The following conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and several of his disciples took place in June 1974 in Paris.
Devotees: A man came to the temple a couple of days ago and argued that we really can’t say for sure that there’s life after death, so why worry about it? Better to build a more prosperous society. At least this we can understand, and it would be a meaningful accomplishment.
Srila Prabhupada: He may not understand that the soul takes another body after death, but he can understand that he’ll be kicked out of his present body. Didn’t he understand this?
Devotee: He thought it was more important to engage in economic development.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore he’s a fool. Suppose I am visiting here in Paris, and you say, “As soon as your visa expires you’ll be kicked out.” Shall I be interested in creating anything elaborate? I shall be kicked out after two months, so why should I construct a big building? He knows that he will be kicked out, but still he works day and night to collect bricks and stones, and he becomes a “big man.”
Devotee: Sometimes people argue that God has given us our senses, so we should enjoy them.
Srila Prabhupada: The dog is also enjoying his senses. What are you enjoying that the dog doesn’t enjoy? You eat; the dog also eats. You sleep; the dog also sleeps. You enjoy sex; the dog also enjoys sex. You are afraid of your enemy; the dog is also afraid of its enemy. So what is the difference between the dog’s mentality and your mentality?
God has given you the intelligence to understand that you are nothing and He is everything. Just realize it—that is intelligence. When you understand, “God is great; I am His servant,” that is real intelligence.
Devotee: Someone might ask why we decorate the Deity in the temple.
Srila Prabhupada: Because it is living. One who puts forward this argument does not know that we are decorating the real, living body.
Devotee: You say the Deity is the real body, but it appears to be stone. There are no symptoms of life in the Deity.
Srila Prabhupada: There is life—the supreme life—but you have no eyes to see it. Premanjana—cchurita -bhakti- vilocanena. A devotee—he can see that the Deity is alive. You think that after reading so many scriptures we are worshiping stone? You have no eyes to see the truth. You have to purify your vision to see that Krsna is personally present in the Deity.
Devotee: Most people can’t even understand the existence of the soul. So how can they understand the Deity?
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore they have to become our students, our disciples, to understand this science. Then they will see that the stone Deity is also Krsna.
Devotee: Is my body also Krsna, since it is made of earth, like the Deity?
Srila Prabhupada: No, but it is Krsna’s energy. Therefore the body should be engaged in Krsna’s service. That is Krsna consciousness. As soon as you understand the body is Krsna’s energy, you will not employ it for any purpose other than His vice. But people do not have this realization. They think the body is theirs, or that they are the body. This is illusion.
Devotee: When impersonalistic philosophers read in Bhagavad-gita [18.61] that Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart,” they argue that since Krsna is in heart of every living entity, every living entity is Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada: Why? If I am in a room have I become the room? Is that argument very sound? Krsna is within my body, and I am also within my body, but does that mean I am the body or that Krsna is the body? Krsna is everything, and yet, Krsna is apart from everything. In Bhagavad-gita [9.4] Krsna says, maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina: “I am spread all over the universe in My impersonal feature.” Mat-sthani sarva-bhutani: “Everything is in Me.” Na caham tesv avasthitah: “But I separate from everything.” This is the philosophy of simultaneous oneness and difference (acintya-bhedabheda-tattva).