Philosophy Discussion on St. Augustine

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AUGUST.HAY
Plato
Augustine (354 - 430)

Hayagrīva: This is St. Augustine, or Augustine. We'll call him Augustine. Augustine, like Origen, considered the soul to be immaterial, noncorporeal. He believed that the soul did not exist prior to the birth of the individual human being. It is only at death that the soul attains its immortal nature and lives on through eternity.

Prabhupāda: What is that? He sometimes says it is not eternal? What is the clear ending?

Hayagrīva: The soul did not exist previous to the birth of the individual human being.

Prabhupāda: Does not exist?

Hayagrīva: When the individual was created, the soul was created with him. Only after this initial creation is there immortality.

Prabhupāda: What does he mean? It is not very clear.

Hayagrīva: It is not clear.

Prabhupāda: He...

Hayagrīva: The soul is created, he is saying. That means it has...

Prabhupāda: If it's created, then how it is immortal?

Hayagrīva: It's immortal after it's created. It's created but it doesn't die.

Prabhupāda: Then what is this death?

Hayagrīva: The death is simply the death of the body.

Prabhupāda: Then if he accepts another body, then he has to accept transmigration.

Hayagrīva: No, he doesn't. Now here's, here's the point. Augustine believed that God elected some men to everlasting happiness and others to everlasting suffering. With the fall of Adam, or the first man, man was subjected to death. For Augustine, however, death is of two types: physical death—the soul leaves the body—and soul death—the death experienced by the soul when God abandons it. The damned face not only physical death but spiritual, soul death as well.

Prabhupāda: So it may..., it can be taken figuratively, that when one forgets his position, that is a kind of death also. One forgets himself. But actually soul is eternal, and what Augustine says as spiritual death, that is his forgetfulness. Just like in unconsciousness one forgets his identity, but if he is dead then he cannot revive consciousness. Similarly, it is little difficult for the bodily concept of life persons, but there are many proofs and understanding that soul is eternal. He, of course, until he gets his freedom from this material existence, he is spiritually dead. Even though he is working in this material form, because he has forgotten his real identity, that is also a kind of death. Yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāṁ tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī. This śloka explains how one is dead and how one is alive. When one is forgetful of his spiritual consciousness, God consciousness, he is supposed to be dead, and when he, one is alive to the spiritual consciousness or God consciousness, he is alive. In this sense, it is a question of two stages, awakening stage and forgetful stage, but actually a soul is eternal. He never dies, even after the annihilation of this body.

Hayagrīva: But the forgetful stage is never everlasting or eternal, is it?

Prabhupāda: Yes, it is not. It can be, what is called, revived, his consciousness. That is our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Just like a man is sleeping, almost unconscious, but if you call him again and again, and the sound enters through the ear into the heart, he becomes awakened. Similarly, by this chanting process he revives his spiritual consciousness, then he is alive in his spiritual life.

Hayagrīva: So then... But Augustine would say that God would eternally abandon the damned soul, a soul damned to eternal perdition.

Prabhupāda: "Eternally abandon" means for very, very long years, millions of years, he remains forgetful. So...

Hayagrīva: Seemingly eternal.

Prabhupāda: Ah. But actually he can be revived at any moment in good association, sādhu-saṅga (CC Madhya 22.83), by this method of hearing and chanting, śravaṇam. Therefore this devotional service, beginning with hearing, is very important. If he consciously hears from the self-realized soul, then he becomes awakened to his spiritual life, and keeping himself always in the devotional service, he remains spiritually alive.

Hayagrīva: (aside:) That's the end of that tape. Augustine speaks of two cities in his... He wrote a famous book called The City of God, and one city is divine. In one city, love of God unites all men, and the other city, men are united by love of the world. One society loves the flesh, and the other society loves the spirit.

Prabhupāda: So this figurative description is there in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The body is considered as like city, and the soul is described as the king of the city, and he goes out from different gates. The body has got nine gates. In this way a figurative description in the..., is in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. But that city is figuratively taken as this body, and the king of the city is the soul. (break)

Hayagrīva: This is the continuation of Augustine. Augustine writes, "God is not the soul of all things but the maker of all souls." So this doctrine seems to admit of the transcendence of God but not of the eminence of God, at least not as the Paramātmā accompanying the individual soul.

Prabhupāda: He does not accept Paramātmā?

Hayagrīva: It doesn't seem to be. It seems that...

Prabhupāda: Then how God is all-pervading? The Paramātmā conception is there in the Brahma-saṁhitā:

eko 'py asau racayituṁ jagad-aṇḍa-koṭiṁ
yac-chaktir asti jagad-aṇḍa-cayā yad-antaḥ aṇḍāntara-stha-paramāṇu-cayāntara...
(Bs. 5.35)

One part of His feature, eko 'py asau. Racayitum, creation, this creation is done by one plenary portion of His person, the puruṣa-avatāra, the Mahā-Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, in expanding. So, and not only one universe but millions of universes, jagad-aṇḍa-koṭim. And in the Bhagavad-gītā also same thing is confirmed, atha vā bahunaitena kiṁ jñātena tavārjuna, ekāṁśena, viṣṭabhya aham, sthito jagat: "By My one plenary portion I expand throughout all the universes, all the living entities. Even within atom I am present." So unless God has got that omnipresence potency everywhere, then how He can be omnipresent? This is one meaning. He is everywhere present by His expansion of His one plenary portion.

Hayagrīva: Augustine disagrees with Origen, who looked on the body as a prison. He says, "If the opinion of Origen and his followers where true, that matter was created, that souls might be enclosed in bodies as in penitentiaries for the punishment of sin, then the higher and lighter bodies should have been for those whose sins were slight, and the lower and heavier ones for those whose crimes were great." So...

Prabhupāda: That is Vedic conception. The soul, he, as he is, he is part and parcel of God, but he is imprisoned in different types of body. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā that "I am the seed-giving father of all different forms of life, and the mother, material nature is the mother." That is actually very logical. Through the matter different varieties of living entities are coming out. From water, from earth, from air, even from fire, ether, everywhere, sarva-gataḥ, life, living entities are visible. Therefore the combination of five elements—earth, water, fire, air—that is the body of the living entities. And the soul is the part and parcel of the Supreme, and the souls are impregnated within this material world by God, and they come out through the womb of the mother, nature or individual mother, whatever you say. The soul is coming out of matter but it is not matter. The living entities, part and parcel of God, assuming different types of body, either you say according to pious or impious activities, or according to his pious and impious desires. Vāsanāḥ. So the desire actually is the cause of higher and lower grades of body, but the soul is the same. Therefore those who are advanced in spiritual consciousness, they see the same soul in, in each and every body. Either in the body of a dog or in the body of a brāhmaṇa, the same soul is existing, but according to different desires and karma one gets a different types of body.

Hayagrīva: Augustine believed that all men came from Adam, that is the first man or one man, and that this one man God created—this one man—and this one man is the root of all mankind. He writes, "God knew how good it would be for this community often to recall that the human race had its roots in one man, precisely to show how pleasing it is to God that men, though many, should be one."

Prabhupāda: They... It is, our Vedic conception is also like that, that the mankind has come from Manu. From Manu, human being, or manuṣya... The Sanskrit word is manuṣya, "coming from Manu." So Manu is also coming from Brahmā. In this way, as the conception of a first creature, Adam, similarly, a first living being is Lord Brahmā. Therefore our proposition is that a living being coming from the living being. Brahmā is living being, or Adam is living being. Then the living being does not come from matter. Brahmā is also coming from the Supreme Lord as raja-guṇa avatāra, incarnation of raja-guṇa. So all living being, they are coming from the Supreme Living Being. So Brahmā is also the first creature within this universe.

Hayagrīva: Augustine... Just as Augustine saw that the soul is created into a particular body, he felt that this was a gift from God, and that this was not an...

Prabhupāda: Soul is coming from particular body?

Hayagrīva: That the soul is created at a particular time... We went though this yesterday, I believe.

Prabhupāda: Hm.

Hayagrīva: The belief in the creation of the soul. The soul is created, and that the body is a gift. And he also rejects, on the basis of this, he rejects reincarnation. He writes, "Let these Platonists..." Because Plato believed in it, reincarnation. "Let these Platonists stop threatening us with reincarnation as a punishment for our souls. Reincarnation is ridiculous. There is no such thing as a return to this life for the punishment of souls. If our creation, even as mortals, is due to God..."

Prabhupāda: Punishment of the soul? What is that return?

Hayagrīva: He says, "There is no such thing as a return to this life for the punishment of souls." And the reason he gives, he says, "If our..."

Prabhupāda: Soul is life. What does it mean, "returning to the life"?

Hayagrīva: He believes there is no reincarnation as punishment. Reincarnation is envisioned as a kind of a punishment. To have to take birth again is a type of punishment, and Augustine rejects this, saying that how can the return to bodies, which are gifts of God, be punishment? He doesn't see how that this is a form of...

Prabhupāda: But does he think that the body of a hog and the body of similar lower creatures eating stool and living in filthy place, is it not punishment? Does he think like that? Why one gets the body of King Indra or Lord Brahmā and why one gets the body of a pig and hog, and living in filthy place and eating stool? Is it not punishment and reward?

Hayagrīva: Well, he would say that, um...

Prabhupāda: How he explains the body of a pig eating stool?

Hayagrīva: I've been putting this off. He wouldn't agree that man could be reincarnated as an animal.

Prabhupāda: Why, why he will not agree? If a body is a gift by God, then body can be a punishment also by God.

Hayagrīva: Yes.

Prabhupāda: This is reasonable. When he is punished, he gets the body of a pig. When he is rewarded, he gets the body of King Indra. So that is punishment and reward.

Hayagrīva: What about the body of a man? Is that punishment or gift?

Prabhupāda: Man, man, there are many men who are very well situated and there are many men who are suffering. So two things are there according, suffering and enjoyment, according to the body. So this has been explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ (BG 2.14). According to the body the heat and, what is called, cold? Heat or cold?

Hayagrīva: Hm.

Prabhupāda: Sītā uṣṇa. That is perceived. An old man perceives very much cold, and a young child, he does not perceive—according to the body. An animal, naked body, he can walk on the street in severe cold, but a man cannot. So this body is the source of suffering and enjoying. So why not take it as punishment and reward?

Hayagrīva: Well, Augustine believes that each individual man, or each individual soul within man, is not necessarily condemned to earth due to his own personal desire or sin but due to the original sin of Adam, the first man. He writes, "When the first couple," that's Adam and Eve, "were punished by the judgment of God, the whole human race, which was to become Adam's posterity through the first woman, was present in the first man." So that was the origin of sin and death. So man's sin is not personal. The reason I'm in..., conditioned in this human body is not because I personally committed a mistake...

Prabhupāda: Your becoming conditioned is punishment. Why you should be conditioned?

Hayagrīva: For my..., as punishment for my own desire.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: For my personal desire.

Prabhupāda: Then why does he say there is not punishment?

Hayagrīva: But here he says it's because not for anything I did, but because of the original man, the sin of the original man, that everyone coming from the original man is...

Prabhupāda: Original man was punished. So the next man, he, why he comes to such father, unless he is punished? Sometimes father's disease is inherited by the son. Is it not punishment?

Hayagrīva: Yes. So the very coming into...

Prabhupāda: Body.

Hayagrīva: ...the race is a punishment in itself.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: He says this on the one hand, and on the other hand he says it's a gift, not a punishment.

Prabhupāda: Yes, gift you can take. If you take it that it is given by God, so it is gift. "God has given me this body for punishment. It is His mercy that undergoing punishment I am becoming purified, making progress towards God." The devotees, they think like that. Although it is punishment, they take it as reward, because by undergoing the punishment he is making progress towards God-realization. In that sense it is a gift. Gift actually means something given by somebody. So when it is given by God for our correction, it can be taken as gift.

Hayagrīva: Augustine believes that the physical body comes first, and then the spiritual. "What is so in a natural body arises a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. But it is not the spiritual which comes first, but the physical and then the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, earthy. The second man is from heaven, heavenly. But the body which, by the life-giving spirit will become spiritual and immortal, will under no conditions be able to die." So that man must first come as a, as man, as a mortal, physical being first, in order to attain immortality.

Prabhupāda: Why man? Every living entity has a mortal body. So to enter into the mortal body, that is a kind of punishment. And then there is evolutionary process from lower grade of body to higher grade of body. That is quite reasonable, that every living entity or soul is part and parcel of God, but on account of some sinful activities or disobedience to God, as they believe Adam on account of disobedience to God they lost Paradise and came to this material world, similarly, the soul belongs to the Paradise, or heaven, or Kṛṣṇa, but somehow or other he falls down within this material world, and he gets first a body like Adam. But again, on account of his further, low-grade activities, he goes down, sometimes as human being or sometimes as more than human being—the demigod—and sometimes as animal, trees, plants. In this way he goes down, degradation, or goes up by elevation. But he is always aloof from the material body, but according to his desires and activity he gets different body. This is quite reasonable and confirmed by the Vedic literature. But his actual life is when he is freed from this material contamination, getting different bodies life after life.

Hayagrīva: Augustine conceived of peace in this way. He says, "Peace between a mortal man and his maker consists in ordered obedience guided by faith under God's eternal law. Peace between man and man consists in regulated fellowship. The peace of the heavenly city lies in a perfectly ordered and harmonious communion of those who find their joy in God and in one another in God." So that peace in its final sense is the calm that comes out of this order.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Peace means to come in contact perfectly with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is peace. When a man is in ignorance, he thinks that he is the enjoyer of this world, but when he comes in contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Controller, he understands that God is enjoyer; we are not enjoyer. We are servants to supply the needs of enjoyment of God. That is our life. Just like a servant supplies the needs of the master. The master has no need, but he enjoys the company of the servant, and the servant enjoys the company of the master, because our relationship is as master and servant. A servant getting a good, nice government job is very happy, and similarly the master is also happy getting a very faithful servant. This is the relationship. So when this relationship is disturbed, that is called existence in māyā, and when this relationship is restored, that is called spiritual life. So in the spiritual consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one understands that the Supreme Lord is the actual enjoyer; we are servant. The Supreme Lord is the actual proprietor, and we are residents. And bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram (BG 5.29). And Supreme Lord is the Supreme well-wisher, friend of everyone. When a living being understands these three features of God's transcendental quality, he becomes happy.

Hayagrīva: Augustine writes, "No man must be so committed to contemplation as in his contemplation to give no thought to his neighbor's needs, nor so absorbed in action as to dispense with the contemplation of God." So he felt that activity and meditation, neither should be exclusive, but they should complement one another. They should go together.

Prabhupāda: That means devotional activities.

Hayagrīva: There should be both activity and meditation, not just one exclusive.

Prabhupāda: Meditation, when you are active, the meditation is already there. Unless you think of God, how you can be active in the service of God? So meditation about whom? Meditation about the Supreme Personality of Godhead or the Supersoul within the core of heart, that is real meditation, and activities more important than meditation. If I simply sit down and think of God, that is very good, but if I factually work for God as God desires, that is more important than meditation. If you love me and simply think of me, that may be taken as meditation, but if you love me, if you carry out my orders, that is more important.

Hayagrīva: Augustine says...

Prabhupāda: You can call this (indistinct) here. Now.

Devotee: It's ten to, ten minutes to six.

Prabhupāda: So we shall finish up.

Hayagrīva: We will finish, we can finish Augustine.

Prabhupāda: Hm.

Hayagrīva: He conceived of the spiritual world as a place where the bodies are very beautiful, are very happy, they move with, with grace. The... God is the source of every satisfaction and is the consummation of all desires. The people in the spiritual sky never cease praising God, never tire of praising Him. There is no envy, and bliss is all-pervasive. Sin has no power of temptation.

Prabhupāda: Yes. When he, we remain in contact with God, the sin cannot touch. That is the explanation given in the Bhagavad-gītā: daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā (BG 7.14). According to our desires we are associating with the different qualities of material nature, and we are getting different types of body. Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgaḥ asya. Nature is the agent of Kṛṣṇa, God, so as we desire, Kṛṣṇa gives us the facility by giving us a body which is a machine. Just like father and the son. The son insists, "Father, give me a cycle." So the affectionate father gives him a cycle. And he says, "Father, give me a motorcar." So affectionate father gives him a motorcar. So this is the relationship between the father and the son. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, that,

īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
hṛd-deśe 'rjuna tiṣṭhati
bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni
yantrārūḍhāni māyayā
(BG 18.61)

The father, or Kṛṣṇa, is there within the core of heart of every living entity, and as he desires, the father supplies him a type of vehicle manufactured by the material nature. So this body is given by God because we desire it, but the body is manufactured by the material nature. This is very reasonable. So we are in different types of body means in different types of vehicle, sometimes as acting on the vehicle of a pig, and sometimes we are acting on the vehicle of a very important person or demigod. But we desire such thing, and God gives us such vehicle manufactured by the material nature.

Hayagrīva: This, this is the last point. It's actually very crucial. For Augustine, the mind, reason and soul are one and the same, and he writes...

Prabhupāda: Mind, reason?

Hayagrīva: Mind, reason and the soul are all wrapped up together.

Prabhupāda: Wrapped up. But there are different identities. Intelligence... Everyone has got mind, but the mind acts under intelligence. But the intelligence of different living entities are different. Similarly mind is also different. A dog's intelligence is not equal to the intelligence of the human being. A dog's mind is not equal to the human being's mind. So actually the soul, being put under different types of body using different types of intelligence, and different some mental, psychic action, thinking, feeling, willing. So according to the body, the mind and intelligence are different.

Hayagrīva: Well, this..., thinking in this way Augustine writes, he says, "We do not apply 'Thou shalt not kill' to plants, because they have no sensation, or to irrational animals that fly, swim, walk or creep, because they are linked to us by no association or common bond. By the creator's wise ordinance they are meant for our use, dead or alive. It only remains for us to apply the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' to man alone, oneself and others." So...

Prabhupāda: So that is imagination of Augustine. But Jesus Christ does not say such qualitative killing. He says frankly, "Thou shalt not kill." When he says that, he means, "You should not kill." But when there is absolute necessity, just like he says that "One life is food for the another life..." Does he not say it like that?

Hayagrīva: He says, uh... (break) He says..., this is, this is Augustine writing. He said, "Some people try to stretch the prohibition 'Thou shalt not kill' to cover beasts and cattle and make it unlawful to kill any such animal, but then why not include plants and anything rooted in and feeding on the soil? After all, things like this, though devoid of feeling, are said to have life and therefore can die and so be killed by violent treatment."

Prabhupāda: No, that is not Vedic philosophy. Vedic philosophy admits that one living entity is the food for another living entity. That is natural. That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam,

ahastāni sahastānām
apadāni catuṣ-padām
phalgūni tatra mahatāṁ
jīvo jīvasya jīvanam
SB 1.13.47

Those who have got hands, they eat the animals without hands, only four legs, and the four-legged animals eats the animals which cannot move—that means plants and vegetables. Similarly, the weak is the food for the strong. In this way there is natural law that one living entity is food for another living entity. But our philosophy, Kṛṣṇa consciousness philosophy, is not based on this platform, that plant life is not sensitive and animal life is more sensitive or human life is more sensitive. We take all of them as life, either human being or animal or plants or fish, it doesn't matter. That is inevitable. Either you eat animal or vegetable, you eat some living entity. That is inevitable. You cannot avoid. Now it it the question of selection. That, of course, is there. But apart from this vegetarian or nonvegetarian diet, we are concerned with Kṛṣṇa prasādam. Kṛṣṇa, whatever..., our philosophy is whatever Kṛṣṇa eats, we take the remnants of His foodstuff. So Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, "You give Me food, and prepared from patraṁ phalaṁ toyam, vegetation." So if by killing vegetable or plant there is any sin, that, that is Kṛṣṇa's. We simply eat after His eating. This is our philosophy. We are not after vegetarian diet or nonvegetarian diet. Whatever Kṛṣṇa eats, we take the remnants of food.

Hayagrīva: So that's the conclusion of Augustine. (end)