The Vision to See Life in Stone
A conversation with His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The following conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and several of his disciples took place in June 1974 in Paris.
Devotees: A man came to the temple a couple of days ago and argued that we really can’t say for sure that there’s life after death, so why worry about it? Better to build a more prosperous society. At least this we can understand, and it would be a meaningful accomplishment.
Srila Prabhupada: He may not understand that the soul takes another body after death, but he can understand that he’ll be kicked out of his present body. Didn’t he understand this?
Devotee: He thought it was more important to engage in economic development.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore he’s a fool. Suppose I am visiting here in Paris, and you say, “As soon as your visa expires you’ll be kicked out.” Shall I be interested in creating anything elaborate? I shall be kicked out after two months, so why should I construct a big building? Only a foolish rascal would do that. The rascal knows that he will be kicked out, but still he works day and night to collect bricks and stones, and he becomes a “big man.” A foolish rascal is considered a big man. Therefore Srimad-Bhagavatam [ 2.3.19] says, sva-vid-vara-hostra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh:
“Men who are like dogs, hogs, camels, and asses praise foolish rascals, the non-devotees.”
Devotee: Sometimes people argue that God has given us our senses, so we should enjoy them.
Srila Prabhupada: The dog is also enjoying his senses. I say to such people, "What are you enjoying that the dog doesn’t enjoy? You eat; the dog also eats. You sleep; the dog also sleeps. You enjoy sex; the dog also enjoys sex. You are afraid of your enemy; the dog is also afraid of its enemy. So what is the difference between the dog’s mentality and your mentality?"
God has given you the intelligence to understand that you are nothing and He is everything. Just realize it—that is intelligence. When you understand, “God is great; I am His servant,” that is real intelligence. Otherwise, you’ll be exactly like the dogs.
Devotee: People today have reasoned that God is dead.
Srila Prabhupada: To them I reply, God is not dead; your intelligence is dead. You have a dead body, and you’re proud of it. The body is just like a motorcar. A motorcar is dead, and if there is no driver it does not work. Similarly, the body is dead, and as soon as you, the soul, leave the body, it stops working. That means you are occupying a dead body. It is working only as long as you are there, but actually the body is dead. And you are decorating a dead body. All your acquisitions are simply decorations on a dead body. Apranasya hi deha-sya mandanam loka-ranjanam. Some rascal may applaud, “Oh, you are so intelligent; you are decorating your body so nicely.” But an intelligent man will say, “What a fool he is, that he’s decorating a dead body.”
Devotee: Someone might ask why we decorate the Deity in the temple.
Srila Prabhupada: Because it is not dead. It is living. One who puts forward this argument does not know that we are decorating the real, living body.
Devotee: You say the Deity is the real body, but it appears to be stone. There are no symptoms of life in the Deity.
Srila Prabhupada: There is life—the supreme life—but you have no eyes to see it. Premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena; a devotee—he can see that the Deity is alive. Are we fools, rascals, that we are worshiping a dead body? You think that after reading so many scriptures we are worshiping stone? You have no eyes to see the truth. You have to purify your vision to see that Krishna is personally present in the Deity.
Devotee: Most people can’t even understand the existence of the soul. So how can they understand the Deity?
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore they have to become our students, our disciples, to understand this science. Then they will see that the stone Deity is also Krishna.
Devotee: Is my body also Krishna, since it is made of earth, like the Deity?
Srila Prabhupada: No, but it is Krishna’s energy. Therefore the body should be engaged in Krishna’s service. That is Krishna consciousness. As soon as you understand the body is Krishna’s energy, you will not employ it for any purpose other than His vice. But people do not have this realization. They think the body is theirs, or that they are the body. This is illusion.
Devotee: When impersonalistic philosophers read in Bhagavad-gita [ 18.61] that Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart,” they argue that since Krishna is in heart of every living entity, every living entity is Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada: Why? If I am in a room have I become the room? Is that argument very sound? Krishna is within my body, and I am also within my body, but does that mean I am the body or that Krishna is the body? Krishna is everything, and yet, Krishna is apart from everything. In Bhagavad-gita [ 9.4] Krishna says, maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina: “I am spread all over the universe in My impersonal feature.” Mat-sthani sarva-bhutani: “Everything is in Me.” Na caham tesv avasthitah: “But I separate from everything.” This is the philosophy of simultaneous oneness and difference ( achintya-bhedabheda-tattva).
Devotee: Other religions do not give information—
Srila Prabhupada: We are not talking religion; we are talking of science. Don’t bring in “religion.” There are so many religions where people are doing things blindly. Such “religion” is not our concern. We are talking of science.
Devotee: The science of how God’s energies are working ?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. For example, to say that heat is fire, is that wrong?
Devotee: No, because it comes from fire.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Heat is the energy of fire. Therefore one can say that heat is fire, but at the same time it is not fire. It is simultaneously one with fire and different from fire.
Devotee: Someone might say, “If stone is also Krishna, then why aren’t you worship all stones?”
Srila Prabhupada: When we make the form of Krishna in stone, then we worship stone. Not that we worship any stone. Because Krishna is everything by the expansion of His energies, that does not mean we have to worship the dog. No. Our business is to worship the form of Krishna.