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Continued from p. 3

Zen, Christian Teachings and Krishna Consciousness

Conversation with Professor Dürckheim, German Spiritual Writer, June 19, 1974, Schloss Rettershof, Germany

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acharya of the world-wide Hare Krishna Movement, Brahma Sampradaya Acharya

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[Enter professors from the Theological University of Koenigstein, among them the spiritualist Professor Pater Felix Porsch, and Dr. P.J. Saher, author of Eastern Wisdom and Western Thought and Zen Yoga]

Prabhupada: We are publishing all these books, what is spoken by Krishna or His representative. We don't speculate, because already there is so much profound knowledge given by Krishna and His representative. There is no necessity of researching. If we simply take advantage of things which are already there, we become perfect. I have published about fourteen books like this.

Professor Dürckheim: Incredible, incredible. What a thing!

German devotee: Srila Prabhupada, these gentlemen are professors from the Theological Philosophical University at Koenigstein. And this is Doctor Saher. He is the leader for the Society of Yoga and Integral Philosophical Studies in Germany.

Prabhupada: Yes. It is very fortunate to see so many big men at a time. So we were also talking to this doctor about this philosophy, how human civilization should be conducted. I was explaining to Professor that at the present moment, not at the present moment, always in this material world, we do not know what is the goal of life. We have got different philosophies, different mode of life, because we do not know what is the goal of life. If the goal of life is... [break] ...then everything is solved. Now it is very good fortune that you are all present. What is the goal of life? That is my submission. Human life is there, human intelligence is there. So what is the goal of life to achieve? The goal of life cannot be different. That is one. That is, we take from Vedic literature, this goal of life is to understand what is God. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said, na te viduh svartha-gatim hi vishnum [Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.31]. ... So we are missing the point, that we do not know what is the goal of life. Different persons, different philosophers, they have got different proposition of the goal of life. Similarly, different politician also. But we think the goal of life is one, to understand God. Then everything is solved. Self-realization. [pause]

And we are writing all these books. These books will be finished in eighty volumes. And already we have published fourteen volumes only. And small books also, many, about two dozen. But our only writing is the goal of life, Krishna.

Professor Dürckheim: May I come back once to my question, master, the relationship between belief and experience? Because this is a great question for us today, especially also in the religious circles, and theologians, the priests and the monks.

Prabhupada: No, believe the authority. That is the... That is better than experience.

Professor Dürckheim: Yes. That is what in our country is... I have very much to do with people who are living in monasteries or churches and so on.

Prabhupada: ... Belief...

Professor Dürckheim: They realize that now belief which is not faith has to be, well, renewed by real experiences. And, you see, we have so many priests today who say they can't pray anymore. They lost the connection because of so much formalism and so much traditional beliefs. And they are looking for a new source and new beginning in their hearts, and they don't believe what you tell them. They just want to feel it, to experience it. And there is a big change today in this direction, and there is a... big movements. You see all these trends today to learn meditation. It's only one longing to feel something and not only to believe. That is the situation now very much in Germany, isn't it so?

Dr. P. J. Saher: Yes, it is.

Prabhupada: Yes. So thing is that, first thing is that you have to believe, but whom to believe? If the person whom I believe, if he is perfect, then my belief is perfect. And if I believe a person who is not trustworthy, then there is no meaning of this belief. Therefore we have to find out the person or the statement which are to believe. That is accepted in the Vedic culture, that the knowledge in the Vedas, that is perfect. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet [Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12]. If one is perfect in Vedic knowledge... Veda, Veda means knowledge, perfect knowledge. So that belief is perfect. Just like we are believing Krishna. Krishna is accepted as the perfect, the supreme perfect. So far we Indians are concerned, there are acharyas, just like Shankaracharya, Madhvacharya, Ramanujacharya. Actually these acharyas are controlling the Indian culture. So all of them are unanimous to believe Krishna, the supreme perfect person.

Professor Dürckheim: May I ask a question, master? You see, the belief, the understanding, is always depending on the level of the one who wants to understand, and that's the level of our quite natural, normal mind of the usual general person. And there is another level where certain experiences open the door to some deeper consciousness. And, as you know, one of the key words of the Christian religion is in the Gospels, that you have to turn around, to the metanoia, to pierce through a certain skin to get quite another level.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Professor Dürckheim: And from this level the heaven opens to those who didn't understand what the heaven means. They thought it was behind the clouds. You see, there is a natural way to look at God, and this natural way to look at God is lost as soon as people go through the rational mind. And then there is no other way out but to have a personal initiated experience. We talk about initiation. When people are capable to go through a certain death and to discover another level, and only... And so, the great wisdom which you are talking about, I am sure that it also touches people on two levels. There is the ordinary man and he might believe, but there is a deeper level where things start to change yourself, to transform yourself in deeper experiences.

Prabhupada: Yes. That is... That is the beginning of instruction in the Bhagavad-gita. The beginning of knowledge...

German Lady: Excuse me. Would you please explain for some people who don't speak English here in German because we don't know all of your words.

Professor Dürckheim: Yes, but I didn't want to interrupt the master.

Prabhupada: No. I have no objection if somebody translates into German.

Hansadutta: Vedavyasa can translate. [German translation follows.]

Professor Dürckheim: Do you permit me to repeat it in German? For those who are present here?

Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. [German translation] [break] So Krishna begins the first understanding,

dehino 'smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanah jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati
[Bhagavad-gita 2.13]
Yes. What is the translation?

Satsvarupa: "As the embodied soul continually passes in this body from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change."

Prabhupada: And now...

Hansadutta: Translate.

Prabhupada: Yes, translate. [German translation] This is the basic principle of knowledge, that "I am not this body. I am the active principle within this body." Then further knowledge can be understood. This is the beginning of knowledge, that "I am not this..." At the present moment everything... That I was explaining to the professor, that we are accepting this body as self, and self-interest means this bodily interest. Explain this. So the whole trouble is on the platform of this misconception that "I am this body." Therefore Krishna begins from this platform what is knowledge. First of all one must know that "I am not this body." When he understands this basic principle of knowledge, then further knowledge can be advanced. That is explained very nicely step by step in this book Bhagavad-gita.

Professor Dürckheim: May I ask a question? If you give us this wisdom, don't you meet now in the western world an opposition from the Christian side where the key word that this faith becomes a body, this faith becomes flesh.

Prabhupada: That's all right. We accept it.

Professor Dürckheim: The incarnation. How do you understand incarnation?

Prabhupada: Now, this question, that spirit develops the skin, you said?

Professor Dürckheim: Spirit? You see I have very often... I saw the difference.

Hansadutta: The spirit becomes flesh.

Professor Dürckheim: The spirit becomes flesh.

Prabhupada: That's it. So this we can experience, that as soon as the spirit is entered into the womb of the mother, they develop skin and the child develops body. So this is very practical, that first of all, not that simply by sexual intercourse a child is born. Then every the time sexual intercourse would have caused pregnancy. No. Unless the spirit soul is there, there is no question of developing body. Therefore it is natural that the spirit soul creates this flesh and bone and other things and develops into body. There is no difficulty to understand.

Dr. P. J. Saher: Yes, but I think the professor was asking how in our time in the case of a word, as far as spirit becoming flesh, not in the face of an ordinary child. I think I have understood your point?

Professor Dürckheim: Yes, in principle. You see sometimes, it seems to me, I might be wrong, that there is one difference between Eastern wisdom and Christian way to think that whereas in the Eastern way, we have to become rid of our body, to be liberate from our body, whereas Christian sense means to realize the spirit within the body.

Prabhupada: Now, what is our suffering?

Professor Dürckheim: I am sure it can be reconciled, but I am interested to know how do you see this question.

Prabhupada: Yes, yes. That everyone can understand. It is very easy. Now, just like we have already heard from Bhagavad-gita that I am the spirit, I am within this body. So my sufferings are on account of this body. This is a fact. Because I have entered into this body, material body, there are my sufferings. Therefore my business should be how to get out of this body. Is it clear or not?

Professor Dürckheim: Yes.

Prabhupada: So this incarnation means I am spirit soul, I have entered this body. Now I can, next life I can enter into another body. It may be dog's body, it may be cat's body or it may be king's body. So the standard of suffering is there either in the king's body or in the dog's body. And the standard of sufferings is enunciated, birth, death, old age and disease. These are our sufferings. So in order to get out of these four kinds of sufferings—there are many kinds; these are the main kinds—we have to get out of this body. That is the problem.

Professor Dürckheim: Through many lives...

Prabhupada: Many life or this life. In this life you understand that "My sufferings are due to this body. Then how to get out of this body?" If you acquire this knowledge, you know the tricks, then you get immediately.

Professor Dürckheim: May I say that way, that you say, if you, for instance, or I want to go out of this body, it doesn't mean that I will have to kill my body, but to realize that my spirit is independent from my body.

Prabhupada: No, no. There is no question of killing. You be killed or not killed, you have to go out of this body and accept another body. That is nature's law. That you cannot avoid. It is not necessarily that first of all you have to be killed. No.

Professor Dürckheim: No. Certainly not. But I have tried to become independent from my body.

Prabhupada: Yes, you can become.

Lady Guest: There I see some points in common with the Christians.

Professor Dürckheim: Lady says that there are some common points with the Christians who also certainly want to become independent from this body which wants material life only.

Prabhupada: Yes. It doesn't matter whether it is Christianity or Hinduism or Muslim or... Knowledge is knowledge. Wherever knowledge is available, you must pick up. So knowledge... Now let us explain, that knowledge has no color. Knowledge is knowledge. It doesn't matter whether Christianism or Hinduism or Mohammedan. Now, this is a knowledge, that every living entity is imprisoned within this body. This knowledge is equally good for Hindus, Muslim, Christian or everyone. There is no question of Christianism or Hinduism.

The soul is imprisoned within this body, and the problem is birth, death, old age and disease on account of this body. But we want to live eternally, we want full knowledge; we want full blissfulness. To attain that goal of life, we must get out of this body. This is the process.  [break]

Professor Pater Porsch: The question arises whether the thesis is correct. It seems to me there is a large misunderstanding due to non-acceptance of humans as they are, and an attempt to escape this human existence. I can naturally imagine a pure spirit, and I am very much reminded of Hellenic philosophy, even the Gnosis, which naturally regarded the body as dungeon, from which spirit had to be released in order to come to the full realization of God. But that is not human beings. Human means the single unit of body and soul. It would be a misunderstanding to see therein a community with the Christianity, because if we have at all such a thing in Christianity, then it stirs up Gnosis, Gnostizismus from Hellenic influence long ago, from Manichaeismus, and so on. In the Christian sense it is the goal of the life to use our body and its capabilities well; that is the goal. Not that we don't use, because then I do not see the point of it, why wouldn't we draw the conclusion to kill our body immediately, to release our spirit at once?

Vedavyasa: [translating] ...stress on this point that we are existing in a body but we should accept our existence as human being.

Prabhupada: Existence as human being, you want. So do you think human being is existing in this body is perfect?

Professor Pater Porsch: No, I don't believe it is perfect. In that you are right. We suffer under it; but that is our current condition, and it does not make much sense to speculate how humans could be, if we were released from the body. We must resign ourselves now to our life, how we came into the world.

Vedavyasa: [translating] So he says yes, he accepts our life now is not perfect, that we are conditioned. But he says we shouldn't construct an ideal human being, but we should accept our life as it is now.

Prabhupada: No, no. The thing is that you are not perfect. Therefore the idea should be how to become perfect.

Professor Pater Porsch: As humans or as soul? If I want to become perfect as humans, in which measure I can do that, and that I can see that? Where are liberated humans in this sense?

Vedavyasa: [translating] So he asks, "How to become perfect, as human being or as spirit?" Because he sees now only human beings. So this is the problem how to become perfect as human being, not as spirit.

Prabhupada: Why you are sticking to human being although it is imperfect? Why you are sticking to human being? You are accepting this human being is not perfect, and still, why you are sticking to this imperfect life? Now, in what way you like this human form of body? What is the purpose? 

Professor Pater Porsch: For me the body is a means for communication and a means to express my spirit. I may be able myself to connect perhaps in the spirit with someone, but he is unaware of it. Thus however, with this body, I can enter into communication with him.

Vedavyasa: [translating] So he says his body is just an instrument of communication, and through this body he can communicate with other people.

Prabhupada: So this is also possible by the birds and beasts. They also talk: "Kichu, kichu, kichu, kichu."

Professor Pater Porsch: There probably is a difference. As far as I know in the animal psychology, animals do not recognize each other also probably not each other e.g. and; they do not have self realization. That applies only to the higher primates. That there is such a communication of the spirit with the help of the body with the animals, I do not know, and if there is such a phenomenon, well, I do not have anything against it. I believe, however, that the degree of communication between humans and animals is probably completely different.              Previous Page   |   Next Page

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