His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
BUDDHISM FROM THE KRSNA CONSCIOUSNESS POINT OF VIEW
QUESTION: Hare Krsna Prabhuji! Could you please
explain a bit more about buddhist ahimsa, nothingness and why shouldn't they care about doing good deeds? Thank you
ANSWER: Let me start with a conversation Srila Prabhupada had with a Buddhist guest on June the 14th, 1974 in Paris, France.
Prabhupada: The soul is a person.
Buddhist: What do you define by person then? Because our experience is this person.
Prabhupada: Just like I am a living being; I have got living force. You have got living force. But we are talking as person.
Buddhist: How is it that the soul is also a person?
Prabhupada: Because I am soul, you are soul, we keep our person. That is person.
Buddhist: We are only distinct individuals because of the bodily difference. We are persons now, but afterwards we become one.
Prabhupada: Not bodily. The reason why you have individual body is because you are individual. For example, my coat is cut according to me. I am not cut according to my coat. The dress is made according to the person. The person does not become shaped according to his dress.
Buddhist: I don't see how this example applies.
Prabhupada: Why not?
Buddhist: In our philosophy, it's more important to resolve the problem of why man is suffering rather than discuss whether the soul is a person or not.
Prabhupada: Because he has got different dress he must be a different person.
Buddhist: But what is the conclusion? If the soul is a person, how does that help us to solve the problem of the man's suffering?
Prabhupada: Why man is suffering is another thing. First of all, we have to find out what type of disease he is suffering from. If the disease is cured, automatically the suffering is cured also.
Buddhist: There's an old Buddhist saying that if you are pierced with an arrow, it's not so much important to discuss how the arrow got there. You, however suggest to define the disease before curing it.
Prabhupäda: No, we do not care how the arrows got there. The arrows are there, you must take them out.
Buddhist: That is my point also.
Prabhupäda: Yes. So the cause of the disease is the forgetfulness of one’s self. This is why a man is suffering.
Buddhist: That is the actual problem, to find out our real self.
Prabhupäda: Suppose a sane man becomes insane. That insanity should be cured. Then he becomes a sane man.
Buddhist: Yes, he must understand that he is crazy.
Prabhupäda: Yes. He must know. He may understand or not understand. Somehow or other, he has become crazy. So if the craziness is cured, then he is normal man.
Buddhist: But if a man understands that he is crazy, then he is not crazy any more.
Yogeçvara: Prabhupäda says somehow or other, if he understands or not, if he gets cured of his insanity...
Prabhupäda: So the insanity is just like being dressed and identifying yourself with the dress.That is insanity.
Buddhist: I agree. That means to be identified with the appearance.
Prabhupäda: So that is insanity. We are actually the living force, soul, but we are identifying at the present moment with the material body. Everyone is thinking, "I am Japanese, I am Englishman, I am German, I am Indian, I am white, I am black," but that is his insanity. So this insanity should be cured. One should understand: "I am not this body; I am spirit soul." And when he understands that he is spirit soul, he should be engaged in the business of the spirit soul. While misidentifying himself with this body he is engaged in the bodily activities. So when he stops his bodily activities and he begins his spiritual activities, then he will be cured. So far bodily pains and pleasure, that will be automatically cured when he understands that he is not body. Just like I feel heat and cold it is on account of this body.
Buddhist: We believe that the soul and the body is one thing.
Prabhupäda: How is it one?
Buddhist: We have one body, we have the soul, and these two things cannot be separated.
Prabhupäda: Then how a man becomes dead?
Buddhist: Man is like a phenomenon. He appears and he disappears. And when he disappears, he merge in the cosmic force. Like anything else. For example like a flower that grows and dies and merges again into the earth.
Prabhupäda: Merges? You do not believe in the reincarnation, next birth?
Buddhist: There is no personal reincarnation of the soul.
Prabhupäda: So what were you before your birth?
Buddhist: I have no answer, but the Zen philosophy has one answer.
Prabhupäda: Zen philosophy answer?
Buddhist: I was that cosmic force. Before birth, man was the universality of everything.
Prabhupäda: And what you are now?
Buddhist: Now I am myself.
Prabhupäda: So how you became from zero?
Påthu Putra: My point is that I don't think that man is more important than the flower or the table. It's all the same.
Prabhupäda: Then why are you anxious for man's suffering?
Påthu Putra: The man is there. The suffering is there.
Prabhupäda: No. Why are you bothering about suffering? You were zero in the beginning, and you will be zero in the future and at present you are also zero.
The general understanding of Buddhist philosophy is that it consists of Four noble truths: 1) there is suffering 2)the suffering has its origin in desire 3) by becoming free from desires one attains freedom from suffering (nirvana) 4) this can be accomplished by practising the eightfold path (set of rules). Nirvana refers to a state when one ceases to be the self. In other words, all the suffering is caused by the very idea of being an individual. If the ego iceases to be, automatically all the suffering is gone. Although the Buddhist teachers might present various elaborations and details, this is the Buddhist philosophy in a nutshell. So without getting distracted by the details, let's look at these basic root concepts of the Buddhists from the point of view of practitioners of Krsna consciosness.
1. There is suffering
Yes, there is definetely suffering in the material world. Therefore it is also called Martyaloka (the world of death). Krsna, the supreme creator of this world declares in the Bhagavadgita:
From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place.
It would be foolish to say that this world is not full of suffering, if the supreme creator himself says it is so.
According to the Vedas, there are three miseries one is experiecing all the time: a) suffering casued by the body and mind b)suffering caused by other living entities c) sufferings caused by natural calamities Besides these, there are the 4 basic sufferings of the body: birth, death, old age, disease. Krsna defines in the 13th chapter of the Bhagavadgita different items of knowledge. One of the items is the "perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease. Srila Prabhupada comments in the purport:
One should try to understand the distress of accepting birth, death, old age and disease. There are descriptions in various Vedic literatures of birth. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam the world of the unborn, the child's stay in the womb of the mother, its suffering, etc., are all very graphically described. It should be thoroughly understood that birth is distressful. Because we forget how much distress we have suffered within the womb of the mother, we do not make any solution to the repetition of birth and death. Similarly at the time of death, there are all kinds of sufferings, and they are also mentioned in the authoritative scriptures. These should be discussed. And as far as disease and old age are concerned, everyone gets practical experience. No one wants to be diseased, and no one wants to become old, but there is no avoiding these. Unless we have a pessimistic view of this material life, considering the distresses of birth, death, old age and disease, there is no impetus for our making advancement in spiritual life.
Bg 13.8-12 purport
This is the only reason why people are not taking up Krsna consciousness. They are completely numb to the questions of how this whole material existence will be over soon. One must develop seriousness about the situation. We will leave this body and the next body we do not know what it is going to be.
2. Suffering is caused by desire
Yes, desire is ultimately our enemy. Krsna says:
It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.
So far our desire is not aimed solely to satisfaction of Krsna's senses, it will give us yet another material body which is full of suffering.
3. Freedom from desire brings nirvana
The idea of the Buddhists is that desire can be avoided if we diminish the self. In other words, they say that the very idea of the self is a false designation and in actuality there is not even the self. They say that if people understand that the self does not exist, automatically there will be no desire and therefore no suffering. But this raises a question: how did the "illusion" of the self originate? What is the purpose of the universe and our being in illusion of the self and of the suffering? Lacking a proper explanation of these questions makes the Buddhist philosophy incomplete.
Srila Prabhupada uses the anaology of eye cataract. If one has a eye cataract, one option if to pluck out the eye. In this way the cataract is no longer a problem. One has no eye anymore, so naturally there is no cataract. But why not simply cure the cataract and keep the eyes? That is Krsna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada explains what is actually the original pure form of lust in the following purport of the already mentioned verse:
When a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, his eternal love for Krsna is transformed into lust, in association with the mode of passion. Or, in other words, the sense of love of God becomes transformed into lust, as milk in contact with sour tamarind is transformed into yogurt. Then again, when lust is unsatisfied, it turns into wrath; wrath is transformed into illusion, and illusion continues the material existence. Therefore, lust is the greatest enemy of the living entity, and it is lust only which induces the pure living entity to remain entangled in the material world. Wrath is the manifestation of the mode of ignorance; these modes exhibit themselves as wrath and other corollaries. If, therefore, the modes of passion, instead of being degraded into the modes of ignorance, are elevated to the modes of goodness by the prescribed method of living and acting, then one can be saved from the degradation of wrath by spiritual attachment.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead expanded Himself into many for His ever-increasing spiritual bliss, and the living entities are parts and parcels of this spiritual bliss. They also have partial independence, but by misuse of their independence, when the service attitude is transformed into the propensity for sense enjoyment, they come under the sway of lust. This material creation is created by the Lord to give a facility to the conditioned souls to fulfill these lustful propensities, and when they are completely baffled by prolonged lustful activities, the living entities begin to inquire about their real position.
Here is another important purport which can be quoted in this connection:
To become desireless means not to desire anything for sense gratification. In other words, desire for becoming Krsna conscious is actually desirelessness. To understand one's actual position as the eternal servitor of Krsna, without falsely claiming this material body to be oneself and without falsely claiming proprietorship over anything in the world, is the perfect stage of Krsna consciousness. One who is situated in this perfect stage knows that because Krsna is the proprietor of everything, therefore everything must be used for the satisfaction of Krsna. Arjuna did not want to fight for his own sense satisfaction, but when he became fully Krsna conscious he fought because Krsna wanted him to fight. For himself there was no desire to fight, but for Krsna the same Arjuna fought to his best ability. Desire for the satisfaction of Krsna is really desirelessness; it is not an artificial attempt to abolish desires. The living entity cannot be desireless or senseless, but he does have to change the quality of the desires. A materially desireless person certainly knows that everything belongs to Krsna (isavasyam idam sarvam), and therefore he does not falsely claim proprietorship over anything. This transcendental knowledge is based on self-realization -- namely, knowing perfectly well that every living entity is the eternal part and parcel of Krsna in spiritual identity. and therefore the eternal position of the living entity is never on the level of Krsna or greater than Him. This understanding of Krsna consciousness is the basic principle of real peace.
In the Bhagavadgita 3.41 Krsna calls lust "destroyer of knowledge and self-realization." And Srila Prabhupada while explaining the purpose of disciplic succession says: "This science is especially meant for the protection of the inhabitants and therefore the royal order should understand it in order to be able to rule the citizens and protect them from the material bondage to lust." Bg 4.1 purport
It is the duty of the government to protect the citizens from lust, because if they become lusty, they will not be able to understand the science of self realization and thus they will degrade into lower species missing the opportunity of human life. Prabhupada explains:
Lust is only the perverted reflection of the love of God which is natural for every living entity. But if one is educated in Krsna consciousness from the very beginning, that natural love of God cannot deteriorate into lust. When love of God deteriorates into lust, it is very difficult to return to the normal condition.
Sometimes the people in general become so degraded that it is difficult to educate them about pure Krsna consciousness. Just like animals, people become solely interested in bodily necessities and they perform religious rituals simply for the purpose of acquiring them. At such time the Lord comes in a disguised form and introduces sub-religious principles in order to elevate people from the grossest type of ignorance, the grossest sins. The number one sin is to kill other living entities. Maharaja Pariksit explains in the Srimad Bhagavatam that only animal killers and soul-killers (those who are not interested in spiritual cultivation) will not find the Srimad Bhagavatam relishable. For this reason Lord Buddha appears introducing a sub religious principle of ahimsa (non-violence) just to get people to stop animal-killing which was at the time done on mass scale through justification on the basis of animal sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas. The Srimad Bhagavatam clearly predicts the appearance of Lord Buddha:
Tatah kalou samprabritte sammohaya suradbisham
Buddha namno anjana sutah kikatesu bhavisyati.
Then in the beginning of the Kaliyuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha the son of Anjana in the province of Gaya just for the purpose of deluding those persons who are envious of the faithful theist.
According to Buddhist philosophy we are non-self. If "being"is actually illusion, then good deeds aimed for the good of other "beings" is also illusion. Yet, we see that the Buddhists are putting so much emphasis on compassion and good conduct. Why? The self is simply illusion. Why should one feel compassion for something that is illusory. So this is just like the impersonalists. Prabhupada says:
Although the impersonalist rises to the Brahman effulgence and enters into that effulgence, he has no engagement in the service of the Lord, and therefore he is again attracted to materialistic philanthropic activities. Thus he comes down to open hospitals and educational institutions, feed poor men and perform similar materialistic activities, which the impersonalist thinks are more precious than serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Anadrta-yusmad-anghrayah. The impersonalists do not think that the service of the Lord is more valuable than serving the poor man or starting a school or hospital. Although they say brahma satyam jagan mithya -- "Brahman is real, and the material world is false" -- they are nonetheless very eager to serve the false material world and neglect the service of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Furthermore, Krsnadas Kaviraja Goswami, the author of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta says that the classification good/bad are simply mental concotion. Prabhupada says:
In dreams we create so many things out of various impressions in the subconscious mind, but all such creations are simply temporary and unreal. In the same way, although apparently we are awake in material life, because we have no information of the soul and the Supersoul, we create many friends and enemies simply out of imagination. Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami says that within this material world or material consciousness, good and bad are the same. The distinction between good and bad is simply a mental concoction
Moreover, what is a good deed must be decided by authority of God. One cannot manufacture laws according to his whims. Krsna says that the greatest good is to broadcast the glories of the Lord around the world and there is no one more dear to him than him who tries to do this.
The Krsna consciousness movement is meant for the propagation of this message. We are not preaching a particular sectarian religious system but a real religion, dharma. Dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam: [SB 6.3.19] no one actually knows what dharma is, and no one can manufacture dharma. Dharma is the order of the Supreme Being. No one can manufacture state laws; they are given by the government. The simplest definition of dharma is that dharma is the order of the Supreme Being. Since the Supreme Being, God, is one, His order must be one. How, then, can there be different dharmas? It is not possible. Different dharmas are created due to ignorance, which causes people to think in terms of Hindu dharma, Muslim dharma, Christian dharma, this dharma or that dharma. No. Gold is gold. If a Christian possesses some gold, does it become Christian gold? Gold is gold whether possessed by a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian. According to the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, dharma means surrendering unto that Supreme Being. This is bhagavata-dharma, and everyone should be taught how to surrender unto God.
TLK Vs 1
This confidential knowledge may not be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service, nor to one who is envious of Me. For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.