Syamasundara: First one.
Syamasundara: A little bit. The first one's name is Jeremy Bentham, and his philosophy is that virtue is defined in terms of utility, and that utility is defined as that which enhances the happiness of men. So that the goal of society, according to the utilitarians, is the greatest happiness for the greatest number.
Prabhupada: Yes. So that is also our aim but that happiness is described in the Bhagavad-gita, sukham atyantikam yat. Atyantikam. Atyantikam means the greatest happiness. Sukham atyantikam yat tad atindriya grahyam [Bg. 6.21]. That happiness can be perceived by transcendental senses.
Syamasundara: So you're talking about a qualitative happiness, the quality of happiness.
Prabhupada: Yah, qualitative it must be. Atyantikam. Atyantikam means the actual, the greatest happiness.
Syamasundara: Greatest, highest happiness.
Prabhupada: Happiness everyone wants. You are feeling happy by eating something but if you get another better thing, you feel more happiness.
Syamasundara: Quality of happiness.
Prabhupada: Yes. Not the quality of happiness. You feel actually greater happiness. Just like you are taking ordinary sugar, but if you take rasagulla, it is also sweet but it is greater happiness.
Syamasundara: Quantity or...
Prabhupada: No. The happiness, greater happiness, yeah, quantity you can say.
Syamasundara: Quantity, quantity of happiness is greater.
Prabhupada: Yes, greater happiness. So that greatest happiness can be perceived by transcenden... Happiness means satisfying the senses. Real... Happiness means satisfying the senses. So sense gratification. But the actual sense gratification, the greatest sense gratification is to be derived by your transcendental senses, not these gross senses. Sometimes these gross senses... Take for example rasagulla. You are eating but after eating four, five or ten you'll feel, "No more." That is not atyantikam happiness. Happiness means you are enjoying something, you increase more and more and more enjoy, more enjoy, more enjoy, more enjoy. That is happiness. So whether this man knows what is happiness, that is the... He does not know what is happiness. He thinks in terms of sense gratification.
Syamasundara: Physical senses.
Prabhupada: Physical. But physical senses cannot actually cannot give you the greatest happiness. Just like a man is sensuous. So he can enjoy one woman, two women, but he cannot enjoy unlimitedly. But our standard of happiness means "which is increasingly unlimited." That is happiness. Therefore it is said, ramante yogino 'nante satyanande cid-atmani. Those who are yogis, they enjoy. So enjoyment... Without enjoyment, nothing is relished. Just like you are taking to Krsna consciousness, there is some enjoyment, transcendental bliss. Otherwise how you can stick to it? So real happiness means "which is increasingly unlimited." That is happiness. Temporary happiness... Vidyapati sings, tatala saikate vari-bindu-sama suta-mita-ramani-samaje, that we are trying to enjoy in this material world, happiness in the society, friendship and love. Suta-mita-ramani-samaje, friends, children, wife, like that. That is in the society. But Vidyapati says, "Yes, there is happiness undoubtedly, but that happiness is just like a drop of water in the desert. Desert means it is hankering after water. Dry desert, he requires water, but if you go there and put a drop of water, "Now here is water." So our, we are, who are hankering after so great happiness that these rascals' sense gratification happiness is not giving us. It is just like a drop in the desert. Therefore we are changing, changing simply. The same thing, punah punas carvita-car... The same thing, we do not know what is real happiness so simply changing the posture. Now woman should be mini-skirted. Why they should be fully dressed? (laughter) Now they're also trying. Ultimately they're coming to the position of (indistinct) (laughter). Just see. Here, here in the (indistinct). They are attracting tourists by showing the vagina(?). That's all. This is happiness. They have no other information. "Come on, here is vagina, open. This is their standard of happiness. Yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham [SB 7.9.45], most abominable thing they have taken as happiness. So what do they know about happiness? These so-called philosophers, they do not know what is happiness. And why they are philosophizing about happiness? Happiness is also our aim, but that happiness is different from this happiness. Just like a hog is enjoying happiness eating stool. No man will be happy by eating stool neither he will agree to enjoy such happiness. It is the standard of happiness according to the body.
Syamasundara: Bentham says it is better to be a satisfied hog than an unsatisfied man.
Prabhupada: Well, hog is not satisfied. That is another rascaldom. (laughter) If hog would have been satisfied then he would have remained in one place, but he's searching after happiness whole day and night. Whole day and night. Nobody can be satisfied possessing a material body. That is not possible. (indistinct) Suppose you have made some arrangement according to your (indistinct), "Now I shall enjoy." But you will not be allowed to enjoy. Death will take away. You are thinking that "Now I will be happy." All right, to your standard it is happiness, but death will come, "No, please get out." Sukhena lagiya (Bengali). You construct a very nice house and next day it was set fire and finished. So you have made arrangement for fire brigade always running on the street. That is means you want to enjoy happiness without any disturbance. So happiness means, which is eternally possible. That is happiness. And we are trying to give people that happiness which will never be exhausted. That is our objective of happiness.
Syamasundara: He sees this happiness in a communal aspect. It must be for the greatest number. So he advocates a democracy where everyone is given unlimited individual freedom.
Prabhupada: That is also another nonsense. In democracy nobody is happy. The so-called democracy does not give anyone any happiness. Otherwise in America, the greatest democratic country, why there are so many unhappy people? That also another nonsense. It is not possible.
Syamasundara: He says that the interest of the community would be the sum of the interests of the individuals in the community.
Prabhupada: That is a compromise. That is not happiness, that "You don't harm me, I don't harm you, and we remain happy." That does not mean you are happy, I am happy. These are simply speculate.
Syamasundara: He says we can determine what is happiness for the whole by examining what is happy for the individual.
Prabhupada: Happiness, happiness is... What is happiness, that is described in the Bhagavad-gita. Happiness means absence of distress. That is happiness. So Bhagavad-gita recommends that janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam [Bg. 13.9]. You may think that you are very happy but this is not happiness. You have to see to your distressed condition because you have to take birth, you have to die, you have to suffer diseases and you have to suffer, janma-mrtyu-jara, old age. So where is your happiness. If the distresses are present, then where is your happiness? This is another ignorance. This is a... Nobody wants to die but death is there. Then where is your happiness? Nobody wants to become old but the old age is there. You must become old. Then where is your happiness? Nobody wants diseases but disease is there. You cannot avoid it. Then where is your happiness? This is less intelligence. That actually you are not in happiness but by your so-called philosophizing theories, you are trying to be happy, means another illusion and we take it as happiness. Actually it is not happiness. Where is your happiness?
Syamasundara: He has seven measurements for happiness. He calls it the hedonistic calculus, how to evaluate happiness according to seven principles. One is intensity, how intense is the pleasure in question? Two, duration, how long can a certain pleasure be expected to last? Three, certainty, how much can we depend upon a certain experience to produce the expected pleasure? Four, remoteness, how immediate or remote is the anticipated pleasure? Five, fecundity, how many future pleasures will result and will each pleasure terminate in pain? Six, purity, how free is the pleasure from painful elements? Seven, extent, how many other persons can share the pleasure?
Prabhupada: This is a very nice definition. We accept it, this standard, but if you put material happiness and test by this standard, there is no happiness. There is no happiness. Therefore the conclusion should be, if we test with this acid test of happiness, it is impossible to get happiness in the material world. There is no question of happiness. These testing points are nice but as soon as we put any kind of happiness to this test, you will find it is failed. Take any standard (of) happiness, it will, neither of this test will be there. So the conclusion should be there is no happiness in the material world. These tests are applicable in the spiritual world.
Syamasundara: So he says that everything should be utilized to extract the most pleasure from life.
Prabhupada: That is our theory, to make the best use of a bad bargain. We are already cheated, "Now all right, let me utilize it." That's all. You don't admit that "I have been cheated, now I am utilizing it."
Syamasundara: He says that utility is that property in any object whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good or happiness.
Prabhupada: That is nice, this definition also, but if we put to test all our so-called happiness, it will not be possible to come out successful.
Syamasundara: He realizes that this view could give rise to egoistic over-indulgence, that someone could think, "Well, if pleasure is my only goal, let me do anything, never mind others."
Prabhupada: But then how long it will stay? To come to the test, that it will not stay. Suppose one has decided that I have learned how to cheat others so you can cheat for some time to all men or all men or some men for some time but you cannot... You'll be caught, you'll be captured as a cheater. Then you will be punished. So the duration is not permanent. The test is duration.
Syamasundara: One of the tests is duration.
Prabhupada: Duration, that duration will not allow to enjoy that kind of cheating happiness.
Syamasundara: He rejects duty or sense of duty or conscience to be the guide for moral conduct, good and bad conduct, and he accepts only the amount of pleasure or pain as the criterion of right conduct.
Syamasundara: Whether I'm doing right or wrong will be measured by how much pain or pleasure I am getting from it.
Prabhupada: Yes, this definition we can also accept because we are try to Krsna conscious, to derive the permanent happiness, first quality happiness.
Syamasundara: So if I'm feeling happy that means I am proceeding...
Prabhupada: You must feel, if it is happiness, you must feel happy. Just like eating is happiness. So if you actually eat, you must feel happiness. It is not that (indistinct). Eating, when you are hungry, eating is happiness. But if you are not feeling happiness then what is the use of eating? By eating if you are feeling happiness, then you are eating. Strength, you'll feel strength, "Yes, I was fatigued. Now eating I am getting strength." Satisfaction. These three things are to be there when you are eating. If there is no satisfaction, no strength, then what is the meaning of eating. There is no...
Syamasundara: Someone might raise the point, "Well, the man is hungry and he has no food, therefore in order to feel pleasure he must steal it and cause displeasure to someone else." But this Bentham says that there are four natural curves or preventions, preventative forces to keep people from egoistic over-indulgence. One is the physical consequences of over-indulgence. If I eat too much, I get sick. One is political, that I will be imprisoned if I transgress. I will be punished. One is moral, or popular opinion, the public will think badly of me if I over-indulge. And the fourth one is religious, that God will punish me if I am an evil-doer. These four preventions he says, keep us from over-indulging in pleasure.
Prabhupada: But if there is some happiness, why there is no prevention. That is real happiness. There is no prevention, simply go on increasing.
Prabhupada: Yes. Just like Krsna's happiness, there was no prevention. So that is real happiness. Prevention means material, limited. Just like drinking liquor. There is prevention also. There are no-alcoholic beer. You have seen the signboard? That is prevention.
Syamasundara: To be over twenty-one years old.
Prabhupada: No some signboard, you cannot drink even, sitting on their bench. I have seen in New York so many places. So alcohol is very nice happiness, but there is prevention. In your country, the prevention is not so strong. In our country it is very... If one is caught in drunken state, immediately he is taken to the police. Immediately. He is punished. You cannot come on the road in a drunken state. No. You are found in drunken state on the road, you are liable to be arrested. You do everything in your home. Well, in most cities drinking is private.
Syamasundara: They were just lifting the ban in some big city in...
Prabhupada: In Bombay. It was prohibited area. So Gandhi made this prohibition as far as possible. Now they are lifting. Because simply prohibition will not help you. Unless you have got a better engagement, this prohibition will not help you. By law you can say, "Don't do this," but if you have no better engagement, this order of the law, "Don't do this," will not act. Will not act. Just like government, your government is trying to stop this intoxication. They could not. It is increasing. But so far our society is concerned, anyone who is coming here, immediately there is no intoxication. That means he gets something better. Therefore he voluntarily checks himself. And it is possible to check. So unless you give better thing, simply by prohibition you cannot check. That is not possible. The same example again, just like a thief, he knows the prohibitive order that you shall not steal. He knows the prohibitive order even in sastra, that if a man is a thief he will suffer this kind of hellish condition. So he has heard it from the lawyer and from the sastra that stealing is not good and he has seen it that a thief is arrested and is punished but still he does it. But a Krsna conscious person will not do it. That is the difference. So by law or by pressure you cannot make anyone moral. That's not possible. He has to be given something which is better than morality, then he will stop committing all kinds of sins.
Syamasundara: He says that the pleasure of one person will coincide with the pleasure of others, we're all more or less desiring similar pleasures.
Syamasundara: He will be similar to what other people...
Prabhupada: That may not be on the similar standard. The standard of pleasure is according to the body. The same example, if you give halava to the hog, he'll not be satisfied. He wants stool. He has got a body which will not allow him to accept halava.
Syamasundara: But if we take a consensus of all the citizens in the state that we must try to satisfy the majority, for what they expect to be good and happy, happiness.
Prabhupada: No, he will say that this is my happiness: "I will take meat. You may say that you take Krsna prasadam, no it is nonsense. (indistinct)."
Syamasundara: But the majority will take meat so...
Prabhupada: Therefore meat is very good.
Syamasundara: That is the standard of pleasure, yes.
Prabhupada: Therefore to these rascals meat is very good.
Syamasundara: Yes, utility.
Prabhupada: If majority of the people are meat-eater, then meat is very good, full of vitamin. Therefore it is folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss. But we have to see what is the standard. Standard is given in the Bhagavad-gita: that which increases duration of life, which increases strength, which increases feeling of pleasure, they are sattvika. These are stated in the Bhagavad-gita.
Syamasundara: His idea is that the standard is decided by the majority of the people.
Prabhupada: Majority of people, they are asses. Then what is the help of that votes of the asses. Why don't you take votes from so many animals? Why you take votes from the human beings? In the country, the animals are also there. Therefore a standard of happiness, he must know and if we take that type of happiness, that is Krsna conscious.
Syamasundara: We derive our standard from authority.
Prabhupada: Yes, and actually we feel it is so. Not only accept, in the preaching work, the theory is there; but when actually takes to Krsna consciousness, he understands that here is the standard of happiness. I receive so many hundreds of letters daily how they are feeling happiness. (end)
Link to this page: https://prabhupadabooks.com/classes/philosophy/syamasundara/jeremy_bentham