The primordial soul can break the endless chain of birth and death 
and emerge into freedom, happiness, and permanence.

A lecture in Mexico City in January 1975

yam hi na vyathayanty ete
purusam purusarsabha
sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram
so 'mrtatvaya kalpate

"O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation." (Bhagavad-gita 2.15)

Srila Prabhupada

The first thing we have to understand on the path to liberation is that the living being is not the body but is within the body. For example, the driver is not the motorcar but is within the motorcar. Now, that "driver" the soul within the body is immortal. And it is transmigrating from one body to another.

This transmigration from one body to another is not a very good business. For example, if you are living in some apartment and you have to change immediately for another, do you not get disgusted? Naturally, we desire to get some permanent apartment. Similarly, nobody wants to die. Even if a person is in the most wretched condition of life, if you propose to him, "Let me kill you," he'll not agree; he'll protest. Therefore the psychology is that every living being wants to live; no one wants to die.

But actually, we are not subject to death or birth. Somehow or other, by chance or coincidence, we have acquired this material body. Actually, it is not by chance: we wanted to lord it over the material nature, and therefore we have gotten this material body. Everyone in this material world, whether a human being or an animal, a bird or a beast, is trying to be the lord of the universe. Therefore, if we actually want relief from this constant transmigration from one body to another, we must change this mentality of trying to lord it over the material nature.

We get our next life as we prepare for it in this life. If I like, I can go to the higher planetary system; if I like, I can go to the lower planetary system; if I like, I can go to either beastly life or godly life. As I desire, I'll go. The Lord is situated in my heart and in your heart, and He sees our activities. He also understands what our desires are. According to our desires, Krsna offers us a "machine" this body. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita [18.61], yantrarudhani mayaya: "The spiritual soul is riding on the machine of the body." Just as in our car we can travel here and there, on this machine of the body we can go anywhere within the universe.

As human beings, we should ask, "Why am I wandering in so many places, in so many species of life, and in so many planets? Can this wandering not be stopped for a permanent life?" This should be our consideration. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, brahmanda brahmite kona bhagyvan jiva/ guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija. The living entity is wandering in various species of life, on various planetary platforms. This is very disgusting. But if one is fortunate, he comes in contact with a pure devotee of Krsna.

The Krsna consciousness movement is meant for giving this opportunity to everyone. We are opening centers all over the world, inviting people to come and understand the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. And we have so many books. So you should take advantage of this movement and save yourself from the botheration of repeated birth and death.

To execute this process of Krsna consciousness, there may apparently be a little difficulty at first. For example, we prescribe to our members, "No intoxication." So, one who is habituated to drink, to smoke, to take coffee, tea, and so on he'll feel some discomfort. Similarly, we say, "No meat-eating." Those who are meat-eaters may find it a little difficult to give up this habit. We also say, "No illicit sex," and one who is habituated to illicit sex life will feel some difficulty. So, there are so many things that in the beginning may appear to be a little difficult to give up, but actually they are not difficult to give up. It is because you are habituated to these sinful activities that you feel some difficulty.

So, if you are actually anxious and serious to stop the repetition of birth and death, then you must take to Krsna consciousness. Without Krsna consciousness, nobody can stop the repetition of birth and death. Therefore Krsna advises in this verse that you accept a little difficulty to become Krsna conscious: yam he na vyathayanty ete. Although one may feel some difficulty at first, if he sticks to the principles of Krsna consciousness he becomes fit for going back home, back to Godhead.

In the Vedic literature it is stated, durdantendriya-kala-sarpa-patali: "The senses are just like dreadful, untamable poisonous snakes." But there is a means for subduing those snakes: protkhata-damstrayate. A snake may be very dangerous, but if somehow or other you can extract his poisonous fangs, then he is no longer dangerous. So our strong, snake-like senses can become bereft of their poisonous fangs if we become Krsna conscious. And the simplest method of becoming Krsna conscious, offered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Lord Caitanya says, ceto-darpana-marjanam: By chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, our heart will be cleansed. And as soon as our heart is cleansed, we can understand our real position and how to take steps to relieve all of our suffering. Ending suffering is called bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam, "extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence."

In the present verse of the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna uses the word dhiram, which means "very sober." In a previous verse Krsna said, dhiras tatra na muhyati: One who is sober is not bewildered at the time of death. So, if one is dhira, it means that although there may be a cause of disturbance, he is not disturbed. Although there is a cigarette available, I promised that I would not smoke, and therefore I shall not smoke. Although there is facility for illicit sex, I'll not do it. That attitude is called dhira.

So, to advance in spiritual life we have to become dhira. As Krsna says here, sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram. As soon as we become dhira, sober, the so-called material pains and pleasures will not disturb us. Then we are fit for becoming immortal. Everyone is immortal, but we have now fallen into such a material condition that we think we are mortal. But the Vedic injunction is aham brahmasmi, "I am as good as the Supreme Being." He is an eternal living being, and I am also an eternal living being. So, qualitatively we are one with God, but quantitatively He is great, we are small.

We have to realize these things. Then we can become eternal, immortal, qualified like God, and can get out of the material clutches. And for this we have to become tolerant of the sensations of pain and pleasure. For example, suppose you have some itch. You are feeling that you should scratch it, but if you refrain from scratching it, the itch will go away. On the other hand, if you go on scratching, it will increase. Anyone who has some experience of itching knows it is very pleasing at the time of scratching, but the next moment it is not very pleasing. The scratching creates a disturbing condition.

Therefore the sastra [scripture] says that we should try to control the "itching" of our senses. Then we are dhira. And as soon as you become dhira, you are a first-class candidate for solving all the problems of your life and going back home, back to Godhead. This is the Krsna consciousness movement. Please try to understand it.

Now, any questions?

Devotee [interpreting from Spanish]: He says that if we are originally in the spiritual world, full of knowledge and bliss, why do we accept an inferior position in this material world?

Srila Prabhupada: That I have already explained. Although you have God's qualities, you are very small. God is like a big fire, and we are like the sparks in the fire. If a spark comes out of the fire, the spark is extinguished. So, because we are very small, as soon as we come out of the "big fire," out of touch with God, we become "extinguished" we lose our illuminated, God-like qualities. And if somehow or other you again get in touch with God, you revive your original, illuminated quality. At the present moment we have somehow or other fallen into this material condition, and so we have lost our godly qualities. But we can cure that. A diseased man loses his appetite, but by treatment he can reawaken his appetite and eat properly. Similarly, since we are very small, we have fallen under the clutches of maya, illusion, but we can revive our original position by the process of Krsna consciousness.

Question: Is the Supersoul the same as the soul, or a part of the soul?

Srila Prabhupada: No. The soul is part of the Supersoul, who is an expansion of the Supreme Lord. In genuine yoga practice, the soul tries to search out the Supersoul: dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginah. The yogis realyogis, not bogus yogis meditate upon the Supersoul. The Supersoul is simply witnessing the activities of the soul and giving sanction for all his mischief. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita [13.23]: upadrastanumanta ca. Without God's sanction(anumanta), without the Supersoul's sanction, you cannot do anything. The Supersoul does not desire that we engage in all these mischievous activities, but because the soul insists on doing these things, the Supersoul says, "All right, do them at your own risk." Suppose a thief is planning to steal something. The Supersoul orders, "Don't do it," because without God's sanction he cannot steal. But when the thief persists, the Lord says, "All right, do it at your own risk." This is the position of the soul and the Supersoul.

Question: How can the soul achieve perfection? It seems that he has to reincarnate slowly, through many bodies, to achieve perfection.

Srila Prabhupada: No. When you are diseased you can be cured quickly if you take the proper treatment. That's all. Disease is not hopelessness. Otherwise, why do people go to a physician for treatment? Similarly, out of ignorance you are now in this miserable condition, but if you are treated by a bona fide spiritual master, you'll be cured. Originally, every one of us is pure. Now we have become contaminated by material conditions. But there is a process for eradicating this material contamination. Then we will again become pure. And as soon as we become pure, there is no more birth, old age, disease, and death. Finished.

Question: How can we emerge from maya [illusion]?

Srila Prabhupada: Just become Krsna conscious, and maya will not touch you. It is just like taking a vaccine. If you take the injection, then the infection will not touch you. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita [7.14]:

daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te

[To a devotee:] Find this verse and read the translation.

Devotee [reading]: "This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is very difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it."

Srila Prabhupada: Any more questions?

Question: What are the symptoms of one who has become Krsna conscious?

Srila Prabhupada: First, he's chanting Hare Krsna. Unless one is Krsna conscious, why would he take the trouble to chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare? This is the first symptom he likes to chant Hare Krsna. A further symptom is that as soon as you see him, you remember Krsna. In other words, if you see someone who reminds you of Krsna, that means he's Krsna conscious. That is the statement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So, wherever our men go, people say, "Hare Krsna!" Just by seeing them. Therefore our men are Krsna conscious.

Question: Why is it that when the soul comes into contact with material nature, he becomes contaminated?

Srila Prabhupada: Because he wants to enjoy material nature. And one who is not attracted to enjoying material nature remains uncontaminated. For example, everyone is going to restaurants to eat something palatable, but we are not going. Everyone is going to the cinema, but we are not going. Therefore we remain uncontaminated.

There are two kinds of men: those who are attracted to material enjoyment, and those who are not attracted. Those who are not attracted are called nitya-siddha, eternally liberated, and those who are attracted are called nitya-baddha, eternally conditioned. The number of liberated persons in the spiritual world is many times that of the conditioned souls in this world. This material world is like a prison house. The population outside a prison house is very great, and within the prison house there are a small number of criminals. So, there are innumerable living entities, and some of them become attracted to material enjoyment. Most do not. One who does not want to serve Krsna but wants to serve his senses instead is put into this material world, and he's given all facilities to enjoy. But he becomes entangled in the cycle of birth and death. This is the position of the conditioned souls. Yes?

Question: How do we develop a desire for devotional service?

Srila Prabhupada: If you are serious, come to us. We shall teach you. If you want to be a learned man, you must go to the university. You cannot learn at home. Anything more?

Question: How can we feel the transmigration of the soul?

Srila Prabhupada: Have you ever dreamt that you were in a different land? At night when you dream, you forget everything your father, your mother, your address. While dreaming, you create some body and you see yourself differently, in a different place. And during the daytime you forget your dream land and your dream body. So, every day, every night, you are experiencing transmigration, but you have no intelligence to understand it. Therefore, tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: You have to go to a bona fide guru, and hell enable you to understand these things.

Question: How can we achieve samadhi?

Srila Prabhupada: Samadhi? If you fully absorb yourself in some thought, that is samadhi. Become absorbed in thought of Krsna; that is the best samadhi.

Now let us chant Hare Krsna.