Here we continue an exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples. It took place in Los Angeles on the morning of December 13, 1973, during a walk along the Pacific shore.
Srila Prabhupada: Now it is our choice: "Am I going to get a dog's body or a god's body?" That choice you can make. That is the meaning of having the human form of body. A dog cannot choose to elevate himself in his next life. He has no such discriminatory power. But you can do that. So if you do not do that, then you are missing your real opportunity. Yanti deva-vrata devan pitrn yanti pitr-vratah: "Those who worship the demigods will go to the planets of the demigods. Those who worship Me will come to My abode." This is what Krsna assures us in Bhagavad-gita. Anywhere you like you can go. So you must use the human form of body properly.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, does the government also have the responsibility to protect people from having to take a dog body?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is the government's duty to see that the citizens do not degrade themselves. For example, a responsible father thinks, "Now these children are under my protection. So I must see that they get a proper education and make advancement in their lives." This is the father's duty. Of course, today the father thinks, "Let them go to hell." That's all. Today fathers are acting in that way. Nevertheless, their duty still remains.
Similarly, the government's duty is to see that the citizen makes progress. Unfortunately, your modern government leaders do not know what is meant by progress what is the real aim of human life. They do not know. So how will they guide? They think, like cats and dogs, "If you can eat more and more, then your life is successful." Their thinking is very poor. Simply physical strength they think that is success. They do not reflect that the elephant has so much physical strength, the tiger has so much physical strength, but what is the meaning of their lives? What spiritual realization can they attain? After all, they are animals. And yet your leaders are thinking like them. "If you simply get strength like an elephant or a tiger, then your life is successful."
These leaders think like that because they do not know the actual aim of life. A dog does not know the aim of life. Even if I say, "Self-realization is the aim of life," the dog will not understand, because his body is unsuitable for higher, spiritual understanding. But a human being can understand. That is why there are so many books of knowledge. So if people do not get this proper knowledge, they are missing the point of life. Parabhavas tavad abodha-jato yavan na jijnasata atma-tattvam: As long as one does not come to the point of understanding the spirit soul, whatever he is doing is being defeated, because the main point is missing.
Just like cats and dogs, people are accepting the temporary material body as the self, and they are working on that platform. Therefore, their lives are being spoiled. So our mission is to save the human being from wasting his life like that of the animals. This is our mission. It is the greatest humanitarian work.
Disciple: But, Srila Prabhupada, Krsna has given us free will, by which we can accept or reject the godly life. Should the government take away that free will, that choice?
Srila Prabhupada: No. That is not possible. Free will cannot be taken away and cannot be granted. It is always there within us. Krsna says that from all eternity, He has given us free will. But His personal advice is, "I am now telling you these most confidential words. Control your so-called free will. Just surrender to Me." This understanding is the most confidential. "If you surrender to Me, that is good for you. But if you go on simply reveling in your free will, you'll not be happy."
In spiritual life there is still free will. When you rise to the Krsna conscious platform, you serve Krsna with free will. Not that you become a stone. There is free will. For instance, in the temple the devotees are dressing Krsna's form very artistically. Is there no free will? And in the kitchen, they are also creating sumptuous preparations for Krsna. Is there no free will? Free will is there.
The Mayavadi philosopher or the Buddhist philosopher says, "Stop this free will and then you'll become happy." But our proposition is not to stop our free will but to purify our free will. Purify.
For instance, if your eye is suffering from a cataract, cure the cataract. Keep the eye. But the impersonalist or Buddhist proposition is, "Get that eye out and throw it away. Then there will be no more bother in seeing what is right and wrong, what is pure and impure."
This is the impersonalists' proposition. Nirvisesa-vadi. Nirvisesa means no individuality, no personality, no variety: "Everything is one." And the Buddhists' proposition: sunyavadi. Sunya means, "Everything is zero." If ultimately everything is one or zero, then there is no question of right and wrong.
So our philosophy is neither of these. There is no "All is one"; there is no "All is zero." We don't say such things. There are varieties. But they're purified varieties. Tat-paratvena nirmalam. Nirmalam means "purified." So our process is to purify everything. We don't want to stop everything. That is not our proposition. The impersonalists and Buddhists cannot find any solution to the world's problems. That is why they want to put everything to a stop: "Stop this business."
Suppose a business is not going very nicely. It is operating at a loss. So somebody says, "Close it."
But an experienced man comes and says, "Why should you close it? All right. I shall do it properly. You'll get a profit."
So which man is better? The first, who says, out of disappointment, "Close this business. There is no profit"? Or the second, who says, "No, don't close it. We shall show a profit. Just manage it properly"?
This is our proposition. We don't say, "Stop all these material activities." No. "Just do it properly, so that you get real profit and real benefit." That is our program. We don't want to make everything zero. No. Why shall we make it all zero? Everything can be taken and fully spiritualized.
For instance, in the typical firm the workers are not thinking about the proprietor. Nearly everyone is putting some of the firm's assets into his pocket. So with the assets being stolen, how will the firm go on nicely?
Similarly, these rascal government leaders have no idea who is the proprietor of the world. So they are acting in their nonsensical, stealing way, and therefore there is confusion. The business is not profitable.
On the other hand, if the workers accept "No, the real proprietor is such-and-such gentleman, and he wants us to perform our work like this" then the business will be profitable.
Similarly, every one of us in the material world is thinking he is the proprietor. So how will this "firm" profit? This is the real situation. Everyone is thinking he is the proprietor. He forgets he is a worker. He is not the proprietor. That is the mistake. Therefore, the "firm" is being mismanaged, and there is no profit simply chaos. That is the situation.