Soren Aabye Kierkegaard
Hayagriva: This is Kierkegaard, who was a Danish philosopher, who lived from 1813 to 1855. He is generally regarded as the father of existentialism. He was Christian. He wrote, or he believed, that if the truths of religion are not innate within man, they must be brought to us by a teacher. If God comes to teach as He is, man would be over awed or over..., overcome. Therefore he comes as a servant of God in human form.
Prabhupada: So man's general position is as good as animal. Therefore in the human society there is system of education. But man, being advanced in consciousness, he can be properly educated so that he can understand what is God by the teachings of authority, and that is our Vedic system. In the human form of life—not generally but in special cases—they are very much inquisitive to understand about God. That is technically called brahma-jijnasa. inquiring about the Absolute. And that is only possible in the human form of life. Generally, any human being can be educated in the spiritual life or God consciousness, but if anyone awakens his inquiry, as it is stated, tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21], if one is actually anxious to inquire about God or the supreme knowledge, then he has to approach a guru. That's a fact. Without approaching a bona fide guru there is no possibility of understanding the nature of God and our relationship with Him. So one has to approach a guru. To accept a guru is not a fashion, it is necessity. If one is actually inquisitive, it is a necessity. So the qualification of guru is also given there, that what sort of guru you should search out. Sabde pare ca nisnatam [SB 11.3.21]. A guru is he who has taken full training in the ocean of spiritual knowledge or Vedic knowledge, sabde pare. Sabde means the Vedic words, or vibration of sound, but that is not ordinary sound, material sound, but spiritual sound. Just like we are chanting Hare Krsna maha-mantra, this spiritual sound. So one who has taken full bathing in the ocean of spiritual sound, and how he has realized the symptom of his life is that such guru is no more interested in materialistic way of life. Such guru does not manufacture gold or jugglery words to attract some foolish men and make money. That is not guru. Guru means who has no more interest in material things. Sabde pare ca nisnatam brahmany upasamasrayam. He has taken shelter of the Supreme Lord, completely satiating his material desire. So one should approach such guru, then tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya [Bg. 4.34]. By serving such guru, bona fide guru, and surrendering unto him, and then questioning him, he can make actual progress in spiritual life, and then he understands properly what is God, what is our relationship with Him. That is perfection of human life.
Hayagriva: But isn't he incorrect in say..., in maintaining that if God comes to teach as He is, man would be overawed; therefore He comes as a servant of God in human form.
Prabhupada: No. Krsna came as He was, but people misunderstood Him, because He was talking just like a human being. But people... And they, when He asked sarva-dharman parityajya [Bg. 18.66], people thought, "It is too much," so they are misguided. Therefore later on He came as a devotee, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to teach how to approach God. That is the function of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya understood His activities, and he wrote about one hundred verses appreciating Caitanya Mahaprabhu's activity, and the first one is,
siksartham ekah purusah puranah
krpambudhir yas tam aham prapadye
[Cc. Madhya 6.254]
The, his, he understood Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, while they were talking on the Vedanta philosophy, that Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the same Krsna; now He has come to teach the human society bhakti-yoga, which is vairagya-vidya. Devotional life means renounced life. Vairagya-vidya, vairagya means renunciation. Anyone who has no more interest in materialistic way of life, that is bhakti-yoga. Vairagya-vidya-nija-bhakti... So here is the person, Sri Krsna Caitanya, in the form of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is none but the same original Krsna. He has come to teach us the same philosophy as He did while teaching Arjuna Bhagavad-gita, but this time He has come as a devotee of Krsna. Similarly, another authority, Rupa Gosvami, understood Him, that "Here is Krsna, and He is the most munificent incarnation, because Krsna, in order to give Himself to the devotee, demanded full surrender. And here Caitanya Mahaprabhu, without any demand, He is not only giving Krsna but the love of Krsna. Therefore He is namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya." So Krsna, the Supreme Lord, is affectionate towards us because we are all sons. We are rotting in this material way of life. So He comes Himself, as He is. He comes as a devotee. He leaves His instruction in the Bhagavad-gita. Again He advises His devotees to preach the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita. So He is always anxious to enlighten the human being how to go back to home, back to Godhead.
Hayagriva: Kierkegaard wrote one book called Works of Love, in which he saw God as the hidden source of, of love. He says man, "A man must love God in unconditional, in unconditional obedience and love Him in adoration. It would be ungodliness if any man dared to love himself in this way or dared to love another man in this way or dared to permit another man to love him in this way. God you must love in unconditional obedience even if that which He demands of you may seem injurious to you, for God's wisdom is incomparable with respect to your own."
Prabhupada: Yes. That is the instruction of Bhagavad-gita. God demands that "You give up your own plans or any other's so-called intelligent person's plan or philosopher's plan. Take My plan," sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66], "just surrender unto Me fully, then I shall take care of you so that you will not suffer." That is our position. If we fully depend on Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then He will guide us how to make progress back to home, back to Godhead.
Hayagriva: As far as defining love, what is love—people speak of love—he says, "If someone asks what is love, Paul answers, 'It is the fulfillment of the law.' Love is a matter of conscience, and hence it is not a matter of impulse and inclination, nor is it a matter of emotion, nor a matter for intellectual calculation. There is only one kind of love." And he says that is spiritual love.
Prabhupada: Yes. Love in the material world is impossible. In the material world everyone is interested for his own sense gratification. The love between man and woman, young boy and young girl, that is not love, that is lust, because both the parties are interested in sense gratification. But that is not love. Love means the parties, they will not think of his own sense gratification but the sense gratification of the beloved. That is pure love. That is not possible in the material world, but we see the example of love in the picture of Vrndavana. In the Vrndavana village, everyone—man, animals and fruits, flowers, water, everything—they are only for loving Krsna. They do not want any return from Krsna. That is real love, anyabhilasita-sunyam [Brs. 1.1.11]. If one loves God with some motive, that is material love. Pure love is simply to satisfy the desires of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore in the material world the love, word "love," is misused. The propensity of lusty desires is going on as love. Real love is only with God—individually, collectively, anyway. And that Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He is the supreme object of love, either by adoration or by serving or making friendship with Him, or loving Him as child, or loving Him as beloved—there are five different relationships: santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, madhurya—that is real love.
Hayagriva: And he says, "Ultimately, love of God is the decisive thing. From it stems love to the neighbor. If you love God above else, then you also love your neighbor, and in your neighbor every man. To help another man to love God is to love the other man. To be helped by another man to love God is to be loved."
Prabhupada: That is our Krsna consciousness movement. We are learning how to love God, and we are teaching the same principle to the whole world, without any discrimination, that "God is one." Not that there are different Gods of different faiths. God cannot be two. Eko brahma dvitiyam nasti. God is one. There cannot be any competitor. His name is Asamaurdhva; nobody is equal to Him, nobody is greater than Him. Therefore God is great. Nobody is equal. So in any form of religion, if love of God is instructed, that is first-class religion. It doesn't matter whether it is Christian religion or Hindu religion or Muslim religion. The test is how the followers have learned to love God. And now God being the center of love and everything being God's expansion, so a lover of God is lover of everyone. He does not discriminate that "Only man should be loved, and man should be given service." No. He is interested with all living entities, never mind in which form he is existing. So he is interested in..., lover of God loves everyone, and the love reaches everyone. The example is given in this connection. Just to water the root of the tree means to expand nourishment for all other parts of the tree, namely the trunk, branches, leaves, twigs, everything. Or to supply food in the stomach means satisfying the necessities of all parts of the body. This is the fact. God being everything, maya tatam idam sarvam [Bg. 9.4], as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, nothing can exist without God, and everything is expansion. Another word is there in the Visnu Purana. It is said that the fire remaining in one place distributes its heat and light. Eka-sthane sthitasyagner jyotsna vistarini yatha. The fire can distribute its heat and light although localized in a place. Similarly God, He is in His own abode, but by His energy He is present everywhere. Sarva-vyapi, all-pervading. The all-pervading feature of God means everything is manifestation of His energy. Nothing can exist without God. But it does not mean everything is God. Everything is resting on His energy, but not everything God. In spite of expanding, God, by His different potencies, He keeps His personality. That is God.
Hayagriva: Concerning individuality, Kierkegaard writes, "God is the origin and wellspring of all individuality. To have individuality is to believe in the individuality of everyone else, for the individuality in not mine. It is the gift of God through which He permits me to be, and through which He permits everyone to be."
Prabhupada: That's the fact. He explains..., this fact is explained in the Vedic literature, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam (Katha Upanisad 2.2.13), Katha Upanisad, that He is also living being and we are also living being. So He is also eternal; we are also eternal. So qualitatively we are one, but quantitatively we are different, because eko yo bahunam vidadhati kaman: that one, singular number, eternal living being, Krsna, or God, He is maintaining everyone. So that is the difference. The one living being, the Supreme Living Being, the great living being, is maintaining other living beings who are part and parcel of the Supreme. So both of us, we are the living beings, individual, eternal, but God is Supreme; we are subordinate. That is difference. So our natural position should be to love God, being part and parcel of God.
Hayagriva: Concerning the...
Prabhupada: (aside:) Wind it in the morning.
Hayagriva: Concerning the purpose of prayer, he writes, "The true relation in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for, but when the person praying continues to pray until he is the one who hears what God wills."
Prabhupada: Yes. That's very nice. He becomes qualified to understand God and to talk with God, to take direction of God. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita:
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
yena mam upayanti (te)
Our ultimate goal is to give up this material world and go back to home, back to Godhead. So this being ultimate goal of life, if we offer prayer to the Supreme Lord... Not only prayer. Prayer is one of the service. This is also nine. There are different, nine kinds of service:
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
arcanam vandanam dasyam
Vandanam. Prayer means vandanam. So this is also service. Either you take all the nine different items, or you take some of them, or at least one of them, then you will make progress in spiritual life. So some of them offer prayers, just like Christians, Muhammadans, they offer prayer. So it is as good as the Hindus give service in the temple, decorates the Deity, cleanses the temple and offers food. In this way they are engaged. This is called arcanam. Arcanam is also devotional service as well as offering prayer. So by this devotional service one makes progress in spiritual life, and when he is sincere in his service, then God is within him, He takes charge of him and gives him instruction how quickly and swiftly he can approach God. So this is fact. Our... He is not hankering after our service. He is complete in Himself. He doesn't require anyone's service. But if we offer service to Him, then we become purified, and... [break] ...complete purification. We can talk with God, we can see God, we can take His instruction, as Arjuna is talking with God, personally taking His instruction and acting according to His instruction.
Hayagriva: Kierkegaard felt that God's will... He says, "There is a God. His will is made known to me in holy scripture and in my conscience."
Hayagriva: God intervenes in the world through the individual acting according to scripture.
Prabhupada: Yes. These is a word, sadhu sastra guru vakya cittete koriya aikya. We can approach God by understanding a saintly person, by studying the Vedic scriptures, and explained directly by the bona fide spiritual master. So sadhu means saintly person, and sastra means scriptures, and guru means spiritual master—and that they should be corroborated. A sadhu is he who talks in terms of scripture. Similarly, guru is he who talks in terms of scripture. Guru cannot manufacture words which is not in the scriptures. And that is not scripture which does not tally with the words of guru and sadhu. So these three items should be corroborated, and then we can understand who is guru, who is sadhu, and who is, what is scripture. Then we take instruction from them, and we can perfectly make progress towards understanding of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Hayagriva: He says, "The only thing which enters Him, God, who is all-majestic, is obedience."
Hayagriva: "It is so easy to see that one to whom everything is equally important and equally insignificant can only be interested in one thing: obedience."
Prabhupada: Yes. That is wanted, and Krsna, or God, demands that. Full obedience. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. That is the qualification. Tad viddhi pranipatena [Bg. 4.34]. So original obedience is to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, similarly obedience to the spiritual master is representative of God. So anyone who carries out the order of God, he can become bona fide guru, because he is not manufacturing anything. He is simply presenting what God is speaking, or the sastra is speaking. God, when He comes as incarnation, He does not speak anything which is not in the scripture. That, just like in the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna gives reference to the Brahma-sutra, Vedanta-sutra. He is God. Whatever He is speaking, that is final, that's, that's a fact. Still, He is giving honor to the Vedanta-sutra. Brahma-sutra-padais caiva hetumadbhir viniscitaih [Bg. 13.5]. He is giving reference to the Brahma-sutra because spiritual knowledge is asserted there with logic and philosophy. So we cannot accept anyone as incarnation of God if He speaks nonsense, not corroborating with the standard scripture.
Hayagriva: Concerning worship, he writes, "The only adequate way to express the sense of God's majesty is to worship Him, to renounce everything as an act of worship offered to God, and so not because He needs to use you as an instrument but to renounce everything yourself as the most insignificant suprafluity, an article of luxury. That means to worship." That is, worship is renunciation.
Prabhupada: Yes. Worship is the beginning, begins with renunciation, or the renouncing any motive. Ahaituky apratihata. Our only business is to love God. That is first-class religious system which teaches the followers to love God without any motive. Ahaituky apratihata. Such kind of worship will not be checked by any material condition. In any condition of life one can love God. God will help. Buddhi-yogam dadami tam. That is pure worship and pure love for God. [break]
Hayagriva: This is the last point we're making on Kierkegaard. It's concerning God's personality.
Hayagriva: He writes, "God is certainly personal, but whether He wishes to be so in relation to the individual depends on whether it pleases God."
Hayagriva: "It is the grace of God that He wishes to be personal in relation to you. If you throw away His grace, He punishes you by behaving objectively, or impersonally, towards you."
Prabhupada: (laughing) That's right. That is very good. Impersonal conception of God is a troublesome business. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: klesah adhikataras tesam avyakta asakta cetasam. Find out this verse.
"For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied."
Hari-sauri: The group of transcendentalists who follow the path of the inconceivable, unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord are called jnana-yogis, and persons who are in full Krsna consciousness, engaged in devotional service to the Lord, are called bhakti-yogis. Now, here the difference between jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga is definitely expressed. The process of jnana-yoga, although ultimately bringing one to the same goal, is very troublesome, whereas the path of bhakti-yoga, the process of being in direct service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is easier and is natural for the embodied soul. The individual soul is embodied since time immemorial. It is very difficult for him to simply theoretically understand that he is not the body. Therefore, the bhakti-yogi accepts the Deity of Krsna as worshipable because there is some bodily conception fixed in the mind, which can thus be applied. Of course, worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His form within the temple is not idol worship. There is evidence in the Vedic literature that worship may be saguna and nirguna—of the Supreme possessing or not possessing attributes. Worship of the Deity in the temple is saguna worship, for the Lord is represented by material qualities. But the form of the Lord, though represented by material qualities such as stone, wood, or oil paint, is not actually material. That is the absolute nature of the Supreme Lord.
A crude example may be given here. We may find some mailboxes on the street, and if we post our letters in those boxes, they will naturally go to their destination without difficulty. But any old box, or an imitation, which we may find somewhere, which is not authorized by the post office, will not do the work. Similarly, God has an authorized representation in the Deity form, which is called arca-vigraha. This arca-vigraha is an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. God will accept service through that form. The Lord is omnipotent and all-powerful; therefore, by His incarnation as arca-vigraha, He can accept the services of the devotee, just to make it convenient for the man in conditioned life.
So, for a devotee, there is no difficulty in approaching the Supreme immediately and directly, but for those who are following the impersonal way to spiritual realization, the path is difficult. They have to understand the unmanifested representation of the Supreme through such Vedic literatures as the Upanisads, and they have to learn the language, understand the nonperceptual feelings, and they have to realize all these processes. This is not very easy for a common man. A person in Krsna consciousness, engaged in devotional service, simply by the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master, simply by offering regulative obeisances unto the Deity, simply by hearing the glories of the Lord, and simply by eating the remnants of foodstuffs offered to the Lord, realizes the Supreme Personality of Godhead very easily. There is no doubt that the impersonalists are unnecessarily taking a troublesome path with the risk of not realizing the Absolute Truth at the ultimate end. But the personalist, without any risk, trouble, or difficulty, approaches the Supreme Personality directly. A similar passage appears in Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is stated there that if one has to ultimately surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead (This surrendering process is called bhakti.), but instead takes the trouble to understand what is Brahman and what is not Brahman and spends his whole life in that way, the result is simply troublesome. Therefore it is advised here that one should not take up this troublesome path of self-realization because there is uncertainty in the ultimate result.
A living entity is eternally an individual soul, and if he wants to merge into the spiritual whole, he may accomplish the realization of the eternal and knowledgeable aspects of his original nature, but the blissful portion is not realized. By the grace of some devotee, such a transcendentalist, highly learned in the process of jnana-yoga, may come to the point of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. At that time, long practice in impersonalism also becomes a source of trouble, because he cannot give up the idea. Therefore an embodied soul is always in difficulty with the unmanifest, both at the time of practice and at the time of realization. Every living soul is partially independant, and one should know for certain that this unmanifested realization is against the nature of his spiritual blissful self. One should not take up this process. For every individual living entity the process of Krsna consciousness, which entails full engagement in devotional service, is the best way. If one wants to ignore this devotional service, there is the danger of turning to atheism. Thus this process of centering attention on the unmanifested, the inconceivable, which is beyond the approach of the senses, as already expressed in this verse, should never be encouraged at any time, especially in this age. It is not advised by Lord Krsna.
Hayagriva: He says, "If you throw away His grace, He punishes you by behaving objectively toward you, and in that sense one may say that the world has not got a personal God in spite of all the proofs. But while dons and parsons," that is priests, "drivel on," talk on, "about the millions of truths about God's personality, the truth is that there are no longer the men living who could bear the pressure and weight of having a personal God." Because he feels that a personal God would make demands on man, and so therefore men reject the idea of a personal God.
Prabhupada: Yes. Personal God means He is demanding, as Krsna is demanding, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru: [Bg. 18.65] "Always think of Me, or offer Me worship, offer Me obeisances, and become My devotee. And give up all other engagement. Simply be engaged in My service." This is the demand of God, and if we carry out His demand, then we are perfect. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti [Bg. 4.9]. If you simply carry out the orders of God then you become qualified, fit for going back to home, back to Godhead. This is clearly stated. Tyaktva deham. We have to give up this body, but a devotee, a pure devotee, after giving up this body, he doesn't accept another material body, but in his original, spiritual body he goes back to home, back to Godhead.
Hayagriva: That's the end of Kierkegaard. (end)