's trying to do, but through inward consultation, not that he has an outside source or he does not access to that transcendental ego from...

Prabhupāda: Therefore our Vedic śāstra says the transcendental ego appears externally as spiritual master.

Śyāmasundara: Yes. You have to recognize that where can he go? He has no spiritual master available.

Prabhupāda: No. If transcendental ego appears as the spiritual master, then what is the difficulty? If he accepts the transcendental ego, and he appears externally as spiritual master, then where is the difficulty to find out a spiritual master. So transcendental ego will confirm that "Here is spiritual master." He has no difficulty. Why does he say that whom to accept?

Śyāmasundara: Well, because...

Prabhupāda: If he has got acquaintance with the transcendental ego, he'll confirm, "Here is the spiritual master."

Śyāmasundara: I imagine Germany at that time, around the turn of the century, it had just no authority that he could consult.

Prabhupāda: No. For others, here he accepts one transcendental ego. We say that transcendental ego appears externally as spiritual master. Then where is the difficulty of finding out spiritual master?

Śyāmasundara: How to find such a person?

Prabhupāda: Because transcendental ego will help. If you accept transcendental ego, he will help: "Here is your spiritual master." There is no difficulty. There is no question of how I shall find it. If you have faith in transcendental ego, he will be able to tell you that "Here is." Where is the difficulty?

Devotee: No difficulty.

Prabhupāda: Otherwise his transcendental ego conception is also faith, which is not fact.

Devotee: If you think that bringing in mental along with transcendental all the time anyway, you just (indistinct) wipe the mind clean and have an intuitive understanding of anything... How can you do that? Everybody's got subjective values. How they can look at something and just understand it intuitively? That's not transcendental; that's mental.

Śyāmasundara: No. It's subjective. Yes. That's intuition-it's subjective.

Devotee: So how can you understand the transcendental with that kind of an instrument?

Devotee (2): That we already described in (indistinct).

Devotee: Well I think his process rests upon that point.

Śyāmasundara: You can understand it up to a certain point. Just like he would..., just like Madhudviṣa was saying, unless you understand the idea of fatherhood, how can anybody tell you, "This is your father"? You won't understand what he's talking about.

Devotee: But the point is, how can you ever understand the father?

Śyāmasundara: Fatherness becomes self-evident if you analyze it.

Devotee: How self-evident, if the mind is a limited instrument? How is it self-evident?

Śyāmasundara: Well, you can see that this child is coming out, that this child is being conceived by a father. You can see that. It's self-evident. That much is self-evident. But who is the father and how the father is there and the activity involved has to be gotten from authority.

Prabhupāda: No. The father may die(?], even your father may... Suppose the child does not know what his father may be. His father, he doesn't care to know. But when he grows up, he can see one man, always constant companion of the mother, he can enquire, "Who is this man?" And the mother will say, "He is your father." So he's not that (indistinct)?

Devotee: What does father mean though?

Prabhupāda: It doesn't matter. He doesn't know. But mother will explain that "He is your father."

Śyāmasundara: But if he doesn't understand...

Madhudviṣa: Someone else can be your father. If he says, "No, he's not your father, he's your father over there," he's never seen before, still, the idea of fatherhood is the man who's been with him all the time.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Madhudviṣa: So your mother..., the mother's saying "This is father" has no meaning, has no value. It contains no potential as father. The father is the person who is the close companion of the mother, and...

Prabhupāda: The thing is, when the mother says who is your father, then next question will be from the child, "What is father?"

Śyāmasundara: Yes. What is father...?

Prabhupāda: What is father, that enquiry. Then (s]he'll say that without father you cannot get birth. That is progress of knowledge. Why you should be satisfied only with the fact that the mother says, "This gentleman is your father"? So why should you..., if he does not inquire, "What is father?" Then he understands. This is inquiry, and knowledge.

Śyāmasundara: Before we ever found out from you who is Kṛṣṇa, we had ideas of body, and nature, and God - all these things we knew about-fire, earth, water. We had made studies, so we could understand when He said that "The earth, the sky, the fire, they are My separated energies." When you told us that, we could understand it, but unless we knew the terms, that conceptions of those things, we could never have understood.

Prabhupāda: And you understood because you came in contact of a spiritual master. Therefore it is needed. It is essential. One must have a spiritual master to know things as they are. You cannot speculate; then you will remain in darkness.

Devotee: How can one see the spiritual master in darkness? If you are standing in a dark room...

Prabhupāda: The same thing. When you go on inquiring, then the question of spiritual master comes, when inquiry is there within yourself.

Devotee: But if we are in ignorance...

Prabhupāda: That's all right. But the inquiry is there. That inquiry will make you wise by inquiring from the spiritual master or the authority. But the inquiry is there. Human life means..., developed consciousness means..., the animal cannot inquire. The human being can inquire. That inquiry will give him everything - the spiritual master, knowledge, wisdom - everything. But inquiry; simply this inquiry. That inquiry is there.

Śyāmasundara: This understanding of Husserl's philosophy stood as a lower stage now, because eventually we come to his description...

Prabhupāda: Just like still it is factual: The Ramakrishna Mission, when somebody goes to inquire something about God very seriously, they recommend that "For this inquiry you go to Gauḍīya Math." (laughter) Because they know what... (break)

Śyāmasundara: Husserl's next step is to...

Prabhupāda: Everyone is (indistinct) idea: "This is also good, this is also good, this is also good." We say only, only Kṛṣṇa good. We are the only community in the whole world. Because we know. That is the difference. One who does not know, he'll say, "This is also good, this is also good." That means he does not know what is good. Just like one who does not know which one is stone and which one is glass, imitation, glass. But one who knows, "Oh, this is real diamond, and this is only glass, polished glass..." So to distinguish these, what is genuine, which is false, you must have to go to the perfect person who knows it. The inquiry is there. That will lead you. When you ask somebody, "Which one is real?" and then you have to go, you go to such person, you go to the jeweler. Therefore your inquiry will take you to the right person if you are seriously inquisitive.

Devotee: Yes. You must be serious.

Prabhupāda: Yes. If you are seeing (indistinct). If you are serious, then that will do, send you to the right person. But that inquiry is there. That is intuition. "I want to know. I want to know."

Acyutānanda: Seems like more than serious too. Also a person must be intelligent. I may be very serious and I may say which is gold...

Prabhupāda: Therefore you have to go to an intelligent person. He is not intelligent. Anyway, seriousness does not mean... Seriousness is intelligence, but that is not perfect intelligence. Real intelligence means..., seriousness means that he takes knowledge from a man who is better intelligent than him. That is real intelligence.

Śyāmasundara: So here, Husserl reaches the point of understanding, of observing, of analyzing the transcendental observer, or transcendental ego. He comes to the understanding that there is a spiritual basis for everything. But still, we're talking about how he reaches that point. So he describes...

Prabhupāda: Transcendental observer, that is sometimes known as conscience - something dictating. I reject or may accept. Something dictating from within. That is transcendental.

Śyāmasundara: He says that there are the phenomenological and the transcendental. The phenomenological ego, which uses conscience with...

Prabhupāda: Phenomenological ego means "I." "I am this individual soul." And transcendental ego is Paramātmā, Bhagavān.

Śyāmasundara: Yes. That's his distinction. The "I" feeling is, that would be the conscience which is made up of the data, day to day, that I observe, which is my world, the stream of consciousness, that "I think I am." So I may be allowed to...

Prabhupāda: No. At every moment I speculate my mind-accept something, reject something - then I am, "What is to be done?" Then something dictation is there. That is transcendental ego.

Devotee: How did we get into the conception of transcendental ego?

Śyāmasundara: Well, that we haven't come to yet. That's later. We're still... I mean, if you want to jump to that we can, but we're missing a lot that goes between.

Prabhupāda: That's all right. That will come gradually. But we accept that transcendental ego.

Śyāmasundara: Yes. But now he's discussing the phenomenological ego, or what we would call the false ego, the sense of "I." He says that this ego is an act, an activity - of doubting, understanding, affirming, denying, ruling, refusing, imagining, feeling...

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is called in Sanskrit language saṅkalpa and vikalpa: You accept something and reject something. That's all. You can make a different branches of these two words.

Śyāmasundara: He says that these are all intentional acts, that this ego, false ego, is responsible for all my intentional activities.

Devotee: Hm?

Śyāmasundara: Intentional activities - that means doubting something, understanding something, affirming something, denying something, feeling something - these are all activities that have an intent.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Without intent, how we can act?

Śyāmasundara: So this is the second part of the structure of the phenomenological understanding of things, the...

Prabhupāda: But that intention are two kinds. Just like a man works for himself and then he works for others. When I am alone, I work for myself, but when I am married, I work for my wife, my children. So the intentions are two kinds. So which one is better intention? That is also to be studied.

Śyāmasundara: In this way, just like you have just given the example, that is how he wants to study phenomenon, like that.

Prabhupāda: Both are phenomenal. When I work for myself, that is also phenomenal, and work for my wife or children, that is also phenomenal. Now, whose intention is better? There are two kinds of intentions. People are working: somebody working for his personal satisfaction; somebody is working to maintain the family, wife, children. So which one is better? (end)