Philosophy Discussion on Thomas Aquinas

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AQUINAS.HAY
Plato
Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274)

Hayagrīva: This is St. Thomas, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Aquinas, who lived from 1225-1274. He compiled the entire body of Church philosophy called Summa Theologe, and the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas is the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church. He, unlike Augustine, he did not distinguish so sharply between the material world and the spiritual world, or between secular society and the city of God. He felt that the entire creation, both material and spiritual, has its origin in the Personality of Godhead. He acknowledges at the same time that the spiritual world is superior to the material world.

Prabhupāda: Yes. (indistinct) Material world means temporary, and some philosophers, like the Māyāvādīs, they say it is false. But we Vaiṣṇavas, we don't say it is false, but it is temporary illusion. It is reflection of the spiritual world, but there is no reality. Sometimes it is compared with the mirage in the desert. There is no water in the desert, but sometimes, by reflection of the sun, it appears that there is water. Similarly, in the material world there is no happiness, but the transcendental bliss and happiness existing in the spiritual world is reflected here, and those who are less intelligent, they are after this illusory happiness, forgetting real happiness in the spiritual life.

Hayagrīva: Aquinas believed that truths, religious truths, are attained through both reason and revelation. He ascribed to Anselm's statement, "I believe in all that I may understand," and also to Abelard's, "I understand in order that I may believe," so that reason and revelation complement one another as a means to truth.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Truth, through reason, that is... Of course human reason is not perfect; therefore revelation also wanted. So that truth arrived at by logic, philosophy and revelation, that is real truth. Our process is to arrive the truth through guru, spiritual master, and he is accepted as representative of the Absolute Truth, Personality of Godhead, and he carries the message of truth because he has seen the Absolute Truth through disciplic succession. So if we accept the bona fide spiritual master (as) representative of God and please him by submissive service, then by his mercy and pleasure we can understand God, the spiritual world, by revelation. We offer, therefore, our great respect to the spiritual master and say, yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo **. If you can please the spiritual master, who is carrying the message of the Lord without any speculation, then God becomes revealed. Another place it is said, sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ (Brs. 1.2.234). When we engage our senses in the spirit of service to the Supreme Lord, then Lord becomes revealed. In another place it is said, teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam, buddhi-yogaṁ dadāmi tam. The Lord is there, but one who is engaged in loving service to the Lord, he gets direct connection with the Lord, and the instruction also, so that the devotee may be able to enter the spiritual world.

Hayagrīva: Aquinas believed that God is the only single essence that consists of pure form. He felt that matter is only a potential and, in order to be real, must assume a certain shape or form. "Being in the universe have to acquire an individual form in order to actualize themselves. When matter unites with form, the form gives an object its individuality and personality." A form gives an object its individuality and personality.

Prabhupāda: Yes. The mat..., matter has no form. The spirit soul has got form. Though the matter is covering the actual form of the spirit soul, the matter appears to have form. Just like the original cloth has no form, but when the tailor cuts the cloth according to the body of the person, then the shirt and coat takes a form. The matter itself has no form. When you take clay, it has no form, but if you make it like a doll, like a man or woman, then it has a form. When the change the clay, and you manufacture a fort, then the fort has form. So form and formlessness is of the matter, but in the spiritual world everything has got form. The spirit soul has got form. God has got form. This is the truth.

Hayagrīva: Aquinas believed that only God and the angels have form that is not material. There is no difference between God's form and His spiritual self.

Prabhupāda: Yes. As in the material world any form-man or beast or anyone—in the outward, external covering is matter, but within the matter there is the soul. The soul has form and God has form. That is real form. And the material form is simply shirting and coating over the spiritual body.

Hayagrīva: Aquinas gives five arguments for God's existence. The first is that there must be a first cause, a first cause of everything. The second is similar in saying the material world cannot create itself but requires something external or spiritual to bring it into existence. And the third argument claims that because the world exists, there must be a creator capable of bringing it into existence. The fourth states that since there is relative perfection in the world, there must be absolute perfection underlying this relative perfection. And the fifth is the argument from design: because the creation has design and purpose there must be a designer and planner. So at this time they were very concerned with arguments for the existence of God, and Aquinas gave these five.

Prabhupāda: Yes. We also forward these kinds of arguments. Just like we say that there is the mother and the children. The mother is the material world, and there are so many forms of children. So when the mother is existing and the children are existing, then the father must exist. Without father, how there can be children? This is your strongest argument, that these foolish philosophers contemplate without God, or "God is dead," or so many godlessness in different way, but our philosophy is strong on the fact that there must be creator of this family, mother and sons. The father must be there. What are the other arguments?

Hayagrīva: Well, the first cause, as in Brahma-saṁhitā.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam (Bs. 5.1). Yes, that is also admitted by us, that everything has got cause, and when you reach to the ultimate cause, that is God.

Hayagrīva: Because we have an idea of perfection in the world, or we see relative perfection...

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: ...there must be some absolute perfection.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That the spiritual world is the absolute perfection, and the reflection of the spiritual world is this temporary material world. So whatever perfection we find in this material world, that is derived from the spiritual world. Janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1), the Vedānta-sūtra, that whatever is generated, that is the param... Whatever is generated, it is from the Absolute Truth.

Hayagrīva: And the, I believe the statement that "Since in the material world we see that nothing can create itself..." It requires something different...

Prabhupāda: Yes. Brain.

Hayagrīva: ...to bring it into existence.

Prabhupāda: Brain, yes.

Hayagrīva: Not..., nonmaterial.

Prabhupāda: We don't find, even the biggest mountain cannot create anything, but when the spirit soul or the human being takes a stone, he can give a form to the stone. But the mountain, although it is very big, it cannot give any particular form to the stone. It remains stone.

Hayagrīva: Unlike Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas believed that God created the universe out of nothing and He...

Prabhupāda: No.

Hayagrīva: He created the universe out of nothing.

Prabhupāda: No. The universe is created by God. How you can say "out of nothing"? God is there. So before creation of the universe God was there, so you cannot say that the universe was created out of nothing.

Hayagrīva: Well, but the material universe must have been created out of nothing, because it could not have arisen out of God's spiritual nature.

Prabhupāda: No. The material nature is also inferior nature of God. That is described in the Bhagavad-gītā: bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca (BG 7.4). Apareyam, the material nature, means earth, water, fire, air, ether, and the subtle materials, mind, intelligence, ego. They are all emanation from God, so actually they are not unreal but inferior. They are, it is called, bhinnā me prakṛtir aṣṭadhā. They are separated material energy. We can have a little idea, just like we are speaking in the microphone, and it is being recorded in the tape recorder. When the tape recorder is replayed, the sound coming from exactly like the original person's sound, but it is not in touch with the person, but it has come from the person. If somebody does not see wherefrom the sound is coming, he can conjecture that such and such person speaking, although such and such person is away from that speaking engagement. Similarly, this material world is emanation, is expansion, of energy of the Supreme Lord, but it is not that this material world has come into existence from nothing. No. It has come from the Supreme Truth, but it is inferior energy. The superior energy is the spiritual world, which is reality. This, this cannot be supported, that material world has come from nothing.

Hayagrīva: Was created out of nothing.

Prabhupāda: What?

Hayagrīva: Didn't say... It was created by God out of nothing. In other words...

Prabhupāda: No.

Hayagrīva: ...the prakṛti had a beginning in time.

Prabhupāda: God has created from His energy.

Hayagrīva: But...

Prabhupāda: His energy, you cannot say nothing. Energy exhibited.

Hayagrīva: That energy is eternally existing with Him.

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Yes.

Hayagrīva: So, that's different, that's a different viewpoint.

Prabhupāda: Not viewpoint. Energy must be there. God, if He hasn't got energy, then how He is God? Parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate (CC Madhya 13.65, purport), He has got multi-energies. So this is one of the energy exhibited. So you cannot say from nothing. God is everything.

Hayagrīva: (indistinct)

Prabhupāda: Huh?

Hayagrīva: (indistinct) Again, like Augustine, Aquinas believed that sin and man go together due to Adam's, the first man's original sin. All men require salvation. Salvation can only be attained through God's grace. The individual living entity has to assent by his free will in order for God's grace to function.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is bhakti. Bhakti is devotional service. So you, sevonmukhe hi jihvādau (Brs. 1.2.234), and bhakti is our eternal engagement. So salvation means when you are engaged in our eternal activities, that is called salvation, or liberation. When you are engaged in false activities, that is called māyā. Muktir hitvā anyathā rūpaṁ sva-rūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ. Muktiḥ means to remain in one's own constitutional position. In the material world we are also engaged in different types of activities, but they are with reference to the particular body. In the spiritual world spirit, as he is, is engaged in the service of the Lord. That is liberation.

Hayagrīva: Concerning law and government, Aquinas believed in the Divine Law, which consisted of the commandments of God given in the Bible. Aquinas felt that human laws also have some moral bearing, and that they also emanate indirectly from God, for he felt that all earthly powers exist by God's permission. Ideally, the Church is God's emissary on earth, and Aquinas considered it proper that the Church control earthly secular power as well. That is, he felt the secular rulers should remain subservient to the Church, and he felt that the Church could excommunicate, that means throw out, a monarch or ruler, in which case the ruler could no longer claim his throne. In other words, that the church has not only spiritual power but secular power on earth. Should have.

Prabhupāda: Yes, because the world activities must be regulated to the ultimate goal, understanding of God. Human civilization is meant for understanding God. So although the Church or the brāhmaṇas may not directly handle administrative activities, but it must be done under their supervision, or under their instruction. That is Vedic system. The brāhmaṇa is the Church, and the kṣatriya, the administrator. So the administrator used to take instruction from the brāhmaṇas, or one who can deliver a spiritual message. This is also mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā, that Kṛṣṇa, millions of years ago, He instructed the message of Bhagavad-gītā to the sun-god. Sun-god is the origin of administrators, kṣatriya. So therefore the king, or the kṣatriya who administrators the business of the state, if he follows the instruction of veda through the brāhmaṇa or the Church, then he is called rājarṣi-king, and at the same time saintly person. Although he is king, he is following the instruction of saintly person or the Church. So in this way if the brāhmaṇas or the Church are in order, their instruction is in order, and the administrators, kṣatriya, they follow that instruction, he is in order. So the brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya. Vaiśya, if he follows the instruction of the kṣatriya, he is in order, and śūdras, they have no intelligence; therefore they follow the instruction of the three superior orders. This is the division of the society.

Hayagrīva: Aquinas considered sins to be both venial, that is petty, and mortal. The venial sin can be pardoned, but the mortal sin cannot be pardoned. Consequently, the mortal sin stains the soul. Is there anything like this?

Prabhupāda: Yes. The mortal, mortal sin, mortal sin?

Hayagrīva: Mortal sin. A mortal sin would be a breaking of one of the direct commandments of God given in the Bible, such as "Thou shall not kill."

Prabhupāda: So anyway, we also have similar passage, that kṛṣṇa bhuliya jīva bhoga vāñchā kare (Prema-vivarta). This is mortal sins, when the living entity disobeys the order of God, he is put into this material world, and that is his punishment. And he either rectifies himself by good association or he continues this transmigration one body after another and suffers this tribulations of material existence.

Hayagrīva: But in any case, how can a sin, any sin, stain the soul if the soul cannot be stained in any way?

Prabhupāda: He is not stained, but as spirit soul, but he can be put into sinful activity. Just like the water and the oil, if you put the oil on the water, it does not mix with the water, it remains as separate from the water, but he is carried away, this. The oil floating on the water is carried away by the water. So that means as soon as we put in material contact then, on account of our contact, we are practically under the clutches of the water, or material world. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27). As soon as the living entity puts himself in the material world, he loses his own power. He is completely under the clutches of the water. This is the exact similarity. The oil never mixes with the water, but as soon as the oil is in touch with the water, it is being carried away by the waves of the water. (break)

Hayagrīva: Continuation of Aquinas. Aquinas felt that the monastic vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience gave one a direct path to God but that they are not meant for the masses of men. He conceived of life as a pilgrimage through the world of the senses, through the world of nature, and to the spiritual world of God's grace. These, when a..., when one enters a monastery he takes a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, these three vows.

Prabhupāda: Yes. It is called tapasya. According to Vedic instruction one must take to the path of tapasya. Tapasya means voluntarily self-denial, sense gratification denial. That is tapasya. Tapasā brahmacaryeṇa (SB 6.1.13). Tapasya, our austerity begins with brahmacarya, celibacy, no sex life. That is the beginning of tapasya. Tapasā brahmacaryeṇa śamena damena vā, controlling the senses, controlling the mind. Then tyāgena, renouncement or giving in charity, whatever you have got, for the service of the Lord, tyāgena; satya-śaucābhyām, by following the path of truthfulness and remaining cleansed; yamena niyamena vā, by practice of mystic yoga. In this way one makes advancement towards spiritual kingdom or spiritual world. But all these can be totally performed simply by engaging oneself in devotional service. That is also stated: kecit kevalayā bhaktyā vāsudeva-parāyaṇāḥ (SB 6.1.15). If one becomes devotee of Lord Vasudeva, Kṛṣṇa, then simply by executing devotional service he attains the result of austerity, celibacy, and mystic yoga practice, and the result of charity, truthfulness, cleanliness—everything attains simultaneously, without separate effort. Therefore our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is spreading devotional service. By one stroke, the candidate can attain the results of all other processes.

Hayagrīva: This is a point where Catholic doctrine seems to differ. Aquinas did not believe in a soul per say, or pure soul per say, as divorced from a particular form. God did not simply create a soul. He created an angelic soul, or the soul of a demigod, a human soul, an animal soul, a plant soul, etc. He believed that simply to create a pure soul, a being, would be almost the same as creating God Himself.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: So again we see the Christian conception that God created the soul out of nothing.

Prabhupāda: No. The soul is created and... Actually not created. Soul is existing along with God, just like the sparks of fire is existing with the fire. But the difference between the two fire is that the sparks may be separated from the big fire, and when it is separated, is loses its illumination. Similarly, an individual soul is already there. The master is there and the servants are there, eternally. Just like the body is there, the parts of the body are also there. We cannot say that the parts of the body is separately created. As soon as the body is there, the fingers of the body are there, the other limbs and parts of the body are all there. The soul is never created or never dead. It is explained in the Bhāgavata, na jāyate vā mriyate vā. Soul has neither creation nor death. It appears, because the soul has accepted this material body, with the end of this material body it appears that somebody is dead. But he is not dead. He simply transfers from this body to another body, and when he is liberated, then he hasn't got to accept any more material body. Then in his original, spiritual body he goes back to home, back to Godhead. So actually the soul is never created. It is always existing with God, and this is nice that if it is accepted the soul is created, then God is also Supreme Soul—the question may be raised that He is also created. So that is not the fact. God is eternal, and His part and parcels are also eternal. The only difference is that God never accepts this material body, but the individual soul, being small particle, it may be sometimes he succumbs by the material energy.

Hayagrīva: So..., but the soul is eternally existing with God in some form?

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: Well that..., well then maybe this is saying the same thing. "By its nature the form of the soul is the form of the body. It is that form incorruptible."

Prabhupāda: No. The form..., material body is imitation, is false. Real body is the spiritual body. Because the spiritual body has form, the coating of the spiritual body by matter takes a form, as I have already explained, that the shirt and coat originally has no form, but when the shirt and coat is cut by the tailor according the form of the man, it takes a form. So actually this material form is illusion. It is not form. It, it takes the form, and when it is old enough, no more use, it again comes to the original position, earth. "Dust thou art, dust thou beist." This form is made by the material nature. It is just like a machine. Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni yantrārūḍhāni māyayā (BG 18.61). The soul has its own form, but he is given a machine, a particular machine, which is this body, and therefore he enjoys by wandering throughout the whole universe in different conditions of life.

Hayagrīva: I think the problem with all of these is that they cannot conceive of spiritual form. When they speak of form they are thinking that there must necessarily be matter involved. Aquinas believed that the Augustinian and Platonic doctrines of the complete independence of the soul from matter or the material body denied man's substantial unity. That is, man is body and soul. He is a particular type of soul in a particular type of body.

Prabhupāda: It..., it is the same argument, that when you are dressed it appears that you are not different from the dress. The coat is moving, the pants is moving, but actually it is completely different from the person who is putting on the coat and shirt.

Hayagrīva: So in other words they, he, he actually had no idea of spiritual form as such.

Prabhupāda: Yes, yes.

Hayagrīva: He considered that matter was necessary to give the soul form.

Prabhupāda: No. He has got his original form.

Hayagrīva: Original form?

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: Which is the form of the body.

Prabhupāda: Original form, that is the form of the spirit.

Hayagrīva: Of the spirit.

Prabhupāda: Yes. And the form of the body takes place on account of the form of the spirit. This is very nice example. The cloth has no form, but when it is cut according to the form of the gentleman, it takes a form. Similarly, matter has no form. When it is coated on the spiritual form of the soul, it takes the form. This is very easy to understand.

Hayagrīva: To get on to another point, Aquinas believed, or rather he opposed sex for any purpose other than the begetting of children, and not only should sex be used only for the begetting of children, but that when one begets children one takes the responsibility of giving them a spiritual education.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is Vedic injunction, that don't beget children unless you can give the children relief from the cycle of birth and death. One should not become father and mother. That is responsible father and mother. And without this responsibility, if a man gives birth to a child and if a woman bears the pregnancy, that is prohibited. One should not become a father, one should not become a mother unless they are competent to give freedom to the children from the cycle of birth and death.

Hayagrīva: His argument, well, he says, "Marriage is natural to man, and an irregular connection outside of marriage is contrary to the good of man; therefore fornication must be sinful."

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: But he goes on to argue, "The inordinate emission of semen is repugnant to the good of nature, which is the conservation of the species. Hence, after the sin of murder, whereby human nature already in actual existence is destroyed, this sort of sin seems to hold a second place whereby the generation of human nature is precluded." Well how, people today would ask, how could the argument of the generation or the, the conservation of the species still hold, since there's so many human beings, since there are almost four billion human beings on this earth, how could this argument still hold that, uh...?

Prabhupāda: That, what is that argument?

Hayagrīva: That sex is only to beget children, for propagation of the species, and any other use is...

Prabhupāda: Sinful.

Hayagrīva: ...sinful.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That we recommend in our, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness: no illicit sex. Illicit sex means not producing..., not for producing children but for enjoyment. That is sinful. And...

Hayagrīva: Well the conservation, what he calls the conservation of the species, that doesn't enter into it.

Prabhupāda: No. The soul is already explained, that it has nothing to do with the body, but he has to accept a certain type of body on account of his association with certain type of modes of nature.

Hayagrīva: So this is actually a faulty argument to say that, that illicit sex is sinful because it threatens the conservation of the species.

Prabhupāda: Illicit sex is sinful. Illicit sex is sinful, because it is not meant for begetting child; it is for sense gratification. Sense gratification in any form is sinful.

Hayagrīva: He believed, like Plato, in an enlightened monarch ruling, but in certain cases Aquinas believed that it was not necessary for men to obey...

Hari-śauri: (aside:) It wasn't very much, just, uh... I can... Shall I cut another one?

Prabhupāda: No.

Hayagrīva: ...that it was not necessary for man to obey human laws if these laws were opposed to human welfare and were...

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: ...instruments of violence.

Prabhupāda: This is very good. First of all they must know what is the welfare of the human being. Unfortunately, with advancement of so-called material education, the human society is missing the aim of life. The aim of life is declared openly in the Vedānta philosophy, athāto brahma jijñāsā. This is the aim of human life. In the Bhāgavata it is said, jīvasya tattva-jijñāsā. The life is meant for understanding the Absolute Truth. That is the aim of human life. The whole Vedic civilization is based on this principle. But on account of deviating from the original Vedic civilization, they have dedicated the human form of life in so many unnecessary scientific discoveries, that discovery, which will not give him any relief to the human society. The real tribulation of life is birth, death and disease and old age. So the so-called advancement of material civilization has not solved the real problem of life, and the aim of human life is to solve the real problem of human life. The real problem of life, that we are eternal, as eternal as God, but we are subjected to birth and death. So with the poor fund of knowledge in the Kali-yuga, people being very bad, or slow for self-realization, and they create their own way of life, mandāḥ sumanda-matayo (SB 1.1.10), and they are unfortunate and, and disturbed. Disturbance is always there, but they are not mindful about the real disturbances of life. Now, on the whole in this age, practically the human being has become like animal. The animal, although always in disturbed condition, cannot understand the aim of life, what is his position. So this type of civilization is very, very dangerous to the human society, that they have no aim of life.

Hayagrīva: So he concludes we must obey God rather than men, in terms of laws.

Prabhupāda: Yes. We can obey such man who obeys the laws of God. Otherwise they..., it is useless to obey an imperfect person. Andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānāḥ (SB 7.5.31). To obey the imperfect person means just like a blind man following other blind man. So what benefit he will get? If one blind man is begging help from others, "Please help me in crossing the road," if another blind man comes and he says, "Yes, come on with me," so what will be the result? Both will be crushed by accident. So any, any person who does not follow the instruction of the Supreme Controller, he is a blind person. He cannot lead. As we are concerned, we therefore don't accept the so-called scientist's or philosopher's belief. They say, "We believe," "Perhaps it may be like this." These are all doubtful declaration. There is no truth in it. If there is any truth, that is also doubtful. Why should we risk our life by following such blind man who is thinking, who is believing, but he has no clear knowledge? Therefore we have decided to take lesson from the Supreme Person, Kṛṣṇa, who knows everything perfectly well. Vedāhaṁ samatītāni (BG 7.26). He knows past, present and future, and what is our benefit, welfare, everything. So we should follow Kṛṣṇa instead of so-called blind philosophers.

Hayagrīva: Aquinas writes on beauty and contrasts the absolute beauty of God, which is beautiful in all times and all places, absolute beauty. He contrasts this with the relative beauty that we find in the world, and he says, "He is beautiful in Himself and not in relation to some limited terminus," that is God. "Hence, it is clear that the being of all things is derived from the Divine beauty. By God's own beauty He wishes to multiply it as far as possible; that is to say, by the communication of His likeness. Indeed, all things are made in order to imitate Divine beauty in some fashion."

Prabhupāda: Yes. God is the reservoir of all knowledge, all beauty, all strength, all renunciation, all riches. He is the reservoir of everything; therefore He is God. So beauty, whatever we see beautiful, that is emanation from, a very minute percentage of God's beauty. (aside:) Who paid this?

Hari-śauri: Someone gave it this morning.

Hayagrīva: Concerning theology and philosophy, Aquinas writes, "Just as sacred doctrine is based on the light of faith, so is philosophy founded on the natural light of reason. Hence it is impossible for items that belong to philosophy to be contrary to those that pertain to faith, but the former may be defective." That is, philosophy may be defective in comparison with, with the latter, theology, which is based on faith. "If any point among the statements of the philosophers is found contrary to faith, this is not philosophy but rather an abuse of philosophy resulting from a defect in reasoning."

Prabhupāda: Yes. That we say, that every man is defective on account of his material condition of life. So philosophy coming from such defect persons cannot be any good for the human society. Philosophy coming from a person who is in contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that is perfect. That will benefit human society. And the speculative philosopher, who has no definite idea, simply basing on his belief or imagination, by following such philosophy nobody will be benefited; rather, he will be deviated from the actual philosophy of life.

Hayagrīva: So he concludes that Divine revelation is absolutely necessary, because by the philosophical method very few men could arrive at the truth, and only after a long time and many errors.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That's a fact. The so-called philosophers, they are imperfect, so there is no need of consulting them. Our path is that you directly contact the Supreme Person in knowledge, who has got complete knowledge—Kṛṣṇa—and we take His instructions and try to follow Him.

Hayagrīva: This knowledge based on revelation or scripture is called sacred doctrine or scripture. He says it, this scripture, "does not provide information about God and about creatures in equal fashion, but about God principally and about creatures as they are related to God as to a source or to an end. Hence the unity of the science is not ended." So scripture for him is the science of God.

Prabhupāda: This is science of God.

Hayagrīva: Yes.

Prabhupāda: God is explaining Himself... (break)

Hayagrīva: This is a continuation of Thomas Aquinas. We've been discussing sacred doctrine, which is the same as scripture. He states that the only author of sacred scripture is God Himself, within whose power is not only to adjust words to their meaning, which even man can do, but also to adjust things themselves. In reading the scripture, one should avoid two mistakes. 1) One should not think that they can be false in any way.

Prabhupāda: False?

Hayagrīva: That there's no falsity.

Prabhupāda: Oh.

Hayagrīva: Falsity cannot form the basis of Divine scripture, which has been handed down by the Holy Spirit. That's one mistake one can make in reading scripture. Another, he says, "No one should try to restrict scripture to one meaning to such an extent that other meanings containing some truth and quite possible in relation to the context would be excluded. In fact it belongs to the dignity of Divine scripture to contain many meanings in one text, so that in this way it may be appropriate to the various understandings of men."

Prabhupāda: Meaning is one, but interpreter are different. Just like even in the Bible it is said, "God created the universe." So that is a fact, God created. So unless you interpret in a different way, how you can say that the universe is created by some chunk and this way and that way? So we accept scripture in that sense, without any change; therefore we are presenting Bhagavad-gītā as it is. We cannot change the words of God. That is our principle. And interpretation with motive, there are so many interpreter, and that has spoiled the God consciousness of the human society.

Hayagrīva: Well this is rather strange, because Aquinas, his writings form the doctrine of the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church has always emphasized one meaning, which is interpreted by the Pope, by the head of the Church. The meaning is given by the Pope, of scripture, because...

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is...

Hayagrīva: But here he says that the scriptures may contain many meanings according to one's degree of realization.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Not many meaning. Meaning is one, but if one is not realized, then he can make many meanings. Otherwise meaning is one. What can be any other meaning? Suppose God created this universe. This is stated in the Bible, or in the Bhagavad-gītā the same thing is expressed in a different way, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate (BG 10.8): "From Me everything emanates." So that's a fact, that everything is coming out from God's energy, so why there should be second meaning and second interpretation unless one is godless? What is the possible second meaning?

Hayagrīva: That means...

Prabhupāda: God created, that's all accepted. God created. What the second meaning?

Hayagrīva: Well, he would give the example of the creation of God walking through... In the Bible it's stated that God walks through Paradise in the afternoon. He would cite this...

Prabhupāda: No, no, God...

Hayagrīva: ...as having an interior meaning.

Prabhupāda: If God can create, He can walk also, He can speak also, He can touch also, He can see also. God is a person. So where is the second meaning? What is the possible second meaning?

Hayagrīva: The second meaning, as far as I could see, would be based on an impersonal interpretation.

Prabhupāda: So God cannot be impersonal. If He is creator, how He can be impersonal? He must be person; otherwise there is no meaning. (break) (end)