Sep 01, 2017 CANADA (SUN) Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.
XI. AMERICAN PRAGMATISM
John Dewey (1859 - 1952)
Syamasundara dasa: Dewey writes: "The good man is the man who no matter how morally worthy he has been, is moving to become better.
Growth itself is the only moral end."
Srila Prabhupada: In the beginning, a devotee may still do something wrong, but because he has taken to Krsna consciousness, he is accepted
as a sadhu.
api cet suduracaro
bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah
"Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in
devotional service, he is considered saintly because he is properly
situated." (Bg. 9.30) There may be many discrepancies in one's life, but
if one's heart is in the right place, if he is working for Krsna consciousness, he is considered a sadhu, even though he has not corrected his bad
habits. Ksipram bhavati dharmatma sasvac-chantim nigacchati. "He
quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace." (Bg. 9.31) Because he has taken to Krsna consciousness, all his bad habits will be
rectified very soon.
Syamasundara dasa: In other words, he is striving to improve his moral
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. If one takes to Krsna consciousness, his morality will gradually develop.
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akihcana
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
"All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge, and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has
developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead,
Vasudeva." (Bhag. 5. 18.12) All good qualities will automatically come.
We should stick to the four regulative principles: avoiding illicit sex,
intoxication, meat eating, and gambling. And we should chant the Hare
Krsna maha-mantra. By abiding by the orders of the spiritual master, everything will automatically develop. All good moral qualities will follow. It is not that we have to develop these qualities separately or independently. All good qualities are already there in the spirit soul, but
presently they are covered by material contamination. When we are
purified by Krsna consciousness, all these original qualities emerge.
Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate (Bhakti-rasamrta sindhu
1.1.12). We should purify our senses by engaging them in the service
of the master of the senses, Krsna. That is the process of bhakti.
Syamasundara dasa: Dewey did not believe in absolute good or evil;
each situation must be treated individually.
Srila Prabhupada: Whatever is done in Krsna consciousness is good,
and whatever is done for something other than Krsna's satisfaction is
useless, although it may be ethically correct.
Syamasundara dasa: He felt that the greatest good is the elimination of
the greatest evil. It is the fulfillment of man's greatest needs.
Srila Prabhupada: The highest objective is Krsna, Visnu. By becoming
a Vaisnava, we attain the highest perfection of human life. The greatest
need is Krsna consciousness, pure, supreme consciousness. Every living
entity is Krsna's part and parcel. Mamaivaihsno jiva-loke jiva-bhutah
sanatanah. "The living entities in this conditioned world are my eternal,
fragmental parts." (Bg. 15.7) Therefore we must always remember that,
being part and parcel of Krsna, it is our duty to serve Krsna. In perverted
consciousness, we think, "I am Krsna. I am God." That is not Krsna
Syamasundara dasa: Dewey believed that we should not choose good
or evil simply on the basis of some theory. We should choose in order
to alleviate specific evils.
Srila Prabhupada: The virat-rupa, the universal form of the Lord, was
manifest before Arjuna. Arjuna then saw that everything within the universe is part and parcel of that virat-rupa, within which everything has
a function, a duty. When we work according to that function, problems
are automatically solved.
Syamasundara dasa: For Dewey, we can never attain absolute certainty
or perfection. We can only attain higher levels of moral progress.
Srila Prabhupada: This means that he has no knowledge of absolute
Syamasundara dasa: The world can be made better by man's efforts,
but perfection in the world is not possible.
Srila Prabhupada: That is a different thing. This world is so made that
if you perfect it today, tomorrow it will deteriorate. Therefore in one sense you cannot make it perfect. But you can improve it.
vinasaya ca duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge
"In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well
as to reestablish the principles of religion, I appear Myself millennium
after millennium." (Bg. 4.8) Any bad condition can be improved by
Krsna consciousness. Krsna and Krsna consciousness are the same. If
you are in Krsna consciousness, you are living with Krsna, and if you
are living with Krsna, then what is your fear? On the battlefield of
Kuruksetra, Arjuna was fearless because Krsna was beside him.
samasrita ye padapallava-plavam
mahat- padam punya-yaso murareh
bhavambudhir vatsa- padam par am padam
padam padam yad vipadam na tesam
"For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is
the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda, the
giver of liberation, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calfs hoofprint. Vaikuntha is his goal, not the place where
there is danger at every step." (Bhag. 10.14.58) In this material world,
there is danger at every step, but as soon as we understand Krsna, we
become eligible to be transferred to the spiritual world.
janma karma ca me divyam
evarh yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so'rjuna
"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this
material world, but attains My eternal abode, 0 Arjuna." (Bg. 4.9)
Syamasundara dasa: So people are removed from all danger, or evil,
by becoming Krsna conscious?
Srila Prabhupada: Certainly. Therefore this is the best welfare activity
for the entire world. By other means, people may be able to give some
temporary benefit or temporary relief, but the situation will again deteriorate. You may give charity to a needy man, and this charity will
serve him for a temporary period, but if you give him Krsna prema, he
is immediately transferred to the spiritual world. Therefore Caitanya
Mahaprabhu is called the most munificent incarnation because He has delivered Krsna prema to the world. Namo maha-vadanyaya krsnaprema-pradaya te krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah.
Syamasundara dasa: But the goal of the utilitarians is to achieve what
the people desire and require.
Srila Prabhupada: The people desire and require happiness, but they
are searching for it in temporary things.
nayam deho deha-bhajam nrloke
kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye
tapo divyam putraka yena sattvarh
suddhyed yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv anantam
"Lord Rsabhadeva told His sons: My dear boys, of all the living entities
who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been
awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for
sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat
stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine
position of devotional service. By such activity, one's heart is purified,
and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which
is transcendental to material happiness, and which continues forever."
(Bhag. 5.5.1) Purify your existence, and you will attain eternal happiness and bliss. Everyone is working hard for happiness, but how can
happiness be attained in a diseased condition? First the disease must be
cured because it is an impediment to happiness. The real disease is
janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi (Bg. 13.9): birth, old age, disease, and death.
Cure these, and you will attain real happiness. Whatever you may desire,
the ultimate end is happiness. Unfortunately, a diseased person is thinking, "I am happy." This is false happiness. Although you are dying, you
are thinking that you are happy. This is called a fool's paradise.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust