Here we continue a conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the mother of one of his students, along with a Jesuit priest. It took place in the garden at Bhaktivedanta Manor, near London, England, on July 25, 1973.

Mother (to Srila Prabhupada:): Yes, Father. Education should prepare the student for the next life. But also, in this life, he must also learn to fit in.

Back To Godhead - Srila Prabhupada

Jesuit Priest: All the Catholic universities all over the world are doing it. That's our main purpose to teach the young man and the young girl the success in this world, but above all is the success in the next, which means union with God for eternity. That's top priority. And following Christ's words "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," then all the other things are of very minor importance. It's closeness to God and return to be one with the beatific vision in heaven. That's the top priority, that's our aim in education, and that's what Michael was taught when he was at Sunnyhurst.

And that he does well and gets a degree . . . yes, very good thing. He could be a doctor or an architect or a leader in commerce, what have you all of which are essential for the well-being of the world.

This time last year, I was dead. I was picked up as unconscious in the corridor. And the doctors said that I had experienced . . . I was as near death as one can get. Well, if it hadn't been for the skill of the man that looked after me, I wouldn't be here this afternoon.

Srila Prabhupada: So my next life how will it be ascertained? What kind of body am I going to in my next life?

Jesuit Priest: I don't think it matters very much. I couldn't care less what's happening after I'm dead. All I know . . . there's not annihilation. I'm going to be joined with Almighty God.

Srila Prabhupada: No. Our faith cannot be blind.

Mother: We're going to Almighty God. That's all.

Jesuit Priest: Not that I want another life.

Srila Prabhupada: Eh?

Mother: We're going to Almighty God when we die. We don't have to worry.

Jesuit Priest: That's in His hands.

Srila Prabhupada: So what is the qualification?

Mother: We know. We . . .

Srila Prabhupada: Everybody is going to God?

Mother: Yes. Everybody who believes in God . . . yes . . . and leads a good life, does their best in this world. And that is truth for me.

Srila Prabhupada: Then the question comes, "What is a 'good life'?"

Jesuit Priest: Obeying the commandments of God.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. So if the commandment is "Thou shalt not kill" and if somebody kills, so that is a "good life"?

Jesuit Priest: No, no, no. Father, you're being a bit unfair. It isn't . . . There has to be interpretation. "Thou shalt not kill": thou shalt not unjustly take away life. If a man walks in this afternoon through those bushes with a revolver, I have every right . . . I'm not saying I'm going to do it . . . but I have every right to defend myself against that unjust aggressor. And if I kill him . . .

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, you can. You can protect yourself.

Jesuit Priest: . . . that is justified.

Mother: Yes.

Srila Prabhupada: You can kill the aggressor but when you kill an innocent animal, what is the reason?

Jesuit Priest: Oh, well, then . . . yes. Well, again, that's got to be interpreted. We wouldn't be able to . . . What food . . . How would we live on food? How do we live if we don't eat?

Srila Prabhupada: How are we living?

Jesuit Priest: Pardon?

Srila Prabhupada: How are we living?

Jesuit Priest: Well, I don't know.

Srila Prabhupada: We don't kill animals.

Jesuit Priest: I don't know what your food is, but . . .

Mother: No, but you have a vegetarian diet . . .

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Mother: . . . which is . . .

Jesuit Priest: Well, all right.

Mother: A lot of people have that.

Srila Prabhupada: But that is not killing.

Jesuit Priest: No, Father, look at it this way. You've just said a few minutes ago there are eight million different kinds of life. Would you agree that the apple, the cabbage . . .

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Jesuit Priest: . . . and what have you also has a life?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Jesuit Priest: Because there's vegetative life, there's sensitive life, there's rational life, . . .

Srila Prabhupada: That's all right.

Jesuit Priest: . . . there's supernatural life, and there's a life of God.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Jesuit Priest: All right. And therefore I'm not being facetious when you make a dessert and boil those apples, you are taking away the life of that apple.

Srila Prabhupada: So what is your philosophy? That you can take any life?

Jesuit Priest: But you said, "Thou shall not kill."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. "Thou shall not kill." That's all right.

Jesuit Priest: But you kill the apple.

Srila Prabhupada: Now, suppose there is an apple and there is your child. So would you like to kill your child in preference to the apple?

Mother: No, no.

Jesuit Priest: You've not answered my question.

Srila Prabhupada: Why this discrimination?

Jesuit Priest: Why you've not answered my question?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, I am answering you that you are to kill, but you have to discriminate what kind of killing you shall do.

Jesuit Priest: Well, I've just said that. I gave the example of the chap who comes to you with a revolver. I can maybe protect myself. You said . . . you're implying . . .

Srila Prabhupada: No, no. When somebody comes with a revolver, you defend. That is another thing. But if somebody's innocent, why should you kill?

Jesuit Priest: And I say I shouldn't. God said, "Thou shalt not kill."

Srila Prabhupada: Then why are you killing animals?

Jesuit Priest: Well, you're doing it when you eat your apple.

Srila Prabhupada: No. The apple is not an animal.

Jesuit Priest: It's vegetation, life.

Srila Prabhupada: No. The apple is not an animal, not a life. It is a fruit.

Jesuit Priest: Is that tree alive?

Srila Prabhupada: The apple is simply a fruit.

Jesuit Priest: Is that tree alive?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Jesuit Priest: Has it got life?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Jesuit Priest: Are you doing anything wrong when you cut it down . . . ?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Jesuit Priest: . . . to provide . . . ?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Jesuit Priest: To provide . . . ?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Jesuit Priest: You are doing something wrong?

Srila Prabhupada: We don't cut trees down unnecessarily. Unnecessarily.

Jesuit Priest: No, but . . . But, uh . . . I don't kill.

Srila Prabhupada: No. But I have asked this question to so many people: Why are you killing although it is prohibited "Thou shall not kill"? They cannot give me any satisfactory answer.

Jesuit Priest: Well, I think I've given you one. I'm just thinking in a way . . .

Srila Prabhupada: Killing innocent animals and taking an apple from the tree, you are making equalized. It is not very logical.