30th September 2002 - Q&A in Finland

Question from Dr.Rocher Meyer:
What is the relationship between the mind and the consciousness?
Because the mind seems to control all the distinctions we can do.
And the second question is how can we live in Krishna - consciousness alone?

Answer: There is consciousness and there is contaminated consciousness and Srila
Prabhupada is giving an example that light or water is in its own natural
state clear but it can become mixed with some substance, colored substance,
and then takes on color in itself like blue light or some muddy water, or
you can put some dye into the water and also make it yellow, red or blue .
These colours are used to symbolize the three modes or gunas - sattva, rajas,
tamas.

So these colors then mix and produce other colors. Even in its colored
stage the light and water are itself clear and they never really become
colored.The color is an addition, a mix. But it still remains what it is,
light and water.

So consciousness is originally pure, but becomes mixed in the jiva because
our consciousness is so small in comparison to Krsna. It can become mixed
with the modes of nature and then out of this mixture there arises, within
the realm of, what we call the contaminated consciousness,
the subtle mechanism of how consciousness interacts with gross matter. That
subtle mechanism is the mind and the manas, the buddhi and the ahamkara.
We generally often see that the three are just
taken together under one heading, called the mind, and sometimes it's even so
that the mind itself, the word mind can be used for contaminated
consciousness. The mind is consciousness but it is consciousness what have
become diseased. Consciousness that has become addicted to association with
matter.

So you can compare mind with some focusing instrument, like in the
telescope there is that little nob and you bring it into focus and you can
see the moon clearly, or anything in great distance you see clearly.
Our mind is like that and focuses its attention on different things in this
world. You can have someone, or something, right in front of you, or even
someone talking to you but your mind can take you away from that and you are
focused inside on something else completely different. So this is the mind's
business to focus our consciousness on certain things. So what is happening
is that what we call the material mind focuses our consciousness on matter
and there is an addictive quality to that association that we become very much
inamorated with matter, absorbed in trying to enjoy in this world and it
becomes very hard for us to give it up.

Now we can just refer to a very well-known psychological fenomena. People
develop habits, and we can see if someone is developing a habit for smoking
or a habit for anything and it is very difficult to give up because of the
mind's stubborness. So the material mind as a whole, in total, has been brought
into this addictive relationship with matter at the cost of our Krsna consciousness,
but still, as I mentioned in the beginning, the underlying principle is the
consiousness. The mind is simply consciousness with the problem, or diseased
consciousness, addicted consciousness, and addiction in this material world can
be cured, and mainly the cure comes from good association.

Like they have such organizations like A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) for
instance, which means that person who has this
alcoholic addiction, which is psychological sickness, he comes into this
organization where they are dedicated to breaking this addiction and he gets
help and support from other ex-alcoholics, who are very concerned with
him. In this way it becomes possible by association. So the same is true
in Krsna consciousness. It is by this sanga, sat sanga, sadhu sanga, that a
person can break this addiction to matter and refocuse the consciousness on
Krsna. That is also the subtle mechanism, but that is the spiritual mind
because everything in this material world is a perverted reflection of the
spiritual reality, spiritual tattvas. The principle of the mind is
originally spiritual, that we have consciousness and consciousness should be
focused on something.

So there is the spiritual mind which is the place of
bhava, of spiritual emotions, just like our material mind is a place for our
material emotions. Spiritual emotions naturally rush to Krsna and in this
way the consciousness is focused on Krishna, through the emotions of the
spiritual mind. That is all there in us, but it is dormant, it has gone to
sleep, so to speak.

So we revive that by assosiation with the devotees of the Lord and in our
sampradaya coming from Sri Caitanya Mahabrabhu, the principle of sadhu sanga
is extremely important. Mahaprabhu has said in Caitanya Caritamrita that
the root of Krsna bhakti is sadhu sanga (krsna bhakti janma mula hoya sadhu
sanga). So the root, mula, of Krsna-bhakti is sadhu-sanga. That is the basis
of everything. Rupa Goswami in listing the stages up to prema, to the
development of loving God, he begins ...adhau sraddha, first one has faith
and the faith brings one to sadhu sanga. And then everything develops from
there.

Question from Dr. Rocher Meyer:
Can a mentally handicaped person become Krishna conscious during his life?

Answer: Yes...well of course mental handicap means the result of some vikarma,
some misfortune, or bad karma according to a person's past. I suppose it is
a question of a degree also, but persons who are still reasonably sentient
they can still develop attraction to chant Hare Krsna, to take Krsna
prasadam, to associate with the devotees, to understand at least the basic
points of the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness.

And I have seen this. In Boston, where I was a new devotee, there was
a home for handicaped people, and
there was one man, physically and mentally handicaped, in wheelchair and his
mind was not so clear but he would come to evening arati practically every
day. Because Krsna-consciousness is spiritual then naturally the
attraction can be awakened even in mentally handicaped person, but like I
said, it is question of a degree. It can become so severe that then there is
no distinction in level of awareness, intelligence of that person and an
animal. Animals don`t have the capacity to understand philosophy or really
anything higher then what the senses tell them, so that would be difficult.
Although the Hare Krishna maha mantra benefits all living entities who come
in contact with it, even animals and plants or microbs. That vibration is
all-beneficial, but the results of that benefit will be seen later on, not
usually immediately, but later on in the next life.

Question from Tattvavada d:
A few years ago it came many times up this statement of Srila Prabhupada:
"devotees should become independently thoughtful". Seems there are many varietes
of understanding this. What it really means?

Answer: It immediately comes to mind... Prabhupada's story of one great
brahmana who lived in Krsna Nagar near Mayapur, at the time of the Bengali
king, Maharaja Krishnacandra. That's the story, I think you might even
know it. This brahmana was so great, he was so famous for his learning, so
the king came to visit him and requested: you come to my court, you become
member of my raja-pandit, to be pandit of the king and I will take care of
you and you`ll have everything. You are so famous, you should be in my
entourage.

But the brahmana refused. He said "I`m happy here" and pointed to a tamarind
tree that grew next to his house, which was very small and simple.
And he said "this tamarind tree, my wife is plucking its pods every day and
my students bring me rice, so she cooks the tamarind and the rice together
and I eat that each day, that's enough for me. I teach my students
underneath this tree. I`m satisfied..."

So Srila Prabhupada in commenting on this said: the whole aim of vedic
culture is to bring persons to this point of independence. But this is in
spiritual sense...you see the brahmana by his learning, by his spiritual
advancement, he was not tempted by any nice material situation. So the real
independence is on the strength of spiritual realization and austerity, one
is independent one cannot be goapted.

In the material society, those who have more money they buy teachers,
they buy the priests, mundane people. They pay them off and they speak on
behalf of this rich man's interests. They become puppets, the teachers and
priests. They speak on his behalf and he feels everything is okay. "I`m
learned man because this learned man says I`m learned. I`m saintly person
because this saintly person says I`m saintly."

But he is paying them off, so they are not learned or saintly either, they
are just materialists. This is the meaning of being DEPENDENT.
Real independence means depending only on Krishna and being prepared to
undergo any austerity just to depend on Krishna. So certainly Krishna
consciousness is encouraging this type of independence.

Then I was also recently reading something where Srila Prabhupada was
stressing the importance of that in devotional service - each devotee has the
responsibility for situating himself properly. In a way that is satisfying.
Situating himself in devotional service we have to examine our spiritual
life and do the things that will keep us enthousiastic, keep us on the path
of progress. We will have to decide for ourselfes to certain extent what is
best for us in our personal spiritual life.

This is like the principle of
bhajan. There is bhajan and there is the mission of preaching to the world -
sankirtan, maha sankirtan, bhajan means the devotional service which
pertains to us as individuals. And that principle is there in the pure
devotional service. We have to be personally satisfied and then we can
preach with full enthusiasm. It`s not a question with one versus the other,
both have to be there. But in order to be representing Krishna consciousness
to the fullest when people meet a preacher, they will be impressed "oh,
this person is really enlivened... this person is really well situated
..this is someone I can trust ..and follow..." so the preacher has to be
(one line missing)...

And there may be a preacher who derives all of his personal satisfaction simply
out of just preaching, but I have never really met anyone like
that...(laughing). Even Srila Prabhupada...of course you cannot make
radical separation between the two, but even Srila Prabhupada had his work of
translating, which also... the final result was preaching. But Prabhupada
used to say: this is my extasy, to rise up very early in the morning and go
through Caitanya Caritamrita and Srimad Bhagavatam and the other great
Vaisnava literatures.And to read them in the original language and meditate
deeply and to give the translation into English with dictaphone .This was
Prabhupada's own personal service that he did himself.

He had disciples who became learned in Sanskrit, they helped him, but he
never, while he was on the planet, turned the work over to them. He could
have done. We know when Prabhupada left, the Bhagavatam was not finished, so some
of his disciples, learned disciples, they completed the Bhagavatam and that
could have been done in Prabhupada's life, in his presence on this planet,
but HE wanted to do it.

And of course there is the point that he is the pure
devotee and therefore the best translator..that's true, but... HE wanted to
do it, it was for him very relishable to do this. So you can see even
in Srila Prabhupada the principle of bhajan. And he put it this way by
saying "this is my own personal extasy" Of course Prabhupada was
travelling, preaching, managing. He was doing all that too, but this he did
as own personal...you can almost use the word... private, intimate service.

So I was reading how Prahupada was saying, every devotee is responsible to
see that he is well situated in devotional service.
This is the principle of refinding our Krsna consciousness, we cannot just
go through life, year after year like zombies programmed by someone else,
because then where is our own consciousness? Like keyboard inside of our head
and someone is pushing the keys and we are automatically doing. But then
where is our own contribution from our heart?

You see...Of course we should enjoy in receiving duties for Krsna. But we
also have to see that cent per cent in my own life, in my own heart, I`m
engaged, I`m finding satisfaction.

There cannot be some emptiness, vague area where I`m just spaced out.
So many times devotees are coming to me, they are like in a state on
wonderment "what I`m doing is it right? I don`t know." This kind of grey
area. But we have to pay attention to fill that out. There should not be
a foggy, grey area in our mind when we are not sure what we are doing.

So this is what Prahupada is saying we have to take responsibility for
filling that out. So this is perhaps what you are indicating in your question.
We have some bad experience with devotees seeking some independence,
sometimes this is not trusted so much, particularly by managers. Because they
see that often, in the name of finding deeper meaning in Krishna
consciousness, devotees sometimes go off to their own realm of activities
that are totally separate from the ISKCON mission, or very much separate from
ISKCON mission. Well,whether that is good or not for the devotees can be seen
from their level of purity in Krsna consciuosness.

So if someone goes away on their own and is becoming slacker and slacker in
devotional service, less and less committed for example to the regulative
principles of Krishna consciousness. Less and less committed to reading
Srila Prabhupada's books, preaching from Srila Prabhupada's books. Less and
less committed to engaging themselves in Srila Prabhupada's mission and more
and more self absorded and putting rubberstamp "Krsna consciousness" on
everything they do.

But what they do may not be really that comfortable, I mean...everything you
do, you can always say "I`m doing for Krsna", it's kind of mantra which makes
you feel better. So that has to be seen. Someone who is becoming weaker and weaker
in Krsna consciousness in the name of independence, for him this is not a very
good choice. But on the other side we cannot forget Prabhupada's own example.
See from Prabhupada's own example that he was saying: "I never lived in a temple."
Prabhupada was independent, he always lived outside and he always...

...some went preaching with some success, but Prabhupada was thinking of
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's overall vision of spreading Krsna
consciousness to the whole world, not just some region, local area in India,
10-20 km, one certain matha in some place in India. He was thinking of the whole
world and this was the emphasis of his spiritual master. That his spiritual
master wanted to see, that was the goal he wanted to see, coming out of his
institution, the Gaudiya matha. So Gaudiya matha became crippled because of
politics, political fighting and all of that after Bhaktisiddhanta
Sarasvati left. And because Prabhupada was independent of that, he didn't
become involved in those things and he just continued to meditate on his
spiritual master's mission.

There are symptoms. Prabhupada was independent from his spiritual master's
institution after his departure, even at the time of his spiritual master. He was
dependent on the orders of his spiritual master, but he was not part of his
spiritual master's institutional work. But he was, yes, fully dependent on
his Guru Maharaja. And so that sincerity bore visible fruit.Prabhupada did
not become weaker and weaker. He become stronger and stronger. As a visible fruit.

So like it says in New Testament, you judge them by their fruit.
So Prabhupada himself, in assessing a conclusion to this, he did say
devotional service is like business, he gave this analogy. Devotional
service to Krsna can be compared to business in that sense, that if you want
to make business, where do you go? You go to the market, the business market,
it is the best place. But if you are very very expert businessman you can make
business in your own house. You are so expert that everyone comes to you. That
was like Prabhupada. Prabhupada was so expert. The market means the institution
like Gaudiya matha or ISKCON. So if you are in a category of ordinary businessman
then it's better to stay in the institution.

If someone is extraordinary, he can make business outside the institution.
But if one is ordinary and goes outside the institution, he cannot do
business, one will just fall down. So it's sad that this sahajiya propensity
of prakrta sahajiyas, is to overestimate their position, this is what they
always do. This was explained to me by Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja very nicely,
because he has lot of experience in preaching in Bengal and Bangladesh. He
knows very well these people, prakrta sahajiyas.
So he said in sahajiya culture those who are neophytes, they want to be as
soon as possible recognized as uttama devotees, uttama adhikaris. And once
they get that recognizion, they want to jump to position of being avataras.
That is their idea of advancement. It's like advancement in profile and what
others think of them. In sahajiya society one who becomes a guru, a recognized
leader, he will proclaim, or will be proclaimed by his followers as an avatara.

Maharaja told me about one brahmacari who was succesfull in preaching in Bangladesh.
Preaching and sankirtan...this is not Gaudiya matha, this is the common
place...because Gaudiya vaisnavism is common place in Bangladesh...
so he was a brahmacari and became succesfull and he was gathering lot of
followers. The foremost of his followers, the oldest ones, came to him
one day: Maharaja, now it's time for you to declare yourself as an avatara...

And they have their selfish reasons for this. Then they can become the
eternal associates, the uttama. Just like Mahaprabhu's associates, we say
they are nitya-siddha, uttama. So this is their plan to rise to that platform of
recognition, and then when the guru departs they can become avataras, after
him, or maybe at the same time.

In India it really gets so wild. There is one, this is now in the mayavadi
realm, nothing to do with Vaisnavism, but just to show how things work.
In this mileue there is one person, sannyasi so to speak, who is a yoga
teacher, quite well known. Part of his strategy of being well known all over
the India was that he went to, and became disciple of one earlier famous
yoga-teacher, named Sivananda, who founded...still going on "Sivananda yoga
society". And he is very very big name in spiritual circles in India.
So this person went as a young man and became his disciple and learned from
him. And after he thought he learned enough, he broke away from his
spiritual master and his institution and set up his own yoga society
teaching according to his own realization. But when he would give lectures
the banners advertising his lectures would give his name and then say
ex-disciple of Sivananda...as if that is something to be proud of (laughter).

What is that? Still trying to get some glory out of that, although it
is broken. This is the type of sahajiya mentality. It is completely
motivated, they come into association with saintly persons to get something.
And as soon as they think they got it, they have no reservation for going
away, breaking all connections and going away and even saying: I used to
belong to them. There are people who say: I used to belong to Hare
Krsnas, but now I have gone beyond that...(more laughter) But whether one is
actually going beyond has to be seen. As I said, there are the benchmarks,
clear symptoms of someone who is making advancement in spiritual life.

The main point I want to leave this issue on is neither by looking who is
in the institutioin and who is outside. That gives some good indication.
Still we have Srila Prabhupada who was not in the institution of his
spiritual master, but still in his heart was his sincere follower and he
showed it. And even Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati indicated. Because his
disciples wanted to bring Prabhupada more into Gaudiya matha. And he said,
never mind when the time comes he will do everything, you just leave him
alone. So this was recognized by the spiritual master... so everything
ultimately comes down to this, disciple and spiritual master.

Question from Tattvavada d:
We have seen sometimes that devotees are obedient to their guru and fixed in
their service, later their relationships with their spiritual master
changes, they are like demanding something etc. It looks like this guru
avajna offence.

They seem to miss the point that guru is a representative of God, they may
go to this and that guru...is there something in our training what we could
emphasize... or how could we avoid developing this kind of offensive
mentality? (lines slightly reworked -Mrd)

Answer: Well... at the point of training, of course we should always aspire to
improve everything in the Krsna consciousness movement, including the
training of our devotees. This is a fact, but keep in mind that the
power to choose, free will, is the power of living entity. The jiva is
called tatashta sakti. Sakti means power and tatashta means borderline, so
this is the power of the jiva. Jiva has really no other power than that,
except to be under the spiritual potency or under the material potency,
Krishna or Maya. Prabhupada insisted on this, that jiva can exercise that
choose at any point, even the jiva situated in the spiritual world can
exercise it's power to chose in that way and she comes back down to material
world.

What to speak of living entity who is still embodied and has chosen the
spiritual path and made some progress, some advancement in Krsna
consciousness. He can at any point choose to slide back into material
consciousness. And Srila Prabhupada said that Krishna will never interfere
with the free will of the jiva at no point.

So training and all that, very nice, but...
there is no way to program the living entity to remove the "chip" that
allows him to choose wrong. The original formula of love that is shared
between Krsna and the living entity is the formula of free will, because it
cannot be love if it is not voluntary. These are all themes of that one
question, that if Krsna is so perfect and the spiritual world so nice, why
there is material world, why would anyone choose to come here?

The implication is that Krsna should arrange things in such a perfect way that
there is no more choice left. But if that would happen then there would be
no love. Because love must be voluntary, love cannot be programmed. You
cannot love someone either by force or just by loss of willpower.
Like I sometimes say, put a gun to their head: "LOVE ME!" Of course he will say
but he doesn't mean it, he is just scared.

Or more subtle loss of will power,hypnotized. You are under my power, say you
love me .."I love you", that also may seem like love. In one sense it may seem
like perfection - everyone is now without any power to choose otherwise, but
it is not. The real perfection is there in the spiritual world where everyone is
agreeing freely to serve and love Krsna.

So Krishna never interferes with the free will of the jiva.
I think that phenomena must always be there, choosing at any stage. As we
have seen in our history of ISKCON, ISKCON purana. Even those who have risen
to the topmost of the hierarcy of the institution, who
became gurus and top leaders, they have sometimes chosen to go back to the
material affairs. As devotees we don't like to see it happen, but it
happens and will be going on to happen.

We shouldn't be fatalists "there is
nothing we can do, so don't do anything." We should try, because we are
servants of Krsna and we should always try to make things better. But the
free will of the living entity is never to be interfiered with.
To why it specefically happens...in my experience people try to give
specific reasons of why they got off the straight path of Krishna
consciousness and got into different level of compromising with the
material consciousness, the whole history of things. They give reasons like
someone mistreated me ten years ago and whatever. It's often seen they
have some sad story they tell how it happened, but I think anyone can
make that kind of argument. If I wanted to, I could certainly say a whole
history of all the bad things that happened to me, how this or that big
leader 30 years ago, when I was a new devotee, didn't pay good attention to me,
mistreated me, neglected me, promised me something and didn't deliver it.

Prabhupada said you can find fault with anyone, even with me, because
finding fault is one of the qualifications for being in this material
world. That is one of the things people do in the material world, they find
fault to excuse themselves.

But I think in spiritual life it's not valid. Because this finding fault
pertains only to material circumstances. But we are spiritual soul. When we
read Bhagavad Gita, the spiritual soul is above, Krsna says to Arjuna.
This whole Bhagavad gita, this all comes back to Arjuna's
lamenting. And we see in Arjuna's lamentations, he is also making excuses for
himself and he is also saying: look at the situation. I have to fight near
and dear relatives, this is terrible. How can you make me do this Krsna?

Prabhupada said, giving from a point of view of material logic, it is very
persuasive. But Krsna immediately cuts this down. By reminding Arjuna:
you are not this body. All of these conditions you are bringing up as reasons
why you have to quit this fight, they are all bodily conscious
and you are not the body. You make all these wise words you are speaking,
all this lamentation, it's actually not real, you are missing the point.
And that it is where it comes down, I think...

However persuasive argument anyone can make. To say I suffered, I was abused
this and that, this is inplied to bodily consciousness. Because
suffering only happens in body and in material mind. So this type of
argument, the underlying message is: I'm my body. I'm my mind.
Therefore I'm suffering and this is not accessible.

I can look back my 30 years in ISKCON and look for so many things, but you see
I'm here, because I believe what there is in Srila Prabhupada's books
and I believe, I know that I`m not this body. So I know to argue in this way
is really a waste of time, it's missing the real point, being that we are
eternal spiritual soul. And all this conception that I'm suffering, I'm
unfortunate, I was mislead, this that, this that, all that perteins only to
embodied life. And according to Bhagavad-gita we have to cut ourselves off
from that.

That's the only way. This continuing to have one foot in the material world
on the plea "well we cannot be so fanatical", it will lead to trouble in
spiritual life. Someone who insists on keeping one foot in material world
and one foot in Krsna consciousness, somewhere along the line Krsna is gonna
force them to make a choice "both feet on one side please", Krsna will say
"either both on my side or both feet on side of maya".

Krishna will force it. And all this type of argumentations, actually in the
end when you really trace out the logic, they are blaming Krsna.
They may not say so directly, but this appealing to circumstances and
authorities and this and that, things that happened. Everything that happens
to devotee's life, Krsna is behind that. And Krsna will presents things for us
to see how we choose.

Will we choose Him or will we choose maya, where is our ashraya, shelter?
Is it really at Krsna's lotus feet or at mama's lotus feet? Mama, being the
mother principle of material world. Do we want to go back to Godhead or back
home to mama? And that's what Krsna wants to see. And Krsna arranges things,
yes. He does test us and He does provoke us, it's a fact. Krsna is doing this,
because Krsna cares about us. And that we have to understand. And someone who
is clinging to false ego, it is very difficult for them to see.

Just like someone who is unknowingly
in danger. He is loitering in street corner, enjoying himself and thinking
I'm the most handsome person in here, dressed in fine clothing and trying
attract attention to himself. And then there is someone else coming by, and
looks up, in building many floors up, there are these window washers and a
bucket has dropped and is coming down to this other person and out of
concern, out of mercy, he pushes this person. And this person with all his
nice clothing and new haircut ends up in a ditch, becomes dirty etc.
And the bucket crashes down just where the person was standing.
But he doesn't care. He starts shouting "Who are you!!!???Rascal!!"

So someone who is too much absorbed in false ego cannot appreciate how
Krsna is actually helping us and saving us. Someone who is too much absorbed
in false ego means they are still attached to that which is not good for the
spirit soul. They don't want to give it up. And that's what Krsna is always
pushing, pushing, pushing: "Give up all this nonsense, give up all this maya.
Stand on your own two feet as liberated spiritual soul. Give up these
attachments. Stop leaning on material energy, lean on Me."

Krsna provokes us to see which way we will actually go.
Particularly those who come into this movement, they are supposed to be
devotees of Krsna. But if they are still maintaining material attachemnts
Krsna is going to expose that. Krsna is going to unsettle them.
And that is His mercy. Like the man, who was pushed into ditch to save his
life, refused to understand this, he is still too much clinging to false ego,
ahamkara. Just refuses to see it. All he can see "I was pushed, this
happened to me and that...I got dirty." But it was to save your life!
But they have no appreciation for that. Because they are really not that
serious about Krsna consciousness.

(Sorry for my mistakes in writing or hearing)

Your servant
Muniraja das

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