Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA -165/2

Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA  

For Real Knowledge
(Hare Krishna Community)
  phone number and email is (212) 674-0698,
e-mail: pss108@juno.com.

Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga Mandir of Manhattan Now Expanding


We Are Not These Bodies

I am not this body but am spirit soul is an essential realization for anyone who wants to transcend death and enter into the spiritual world beyond. It is not simply a matter of saying I am not this body, but of actually realizing it. This is not as simple as it may seem at first.
dehi nityam avadhyo ‘yam
dehe sarvasya bharata

tasmat sarvani bhutani
na tvam socitum arhasi
“O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any creature.” (Bhagavad-gita 2.30)
The very first step in self-realization is realizing one’s identity as separate from the body. “I am not this body but am spirit soul” is an essential realization for anyone who wants to transcend death and enter into the spiritual world beyond. It is not simply a matter of saying “I am not this body,” but of actually realizing it. This is not as simple as it may seem at first. Although we are not these bodies but are pure consciousness, somehow or other we have become encased within the bodily dress. If we actually want the happiness and independence that transcend death, we have to establish ourselves and remain in our constitutional position as pure consciousness.
Living in the bodily conception, our idea of happiness is like that of a man in delirium. Some philosophers claim that this delirious condition of bodily identification should be cured by abstaining from all action. Because these material activities have been a source of distress for us, they claim that we should actually stop these activities. Their culmination of perfection is in a kind of Buddhistic nirvana, in which no activities are performed. Buddha maintained that due to a combination of material elements, this body has come into existence, and that somehow or other if these material elements are separated or dismantled, the cause of suffering is removed. If the tax collectors give us too much difficulty because we happen to possess a large house, one simple solution is to destroy the house. However, Bhagavad-gita indicates that this material body is not all in all. Beyond this combination of material elements, there is spirit, and the symptom of that spirit is consciousness.
Consciousness cannot be denied. A body without consciousness is a dead body. As soon as consciousness is removed from the body, the mouth will not speak, the eye will not see, nor the ears hear. A child can understand that. It is a fact that consciousness is absolutely necessary for the animation of the body. What is this consciousness? Just as heat or smoke are symptoms of fire, so consciousness is the symptom of the soul. The energy of the soul, or self, is produced in the shape of consciousness. Indeed, consciousness proves that the soul is present. This is not only the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita but the conclusion of all Vedic literature.
The impersonalist followers of Sankaracarya, as well as the Vaisnavas following in the disciplic succession from Lord Sri Krsna, acknowledge the factual existence of the soul, but the Buddhist philosophers do not. The Buddhists contend that at a certain stage the combination of matter produces consciousness, but this argument is refuted by the fact that although we may have all the constituents of matter at our disposal, we cannot produce consciousness from them. All the material elements may be present in a dead man, but we cannot revive that man to consciousness. This body is not like a machine. When a part of a machine breaks down, it can be replaced, and the machine will work again, but when the body breaks down and consciousness leaves the body, there is no possibility of our replacing the broken part and rejuvenating the consciousness. The soul is different from the body, and as long as the soul is there, the body is animate. But there is no possibility of making the body animate in the absence of the soul.
Because we cannot perceive the soul by our gross senses, we deny it. Actually there are so many things that are there which we cannot see. We cannot see air, radio waves, or sound, nor can we perceive minute bacteria with our blunt senses, but this does not mean they are not there. By the aid of the microscope and other instruments, many things can be perceived which had previously been denied by the imperfect senses. Just because the soul, which is atomic in size, has not been perceived yet by senses or instruments, we should not conclude that it is not there. It can, however, be perceived by its symptoms and effects.
In Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna points out that all of our miseries are due to false identification with the body.
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya

agamapayino ‘nityas
tams titiksasva bharata
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of heat and cold, happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Bg. 2.14) In the summertime we may feel pleasure from contact with water, but in the winter we may shun that very water because it is too cold. In either case, the water is the same, but we perceive it as pleasant or painful due to its contact with the body.
All feelings of distress and happiness are due to the body. Under certain conditions the body and mind feel happiness and distress. Factually we are hankering after happiness, for the soul’s constitutional position is that of happiness. The soul is part and parcel of the Supreme Being, who is sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah–the embodiment of knowledge, bliss, and eternity. Indeed, the very name Krsna, which is nonsectarian, means “the greatest pleasure.” Krs means “greatest,” and na means “pleasure.” Krsna is the epitome of pleasure, and being part and parcel of Him, we hanker for pleasure. A drop of ocean water has all the properties of the ocean itself, and we, although minute particles of the Supreme Whole, have the same energetic properties as the Supreme.
The atomic soul, although so small, is moving the entire body to act in so many wonderful ways. In the world we see so many cities, highways, bridges, great buildings, monuments, and great civilizations, but who has done all this? It is all done by the minute spirit spark within the body. If such wonderful things can be performed by the minute spirit spark, we cannot begin to imagine what can be accomplished by the Supreme Spirit Whole. The natural hankering of the minute spirit spark is for the qualities of the whole–knowledge, bliss, and eternality–but these hankerings are being frustrated due to the material body. The information on how to attain the soul’s desire is given in Bhagavad-gita.
At present we are trying to attain eternity, bliss, and knowledge by means of an imperfect instrument. Actually, our progress toward these goals is being blocked by the material body; therefore we have to come to the realization of our existence beyond the body. Theoretical knowledge that we are not these bodies will not do. We have to keep ourselves always separate as masters of the body, not as servants. If we know how to drive a car well, it will give us good service; but if we do not know how, we will be in danger.
The body is composed of senses, and the senses are always hungry after their objects. The eyes see a beautiful person and tell us, “Oh, there is a beautiful girl, a beautiful boy. Let’s go see.” The ears are telling us, “Oh, there is very nice music. Let us go hear it.” The tongue is saying, “Oh, there is a very nice restaurant with palatable dishes. Let us go.” In this way the senses are dragging us from one place to another, and because of this we are perplexed.
indriyanam hi caratam
yan mano ‘nuvidhiyate

tad asya harati prajnam
vayur navam ivambhasi
“As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.” (Bg. 2.67)
It is imperative that we learn how to control the senses. The name gosvami is given to someone who has learned how to master the senses. Go means “senses,” and svami means “controller”; so one who can control the senses is to be considered a gosvami. Krsna indicates that one who identifies with the illusory material body cannot establish himself in his proper identity as spirit soul. Bodily pleasure is flickering and intoxicating, and we cannot actually enjoy it, because of its momentary nature. Actual pleasure is of the soul, not the body. We have to mold our lives in such a way that we will not be diverted by bodily pleasure. If somehow we are diverted, it is not possible for us to establish our consciousness in its true identity beyond the body.

vyavasayatmika buddhih
samadhau na vidhiyate
traigunya-visaya veda
nistraigunyo bhavarjuna

nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho
niryoga-ksema atmavan
“In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination for devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place. The Vedas deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the Self.” (Bg. 2.44-45)
The word veda means “book of knowledge.” There are many books of knowledge, which vary according to the country, population, environment, etc. In India the books of knowledge are referred to as the Vedas. In the West they are called the Old Testament and New Testament. The Muhammadans accept the Koran. What is the purpose for all these books of knowledge? They are to train us to understand our position as pure soul. Their purpose is to restrict bodily activities by certain rules and regulations, and these rules and regulations are known as codes of morality. The Bible, for instance, has ten commandments intended to regulate our lives. The body must be controlled in order for us to reach the highest perfection, and without regulative principles, it is not possible to perfect our lives. The regulative principles may differ from country to country or from scripture to scripture, but that doesn’t matter, for they are made according to the time and circumstances and the mentality of the people. But the principle of regulated control is the same. Similarly, the government sets down certain regulations to be obeyed by its citizens. There is no possibility of making advancement in government or civilization without some regulations. In the previous verse, Sri Krsna tells Arjuna that the regulative principles of the Vedas are meant to control the three modes of material nature–goodness, passion, and ignorance (traigunya-visaya vedah). However, Krsna is advising Arjuna to establish himself in his pure constitutional position as spirit soul, beyond the dualities of material nature.
As we have already pointed out, these dualities–such as heat and cold, pleasure and pain–arise due to the contact of the senses with their objects. In other words, they are born of identification with the body. Krsna indicates that those who are devoted to enjoyment and power are carried away by the words of the Vedas, which promise heavenly enjoyment by sacrifice and regulated activity. Enjoyment is our birthright, for it is the characteristic of the spirit soul, but the spirit soul tries to enjoy materially, and this is the mistake.
Everyone is turning to material subjects for enjoyment and is compiling as much knowledge as possible. Someone is becoming a chemist, physicist, politician, artist, or whatever. Everyone knows something of everything or everything of something, and this is generally known as knowledge. But as soon as we leave the body, all of this knowledge is vanquished. In a previous life one may have been a great man of knowledge, but in this life he has to start again by going to school and learning how to read and write from the beginning. Whatever knowledge was acquired in the previous life is forgotten. The situation is that we are actually seeking eternal knowledge, but this cannot be acquired by this material body. We are all seeking enjoyment through these bodies, but bodily enjoyment is not our actual enjoyment. It is artificial. We have to understand that if we want to continue in this artificial enjoyment, we will not be able to attain our position of eternal enjoyment.
The body must be considered a diseased condition. A diseased man cannot enjoy himself properly; a man with jaundice, for instance, will taste sugar candy as bitter, but a healthy man can taste its sweetness. In either case, the sugar candy is the same, but according to our condition it tastes different. Unless we are cured of this diseased conception of bodily life, we cannot taste the sweetness of spiritual life. Indeed, it will taste bitter to us. At the same time, by increasing our enjoyment of material life, we are further complicating our diseased condition. A typhoid patient cannot eat solid food, and if someone gives it to him to enjoy, and he eats it, he is further complicating his malady and is endangering his life. If we really want freedom from the miseries of material existence, we must minimize our bodily demands and pleasures.
Actually, material enjoyment is not enjoyment at all. Real enjoyment does not cease. In the Mahabharata there is a verse–ramante yogino ‘nante–to the effect that the yogis (yogino), those who are endeavoring to elevate themselves to the spiritual platform, are actually enjoying (ramante), but their enjoyment is anante, endless. This is because their enjoyment is in relation to the supreme enjoyer (Rama), Sri Krsna. Bhagavan Sri Krsna is the real enjoyer, and Bhagavad-gita (5.29) confirms this:
bhoktaram yajna-tapasam
suhrdam sarva-bhutanam
jnatva mam santim rcchati
“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate enjoyer of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” Bhoga means “enjoyment,” and our enjoyment comes from understanding our position as the enjoyed. The real enjoyer is the Supreme Lord, and we are enjoyed by Him.
An example of this relationship can be found in the material world between the husband and the wife: the husband is the enjoyer (purusa), and the wife is the enjoyed (prakrti). The word pri means “woman.” Purusa, or spirit, is the subject, and prakrti, or nature, is the object. The enjoyment, however, is participated in both by the husband and the wife. When actual enjoyment is there, there is no distinction that the husband is enjoying more or the wife is enjoying less. Although the male is the predominator and the female is the predominated, there is no division when it comes to enjoyment. On a larger scale, no living entity is the enjoyer.
God expanded into many, and we constitute those expansions. God is one without a second, but He willed to become many in order to enjoy. We have experience that there is little or no enjoyment in sitting alone in a room talking to oneself. However, if there are five people present, our enjoyment is enhanced, and if we can discuss Krsna before many, many people, the enjoyment is all the greater. Enjoyment means variety. God became many for His enjoyment, and thus our position is that of the enjoyed. That is our constitutional position and the purpose for our creation. Both enjoyer and enjoyed have consciousness, but the consciousness of the enjoyed is subordinate to the consciousness of the enjoyer. Although Krsna is the enjoyer and we the enjoyed, the enjoyment can be participated in equally by everyone. Our enjoyment can be perfected when we participate in the enjoyment of God. There is no possibility of our enjoying separately on the bodily platform. Material enjoyment on the gross bodily platform is discouraged throughout Bhagavad-gita.
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya

agamapayino ‘nityas
tams titiksasva bharata
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of heat and cold, happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Bg. 2.14)
The gross material body is a result of the interaction of the modes of material nature, and it is doomed to destruction.
antavanta ime deha
nityasyoktah saririnah

anasino ‘prameyasya
tasmad yudhyasva bharata
“Only the material body of the indestructible, immeasurable, and eternal living entity is subject to destruction; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata.” (Bg. 2.18) Sri Krsna therefore encourages us to transcend the bodily conception of existence and attain to our actual spiritual life.
gunan etan atitya trin
dehi deha-samudbhavan

janma-mrtyu jara-duhkhair
vimukto ‘mrtam asnute
“When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes [goodness, passion, and ignorance], he can become free from birth, death, old age, and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life.” (Bg. 14.20)
To establish ourselves on the pure brahma-bhuta spiritual platform, above the three modes, we must take up the method of Krsna consciousness. The gift of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the chanting of the names of Krsna–Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare–facilitates this process. This method is called bhakti-yoga or mantra-yoga, and it is employed by the highest transcendentalists. How the transcendentalists realize their identity beyond birth and death, beyond the material body, and transfer themselves from the material universe to the spiritual universes are the subjects of the following chapters.

Prasadam — What is it and why we should not eat anything else.

If you know some Hare Krishna devotees I am sure you have heard them talk about prasadam. But you may not be completely clear what prasadam actually is.
The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word “prasadam” is mercy. So when we say “Krishna prasadam” we are referring to Krishna’s mercy.
To understand what prasadam is we need to clear up a common misconception. Generally we are under the impression that we are the owners of the things that we posses and these things are meant for our enjoyment. And the materialistic persons are always trying to get more and more possessions and enjoy them more and more. That is the materialistic concept of life.
The actual fact is that everything is provided by Krishna therefore everything belongs to Krishna. We can take the things that Krishna provides and and use these raw materials to produce something but we have to admit that we can not make anything unless Krishna provides the raw materials. And we can not transform the raw materials unless Krishna gives us the intelligence how to do this.
It is something like if you employ a carpenter to build a nice bookshelf for you. You supply him the wood, you pay him for his labor, and in the end if the carpenter claims that the bookshelf belongs to him he is mistaken. It is your bookshelf because you have provided the carpenter with the raw materials and paid him for his labor.
So the concept of prasadam is to recognize the fact that everything belongs to Krishna and because these things belong to Krishna they should be used for Krishna’s pleasure. Although most generally when you hear devotees talking about prasadam they are referring to foodstruffs that have been offered to Krishna, prasadam can refer to anything that we offer to Krishna. In the aroti ceremony for example many different items are offered to Krishna including incense, a ghee lame, water, a flower, etc. So all of these things also, once they have been offered to Krishna and enjoyed by Krishna, become Krishna-prasadam. So there is flower-garland prasadam, ghee-lamp prasadam, incense prasadam and of course the food prasadam that we have all probably experienced.
So prasadam means Krishna’s mercy, and prasadam is the remnants of something that has been prepared for the pleasure of Krishna with love and offered to Him for His enjoyment. Because Krishna has tasted it or enjoyed it prasadam is not a material thing. Once Krishna tastes something it becomes transcendental. Krishna and Krishna prasadam is non-different. That means for example you can get the same benefits by honoring Krishna prasadam (eating Krishna prasadam, but devotees don’t say “eating prasadam”–it is honoring prasadam or respecting prasadam) as you could get by being personally present with Krishna face-to-face. Prasadam is so powerful.
There is something wonderful about prasadam which is illustrated by this experience of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu related in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Antya 16.108:
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “These ingredients, such as sugar, camphor, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, butter, spices and licorice, are all material. Everyone has tasted these material substances before. However, in these ingredients there are extraordinary tastes and uncommon fragrances. Just taste them and see the difference in the experience. Apart from the taste, even the fragrance pleases the mind and makes one forget any other sweetness besides its own.”
“Therefore, it is to be understood that the spiritual nectar of Krishna’s lips has touched these ordinary ingredients and transferred to them all their spiritual qualities. A fragrance and taste that are uncommon and greatly enchanting and that make one forget all other experiences are attributes of Krishna’s lips. This prasadam has been made available only as a result of many pious activities. Now taste it with great faith and devotion.” Loudly chanting the holy name of Hari, all of them tasted the prasadam. As they tasted it, their minds became mad in the ecstasy of love.
So there is some amazing transformation that takes place when something which is apparently material is offered to Krishna with love and devotion. I have experienced it also personally. Wondering where these amazing tastes come from and knowing that the prasadam was prepared from quite ordinary ingredients but experiencing truly amazing tastes…
So Krishna prasadam is a wonderful thing.
And why should we only eat Krishna prasadam and nothing else?
Because as I tried to explain before everything belongs to Krishna therefore everything is meant for the service of Krishna, for the pleasure of Krishna, so if we take things for ourselves, for our own pleasure and try to enjoy them without first offering them to Krishna then we become thieves. If we take something that belongs to Krishna and use it for ourselves then we have stolen it from Krishna and we become sinful thieves.
And there is another aspect to this, and that is karma. It is a big subject but simply put everything we do in the material world, good or bad, generates a reaction that we will have to enjoy or suffer in the future. So if we are performing these activities that generate good and bad karma that will force us to continue taking birth in the material world perpetually so that we can experience the good and bad karma we have accumulated in this life. So unless we can stop generating karma there is no escape for us from the material world.
And we can not stop eating, we can not stop performing activities. So what is the answer here? The answer is that if we work for Krishna there will be no karmic reaction generated by that work and if we eat foods that have been prepared with love and devotion and offered to Krishna that eating will not generate any karmic reaction. Rather this service to Krishna and eating Krishna prasadam will stop the karmic reactions that are stored up within our hearts from acting on us. The analogy which is given is that of seeds. When we perform an activity, good or bad, that sows a seed within our heart and when that seed grows and bears fruit then we will suffer or enjoy the reaction. Like with trees some seeds grow very quickly and some take a long time to grow. So the good or bad reactions to our activities do not immediately come. They are stored up in our hearts like seeds. This service to Krishna, chanting Hare Krishna and honoring Krishna prasadam is likened to frying the seeds. If you take some seeds and fry them in oil over a high heat then even if you plant them and water them, the will not grow.
So the reason that if we are serious about advancing in spiritual life that we must only eat Krishna prasadam and nothing else is that if we eat foodstuffs which are not prepared by devotees and offered to Krishna with love then we will be eating only sin and we will be subject to the karmic reactions involved in that food. It will entangle us more and more in the cycle of birth and death.
So for most of us that means we have to learn how to cook for Krishna, because if we don’t cook for Krishna and offer the food to Krishna then how will we be able to get Krishna prasadam on a regular basis?
Personally I learned to cook for Krishna from a book called “The Hare Krishna Book Of Vegetarian Cooking” by Adiraja dasa. It contains traditional Hare Krishna recipes and my practical experience is that if you simply try to follow the instructions in this book and really try to do it to please Krishna, as an offering to Krishna, after you offer to Krishna the taste is truly amazing. The reason I learned from the book is a long story but I can guarantee that I have had many incredible experiences cooking recipes from this book and offering them to Krishna and then distributing the prasadam.
I hope you are well and happy in Krishna consciousness.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

Yoga and Meditation on the Self Within

Can meditation solve our everyday problems? Is there life after death? Can drugs help us achieve self-realization? During a visit to South Africa, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada discussed these questions with Bill Faill, a reporter for the Durban Natal Mercury.
Srila Prabhupada: “Krsna” is a name for God which means all attractive. Unless one is all-attractive he cannot be God. So this Krsna consciousness means God consciousness. All of us are small particles of God, equal in quality with Him. Our position as living entities is like that of a small particle of gold in relation to a large quantity of gold.
Bill Faill: Are we something like sparks in a fire?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Both the fire and the spark are fire, but one is big and the other is very small. Unlike the relationship between the spark and the fire, however, our relationship with God is eternal, although at the present moment we have forgotten that relationship due to contact with the material energy. We are facing so many problems only because of this forgetfulness. If we can revive our original God consciousness, then we shall become happy. This is the sum and substance of Krsna consciousness. It is the best process to revive our original God consciousness. There are different processes of self-realization, but in the present age of Kali, people are very fallen, and they require the simple process of Krsna consciousness. Now they are thinking that socalled material advancement is the solution to their problems, but this is not a fact. The real solution is to get out of the material condition entirely by becoming Krsna conscious. Because God is eternal, we are also eternal, but in the material condition we are thinking, “I am this body”, and therefore we must repeatedly change from body to body. This is due to ignorance. Actually we are not our bodies but spiritual sparks, parts and parcels of God.
Bill Faill: Then the body is just like a vehicle for the soul?
Srila Prabhupada:
Yes. It is just like a motorcar. Just as you go from one place to another in a car, similarly, due to mental concoction of life we are going from one position to another trying to become happy. But nothing will make us happy unless we come to our real position, which is that we are all parts and parcels of God and that our real business is to associate with God and help all living entities by cooperating with Him. Civilized human life is attained only after a long evolution through 8,400,000 species of life. So if we don’t take advantage of this civilized human life to understand who God is, who we are, and what our relationship is, but instead simply waste our life like cats and dogs, going here and there looking for sense gratification, then we will have missed a great opportunity. The Krsna consciousness movement is meant to teach people how to take full advantage of the human form of life by trying to understand God and our relationship with Him.
Bill Faill: If we don’t make the most of this life, do we get a second chance in another life?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. According to your desires at the time of death, you get another body. That body is not guaranteed to be a human body however. As I’ve already explained: there are 8,400,000 different forms of life. You can enter any of them, according to your mental condition at death. What we think of at the time of death depends on how we act during our life. As long as we are in material consciousness, our actions are under the control of the material nature, which is being conducted in three modes: goodness, passion, and ignorance. These modes are like the three basic colors–yellow, red, and blue. Just as one can mix red, yellow, and blue to produce millions of colors, similarly, the modes of nature are being mixed to produce many varieties of life. To stop the repetition of birth and death in different forms of life, we must transcend the covering of material nature and come to the platform of pure consciousness. But if we do not learn the transcendental science of Krsna consciousness, then at death we must transfer to another body, either better or worse than our present one. If we cultivate the mode of goodness, then we are promoted to the higher planetary system, where there is a better standard of life. If we cultivate the mode of passion, then we will remain at the present stage. But if out of ignorance we commit sinful activities and violate nature’s laws, then we will be degraded to animal or plant life. Then again we must evolve to the human form, a process that may take millions of years. Therefore a human being must be responsible. He must take advantage of the rare opportunity of human life by understanding his relationship with God and acting accordingly. Then he can get out of the cycle of birth and death in different forms of life and go back to home, back to Godhead.
Bill Faill: Do you think transcendental meditation is helping people?
Srila Prabhupada: They do not know what real meditation is. Their meditation is simply a farce–another cheating process by the so-called svamis and yogis. You’re asking me if meditation is helping people, but do you know what meditation is?
Bill Faill: A stilling of the mind–trying to sit in the center without swinging either way.
Srila Prabhupada: And what is the center?
Bill Faill: I don’t know.
Srila Prabhupada: So everyone is talking very much about meditation, but no one knows what meditation actually is. These bluffers use the word “meditation,” but they do not know the proper subject for meditation. They’re simply talking bogus propaganda.
Bill Faill: Isn’t meditation valuable just to get people thinking right?
Srila Prabhupada: No. Real meditation means to achieve a state in which the mind is saturated with God consciousness. But if you do not know what God is, how can you meditate? Besides, in this age people’s minds are so agitated that they cannot concentrate. I have seen this so-called meditation; they are simply sleeping and snoring. Unfortunately, in the name of God consciousness or “self-realization,” many bluffers are presenting nonstandard methods of meditation without referring to the authorized books of Vedic knowledge. They are simply practicing another type of exploitation.
Bill Faill: What about some of the other teachers, like Ouspensky and Gurdjieff? In the past they brought to the West a message similar to yours.
Srila Prabhupada: We would have to study the particulars of their teachings to know whether they meet the Vedic standard. God consciousness is a science, just like medical science or any other science. It cannot be different because it is spoken by different men. Two plus two equals four everywhere, never five or three. That is science.
Bill Faill: Do you feel that others may have possibly taught the genine method of God consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: Unless I study their teachings in detail, it would be very difficult to say. There are so many bluffers.
Bill Faill: Just doing it for money.
Srila Prabhupada: That’s all. They have no standard method. Therefore we are presenting Bhagavad-gita as it is, without any impersonal interpretation. This is standard.
Bill Faill: Yes, if you begin dressing things up, you inevitably change them.
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna consciousness is not a new process. It is very, very old–and standard. It cannot be changed. As soon as you try to change it, then the potency is lost. This potency is just like electricity. If you want to generate electricity, you must follow the standard regulations, arranging all the negative and positive poles properly. You cannot construct the generator whimsically and still produce electricity. Similarly, there is a standard method of understanding Krsna conscious philosophy from the proper authorities. If we follow their instructions, then the process will act. Unfortunately, one of the dangerous diseases of modern man is that everyone wants to do things according to his own whims. No one wants to follow the standard way. Therefore everyone is failing, both spiritaully and materially.
Bill Faill: Is the Krsna consciousness movement growing?
Srila Prabhupada: Oh yes, very much. You may be urprised to know that we are selling books in the tens of thousands. We have about fifty books and many librarians and college professors are very appreciative of them because until their publication there was no such literature in existence. It is a new contribution to the world.
Bill Faill: Krsna consciousness seems to involve shaving the head and wearing saffron robes. How can an ordinary man caught up in family life practice Krishna consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: The saffron robes and shaven head are not essential, although they create a good mental situation, just as when a military man is dressed properly, he gets energy–he feels like a military man. Does that mean that unless his is in uniform he cannot fight? No. In the same way God consciousness cannot be checked–it can be revived in any circumstances–but certain conditions are helpful. Therefore we prescribe that you live in a certain way, dress in a certain way, eat in a certain way and so on. These things are helpful for practicing Krsna consciousness, but they are not essential.
Bill Faill: Then one can be a student of Krsna consciousness while goin about normal daily life?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Bill Faill: How about drugs? Can they help in the process of God realization?
Srila Prabhupada: If drugs could help God realization, then drugs would be more powerful than God. How can we accept that? Drugs are chemical substances, which are material. How can something material help one realize God, who is all-spiritual? It is impossible. What one experiences from taking drugs is simply a kind of intoxication or hallucination; it is not God realization.
Bill Faill: Do you think the great mystics down through the ages have actually seen the spiritual spark you mentioned eairler?
Srila Prabhupada: What do you mean by mystic?
Bill Faill: It’s just a name given to people who have had an experience of another level of reality.
Srila Prabhupada: We don’t use the word “mystic.” Our reality is God realization, which occurs when we come to the spiritual platform. From the mental platform we may come to the intellectual platform, and from the intellectual platform we can rise to the transcendental platform. Finally we can rise above even the transcendental platform and come to the spiritual platform. These are the stages of God realization. However, in this age, because people are so fallen, the sastras [scriptures] give the special recommendation that people come directly to the spiritual platform by chanting the holy names of God: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If we cultivate this practice on the spiritual platform, then immediately we can realize our spiritual identity. Then the process of God realization becomes successful very quickly.
Bill Faill: Today a lot of people are saying that we must look inward for the truth rather than outward into the world of the senses.
Srila Prabhupada: Looking inward means knowing that you are a spirit soul. Unless you understand that you are not the body but rather you are a soul, there is no question of looking inward.
First we have to study, “Am I this body, or am I something within this body?” Unfortunately, this subject is not taught in any school, college, or university. Everyone is thinking, “I am this body.” For example, in this country people everywhere are thinking, “I am South African, they are Indian, they are Greek,” and so on. Actually, everyone in the whole world is in the bodily conception of life. Krsna consciousness starts when one is above this bodily conception.
Bill Faill: So the recognition of the spiritual spark comes first?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Recognizing the existence of the spirit soul within the body is the first step. Unless one understands this simple fact, there is no question of spiritual advancement.
Bill Faill: Is it a question of just understanding it intellectually?
Srila Prabhupada: In the beginning, yes. There are two departments of knowledge: theoretical and practical. First one must learn spiritual science theoretically; then, by working on that spiritual platform, one comes to the point of practical realization.
Unfortunately, today almost everyone is in the darkness of the bodily conception of life. Therefore this movement is very important because it can lift civilized men out of that darkness. As long as they are in the bodily conception of life, they are no better than animals. “I am a dog,” “I am a cat,” “I am a cow.” Animals think like this. As soon as someone passes, a dog will bark, thinking, “I am a dog. I have been appointed here as watchdog.” Similarly, if I adopt the dog’s mentality and challenge foreigners “Why have you come to this country? Why have you come to my jurisdiction?”–then what is the difference between the dog and me?
Bill Faill: There is none. To change the subject a little, is it necessary to follow certain eating habits to practice spiritual life?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, the whole process is meant to purify us, and eating is part of that purification. I think you have a saying, “You are what you eat,” and that’s a fact. Our bodily constitution and mental atmosphere are determined according to how and what we eat. Therefore the sastras [scriptures] recommend that to become Krsna conscious, you should eat remnants of food left by Krsna. If a tuberculosis patient eats something and you eat the remnants, you will be infected with tuberculosis. Similarly, if you eat krsna-prasada, then you will be infected with Krsna consciousness. Thus our process is that we don’t eat anything directly. First we offer the food to Krsna, then we eat it. This helps us advance in Krsna consciousness.
Bill Faill: You are all vegetarians?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, because Krsna is a vegetarian. Krsna can eat anything because He is God, but in the Bhagavad-gita He says, “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” [Bg. 9.26] He never says, “Give Me meat and wine.”
Bill Faill: How about the tobacco question?
Srila Prabhupada: Tobacco is also an intoxicant. We are already intoxicated by being in the bodily conception of life, and if we increase the intoxication, then we are lost.
Bill Faill: You mean things like meat, alcohol, and tobacco just reinforce bodily consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Suppose you have a disease and you want to be cured. You have to follow the instructions of a physician. If he says, “Don’t eat this; eat only this,” you have to follow his prescription. Similarly, we also have a prescription for being cured of the bodily conception of life: chanting Hare Krsna, hearing about Krsna’s activities, and eating krsna-prasada. This treatment is the process of Krsna consciousness.

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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