John Dewey
Hayagriva: This is John Dewey, who believed that religions were basically myths and that experience is of the utmost necessity. He felt that philosophy was superior to religion. He writes, "The form ceases to be that of the story told in imaginative and emotional style and becomes that of rational discourse, observing the canons of logic." So it's apparent that Dewey considers religion simply to be a story told in imaginative and emotional style, and for him philosophy observes the canons of logic. So for him the Vedic accounts of Krsna's pastimes would be imaginative and emotional, or mythic. How does one argue against this kind of a...?
Prabhupada: Krsna is historical fact. It is not imagination. It is, to think like that, is imaginative. Krsna... The Mahabharata is there. It is accepted by all Indian authority, and Krsna is a historical figure. How it can be imaginative? So... he may think like that, like a madman, but India's leader will not accept that. Especially the acaryas who are controlling the spiritual life of India, they do not accept a lunatic foreigner speaking like that.
Hayagriva: He writes, "According to the religious and philosophic tradition of Europe, the valid status of all the highest values, the good, true and beautiful, was bound up with their being properties of ultimate and supreme being, namely God. All went well as long as what passed for natural science gave no offense to this conception. Trouble began when science ceased to disclose in the objects of knowledge the possession of any such properties. Then some roundabout method had to be devised for substantiating them." In other words, science began to investigate the phenomenal universe without admitting the proprietorship of anyone, of God, and this brings a breakdown in morality and value. So Dewey attempts to reassemble these shattered values in a philosophical way, but he, like science, attempts to do so without recognizing the proprietorship of an ultimate and supreme being.
Prabhupada: That is another lunacy, because everything has a proprietor. So why this big cosmic manifestation will not have a proprietor? To accept the proprietor is natural, and that is logical. And not to accept a proprietor, that is lunacy. How it can be possible? Just like we give this example: We are standing on the land. We know that there is government, there is proprietor. And a few yards after, when this ocean begins, how we can think of that the ocean has no proprietor, no government? How any philosopher and man having logic can believe it? What is the answer?
Hayagriva: Well, he felt that science dealt a death blow to the religions as we know them, to the orthodox religions.
Prabhupada: No, religion we have repeatedly explained. Religion means to accept the laws of God. That is religion.
Hayagriva: He re..., excuse me, he refers to historical religion.
Prabhupada: Historical... It is historical. The whole cosmic manifestation has a date of creation; therefore it is historical. Anything material which has a beginning, that, that is history, it has got a history. So people do not know how long before this material world or cosmic manifestation was created. It is beyond their conception. Even the mathematical count, millions and trillions and millions, will not do, when he began, but it has got a history-beyond the calculation of so-called scientist and mathematician, but there is history. According to Vedic description there is history. There is history of Manu, there is history of, of Brahma. So in this way there is a regular history. Just like in the Bhagavad-gita a small instance of history is being given: sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmano viduh [Bg. 8.17], that the Brahma's daytime, just like we have got solar calculation, twelve hours' daytime, so that twelve hours of Brahma is calculated sahara-yuga-paryantam. One yuga means forty-three hundred thousands of years. Similarly, thousand times, that is Brahma's twelve hours. So everything is relative. We are tiny people. We have got history of this world, some thousands of years, but Brahma is greater than the human being. His history is different. Here everything is relative. My history is different from an ant's history. Similarly a man's history is different from Brahma's history. So historical does not mean whatever you have calculated, that is history. History is relative according to the person. So these people, they have no information of the greater personalities than us, but we have got information from Vedic literature. In the higher planetary system, there the duration of life, standard of life is different from here.
So in this, on this platform, mostly the philosopher, scientist, they are Dr. Frogs. So their calculation is not correct. So whatever they cannot calculate, they take it as myth, imagination, that just a foreign. Even for ordinary human being to think of Brahma's duration of life, huh, forty-three hundred thousand multiplied by one thousand, and that becomes twelve hours of Brahma, because it is beyond your calculation, he thinks it imaginary. So unless one has got thorough knowledge of the whole universe, so for him it is imaginary. But it..., one man's imaginary may be a fact to the other man. It depends on the knowledge. So unfortunately, the so-called scientists, philosophers on this planet, they are thinking in their own terms and they are taking it final. So they must think other things as mythological, imaginary. But actually that is not the fact.
Hayagriva: Dewey was an American writing in the early part of the twentieth century, and he writes, "Logic demands that in imagination we wipe the slate clean and start afresh by asking what would be the idea of the unseen." In other words, he feels that it's time to set aside the orthodox, what he calls superstitious religions, and create a new religion. In other words, we must define God and religion anew.
Prabhupada: Yes, that is required. Because in the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is also accepted that except a Vedic religion, all others are cheating religion because they have no perfect knowledge. It is clearly stated that cheating type of religion is rejected from the Bhagavata religion. Bhagavata... The sum and substance of Bhagavata religion is accepting God as the supreme controller. Satyam param dhimahi. This is beginning. And what is that Absolute Truth? Janmady asya yatah, itaratas ca arthesu abhijnah svarat: [SB 1.1.1] that there is a principal, Brahman, from whom everything has come. So unless you find out what is the ultimate source of emanation, the knowledge is perfect, hum, imperfect. But you must have to admit, from your experience, that everything has a source of emanation. Anything has. You cannot go beyond your experience. You see this table. This table has got a history. Somebody has collected the wood and he has made into a shape. So everything that you see, it has got a history. So similarly the whole creation, it has got a history, and to know who has created, janmady asya yatah [SB 1.1.1], that is perfect knowledge. If you do not know, if you cannot reach, that is your inability. Don't think that it is imaginary, mythological. That is your imperfect of knowledge. You cannot reach, and you make a conclusion like a crazy man. That is not philosophical at all.
So there is no question of starting a new religion. The religion is already there, but poor people, they do not accept it. The simple thing is that somebody must be the supreme controller. He is God. And everything under His control. Actually, if somebody asks, "What is your experience?" so the real experience is that we see two things. One thing is matter, inert matter, without any consciousness. Another thing we see, another element: with consciousness. Two things we see. You cannot go beyond this. And above two, these two things, there is one controller—the third element. The third element is the Absolute Truth, and these two elements, one inert and one living, they are categories. So this is a fact. So the third element, the controller of the living, animate and inanimate, the controller is the Supreme Lord. So this is simple philosophy. Everyone can understand that there is a supreme controller, and both these visible, animate and inanimate objects, they are controlled by Him. This is a simple fact. Why these big, big philosophers cannot understand this? Anyone can understand. What is the difficulty?
Hayagriva: He says, "What I have been criticizing is the identification of the ideal with a particular being, especially when that identification makes necessary the conclusion that this being is outside of nature," that is, transcendental, "and what I have tried to show is that the ideal itself has its roots in natural conditions. It emerges when the imagination idealizes existence by laying hold of the possibilities offered to thought and action." In other words, there is no God outside of nature. God has His roots in nature.
Prabhupada: Why does he say? That is his inexperience. God means supreme controller. So everything is being controlled. So how he can say there is not God? That is his imperfect knowledge. The nature is going on in perfect order, and we have got experience that without being a director, controller... [break] ...first proposition, that the natural phenomena, that is going on in systematic way, and we have no experience anything going on in a systematic way has no controller. How they can think of this big phenomena without any controller? At least any sane man cannot think like that, that it is going on automatically, it is happening automatically. The season is changing in time, the sun is rising in time, the moon is rising—everything is going on systematically—and how he thinks that there is no controller, there is no God? That is insanity. To become atheist is, means, a greatest insane person. It has no meaning to become atheist.
Hayagriva: He wouldn't consider himself an atheist, but...
Prabhupada: Anyone who cannot think of a supreme controller, he is an insane man. He is not a sane man. How he can propose? Where is his experience? Everything is going on under some control. Even this wonderful machine, computer, that requires an operator. So how one can think of without controller things are going on very systematically? This is insanity. It has no meaning.
Hayagriva: He sees God emerging as man's striving for perfection.
Prabhupada: No, that God is there. Man's perfection will depend on his ability to understand God. God is already there. It is not that a perfect man is by imagination creating God. Anything created by man, that is controlled. God is the supreme controller. So man is dying under the control of the Supreme, so how man can create God? He is already under the rules of God, that he must die, he must suffer from disease, he must become old. So if he cannot control what is already imposed by God, how he can think of God? How he can create a God? That is also another insanity. First of all you become independent of the laws of God, then you can think of creation of God. You are completely under the supremacy of the Supreme Lord. How you can think of creating God? That is another insanity. So all these atheistic person who are thinking that "We can create God," "God is imagination," they are all insane person.
Hayagriva: He says, "Use of the words 'God' or 'divine' to convey the union of actual with ideal may protect man from his sense of isolation and from consequent despair or defiance..."
Prabhupada: That will never happen. The so-called unity of man by the imaginative process of so-called intelligent philosopher, it has never become possible, neither it will become possible, because every man has got little independence. So unless they are controlled, they will assert their independence, and by this imaginative process they cannot be united. That is another insanity. History has never proved this in the past, and it is not going on in the present, so naturally in the future it will not be possible. That is sane man's conclusion.
Hayagriva: You..., when you discussed Dewey with Syamasundara Prabhu, you said that Dewey wants to make God his scapegoat—why does he mention the word God, and he uses the word God to serve his own ends. His philosophic conception is the working union of the ideal and the actual. This is rather vague, but this is his definition of God: Man striving for perfection.
Prabhupada: He can define, but he must be a very, what is called, sane man to define. The sane man's definition of God is there. Just like everyone says, "God is great." So now if he can define what is the greatness... The greatness, if one man is very rich, we consider him great man. If a man is very wise we call him a great man. If a man is very strong or influential or beautiful... Greatness according to our estimation. So all this greatness must be there in God. God must be the richest, God must be the strongest, God must be the most beautiful, God must be wisest. In this way, six opulences calculated, and when these opulences are in completeness, that is God. So that completeness we find in the history Krsna. In the history of humanity it is very easy to find out that when Krsna was present on this planet, so He proved the strongest, the most influential, the most beautiful, the supreme wise—everything—supreme famous. Krsna's fame, fame is still going on. Krsna's knowledge, stated in the Bhagavad-gita, is still being studied all over the world. This is the proof that He is God. And all saintly persons in India, they are not controlled by these foreign Dr. Frogs. So these big, big acaryas, like Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Nimbarka, Sankaracarya, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu, all big acaryas, they have accepted Krsna as the Supreme Lord. So there is complete uniformity of the authorities in the past, present and future. So here is God. If one cannot accept Him God, then he is insane. With so many evidences, and it is practical. Many evidences when Krsna was present He showed; that is history. But these imperfect Dr. Frog, when they see God is doing something uncommon, they take it "Myth, mythology."
Hayagriva: Now...
Prabhupada: God... Huh?
Hayagriva: They take it?
Prabhupada: They take it as mythology. Myth.
Hayagriva: Mythology.
Prabhupada: Hah. Just like Krsna is lifting the hill, that what is the difficulty for God to lift a hill if He is all-powerful? But as soon as they read it, that Krsna is lifting hill, they will take it as mythology. So when God shows that "I am God," that is mythology, and they imagine God. That is rascaldom. When God comes and shows His godly power, they take it myth, mythology. And they imagine God according to your definition. Is that sanity? The acaryas have described Him: "Yes. Krsna lifted this Govardhana Hill," and they have appreciated. And they are taking as mythology. That when there is Avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum a... [Bg. 9.11]. These rascals, when God shows His godly power, they take it mythology. Just see how much fool they are, and we are to follow these Dr. Frogs.
Hayagriva: He differs from Comte and Marx in that he did not believe that humanity is the object of worship. In fact, he excludes everything as an object of worship. He writes, "Nature produces whatever gives reinforcement and direction, but also it occasions discord and confusion. 'The divine' is thus a term of human choice and aspiration."
Prabhupada: No. There is no question of human choice. Can you say that death is my choice? Huh? It is forced. So the, wherefrom the force is coming, that is God. Nobody wants to die, but there is force. You must die. Nobody wants to become old man. You must become old man. The sanity is to find out wherefrom this enforcement is coming. That is Supreme. Just like the government. If you disobey the orders of government, immediately you will be punished. So we can understand there is supreme authority. Similarly, I do not want to die. I am enforced to die. So there must be some supreme authority. That supreme authority is God. Either call nature or God, whatever you call, there is something supreme which is controlling you. How you can philosophize and imagine that man can imagine God, man can imagine this and...? That is insanity.
Hayagriva: He says, "A humanistic religion, if it excludes our relation to nature, is pale and thin, as it is presumptuous when it takes humanity as an object of worship."
Prabhupada: Humanity is not worship. Every, every... According to God conscious person, everything is worshipable, even an ant, but supreme worshipable is God. Isvarah paramah krsnah [Bs. 5.1]. So that is wanted. Nature, these persons, they are taking as nature as the Supreme. But those who are actually in awareness of God, they know that God is the controller of nature also. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram [Bg. 9.10]. Nature is matter. Matter cannot act independently. In the Bhagavad-gita, as (indistinct), the difference, what is the difference between matter and the living being. The difference is the matter is being handled, controlled by the living being. Therefore living being is the superior nature, and matter is inferior nature. Bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva ca [Bg. 7.4]. This earth, water, air, fire, etc., everything, these are inferior nature. Just try to understand nature. And above this inferior nature there is superior nature. That, the inferior nature, is a vast ocean, but the superior nature, man, has a big ship. The ocean will not allow to walk over it, and they have control over the ocean, not exclusive control, but little control. Because he is living being, he can cross over the big mass of water by inventing some means, so that at least they are controlling to some extent. But above this ocean and the man who is trying to control over the ocean, there is another controller. That is supreme controller. That is God. It is very easy to understand that there are two natures: one, the active nature; inactive nature. And above these both, active and inactive, there is another active personality who is controlling both of them. That we can understand by Vedic literature very clearly. There is no difficulty. But those who are obstinate, they will not accept. That is their misfortune. What can be done? But this is the fact.
Hayagriva: In the, in the realm of philosophy and religion...
Prabhupada: In the history we find that Krsna went within the sea. Within the sea. Krsna penetrated the universe. He is God. God can do that. We have no conception of God, and when God comes and shows His godly power, we take it as mythology. Then what, how God will be proved? When you see Him doing uncommon activities, you say it is mythology; and he does not see, he will say there is no God. This is your position. So this is not sanity. It is all insanity. Let them talk all this nonsense. We do not accept that.
Hayagriva: He says in the realm of philosophy and religion, certainty is impossible. He says, "The moment philosophy supposes it can find a final and comprehensive solution, it ceases to be inquiry and becomes either apologetics or propaganda. Any philosophy that in its quest for certainty ignores the reality of the uncertain in the ongoing processes of nature denies the conditions out of which it arises."
Prabhupada: There is uncertain when you do not accept the reality. The reality is God, and God is explaining how things are going on, but you take it as mythology. Then how you will know?
Hayagriva: No way.
Prabhupada: Huh?
Hayagriva: No way.
Prabhupada: You are rascal. When it is explained by God Himself, and actually by doing it, you do not accept it. And still you imagine. So your position is very precarious. When God comes Himself and shows Himself, His activities, we think it is mythology. Then how we can be convinced? Direct perception and authority. And the direct perception, when He comes you take it that it is mythology. When the direct perception history is written about Krsna in Mahabharata, and then you take it as mythology. Then how he will believe it? And the authority accepts, "Yes, Krsna is the Supreme. He has done it." You say, "I don't accept it." Then how you will be convinced? What is the way to convince you? Huh? What is the way, possible way?
Hayagriva: He says, for him he says, "There is but one sure road of access to truth: the road of patient, cooperative inquiry, operating by means of observation, experiment, record, and controlled reflection."
Prabhupada: Record is there already, Mahabharata, and those who have seen, they have confirmed it. Vyasadeva has confirmed, Narada has confirmed. Arjuna talked with Him personally, he has confirmed, and everything is there in the record, but you don't believe. Then how you can be convinced? Neither you have got perfect senses to see. Then what is the way to convince you? You will remain always in darkness. There is no way out. You can, within your dark well, you can go on imagining, Dr. Frog, but you will never have perfect knowledge.
Hayagriva: Well that's the conclusion of John Dewey. Most of the other points have already been dealt with. (end)

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