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Prabhupada: I've heard you are teaching yoga
Dürckheim: No, not yoga. Rather, I am professor of
I spent the war in
Japan. My mentor is Master Eckhart, the great Germany mystic of the
In Japan I
encountered Zen, and rediscovered the same Truth; once again I saw
there is only one Truth. Returning from Japan, I rejected all offers to
a renewed professorship, and began in a small valley in the mountains
of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) to work and to write books, and
people came, and today
we have there what you would call a little ashrama, mostly
about fifty, sixty persons living there, coming, going, no patients,
just people who try to discover their real self, nothing else.
Dürckheim: That's our work we are trying to do.
So Absolute Truth is realized in three aspect. Brahmeti
paramatmeti bhagavan iti shabdyate [Srimad-Bhagavatam
1.2.11]. Some realize the Absolute Truth as impersonal Brahman, others
realize the Absolute Truth as localized Paramatma, situated in
everyone's heart, and the final realization is the Supreme Personality
of Godhead. So we are cultivating the Supreme Personality of Godhead
Krishna. Krishnas tu bhagavan svayam [Srimad-Bhagavatam
1.3.28]. So which aspect you are cultivating, the Paramatma or the
impersonal Brahman or the Personality of Godhead?
Dürckheim: You can't help cultivate all three in the long run.
No, all three are one. But it is the angle of vision only. Just like a
mountain—somebody from distant place looking, hazy clouds, something.
The mountain is the same, but from long distance one realizes as hazy
cloud. Little more nearer, they realize something green. And if
somebody goes in the mountain, he realizes the mountain and the animals
and the residential place, everything. The objective is the same, but
the angle of vision different. So in India or everywhere, some
realizing the Absolute Truth as impersonal, without any variegatedness.
Dürckheim: As Buddhists do.
Buddhists, they, I think, they... Yes, you are right, impersonal. But
their philosophy is to stop all kinds of realization, nirvana.
Realization they do not want. They want to stop realization, to become
zero. Is it not that?
Dürckheim: To become? I didn't understand.
Dürckheim: Zero, yes. Well, zero from the point of view of the
alter ego, but this zero is everything from the outside. From the point
of view of the natural ego it's zero, but once you touch it, it's the
plenitude, everything. But it's beyond something and everything, as far
as I understand it.
Yes, it is beyond. That beyond is realized, as I explained to you, in
different angle of vision. Some, impersonal, without any variety, and
some, localized Paramatma, and some, the Supreme Being. As you are
sitting, I am sitting, we are talking, so the Absolute Truth is a
person, Supreme Person, Supreme Being, and we approach Him, talk with
Him, sit with Him, play with Him. That is Krishna realization. First of
all, negation of the material varieties, then impersonal realization,
then localized realization, then personal realization. Just like a
diseased man. First of all cure, then healthy activities. A diseased
man has got activities. He also eats, he also sleeps, he also
evacuates, but all troublesome. Therefore, being disgusted, he wanted
to make everything zero. But if he hears that again sleeping, again
eating, again evacuating is healthy life, he thinks it is something
like his diseased condition. But healthy life is different from
diseased life. So some philosophers, they are trying to negate this
diseased condition only, without any realization of healthy life. So I
think Buddha philosophy is called nirvana, negation of this
diseased condition of life, pains and pleasure. Am I right or wrong?
Dürckheim: You are certainly right. We see the... It is a
big... In our work, as I see it, to realize that what from one point of
view seems too bad, bad, for instance, illness or dying, what the
natural ego does not like, if you goes through, it's also the threshold
to quite a different reality.
Yes, different it is. The same example, as I gave you: In diseased
condition the reality is something, and healthy condition, the reality
is something else. But if we compare the reality of healthy life with
the realities of diseased life, that will be a misconception.
Dürckheim: The dead, person who is dead.
We take this body—dead always. This body is actually dead. Just like
microphone is made of iron. It is iron. When it is working, responding,
at that time also it is iron. And when it is out of order, does not
work, it is also iron. Similarly, this body is working on account of
the living force within. When the living force is out, it is called
dead. But actually it is dead always. The living force is the important
thing. That is making him alive. Actually alive or dead, it is dead
matter. But the living force is the active principle. That is
distinguishing this body as dead or alive. But factually it is dead
always. That is the beginning of instruction, Bhagavad-gita:
"Arjuna, you are lamenting for this body, but the body is dead." Ashochyan
anvashochas tvam prajna-vadamsh cha bhashase [Bhagavad-gita
2.11]. So unless we know that... The dead body is not the subject
matter of study either it is in working order or it is in dead order.
The subject matter of study is the active principle which makes the
dead body moving. That is the beginning of Bhagavad-gita.
[to Satsvarupa:] Read that portion.
ashocyan anvashochas tvam
prajna-vadamsh cha bhashase
gatasun agatasumsh cha
nanushochanti panditah [Bhagavad-gita 2.11]
Blessed Lord said, While speaking learned words you are mourning for
what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the
living nor the dead."
What is your opinion about this?
Dürckheim: May I ask a question? How do you teach your
disciples to become aware of this force which is not matter, that makes
That active principle, life, or living soul.
Dürckheim: Yes, how do you teach them to become aware of it?
You see, now I listen, and that is, if you like, first a philosophy
which contains the truth. I don't doubt it. But how to make feel?
It is very simple thing. Just like a body is moving, and body is not
moving. So there is an active principle which makes the body moving,
and when it is absent, it is not moving. Now, the question will be:
"What is that active principle?" Athato brahma jijnasa.
First of all let him distinguish what is the difference between this
dead body and living body. If a student is unaware of it, he can see
that on account of the active principle, the body is changing, the body
is moving, and in the absence of the active principle, neither the body
changes, neither moves. Just like in our childhood we used to think
that the gramophone box, there is a man, and he is speaking from the
box. This is a childish suggestion only, but similarly, anyone can
think that within this body there is something which is making the body
moving. It is not very big philosophy.
Dürckheim: No, that's quite clear.
Anyone can understand. So our students are taught on the principle of Bhagavad-gita
that the body is always dead. The body is simply just like a machine, a
big machine. This machine, it is dead, but as soon as I push the button
it works. Similarly, the body is dead, but within the body, the life or
the active principle, so long it is there, it is responding. Just like
we are talking. I am asking my student, "Come here." He comes. But as
soon as the active principle is out, I will ask him for thousands of
years, "Come here"—he will not come. It is very simple to distinguish.
Now, what is that active principle, that is a separate subject matter
to understand. And that is the beginning of spiritual knowledge. This
is our learning.
Dürckheim: May I ask a question? It is quite clear for our
rational mind, I can understand there is a dead body, and there must be
something in him, enough to make it alive. Now, the conclusion, I say
there are two things, that my question was how he becomes aware in
himself as an experience, not as conclusion, because I realize that on
the inner way it becomes important more and more to feel deeper and
deeper and deeper and deeper realities. That's why in my little work I
make a distinction between the body you have and the body you are. The
English language says, talks about "somebody" and "something."
"Somebody" means a person. So the body you are. It's the whole of the
gestures wherein you express and you present and you miss or you
realize your real self. So the body you are. Usually if you go to a
doctor he sees only the body you have. He tackles it like a machine. If
somebody with shoulders like this, he says, "Well, you must make
exercises." If somebody comes to me with shoulders like this, I say,
"The body you are, you have no confidence in life. So get an attitude
of confidence." So he gets to know the body he is, not only the body he
has, which doesn't at all touch at your wisdom.
No, as I say, the active principle, I am also the active principle. As
I say, the dead body and the living body, difference is, when the
active principle is not there, it is dead body. Similarly, I am also
the active principle. So 'ham, so 'ham: "I
am the same active principle." Aham brahmasmi: "I am
Brahman. I am not this material body." That is self-realization. Brahma-bhutah
prasannatma na shochati na kankshati: [Bhagavad-gita
18.54] "When one is self-realized, then he is jolly." Prasannatma.
He is never morose. He is jolly. Na shochati na kankshati:
"He has no lamentation, no hankering." Samah sarveshu bhuteshu:
"He is equal to everyone, man, animal and everything." And mad-bhaktim
labhate param: [Bhagavad-gita 18.54] "Then
devotional life begins." So without self-realization, there is no
question of devotional life. Or those who are engaged in devotional
service, they are all... Just like these boys, my students, they are
trained up how to be always in devotional service. So one who is
engaged in devotional service, he is supposed to be already
self-realized. Because he has understood "what I am," yes. And then he
sticks to devotional service. Otherwise, he cannot. If one thinks, "I
am this body," then he cannot be engaged in devotional service, or he
cannot stick. He knows that "I am part and parcel of God. So my duty is
to serve God." This is self-realization. And then he engages himself in
Dürckheim: I say, master, that when you say he knows, you
don't speak about this knowledge.
Dürckheim: You came already... You say "believe and by this
know that I am participating in the great divine person." And yet I
didn't experience it.
Why not experience? He knows that "I am that active principle."
Everyone knows that "I am not this body." When I say, "This is my
finger," I don't say, "I finger." So "I," what "I"? That realization,
self-realization, that "I am part and parcel of God." So that he knows,
that "I am part and parcel of God. So therefore my duty is to serve
God." So they are engaged in serving God. So this serving God, or
devotional service, is stated in the Bhagavad-gita...
[to Satsvarupa:] Find out that verse, that:
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahma-bhuyaya kalpate [Bhagavad-gita 14.26]
So unless one is
self-realized, he cannot be engaged in the service of the supreme self.
Ordinarily, a master and a servant, a servant knows that "I am engaged
by the master. He is giving me food. He is giving me shelter. He is
giving me everything for his service." So he is careful in his service.
This is a material example. Similarly, self-realization is ultimately,
as I taught you, that, first impersonal Brahman, then localized
Paramatma, and then the yogis, they realize the localized
Paramatma. Dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pashyanti yam yoginah
[Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.13.1]. The yogis, they
observe the Supersoul within himself, and they meditate upon Him. [to
is that verse?
cha yo 'vyabhicharena
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahma-bhuyaya kalpate [Bhagavad-gita 14.26]
who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any
circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus
comes to the level of Brahman."
This is our process.
Dürckheim: A long way to get there.
And the process is going on. The chanting the holy name of Krishna, by
this process they fully realize that, the master, the Supreme Being,
and engages himself always. These European, American boys, they are all
educated. Not... In your country, of course, the young men...
Dürckheim: They are educated too.
Yes. So they are always engaged in devotional service. So unless there
is some realization, how they can engage their time in this way? They
are not fools who waste their time. Already as young men, they do not
have any material attachments. They follow strictly four
fundamental principles: None of my students
maintains illicit sexual relations; none eats meat, fish or eggs, but
only Krishna prasadam; none take intoxicants like tea, coffee,
alcohol, cigarettes or drugs; and none gamble. They live this life,
although they are born in another country—not India,
and although they grew up under completely different circumstances. How
could they give up all these things if they had not found a higher
taste? How could they be otherwise satisfied? Bhakti means that
interest in unnecessary material things. Not that they do not eat, but
they do not eat the generally usual,
so-called delicious things for the satisfaction of the tongue. In order
to eat, they do not commit cruel actions to kill as for
instance animals; they are content with what God gives them. Tyena
tyaktena bhunjitah. It is said in the Vedas: "Eat
that which is your designated portion." God says, "You are human
being. You can eat. I have given you fruits. I have given you
vegetables. I have given you food grains. I have given you milk, very
nutritious, palatable, containing all vitamin ABCD. And why should you
kill animals? Why should you give trouble to the others?" This is
self-realization, that "Here is another self. The same active principle
is working there. The body is different. Why shall I kill him?" So they
have realized it. Samah sarveshu bhuteshu. Equal vision
to all living entities, that the self, that active principle, is
working in the fish, in the insect, within the tree, within the plant,
within the animals, within the birds and within me. This is
self-realization. That active principle is soul, and the soul is
migrating from one body to another as you are migrating from childhood
to babyhood, babyhood to boyhood, boyhood to youthhood. So the soul is
the same. The body is different. The body is material and the soul is
spiritual. When one comes to this understanding, that is
Dürckheim: May I put a question, master? On the way there
should be progress, inner progress. How to realize that there is a
progress? I would say one thing is very important. There are three
sufferings in the world of mankind: fear of annihilation, despair if
you are taken by something which is absurd, and loneliness, if you are
alone. These three sufferings in the world for the natural being. I
realize that you make a decisive step on your inner way when you feel
life in the very moment when you have to die, when you feel the great
meaning in the very moment when you are just having despair, and when
you feel the great love of the person God exactly while you are a
lonely in the world. And I have realized that we are now in a very
decisive moment in the western world because for the first time in the
history of mankind, the western people, in Europe and the States, start
to take seriously certain experiences, inner experiences, where this
truth is revealed. In all times, as far as I see, the great condition
of the east, they knew about those experiences where death loses its
terrifying character and becomes the threshold to some bigger life. And
I always see with also my disciples, as soon as they learn to go
through some kind of death, they awake on a new level. So I will say if
people are in my place and after a week, they still sleep very well,
then I have made a mistake. About that sleep, just to realize something
in overcoming their usual needs, their usual fears, their usual habits,
in order to touch inwardly another level, and then suddenly they
realize there is some quite different principle at work as they see
usually in their natural mind.
So that different principle, for a devotee is already realized. Because
a devotee never thinks of this body, that "I am this body." He thinks
"I am..." aham brahmasmi: "I am spirit soul." So without
that realization, there is no question of devotional life. So that is
first understood. That instruction is being given by Krishna to Arjuna,
that "You are considering very seriously on this body, but a learned
man does not take this body very seriously, either dead or alive." That
is the first realization. So everyone in this world, they are concerned
with this body, dead or alive. When alive, they take care of the body
in so many ways, and when dead they erect big statue upon it. So that
realization is this body. When it is alive, very nicely dressed, nicely
groomed, nicely everything on account of this body, and when dead, then
again the statue, the tomb, that's all, but missing the active
principle. He is taking care of this body even after death by erecting
very nice memorial, but he has no knowledge where the active principle
has lost. That is ignorance.
Dürckheim: When I was a young man, I was four years in the
World War. Forty-eight months almost in the foremost front. And I was
one of the two officers...
In First World War? First World War?
Dürckheim: World War I, 1914 to 1918.
Dürckheim: And I was one of the two officers who were not
wounded in my regiment. And there I met death again and again. And I
saw people just killed next to me. Suddenly it was out. It was just
only as you say, the body without soul. But I realized also in myself,
that when death was near and you had accepted death, accepted to die,
then you realized something which has nothing to do whatsoever with
Yes. That is self-realization.
Dürckheim: So this marked me very much. It's the very
beginning of my inner way, these four years of World
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