B. F. Skinner
Syamasundara: This philosopher is B. F. Skinner. He is actually a psychologist, but he has a philosophy also. That philosophy is...
Prabhupada: (indistinct) psychology is part of philosophy. (indistinct) better than that philosophy.
Syamasundara: Anyway, the philosophy is that the Christian idea that inside the body there is a person is outmoded, because the science has discovered that a person's behavior and his reactions are simply a product of his environment, his conditioning; so he can make a fool out of a wise man or a wise man out of a fool simply by changing the surroundings and the conditions.
Prabhupada: Why the man has not been able to change the surroundings of death, birth? What is his philosophy?
Syamasundara: Well, he said that problem can be never be solved.
Prabhupada: Then how he says it can be explained by surroundings?
Syamasundara: He only talks about behavior.
Prabhupada: Behavior, that's all right. Whatever behavior, in the ultimate, goal, everyone is dying so how man can change this condition? Then he can say that there is no God, there is no soul.
Syamasundara: His idea is that he wants..., he has one idea: that is to be able to control human behavior.
Prabhupada: What he wants to do? By a man's behavior... Every man is eating. How he can control? He cannot control.
Syamasundara: By what they call method of reinforcement. Supposing... He says that men have become too free, so our whole society, culture, is ruined because men are too free.
Prabhupada: No. We are not free. We, according to our Vedic civilization, we are controlled by the Vedic knowledge. We are not free.
Syamasundara: He says that, in a way. He says that everyone is conditioned by their environment.
Prabhupada: No. We are conditioned by nature, not by environment. Just like there is excessive heat, excessive cold. He is conditioned by nature. You cannot avoid it. So where is his..., molding this environment. You cannot make winter season into summer season or summer season into winter season.
Syamasundara: No. But he says you can train a man to accept certain values by reinforcing, rewarding them when they are right and punishing them when they are wrong.
Prabhupada: That means there are living conditions, he wants to make them further conditioned.
Syamasundara: Yes.
Prabhupada: That is the idea.
Syamasundara: Perfect control over everyone.
Prabhupada: So that is already there. The Vedic injunction means the (indistinct), they are conditioned, so that under conditions they also can be fruitful(?). What is his idea?
Syamasundara: He says that society should be full of love and security and harmony, and everyone should work in unison. But because people have freedom to choose what they want, then too much freedom, the society is falling apart.
Prabhupada: That is Western society, not the society controlled by the Vedic literature. Just like marriage in Vedic society, that is a religious obligation. They cannot cancel. The freedom, the so-called freedom is allowed in the upstart Western society.
Syamasundara: So he says we have to change all this now.
Prabhupada: Then we have to take to the Vedic principles. That is the way.
Syamasundara: His idea is taken from his work with rats and pigeons.
Prabhupada: His authority is rats and pigeons. Our authority is Vedavyasa. (laughter) That is the difference. Our authority is Krsna. Our authority is Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Manu, and his authority is rats and pigeons. That is the difference between the West and East.
Syamasundara: He shows scientifically that you can train a rat to push..., of many buttons, he will push the one that gives him food. If he pushes one button and the food comes, then he will continually press that button. So he says you can condition a man by rewarding him when he is right and punishing him when he is wrong.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is the whole Vedic literaturethe heaven and hell. If you do like this, then you go to heaven, and if you do like this, you go to hell. If you do like this, you go to Godhead. That is the Vedic literature. It is already there. (Sanskrit). (Sanskrit), therefore if one chants like this, he goes back to home, back to Godhead. And this morning I was speaking, "If you want to be naked, then you become tree." (indistinct) servant, and if he wants to serve Krsna, (indistinct). These things are there the Vedic literature. They are controlled. That is real conditioning. Real controlling means there is no mistake. If these rats and cats are controlling, then maybe you take rats' and cats' authority, and others may take tigers' and others' authority. This is stated already. The authority must be (indistinct).
Devotee: He isn't saying how we should control people. He is simply putting forth the idea that people should be controlled. He doesn't say... In fact, he admits that he doesn't know what the aim or goal is, or how exactly we should control it. He is simply putting forth that according to the Vedic system, the correct thesis that man can be controlled.
Prabhupada: Man is already controlled, already controlled. Just like Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that you are already under the dangerous laws, under the control of the stringent laws of material nature. And you are feeling inconvenienced, just like the threefold miserable condition. (indistinct-greeting guests) So there is no doubt about it. We are controlled. Nobody can say "I am free." We are controlled. When we are being controlled, we are feeling some inconvenience. So we are advising that you be under the control of Krsna.
Devotee: (indistinct) ...come criminals, and they are causing disruption in this society. So he says that that is our fault. He says that everyone from childhood should be trained in a controlled environment and then be conditioned to a certain pattern so that they will not commit what is crime and will only do what is good. In other words, they become like robots. So what they do is program these robots. They're programmed to do a certain thing.
Prabhupada: So that program is already there. But if you create your own program, you do not follow the standard program. That is the defect.
Syamasundara: This program, because Skinner himself believes in Judeo-Christian ethics combined with a scientific tradition. But he fails to answer how it is possible to accept those ethics without accepting something like an inner person with an autonomous concept. In other words, he says we can program society to be good to your neighbor, to love one another, to be honest, upright, like that. But he is still not sure how it would be possible without accepting a free will.
Prabhupada: The defect is that these programs are being forwarded by some rascal. Therefore they are defective. If they would have been forwarded by perfect man, then you would have actual (indistinct). Now one rascal is forwarding some program, another rascal next time (indistinct) this is true. So this is going on in Western world. Because according to Bhagavata we belong to the category of dogs, hogs, camels. So what is the benefit of a dog's program and (indistinct) by camel's program. If they are on the, basically there is nothing but dogs, hogs, camels and asses, then suppose dog has given some program and the camel says, "No. This program is better than this one." And the ass comes, he introduces another program, "This program is better than this program." So either of these programs, because they are made by dogs, hogs, asses and camels, they cannot be perfect. Take a program from a real human being. Then it is perfect. The defect is there. One philosopher is proposing something, another philosopher is proposing something... That is (indistinct) especially in the Western countries, they are doing so independence (?). But the Vedic civilization there is no independence. They must follow the Vedic injunction. As I have said several times, the Vedas says that the stool of cow is completely pure. They do not argue that "Formerly you say that the stool of animal is impure. Now you are saying that the stool of animal, cow, is pure. So how can we accept?" There is no such thing. The Vedas says, even it is stool, but the Vedas says the stool of cow is perfectly pure. Yes. No contradiction. Our presentation of Krsna consciousness is like that. But Krsna says, "(indistinct), as it is." There is no question of altering or changing according to circumstances. We know Krsna is perfect. Whatever He has said, it is all right, in all conditions. That is our belief. We do not deviate. So similarly, if the direction is taken for training from the perfect, that is the best. And if the direction is taken from the process of (indistinct) philosophy, hogs, dogs, and asses, and camels how can you take? (indistinct) something, (indistinct) something, (indistinct) analysis something, so the whole society will be (indistinct).
Syamasundara: Yes. He says from sunrise (?), he says everyone is conditioned anyway. Everyone is conditioned.
Prabhupada: Yes. Everyone is conditioned, that is a fact. Unless he is conditioned, there is no question of material life. Material life means conditioned life. There is no question of material life. Material life means conditioned life. There is no question of freedom. Just like prison life. Prison life means conditioned life. You may be a first-class prisoner, a second-class, a third-class prisoner, that is another thing, but as soon as you are put within the walls of the prison house, you are conditioned. That is a fact. Similarly, anyone who has accepted this body (Sanskrit). Just like Bhagavata says, nayam deha dehabhajam nrloke. Nrloke. Everyone is conditioned, accepting this material body. But he says nayam deha deha-bhajam nrloke. But those who have accepted this material body in the human society, for them it is not good to be engaged in sense gratification like dogs, hogs and camels. Everyone who has got this material body, he is conditioned. But, so when one gets the body of a human being, he should not be so conditioned like the dogs, hogs, camels. This is the truth, that we are conditioned. We have got the body. We have got the bodily necessity. We have to eat, we have to sleep, gratify our senses, protect ourself from fear. The conditions are there, but still, we can make the conditions better. How? Tapo. We have to undergo austerities, penances. Just like we, we don't say, "No sex life," but "No illicit sex life." This is better life.
Devotee: Skinner also believes that we have to control activities, but he himself is not willing to undergo these austerities.
Prabhupada: Therefore he is useless. Example is better than precept. By example he cannot prove. Therefore his precept has no value.
Atreya Rsi: Another thing he says that if you tell the society to get comforts, material comforts, have peace, in relationship with man to man, benefits one's own self on a very false ego level.
Syamasundara: Humanitarian.
Prabhupada: What is that humanitarian? I kick you, you kick me.
Syamasundara: He says that now the conditions that control us are haphazard. Some are designed by selfish men to exploit others.
Prabhupada: Why (indistinct) that he is perfect man?
Syamasundara: He says that we can design a culture that will survive due to its being moral, set, upright, honest, hard-working, all-typical American.
Devotee: What about the standard? Someone has to be God in order to set the standard.
Syamasundara: He said, "Between God and I, I must admit that God is (indistinct)." (indistinct) quote. He says that "Between myself...," between himself... He says there is a curious similarity between himself and God, adding, however, that "Perhaps I must yield to God in point of seniority." He wants to play God.
Prabhupada: He wants to play God.
Syamasundara: He wants to design the culture.
Prabhupada: What is his conception of God?
Syamasundara: Senior qualities.
Prabhupada: That's right. (laughter) We accept that. Nityo nityanam. (laughter) We accept that. That is Vedic. That is Vedic. He is also living being, but who is the superior, chief living being? That is Krsna. Just like we are also living beings, but you accept me as chief of the society. Similarly, there are innumerable living entities all over the universes, all over the creation, but who is the chief of them? That is God, the leader. Our philosophy is to follow the leader, Krsna.
Devotee: But Skinner has no idea that there is an actual representative of God on earth that could set up such a perfect society. Therefore he is dreaming about setting one up in the future while the real representative is actually present with us now. He is thinking of the future.
Prabhupada: When was he thinking?
Devotee: He is thinking that someday... He is thinking that it can be done. He is living now.
Syamasundara: That is his picture. (shows book to Prabhupada) That is Skinner playing the organ, and it quotes him, saying...
Prabhupada: So inform him that "Your theory is that God's representative..." He is expecting God's representative?
Devotee: No, no. I'll tell you what he says about God. He says that the belief in God arose due to man's inability to understand his world, but that man no longer needs such a fiction.
Prabhupada: Then one has to believe him?
Syamasundara: Yes.
Devotee: He also says that we have the capacity to take matters into our own hands. We don't have to ruin it by some controller far away who we have no control over.
Prabhupada: But that you cannot do. You cannot take the question of birth, death, old age in your hands. How he says that you shall be able to take matters into your own hands?
Syamasundara: Well, most scientists like that accept those problems as inescapable problems. But while we are here, let us have the best life we can.
Prabhupada: But if he can give you better life, where there is no death, there is no old age, there is no disease, why not accept it?
Devotee: We only accept that as a (indistinct) life here. This life you may remain eternal. We have no (indistinct) beyond this life, nor are we willing to accept.
Prabhupada: That is your conclusion. This cannot be corrected. This cannot be corrected. That they cannot live. They accept it. But there, after death, it is done. But if we give some thought that after death you can attain, what does he say? After death, if there is a life of blissful knowledge, so why don't they take it?
Devotee: Well, a lot of scientists consider that to be a, simply a psychological way of avoiding the issue now. They say, "Let us take matters in our hand right now. Don't try to..."
Prabhupada: The idea is we have not been able to take the matter in hand to stop death. That is not possible.
Devotee: They think by endeavoring, they will. They say that for so long this idea that we have a life after this life, that kept people complacent, without working up to their own conclusion. Now if you cast out that idea, you forget that idea of an afterlife and you look at here and now, then you will become...
Prabhupada: You are working. The dogs and hogs are working, day and night. Why they are working? If you (indistinct), they are already working. They are already working like animals, day and night. We sing that, sita atapa bata barisana e dina jamini jagi re. They are already working. They are not free.
Devotee (2): (indistinct)
Prabhupada: (indistinct) can make that.
Devotee: They're the ones who have actually neglected taking into consideration the real problem, they slide over the real problem, that is birth, death, old age and disease. And they are fiddling around in very small matterssocial problems, political problems.
Prabhupada: These social problems are automatically solved. If one becomes Krsna conscious, social problems will be solved automatically.
Atreya Rsi: The scientists have been offering a spiritual solution, but a spiritual solution also includes all other...
Prabhupada: All material solutions.
Atreya Rsi: And they are trying to solve political problems, and they are unable to. This is the...
Prabhupada: That means less intelligent. They have a poor fund of knowledge. And they are philosophers.
Atreya Rsi: And they have no...
Syamasundara: And they call their process social engineering. For instance, they say a criminal does not become bad because he is naturally bad but it's because of his environment. So if we train him in such a way he will be good, and we can...
Prabhupada: Just like in the Western countries, the social (indistinct), the killing of animalsit is taken not bad. In other societies it is taken as bad. How is that? There are two contradictory societies. One society says that nonviolence is nice, better, but another society says no, violence is better. Then how will I (indistinct)? Which society is good, which society bad? How you will decide?
Devotee: He has no way of deciding.
Prabhupada: No. There is no way. If you come to the Vedic life, then you will know.
Syamasundara: So we should propose this to Skinner: "We will accept your process if you take direction from us."
Prabhupada: Yes.
Devotee: He accepts that there should be some process, but he doesn't know what it is. He obviously has not...
Prabhupada: The process is, just like we say, Vedic injunction: sa gurum eva abhigacchet. He must approach guru.
Atreya Rsi: His idea is that the process should be man-controlled. Our society is being controlled by man.
Prabhupada: It is man-controlled. It is man-controlled. Our society is being controlled by me.
Syamasundara: He says that the best way to release the beneficial energy in the people is to build a world in which people are naturally good and in which they are rewarded for wanting what is good for their culture.
Prabhupada: Yes. This is Krsna society. The atheists, let him study, let him come, let him understand.
Devotee: His critics... The critics of this theory that we can condition everyone to a certain program are very fearful that someone unscrupulous will be driving us on.
Prabhupada: No. That we cannot take, I mean, to accept guru as unscrupulous. Therefore we take parampara. He is coming directly from God. He is perfect. Therefore this parampara system is bona fide. We cannot accept any rascal to become guru. Guru must be in the parampara system. He is receiving the knowledge directly from God, Krsna.
Syamasundara: This is their dilemma now, that they cannot find any standard of behavior. Formerly people's behavior was motivated by deprivation. They wanted more economic gain because there was hunger. But now we have everything, so no one wants to work anymore. So now there is nothing that satisfies people enough to make them behave.
Prabhupada: Therefore the Vedanta gives for him: athato brahma jijnasa. Now we have got enough to eat, enough to enjoy. Now we inquire about Brahman. This is the business we should (indistinct). So this is our Krsna consciousness movement. We are giving knowledge about Brahman, or the Supreme. We are not concerned about giving you some scientific invention, some this invention, that invention. We are giving the ultimate benefit. Now, just like I have come to America with this hope, that "Americans are not properly (indistinct), they have no (indistinct) problems. If I go there, if I speak to them about Krsna consciousness, they will be able to take." So if we, the human society, has come to such standard, then the next point is, now they should eat peacefully, sleep peacefully and sense gratification peacefully and, making the mind peaceful, inquire about the Supreme Absolute. This is ideal life.
Syamasundara: This will provide the stimulus which will..., so the people will react favorably, to behave favorably, simply by performing these activities?
Prabhupada: The experience is... We have got experience that this material world is full of misery. Everyone will (agree). Otherwise why he is trying to adjust? Now we have got information from Bhagavad-gita,
Krsna says, "Anyone who comes to Me, back to home, back to Godhead, he does not come again to this material world which is full of misery." Mam upetya kaunteya duhkhalayam asasvatam, napnuvanti... [Bg. 8.15].
Syamasundara: But then what is the stimulus? Why will they...?
Prabhupada: This is stimulus. You are (indistinct) suffering miserable condition of life, and we are offering that "You take to Krsna consciousness, you go to a place where only there is blissful life and knowledge." What is that?
Devotee: A-brahma-bhuvanal lokah [Bg. 8.16].
Prabhupada: No. Mam upetya.
Devotee: Mam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate. "From the highest planet in this material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death takes place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again."
Prabhupada: So there are many others. There are many planets, that is a fact. So there is a planet where Krsna lives, and if you go there, you live perfectly. You are trying to go to the moon planet, but here it says, a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino... [Bg. 8.16] What is that? [break]
Syamasundara: So we have to condition people that every time they press our button, Hare Krsna button, they get some pleasure.
Prabhupada: Yes. Anandambudhi-vardhanam. Ceto-darpana... Every time he gets some higher knowledge, and his dirty heart he can clean. And therefore his spiritual beliefs become (indistinct). Whereas in the material world, what it says, a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah...
Devotee: Punar avartino 'rjuna.
Devotee (2): Again returning. Mam upetya tu kaunteya.
Prabhupada: Read the translation.
Devotee: "From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again."
Prabhupada: In the material world there are higher planetary systems, lower planetary systems, and we sometimes go higher planetary, sometimes down, according to our karma. But wherever you remain, you cannot avoid birth, death, old age and disease. "But if you come to My planet, then there is no more birth." What is that objection of this (indistinct)?
Syamasundara: He only wants to find out. He doesn't know himself what is the...
Prabhupada: He doesn't know anything. He is a fool. What does he know? He has to learn.
Devotee: He more or less admits that he is not a perfect personality.
Prabhupada: So who he accepts as perfect?
Devotee: He says "I am not happy."
Prabhupada: Nobody is happy. How you can be happy? No one in this material world can be happy. How you can be, you are also one of them. Why you are claiming a better position? Nobody can be happy. We say nobody can be happy. Duhkhalayam asasvatam [Bg. 8.15]. Anyone who is living in this material world cannot be happy.
Syamasundara: It seems that Skinner should be very ripe(?), or he is very ripe, because he wants it to be a society where it is controlled and it is...
Prabhupada: So let him come and study the society. He is a philosopher and intelligent. Invite him.
Syamasundara: What about this statement? He says that "I can take any person at young age, any person with me, any person, and I can, at random, and I can train him to be any kind of specialist I might select-doctor, lawyer, even beggarman or thief, regardless of his talents or his nature, his tendencies or abilities."
Prabhupada: So that means training should be given from childhood. That is the whole idea.
Syamasundara: But is that true?
Prabhupada: Yes.
Syamasundara: We can train anyone to become anything.
Prabhupada: Anything. Just like there is a story, the Tarzan. Tarzan. And he was living in the society of monkeys, and he learned how to jump from one tree to another. (laughter)
Devotee: If someone has a natural ksatriya tendency, he cannot become a Vaisnava?
Prabhupada: No. There is no such barrier. Anyone can become Krsna conscious. Anyone. Just like...
Devotee: What about brahmana? Brahmana too? Someone who is naturally a (indistinct).
Prabhupada: By coming...
Syamasundara: Everyone has become sudra now. You say everyone is born sudra.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Devotee: In the Vedic age wouldn't everyone want to become a brahmana? Why train someone as a sudra?
Devotee (2): It is progressive. It takes time. It is a whole progressive path. That is the whole Vedic culture, that everyone, no matter what...
Prabhupada: And all the sudras can be made brahmanas. But where all the sudras are coming? All the sudras are ready to become brahmanas? How you can explain? We are inviting everyone to become Krsna conscious.
Syamasundara: He is just saying that it is possible that you can mold anyone into anything.
Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. Possible, yes.
Devotee: But if they won't accept, if they won't accept...
Prabhupada: Yes, yes. That is karma.
Syamasundara: But he says there is no possibility of their not accepting, if you form the conditioning as the way. That they must accept by conditioning.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is also possible. But who is going to make that?
Devotee: How one can supremely control all conditions that would free one from karmic reaction? How could they control the environment?
Syamasundara: By punishment and reward. By punishing them when they are wrong...
Devotee: Say he had a house, and he was doing that, and all of a sudden there was a flood came and the house... How could he control the environment?
Syamasundara: Of a person, not of a house.
Devotee: That is what I mean. How can you control the environment if that person is going to be punished and rewarded when he wants...
Prabhupada: He says from childhood.
Syamasundara: He is talking about child. Infant.
Prabhupada: Infant. Yes. That is possible. That is possible. Just like our children, from childhood they are dancing.
Syamasundara: Here is a picture of his child. He put his child in a box when it was born. Now this is her today, twenty-seven years later. He conditioned her in this box for a year.
Devotee: How long?
Syamasundara: For some time. And she came out better, healthier and happier than normal children, because they kept the temperature the same, because it was germ-free, there was no disease and always cleaned by rotating...
Prabhupada: That means he protected the child from all calamities.
Devotee: Yes.
Prabhupada: So that is fortunate. If you can protect... Therefore I repeatedly said that our Dallas center should be taken as very much important place. All our children must go.
Syamasundara: Make the environment perfect.
Prabhupada: Yes. That I have repeatedly said.
Devotee: The reason he built the box, he could not control the environment.
Prabhupada: No, no, box, you are speaking box, (indistinct) different box. That is another thing. But the perfection is required.
Devotee: His supposition of being able to control the environment completely is imperfect, because he can't control the environment perfectly. Even if he builds his child a box, what if there is a fire in the house and the box burns down? How he can control that environment?
Syamasundara: Right now, the level of their experiments are relatively small. For instance, they have created teaching machines where a child is put in front of the machine and a question is asked, and if the child answers it correctly he gets the reward.
Prabhupada: Another nonsense. The thing is that the Vedic conception of raising children, brahmacarya, that system is perfect.
Syamasundara: Not by machine.
Prabhupada: No, this is (indistinct). We are not machines.
Syamasundara: No. But he says that when the answer is given correctly by the child, then he is rewarded by him.
Prabhupada: The answers and questions are already there. That is (indistinct). Just like we say that tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet [MU 1.2.12]. There is question and answer. Therefore in order to understand the transcendental science, we must go to guru, gurum eva abhigacchet. And then what is the symptom of guru? Samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham. Guru means who has learned knowledge by the parampara system. Srotriyam brahma. The result is that he is perfectly a devotee.
Syamasundara: Suppose we had a machine and one of our children was given the question "Who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead?" And then there were three possibilities, and if she pushed "Krsna," some reward would come out.
Prabhupada: She has to push some button to take out Krsna.
Syamasundara: Just like the answer has three choices: Krsna, Durga, Kali. Which one is the Supreme Personality? So if she chooses Krsna and then he gets rewarded. So in the future he will always think Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Prabhupada: Why must think? Why not take a live master?
Devotee: Yes. He says that that can be done also, but he is saying that they should be rewarded when they say the right answer.
Syamasundara: He says that this will solve the problem of not enough teachers in our schools, public schools, not enough teachers for our children. A huge class, and the children have only one teacher. So there's not enough individual time given to each student.
Prabhupada: So why not produce many teachers? That we (indistinct).
Syamasundara: No one wants to teach anymore. No one wants to teach anymore.
Prabhupada: Why?
Devotee: They don't know what to teach.
Prabhupada: Because they do not know how to teach, and they are simply teaching (indistinct).
Syamasundara: They don't get enough pay, so many reasons.
Prabhupada: So our teachers do not ask any payment. They go freely. Why don't you take advantage of these teachers?
Devotee: One thing they (indistinct) Prabhupada, that we are thinking in terms of Vedic culture, and they say well, if this Vedic culture was previously existing, then why did it dissolve? Why did it fall apart and now we have to make a new one?
Prabhupada: That is not (indistinct). A new way we cannot. If you want perfection, you must take to Vedic culture, because it is not with the four defects of human beings. Anything introduced for... Just like we are pushing on this Krsna consciousness movement, and some of the students are falling back. How (indistinct)? That is not the defect of the institution. That is some other power. So people might have fallen from the standard of Vedic culture, but they cannot invent any new one. That is it.
Devotee: That is the same thing we say about the scientific process. The scientific process isn't imperfect, it is just the masters who are imperfect. They claim that the empiric process is perfect. We have not developed it to perfection.
Devotee (2): For instance, they would say if our students are falling back, that is because of the environment.
Prabhupada: They are not falling back. Some of them (indistinct).
Syamasundara: Some of them...
Prabhupada: That is (indistinct) anyway.
Syamasundara: So he says that ideally, if our environment was conditioned in such a way that they were rewarded for doing good things and punished for doing bad things, that they would not go away.
Prabhupada: They would be punished, but they don't care for punishment. Just like it says in the lawbook that if you steal, you'll be arrested, but they don't care for your lawbook, the thief. What can you do? That independence is already there. The lawbook says that if you commit theft you will be punished, and he is actually punished. But if he doesn't care for punishment, then what can you do? Punishment is already there.
Syamasundara: For instance, he gives an example that, let's say that in an institution there is lunch served for one hour between twelve and one, and at one o'clock the door is closed and locked, sharply. So automatically everyone who wants to come must come before one o'clock, otherwise they will be punished.
Prabhupada: That's all right. If anyone prefers to starve, they may not come. That law will be not be obligatory to a person who prefers to starve.
Devotee: That isn't the point. The critics make difference. He says that free will can be essentially eliminated. He says you no longer have the choice to be agreeable or not agreeable.
Prabhupada: No. That is not possible. That is another foolishness.
Devotee: Just like the child he was training, that if he ever missed a meal he would be severely punished. Then he may never want to miss a meal.
Devotee: Or he may never want to take a meal out of (indistinct).
Syamasundara: Actually, his idea is not to let them be punished but to reward.
Prabhupada: This is the (indistinct), that the thief has learned from the lawbooks, from the religious books, that stealing is bad. If one steals he'll be punished. Because in the human society the scriptures that they have got. No scripture will say that you should steal, for example, neither the lawbook will say that you steal. So if you have heard from scriptures and from lawbooks that stealing is criminal, and by committing this sinful activity I shall be punished, and if you have seen also that anyone who has violated this law and stolen others' property has been arrested and policeman has taken him to the jail, he has seen, he has heard, he has completely experienced, but still, why does he steal? What is the answer?
Devotee: Impelled. Because (indistinct) as a human being. He has a tendency because of the four defects of a human being.
Prabhupada: Then the question arises, how to rectify these defects?
Syamasundara: He says by changing the social environment. By changing the social environment.
Prabhupada: But he cannot do.
Devotee: But in my experience changing the social environment...
Prabhupada: The social environment is already there, but still you will be punished.
Syamasundara: But his idea is that if you reward them for not stealing that they will not steal. If you reward them sufficiently.
Prabhupada: First of all let him come to the point of not stealing. Then you will be all right. (indistinct)
Syamasundara: But if you pay him more, then he won't steal.
Prabhupada: That you cannot. That you cannot. That is not possible.
Atreya Rsi: The reward and punishment system, Prabhupada, is motivational. It's not that you pay him more and you pay him less or you punish him. The thing is, he says that...
Prabhupada: No, no. Who pays? Suppose I am going to steal and get one dollar. And if you pay me three dollars, then I may not steal. Then next point will be when there will be four dollars, I'm going to steal.
Atreya Rsi: No. He is not going to pay you three and four dollars. What he is suggesting is that the reason one steals is not so much that... There are other reasons, like he likes to break the law because he is angry at the law.
Prabhupada: Therefore the person, why he likes to break the law? That is the question.
Atreya Rsi: That is a good question. Because he is angry or he thinks that his friends would appreciate him more, and he thinks that his friends are more important. That is why he thinks that if you change the social environment then the reward would come...
Prabhupada: How you can change the social environment?
Syamasundara: Those rewards are quantitative. Just like the pigeon gets a certain number of kernels of corn.
Atreya Rsi: (indistinct)
Syamasundara: But how do you know? You don't know what he said. Listen to what he said. He said that each time that a criminal avoids doing bad, he is given some advantage, some material advantage.
Devotee: So we understand that material advantage isn't satisfying.
Syamasundara: That is the difference between the pigeons and the man. The pigeons are satisfied with a few kernels of corn. They don't want more than they can eat. But a man wants more and more and more.
Devotee: In the Bhagavad-gita Arjuna asks the same question.
Prabhupada: So this is the important point, that what you are thinking rewarding, that is not. He will think it is insignificant. So what (indistinct). If you give me five dollars, if I steal I will get twenty-five dollars. Why shall I accept your reward?
Syamasundara: So what about if I don't steal, my friends will like me. If I do steal, my friends will hate me.
Prabhupada: But if you have got for friends only thieves, then who will object? "Oh, you are very nice, you are very expert." Why should you mix with such friends? (indistinct) Birds of the same feather flock together.
Syamasundara: He says there are three things that this society has that keeps people from disobeying, that is God...
Prabhupada: This is all speculation. It has no meaning.
Syamasundara: ...God, the police, and what other people will think.
Prabhupada: But if you have no idea of God, what is God, and why am I expecting that you will fear God? You do not know what is God, and you are talking of God.
Devotee: So he says social environment in the highest essence that has to lead to controlling nature.
Prabhupada: Here the thing is that these are all childish suppositions. The real thing is that he should be educated. He should be educated. This should be done. He should be educated from the very beginning that "You are not this body." This is the beginning of real religion. He is talking this way and that. Education is required. Without education these things cannot be taughtby rewarding, by this way, by that way, by machine... It is all nonsense, everything. The first education is that every children should be taught from the very beginning that "You are not this body," and he should be taught the nature of the soul. Then he will come to the Supreme Soul. Then he will gradually come to the relationship between the Supreme Soul and the individual soul. And when he develops love for the Supreme Soul he will not violate the order of the Supreme. So that is our Krsna consciousness movement.
Syamasundara: Like Sarasvati. She thinks Krsna lives in her heart, and she's always thinking of that.
Prabhupada: Yes. She is hearing, she is being educated, and that fact she is now feeling. Similarly, if we educate all our children in that way, they will be nicely grown-up children.
Syamasundara: There is an interesting comparison to be made. They have tried to set up a community along this philosophy just near our New Vrindaban. This is the place, in the hills of Virginia, and some of the... It's interesting to see what their code is compared to ours. Their code is that all are entitled to the same privileges, advantages and respect. Private property is forbidden except for such things as books and clothes, and even then there is community clothing which is all shared. No one is allowed to boast of an individual accomplishment or to gossip or to have any negative speech or to be intolerant of any other's beliefs.
Prabhupada: You cannot be. It is simply dream. If you simply dream, it will be never be fruitful. But our philosophy is that everyone is thinking as servant of Krsna. Therefore we have no competition. We want to serve Krsna center.
Syamasundara: He says that's the main difficulty. He says there is still competition going on.
Prabhupada: So much more, because he has not changed the mind. The mind is thinking how to become master. So as soon as you want to become master, I want to become master, he wants to, there must be some... But our teaching is different. We become servant, servant of Krsna. Even there is competition, but that competition is center in Krsna.
Syamasundara: Their process is if someone obeys these laws, he is reinforced. That means they'll put a sign up saying "So and so clean..."
Prabhupada: That is nonsense. Putting signboard. That is just... Caitanya Mahaprabhu's formula: ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12], cleansing the heart. That is the process. By putting signboard, philosophy cannot be learned. That is no good.
Syamasundara: They put a sign that "So and so cleaned this room today. He is a good boy."
Prabhupada: You will clean automatically like that, with clean heart.
Devotee: That is the difference.
Syamasundara: Another thing is that they reject the idea of modesty and sin. They say that sex is all right. It is a pleasant pastime like anything else. Freedom of sex life.
Prabhupada: Just like animals. Sex life like animals.
Syamasundara: They said.
Prabhupada: (indistinct) say that. (indistinct)
Syamasundara: They do not reinforce the sin of sex life.
Prabhupada: Sex life, we don't say it is sin, but there is rules and regulations of sex life.
Syamasundara: However, they have contraceptive methods, because to bring children into the equation at this time is not good.
Prabhupada: That is nonsense. That is the difficulty, that these people are coming as philosophers teaching. Rascals. That is the difficulty with the present society. (indistinct) Dogs, hogs, camels, and asses. They are taking the position of teacher. That is the defect. We don't take (indistinct) like that. Dogs, hogs, we cannot accept.
Syamasundara: They are making life into an equation, like a mathematical formula. Competing like that. But it doesn't work.
Prabhupada: It will not work.
Devotee: It says he has a seventy-percent turnover. That means that people get disgusted and leave, seventy percent of them every year.
Prabhupada: Leave? Why?
Syamasundara: Because it says that those who are more competent, they still expect special recognition for their talent, and so they make this demand that we cannot reinforce that kind of behavior. So we deny them and then we go away.
Devotee: So it seems that the whole philosophy (indistinct) and then in the course of there, the whole material world is attached to sex life, so that the whole thing is that all the philosophies that they are inventing are so that they may have liberty to think that they are free and that they are (indistinct). That is all.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Devotee: That is their whole thing. All their philosophy tries to have good sex life so that they don't have to think that they will be punished. So if I can have this freedom then I am right.
Prabhupada: Yes. The real point is sense gratification. Freedom of sense gratification. That is their point. But these fools, they do not know that by sense gratification you are entangling yourself in repetition of birth and death.
Syamasundara: So Skinner nonetheless allows himself some relaxation. He drinks vodka and tonic in the late afternoon (laughter) and sees an occasional movie. He reads George Simon detective novels once in awhile and enjoys the company of friends. He has two children and his grandchildren. There is a note from his diary: "Sun streams in (indistinct) room. My hi-fi is midway through the first act of Tristan and Isolde. A very pleasant environment. A man would be a fool not to enjoy himself in it. In a moment I will work on a manuscript which may help mankind. So my life is not only pleasant; it is earned or deserved. And yet, yet, I am unhappy."
Prabhupada: In that sense he is a truthful man. Yes. Truthful.
Syamasundara: He wants to... He is trying to understand.
Prabhupada: He cannot. That is not the way of understanding. The Vedic way is that you first approach a guru. That is the Vedic way. He cannot personally search for the truth. That is not possible. (end)

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