philosopher is called Jean-Paul Sartre. He is a contemporary French
philosopher, and he is the father of this existentialism philosophy,
which deals with the fundamental problem of dualism--that is, subject
and object. He calls the object, the things of this world, he calls them
"beings" because they exist, and he calls the subject, or the
consciousness, individual consciousness, "nothingness," "no-thingness."
This is a thing, but the individual entity is no thing, because it is
Prabhupada: Why it is not thing?
Syamasundara: Because the structure is not determinant. It is always
changing. On both sides there is nothing.
Prabhupada: Changing is the mind, not the person. Changing positions is
of the mind. So he is identifying the person with the mind; therefore he
is not a perfect philosopher.
Syamasundara: He says that this objective being, like these objects, he
calls it "being in itself," and only these concrete phenomena are real.
But he says these concrete phenomena are more than their phenomenal
appearances. Just like this thing is more than what it appears to be,
but it is no more than the sum total of all its appearances. In other
words, this thing may appear like this, but it is more than this; it is
all of its possible appearances, from the time it was clay, to the time
the paint was applied, different things, in all its appearances, that is
the reality of this thing. It is not just this thing; it is all of its
appearances. But that is all. There is nothing more than that. It
doesn't have any reality beyond its phenomenal appearances.
Prabhupada: From where the material came, first of all? Beyond the
material, the source of material?
Syamasundara: He says that "Material in itself is nonconscious, inert,
fixed, opaque, uncreated, devoid of potency, lacking becoming, and
without any reason for existing; therefore it is superfluous." In other
words, existence doesn't have any meaning.
Prabhupada: So what is the substance?
Syamasundara: Well, there is no meaning to anything. It's just here.
There is no tracing out. It's not created; it's just here.
Prabhupada: This kind of philosophy is stated in the Bhagavad-gita as
asuric philosophy, demonic philosophy, because the demons, they do not
believe in any superior cause. They everything take as accidental. Just
like a man and woman unite accidentally and a child is born. It is like
that. There is no actually purpose. The Sankara philosophy, atheistic
Sankara philosophy is also like that. Prakrti and purusa meets. All of a
sudden there is lust and they meet, and there is some product; otherwise
there is no other cause. This sort of theory is called asuric.
Syamasundara: He says that these things have no reason for existing.
There is no purpose.
Prabhupada: No. That is nonsense. Everything has its purpose. Without
purpose, nothing is created. And there is a supreme cause. So they have
no brain to go farther. That is their defect. So what they superficially
see, they take it. They do not find out the farther cause. That is less
intelligent. Many modern scientists also say that simply explain "It is
nature, nature." But we do not believe in such theory. We understand
that the background of nature is God. Nature is not independent. Nature
is phenomena; but the noumena is God, Krsna.
Syamasundara: He says that the phenomena and the noumena are the same.
Phenomena are noumena. There is no separation.
Prabhupada: Yes. Same in this sense: just like the sun and the sunshine
is the same. The sunshine is light and the sun is also light. The sun is
hot and sunshine is also hot. But still, you cannot say that the
sunshine and the sun are the same. Therefore Lord Caitanya's philosophy,
simultaneously one and different, that is perfect. He is taking only the
oneness, but there is still difference. Just like the fire and the heat.
You cannot separate heat from fire, but still heat is not fire. That is
perfect knowledge. So therefore heat is simultaneously one and different
from fire. That is perfect. You are getting heat, but that does not mean
that you are touching the fire. So this is perfect theory. One and
Syamasundara: He says that opposite to this objective being is the
subjective individual, which he calls "being for itself." And he says
that the nature of this subjective individual is that it is incomplete,
it has potency, but the structure is indeterminant. There is no mass or
no density. These things all have density and mass--they are heavy,
gross--but the "being for itself," or the subjective individual, has no
mass or density.
Prabhupada: This is like the sense and sense objects. Just like we have
got the senses smelling. This is concrete. But the smell is not
Prabhupada: Subtle in this sense, that I cannot... Because we are so
materialistic that our senses cannot perceive anything which is not
concrete. But the highest philosophy, Vedic philosophy, the sense of
smelling and the sense object, smell, simultaneously created. Unless
there is smell, the nose has no value. Therefore the sense and the sense
object, they are simultaneously created. Tan-matra. In Sanskrit word it
is called tan-matra. Just like eyes and beauty, simultaneously. If there
is no beauty, then there is no value of eyes. If there is no music, the
ear has no value. If there is no soft thing, the touch has no value.
Similarly, everything is created--the sense and the sense object and the
controller of the senses--and that is... (guests come in) Aiye, please
come in. (break)
Syamasundara: Last time we didn't quite finish the last philosopher
we're going to do in the modern times, namely Jean-Paul Sartre, a French
philosopher. He is living now. His philosophy briefly is called
existentialism. And last time we...
Prabhupada: What does it actually mean, "existential"?
Syamasundara: It means that existence is prior to essence. In other
words, the fact that I am first of all existing, living here, is the
important thing, and that I determine what I am, my essence, as I unfold
my life. Existence is the most important thing, prior to essence, what I
am, my nature.
Prabhupada: What is the essence and what is existence?
Syamasundara: Well, according to Sartre, existence... All I know when I
am analyzing what I am, all I know is that I exist.
Prabhupada: Everyone knows that.
Syamasundara: "I am." This is the first fact. What I am more than that
is determined as I live my life, as I grow older...
Prabhupada: That is no standard of why living. The dog is living. He
also exists. The cat is living. He also exists. And man is also living,
exists. So different types of living beings are existing in different
consciousness. So what is the standard consciousness?
Syamasundara: There is no standard. He says that man's essence is
nothingness or no-thingness. There is no-thingness about me. I am always
changing. There is nothing determinant about my subjectivity.
Prabhupada: If you are changing, I am changing, then the changing is
existence. But I am different from that existence because I am changing.
I am changing. Suppose I have just now changed my dress. So I am the
same. Actually, I am existing the same, but I am changing different
dress or different body. So this changing is not very important because
it will be changed. I am important. I am changing.
Syamasundara: He says that there are two types of being. There is "being
in itself," like this table, which is solid, massive, and then he's
saying it doesn't have..., it has a phenomenal...
Prabhupada: So that we say--the one is matter, another is spirit.
Syamasundara: Yes. He says "being in itself" and "being for itself."
"Being for itself" means the living entity, because by choosing things
he does things for himself; he makes decisions and creates things for
Prabhupada: That we admit. Therefore, the living being who decides to
change or to accept something, he is important. Actually, he is
existing, whereas the bodily changes or circumstantial changes, that is
temporary. But the person who is changing, he is eternal.
Syamasundara: His idea is that because a man or a living entity has no "thingness,"
no solid mass, he is always changing one thing to another.
Prabhupada: Solid... We should not be misled simply by a solid mass. The
principle which is changing, it may not be a very big solid mass, but it
is the active principle which is changing. It doesn't matter it is not
like a big hill or mountain, but that is the active principle which is
Syamasundara: He says that this no-thingness, nothingness...
Prabhupada: This is not nothing. This is substance. He cannot say
nothingness. He has no eyes to see. The principle which is changing,
that is important. He cannot say it is nothing.
Syamasundara: But it doesn't have qualities of being a thing, of mass...
Prabhupada: No. The idea... Actually he has the quality of becoming
massive. The same thing we can... Just like the active principle which
develops the body within the womb. He may not accept it as soul or
something, but without that active principle, simply cohabit of the male
and female and combination of secretion does not develop the body. The
active principle must be there. So as soon as the active principle is
there, the combination of male and female secretion acts, and it
develops into body, mass body. You can develop into an ant or you can
develop into a big hill. That is the difference. Just like a seed, a
small seed, that is active principle. So from that seed a big tree
develops. So this existence of the big tree depends on that small seed.
That is the active principle. Why it is nothing? That is nonsense.
Syamasundara: Because it's one thing now, and then it will change.
Prabhupada: It will change. That's all right. I am here, I may be next
moment down. But I am the same, either here or down, and therefore I am
important, and the active principle is important. The changing existence
has no importance. At one time the external feature of the active
principle may be a mountain, and next, the external feature of the
active principle may be a small ant, but the active principle which is
becoming sometimes mountain life and the ant life, that is important.
Syamasundara: So he is seeing the external features and he is saying...
Prabhupada: Therefore he is imperfect. He has no perfect vision. His
philosophy is not very sound. He can be classified, according to
Bhagavata, bahir-artha-maninah: one who gives importance to the external
features; one who has no eyes to see the internal potency.
Syamasundara: So because the living entity is so much changing that he
doesn't have any one thingness, therefore, he says the living entity is
Prabhupada: No. He has his identity, but in the present circumstances,
because he is conditioned by the matter, therefore he is changing, and
when he becomes free from the condition, he will have no change.
Syamasundara: Is he in fact a thing?
Prabhupada: Certainly. Otherwise how it is changing? Unless we have got
some basic principle, how we can account for the change, on which
platform the change is taking place?
Syamasundara: So the nature of a living being is that he is actually a
Prabhupada: He is the actual thing. The changing feature is not actual,
because it is changing. But the principle on which the change is taking
place, he is actual fact, so he cannot be nothing. These imperfect
philosophers, they have no eyes to see. They have no eyes to see, and
they are not very intelligent; therefore they conclude like that.
Syamasundara: He says that the structure of man's essence, his
consciousness, is freedom. He is continually free to change as he
Prabhupada: As soon as you say freedom, it is freedom of some living
being. Matter has no freedom. So as soon as you speak of freedom, that
freedom must be a living being. A huge mountain, dead mountain, or any
dead body, it has no freedom. It is lying down. You keep it with some
chemical process and the body will remain lying down, just like the
Egyptian mummies, there are so many. So it has lost its freedom because
the active principle is not there. As soon as you say of freedom, the
freedom is only applicable to a living being, not to the matter. Matter
has no freedom.
Syamasundara: He says that matter is something and that the living being
Prabhupada: No. That is his nonsense. He has no perfect knowledge. If
matter is something and the basic principle on which the matter stands,
it is nothing, that is the most imperfect statement. These are all
Syamasundara: He says that we are condemned to be free.
Prabhupada: Who has condemned you? (indistinct)
Syamasundara: He denies the existence of God.
Prabhupada: Then who has condemned you? As soon as you say you are
condemned, there must be somebody who has condemned you.
Syamasundara: He says it's an accident.
Prabhupada: That is nonsense. By accident somebody is condemned and
somebody is blessed. This is all nonsense. By accident somebody is put
into jail and by accident somebody is hanged? Is there any experience
like that? That is a judgment. When a man is condemned, that means it is
done by some living judgment. So how is this accident? These are all
imperfect knowledge, misleading. There is nothing an accident.
Syamasundara: He says that all living entities are condemned to be free,
Prabhupada: Yes. That we can admit. Anyone who is in this material
world, he is condemned. But the next question will be, if one is
condemned, then he can be blessed also. The other side of condemnation
is blessing. So what is the blessing side? Has he got any knowledge of
the blessing side? Then he is imperfect. As soon as you say condemned,
there must be blessing. So he does not know what is the blessing side.
That he takes as nothing. That is nonsense.
Syamasundara: He says that we cannot escape this situation of freedom,
that somehow or other we are therefore responsible for our activities.
We cannot escape the situation of being free. Everyone is free to
determine what is his future.
Prabhupada: Then why do you speak of accident? If you are irresponsible,
then why do you say accident? The two things cannot go. If he was
responsible, he must be responsible to something else, who is condemning
you or blessing you. How it can be accident? These are contradictions.
Syamasundara: This situation that we find ourselves in, choosing our
future, everyone has to choose his future, what is the next step...
Prabhupada: Then why do you say accident? First of all you withdraw the
word accident, then you can talk all this.
Syamasundara: There are certain events that we cannot control. They
simply happen to us.
Prabhupada: Cannot control, that can be accepted. But it is supposed
that we have controlling power. Nothing is accident. Sometimes, when you
are miscontrolling, that is accident. But actually that is not accident;
that is your miscontrol, not accident. The reason is miscontrol.
Syamasundara: Ah, miscontrol.
Prabhupada: Yes. Because you are responsible, as soon as you act
irresponsibly something happens which you take as accident. It is
miscontrol. It is not accident. The same thing, just like I am shaving
with control, and as soon as I am inattentive, it may cut my cheek. But
it is not accident. It is due to my inattention. Nothing is accident. I
am responsible for shaving, but as soon as I become inattentive, my
cheek is cut. That is not accident. That is due to my inattention. So
there is nothing like accident.
Syamasundara: Even if I open the front door and something hits me on the
head, falling on the head.
Prabhupada: Yes. Inattention. We should be always very attentive.
Therefore the military laws, first they say, "Attention!" As soon as
there is no attention, you meet with so many so-called accidents.
Syamasundara: He says that man's nature is an indefinite state of
freedom. There is no definite nature that a man has, that it is
continually created as he...
Prabhupada: That means he is eternal. He has to accept it that he is
Syamasundara: Because he has no definite nature?
Prabhupada: No. Indefinite. What is that indefinite?
Syamasundara: That means he is constantly changing. Just like tomorrow
my body will be slightly different, my mind may change, I may decide...
Prabhupada: No. Change, but that changing is taking place under certain
regulations, not that by accident. Just like if I become educated, then
I get a change in my position, a very nice post, but this is not
accident. Because I am educated, I am getting a nice post. And because I
am not educated, so I am getting another post.
Syamasundara: Just like moods. For instance, today I may be happy,
tomorrow I may be unhappy. So I'm not definite. There is no definite
nature that I have.
Prabhupada: That can be admitted to some extent, that it has not cause.
Just like if you are put into the sea, so there you have no control and
you are moving according to the waves. That means you have controlling
power, but you are put in a certain condition where you lose your
controlling power. So it is to be admitted that you are in an awkward
position; therefore you cannot ascertain what change is going to take
place next. That means you are not in a good situation. Just like a man,
when he is on the land, he has got control. If a car is coming, he can
take care. He can save from the accident. But when he is put into the
ocean, the waves are floating him. So it is circumstantial, not
Syamasundara: Oh, circumstantial but not accidental.
Prabhupada: Yes. So if you put yourself in better circumstances, then
this uncontrolling feature will not be there. He cannot control himself.
Everything is accident for him, because he is mad. But if he is cured to
a sane man, there is no question of accident.
Syamasundara: Supposing today I am happy and my tomorrow is completely
within my hands to choose.
Prabhupada: Yes. Because you are under different conditions. That is
explained in the Bhagavad-gita: prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani
sarvasah. You have put yourself under the control of material nature;
therefore, according to the modes of the material nature, your position
is there. You cannot... When you shall be happy or unhappy, you cannot
Syamasundara: His idea is that we have the freedom to control it.
Prabhupada: Yes. You have the freedom, but your freedom is now choked
up, being conditioned. Just like you have freedom to move, but if you
are thrown into the ocean, your freedom is choked up. Therefore your
duty is how to get yourself released from the condition where your
freedom is choked up.
Syamasundara: Ah, I see. This is one reason why he says that we are
Prabhupada: Because he cannot explain, he has no such knowledge;
therefore it is very easy to say nothing.
Syamasundara: Because today we are one thing, tomorrow we are another
thing. So therefore we are nothing.
Prabhupada: Nothing, of course, nothing in this sense, that you are
under the full control of a superior power, carried away by the waves.
The ocean is a superior power, and if you put yourself under the
superior power, you are carried away by the waves. Therefore you say "I
am nothing." But you are something. Your something will be very much
exhibited when you are put on the land. So this nothingness conclusion
is out of despair.
Syamasundara: Yes. That's his whole philosophy.
Prabhupada: It is out of despair. So that is not intelligence. That is
Syamasundara: Intelligence doesn't come from despair.
Syamasundara: He says that a man chooses himself. He creates his own
Prabhupada: Yes. That's a fact. That we admit. He creates his nature. So
now you have created your nature as nothing, but you can create your
nature as something. But a poor fund of knowledge cannot do that.
Therefore he has to take lessons from a higher personality. Before
philosophizing, he should have taken some lessons from persons who are
in the knowledge. That is the Vedic injunction: tad vijnanartham sa
gurum eva abhigacchet. In order to learn that transcendental science one
must approach a bona fide spiritual master.
Syamasundara: He says that our essence, or our nature, is always in the
making. It is continually becoming...
Prabhupada: It is not in the making. It is changing. He is thinking it
is making. But in the sense making, it can be taken, when he comes to
his senses, that "I don't want change. Why the change is taking place?"
So when this inquiry comes to him, and if he inquires, "What is the
reason of this changing although I do not want?" that is the point where
making takes place.
Syamasundara: Then he is able to really mold his nature.
Prabhupada: Yes. But he is dismissing. Being confused and disappointed,
he is dismissing the whole case, that "There is nothing. Make it zero."
That is poor fund of knowledge.
Syamasundara: He says that as we make our life continually, but it all
ends at death. Everything is finished.
Prabhupada: Death means change, another body. But the active principle
on which the body is standing, he does not die. The changing is accepted
as death, changing. Just like I am in this apartment; I change this
apartment, I go three miles away. So that does not mean I am dead.
Similarly, the active principle which is changing when he takes another,
because he cannot see where he has gone, we say it is death. But a sane
man who knows that "Although I cannot see him, he must have taken
another apartment..." That's all.
Syamasundara: He says, "Once I have the thought that I am free, and that
my choices will cause changes in the world, therefore I become
overwhelmed with the responsibility, and I become full of anguish and
Syamasundara: This, he says, is the modern man's condition of existence,
that he is overwhelmed with the anxiety of having to choose.
Prabhupada: That means he is in an awkward position. He wants to be in a
peaceful position, but he does not know how to get that position. So
because he does not know, that does not mean that there is no peaceful
position. Suppose some... It is something like that, that a man in the
market, he has been cheated simply by counterfeit currency. He is
disappointed that there is no real money. But actually that is not a
fact. The government is there, and the currency is there, the real
Syamasundara: His idea is that once I understand that whatever I choose,
I have to be responsible for that, then I become full of anxiety because
I am always thinking I have to choose right in order to enjoy something.
If I choose wrongly, I must suffer. I am responsible both ways. So he
says this feeling of responsibility makes me always dreading and anxious
about the future.
Prabhupada: Yes. The responsibility is there, certainly, but why you do
not take the responsibility of transferring yourself in a safety place
where you will have no anxiety? It may be you do not know where is a
safety place. But why don't you ask somebody who knows it? Why you are
becoming disappointed? As you say that we have got responsibility, why,
as a responsible man, so search out somebody who can say you about the
safety place where there is no anxiety. We can give. That is called
Vaikuntha: no anxiety. Vaikuntha means no anxiety. There is a place.
Syamasundara: His claim is that we are tossed into the world and we are
abandoned by God; that God is dead.
Prabhupada: Yes. Abandoned by God does not mean God is dead. You are
condemned, that we have admitted, so your condemnation does not mean God
is also condemned. God is always, who has condemned you, He is always
safe. So He cannot be dead.
Syamasundara: He says because we have been abandoned by God, therefore
we must rely on ourselves alone.
Prabhupada: No. Abandoned by God--why? God is not partial, that He is
accepting somebody and abandoning somebody. You have done something for
which you are abandoned. So if you rectify your position, you will be
accepted again. (aside as someone enters:) Yes?
Syamasundara: His idea is that because we have to choose for ourselves,
everything is in our hands. That for instance we can become in a
situation either a coward or a hero. This is in our hands, some
situation that we must confront.
Prabhupada: Then what you can do? If you say that you are being tossed
by some superior power, how you can become a hero? If you become a hero,
then you will be more kicked, because you are under superior power.
Therefore a man who is culprit, he is under police custody, so if he
becomes hero he will be simply beaten and punished, that's all.
Syamasundara: I remember one example he gave was that supposing there is
wartime, and you are called upon to go to war. He said it wouldn't
matter if you went or didn't go. If you went, then you must choose to be
a hero; you must fight very bravely, and not a coward. But if you don't
go, then you must choose to be a hero to resist the war. You must choose
to be a hero resisting the war. One way or the other, you have to choose
to be a hero and not a coward.
Prabhupada: Coward... You are neither coward nor hero. You are simply an
instrument. You are... Just like a child plays with a doll. A doll is
placed sometimes on this side, that side, sometimes so, sometimes on his
breast. So you are just like a doll. You can neither become hero nor
become coward. You are completely under the control of somebody who is
Syamasundara: Suppose someone is attacking you, ready to kill you. You
have the power to choose whether to be a hero and defend or whether to
Prabhupada: It is not hero to defend. It is a natural action. Even a dog
can become hero when he is attacked by somebody. Even an ant can become
hero. One ant is walking on the table, so if you check his way, he also
becomes hero. So there is no use of becoming hero like that. That
heroism and cowardice are the same. It is simply mental concoction.
Because after, all you are under the control of somebody. He can do as
he likes with you. So what is the use of your becoming hero or coward?
Syamasundara: Supposing someone else is in danger and you go and rescue
them. Isn't that being a hero? Or you decide not to and you go away.
Prabhupada: But you cannot rescue. You rescue... Just like one man is
drowning, and you become hero and jump over the water and take out his
shirt and coat, and you come on the shore that "I've saved him."
(laughter) This is not saving him. Similarly, you have no eyes to see
whom to save. You are simply seeing the dress. So saving the dress, that
is not heroism, neither it is protection.
Syamasundara: So the real heroes are the devotees, who save actually.
Syamasundara: His idea is that in any situation you have to be the hero.
If you're a businessman you have to valiantly do your business and make
a good business, and then you are a hero.
Prabhupada: So a real hero, one can be, when he is fully empowered or he
is fully protected. So that hero is a devotee, who is fully protected by
Syamasundara: Sometimes when they portray heroes in different ways...
Prabhupada: That kind of hero you find in the insect also, that very
heroically following on the path: "Put, put, put, put." That is
Syamasundara: It always appears that the hero is protected, that nothing
can stop him. He is so heroic nothing can stop him.
Prabhupada: That heroism is just like insect heroism. There is blazing
fire, and all kinds of ants and insects are falling in. So what is the
use of such heroism? He has no sound knowledge. He is talking
Syamasundara: Yesterday we were discussing Jean-Paul Sartre. His point
was that man finds himself responsible for his own actions--not only
individually, but he finds that the world is in his own choosing so that
he has a social responsibility as well.
Prabhupada: As soon as we speak of responsibility, there is no question
of chance. We cannot say sometimes by chance, sometimes by responsi...
Where is the question of chance, if there is responsibility?
Syamasundara: He says that by making decisions and choosing this or
that, that one becomes responsible for his actions. But ultimately it
doesn't really matter what he chooses. The choosing is the important
Prabhupada: That is whimsical. And still he is responsible.
Syamasundara: Yes. Whatever I choose, I must be responsible for it. But
it doesn't matter so much what...
Prabhupada: But if the beginning is irresponsibility, then where is the
question of responsibility? This is nonsense philosophy. If the
beginning is irresponsibility... Just like there is a story, some
thieves stolen some gold, and there were many, four, five thieves, so
they were dividing the stolen property, and one them said, "Now let us
divide it honestly." (laughter) The whole thing is stolen property, and
they are speaking of honesty. Just like you Americans, you came from
Europe and other countries, and you have stolen the property. Now you
make immigration, "You cannot come, you cannot come." It is like this
philosophy. The whole thing is stolen property, and they are talking of
honesty; they are citing scripture. So where is the responsibility, if
the beginning is irresponsibility, chance?
Syamasundara: One of his examples, I remember, is there is a war, so I
have to choose whether to fight in the war for my country or resist the
war as unethical. His idea is it doesn't matter. Whatever you choose,
you must be a hero or do it very responsibly, either resist war or fight
in war. But it doesn't matter ultimately which side you choose.
Prabhupada: That means if you go to hell you must go like a hero.
Syamasundara: Yes. (laughs)
Prabhupada: Just like one man was fighting with another man, and he
could not fight, he was going away, going away. The other man
challenged, "Why are you going away?" So, "Why not shall I go away? Am I
afraid of you? Why should I not go away? Am I afraid of you?" He is
going away, he is defeated, still he said that "Why shall I not go? Am I
afraid of you?" So this is childish philosophy.
Syamasundara: He says that because I have freedom to choose, that makes
me susceptible to bad faith, to a condition which he calls bad faith,
Prabhupada: You have freedom of choice--that's nice--but if you do not
make your choice nicely, then you have to suffer. That is
Syamasundara: His idea is that because we have freedom, this makes us
tend to be irresponsible, to shy away from taking responsibility.
Prabhupada: No. Responsibility is there, and still freedom is there.
Just like ordinarily, in our dealing, out of responsibility the
direction is "Stick to the right." Or there is a red light, "Stop." So
if I do not care about the red light, then I become criminal. That is
responsibility. You have responsibility, but at the same time you have
got the discrimination. Without discrimination there cannot be any
responsibility. So responsibility is not blind. That means you should
discriminate. You should know what is right and wrong. That is
responsibility. If we do wrongly, then we will have to suffer. That is
Syamasundara: Yes. But his idea is that because we are free, we tend to
Prabhupada: That is freedom, that you can make your choice between right
and wrong. That is freedom. Freedom does not mean you are dull.
Syamasundara: But what if you avoid even choosing right or wrong, you
simply drift without any decision of right or wrong?
Prabhupada: No. That is irresponsibility.
Syamasundara: That's what he is saying, that because we are free, we are
Prabhupada: We are free means you have to make your choice between right
and wrong. That is freedom.
Syamasundara: Yes. But his idea is that because we are free, sometimes
we neglect to even choose between right and wrong.
Prabhupada: That is wrong decision. Then you should suffer. That is
responsibility. Why you have done wrong?
Devotee: That is choice.
Devotee: He is not recognizing that that is a choice. You could not
choose that way unless you had this freedom.
Syamasundara: No. It's not like that. Supposing there is a war, a
country goes to war. There is the choice whether to say, to choose
whether it is right or wrong, but I avoid the choice altogether. I don't
enter into it. Apathetic.
Prabhupada: No. You cannot avoid the choice. At the present age there is
democratic government. When we agree to fight with another, that means
you have got your assent. Why should you not fight?
Syamasundara: I haven't made this very clear, but because we have
freedom, we become susceptible to bad faith. Bad faith means that we
avoid making any decisions at all, good or bad. We simply drift. He
calls it drift. We go day to day without entering and becoming involved
with any responsible decision-making.
Prabhupada: That drift means that is decision. Yes. That is decision.
When you drift, that is decision.
Syamasundara: People, especially these days, they want to avoid making
any kind of decisions, especially hippies.
Prabhupada: Therefore you must take others' decisions, superiors'
Syamasundara: So he says that this condition...
Prabhupada: Just like a child cannot make any decision. He should take
decision from the parents. That is the position.
Syamasundara: Just like these hippies, whenever they wake up, they wake
up; whenever they want food, they eat. Like that.
Prabhupada: So who cares for them? They are reject.
Syamasundara: Well, he says this is the condition of...
Prabhupada: Urchins. No. This is the condition of the hippies, not for a
Syamasundara: He says that because we are free, that we are susceptible
to this condition. That's all. But he says that this condition...
Prabhupada: Free means to make right or wrong decision. That is free.
Freedom does not mean dullness or passive.
Syamasundara: Yes. But because we are free we become susceptible to
Prabhupada: Just like a dog. A dog is free. He can go to the right or
the wrong side, and nobody cares for it. That is for the dog. But if a
human being, if he decides instead of going to the right, to the left,
then he is criminal, because he has got responsibility. So either you
take dog's philosophy or man's philosophy. Dog's philosophy, he has no
decision. He is an animal. He can go this side or that side. But we
cannot do that. So whether he is man or dog. If he is a man, he must
decide right and wrong. He is responsible. That is a man.
Syamasundara: He says that this condition of bad faith must be replaced
by solid choosing and faith in our choosing. For instance, if one
chooses a certain path of action, that he must have faith that by
carrying out this action valiantly, heroically, that he will be doing
the right thing.
Prabhupada: But if his decision is wrong, then what is the use of such
Syamasundara: He says there's no such scale of right and wrong. There is
no absolute right and wrong, that everything depends upon how...
Prabhupada: Then where is the question of responsibility if there is no
right and wrong?
Syamasundara: Whatever I do, I must do it...
Prabhupada: Whimsically. Whimsically. Whatever you do, you do it
whimsically. Does he mean to say like that?
Syamasundara: No. Whatever you do, you do courageously.
Prabhupada: Courageously... Just like the example I gave, the insect
goes very courageously into the fire. Is that a very nice decision, to
go forward courageously into the fire? He'll go courageously.
Syamasundara: He has another definition of this bad faith, that bad
faith means treating oneself as an object instead of a person; that I
feel myself like a thing, or an object, instead of a person. This a bad
Prabhupada: Bad faith means?
Syamasundara: Treating myself as an object instead of a person.
Prabhupada: But you are a person. How can you become an object?
Syamasundara: Because we are susceptible to bad faith, that this
condition exists in the world, people are treating each other as
objects--"He is black," "He is white," "He is old," "He is
rich"--objects instead of persons. This called bad faith, and he wants
to rectify that condition.
Prabhupada: Then what is good faith? That is also object?
Syamasundara: Good faith is dealing with someone else genuinely as a
person, despite whatever that person is doing. That doesn't matter so
much, what he is doing, but how he is doing it.
Prabhupada: You have not been clear. What is it?
Syamasundara: A person is doing something, it doesn't matter so much
what he is doing but how he is doing it, that he is doing it genuinely,
with full integrity.
Prabhupada: Then if a man is stealing, and he is doing it very
scientifically, is that all right?
Syamasundara: Yes. The existentialists...
Prabhupada: There are many, many thieves, they know how to go into the
bank treasury scientifically. Is that all right?
Syamasundara: Yes. He is an existential hero, the good thief or the good
Prabhupada: Then the same hero, just like the insect hero. The same
hero. The insect hero very boldly goes to the fire. (laughter) The same.
He is no better than an insect, without any knowledge or discrimination.
Syamasundara: He says that we treat ourselves as things, as objects,
because we are afraid to accept ourselves for being such unsavory
characters. In other words, if I look at myself, I do not like what I
see, because I am so full of sinful activity, I am such an unsavory
character, so therefore I objectify myself. I begin to think that "I am
an engineer," "I am a scientist," "I am this," "I am that," so many
designations, but I don't see myself as a person because I don't like to
Prabhupada: What does he say about this?
Syamasundara: So he says that existential psychoanalysis is required.
Existential psychoanalysis, he calls it.
Prabhupada: Then why does he pose himself as a philosopher? The same
thing--as engineer, as scientist.
Syamasundara: He doesn't say "I am a philosopher."
Prabhupada: Then what does he say?
Syamasundara: Other people are saying he is a philosopher.
Prabhupada: Other... We don't say he's a philosopher. He says. He wants
to pose himself as a philosopher; therefore he is talking all this
nonsense. That's all.
Syamasundara: This existential psychoanalysis is supposed to get down to
the root of a man's existence.
Prabhupada: Has he seen that? Has he gone up to there?
Syamasundara: The level that he takes it to is that man is basically a
"being for himself."
Prabhupada: That's all right, that individuality.
Syamasundara: And that his decision-making power, his freedom to make
decisions, is his real essence, his real nature.
Prabhupada: So he agrees also at the same time, responsibility.
Prabhupada: So that means he must have the power to make decisions,
right and wrong. That is responsible.
Syamasundara: The main thing, though, is that he must abide by his
decision. Whatever he chooses, that he must live it.
Prabhupada: Not necessarily. If I decide to steal, it is better to avoid
it. Not that because I have to decided to steal, I must do it just like
a hero and then go to prison.
Syamasundara: For Sartre there is no absolute right and wrong. Some of
his main heroes are great thieves and debauchers, like there's one...
What is his name?
Prabhupada: Alexander. Alexander and the robber. There is a story that a
robber was arrested by Alexander and there was talk between Alexander
and the robber: "You proved that you are big robber, that's all. Why you
are going to punish me?" And he was released: "Yes. I'm a big robber. I
have no difference between you and me."
Syamasundara: So he says that we can remedy the whole situation of bad
faith and being an unsavory character and treating myself as an object
instead of a person by choosing for myself the person I ought to become.
Prabhupada: Ideal person.
Syamasundara: An ideal person. And become that ideal person.
Prabhupada: So what is the definition of that ideal person?
Syamasundara: Well, in some of his books it would be the very heroic
type person who sees things as they are.
Prabhupada: A big robber is also heroic.
Syamasundara: Yes. Many of his heroes are robbers and...
Prabhupada: So these robbers are ideal persons? Big, big thieves.
Syamasundara: In that they portray an integrity, self-integrity.
Prabhupada: Then a tiger is also...
Prabhupada: So why do you fight with the tiger? Why you are afraid of
Syamasundara: His idea of a hero would be someone who meets the tiger
face-to-face and courageously deals with him instead of running away.
Whenever the challenge in life is there, the hero is the one who takes
Prabhupada: That is natural. It may be hero or not hero, it doesn't
matter. If somebody comes to attack me, I try to fight with him, trying
to save me. So I may not be successful, but that is my natural instinct.
So everyone is hero.
Syamasundara: No. If a person is free of this bad faith, this...
Prabhupada: What is bad faith and what is good faith, according to him?
Syamasundara: Bad faith is that I avoid decision making. I am avoiding
decisions. Avoiding making decisions is bad faith.
Prabhupada: Avoiding making decisions?
Syamasundara: Yes. And treating other people as objects. Good faith is
to make decisions courageously and follow them out, whatever those
Prabhupada: So who makes the decisions?
Syamasundara: I make the decisions.
Prabhupada: So if your decision is wrong?
Syamasundara: There's no question of right or wrong in that case.
Prabhupada: Whatever decision I make, that is final, absolute?
Prabhupada: How it is possible? Then the same philosophy comes with the
insect's decision. Absolute decision, even if it is wrong, it's all
right. That is seen in lower animals also.
Syamasundara: One of Sartre's counterparts, one of his colleagues,
Albert Camus, he also wrote about this philosophy, and himself he
typifies this type of person. He simply died in an automobile accident
by driving 130 or -40 miles an hour on a small road.
Prabhupada: That is insects' philosophy, that's all. This is "I have my
decision to run hundred miles an hour, not caring for others." So this
is exactly like the insects.
Syamasundara: And they say I'm responsible for my actions, but it's a
very irresponsible position because it doesn't take into consideration
other people, or supposing he would have killed other people too.
Prabhupada: So that is animal decision. That is not human decision.
Human decision that there is signboard, "Speed Limit 35." If he doesn't
care, he is not a human being, he is animal. A human being, he will take
care, "Why shall I drive 100?"
Syamasundara: This philosophy gives rise to so much freedom.
Prabhupada: This philosophy has given rise to these hippies.
Syamasundara: Hippies, yes.
Prabhupada: So they are without any responsibility. Whatever he likes,
he can do. So that is animal. There is no question of human civilization
or human beings.
Syamasundara: He has an optimistic side to his philosophy in that he
says the fate of the world depends upon man's decision. Obviously, if
men decide to do things properly, the world would be a better place.
Prabhupada: Yes. We agree with that. We are trying to do that by
introducing this Krsna consciousness movement, to make the world
Vaikuntha. That is our philosophy. Anyone can come to this Krsna
consciousness and become happy. But that is not a blind decision. We
take decision from higher authority; therefore it is perfect. We are
taking decision from the acarya, Krsna.
Syamasundara: There is also a pessimistic side to his philosophy in that
he says that man is a useless passion, mainly striving in the universe
Prabhupada: That he is, not us. He is that. His is... What is that?
Syamasundara: Useless passion.
Prabhupada: So he is that. Useless passion... No sane man is useless
passion. A sane man is guided by superior. That is Vedic civilization.
Tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. One must approach a bona fide
spiritual master to guide him. Then he is not useless; then he is full.
Syamasundara: But because he doesn't see any purpose in the universe,
then he thinks that...
Prabhupada: That is his blindness. He has no sufficient knowledge; he
has no sufficient seeing power. There is a plan. That is stated in the
Sixteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, asatyam apratistham, that the word
is there is no truth, there is no creator. These are the decisions of
the demons. We don't say. We say janmady asya yatah: the Supreme. Not
that everything that we want to try to understand is the truth. That is
our philosophy. This philosophy is demon philosophy--there is no plan,
there is no truth, everything is happening accidentally. This is demon's
Syamasundara: Because he doesn't see any purpose, that he sees all of
Prabhupada: There is purpose, but because he is foolish, therefore he
does not see anything as purpose. There is purpose. Just if like I am
hungry, this philosopher says accidentally I am hungry, I eat something.
No. I am hungry when there is purpose. My bodily limbs are exhausted,
they require energy, so therefore I am hungry, I must take some food.
The foodstuff will be converted into energy. There is a plan. It is not
blank. Everything is going on by plan. The sun is rising under some
plan. The moon is rising under some plan. Seasonal changes under plan.
Everything is plan. But those demons, they cannot see. They say, "No,
there is no plan here."
Syamasundara: They see all activity as in vain. All activity is a
useless struggle, a vain struggle.
Prabhupada: That is for him. Because he is confused and without any
direction, he thinks like that.
Syamasundara: So his emphasis is not on the activity itself--because
it's all vain--but how you do it.
Prabhupada: We don't say how it is all vain. That I have already
explained: everything has got a plan. Just like we are moving this Krsna
consciousness movement. There is a plan. There is an objective.
(indistinct) vainly we are doing that. Nothing is done in that we or you
or anyone. There must be some plan. There is a plan. That plan may be
right or wrong--there is a plan.
Syamasundara: This is actually the major issue with people, especially
today, that is there really any purpose to all my work, or anyone's
work, or for anyone's activity? Is there any ultimate meaning or purpose
Prabhupada: It's quite clear. Just like if you make a decision to do
something criminal, the plan is already there--you will be arrested and
punished. If you make a choice that "I must do it. This is my decision.
I must kill that person," you can do that, but there is already a plan
that you will be hanged. That is less intelligent. They are not
Syamasundara: They say that man is nothingness.
Prabhupada: Why is nothingness? If he is nothingness, why is he speaking
so much nonsense?
Syamasundara: You said yesterday it was a philosophy of despair.
Syamasundara: That's what they also say.
Prabhupada: So we are not desperate. We are not followers of despair
philosophy. We are hopeful philosophy. We are going back to home, back
Prabhupada: ...to live eternally blissful life.
Syamasundara: He says that we are alone in the world but we can be a
"being for others."
Prabhupada: Why he was alone? Why he would become being for others? He
remained alone; let them remain alone.
Syamasundara: He says that we require other people for our
self-realization, if we want to understand who I am.
Prabhupada: That means he requires a guru.
Syamasundara: That is what he means.
Prabhupada: Sometimes he means that it is blind, there is no end, there
is no plan, again he wants to have a guru?
Syamasundara: He doesn't say guru, but he says other people.
Prabhupada: Yes. Guru is also another man.
Syamasundara: We interact with other people in order to understand
Prabhupada: Yes. So why not the best man--guru? If we require other men
to understand, then why not take the best man?
Syamasundara: He says because there are other people, that in the
presence of others we feel ashamed.
Prabhupada: No. There are many other people, many people, but we have to
take help from others, and I must take help from the best man, who knows
Syamasundara: He has observed that if I am acting in bad faith, that I
will be ashamed in the presence of others.
Prabhupada: Yes. Therefore you should take advice from a man who can
give you right direction, so at the end you may not be ashamed; you may
be glorious. That is the injunction of the Vedas: tad vijnanartham sa
gurum evabhigacchet. In order to be conversant with that science,
transcendental science, one must approach a bona fide guru.
Syamasundara: His being ashamed before others...
Prabhupada: Yes. You will be ashamed. If you are not guided by a
superior man, you'll be ashamed. But if you are guided by a proper man
you won't be ashamed; you'll be glorious.
Syamasundara: He says that if a man considers himself as an object, he
is afraid to look inside himself, then he will also consider other
people as objects. And that is the cause of the basic sickness of the
world, that we treat each other as objects instead as persons.
Prabhupada: That is a wrong conception. Everybody is a person.
Syamasundara: What is your remedy for seeing everyone as persons?
Prabhupada: That is the real vision: everyone is person.
Syamasundara: What is the remedy, what is the cure, for seeing everyone
as a person?
Prabhupada: You see or not see, everyone is a person. So what does it
Syamasundara: Supposing I want to observe everyone in their personal
manifestation, I want to see everyone as a person.
Prabhupada: You are not seeing everyone as a person?
Syamasundara: Now I am seeing everyone as an object--"He is black," "He
is American," "He is white"--but I want to see everyone as a person.
Prabhupada: That means discrimination. Every individual person has got
discrimination. That is discrimination. That is discriminating "This is
good," "This is bad," "This is black," "This is white." Duality. So he
has got this discriminating power.
Syamasundara: But I want to see everyone as a person, not as an object.
So how do I do that?
Prabhupada: Because he is person, therefore he is discriminating.
Syamasundara: But how do I perceive someone as a person? How do I do it?
Prabhupada: Because he has got discriminating power.
Syamasundara: What is the method for doing it? What is the method of
seeing someone as a person?
Prabhupada: There is no method. It is directly perceived. As soon as I
see you, you have got individuality.
Syamasundara: But I don't see your individuality. I see you as an
Prabhupada: Why do you see like that?
Syamasundara: I want to know how I can see you as a person. What is the
cure? What is the remedy? What is the solution?
Prabhupada: I don't follow what you are saying. Everyone is seeing. I am
seeing you as a person, you are seeing me as a person.
Syamasundara: No. I am seeing someone as an object.
Devotee: How can we change our consciousness?
Syamasundara: No. I didn't say that. I want to know how I see someone as
a person and not as an object. How do I do that? What is... You say that
you can tell me how to see someone as a person.
Prabhupada: Because whomever you see, he has got some individual
propensity. Anyone you see, he has got some individual propensity.
Therefore he is a person.
Syamasundara: So by observing someone's individual propensity, then I
can see him as a person?
Syamasundara: I see. Instead of just seeing black, white, this or that,
I look for individual propensities, so I appreciate those individual
Prabhupada: Yes. Appreciate or not appreciate, it is there.
Syamasundara: He says that the fundamental project of man is his desire
Prabhupada: Yes. That means he is eternal. Because he is eternal, he has
got that desire to be. Unfortunately, he is put under certain conditions
that he cannot keep himself eternal. That is his problem. That problem
we have solved--how to remain or to keep myself eternal. That is Krsna
Syamasundara: He says that this desire to be makes us seek after "thingness,"
solidity, density. I want to become like this table, because it is
something that exists--stable--but because my nature is unstable, that I
am always seeking after "thingness," but my real nature is "no-thingness."
Prabhupada: The table also will not exist. Just like if I see that a
tree is existing ten thousand years and I do not exist one hundred
years, that does not mean the tree will exist. It will be finished after
one thousand years. Because I do not see the duration of time, of its
existence, I think that it will go. Similarly, I am thinking the table
is existing. Table also will not exist. That is my deficiency in seeing
power. Nothing will exist.
Syamasundara: Still this does not prevent me from wanting something
solid, something dense, some situation of permanency.
Prabhupada: Yes. That situation is spiritual world. That we are giving
information, because everyone is seeking after that, but they do not
know where it is. We are giving that information here, paras tasmat tu
bhavo 'nyo 'vyakto 'vyaktat sanatanah, in the Bhagavad-gita. "There is
another nature which is permanent, sanatana. Even after the annihilation
of this whole universe it will exist." That information we are giving.
Syamasundara: He says that in this unity of myself, the subject, that I
desire objectivity, and he says this union of subject and object is
called the "being in itself," or God; that man is desiring to be God or
"being in himself."
Prabhupada: This is the position more or less of Mayavadi philosophy,
that when I am completely in knowledge, I become God. It is like that.
Syamasundara: He says this is man's fundamental orientation, that he
wants to become God.
Prabhupada: Yes. That we confirm in this way, that because he is part
and parcel of God, so he wants to be united with God. Because he is now
detached from God, so therefore, just like a man who is for long, long
years out of home, so he wants to go home again.
Syamasundara: He says that this desire to be God is bound to fail.
Prabhupada: Because he is not God. If he is God at all, then how will he
fail to become non-God?
Syamasundara: What was that?
Prabhupada: He is desiring to be God, that means he is not God at the
present moment. So if he is God, how did he become non-God? Therefore he
cannot become God, but he can become godly. That is our philosophy. Just
like I am in darkness, I want light, so I can come into the sunshine.
That does not mean I become sun. But when I come to the sunshine, I come
to the light. Similarly, when you come to perfect knowledge, that is
godly. But you cannot become God. If you are God, then there is no
question of becoming non-God. Therefore Krsna's name is Acyuta. Acyuta
means He never becomes non-God. He is God always. When He is three
months old on the lap of His mother He is God. When He is seven years
old, lifting the hill, He is God. And when He is marrying 16,000 wives
He is God. When He is dancing with the gopis He is God. That is God. God
is always God. Not that I am non-God now and I shall become God by some
means, mystic factory. No.
Syamasundara: I'll just read a quote from one of his books. He says, "To
be a man means to reach towards being God; or if you prefer, man,
fundamentally, is the desire to be God. Every human reality is a passion
in that it projects losing itself so as to found being, and by the same
stroke to constitute the..."
Prabhupada: To desire to become God, that is also passion, because he
cannot become God. This is simply passion.
Syamasundara: He says that the human being has the capacity to give up
or sacrifice something in order to reach for something higher.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is called tapasya, austerity.
Syamasundara: He says that we have the ability to lose ourselves to find
ourselves, to lose something in order to find something else.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is our process. To find ourself, in our real
position, we give up so many material enjoyments. Just like a diseased
man is ordered by the doctor, "Do not do this." So he is sacrificing
those things, "do not's," accepting "do not's," to become cured from the
Syamasundara: This is why he calls man a useless passion, because he
says in the passion of losing himself or giving up something he will
never really find anything else, so that it's a useless passion to give
up these things.
Prabhupada: No. That is his case. But this is the process, to find out,
param drstva nivartate, to find out the best, I give up something worse.
Just like we are teaching our students to give up these habits, so they
are giving up, with the aim to get a better thing--Krsna consciousness.
Syamasundara: He said in the act of giving up, you don't find anything
Prabhupada: No. He does not find because he is blind, but we find. We
take vision from superior person. So our vision is not blind.
Syamasundara: He says that we are trying to find the state of escaping
contingency, or we are trying to reach an absolute state where we are
not conditioned by anything. This is what we are striving for. But we
will never be able to find that state.
Prabhupada: If we are not conditioned, then how are we trying to reach
the absolute state?
Syamasundara: He says that we are conditioned, but we are trying to be
unconditioned. But we can never reach that state.
Prabhupada: No. That is his hopelessness. That is not our (indistinct).
We are giving up something param drstva nivartate. We are giving
something for getting higher position, that's all.
Syamasundara: He says that this is an impossible project, to become
Prabhupada: Not absolute, but to be the right relationship. Just like I
am existing now, but not in right relationship. I am trying to exist as
the Lord or master. But when I live as servant, that is my right
relationship. I am trying to exist as the Lord or master, but when I
live as a servant, that is my right relationship.
Syamasundara: His idea is that we all want to become God. That is
Prabhupada: No. That is hopeless. That you cannot. That is wrong. We
cannot become God. The only answer is that how we can become God? If you
are God, then how did you become non-God? God cannot become non-God at
Syamasundara: I think he looks at it that we are not God. We know we are
not God, but we are trying to become God.
Prabhupada: That is Mayavadi philosophy.
Syamasundara: But he says it's impossible to become God.
Prabhupada: Yes. That's nice. That is our philosophy.
Syamasundara: But because it is impossible to become God, that means
everything else is useless.
Prabhupada: No. That is another foolishness. You are not God; you are
God's servant. Now you are posing to be God. So give up this idea and
become servant. That is right idea. You are actually servant of God, but
you are posing yourself as master. So you give up this wrong idea and
become servant of God, then you are happy.
Syamasundara: So that's all... (break)
Devotee: That faith is not to choose, but that is a choice, as Krsna
explains in the Bhagavad-gita, that there is action and inaction, and
one who can see action in so-called inaction, he is intelligent. He is
in that category of unintelligent people. They take this form of
inaction as being inaction. And so he is thinking this so-called
drifting as no choice; it is simply a way to make a choice very easily.
You are choosing to go down the river with the current. It's choosing to
remain in animal life.
Syamasundara: To be controlled completely by external forces.
Devotee: They are surrendering to the material nature.
Prabhupada: Vikti mamate (?).
Syamasundara: This is the whole hippie philosophy.
Devotee: They are making a choice, but the wrong choice.
Syamasundara: But he says you shouldn't be like this. Sartre says you
shouldn't be like this--this drifting.
Devotee: Right. It makes no difference what you choose.
Syamasundara: But you have to do it strongly.
Devotee: No. Just point out they are making a choice. The point is, they
are making the wrong choice. Therefore you have to make the right
choice. It does make a difference. His philosophy is that it doesn't
make any difference what you choose--not even admitting that it does
make a difference--you simply have to carry it out that you know what is
the right way by the instructions of superior authority.
Syamasundara: Yes. We see it like that, but he sees it that it doesn't
matter what you choose as long as you make a conscious choice.
Devotee: Then why not just choose to go along consciously?
Syamasundara: Because that's bad faith. That's not engaging myself with
the world at large.
Devotee: All the other choices are simply illusion.
Syamasundara: Yes. It will only be illusory to somebody who sees things
like that. But for him, at least there is a situation encountered--he
calls that an encounter--then either I can walk away from the
situation--which is one way of making a bad choice, but he calls it bad
faith--or in good faith I can face the situation and choose to go this
way or that way.
Devotee: The philosophy seems contradictory. If you walk away, still you
are going to face another situation.
Syamasundara: Yes. But that's a situation of bad faith--that I'm not
facing; I'm not encountering. His hero, Sartre's hero, is someone who
courageously faces the situation and chooses one way or the other. It
really doesn't matter, because ultimately all of man's trying is in
vain. What matters is that how you do it.
Devotee: Why not courageously drift? You see, that's what I think Srila
Prabhupada is saying. If you look, he is arbitrarily making some value
judgment, but actually he is...
Syamasundara: Yes. Actually we do that. We courageously drift, just like
Camus drifted right into a telephone pole.
Devotee: That is our point, that that is the same courageousness of the
Syamasundara: Yes. Into the fire, insect philosophy.
Devotee: He still must establish values, even if whimsically.
Syamasundara: His only value is that he encourages you to do something,
just like one of his heroes is.
Devotee: Why not take that trait that is so admirable, that courage, and
put it into a right decision? That's our philosophy. Our philosophy is
not that we should not be determined...
Syamasundara: Our philosophy is based first of all that there is a
purpose in the universe. If to begin with, his thesis is that there's no
purpose in the universe, then he can't say anything is right or wrong.
Devotee: Then what is the point of any philosophy? If there's no
purpose, why should I read his philosophy? His philosophy also is
Prabhupada: Just to say there is no purpose?
Syamasundara: No. There is only existence. There is no essence.
Devotee: Then why write?
Syamasundara: Because it's something to do. Just like I courageously
choose to write, that's all, so I must do it.
Devotee: What is...
Syamasundara: Ultimately yes. Even Prabhupada stated this, too.
Prabhupada: It is rat philosophy. He has something to do--cut everything
Devotee: What is that?
Prabhupada: Something to do. I have to do something. He is cutting a
book into pieces.
Syamasundara: Jean-Paul Genet was one of his heroes--a sadist, a
homosexual, a criminal. He thought very highly of him, because he said
at least he has chosen something he is doing very courageously. So he
got him released from jail. Now he has chosen to become a Communist,
Sartre. So... (break) He is very much trouble with the government. They
want to arrest him, but he is too famous. His life is (indistinct).
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, what is the actual cause of shame?
Prabhupada: Higher consciousness.
Syamasundara: If I am ashamed to take my clothes off in public, why is
Prabhupada: Higher consciousness. The dog has no such thing; therefore
this consciousness is not developed.
Devotee: He says something about..., "You have it resolved in your mind
and you don't carry it through."
Devotee (2): Srila Prabhupada gave an example: if I decide to rob a bank
and I don't rob the bank and I... (break)
Prabhupada: What is next?
Syamasundara: Next we'll go back to Fichte, a German philosopher, then
Hegel, Schopenhauer. (end)