This room conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
and a professor took place in Caracas, Venezuela on February 19, 1975.
Prabhupada: (translated into Spanish by Hrdayananda Goswami) At the present moment it is required that the leading men should understand the aims of life and introduce them into society for the general benefit of human society. In the present chaotic position of society…just like we see on the road, cars are running with great speed, this way and that way, but they do not know the aim of life. Ask any one of them “What is the aim of life, and why are you running so speedily, and what is the business?” Everyone will say, “I have got business. I am going hurriedly.” And if I ask, “What is that business?” “Business means to earn some money and maintain the family.” That’s all. To earn some money and maintain the family, or sleep or indulge in sex at night is that the aim of life? So that is my submission to the heads of the cultural movement. Is that the cultural end: to sleep at night or sex indulgence and during the day earn money and maintain the family? I am asking this question.
Professor: (translated into English by Hrdayananda Goswami) He agrees that the goal of life is not that, but that from his childhood he’s been trained in a certain way, and he has not been taught anything else. How can he achieve a different way of life?
Prabhupada: Yes, we are teaching that in this Krishna consciousness movement, how you can change it. Therefore we ask all leading men to understand this movement and join it. That is our request.
Professor: There is a question I would like to ask. I do know that it is not the aim of life just to keep your family, go to bed and have sex. But it is part of life.
Prabhupada: That I know also, everyone knows. But beyond that, there must be some aim of life.
Professor: But being so… I think that there is… There should be some kind of humbleness, the necessary humbleness.
Prabhupada: No, humbleness is of course a good qualification, but you will find the humbleness in animals too, very humble. If you cut his throat, he will not say anything. So humbleness, that is another thing, but what should be the aim of life? What is the actual aim of life? If we forget the aim of life and simply become humble like an ass, is that a very good qualification? The ass is very humble. You load tons upon it and it will not protest. Very humble.
Hrdayananda: He says that the goal of life is to achieve the transcendence.
Prabhupada: Yes, right. The goal of life is realization of transcendence. So, that they are forgetting. They have made their goal of life sense gratification.
Professor: What kind of transcendence would that be?
Prabhupada: Transcendence means the Absolute Truth. What do you mean by transcendence?
Professor: By transcendence, I understand it, the universal consciousness. The search for God.
Prabhupada: Yes, you are right. This human life is distinguished from animal life because the animal cannot enquire about transcendence. If man is not interested in transcendence, then he is animal. If he is simply interested with the bodily demands of life, namely eating, sleeping, sex, and defense, these are bodily demands of life. So if we think that “Dog is eating on the street, and we are eating very palatable dishes, nicely made, very tasteful this is advancement of civilization,” that is not advancement of civilization because it is, after all, eating. Similarly, sleeping; the animals sleep on the street and we sleep in a very nice apartment. But in sleeping, we dream horrible things more than the animals. So eating, sleeping, sex life and trying for defense these are common formulas both for the animals and for the man. Therefore a human being is distinguished from the animal when he enquires about transcendence. And that is explained in the great literature Brahma-sutra, or the philosophy of Vedanta-sutra, athato brahma jijnasa: “Now we have got this human form of life. We must enquire about the Brahman, or transcendence.” So our bodily necessities of life should be simplified as much as it is required. We must save time for enquiring about transcendence. So unless we enquire about the transcendence, then we are two-legged animals. This is culture, this is the aim of life.
Professor (Hrdayananda): He’s saying that in European history, in the name of looking for transcendence, there have been so many wars, hatred between men, and, you may know, in Spain they had what is called the Inquisition where they burned so many people. And so he’s saying, psychologically, that his brain tells him that in the name of searching after transcendence there has been so much bad, so how is this different?
Prabhupada: The difference is transcendence is beyond our mind, bodily activities, mental activities or intelligence. The European philosophers and transcendentalists, they do not actually know what is transcendence. They understand that there is something, but they do not know what it is. Therefore they speculate by their imperfect senses. Gradually it becomes craziness. Therefore you find that defect.