Sunday, 28 August 2011

Being Inquisitive about the Ultimate Source of Happiness

The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in May 1975 during an early-morning walk in Perth, Australia.

Srila Prabhupada: The atheist says there is no God, no operator of this big universal machine. But has the atheist any experience of a machine working without an operator?

Devotee: No. But you cannot compare this whole universe to any man-made machine.

Srila Prabhupada: Why? Just the other day we saw a huge printing press in Japan. It was printing the sheets, collecting them, stacking them -- so many things were being done systematically, all by machine. Similarly, by the universal machine the seasonal changes are going on, the sun is rising, the moon is rising, and the water of the oceans is moving in waves. Everything is being done systematically: the sun and the moon are rising exactly on time; the seasons are coming exactly on time. Is this not how a machine works?

Devotee: [taking the role of an atheist] But this universal machine is so wonderful that it goes on without an operator.
Srila Prabhupada: You are dull -- so you cannot understand how someone is operating this universal machine. You cannot find in your experience any machine that is working without a person. Why do you bring this idea that without an operator this big universal machine is working? This is a false idea.

Devotee: There are some automatic machines.
Srila Prabhupada: No. Behind every machine there is an operator.

Devotee: Someone must turn it on and off.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. There is no such thing as an automatic machine. That is impersonalism.

Devotee: We can see the operator of these small machines, Srila Prabhupada, but we can't see the operator of this universal machine.
Srila Prabhupada: Have you seen the operator of the electric powerhouse? Do you think the powerhouse is working automatically?

Devotee: Well, we could see him if we wanted to. We could drive there right now.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and you can go to Krishna and see Him, also. But first you must become qualified.

Devotee: That's not so easy.
Srila Prabhupada: It is very easy. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, bahavo jnana-tapasa puta mad-bhavam agatah: "By becoming purified through knowledge and penance, many have come to Me in the past." So why are you disappointed? You can go to Krishna. Striyo vaisyas tatha sudrah: Even if you are low-born or less intelligent, you can go to Him. Krishna is open to everyone. Simply become qualified, that's all. And what is the qualification? Krishna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru: "Just always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer your respect to Me." These four things you must do. We have opened our temples for this purpose -- so you can always think of Krishna, worship Him, offer obeisances to Him, and become His devotee. Then mam evaisyaty asamsayah: Without any doubt, you will go to Him. What is the difficulty?

Devotee: The operator of the powerhouse is running the powerhouse, but it's not really necessary that we go see him. We can simply enjoy the electricity provided by the powerhouse.
Srila Prabhupada: That's what you do if you're a fool. But if you are intelligent enough, you'll ask, "Who is the operator? Let me see him." That is the difference between an intelligent person and one who is dull.
I once heard a story about a little boy who was beating on a drum -- dumm, dumm, dumm. He became inquisitive and thought, "Wherefrom is the sound coming? Somebody must be within the drum." So he found a way to open the drum and look inside. This is intelligence. A dull student will think, "Oh, the sound is just coming, that's all." But an intelligent boy will always inquire, "What is this, father? ' What is this, father?"
So if one is very dull, just like the cats and dogs, he will not inquire about the operator behind this universal machine. In the human form of life this inquiry should come. Otherwise, you remain cats and dogs.

Devotee: What about the body, Srila Prabhupada? Isn't that also a machine?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Devotee: But the scientists say that this body is more complicated than any machine because it can think, feel, and will, whereas machines can't do that.
Srila Prabhupada: The scientists cannot see that the thinking, feeling, and willing is coming from the operator of the machine, the soul. They cannot understand that. Krishna says, dehino 'smin yatha dehe: Within the bodily machine is the operator, the soul.

Devotee: Just like the child who tried to find the cause of the sound in his drum, the scientists are trying to find the cause of the material world. Is that not intelligence?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but they have not reached the ultimate goal.

Devotee: But they're trying.
Srila Prabhupada: They're trying -- that is admitted. But they are concluding that there is no operator. That is their foolishness. They have to go further and further until they conclude, "Yes, there is an operator." That is the final goal of their investigation. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate: "After many, many births of sincere inquiry, if one is actually intelligent he will surrender to Me." And then, vasudevah sarvam iti: "He'll understand that Vasudeva [Krishna] is everything."
But these scientists waste time. When we say, "Here is Krishna -- here is the operator of the universal machine," they'll not accept. They would rather waste time life after life, laboring and wondering. But one day they will come to the conclusion that Krishna is the operator behind this whole universe.

Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, people often think that devotees are inhibited or repressed -- that they never get any pleasure.
Srila Prabhupada: Everyone is looking for pleasure, because we're meant for that. But because people have forgotten Krishna, the reservoir of pleasure, they're trying to find pleasure in things other than Krishna. Therefore they are becoming frustrated. They do not know that unless they come to Krishna consciousness, they will find no real pleasure.
Suppose a child is crying. If some woman other than his mother takes him on her lap, he will continue crying. But as soon as he's on the lap of his mother, he immediately stops crying. Why? He can understand, "Now I have the real thing."
Similarly, when we finally come to Krishna, we'll be fully satisfied. We won't want anything further.

Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, earlier you were speaking about the importance of being inquisitive.
Srila Prabhupada: Being inquisitive about the ultimate source of happiness is the standard of human life. That inquisitiveness cannot be found in the cats and dogs. And unless a person becomes inquisitive about the ultimate source of happiness, he's an animal, not a human being. Ninety-nine point nine percent of all people are not inquisitive in this way. They're searching after happiness, but they are not inquisitive about the ultimate source of happiness. So they are being baffled.

Devotee: It seems as if the very things that they think will make them happy turn out to be the causes of misery.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. For example, in the name of happiness they have invented the motorcar. But when two motorcars crash head on, life is lost. Yet people aren't inquisitive enough to ask, "We have invented this machine for happiness; so why has this disaster happened?" They don't have the intelligence to ask this question. They simply go on searching after happiness in the material world. And when we say, "No, not in that way; come this way, to Krishna consciousness, and you'll find real happiness," they laugh.

Devotee: What about the scientists, Srila Prabhupada? They're very inquisitive; they're trying to find the cause of the material world.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We give them credit for that. But they are looking for the cause of this world in the wrong place. And when they're given correct information, they do not take it. We say to the scientists, "You are searching for the cause of the world? Here is Krishna, the original source of everything." But they will not accept Him. That is their foolishness.

Devotee: You were just saying that everyone is looking for happiness. But shouldn't that desire be purified? Shouldn't we give up all desire for happiness?
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. Happiness is life. How can you give it up?

Devotee: But if we desire happiness, we're being selfish --
Srila Prabhupada: The problem is, you do not know that the ultimate goal of your selfishness is to realize Krishna (na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum). Everyone is self-interested, but no one knows how to fulfill his real self-interest.

Devotee: But isn't it better to give up ego altogether?
Srila Prabhupada: Why? That is mayavada [impersonalistic] philosophy. We want to make our ego purified. We want to understand, "I am a servant of Krishna." That egoism is wanted -- not that I make my egoism zero.

Devotee: Why do the Mayavadi impersonalists want to eradicate the ego?
Srila Prabhupada: The Mayavadis are disappointed in life, so they think, "Let me finish my ego. Let me become zero." But egoism cannot be finished. Because you are an individual soul, you will always have a sense of "I am." Now I am thinking I am Indian, you are thinking you are American, someone else is thinking he is Russian, and so on. But I am not Indian and you are not American: we are all part and parcel of Krishna. We have to come to this egoism, the real egoism -- that I am an eternal servant of Krishna.

Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, the materialistic scientists are so inquisitive. Why aren't they able to come to the point of understanding that Krishna is the source of everything?
Srila Prabhupada: Because they are envious of Him. They are unwilling to accept His instructions. You have to take direction from Krishna. He says, "I am the goal of all knowledge. I am the destination. Come to Me." If you don't take this instruction, you are unfortunate. You will be baffled in your attempt to acquire knowledge.

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