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Room Conversation
with Kim Cornish

May 8, 1975, Perth
Prabhupada: ...psychology, metaphysics.
Kim: Yes.
Amogha: He was telling me that the paper he's writing for his master's degree is comparing a German philosopher with Buddhist philosophy.
Kim: Which, as far as I can gather, the self/no-self thing, Buddhism was denying that you're the atman, I think. Could you perhaps say something about that?
Amogha: He's asking about the conception of denial of the self.
Kim: Of the atman, yes.
Amogha: Atman. The finishing of atman.
Prabhupada: Hmm. So how can you deny atman?
Kim: In Hindu philosophy, what is the nature of the atman?
Prabhupada: Nature of atman is eternal. Eternity, knowledge and blissfulness. Anandamayo 'bhyasat: (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12) atma is joy, ananda, blissful.
Kim: I've read some of the Upanisads where they say that atman is Brahman?
Prabhupada: Why have I placed this flower here? Why do I like this flower? What is the reason?
Kim: Because it's beautiful, perhaps?
Prabhupada: Yes, therefore you want to enjoy. This is the nature of atma. I want to enjoy. This is blissfulness. Then, why are you trying to become a philosopher?
Kim: For understanding.
Prabhupada: Yes, therefore knowledge. Why do you not like to die? Because you are eternal. Therefore atma's nature is eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss. This is knowledge. Sat cit ananda. Do you know Sanskrit?
Kim: No, but some words.
Prabhupada: That is atma's nature. Sat cit ananda. Eternal, full of knowledge, and blissful.
Kim: A question. Is there, is it the atman...
Prabhupada: Just hear.
Kim: Atman is attached to each person?
Prabhupada: Just hear.
Amogha: He says hear for a moment.
Kim: I'm listening, of course.
Prabhupada: Atma's nature. One question should be understood, thoroughly. You have asked what is the nature of atma. The atma's nature is that he is eternal. He never dies. Never takes birth. He is already existing. Just like, you were a child, you were a baby. The body is no longer existing. Your childhood body is no longer existing, but you know that you were a child. You remember your childhood days. Therefore, you are different from the body. The body is passed away, but you remember that you had a body like that. Therefore you exist. You know that you'll become an old man. So this body will not exist. Another body you will get, old age body. Therefore you will exist; the body will change. Now try to understand this fact first of all, and if you cannot understand, ask questions.
Kim: The atman, there is one to a person, or there is only one atman?
Prabhupada: You are atma, I am atma, we are not one. You are individual, I am individual. I don't agree with you, you don't agree with me. So how one?
Kim: I beg your pardon?
Prabhupada: How it is one?
Amogha: He says that you are individual and he is individual, so how can they be one?
Kim: How can they be one? I see. Yes. I was wondering how the atman is associated with each individual. Is it the... Isn't it right to say the person is the atman?
Prabhupada: Yes.
Kim: The person is the atman. And to each person there is one atman associated.
Prabhupada: You are a person and I am a person. You are changing bodies and I am changing bodies.
Kim: And through all the changes there is the atman that continues.
Prabhupada: Who is here first of all? You are a person. I am a person. You are hearing, I am speaking. We are two persons. So why you say one?
Kim: Two bodies.
Prabhupada: Yes, two bodies, just like two dresses. You are differently dressed, I am differently dressed, but that does not mean that we are one. We are one as atma. Just like you are Australian, I am Indian, but as human being we are one. But as Australian, as Indian, we are different. Therefore we are one and different at the same time.
Kim: Is the atman...
Prabhupada: Atma as spirit soul is one.
Kim: Is one.
Prabhupada: But as individual soul they are different.
Kim: And the atman is just with respect to consciousness, or can we talk about...
Prabhupada: No.
Kim: ...an atman without consciousness.
Prabhupada: Consciousness is the symptom of atma. Because the atma is within your body, therefore your consciousness is there. Now, because the atma is within the body, if I pinch or if you pinch my body, I feel pains and pleasures. As soon as the atma is not there, it will be cut with a chopper, there is no protest. So, that atma is present within this body, that is understood by the presence of consciousness. Just like we are here in this room, but this light is the reflection of the sunshine. We understand there is sun in the sky. The light and heat we are feeling, that means the sun is in the sky. Similarly, our consciousness and knowledge, etc., are there, that means that the atma is there. The same atma, when it will go out of this body, there will be no more consciousness, no more knowledge, no more feelings of pains and pleasures.
Kim: Can one say what qualities the atman has?
Prabhupada: That I have already explained. Eternity, knowledge and blissfulness.
Kim: And does Hindu philosophy say anything about...
Prabhupada: Don't talk Hindu philosophy, talk of philosophy.
Kim: Philosophy. How the atman came into being?
Prabhupada: Hmm?
Kim: How did the atman come into being?
Prabhupada: Atma is not coming into being, it is already there. But at the present moment it is accepting different types of bodies. Just like your this dress is available in the market. And you are also there, so you purchase the dress and put on. Similarly, the different types of bodies are already there. You according to your desire accept one type of body, and you appear in that body. There are 8,400,000 different forms of body, and you have to accept one of them. According to desire. According to your work. You are working. Everyone is working. Now, according to the work and association, he is creating his body. Just like if you infect some type of disease, then you'll have to accept that disease. So we are working ways—we are individuals—and according to that work we are creating our next body. If you are working in a godly way, then you'll get your body next as god, and if you are working in a dogly way, then you'll get your body as dog. So, by nature's way, evolution, we come through 800 millions of forms of life, then nature gives us a chance to accept this human form of body. In this body, our consciousness being advanced, if we try we can understand what is the problem of life, why we have accepted birth, death, old age and disease, how to get out of these, how to revive our original nature of body and again become eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. This is the chance of the human body. Therefore you are a philosopher because you are in the human body, but a dog cannot be a philosopher. He may be a very big dog, can bark very loudly, he has got very good strength, can create big disturbance, but he cannot understand philosophy. That is not possible. But a human being can understand. Therefore he should be given chance to understand the philosophy of life. And that is Vedas.
Kim: That is?
Prabhupada: Vedas.
Kim: Oh, Vedas, yes.
Prabhupada: The Vedas are there for understanding by the human society. And if he lives like a cat and dog, then he spoils his life. We should take advantage of the Vedic knowledge and make our life successful. This is real philosophy.
Kim: I'm not very familiar with the Hindu scriptures, but I have read some Upanisads, and there's the idea that somehow atman is Brahman? I don't understand that at all, so perhaps you could say something about that?
Prabhupada: Which Upanisad are you reading?
Kim: I've read the Chandogya, the—I don't know the pronunciations.
Prabhupada: There are one hundred and eight Upanisads.
Kim: I don't know the pronunciations, that's the difficulty.
Prabhupada: Have you read Isopanisad?
Kim: Pardon?
Prabhupada: Isopanisad.
Kim: I'm familiar with the name, but that's about all.
Prabhupada: Give him Isopanisad. Read from the beginning. Have you read this book? This is the first Upanisad that is read. Can you read Sanskrit?
Kim: No.
Prabhupada: Transliteration?
Amogha: You just read the sound.
Prabhupada: Read the translation.
Kim: "The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance."
Prabhupada: Now read the purport. After reading the translation do you understand everything?
Kim: No. (reads purport to) "...and Paramatma or Supersoul realization is the realization of His sat and cit features." I don't understand that. I read the words, but...
Prabhupada: It requires elucidation. "Complete whole" means, just like your body is complete whole, and there are so many other things, there are so many holes in the body, there are so many hairs on the body, there are so many hairs on the head, so many fingers, eyes, ears—so many things—but the body is a complete unit, working as a complete machine. And there are so many things. Similarly, the whole cosmos is complete, exactly like this body is a machine. Similarly the whole cosmos is a big machine. It is complete. One sun is there and keeping everything complete. The day and night, the seasonal changes, the equator, the temperature, the moonlight, the other planets, we living beings, the vegetables—everything is complete by God. And because the sun is there. Similarly, this body, machine, is complete. And the soul is there, it is working nicely. The body is also a creation, and the universe is also a creation, and the brain which has created these things, He is complete. Therefore He has created these complete units. That is the idea. Purnam idam [Iso Invocation]. Purnah means complete. And because He is complete, the Creator, He has no defect; therefore He can create everything complete. Purnam idam, purnam adah, purnat purnam udacyate. And He is so complete that purnasya purnam adaya, from the complete, if you take the whole complete, still He is complete. Here is a glass of water; I am drinking. Drinking part by part. And when it is finished, the water is finished, no more complete. But He is so complete, that just like the sun, the temperature is being distributed for million and millions of years, still it is full of temperature. Here, unless the electric power is there, it is not complete. But there is power in the sunshine. It is a reservoir of so much temperature and light, that in history millions and millions of years it is distributing, the seasonal changes are going on, the green foliage is coming again, the snow and rain is coming, so many things are going on account of temperature. Any machine is rolling, just like as soon as there is power the machine is rolling. In all machines, your bodily machine, my bodily machine, and electric machines and other powered machines—everything is going on. Purnat purnam udacyate. And in spite of taking so much energy from the sun, it is still full of light and energy. This is one of the creations of the Supreme. Now how much perfect is the Supreme? Its one of the creations, sun, is maintaining the whole universe. And there are many millions of universes, and each of them has got a sun to conduct the business. And all these suns are created by somebody. How much complete He is? You can just imagine. That is God. God is not such a cheap thing. People become God, "I am God." You are a nonsense rascal. What you can do? These are bluff. They do not know what is God. Here is God—complete. Purnam adah, purnam idam [Isopanisad, Invocation]. The whole creation is complete, still He is complete. The energy is coming from here, still He is complete. This energy also. A glass of water, I throw the glass, and water again is coming. Again I throw, again it is coming. Incessantly coming, all the energies. This is the idea of God. Purnam idam [Iso Invocation], purnam adah, purnam idam, purnat purnam udacyate, purnasya purnam adaya, purnam evavasisyate. One minus one equals one, not zero. One plus one equals one, not two. This is complete. This is the idea of God. Just like the ocean. You take many thousands of buckets of water out, still it is complete. And again you put many buckets, thousands, millions of buckets of water, it is the same depth. This is another example. Material example. This is complete. You take millions of buckets of water from the ocean, you'll find not a drop is lost. And you put millions of buckets of water again, not a drop is increased. Purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate. If you try to take out the whole ocean, still it will remain the ocean. This is the idea of complete.
Kim: One more question. What do you think of the use of drugs as an aid?
Prabhupada: Drugs? That is another side of madness. Just like, human being, after the evolution of 8 million forms of bodies, he comes to human body to understand philosophy, these Vedas. So instead of utilizing life for that purpose, he wants to become again like the cats and dogs, and therefore he takes drugs. He is already cat and dog. He's no better than cats and dogs, because he has no interest in this knowledge. He was meant for this knowledge but he remains like cats and dogs, therefore he is not satisfied, therefore he takes drugs to forget himself. This is the philosophy of drugs. He was meant for becoming satisfied by taking this knowledge. He does not get the chance. Nobody leads him to this knowledge. He remains like cats and dogs, but as a human being if he lives like cats and dogs, he'll never be happy. Because there is no happiness, therefore he takes drugs, to forget. This is the drug philosophy. Drug philosophy means to forget one's present suffering. He must suffer, because his consciousness is developed. He must take this Vedic knowledge, but he does not take. Therefore he is dissatisfied, and to counteract the dissatisfaction he takes drugs. This is drug philosophy.
Kim: Perhaps often it is that, but...
Prabhupada: Not perhaps. There is no question of perhaps. We want to speak factually.
Kim: But Patanjali says that siddhis, powers, can be produced by drugs, so perhaps...
Prabhupada: Drugs are meant for medicinal purposes, not for drinking or taking generally. Every herb, every vegetable, is a drug meant for curing a particular disease. This is nature's gift. Just like if you cut your finger, you take little grass and take a little juice and apply it. It will act as tincturizing, immediately. They are meant for this purpose. These vegetable, drugs, are meant for when you are sick or disturbed, you can utilize. Not for intoxication. Just like opium. If you have severe type of dysentery, diarrhea, a little opium it will immediately cure. But opium is not meant for using as an intoxication. There is use of opium. Morphia, opium, they have got use at a certain time, not for using it for intoxication. That is foolish.
Amogha: Srila Prabhupada, can drugs sometimes be used to help us for spiritual realization?
Prabhupada: No. That is nonsense. Spiritual realization means knowledge. Not to become intoxicated. The spiritual... Just like this is spiritual knowledge. So what the intoxicated person will understand? Even a sane man cannot understand. Then how he will understand in intoxication? It is foolishness. They are suffering material pangs. By taking drugs the suffering is forgotten, and he is thinking that is the solution. Spiritual means negation of material distress. So he is always suffering from material distress. By taking drug, temporarily he forgets it. Therefore he misunderstands "This is spiritual." That's not spiritual. Then committing suicide is also spiritual? One man is suffering, and the suffering is so great he cannot tolerate, therefore he sometimes commits suicide. Is that committing suicide spiritual? Spiritual means negation of material distresses, that's a fact. But that is a different thing. When you come to the spiritual platform, not by artificially forgetting your material suffering. That is not spiritual.
Kim: Another question. I asked earlier about the nature of atman, now the nature of Brahman?
Prabhupada: Brahman means the greatest, so as the sky, to our experience the sky is greater. What is the sky? The sky is a combination of small atoms. Do you know that? So if the sky is Brahman, then it is a combination of small atoms, then the small atoms are also Brahman? Just like a huge stack of rice, they are called rice, and a small grain of rice, that is also rice. So therefore there are two kinds of Brahman—the component parts of the Brahman they are also Brahman, and whole Brahman is also Brahman. Do you follow?
Kim: I hear the words.
Prabhupada: Why don't you understand?
Kim: I follow the analogy of the rice.
Prabhupada: The sky, the Brahman. What is the sky? A combination of atoms. So the component parts they are also Brahman, otherwise how it is Brahman? Unless the component parts are Brahman, how is it Brahman? It is a combination of many component parts, small Brahman. Param Brahman. Param Brahman means the supreme. The sea water, ocean water. Ocean water is very big, that is Brahman. Big means Brahman. But what is this ocean water? Small molecules of water. Sometimes we see the sea waves, small molecules, cool. So it is combination of small Brahman. So, sarvam khalv idam brahma. Everything is Brahman. And we are a small, very small fragmental portion of Brahman. How small are we? One ten-thousandth part of the tip of the hair. We cannot see even the tip of the hair, very small point. And you have to divide it into ten thousand parts. And that one part—you, I, everyone. So small. So everything is Brahman. It is said sarva khalv idam brahma. Everything is Brahman. Why? Because the Brahman is very big, but what is this big? The big is a combination of small molecules, atoms. What is your idea of Brahman?
Kim: From my own understanding I took it to be just the world, everything that is, but I don't understand.
Prabhupada: Not clear idea.
Kim: I had an experience in New Zealand...
Prabhupada: So therefore you have to experience from authority—what is Brahman. This is explanation of Brahman. So this Brahman realization is first, then Paramatma realization, then God realization. Just like you realize the sunshine, very big, all over the universe, but you have to see wherefrom the sunshine is coming—the sun globe. That is localized. You are seeing just like a small ball, but actually this big thing, sunshine, is coming from it. Is it not? So which is important, the sunshine or the globe?
Kim: They are both important, but the sun is what produces the sunshine.
Prabhupada: Similarly God the person is important, and by His bodily rays the whole thing is going on. Yasya prabha prabhavato [Bs. 5.40]. Brahmano hi... Find out this verse-brahmano hi pratisthaham.
brahmano hi pratisthaham
amrtasyavyayasya ca
sasvatasya ca dharmasya
sukhasyaikantikasya ca
Translation: "And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness, and which is immortal, imperishable and eternal."
Prabhupada: Purport?
Amogha: Purport: "The constitution of Brahman is immortality, imperishability, eternity, and happiness. Brahman is the beginning of transcendental realization; Paramatma, the Supersoul, is the middle, the second stage in transcendental realization; and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate realization of the Absolute Truth. Therefore both Paramatma and the impersonal Brahman are within the Supreme Person. It is explained in the seventh chapter that material nature is a manifestation of the inferior energy of the Supreme Lord. The Lord impregnates the inferior material nature with the fragments of the superior nature, and that is the spiritual touch in the material nature. When a living entity, conditioned by this material nature, begins the cultivation of spiritual knowledge, he elevates himself from the position of material existence and gradually rises up to the Brahman conception of the Supreme. This attainment of the Brahman conception of life is the first stage of self-realization. At this stage, the Brahman-realized person is transcendental to the material position, but he is not actually perfect in Brahman realization. If he works, he can continue to stay in the Brahman position and then gradually rise up to the Paramatama realization and then to the realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are many examples of this in Vedic literature. The four Kumaras were situated first in the impersonal Brahman conception of truth, but then they gradually rose to the platform of devotional service. One who cannot elevate himself beyond the impersonal conception of Brahman runs the risk of falling down. In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that although a person may rise to the stage of impersonal Brahman, without going further, with no information of the Supreme Person, his intelligence is not perfectly clear. Therefore, in spite of being raised to the Brahman platform, there is the chance of falling down if one is not engaged in the devotional service of the Lord. In the Vedic language it is also said, parasya vai samhi evayam labhvandamhi bhavati: when one understands the personality of God, the reservoir of pleasure, Krsna, he actually becomes transcendentally blissful."
Prabhupada: That is required. Our nature is blissfulness. Unless we reach Krsna, talk with Him, dance with Him, eat with Him, enjoy life, our perfection is imperfect, not complete. Simply Brahman realization, just like simply to see, a child can see also the sunshine, but that does not mean he knows what is the sun, although the sunshine is coming from the sun. So unless you understand what is the actual sun, what is the person within the sun globe, our knowledge is imperfect. Simply realization of the big volume of sunshine, is not perfect. It is also light, and the sun globe is also light, heat. But this heat and light is not sufficient knowledge of the complete heat and light there. That is the difference between Brahman realization and God realization.
Kim: What can be said about God realization?
Prabhupada: I have given the example. Just like this sunshine is coming from the sun globe. Within the sun globe there is the president of the planet. Just like here on this planet you have got some president. Here there are many presidents, because it is hodgepodge, chaotic. But there everything is systematic. There is one person, his name is Vivasvan. He's the predominating deity. Krsna went to see him and talked with him about Bhagavad-gita. He's a person, and there the people, they are also persons. Just like in this planet. But here the body is predominantly made of earth, and there the body is predominantly of fire. Therefore it is so glowing. The glowing temperature, heat and light, is coming from the person, their body is made of glowing heat or fire. There are five material elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. In some planet the earth is prominent, in some planet the water is prominent, in some planets the fire is prominent. So the sun planet is prominent with fire. There the bodies made of the inhabitants there are fire. So all the combination of the fiery effulgence is the heat of the sun globe and that is being distributed. It is in the (indistinct). You can see and realize. Everything is there. If you study nature you will get everything. (end)

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