Reproduction of a conversation between Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Major Rana N. J. Bahadur at Armadale, Darjeeling on June 14th, 1935, originally published in “The Harmonist” on June 27, 1935, Vol. XXXI, No.21.
The Correct Angle Of Vision
Question: I cannot understand this world.
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati: It is camp life. This world is not our original abode. It is meant for certain purposes. After that we are to proceed to our original home. This world is not a desirable place. It is not good to be enticed to stay here for a long time, forgetting our original abode. We stay there with Godhead. We are the eternal servants of Godhead.
When we decide to lord it over the universe we are allowed these facilities for temporary purposes. They do not serve our eternal purposes. It would be better to seek for a place where we can find the real peace. Here we are always liable to be disturbed. By these disturbances Providence wants to teach us that world is not our eternal habitation, but that all real peace is to be found in Him. Being thus troubled we would naturally like to go back to the original place.
Life in this world should be conducted peacefully instead of in the spirit of retaliation. We should learn to suffer all these things by submitting to His Holy Wishes. If we do so we may have that very peace here. It is because we are ambitious to dominate that we are brought here. Conditions here are so that they dovetail the whole position. If we require more than we are allowed, we are in trouble.
We should better go back into our own position, to our only Friend. He is the only Resort of all our needs and desires. But if we take the burden upon ourselves to run into wrong we run into troubles in the shape of our daily transactions. We should not be so tempted.
The aesthetic culturer’s offers are meant to delude us when they lead us to think this world to be a comfortable place. All real improvement should lead to Godhead. It should give us all useful things by which to get rid of these temptations. As we are men we should lend our ears to know about the better situation of the transcendental world where the best aspects of the Reality are exhibited. Here we suffer from the difficulties of our eclipsed vision. It is, therefore, better to look after that region where all sorts of manifestive Nature are in vogue.
The servitors of Godhead will always look to our interest. Here our friends sometimes like us and sometimes they turn against us. But here there is opportunity of hearing about our original home from the lips of persons who are quite familiar with the same. If we neglect the opportunity we shall repent in the long run. Their words will lift us and change our mentality. All sorts of puzzling questions will be solved if only we give our lending ear to those persons who have very little to do with this world.
Our situations in this world are liable to change like fogs and mists. As intelligent men our prudent nature should manage sometimes to hear of the transcendental world and the manifestive nature, instead of being unaccountably diffident. Such incredulous attitude will not give us the opportunity.
This external body will be changed and also our present situations. But we have got a transcendental frame. As soon as we will learn that the transcendental frame is working in us, this mortal coil will cease to trouble.
The people of the West think that the mind is the soul. We differ from them. There exists an ample Indian literature in support of the view that the soul is the proprietor of the mind. The mind is the proxy of the soul to deal with the external world in five different relations as husband and spouse, master and servant, parent and child, as friend and as neutral. The soul is now enwrapped by some other foreign agency. Body is different from apparel. The soul is enwrapped by the gross and subtle material bodies. They are meant for the use of the soul for a certain period. When the true activity is latent the mind acts with the impetus of the senses alone, covering the soul by the material molecular substances. But the soul is the real entity.
The senses are the working things, some of them for external and some for internal use. Grossness has an attraction for the ordinary run of people. It is meant for such people. Even the so-called philosophers are found to subscribe to the slogan that the gross material body should have the preference in all religious affairs of this world (sariram adhyam kalu dharma sadhanam). They are very busy with the gross and subtle material things, ignoring the very health of the soul.
The material things will change. This change sometimes gives us facilities and sometimes hinders our progress. But the soul does not change and cannot be destroyed, although he is susceptible of being covered up by the subtle or abstract form of material grossness in the shape of our passing mentality which is a gift of Maya. She has given us the senses to measure the pleasing things for selfish aggrandizement. Religious people think they need not gratify the senses which are meant to delude only. As for instance we are liable to be deluded if we suppose the air of the atmosphere to be meant for our enjoyment or for the purpose of giving us temporary pleasures. That very opportunity will be taken away to let us know that is not meant for our good.
We are liable to be troubled by these impeding agents. Their number will show us that they are more numerous than the things that can give us bliss, the only thing that should be sought. The whole ecstatic center is in Godhead. All pleasing sensation of this world, if properly judged, is found to hold for temporal purposes only, in order to have our fruits later on. It is the training plane. On this plane we are liable to suppose that everything is meant to serve us. But the real truth is that we are to serve Godhead in the five different capacities. It is only when we deem it fit to come down to this world to lord it over other finite entities for our enjoyment that our real position happens to be forgot to some extent. This contingency arises when we want to deprive our Lord. That tendency was innate with us. It led us to prefer this temporal region by our own desire. These entanglements will be slowly removed when the true suggestions will come to us on our meeting with persons who are cognizant of our interest.
Optimistic people are apt to avoid such apparently pessimistic thoughts. They prefer to run into the troubles. But we should have the only Resort in the Absolute. Aural reception is the only track that we should follow. We should be prepared to hear how we can live a peaceful life and aspire after eternal bliss from the Absolute who can give it. Unless we submit to Him there is no possibility of getting to the Eternal Region. If we do otherwise we would be multiplying speculations that will only be checks.
Instead of posing as the predominating agent we should pose as predominated agents in order to serve Godhead Who is the Source of all manifested things; and all activities should tend to Him without hoping for any commercial return. We are philistines averse to theological thought. We are for making money, earning fame and enjoying pleasures. This is the natural inclination here. All this non-Absolute propaganda is due to aversion to the service of the Absolute.
We should, therefore, lend our ear to the descriptions of Transcendence in order to be able to understand how to get the true fruit of the soul instead of being misled by the mind. The mind is the proxy of the soul. He is always on the look-out for aggrandizing his own interest at the expense of the principal if the latter thinks to pass his days in indolence, when he will be naturally deluded by the mind. The slumbering soul requires to be roused up. The best use of our intelligence, foresight, desirability, should be to make progress towards the eternal life. Temporal pleasures are bound to trouble us in the long run.
Question: What is the difference between shanti and ananda (peace and bliss)?
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati: Impersonalists think that Godhead should offer a neuter race. Buddha thought cessation of perception at the end. Sankaracharya argued that Godhead should have no form at all, that there should not be any sexological question in regard to Him, that everyone should go back to the Absolute, that there should be no difference between the individual soul and Godhead, the three situations of the Observed, observer and observation being merged into one viz., the Brahma who is full of joy and at the same time void of joy, there being no distinction between the two.
The third school is the devotional school. According to this school whatever we find here such as trees, rivers, hills, etc., are all present in the transcendental world. Here we have only screened entities and sometimes miss the sparks of the Reality.
Question: Why does the study of Philosophy not give me peace now?
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati: Because we choose to stick to the miserable situation and do not pay attention to Godhead.