Here we continue an exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and an official from an impersonalist ("God-is-simply-everyone-and-everything") movement. The exchange took place in Paris, on August 13, 1973, with Prabhupada's disciples translating the official's remarks from French.
Official: We can have spiritual realization and still live in the material world.
Srila Prabhupada: But what is that spiritual life? What is the distinction between spiritual life and material life? What is the goal? You cannot define spiritual life.
Official: I think we should want to know how a person who has actually realized the perfection lives his life.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Official [pointedly]: Tolerant. Above all, he is tolerant.
Srila Prabhupada: "Tolerant." That is a part of spiritual life, that's all. But in your way of spiritual life, what is the process? There must be some process some definite process.
Official: That comes when you become initiated in the movement. We give you the process for arriving at this tolerance.
Srila Prabhupada: That's all right. But suppose I want to enter. So you must give me some formula "You have to do this like this." Otherwise, how can I enter?
Official: There are many techniques, but ultimately they are really all the same, be-cause they lead to the same conclusion.
Srila Prabhupada: Why don't you tell us some of the techniques?
Official: The first thing is that we have to awaken our internal consciousness, which is ninety percent asleep.
Srila Prabhupada: So, what is the process?
Official: I don't care to talk about it here.
Srila Prabhupada: Then how can I accept it? I cannot enter into some vague thing.
Official: All the systems have to do with meditation, concentration things that will reawaken your consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada: What is the object of meditation?
Official: Many different objects.
Srila Prabhupada: But tell one of them.
Official: The body, for example. There is "the eternal meditation number three."
Srila Prabhupada: So what is the "number one"?
Official: This particular meditation number three is basic. It is given to all our students.
Srila Prabhupada: "Number three," and no "number one."
Official: The idea is that you will meditate on the number three, and in this way you will wake up the consciousness in your body, starting from the tips of your toes and working upward. Now, it may seem easy to you, but all the great masters of the Orient have taught this, and no one can succeed without doing this.
Srila Prabhupada: That means your knowledge is not perfect. It is all bogus. If you meditate on the body, what do you gain?
Official: You wake up your psychic consciousness, which is sleeping inside the body.
Srila Prabhupada: But you tell me what is that process?
Official: Well, I would like to talk to you a little bit about a book I am reading, which describes how the Russians have just discovered the soul. They have photographed the soul, the soul's aura. They have found the soul, and they have described all the various phenomena of parapsychology and extrasensory perception. The Russians have made great discoveries, and the book is incredible, although I have not finished it as yet.
Srila Prabhupada: That is the Russians. I am asking about your process.
Official: Our order knows the destiny of human life, the state of Christic consciousness, nirvana call it what you will with an understanding that is a million times beyond your understanding.
Srila Prabhupada: If it is "beyond understanding," how can I accept it?
Official: This is a genuine understanding, and it is translated onto the objective level.
Srila Prabhupada: If I do not understand whom to love, how can I love?
Official: This understanding is in the heart of everyone. Simply it is a question of repressing the false ego eliminating the old man, the false ego.
Srila Prabhupada: What is that?
Official: I don't understand why you are objecting. After all, love is a part of everyone.
Srila Prabhupada: I am objecting because if you ask me to love, I want to know whom I shall love.
Official: A mystic loves everything, everyone.
Srila Prabhupada: If you love everyone, that means you love the animals, also. Does your community allow animal killing?
Official: When you come into the movement, there are no regulations required of you. But little by little, it comes to that point. Then, for a short period, our students are required to give up intoxication and meat and things like that. But it is not permanent.
Srila Prabhupada: And then they can take these things.
Official: Yes. Afterwards.
Srila Prabhupada: So in the beginning, why stop? Why, in the beginning, are your students requested to give these things up?
Official: Our order does not force any-thing, does not make you do anything.
Srila Prabhupada: But the ideal must be there. One may follow or not follow.
Official: Our order doesn't reject anyone.
Srila Prabhupada: So your order approves animal killing?
Official: There are no restrictions. The order doesn't require.
Srila Prabhupada: Then let us stop here. No more questions. This is a waste of time.