Room Conversation with John Fahey , Los Angeles , 1972-06-14
John Fahey: I think I made twelve in total. Twelve that I know of. Two that aren't out.
Prabhupāda: [to girl] What you play?
Marilyn: I just, er, um, I cook. [laughs]
John Fahey: Oh, I saw you play the dulcimer.
Marilyn: I play the dulcimer.
Prabhupāda: What's that?
Ātreya Ṛṣi: Dulcimer.
Karandhara: What's that?
Marilyn: It has strings, four strings, and it's shaped like that.
Prabhupāda: Oh, just like tambura.
Prabhupāda: Like tambura.
Devotee: It's more like a vina. [indistinct comments] [break]
Prabhupāda: So you understand our philosophy?
John Fahey: I don't know if I understand it, I'm reading it.
Prabhupāda: Hmm. What is your philosophy?
John Fahey: [laughs] I don't know.
Prabhupāda: No philosophy of life? Why you are living?
John Fahey: I don't know. I was just born.
Prabhupāda: Born---everyone is born. Cats and dogs are also born. They also live, they also die. So if we live like that---"I was born. Let me live somewhere, and die"---then what is the difference?
John Fahey: None.
Prabhupāda: No. There is difference. That one should understand. There is difference. A man should not live like cats and dogs, because he has got a mission.
John Fahey: Mission?
Prabhupāda: Mission. That mission is God realization. Cats and dogs cannot do it; human being can do it. Therefore in any civilized human society, there is a type of religion. May be Christianism or Muhammadanism or Hinduism or Buddhaism---there is. But you cannot find this religious system in the animals life. That is the difference. If you give up this religious consciousness, or God consciousness, then we are as good as cats and dogs. That is the only difference.
You go anywhere, any part of the world, civilized human being, they have got a system, which you may call religion or philosophy, to understand God. That prerogative is specially for the human being. But if you do not care for that special prerogative, then you are as good as animal.
What is the difference between animal and human being unless he has got some method of understanding God? The animal eats, and we also eat. The animals sleep; we also sleep. The animal have sex intercourse; we have got also. They are also afraid of something; we are also afraid of something. Then where is the difference?
John Fahey: About God, you know.
Prabhupāda: But that is the difference. A human being can understand what is God, what is my relationship with God, what is my duty in that relationship, what is my aim of life, where I shall go after death, wherefrom I have come. These questions must be there in human form of life; otherwise we are still in the animal kingdom.
Marilyn: Do the animals have no consciousness of God?
Marilyn: Do the animals have no consciousness of God?
Prabhupāda: They have no God consciousness. They do not know what is God.
Marilyn: Somehow I always thought that...
Prabhupāda: Just like children, they do not know what is government. They are satisfied with their eating, sleeping, playing, that's life. They have no other concern. But when one is grown up, he knows what is government. He has to abide by the state laws. Now you are grown up, if you violate the law "Keep to the right," you'll be criminal. But a child, if he violates the law, animal violates the law, he has no...
But if a adult person violates the law, he'll be criminal. You cannot say, "I'm free." No. Law will not excuse. But if a children commits something... Suppose you, if you take something from my table, it is for you criminal. But if a child takes something from my table, it is not criminal. In your country especially, if you enter my house or room without permission, that is criminal. Is it not? Trespass.
John Fahey: Yes.
Prabhupāda: But a child or dog enters, that is not trespassing. A child or a dog or cat, they enter without any permission. Therefore this animal kingdom and the human being, there is difference. By the evolutionary process we come to the human form of life. When we were animals... We were animals also. You are passing through 8,400,000 forms of life---from aquatic to plants, trees, then insect, then flies, then birds, then beast, then uncivilized human being, jungle, then come to this Āryan form, civilized form of human being.
So it is obtained after many, many transmigration. And if we do not understand the responsibility... Just like in an establishment one man, he is promoted. His first joins as a doorkeeper, then he is gradually he is given promotion; he may come to the post of the manager. Just like in bank it so happens; they must go through all the different stages of service. So when he becomes manager, if he does not know the responsibility, then again he comes to the lowest position; again he has to strive for going up.
So if we forget our responsibility and become like cats and dogs, then we are going back again to take the forms of cats and dogs. This is a great science. Nobody is very serious to understand this science, but the science is there. We are..., our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to educate people about this science. They're neglecting this science.
That means they are violating the prerogative of the chance, of the facility of human being. After all, you have to die; you cannot check it. But if you die like cats and dogs, then our life is spoiled, and if you die like a human being, then our life is perfect. Everyone will die, but one who dies like a human being by understanding what is God, what is my relationship with Him, how I have acted in relationship with God, then our life is perfect. [pause] So, you like this philosophy or not?
Marilyn: Somehow I always thought that people should be more like animals, because animals only, ah, only take what they need...
Prabhupāda: Why don't you become like animal?
Prabhupāda: Why you are dressing yourself? Why don't you wander like animal, naked?
Marilyn: No. But animals still have their own communities, and they only take what they need to eat, and they only eat when they need to eat.
Prabhupāda: Now the philosophy is how to become animal? This is the philosophy nowadays?
Ātreya Ṛṣi: Today's people sometimes, Prabhupāda, she's thinking, are worse than animal, because...
Prabhupāda: Yes. If their philosophy is to become animal then they must be worse than animal, because actually they are not animal.
Marilyn: [laughs] That's what I mean.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: That's right.
Prabhupāda: If the ultimate goal is to become animal, so that is artificial. So a human being desiring to become animal must be worse than animal, because animal has got some...
Marilyn: Has got some...
Prabhupāda: ...routine work.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: Because, ah...
Prabhupāda: Just like cats and dogs = they have sexual desire in certain period of the year. But a man, although he is trying to be animal, but he has no restriction. He has sexual desire anytime. Therefore he is worse than animal.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: Man eats and kills everything.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: The animals kill just their own quota.
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. So therefore, if a man wants to become animal, he becomes worse than animal. A tiger, a tiger eats meat, and he has got equipments in his body---it is called, nails, teeth---immediately pounce upon any animal and kills and eat. But a man cannot do that; but his teeth is different, he has no nails; therefore he has to kill animal in different way, by slaughterhouse. So he is worse than animal. You kill one animal for your eating purpose, this is one thing, but if you keep slaughterhouse for business, again more dangerous.
Therefore for a human being to try to become animal is worse than the animals and because... Just like you are now grown up. If you imitate that "I want to become child, so I enter anyone's house," the law will not allow you. And if you say that "My philosophy is to become a child; therefore I enter this man's house," the law will say, "All right, first of all you'll be punished." [laughter] You cannot say that.
Because you are grown up, you cannot act as a child. Similarly, because you are human being, if you act as an animal you'll be responsible for your act, and you'll be punished if you do something wrong. You cannot say, "No, I have made my philosophy to become a child." That may be your personal philosophy, but law will not allow you. Ignorance is no excuse. [long pause] It has become a philosophy now to become like animal.
Karandhara: They say "Back to nature."
Prabhupāda: "Back to nature" means first of all your nature is different from others' nature. An animal can lie down anywhere on the street. Can you do that? So how can man go back to nature like that? A dog lying down on the street... Here, of course, every dog has got a master. In India there are many dogs, though some got master, so they are eating anywhere or lying. But you cannot do so. If you lie down on the street at night, perhaps you'll be arrested. Is it not?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Neither you can do so. You must have an apartment. Maybe less costly apartment, but because you are human being you must have an apartment. So how you can go to the nature? Even the ṛṣis used to live in the jungle, they had a cottage, not like animals. They had hermitage cottage to live. Just like Rūpa Gosvāmī's picture. You have seen?
Prabhupāda: So they left their luxuriant residence as ministers. But when they went to Vṛndāvana, they had a cottage.
Karandhara: I think the impulse is more or less a reaction to their alienation for material life. They feel so alienated from artificial material life that they think maybe, that simply more... They think animalistic would be more desirable.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: The inclination may be right, but the spiritual education is lacking. They don't have the teacher.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: Education.
Prabhupāda: That is the defect of modern education.
John Fahey: Well, they go to college, and so this is where the idea started. It got bigger and bigger and bigger, and now it's out of control. [laughs] It's terrible. It's all-pervasive, to live like animal. I suppose I live like that, animal. I don't particularly want too or like too. I don't kill animals.
John Fahey: Now, yeah.
Prabhupāda: Well, vegetarians are not animal. [laughter] In India, you'll still you'll find, ninety percent of the population, they're vegetarians, strictly. Always been. They're quite healthy; they're working. Rather vegetarians are human being. Because vegetable, that food is meant for human beings. That is natural. For a human being to become nonvegetarian is unnatural. And to become vegetarian, that is natural.
Just like our teeth = it is meant for cutting vegetables, fruits, not meat. You will find cutting by these teeth, meat, it will be difficult. But you take any vegetable, any fruit, you can immediately cut. And medical laws says that anything eatable which you cannot cut with the teeth and smash it properly, it will not be digested.
So fruits and vegetables you can properly cut even raw, not to speak of cooked. Raw vegetable, raw fruits, you can cut with these teeth and smash it, and you swallow, it will be nicely digested. You'll get all food values. But you cannot do in that way, raw meat. It is not possible. You cannot take raw meat or bite one animal and take some flesh out of it. You cannot do that. But animal can do that. They are made for that purpose. So that is natural. If you take your natural food, if you live naturally, if you fulfill your natural desires, then it is natural. And as soon as you go against these things, that is unnatural.
So if you give up your natural tendencies as human being and take artificially the way of life of an animal, that is not natural. In human society the..., however uncivilized human being, there is the process of covering this private part. Even in jungles they cover with the bark of tree. Why? That is the human. But animal in the jungle, they do not cover. They can go.
The same jungle---I don't speak of the city life---even in jungle life, the aborigines, still they have got some cover. Now they are becoming naked, natural life, nudism. Huh? That John Lennon, he has a picture in his sitting room, standing naked. This is madness. That is not natural life. If you go against your natural life, that is madness. Just like a madman walks on the street naked.
So these are... So our mission is to advise everyone, educate everyone to become exactly like human being. That you can become by understanding God. The books, educational institutions, are meant for human being, for knowledge. All the books, all over the world, they are not meant for cats and dogs. They are meant for human being. The schools, colleges, universities, institutions, they are meant for human being, not for the cats and dogs. So we must take advantage of these books, institution, knowledge, teachers. That is real human life. Just like your... Guitar?
Karandhara: Guitar, yes.
Prabhupāda: That is for human being, art, not for the cats and dogs. So how you can go to animal life? That is not possible. [break] How do you know your father?
John Fahey: Well, I met him.
John Fahey: I met him. I grew up with him. [chuckles]
Prabhupāda: How do you know your real father?
Karandhara: How do you know he is your father, who you met?
John Fahey: He just told me.
Prabhupāda: Who told you?
John Fahey: [laughs] My father.
Prabhupāda: Somebody told you.
John Fahey: Yeah.
Prabhupāda: The mother told you, or somebody told you.
John Fahey: Yeah.
Prabhupāda: And you accepted it. Similarly, about God you have to take information from somebody who is authorized to tell you about God.
John Fahey: Yeah.
Prabhupāda: Everything is known, can be known, from authorized source of knowledge. A child does not know what is this. He asks father, "Father, what is this?" The father explains, "My dear boy, this is Dictaphone. When I speak, it records." Child knowledge, he sees. That is the way of knowledge. If you do not know God, you must approach a person who knows God. Then you know. There is no difficulty.
John Fahey: But I went to church, and I still don't know.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: He went to church and he could not find out.
Prabhupāda: That may be.
John Fahey: They told, but I didn't feel it.
Prabhupāda: That may be, but you may be cheated, that is another thing. Suppose you ask something from somebody. If he cheats you, that may be your mistake or his, but the process is the same; you cannot avoid that. If you want to know God, then you have to go to a person who knows God. You might have gone to a person who does not know. That is another thing. You went to a wrong person. But actually if you want to know God, you must have to go to a person who knows God. That you have to search out. That requires intelligence.
But you cannot give up the idea. Because you have been cheated, "I could not get information," therefore you cannot give up that business. You have to find out somebody else. But because you say, "I have been cheated. I could not get the right information. I stop this business," that is not allowed. You must. Therefore, according to Vedic order it is said, tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet [MU 1.2.12].
Abhigacchet means he must [go] to a person to understand that science of God. You must go to a guru or a man who knows. Guru means who is more intelligent. Guru means weight, heavy, heavier, that heavier in knowledge. So you have to find out a person who is heavier than you, not ordinary. Must go. Not that may go or may not go. No. Must go. Tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva abhigacchet.
And what is the symptom of guru? Śrotriyaṁ. Means he has heard about God from his superior, his guru. Śrotriyaṁ. And how can I know that he has heard from his superior about God? He might say that "Yes, I have heard," but what symptoms I shall...? Brahmā-niṣṭham. Brahmā-niṣṭham means that he has become a complete devotee of God, result. Just like a man, a physician.
A physician means he has attended the medical college, passed the examination, and the result is that he's practicing as a physician. Not only passing will do, but he's actually passing and he's actually practicing and he's curing patients. Therefore you find out a physician, "Here is a physician." It is not difficult.
So guru means one who knows God. How can I know that he knows God? Because he's making others to know God. Where is the difficulty? But if you go to a person who does not know God, that is your fault. If you go to a physician who is not actually physician, a store-keeper, then that is your fault. You must have the intelligence who is a physician.
That much intelligence you have got. You see a signboard, Dr. Such-and-such M.D., medical practitioners. Now you go there and you see there are patients waiting for him, for his treatment; he's giving medicine and they are being cured. Then where is the difficulty to find out a physician? There is no difficulty.
So if one is serious to be cured of the disease, he must go to a physician. If he does not go to the physician, how he can be cured? Just like you have learned the guitar playing. Do you learn it alone or learn it from somebody?
John Fahey: Mainly by myself.
John Fahey: Mainly alone.
Prabhupāda: Anyway, you have followed somebody at least, standard.
John Fahey: Oh, yeah, people I heard.
Prabhupāda: Yes. So that is the way of learning what is God. The main business is that one must know God. It is not that because I approach some person and he did not know, he could not give me the right knowledge of God, then I give up this idea of knowing God. No. That will not..., that is not good for human life. Then you remain animal. I might have been cheated or I might not have approached the proper person, but that does not mean I can stop that idea. That is not...
In another place it is said, tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21]. One who is actually inquisitive to understand the highest benefit of life, he must approach a guru. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ. Jijñāsu means inquisitive. Śreya---the highest benefit of life. Uttamam---highest. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam. Ṣābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ [SB 11.3.21].
What is the qualification of such a person? Ṣābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ: he is completely well versed in the transcendental science. And what is the symptom that he is well versed? Brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam: he has taken shelter of Brahman or Kṛṣṇa or God, upāsanā, finishing all material desires. These two things = he is a devotee, but he has no more material desires. He must be well versed in the science, he must be a devotee, and he has no attraction for material things. These three things if you can find, then he's perfect guru.
Everything is there in the śāstra; and therefore books should be consulted. If you have no books, those who are discussing books, you should approach them, you should hear them. Just like we are holding class morning, evening. People can come here, take advantage what we are speaking, then gradually they can understand. But we cannot avoid that. That is not good idea. If I say that "I went to church. I was not very much enlightened; therefore I give up this attempt," oh, that is not good.
John Fahey: Oh, I didn't give it up. [laughs] I'm still looking.
Karandhara: He comes for āratik.
Prabhupāda: That's nice.
Karandhara: He takes prasādam.
Prabhupāda: That's nice. Very good. You also come?
Marilyn: I just got here a little while ago.
Marilyn: I just got here a few days ago, but I've been twice. We'll be here Friday or Saturday or so. I chanted on the street.
Prabhupāda: You chanted?
Marilyn: Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Karandhara: Saṅkīrtana party.
Prabhupāda: Very good.
John Fahey: We want to get some cymbals. Cymbals.
Marilyn: Cymbals. We sang Hare Kṛṣṇa on the airplane.
Prabhupāda: You're chanting on the airplane?
John Fahey: Yeah, it was fun.
Prabhupāda: You can chant anywhere. There is no restriction. There is no special rules and regulation. You can chant anywhere convenient. Whenever you find it convenient, you can chant.
John Fahey: We were singing Hare Kṛṣṇa, so...
Prabhupāda: That's nice. Go on singing. [laughter] Yes. Go on singing, and everything will be revealed within yourself, it is so nice.
Marilyn: It's a comforting feeling.
Marilyn: It's a comforting feeling just from the whole repetition.
Prabhupāda: Yes. So go on chanting, then everything will be all right.
John Fahey: Can we get some cymbals?
Prabhupāda: Whenever you find opportunity, you come and join with us.
John Fahey: Can we get some cymbals?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.
John Fahey: I don't know where to get them.
Prabhupāda: [aside:] You don't have any cymbal for selling?
Karandhara: Not at the moment.
Prabhupāda: So, you can keep some stored.
Karandhara: Yes. We've been waiting for shipment. They haven't arrived.
Prabhupāda: You can give him loan. He's anxious. You can give him this small one. You take this.
John Fahey: Thank you. [sound of karatālas] [laughter]
Prabhupāda: I'll show you how to do it. Like this. [loud playing of karatālas] One, two, three; one, two, three. [showing how to play karatālas] It is not difficult. You are musician. Just play on meter = one, two, three; one, two, three.
John Fahey: Thank you.
Prabhupāda: For everything you have to learn from a guru. [laughter] Even for how to play. [more laughing]
John Fahey: [plays karatālas] Like that?
Prabhupāda: Yes = one, two, three. [more playing of karatālas]
John Fahey: Boy, those are nice bells, I mean cymbals. [playing more] Oh, boy. Thank you.
Prabhupāda: So sit down together whenever you find time, one, two, three, play, and Hare Kṛṣṇa chant.
John Fahey: Okay. [plays more]
Ātreya Ṛṣi: Jaya Prabhupāda!
John Fahey: Thank you.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: Thank you. [offers obeisances]
Prabhupāda: What is your name?
John Fahey: John Fahey.
Prabhupāda: Your name?
Prabhupāda: What is?
Karandhara: Marilyn. [end]