Notes transcribed by Woomapati Das Brahmachary (Wallace Sheffey)
From lectures given Sept. 13th and 20th, 1966.
We all begin our pursuit of the goal of life from a position of ignorance. Now, an ignorant person does not know of the science of God, but if he at least wants to hear of it, this is good. In fact, the Vedic literature is known as "Sruti," which means to learn by hearing. Spiritual science does not require a high education, nor a high intellect. Simply by hearing we can pass over the ocean of birth and death. Scriptures are intended to help us in the passage beyond death. The basic principle of spiritual education is that the soul is eternal, but it is constantly changing its bodily dress. Most people don't realize that they are eternal. The atheists say that if we want to be happy we should get money so that we can have more food and material pleasures. However, in spite of all our material comforts and scientific advancements, we have not been able to stop the miseries of birth, death, old age, and disease. It is these four painful, conditional states that prevent our having any real happiness. Only self-realization can put an end to this suffering. How is this done?
There could not be a material world without God. God is the origin of all creation. Cars and buses do not move themselves; there must be a driver. Similarly, the body does not move without the soul. Living beings, as we find them here, are a combination of matter and spirit. Matter cannot develop into a living being without the presence of spirit soul. The mother and father cannot produce a baby unless the spirit soul first enters into the womb to develop into the body of the baby. When cars, trucks, buses, people, animals, insects, or anything else moves, there is a combination of matter and spirit soul in operation. If these objects cannot move without the presence of the spirit soul, how can the universe move without the presence of the Super Soul, or God?
No material object moves by itself. Space satellites move with the help of the people on the ground. Machines need men at the controls. Without exception, whatever exists moving or non-moving is a combination of matter and soul.
Matter is characterized as impermanent, by nature mutable. Soul, our true identity, is eternal. We should not cling to what is temporary. Even the universe will pass away. We should persist in Krishna consciousness which will bring us to our eternal status and we should tell others about it so that they too can be freed. If they do not listen, still we should do our best. If we have done our best, it does not make any difference whether or not we have followers. Not everyone is ready for the perfection of human life. If we preach to animals, for example, they will not understand, because they are not ready. It is the same with people who do not listen. Lord Jesus Christ said, "Cast not your pearls before swine."
Our eternal lives should be devoted to that which is eternal. When everything else is gone, the Supreme Lord will still exist. Krishna says, "I existed before creation, and after the end of creation I will exist." The body vanishes when it dies, but the soul does not. When a baby grows, the baby eventually vanishes and a child appears in its place. The mother is not disturbed about the disappearance of her baby. The child eventually disappears, and an adult appears in its place. Death and rebirth is a process similar to this.
God is present everywhere. However, this does not mean that love of God is an impersonal love. Love requires a person for an object and cannot exist without a beloved. When we love God, He is always present. We can see God everywhere, if we love Him. Spiritual development is the development of the love of God. It is a process of give and take, like courtship. Love of God develops like love between man and woman. We begin by giving everything to God. We should be willing to give everything to God, because everything is already His. Even our bodies and senses belong to God. He gave us senses because we wanted to enjoy sense gratification. If we give everything to Krishna, Krishna will give Himself to us. When we have Krishna, we do not want anything else.
We say, "My body," or, "my sense" because they are given to us to use, but we should know that they really belong to Krishna, and we should use them for His purposes. The fragmented consciousness should dovetail itself with the whole. Our body lives on food which is supplied by God, so why should we use it for purposes other than His? All our purposes should be spiritual, because spirit is the basis of all that is and seems to be. There is spirit in anything that grows, even mountains and stones. It is even confirmed by science that the universe is growing, so the universe must have spirit. A dead plant or animal no longer has the spiritual spark, so it does not grow. A child is supposed to grow, but a dead child, a child without the spiritual spark, does not grow. We living beings are by constitution spiritual. Our very consciousness is the symptom of this. Krishna is the Supreme Spirit, and as such He is the natural and true abode. The real objective of all the strivings of consciousness is the Supreme Lord.
When the scriptures say that Krishna is formless, they mean that He has spiritual form, and that He is also present everywhere. The sun can be used as an example: although there is only one sun, and nobody will deny that it has form, it is still seen and felt in many places at the same time.
When it is said that Krishna does not have senses, it means that He does not have imperfect senses like ours. The difference between Krishna and the living entities is that Krishna is great, and the living entities are subordinate. We are like small grains of gold dust, while Krishna is a gigantic piece of gold. When Krishna indulges in sense pleasure, it is to please His devotees. Krishna Himself has no need of sense gratification. Krishna has no desire to exploit His devotees. He will kindly allow a devotee to be His servant for the sake of granting the devotee his wish to serve. Krishna indulges in sense pleasures in order to return His devotees' love. Of course, in His boundlessness, He always returns more than the devotee can give.
When the scriptures say that Krishna is beyond words, it means that He is infinite. It does not mean that He has no senses or speech. Krishna has all the qualities that we have, but His qualities are spiritual and pure and quite beyond measure. Our qualities are also spiritual, but they are covered by material nature, and they are, therefore, evidently limited.
Although Krishna's planet is farther away than man can measure, He is also here, on this planet. He is always with His pure devotees. When we chant His name, He is on our tongues. Krishna is inside and outside everything. People say that Krishna cannot be born in a physical body. Why can't He? If He can manifest Himself everywhere, why can't He manifest Himself in a human womb and take birth like an ordinary child?
Krishna is simultaneously one and many. He is undivided but He appears to be divided. Those bound to material concepts say that when something is divided it cannot remain whole. They do not realize that Krishna is above the laws of material nature. In the spiritual realm it can be said that one minus one equals one. No matter how much you take from Krishna, He is always complete and perfect. That is His nature, as He Himself has revealed it to us.