Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Hayagriva: This is Fichte. He's not as important as Kant or Hegel, but he followed pretty much in the footsteps of Kant. His first work was entitled Our Belief in a Divine Government of the Universe, and he writes, "Our belief in a moral world order must be based on the concept of a supersensible transcendental world."
Prabhupada: But thing is that what is morality? If he cannot define what is morality, simply saying on moral principles, what is this morality? First of all you have to understand what is morality. Simply imaginary moral principle. We want practical understanding what is morality. That they have not defined.
Hayagriva: Not, not specifically.
Prabhupada: Then what is immoral? Everyone will say this is morality. Just like we say, following the Vedic scripture, we say krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam [Bg. 18.44], go-raksya, to give protection to the cows. So according to the scripture we would say it is morality, and somebody will say no, killing a cow in some religious place, mosque or synagogue, this is morality. So which one is morality?
Hayagriva: Well he, following Kant, he emphasized inner reality...
Prabhupada: He may, he may follow Kant and I may follow Krsna, but if there is contradiction, then which one is morality? How it will be decided, and who will decide? He may follow somebody. That this question I asked Professor Kotovsky in Moscow, that "You are following Communism, and we are following, say, Krsna-ism, but your leader is Lenin and our leader is Krsna, that so far the philosophy is concerned we have to accept a leader." So there is no difference in the basic principle of philosophy that we must have a leader. Now who shall be the leader and who will decide it? Regards to both of us, we have got a leader. Now which leader is perfect? If both of them are perfect, then why there is difference of opinion—one leader does not agree with the other leader? So who will answer this question that who is the best leader? Leader you have to follow. That you cannot avoid. Either you follow Kant or you follow Krsna. Either you follow Lenin or you follow Krsna. What is the answer? Who is the perfect leader? You cannot avoid leader, either you say according to Kant, I say according to Krsna.
Hayagriva: Well they both emphasize intuition or conscience. The interior...
Prabhupada: The conscience is prepared. If you go on drinking, then your conscience will say it is good, and if you go on chanting, your conscience will say this is good. The conscience is prepared according to association. There is no standard conscience.
Hayagriva: No standard conscience or intuition.
Prabhupada: So which one will you follow?
Hayagriva: They seem to think there is a standard within everyone.
Prabhupada: So what is that standard? We say the order of Krsna is standard. That's all. What Krsna says, that is standard, that we have got some standard. Unless there is standard, you say conscience, high sense, morality... What is that? Define it. Just like we have got definition of God. I think nobody has got any definition of God. What is the standard that a person should be called God? I don't think... it is only in Vedic literature.
aisvaryasya samagrasya
viryasya yasasah sriyah
jnana-vairagyayos caiva
sannam iti bhaga ingana
(Visnu Purana 6.5.47)
Clear. What is religion? Dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam [SB 6.3.19]. This is the definition of God, and dharma means the order of God. Everything is standard. What is their standard conception? And if you have no standard conception, simply imaginary morality, imaginary controller, imaginary God, how it will help us?
Hayagriva: For Fichte the world has no objective reality outside of its being an instrument for the enactment of morality. He calls the world of the senses "the stuff of duty."
Prabhupada: This is all vague. There is no definite direction.
Hayagriva: He says our duty is revealed in the world of the senses. There's no definition of duty as such.
Prabhupada: That means I can manufacture my own duty, you can manufacture your own duty. There is no standard. But our standard is, Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sar... [Bg. 18.66], whatever you, rascal, whatever you have manufactured, give it up. The Bhagavata says that dharmah projjhita atra kaitavah, that all cheating type of religious system is kicked out. Here is the religious system, satyam param dhimahi [SB 1.1.1]. What is that satyam? Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. Everything is clear. And where is that clear understanding? Simply speculating. That is the difference, the Vedic standard knowledge and this speculative philosophy. So, so far we are concerned, we refer to the Vedas, sabdah pramanam. Sabdah means Vedas, sabdah brahman. So whatever action we do, if it is approved by the Vedic injunction then it is standard and confirmed.
Hayagriva: Now duty, we get back to the same thing. He writes, "True atheism consists in refusing to obey the voice of one's conscience until one thinks one can foresee the success of one's actions, and thus elevating one's own judgment above that of God and in making oneself into God. He who wills to do evil in order to produce good is a godless person."
Prabhupada: Now if you do not know what is God, then how you will verify your duty is nice, all-good? What is the order of God, who is God, then where is your duty? You simply manufacture your duty. So everyone can do that. So what do you mean by duty? Duty means the order given by some superior and you follow, you do it. That is duty. But if you have no superior order, if you have no conception who is the superior, what is his order, then where is your duty? Simply by mental imagination. Is it? Does he say it like that?
Hayagriva: Well, for him, outside of one's duty...
Prabhupada: So what is one's duty?
Hayagriva: Yes, well...
Prabhupada: That he does not know.
Hayagriva: No, that is not...
Prabhupada: So that is a useless, because everyone will say, "This is my duty." So who has given him the duty?
Hayagriva: But it's ambiguous in this way. It says, "Outside the enactment of duty we can not know anything else of God."
Prabhupada: So what is that, I am asking, what is your duty? We have got definite duty. We divide the whole human society into division. That is called varnasrama-dharma. Socially, brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, and spiritually, brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa. Now the..., it is so that whatever you are doing, you must do it in one of these eight principles. So there are eight principles; there are duties. So if you act accordingly to the position, say grhastha, you have got a position, or a sannyasa, you have got a position So sannyasi means this; grhastha means this. So if you follow that principle, then you are doing duty. But if you have no standing, then what is your duty? That is very common sense. If you go to work in a big office, so the master of the office gives you duty, "You do this. You are dispatcher." Or "You are clerk, you are this, you are...," then it is duty. And the, if you engage, go to the office, now "Simply let me do my duty," so "What is my duty? Shall I sit down on the clerk's bench or on the superintendent bench, or on the What is my duty?" Duty must be given, that "This is your duty." Where is that indication?
Hayagriva: It's not in here.
Prabhupada: So then what is duty?
Hayagriva: He says, "Our knowledge of God arises from the enactment of our duty."
Prabhupada: So what is your duty? That God must be giving you the duty, "You do this," then you understand God; you know your duty. But if you have no conception of God, then where is your duty?
Hayagriva: Well duty, one's duty...
Prabhupada: These are vague philosophy.
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: Not philosophy. It is simply ambiguous speculation, that's all.
Hayagriva: He was also ambiguous when it came to a personal Deity, but he seemed to lean toward impersonalism.
Prabhupada: We shall see impersonalism. First of all impersonalism, if you stick to impersonal, then there is no specific understanding of the master who is giving you duty.
Hayagriva: He looks on the attribution of personality to God as simply a multiplication of one's self in his thoughts.
Prabhupada: That's all right, but where is the leadership of impersonal understanding? Is there any leadership, impersonal understanding?
Hayagriva: Well he feels that if you attribute personality to God, you're simply...
Prabhupada: I am not attributing. God cannot be attributed! That is a false concept. I cannot manufacture God by giving my imaginary attributes. That is not God.
Hayagriva: Well he feels that if you attribute personality to God, you are simply projecting yourself onto God.
Prabhupada: No.
Hayagriva: This is what he is saying.
Prabhupada: He is saying, but it is not... Even if you attribute, it must be sensual. Just like, full of sense, just like we say "God is great." So at least we have got conception of greatness, so that must be in God. So we suppose a person very big, at least at the present moment if one is very rich. So then my attribution to God that He is the supreme richest person. That is quite reasonable. If we say God is the supreme wise, that is quite reasonable. So this definition given by Parasara Muni, that aisvaryasya samagrasya, that is perfect. Unless one is the richest of all, how can be the great? We have got some conception of greatness, so even if we attribute all the conception of great, that must be God. That is a reasonable definition. Everyone goes to pray to God, "Give us our daily bread." But if He is a poor man, then how can He supply bread? And everyone is praying, "God has to be kind to everyone to supply bread," so He must be very rich. Otherwise how He can supply bread? This is quite reasonable. If everyone comes to me to ask something, so I must be able to supply that thing. Otherwise how can I be God?
Hayagriva: But again he feels, like the others, that if you apply personality to God or if you look on God as a person you necessarily refer to someone who is limited and finite.
Prabhupada: No. That is his mistake. He, he is thinking God is like himself, as he is finite. That is Dr. Frog.
Hayagriva: Yes, he says...
Prabhupada: That, if there is water, that water is this well. How can there be more than this? And maybe big well, that's all. But that is his conception. So this conception will not help. You cannot create God. Just like we have got God, Krsna. As soon as there was necessity to give protection to the inhabitants of whole Vrndavana, the torrents of rain, and it requires a big umbrella, and immediately He lifted the whole mountain: "Come on, under this, let Me see how long this torrents of rain go on. I shall hold." That is God. He... So He was seven-years-old boy. He was not a meditation God. Nowadays that the rascals are becoming God by meditation. What is meditation God? God is always God. Does it require meditation to become God? There are all these rascals, they are preaching, "You meditate and you become God. You think that 'I am moving the sun, I am moving the earth, I am...' " This is rascaldom. But Krsna, He is not that kind of God. He is always God. Now it is necessary, "All right. Lift this." This is God. Aisvaryasya samagrasya viryasya. Whole strength is there to lift the mountain. That is God.
Hayagriva: He doesn't bring in meditation. He feels...
Prabhupada: There are others...
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: ...they say that meditation you become God. That meditation can make, manufacture God?
Hayagriva: Well his, his impersonalist stand leads toward pantheism.
Prabhupada: This is also kind of meditation, speculating that "God should be like this." What is that? But they cannot define what is that, this.
Hayagriva: He says, "The concept of God as a separate substance is impossible and contradictory."
Prabhupada: God is everything. There is no question of separation. That is defined in the Bhagavad-gita, maya tatam idam sarvam, "I am everything." So how He can be separate?
Hayagriva: But he rejects God as a separate person.
Prabhupada: He may reject, but God is everything. How he can reject God? The, the, these are the defects of speculators. They cannot give us tangible leading. That because they are defective themselves, so whatever interpretation they will give, all defective.
Hayagriva: Oh, he would agree that God is everything.
Prabhupada: That God is..., how he can reject? If God is everything, then how can he reject?
Hayagriva: But he would not say that God is more than the creation.
Prabhupada: So how everything He can create? You cannot create the Pacific Ocean, but Pacific Ocean is God. So you are limited, why you are trying to create God? God is already there. Everything is God. Maya tatam idam sarvam [Bg. 9.4]. Sarvam khalv idam brahma. How he can reject God? Because the table is God, table is God and table is staying on God... The same example: the earthen pot is also earth and it is kept on earth. So earth both of them are. The earthen pot, a tumbler, and waterpot made of earth, everything is made of earth. This table is made of earth and it is staying on earth. So what you can reject?
Hayagriva: But he rejects God's transcendental nature, and when you...
Prabhupada: That thing is that everything is God, just I have given the example. The floor is God, the table is God. Now which you can reject?
Hayagriva: He wouldn't disagree with that.
Prabhupada: Then where is the rejection of God?
Hayagriva: He would reject the transcendental personality.
Prabhupada: Then as soon as you accept that everything is God, what you can reject?
Hayagriva: The transcendental personality separate from the creation.
Prabhupada: Transcendental also God. As soon as you say everything is God, then that, what you call transcendental, and not transcendental, that is also God. Then how you can reject? If everything is God, how you can reject anything? Sarvam khalu idam brahma. There is no question of... The same example: if everything is made of earth, then where is the question of? My body is also earth. So what you can reject? That is our philosophy. We don't reject. We see God in everything. Isavasyam idam sarvam [Iso mantra 1]. That is intelligence. And Rupa Goswami said that prapancikataya buddhya hari-sambandhi-vastunah, that there is everything is related with God. If we think, "This is matter, this is spirit," that is my speculation. That we have to see how God is there and how everything... Material means when you forget God. That is material.
Hayagriva: Yet we concentrate on the personality of Krsna.
Prabhupada: But that is..., that requires little brain. Those who are less intelligent or those practically no brain, simply cow dung, for them it is little difficult. Therefore this Krsna consciousness movement is to cleanse this cow dung and make the brain pure. Then he will understand. Otherwise he is thinking God, "A person like me." But God is not like that. God is goloka eva nivasaty akhilatma-bhuto [Bs. 5.37]. He is person. He is in Vrndavana, Goloka Vrndavana, He is dancing with gopis, playing with the cowherd boys—still He is everywhere. Not that "Now I am dancing I have no time to go everywhere." That is not. He may be engaged in dancing, but still He is everywhere, isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-de... [Bg. 18.61]. Now if He is in Goloka Vrndavana only, a person like us, then how He can say that patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya [Bg. 9.26]? We are offering some dates to Krsna, so He is in Goloka Vrndavana, He may say, "I am now busy. How can I go to your temple and eat?" No. He is also temple, in the temple also. That is God. He is everywhere. Goloka eva nivasaty akhilatma-bhuto [Bs. 5.37]. This is definition, akhilatma-bhuto. So he has no conception of God. He cannot imagine God. He must take the understanding... [break] ...because they have no standard knowledge. Everyone is manufacturing, so then there must be difference, because everyone is imperfect. You propose something imperfect, I propose something imperfect, so there must be disagreement.
Hayagriva: Oh, he says, "Without action, knowledge has no meaning. Not merely to know but acting according to your knowledge is your vocation, not for idle contemplation of yourself."
Prabhupada: Yes. We...
Hayagriva: "Know for action you are here. Your action and your action alone determines your worth."
Prabhupada: Yes. That is our Krsna consciousness movement, that we are meant for rendering service to Krsna. So we do it daily from morning, four o'clock, to night, ten o'clock, they are always engaged to give service to Krsna. So this is practical. If you simply sit down, speculate on God and smoke cigarette, then what is the use of such speculation? Here is practical life.
Hayagriva: Well in this sense Fichte is closer to Krsna consciousness than most impersonalists, because most impersonalist advocate inaction and meditation on the void, but, uh...
Prabhupada: No, impersonalist...
Hayagriva: ...but how can you have action without action directed toward a person or toward...?
Prabhupada: Yes. Just like here in India, impersonalist, they have got also action. Just like the Mayavadis, they have also the same principle. The Sankaracarya is teaching vairagya, "Sit down under the tree, take thrice bath," so many vairagya instruction. Rather, their instruction are more difficult than Vaisnava. So vaivagya-vidya's teaching. Ours is also, Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught by His personal example. There is no question of inaction, sitting idly and gossiping about God imagination. Even an impersonalist or personalist, they are fully engaged. Just like the impersonalist in India, they are reading Vedanta-sutra, they are trying to understand. They are not idle.
Hayagriva: He felt that faith is the basis of action, not knowledge. He felt that knowledge...
Prabhupada: So faith is...
Hayagriva: not sufficient for action.
Prabhupada: Yes. Faith is there. Just like a child, even animals, we have seen in the park the swan... What is called the children of the swan?
Hari-sauri: Cygnets.
Prabhupada: Hm?
Hari-sauri: Cygnets.
Prabhupada: Cygnets?
Hayagriva: Cygnets.
Prabhupada: What is the meaning of, the spelling?
Hayagriva: Baby swans.
Hari-sauri: C-y-g-n-e-t-s. Cygnets.
Prabhupada: Yes. Cygnets?
Hari-sauri: Yeah.
Prabhupada: So we have seen it practically, this big swan is moving and the, they are also moving behind. The big one is jumping with water, and they are also jumping. They do not know where we are jumping, but they are jumping. The mother is swimming and they are swimming. This is natural.
Hayagriva: But in Krsna consciousness isn't knowledge rather than faith the basis for action?
Prabhupada: Yes. Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. They are giving up everything: "Yes, I give up everything." So it's faith, full faith. "Now I shall have to consider whether I shall give up everything and take to Krsna"—that is not faith; that is speculations. Why he should consider? That is explained in the Caitanya-caritamrta. The faith is described, sraddha-sabde visvasa sudrdha niscaya. Faith means believing firmly. And what is that believing firmly? That krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya. Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. If you have got faith, then you believe firmly that "Simply by surrendering to Krsna I become perfect." That is faith. If you have still reservation, that is not faith, that is not faith. Here is faith. That faith, how it comes?
This faith is not so easy. After many, many births, when one actually becomes a wise man, this faith comes in. Therefore it is said, sa mahatma su-durlabhah. Such kind of mahatma is very rare to be seen, for this faith is not so easy. Na janma-kotibhir labhyate, Rupa Gosvami has said. This faith, sukrtibhih na janma-kotibhir labhyate. Those who are pious, they are candidate, that also requires many, many births to come to this faith. Tatra laulyam eka mulyam na janma-kotibhir sukrtibhih labhyate. So the faith is not so easy thing. Krsna is, from the battlefield of Kuruksetra, five thousand years ago, the Bhagavad-gita is being studied by so many scholars like Gandhi, Dr. Radhakrishnan, Vivekananda, Aurobindo. Where is that faith, sarva-dharman parityajya mam [Bg. 18.66]? They are taking advantage of Bhagavad-gita and pleading their own philosophy. And where is that faith? They never taught that "You surrender unto Krsna." Perhaps this is the first time. Of course, the Vaisnava teaching us like that, but we, this Krsna consciousness movement, we are teaching this, that "You catch up Krsna." They have no faith and they are teaching Bhagavad-gita. This is their only... They have no faith in Krsna and they are preaching about Krsna, they are studying Bhagavad-gita. This nonsense is going on. They have no faith. They do not believe in the words of Krsna. Faithless preachers, rascals, and these yogis, swamis, they are preaching Bhagavad-gita. So this is a nice point, that faith is the beginning, but they have no faith. Then where is the beginning?
Hayagriva: The foundation.
Prabhupada: Foundation is lost, and what is the use of big building? Any, anywhere you go, even the Christians, they have no faith in the words of Christ. That I point out every time, that Christ says, "Thou shalt not kill," and their only business is killing. Where is faith? The Ten Commandments, that is Christ's word. Who has faith in these Ten Commandments? Then where is Christian? This is going on.
Hayagriva: For Fichte, faith is innate in all men. He says, "So has it been with all men who have ever seen the light of the world. Without being conscious of it, they apprehend all the reality which has an existence for them through faith alone."
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: "This faith forces itself on them simultaneously with their existence."
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: "It is born with them. How could it be otherwise?"
Prabhupada: Yes. Therefore we should have faith by experience that everything has got some proprietor, so why not the whole cosmic manifestation has proprietor? This is faith. You may not have seen the, who is the proprietor, but it is a question of faith. Everything I see has got a proprietor or owner, so who is the owner of this whole cosmic manifestation? This depends on faith. You may not have seen it. One says, "Who is that God? I don't see any proprietor." Then wherefrom it comes? "Ah, by accident." Is that any explanation? That is faith, that as everything has got some proprietor or some manufacturer, so why not this whole cosmic manifestation a proprietor? But you cannot say that "I am proprietor." There is some proprietor. That is faith. Just like we go, strolling in the morning, by the path. The (indistinct) park is part of high government. You know it is the property of the government. That just three yards after there is sea, now who is the proprietor of this sea? If this land is..., proprietor is the high government, now who is the proprietor of the water? There must be somebody. I may not know. That is faith. It is common sense. If the land is the property of somebody, so whose property is the sea? But there must be somebody. That is faith. Common sense. But they have no common sense even.
Hayagriva: Getting back to conscience, that was..., we said was vague, he says, "This voice of my conscience announces to me precisely what I ought to do and what leave undone, in every particular situation of life. It accompanies me, if I but will listen to it with attention, through all the events of my life, and never refuses me my reward when I am called upon to act. To listen to it, to obey it honestly..."
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: "...and unob..."
Prabhupada: So that means he wants to listen somebody's dictation. That is, as soon as you say "listen," then somebody is speaking, you listen. So that is explained in the Bhagavad-gita, isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati [Bg. 18.61]. God is situated in everyone's heart, and He is dictating. Even He is dictating to the thief that "You are going to steal. It is not good. If you are arrested you will be punished." That dictation is there, but he disobeys the dictation and he steals, commits sin. That is sin. So the dictator is there, we admit that. Krsna, or God, is there within the heart, and He is giving dictation, but you disobey. But if we accept that dictation, then you become devotee. Dictation is already there; otherwise this thief is going to steal at night? Dictation is there that "You don't go at the daytime. You will be captured and be punished." "All right, I shall go at night, when everyone is sleep." So dictation is there. Dictation is there in two ways—from the heart and from the representative. God's representative, saintly person, spiritual master, is dictating, "My dear boy, do not do this; you do this." Outside dictation. And inside dictation. But he is disobeying. Regularly he is disobeying. Then how he can be happy?
Hayagriva: His ultimate goal is to merge into what he calls the universal ego.
Prabhupada: That universal ego, so just like I have got some ego, "I am the husband of my wife," "I am the chief man in my family," "I am the president of the state"—these are egos. But you cannot say that "I am the master of this whole universe." That is false ego.
Hayagriva: So he feels that one can go through the universe assimilating everything, until one finally unifies with the impersonal Absolute.
Prabhupada: Impersonal Absolute means the Absolute, as soon as you say Absolute, there is no distinction between impersonal and personal. Then it is no Absolute. If you have got distinction that "This is personal; this is impersonal," then that is not Absolute. Do you think it is Absolute? It is contradictory.
Hayagriva: Well for, for him, God is simply the universal ego, nothing more, and that...
Prabhupada: No. You say Absolute. As soon as say Absolute there is relative also. Otherwise what is the meaning Absolute?
Hayagriva: Yes. He would say that. He would say that...
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: ...there is the ego and the universal ego.
Prabhupada: So then why he is distinguishing, discriminating between personal and impersonal? In the Absolute there is no such difference. That is defined in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, advaya. That is Absolute. Brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate. Vadanti tat tattva vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam [SB 1.2.11]. That is Absolute. Dvayam, dvayam means relative. That is not relative. So actually we are searching after the Absolute Truth. The Absolute Truth is realized in different ways. Brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate. The, just like the same example I gave the other day, that from a distant place you are seeing this mountain, something cloudy. You come a little forward, you will see it is green, and if you enter the mountain you will see so many varieties. The one is there, but it is due to my relative understanding by distant or nearer the Absolute is appearing in different way. Absolute is one. That is Absolute. But it is due to my position, qualitative position, we see imperson or all-pervading or Bhagavan. So actually He is Bhagavan. Brahmano aham pratistha. The impersonal feature is standing on Him. Yes. That just like this, this mountain, you see from distance impersonal, but you go to the mountain you will see so many houses, so many persons, so many animals, so many. So because I am looking the Absolute from very distant place, it looks impersonal. Actually it is not. It is my position to see. Although this impersonal is also the Absolute. What you are seeing like vague cloud, this same mountain or the same hill, but... (aside:) Oh, come on. You're feeling little... (end)

Link to this page:

If you Love Me Distribute My Books -- Srila Prabhupada