This conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place during a morning walk in Honolulu on May 15, 1976.
Srila Prabhupada: God created everything. He created both the soul and matter.
Disciple 1: The individual soul.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Disciple 1: Srila Prabhupada, someone might ask. "You say that God created the soul. How is the soul eternal if it is created, if it has a beginning?"
Srila Prabhupada: No, the soul has no beginning. Just as God has no beginning. so the soul has no beginning.
Disciple 1: No beginning.
Srila Prabhupada: Na jayate na mriyate va: as Krsna says in theBhagavad-gita, "For the eternal soul there is neither birth nor death." That is the distinction between matter and soul.
Disciple 2: Some people may counter that if God is all-powerful. He can do anything. So couldn't it be that God creates a soul at a point in time and this soul is then eternal from that point? According to the Bible, some say, you have only one lifetime in this world. Of course, they cannot explain why some people are born in a pious setting and some are born in an impious setting.
Srila Prabhupada: They do not know the law of karma. Karmana daiva-netrena: according to one's past activities, pious or impious, he gets his next birth. That is quite reasonable. But people do not believe in karma.
When I was a student at Scottish Churches College, we had to attend a class for half an hour on the Bible. So Doctor Urquhart gave the argument that "If karma exists and I am suffering for my karma, who is the witness?"
But they do not know that the witness is God. The witness is Paramatma, the Supersoul. The Christians say "Holy Ghost" He is seeing what you are doing. So according to your actions, the Holy Ghost gives you another birth. But the Lord is present in everyone's heart, and He is observing. Bhramayan sarva-bhutani yantra-rudhani mayaya: "The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine made of the material energy."
Disciple 2: Srila Prabhupada, many Christians say that if a person doesn't become fully aware of God in this life, then he doesn't have another chance.
Srila Prabhupada: How can you say "one life"? That is a defective theory. Therefore, this philosophy cannot be accepted. Anything which is defective is not to be accepted.
Disciple: It is simply dogma.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Mere dogma is rejected. That is the Vedic process.
Disciple 1: Actually, Christ never said that. He never said you have only one life.
Srila Prabhupada: So that is real philosophy. That is real philosophy.
Disciple 1: This idea of having just one life came from the Church fathers. Perhaps it was a way of applying pressure. "You get only one life, so follow our direction."
Srila Prabhupada: That is all defective. Unscrupulous.
Disciple 3: Sometimes people say. "You cannot be successful unless you accept Christ, like us."
Srila Prabhupada: We accept. Rather, you do not accept. Jesus Christ said. "Thou shalt not kill." We strictly observe that, but you kill animals. You are not a Christian.
Disciple 4: But they may say, "The Ten Commandments are just an ideal. You're not expected to follow them perfectly."
Srila Prabhupada: No. That is your explanation. That is your concoction. As soon as you disobey the Ten Commandments, you are not a Christian. You are a heathen.
And the thing is that we should not discuss mere religious faith. Everyone has got his own concocted faith. That is not philosophy. Faith is different. "I believe," "You believe," "I don't believe" that is not philosophy.
In Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna explains, dehino 'smin yatha dehe:"As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change."
Religion without philosophy is sentiment, and philosophy without religion is mental concoction. So religion should be combined with the philosophy of the soul. Then it is perfect
Disciple 3: Srila Prabhupada, some people argue, though, that too much philosophy takes the joy out of life. They say God has put the world here for us to enjoy, so we will please Him by enjoying it.
Srila Prabhupada: You go at four A.M. to your place of work and come back at ten P.M. Is that enjoyment?
Disciple 3: But on the weekend we can go to the beach. And we can eat whatever we want.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. You can go to hell, also. Janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam: think of the miseries of birth, death, old age, and disease. Those are there. If you are suffering from disease, where is the enjoyment? Mental discomfort bodily discomfort you are taking pills thrice daily for tranquility. Is that enjoyment?
Disciple 3: They say you have to take the good with the bad.
Srila Prabhupada: This is nonsense enjoyment. Fool's paradise. For keeping the mind in tranquility, one is taking pills. For sleeping he is taking a pill. Does he enjoy that?
Disciple 3: By suffering you can get a deeper appreciation of your enjoyment
Srila Prabhupada: Then what is your enjoyment? Suffer. Then what do you call your enjoyment?