Arthur Schopenhauer
Hayagriva: This is Schopenhauer. For Schopenhauer happiness is inactive satisfaction, inactivity, nirvana. The will to live is the irrational urge...
Prabhupada: What does he give..., what does he explain about the nirvana? What?
Hayagriva: The will to live is the irrational urge that brings about all suffering. And his is a philosophy of extinction. Now in his first book, The World Is Idea, he ascribes to the philosophy of maya, like a Mayavadi. He writes, "The Vedas and Puranas have no better simile than a dream for the whole knowledge of the actual world, which they call the web of maya, and they use none more frequently." From this Schopenhauer concludes that life is a long dream. "What is this world of perception besides being my idea? Is that of which I am conscious only as idea exactly like my own body, of which I am doubly conscious, in one aspect as idea, in another aspect as will?" So from this he concludes that life is a projection of the will.
Prabhupada: This material life?
Hayagriva: Material life is a projection of the will.
Prabhupada: Yes, he has read it. It is taken from Indian... It is called vasana. Vasana means desire. So that desire, material desire, but the living entity cannot be desireless. Desireless..., nirvana means material desires finished. But because living entity is eternal spiritual being, he is, he has got spiritual desire. Now it is covered. The desire is there, desire is constant companion, but because it is materially covered, we are thinking this temporary world as reality, and it is not reality; therefore it is changing. We are having different types of desires according to the body we get, and the soul is transmigrating in this material world from one body to another, and he is creating a certain type of desires, will. And to fulfill that will he is getting a different type of body by the Supreme Will. He is willing, and the Supreme Will, God, Krsna, understanding his will, giving him facility to accept a certain pattern of circumstances, body, to fulfill his particular desire. That is going on. Therefore this vasana, or will, is the cause of his material existence, constantly changing, and on account of changing will he is changing body. This is the complication of material existence. Our Krsna consciousness movement is to teach the living entity that as living being you must have desires. If your desires are stopped, then you become like stone. So you have to cleanse this desire, diseased form of desire. That is bhakti. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. Now the desires are according to the upadhi, according to the body. A man gets the body of American, he thinks, "America is my home. American nation, they are my brother. American upliftment is my business," so on, so on. And as soon as it is changed, you are Chinese man, again he thinks, "I am Chinese." Tatha dehantara-praptih [Bg. 2.13]. He has to change. He has got the material body of a dog, he is barking, "I am dog. This is my business, to bark." So this is all desires. So these desires are temporary. By one desire I get one body, then I desire another body, another body, it is going. So therefore in one sense it is dream, that factually he cannot fulfill the desires, like dream. Yes. There are so many different circumstances. They are all temporary. So this, at night you dream, it is say for one hour or two hour. We..., nobody sees one kind of dream for two hours. Say even two hours, then finished, then another dream. So this change of body is also like a big dream. At night we dream, we forget everything about daily activities, and again when the dream is finished, again we come to this body and we do some things. So in that sense all material activities, subtle or gross, they are manifestation of different desires. Therefore the Mayavadi philosophers, they say brahma satyam jagan mithya. The dreamer is fact, but the dream is false. That is one sense it is right. So our Vaisnava philosophy is the same, that the dreamer is the living entity and the dream is temporary. Therefore the dreamer has to be brought to the real, spiritual platform so that these material dreams, either in day or night, they can be extinguished. That is nirvana.
When we give up these dreaming facts and come to the real fact, that is Krsna consciousness, that is bhakti. So activities in Krsna consciousness, called bhakti, that is reality.
Hayagriva: Schopenhauer writes, "Every keen pleasure is an error and an allusion, for no attached wish can give lasting satisfaction."
Prabhupada: That is...
Hayagriva: "And moreover, every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time..."
Prabhupada: Mm.
Hayagriva: "...and may therefore be demanded back the next hour. All pain rests on the passing away of such allusion. Thus both arise from defective knowledge."
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: "The wise man therefore holds himself equally aloof from joy and sorrow, and no event disturbs his composure."
Prabhupada: The other day, yesterday, I was explaining that this side good, this side bad, the same thing. Stool is stool. So this side or that side. But here in this material world, they are accepting this temporary or false, whatever you call, platform, and we are manufacturing in that false platform, temporary platform, "This is good, this is bad." Why? Where is the good and bad? They are all temporary, or false. We don't say false; we say temporary. The Mayavadi philosopher, they say false. So that is also stated in the Bhagavad-gita, that the pains and pleasure of this material world, it is experienced by the (indistinct). The spirit soul does not touch this. It is different. He is not concerned with this material, but he is illusioned that "This pains and pleasure is mine." Therefore Krsna advises in the Bhagavad-gita that this pains and pleasures, simply touching the skin, body. But I am not this body. That is the first instruction. The soul is not this body; therefore this pains and pleasure is on account of this body, material body. So Krsna said,
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
agamapayinah anityah
tams titiksasva bharata
[Bg. 2.14]
So these are not reality. They come and go in due course, and we are, being too much absorbed in this material body, we feel pains and pleasure. But I am not this body; therefore one should be intelligent, that "This pains and pleasure is due to my bodily concept of life, and they come and go. Why should I bother about it? If I feel pain, let me tolerate and do my own business." That's all.
Hayagriva: Schopenhauer's second book was entitled The World Is Will. He writes, "My body is the objectivity of my will. Besides will and idea, nothing is known to us or thinkable. But if we narrowly analyze the reality of this body and its actions, we find nothing in it except the will." And he goes on to state that "The genitals are properly the focus of the will, and consequently the opposite pole of the brain, which is the representative of knowledge. The former, that is the genitals, are the life sustaining principle and share an endless life to time. In this respect they were worshiped by the Greeks in the phallus and by the Hindus in the lingam, which are thus the symbol of the assertion of the will. Knowledge, on the other hand, affords the possibility of the suppression of willing, of salvation through freedom, of conquest and annihilation of the world."
Prabhupada: Therefore that is bhakti. Sarvopadhi, this willing... Why? This willing is (indistinct), because this willing is according to the body. So I get one body and will again, we get another body. So I am willing, but I am. So I have now identified with this willing situation. That is my trouble. When I understand that I have nothing to do with this material world, with this, the production of my will, material will, and I am spiritual, so when I will spiritually, that is Krsna consciousness. That is wanted. Materially willing means I get different types of body, that's all. That is dream life. But what he says?
Hayagriva: Well, he sees that the basis of life is sex.
Prabhupada: He has to...
Hayagriva: That this, that the will is asserted mainly due to sex.
Prabhupada: Yes. So that is material life.
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: That is material life. That we say always that yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham [SB 7.9.45]. Here, those who are addicted to material world, their basic principle is maithuna, sex intercourse. So this strong desire for sex, that will continue so long you are in the material existence, because that is the center of all pleasure. But when we get taste of Krsna pleasure we can give up this. Param drstva nivartate [Bg. 9.59]. By same superior pleasure they give up this inferior.
Hayagriva: Well as, as to the nature of the world, Schopenhauer is vague, but he sees material life as basically irrational and whimsical.
Prabhupada: Yes, that's a fact. Therefore you are changing body. Material mind is not fixed up; rejecting and accepting. This is going on. That Mayavada philosophers say as well. The Buddhists also say this material pains and pleasure is account to the material combination. It does not say material combination of this body. Soul is different, but he did not say because during his time they could not understand it. So he did not say that the..., there is soul, but he simply said that this body is combination of material thing; that is the cause of pains and pleasure. So dismantle it. Let earthly part of the body go to earth, watery part of the body, let it... Nirvana, that is. Then I become zero, sunyavadi. Because he does not get any information of the soul, he takes account of the body. Analyze the body and it is composition of earth, water, air, fire, like that. So when it is dismantled, then where is pains and pleasure? That is his philosophy, sunyavada, make it zero.
Hayagriva: He sees the pleasure of the world as ultimately frustrating. Eternal becoming endless flux characterizes the revelation of the inner nature of will. Finally, the same thing shows itself in human endeavors and desires, which always delude us by presenting their satisfaction as the final end of will. As soon as we attain to them, they no longer appear the same. Therefore they soon grow stale or forgotten, and though not ultimately disowned, are yet always thrown aside as vanished illusions.
Prabhupada: So this is going on. He is getting, therefore, different types of body.
Hayagriva: He says we go..., there's a constant transition from desire to satisfaction and from satisfaction to a new desire, a rapid course of which is called happiness, and the slow course sorrow, and does not sink into that stagnation that shows itself in fearful boredom that paralyzes life. So it's this flux from desire to satisfaction that characterizes the will's activities in the phenomenal world. But for Schopenhauer, outside of all of this flux there is only..., the only solution is nirvana or extinction.
Prabhupada: No, that is not the fact. One has to study that willing and satisfaction of the willing. So behind this willing and satisfaction of willing there is the person who is willing. He does not take that person into consideration.
Prabhupada: He takes only that the willing and satisfaction willing, that is the only business. But he does not see the person who is willing. That is his defect.
Hayagriva: Supreme Person.
Prabhupada: Not Supreme Person.
Hayagriva: The individual.
Prabhupada: The individual, who is put in this temporary world, willing and satisfaction, but he is reality behind this willing and satisfaction. [break] So Schopenhauer's defect is that he does not see the, there is a person behind this willing; the individual soul, he is willing. So when he stops this flickering willing, then what is next, that he does not see. Nirvana, stopping willing, of this nature of willing, temporary, one kind of willing, one kind of satisfaction, again another kind of willing... Behind this willing whimsically there is the spirit soul. So when the spirit comes to his real understanding of identification, that willing is pure willing. This willing is contaminated willing, material willing. So simply one should not be satisfied by stopping this whimsical willing, but when he comes to the real willing of the real person, that is spiritual life.
Hayagriva: He says, "Voluntary and complete chastity is the first step in asceticism or the denial of the will to live. It thereby denies the assertion of the will, which extends beyond the individual life and gives the assurance that with the life of the body, the will, whose manifestation it is, ceases."
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: Is this kind of extinction the purpose behind chastity?
Prabhupada: Behind the willing activities there is a person who is willing. So simply by negation of this temporary willing will not help him. He has to will reality. That is eternal willing. That is Krsna consciousness. He has been willing his sense satisfaction, material world, because he does not know there is another field of willing. So the same willing, when he will satisfy the senses of the Supreme, that is his eternal willing. Jivera svarupa haya nitya krsna dasa [Cc. Madhya 20.108-109]. Because when he analyzes, comes to the real knowledge, he finds himself that he is eternal servant of God. As such, when willing will be concentrated how to serve God, that is his real position of life—eternity, knowledge and bliss. That is Krsna consciousness.
Hayagriva: Although it appears that Schopenhauer does not believe in God, although his stand appears atheistic, he writes, "If a man fears death as his annihilation, it is just as if he were to think that the sun cries out at evening, 'Woe is me, for I go down to eternal night.' Thus even already, suicide appears to us as a vain and therefore a foolish action. When we have carried out our investigation further, it will appear to us in a still less favorable light."
Prabhupada: Investigation of father, that means God.
Hayagriva: The what?
Prabhupada: Investigation, he says?
Hayagriva: Oh, "When we have carried out our investigation further."
Prabhupada: Further.
Hayagriva: Yes, further, further. "More," "When we have investigated..."
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: "...further, it will appear to us in a still," that is suicide, "that death is not extinction."
Prabhupada: Then after death there is life. As soon as there is life, there is desire, willing.
Hayagriva: Yes. He says that so; therefore that's no solution. He says that death and life are integral.
Prabhupada: Huh?
Hayagriva: That they are comp..., they go together, death...
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: ...and life.
Prabhupada: Because the will is there, therefore death is not stoppage of life. He gets another life, tatha dehantara-praptih [Bg. 2.13]. So this proves that the life or the person who is willing, desiring, he is eternal, but he does not know what should be his eternal willing. That is his defect. So we are teaching this. His eternal willing is that he should always will to serve Krsna. Then he will be happy.
Hayagriva: As to the identity of life and death, he says, "The wisest of all philosophies, the Indian, expresses this by giving to the very God that symbolizes destruction, death, by giving, I say to Siva, as an attribute not only the necklace of skulls but also the lingam, the symbol of generation, which appears here as the counterpart of death, thus signifying that generation and death are essentially correlatives which reciprocally neutralize and annul each other." So it's not death that is the solution.
Prabhupada: Then what is?
Hayagriva: What dies will be born again.
Prabhupada: So what is the solution?
Hayagriva: The solution is the annihilation of the will to live.
Prabhupada: How it is possible? So long the living entity is alive, he, he will will, some sort of willing. So that means the willing party, the living being, he is eternal, and the willing, this activity, has to be purified. Then his life will be happy. Willing cannot be stopped, because he is eternal. But he is wrongly willing; therefore he is unhappy. When he will come to the position of willing rightly, then he will be happy.
Hayagriva: According to him, the man of knowledge is not disturbed in any condition. He says, "Such a man would regard death as a false allusion, an impotent specter which frightens the weak but has no power over him, who knows that he is himself the will of which the whole world is the objectification or copy, and that therefore he is always certain of life and also of the present." He goes on to say that he could not be terrified by an endless past or future in which he would not be, for this he would regard...
Prabhupada: Then why does he want nirvana? This is contradictory.
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: One side he says nirvana, and other side is that it is continued. When he could not understand the Indian philosophy, he is trying to address in his own way.
Hayagriva: He speaks of Bhagavad-gita. He says, "Krsna thus raises the mind of His young pupil Arjuna. When seized with compunction at the sight of the arrayed host armies, he loses heart and desires to give up the battle in order to avert the death of so many thousands. Krsna leads him to this point of view, and the death of those thousands can no longer restrain him. He gives the sign of battle." But was it actually Krsna's assurance of immortality that brought Arjuna to fight?
Prabhupada: Yes. Immortality. So what is his philosophy of the immortal living being? As he is immortal, his willing business is also immortal. If he accepts the living being as immortal, how he can stop-nirvanahis willing?
Hayagriva: He seems to have no other solution other than the suppression of willing.
Prabhupada: That is not possible. Suppression willing, that is not possible. He has to change the quality of willing; then he will be happy. And that is bhakti. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. The process of willing should be purified. Then he will be happy. And the process of purifying the willing is bhakti, sravanam kirtanam visnoh [SB 7.5.23], chanting and hearing of the pastimes, all about the Lord. That will purify him. He is missing the point that he is individual, accepting that life is eternal, and still he wants, prefers this nirvana. But he does not know what is nirvana. Nirvana means this kind of whimsical willing is troublesome. He has to stop this whimsical willing. He has to come to the standard willing. That is Krsna consciousness.
Hayagriva: He looked on the Indian philosophy and religion as basically a philosophy of the denial of the will, and he gives several examples of religious..., of suicide as a religious act. He says especially when it...
Prabhupada: That is, that is Mayavada. That is not... He did not study Indian philosophy and religion perfectly well. He simply has taken some portion of the Mayavada philosophy or Buddha philosophy, but he did not know about Vaisnava philosophy.
Hayagriva: But he gives the example of...
Prabhupada: Although he has touched Bhagavad-gita...
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: ...he did not study Bhagavad-gita thoroughly, that in the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says to Arjuna that if you, by your living, what is called, knowledge, if you simply try to have full knowledge about Krsna, then his willing, this material willing is purified, and after giving up this body he goes back to home, back to Godhead. That he has not studied. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti kaunteya [Bg. 4.9]. Either he did not study Bhagavad-gita thoroughly or he could not understand for want of real spiritual master.
Hayagriva: He couldn't understand devotion to Krsna, that's for certain.
Prabhupada: Because he did not study Bhagavad-gita as it is recommended. The recommendation is that one should go to guru. And what kind of guru? Who has seen the truth practically. That he did not do. He is simply speculating on his own experience, and although everything is there in the Bhagavad-gita, he could not see it. That is the defect.
Hayagriva: As an example of suicide, he gives the..., he says that at the procession of Jagannatha in 1840, eleven Hindus threw themselves under the wheels and were instantly killed. And he also mentions the sati rituals of the woman throwing herself into the sacrificial fire, the fire of her husband's funeral pyre.
Prabhupada: This is not suicide. This is... Our life is continuation, but on account of impure understanding we are getting different types of body and you are suffering different varieties of miseries. So this suicidal, this is not suicidal, that voluntarily accepting death, so that by dying, if he thinks of the spiritual life, he gets it. Just like Kulasekhara, he has got a poetry that... In the Bhagavad-gita it is stated, yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajanty ante: [Bg. 8.6] we get next life according to the desire at the point of death. So generally, when death takes place, one sometimes remains in coma, all the bodily functions becomes defunct, he dreams in different ways and so on, so on. So he cannot dream or think independently. Therefore sometimes the intelligent class, they think that "If I meet death in sound health, then I can think of my next life, go back to home, back to Godhead, and I achieve it. Because at the time of death my thinking will be taken into consideration. So if by thinking of Jagannatha if I die, then I go back to Jagannatha."
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: That is not suicide. That is voluntarily accepting death so that immediately he can return back to the spiritual world.
Hayagriva: And that works?
Prabhupada: What?
Hayagriva: That's an actual...?
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: Caitanya Mahaprabhu—of course, that's different—threw Himself in the ocean, but that wasn't, that was probably...
Prabhupada: No, no, that is an ecstasy.
Hayagriva: That was different.
Prabhupada: Different.
Hayagriva: He speaks of the Indian religion, which demands the greatest sacrifices and which has yet remained so long in practice in a nation that embraces so many millions of persons cannot be arbitrarily invented superstition but must have its foundation in the nature of man. And he says that the religion has endured for more than four thousand years, despite the fact that the Hindu nation has been broken up into so many parts. But he sees the religion basically as a religion of the denial of will. But does the religion have its foundation in the nature of man?
Prabhupada: Yes, the denial, both the... There are two kinds of sects: this Mayavadi and the Vaisnava. So both of them know that this material world is flickering, and sometimes they say it is false, unreal. So there is another life; that is spiritual world. So the Mayavadi philosopher, their spiritual life means to merge into the Brahman effulgence, and the Vaisnava philosopher to go back to Goloka Vrndavana, Vaikuntha, where God is situated, and become His associate person. So both the ideas, spiritual ideas, that is attained after death. What does he say that is good about Hindus? He says that denial...
Hayagriva: He sees it basically as a denial of the will.
Prabhupada: Yes, but denial of the will for material happiness. So we will not deny willing, that willing for spiritual happiness. That is required. As you deny something, you must accept something; otherwise... You cannot remain in the neutral position. That is not possible. Param drstva nirvatanta. When you get a better position, then you give up this willing for lower position.
Hayagriva: The... He speaks of the sannyasi, who lives without a dwelling and entirely without property, who is advised not to lay down often under the same tree least he should acquire a preference or inclination for it above other trees. The Christian mystic and the teacher of the Vedanta philosophy agree in this respect also, that they both regard all outward works and religious exercises as superfluous for him who has attained to perfection. Isn't this the viewpoint of the Mayavadi, and doesn't Krsna recommend the lighting of the sacrificial fire even after one has attained perfection?
Prabhupada: Yes. Krsna says, yajna-dana-tapah-kriya na tyajam. Because if he gives up this ritualistic ceremony, then there is chance of falling down. So even though he is liberated, to keep his position secure he should continue these three things: sacrifice, charity, and austerity.
Hayagriva: He speaks of sleep. He said, "The need for sleep is directly proportionate to the intensity of the brain life, thus the clearness of the consciousness. Those animals whose brain life is weak and dull sleep little and lightly, for example reptiles and fishes. Animals of considerable intelligence sleep deeply and long. Men also require more sleep the more developed both as regards quantity and quality, and the more active their brain is. The more completely awake a man is, the clearer and more lively his consciousness, the greater for him is the necessity of sleep, thus the deeper and longer he sleeps."
Prabhupada: Those who are ignorant and materially covered, they sleep more. Those who are spiritually enlightened, they sleep less. Sleep is the necessity of the body, not of the soul. So those who are advanced in the platform of spiritual identity, they do not require sleeping, as we find from the life of Rupa Gosvami. Nidrahara-viharakadi-vijitau **: they conquered over sleeping, eating, mating. That is spiritual life. To sleep is waste of time, so those who are actually interested in spiritual life, they adjust life in such a way that almost they sleep nil.
Hayagriva: Arjuna was praised as Gudakesa?
Prabhupada: Gudakesa, who has conquered over sleeping.
Hayagriva: It appears that Schopenhauer recommends about eight hours of sleep a night, and Krsna says not too much or too little. But what is recommended in terms of sleep, just concretely?
Prabhupada: Sleep should be avoided, but that is not possible. Therefore it should be adjusted to the minimum. Just like Gosvamis, they are sleeping not less, not more than two hours. Even we hear about some karmi, just like Napoleon, he was also not sleeping. He was taking rest on the back of the horse. I do not know whether it is so.
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: But I know about Gandhi. He was sleeping when he is parking his car, because he was so busy.
Hayagriva: (laughing) He gives some examples of men, of philosophers who slept a great deal. Maybe because they speculated so hard they had to sleep more.
Prabhupada: No. Sleeping too much is bad in all circumstances. So, stop the machine. Stop this machine. Tomorrow is good. [break]
Hayagriva: In The Ages of Life, Schopenhauer writes, "A complete and adequate notion of life can never be attained by anyone who does not reach old age, for it is only the old man who sees life whole and knows its natural course. It is only he who is acquainted, and this is most important, not only with its entrance, like the rest of mankind, but with its exit too, so that he alone has a full sense of its utter vanity, while the others never cease to labor under the false notion that everything will come right in the end.
Prabhupada: I could not follow. Old man is perfect?
Hayagriva: No. But an old man can see the course of life, can see life in its entirety, the ages...
Prabhupada: As far as different, old men have got different experience. We have seen in Western countries old men, they still follow the path of sense gratification. So where is his experience? Unless there is training, simply to become old man is not sufficient. Training is required. Old man, actual old man should take renunciation. That is Vedic plan. At the end of life one should become a sannyasa and completely devote his time and energy to understand and serve God. So unless there is training from the very beginning as brahmacari, simply by age one is not mature. That is not correct.
Hayagriva: He says it's customary to call youth happy and age the sad part of life. This would be true if it were the passions that made a man happy. Youth...
Prabhupada: Happy, happiness to the modern standard means sense gratification. So that sense gratification continues even in old man. So actually he requires training and acquirement of knowledge. There is a word in Sanskrit, vidya tam (indistinct). One can become old man even without age. That means it is knowledge that is counted, not the age.
Hayagriva: There's an expression, "The old fool."
Prabhupada: Old fool, yes.
Hayagriva: An old goat.
Prabhupada: Yes. If he is not educated properly, he remains a old fool. Yes.
Hayagriva: He says, "In one of the Vedic Upanisads, the natural length of human life is put down at one hundred years, and I believe this to be right. I have observed, as a matter of fact, that it is only people who exceed the age of ninety who attain euthanasia, who die, that is to say, of no disease, apoplexy, or convulsion, and pass away without agony of any sort. To come to one's end before the age of ninety means to die of disease, in other words, prematurely."
Prabhupada: Yes, the maximum age in this millennium is hundred years, but formerly they used to live for thousand years. Before that they used to live for ten thousand years, and before that they used to live for one hundred thousands of years. So nowadays we don't think even they are going up to hundred years, even not ninety years.
Hayagriva: Sixty, sixty-seven.
Prabhupada: Sixty-seven is the average. The more one becomes sensuous, the duration of life is lessened. That is the law of nature.
Hayagriva: So that's all on Schopenhauer. (end)

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