Vedic Views on Western Thinkers

Carl Jung (1875 -1961)

Swiss psychologist Carl Jung sought a way out of the ocean of material suffering. Yet he felt, "I had to make do with my own truth……" (A discussion with His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.)

Hayagriva dasa: Jung gave the following criticism of Sigmund Freud: "Sexuality evidently meant more to Freud than to other people. For him it was something to be religiously observed…. One thing was clear: Freud, who had always made much of his irreligiosity, had now constructed a dogma. Or rather, in the place of a jealous God whom he had lost, he had substituted another compelling image, that of sexuality."

Seeking without a Guide

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is a fact. He has taken sexuality to be God. It is our natural tendency to accept a leader, and Freud simply abandoned the leadership of God and took up the leadership of sex. On the other hand, if we accept the leadership of Krsna, our life becomes perfect. All other leadership is the leadership of maya [illusion]. There is no doubt that we have to accept a leader. Although Freud would not admit it, he accepted sex as his leader, and consequently he was constantly speaking about sex. Those who have taken God as their leader will speak only of God, nothing else. Jivera 'svarupa' haya krsnera 'nitya-dasa.' According to Caitanya Mahaprabhu's philosophy, we are all eternal servants of God, but as soon as we give up God's service, we have to accept the service of maya.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung sees the mind as being composed of a balance of the conscious and the unconscious, or subconscious. It is the function of the personality to integrate these. For instance, if one has a strong sex drive, he can sublimate or channel it into art or religious activity.

Srila Prabhupada: That is our process. The sex impulse is natural for everyone in the material world. But if we think of Krsna embracing Radharani or dancing with the gopis, our sex impulse is sublimated and weakened. If one hears about the pastimes of Krsna and the gopis from the right source, lusty desire within the heart will be suppressed, and one will be able to develop devotional service.

Hayagriva dasa: This would be an example of what Jung would call integration or individuation, whereby the energies of the subconscious sex impulse are channeled into conscious, creative activity directed toward God-realization.

Srila Prabhupada: What we must understand is that Krsna is the onlypurusa, the only enjoyer. If we help Him in His enjoyment, we also receive enjoyment. We are predominated, and He is the predominator. On the material platform, if a husband wants to enjoy the wife, the wife must voluntarily help him in that enjoyment. By helping him, the wife also becomes an enjoyer. Similarly, the supreme predominator, the supreme enjoyer, is Krsna. And the predominated, the enjoyed, are the living entities. When the living entities agree to help Krsna's sex desire, they become enjoyers.

Hayagriva dasa: What is meant by Krsna's sex desire?

Srila Prabhupada: You might say "sense enjoyment." Krsna is the supreme proprietor of the senses, and when we help Krsna in His sense enjoyment, we also naturally partake of that enjoyment. The sweet rasagulla [a candy made from milk] is meant to be enjoyed, and therefore the hand puts it into the mouth so that it can be tasted and go to the stomach. The hand cannot enjoy therasagulla directly. Krsna is the only direct enjoyer; all others are indirect enjoyers. By satisfying Krsna, others will be satisfied. Upon seeing the predominator happy, the predominated become happy.

Hayagriva dasa: Psychologists say that quite often the subconscious is acting through the conscious, but that we do not know it.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The subconscious is there, but it is not always manifest. Sometimes a thought suddenly becomes manifest, just as a bubble will suddenly emerge in a pond. You may not be able to understand why it emerges, but we may assume that it was in the subconscious state and suddenly became manifest. That subconscious thought which is manifest does not necessarily have any connection with one's present consciousness. It is like a stored impression, a shadow or a photograph. The mind takes many snapshots, and they are stored.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung could see that the soul is always longing for light, and he wrote of the urge within the soul to rise out of darkness. He noted the pent-up feeling in the eyes of primitive people and a certain sadness in the eyes of animals. He wrote: "There is a sadness in animals' eyes, and we never know whether that sadness is bound up with the soul. of the animal or is a poignant message which speaks to us out of that existence."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Every living entity, including man, is constitutionally a servant. Therefore everyone is seeking some master, and that is our natural propensity. You can often see a puppy attempt to take shelter of some boy or man, and that is his natural tendency. He is saying, "Give me shelter. Keep me as your friend." A child or a man also wants some shelter in order to be happy. That is our constitutional position. When we attain the human form, when our consciousness is developed, we should take Krsna as our shelter and our leader. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna tells us that if we want shelter and guidance, we should take His. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja.This is the ultimate instruction of Bhagavad-gita.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung would say that our understanding of Krsna as the supreme father and the cause of all causes is an archetypal understanding shared by all humans. All people have the tendency to understand someone to be their supreme father and primal cause, and they will represent Him in different ways. The archetype, however, is the same.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, it is exactly the same. Krsna, or God, is the supreme father. A father has many sons, and all men are sons of God, born of their father. This is an experience common to everyone at all times.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung believed that because there are so many subconscious factors governing our personality, we must awaken to them. Unless we do so, we are more or less slaves to our subconscious life. The point of psychoanalysis is to reveal as many aspects of our subconscious life as possible and enable us to face them.

Srila Prabhupada: That is what we are teaching. We say that presently the soul is in a sleeping state, and we are telling the soul, "Please wake up! Please wake up! You are not this body! You are not this body!" It is possible to awaken the human being, but other living entities cannot be awakened. A tree, for instance, has consciousness, but he is so packed in matter that you cannot raise him to Krsna consciousness. A human being, on the other hand, has developed consciousness, which is manifest in different stages. Lower life forms are more or less in a dream state.

Hayagriva dasa: Whereas Freud was sexually oriented, Jung was more or less spiritually oriented. In his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections,Jung writes, "I find that all my thoughts circle around God like the planets around the sun, and are as irresistibly attracted by Him. I would feel it to be the grossest sin if I were to put up any resistance to this force." Jung sees all creatures as parts of God and at the same time unique in themselves. He writes, "Man cannot compare himself with any other creature; he is not a monkey, not a cow, not a tree. I am a man. But what is it to be that? Like every other being, I am a splinter of the infinite Deity……

Srila Prabhupada: It is also our philosophy that we are part and parcel of God, just as sparks are part of a fire.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung further writes in his autobiography, "It was obedience which brought me grace…. One must be utterly abandoned to God; nothing matters but fulfilling His will. Otherwise, all is folly and meaningless."

Srila Prabhupada: Very good. Surrender unto God is real spiritual life.Sarva-dharman parityajya. Surrender to God means accepting that which is favorable to God and rejecting that which is unfavorable. The devotee is always convinced that God will give him all protection. He remains humble and meek and thinks himself as one of the members of God's family. This is real spiritual communism. Communists think, "I am a member of a certain community," but it is a man's duty to think, "I am a member of God's family." God is the supreme father, material nature is the mother, and living entities are all sons of God. There are living entities everywhere on land and in the air and water. There is no doubt that material nature is the mother, and according to our experience we can understand that a mother cannot produce a child without a father. It is absurd to think that a child can be born without a father. A father must be there, and the supreme father is God. In Krsna consciousness, a person understands that the creation is a spiritual family headed by one supreme father.

Hayagriva dasa: Concerning God's personality, Jung writes this: "According to the Bible, God has a personality and is the ego of the universe, just as I myself am the ego of my psychic and physical being."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The individual is conscious of his own body, but not of the bodies of others. Besides the individual soul or consciousness in the body, there is the Paramatma, the Supersoul, the superconsciousness present in everyone's heart. This is discussed in (Bhagavad-gita 13.3):

ksetrajnam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
ksetra-ksetrajnayor jnanam
yat taj jnanam matam mama

"You should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge."

Hayagriva dasa: Recalling his difficulties in understanding God's personality, Jung writes, "Here I encountered a formidable obstacle. Personality, after all, surely signifies character. Now, character is one thing and not another; that is to say, it involves certain specific attributes. But if God is everything, how can He still possess a distinguishable character? … What kind of character or what kind of personality does He have?"

Srila Prabhupada: God's character is transcendental, not material, and thus He has attributes. For instance, He is very kind to His devotee, and this kindness may be considered one of His characteristics or attributes. Whatever qualities or characteristics we have are but minute manifestations of God's. God is the origin of all attributes and characteristics. As indicated in the sastras[scriptures], He also has mind, senses, feelings, sense perception, sense gratification, and everything else. Everything is there unlimitedly, and since we are part and parcel of God, we possess His qualities in minute quantities. The original qualities are in God and are manifest minutely in ourselves.

According to the Vedas, God is a person just like us, but His personality is unlimited. Just as my consciousness is limited to this body and His consciousness is the superconsciousness within every body, so I am a person confined to this particular body, and He is the superperson living within all. As Krsna tells Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita [2.12], the personality of God and the personalities of the individual souls are eternally existing. Krsna tells Arjuna on the battlefield, "Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be." Both God and the living entity are eternally persons, but God's personality is unlimited, and the individual's personality is limited. God has unlimited power, wealth, fame, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation. We have limited, finite power, knowledge, fame, and so on. That is the difference between the two personalities.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung found that philosophies and theologies could not give him a clear picture of God's personality. He writes this: "'What is wrong with these philosophers?' I wondered evidently, they know of God only by hearsay."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is also our complaint. The philosophers we have studied have failed to give any clear idea of God. Because they are speculating, they cannot give concrete, clear information. As far as we are concerned, our understanding of God is clear because we simply receive the information given to the world by God Himself. Krsna is accepted as the Supreme Person by Vedic authorities; therefore we should have no reason not to accept Him as such. Narayana, Lord Siva, and Lord Brahma possess different percentages of God's attributes, but Krsna possesses all the attributes cent percent, in totality. Rupa Gosvami has analyzed this in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, which we have translated as The Nectar of Devotion. In any case, God is a person, and if we study man's attributes, we can also know something of God's. Just as we enjoy ourselves with friends, parents, and others, God also enjoys Himself in various relationships. There are five primary and seven secondary relationships that the living entities can have with God. Since the living entities take pleasure in these relationships, God is described asakhila-rasamrta-sindhu, the reservoir of all pleasure. There is no need to speculate about God or try to imagine Him. The process for understanding is described in (Bhagavad-gita 7.1):

mayy asakta-manah partha
yogam yunjan mad-asrayah
asamsayam samagram mam
yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu

"The Lord said, 'Now hear, Arjuna, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt."' You can learn about God by always keeping yourself under His protection, or under the protection of His representative. Then without a doubt you can perfectly understand God; otherwise there is no question of understanding Him.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung goes on to point out the difference between theologians and philosophers. He writes, "At least they [the theologians] are sure that God exists, even though they make contradictory statements about Him…. God's existence does not depend on our proofs…. I understand that God was, for me at least, one of the most certain and immediate of experiences."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is a transcendental conviction. One may not know God, but it is very easy to understand that God is there. One has to learn about God's nature, but there is no doubt about the fact that God is there. Any sane man can understand that he is being controlled. So who is that controller? The supreme controller is God. This is the conclusion of a sane man. Jung is right when he says that God's existence does not depend on our proof.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung continues to recall his early spiritual quests in this way: "In my darkness … I could have wished for nothing better than a real, liveguru, someone possessing superior knowledge and ability, who would have disentangled from me the involuntary creations of my imagination."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. According to the Vedic instructions, in order to acquire perfect knowledge, one must have a guru. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. The guru must factually be a representative of God. He must have seen and experienced God in fact, not simply in theory. We have to approach such a guru, and by service, surrender, and sincere inquiry, we can come to understand God. The Vedas inform us that a person can understand God when he has received a little mercy from His Lordship; otherwise, one may speculate for millions and millions of years. As stated in Bhagavad-gita [18.55],bhaktya mam abhijanati: "One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by bhakti, devotional service." This process of bhakti includessravanam kirtanam visnoh hearing and chanting about Lord Visnu and always remembering Him. Satatam kirtayanto mam: the devotee is always glorifying the Lord. As Prahlada Maharaja says in (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.43):

naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaranyas

"O best of the great personalities, I am not at all afraid of material existence, for wherever I stay I am fully absorbed in thoughts of Your glories and activities." The devotee's consciousness is always drowned in the ocean of the pastimes and unlimited activities of the Supreme Lord. That is transcendental bliss. The spiritual master teaches his disciple how to always remain in the ocean of God consciousness. One who works under the directions of the acarya, the spiritual master, knows everything about God.

Hayagriva dasa: In 1938 Jung was invited by the British government to participate in celebrations at the University of Calcutta. Of this Jung writes, "By that time, I had read a great deal about Indian philosophy and religious history and was deeply convinced of the value of Oriental wisdom." On this visit, Jung spoke with a celebrated guru, yet he avoided so-called holy men. He writes, "I did so because I had to make do with my own truth, not to accept from others what I could not attain on my own. I would have felt it as a theft had I attempted to learn from the holy men to accept their truth for myself."

Srila Prabhupada: On the one hand, he says he wants a guru, and then on the other, he doesn't want to accept one. Doubtlessly there were many so-calledgurus in Calcutta, and Jung might have seen some bogus gurus he did not like. In any case, the principle of accepting a guru cannot be avoided. It is absolutely necessary.

Hayagriva dasa: Concerning consciousness after death, Jung feels that after death the individual must pick up at the level of consciousness which he left.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and therefore, according to that consciousness, one has to accept a body. That is the process of the soul's transmigration. An ordinary person can see only the gross material body, but accompanying this body are the mind, intelligence, and ego. When the body is finished, these remain, although they cannot be seen. A foolish man thinks that everything is finished at death. But the soul carries with it the mind, intelligence, and ego that is, the subtle body into another body. This is confirmed by Bhagavad-gita,which clearly explains that although the body is destroyed, the consciousness continues. According to one's consciousness, one acquires another body, and again, in that body, the consciousness begins to mold its future lives. If a person was a devotee in his past life, he will again become a devotee after his death. Once the material body is destroyed, the same consciousness begins to work in another body. Consequently we find that some people quickly accept Krsna consciousness whereas others take a longer time. Bahunam janmanam ante.This indicates that the consciousness is continuing, although the body is changing. Bharata Maharaja, for instance, changed many bodies, but his consciousness continued, and he remained fully Krsna conscious.

We may see a person daily, but we cannot visualize his intelligence. We can understand that a person is intelligent, but we cannot see intelligence itself. When one talks, we can understand that there is intelligence at work. But why should we conclude that when the gross body is dead and no longer capable of talking, the intelligence is finished? The instrument for speech is the gross body, but we should not conclude that when the gross body is finished, intelligence is also finished. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire: after the destruction of the gross body, the mind and intelligence continue. Because they require a body to function, they develop a body, and that is the process of the soul's transmigration.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung felt that the individual's level of consciousness could not supersede whatever knowledge is available on this planet.

Srila Prabhupada: No. One can supersede it, provided one can acquire knowledge from the proper authority. You may not have seen India, but a person who has seen India can describe it to you. We may not be able to see Krsna, but we can learn of Him from an authority who knows. In Bhagavad-gita [8.20] Krsna tells Arjuna that there is an eternal nature. On this earth we encounter temporary nature. Here things take birth, remain for some time, change, grow old, and are finally destroyed. There is dissolution in this material world, but there is another world, in which there is no dissolution. We have no personal experience of that world, but we can understand that it exists when we receive information from authority. It is not necessary to know it by personal experience. Paratah svato va. There are different stages of knowledge, and not all knowledge can be acquired by direct perception. That is not possible.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung sees earthly life to be of great significance, and what a man carries with him at the time of his death to be very important. He writes, "Only here, in life on earth, can the general level of consciousness be raised. That seems to be man's metaphysical task." Since consciousness survives death, it is important that a man's consciousness be elevated while he is on this earth.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, one's consciousness should be developed. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, if one's yoga practice is incomplete or if one dies prematurely, his consciousness accompanies him, and in the next life he begins at the point where he left off. His intelligence is revived. Tatra tam buddhi-samyogam labhate paurva-dehikam. [Bg. 6.43] In an ordinary class we can see that some students learn very quickly, while others cannot understand. This is evidence for the continuation of consciousness. If one is extraordinarily intelligent, the consciousness he developed in a previous life is being revived. The fact that we have undergone previous births is also evidence for the immortality of the soul.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung points out that there is a paradox surrounding death. From the point of view of the ego, death is a horrible catastrophe "a fearful piece of brutality." Yet from the point of view of the psyche the soul death is "a joyful event. In the light of eternity, it is a wedding."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, death is horrible for one who is going to accept a lower form of life, and it is a pleasure for the devotee, because he is returning home, back to Godhead.

Hayagriva dasa: So death is not always joyful for the soul?

Srila Prabhupada: No. How can it be? If one has not developed his spiritual consciousness Krsna consciousness death is very horrible. The tendency in this life is to become very proud, and often people think, "I don't care for God. I am independent." Crazy people talk in this way, but after death they have to accept a body according to the dictations of nature. Nature says, "My dear sir, since you have worked like a dog, you can become a dog," or, "Since you have been surfing in the sea, you can now become a fish." These bodies are awarded according to a superior order. Karmana daiva-netrena. In whatever way we interact with the modes of material nature, in that way we are creating our next body. How can we stop this process? This is nature's way. If we are infected by some disease, we will necessarily get that disease. There are three modes of material nature tamoguna, rajo-guna, and sattva-guna [the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance] and our bodies are acquired according to our association with them. In general, the human form affords us a chance to make progress in Krsna consciousness, especially when we are born in an aristocratic family, a brahmana [intellectual] family, or a Vaisnava [devotee] family.

Hayagriva dasa: Despite his many interesting points, Jung seems to have had a limited understanding of Indian philosophy. He does not understand thatsamsara [the cycle of birth and death] has a goal, although it appears to be endless. Nor does he seem to know of Krsna's promise in Bhagavad-gita that man can overcome earthly existence by surrendering unto Him.

Srila Prabhupada: Overcoming earthly existence means entering into the spiritual world. The spirit soul is eternal, and it can enter from this atmosphere into another. That is clearly explained in (Bhagavad-gita 4.9):

janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so 'rjuna

"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode." Those who continue to revolve in the cycle of birth and death require another material body, but those who are Krsna conscious go to Krsna. They do not acquire another material body.

Hayagriva dasa: Sri Krsna says this repeatedly throughout Bhagavad-gita.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and those who are not envious of Krsna accept His instructions, surrender unto Him, and understand Him. For them, this is the last material birth. For those who are envious, however, transmigration is continuous.

Hayagriva dasa: Concerning karma, Jung writes this: "The crucial question is whether a man's karma is personal or not. If it is, then the preordained destiny with which a man enters life presents an achievement of previous lives, and a personal continuity therefore exists. If, however, this is not so, and an impersonal karma is seized upon in the act of birth, then that karmais incarnated again without there being any personal continuity."

Srila Prabhupada: Karma is always personal.

Hayagriva dasa: Jung goes on to point out that Buddha was twice asked by his disciples whether man's karma is personal or not, and each time he fended off the question and did not discuss the matter. To know this, the Buddha said, "would not contribute to liberating oneself from the illusion of existence."

Srila Prabhupada: Buddha refused to answer because he did not teach about the soul or accept the personal soul. As soon as you deny the personal aspect of the soul, there is no question of a personal karma. Buddha wanted to avoid this