Talk About the Absolute

by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupad

[A Talk to Mr. William Henri John Vandorstok of Batavia on 26.12.1935.]

In India as in Europe we find people hold different views but all of them may be classed into three divisions. One class of people are seekers of fruits by their action. Another class wish to annihilate themselves. And the third class want in their true selves as absolute infinitesimals, to be in touch with the Absolute Infinity rejecting all non-absolute features. We belong to the third party.

The seekers of fruits by their action are called karmakandins in the Sanskrit language. The Christian thought is included in karmakanda. In India we have also that sort of idea, that a person is to be judged by his action. He gets something in return as a reward of his pious deeds. Virtue and piety are the main principles that are wanted by such doers. Most of the people understand this view. That is what I do is either rewarded or reprimanded. We think that we should live a pious life in order that we may be rewarded in our next life with all sorts of enjoyments. We have got subtle bodies in which we are rewarded or punished. That body is not exactly similar to the ordinary gross body, the mortal coil which we see here. Egyptians thought that they should have one life and that they should have no occasion of having future lives. But persons who subscribe to the theory of metempsychosis think that they will have future lives when they can make up for the nefarious acts done in their present lives or in their past lives and receive grace from the dispenser of justice. They are fruitseekers. They want to gratify their senses.

There are persons who hanker after knowledge. They want to secure knowledge by the empiric method. They target annihilation to be their final goal. They think they should merge in the Integer - the Absolute, and that all the undesirable situations of this world will end by merging. In that case observer, observation and observed, these three situations are eliminated. When all the activities of the senses such as hearing, tasting, smelling, seeing and touching will cease, the observer, observation and the observed will mix up together and there will be no occasion of knowing, willing or feeling. All volitional, cognitional and emotional activities will cease. These have given us a bitter experience; and, so, according to the empiricists, we should try to make an end of them, that it would be better for us not to think of anything which will reciprocate our senses. This idea is formulated by theorists like pantheists, agnostics and sceptics. These people think that they will be able to secure happiness by destroying themselves.

The third view is the theistic view. We believe that there is a Personality of Godhead and that we are personas. We require our troublous situations to stop and to get a peaceful position where we can freely move and have everything - whatever we are in need of and this has given a direction to the Absolute, Who is represented as a Personality. In the Absolute Personality we find three features - that He is Ever-existent. He is ever full of knowledge and He is the Fountainhead of unceasing bliss. In Him there is no factor of time, no factor of ignorance or less knowledge. In Him there is no discrepancy, no defect, no inadequacy nothing of the kind. In the conception of God, we find He is the Emporium of all bliss, all knowledge, and no acts of nescience or ignorance are to be associated with Him, and we need not seek after any fruit for our purpose leaving Him aside. He need not give us anything. We are to serve Him as servitors, He being the only Lord. In this world we find that hundreds of absolute infinitesimals trouble themselves with the undesirable elements of these phenomena. If the undesirable elements are simply driven out, eliminated, then a desirable position can be had. But in the conception of heaven, we find that it is meant for our purpose, to get our wishes for enjoyment fulfilled, for our enjoyment apart from the enjoyment of the Absolute. The enjoyment of the Absolute is full, whereas our enjoyment is liable to be involved in some troubles. All these miserable situations should be cleared out for the purpose of safety- for our peace. The eternal peace can only come if we are at all sanguine to engage ourselves in the service of the Lord, I mean, the Personality of Godhead. God has got spiritual eyes, spiritual ears, spiritual nose, spiritual tongue, spiritual skin and spiritual mind; not material things like us. Our senses are made up of material things and there is no such element in God. God is the Emporium of all desirable elements. He is found to be Eternally Existing, He is Full of Knowledge, He is Omniscient and He is All-blissful. He delegates His power to certain absolute infinitesimals, or, in other words, the absolute infinitesimals are endowed with such potencies which enable them to transact affairs with the Eternal Authority. Now we are placed in a region where all sorts of imperfections and undesirable situations are prominent, and we require that our bitter experience should devise some means to get rid of these unpleasant situations, the painful situations must be kecked out from activities. We should be prepared for the stage where we can realise our own real selves. We need not trouble ourselves here engaging ourselves in amusements and other things. We require that some prudent, preparatory measures should be adopted when we have got life, that we should have discretion to judge our desirabilities and have comparative study of the revealed scriptures that have come to us and can ameliorate our conditions and give up the passionate desires that are engrossing the people who are busy with annihilating themselves or busy with fruit- seeking purpose. The third party is known as devotees or bhaktas or who possess bhakti which is the vehicular agent to carry us to the Absolute. It will be the uniting tie between the Personality of the Lord and our personalities. Our persons should be united with the Personality of God, and that Personality of Godhead is purely spiritual and has no mundane reference. If we wish to know Him by any mundane reference that would be like trying to send rays from the retina to the sun. But we should receive rays from the emanating disc of the sun. So by the mercy of the Supreme Lord we will be able to know what He is, and after learning this, we will engage ourselves for His purpose. We will have nothing else to do in this world. We have got the only purpose of associating ourselves with the Spirit, with the Over-soul. When we will leave this mortal coil, this tabernacle of flesh and bones, we will have some occupation at that time. We need not think that in the subtle bodies we will have some enjoyment. This enjoyment is temporary and in the long run becomes the cause of binding us with grosser coils. But if we have any mind to engage ourselves with the Eternity, with All-knowledge, with One Who is devoid of ignorance and Full of Incessant Bliss, we must be reciprocating with Him, we should be participating with the Absolute and with the non-absolute features here. Our phenomenal existence is not all sympathetic to us. Our so-called relatives show that they are very kind to us, but in the end we find that they require to draw something from us. They are not actually kind to us. We should not be dissuaded by their influence. We should have a stern will to give up all our passionate enjoying habits, as well as the inclination for self-annihilation which the empiricists seek. The desire for annihilation as well as the tendency for enjoyment are to be sacrificed at the altar of devotion. We should be prudent and accept the ideas of the devotees and not the annihilating temperament of the agnostics nor the fruit-seeking temperament of the ordinary people of the world. They do wrong things. They enjoy instead of serving, and we require that we should be set free from all these wrong ideas of the speculative people of the world. We have got the history of civilisation for the last ten thousand years, and we expect that the world will run for some ten thousand years or more when some trouble will arise and the human race will be destroyed by some influence which we cannot foretell now. So, the Absolute is to be enquired. What He is. Whether He is a human-being, or whether He belongs to the lower creation, or whether He is of stony character. Whether the Absoulte is neuter, masculine or feminine. Let us be acquainting ourselves with all these ideas and thoughts- about the next world and the Absolute. Whether the region of the Absolute has all sorts of manifestive phases, whether these phases are agreeable and free from invasion of wrong thoughts. So, if we want to clear our wrong ideas and thoughts, we will have to surrender to the Absolute Infinity and then we shall be in touch with Him. We will have the opportunity of dovetailing ourselves with Him and no other ideas and thoughts can dissuade us from having a touch with the Absolute. If we can secure the tendency of love for the Absolute, we will be attracted by Him. He Himself is Love. We have no loving tendency, whereas He is full of love. We should try to meet the merciful strain by which He wants to attract us to Him - to His region where there is no defect, no disagreeable feature, no ignorance and no undesirable situation. We should go back there. We need not carry our bones and flesh there. The proprietor of these bones and flesh is to go there, leaving here all these dints for the enjoyment of jackals and dogs and those creatures of the lower creation who have no devotional motive at all, who do not want to come in touch with the Absolute Infinity. Most of the people of the globe are very busy with getting fruits, gratifying their senses by attending cinemas, driving motors, and they are quite diffident to serve those who can guide them to the Absolute region. All the undesirable situations which impede our course are to be eliminated. The enjoying and empirical activities are obstructing our ways and we should try to drive them off. We should want that we should be in touch only with the Absolute. As devotees, we are always in touch with Him and never dislocated from Him. We want to serve Him. We want to regain our position. We need not pass our time just as the ordinary people do. We should submit to the heaven-sent messenger and follow his dictations. Our philosophies and empirical knowledge will be of no use to us. Our devotion should not be directed towards dogs, horses, men and women and other objects of the phenomena. We need not serve such things. We should be determined to come in touch with the Absolute Who is very different from the non-absolute phenomena. Any person or thing that serves the Personality of God, we should be friendly with that. And if any person or thing proves hostile in the cause of His service, we should leave that off. We should not, try to understand the spiritual plane from the material standpoint of view.

Q: What do you understand by spiritual land?

A: By Spiritual world we mean where we can have association with the spirit. The Absolute reserves the right of not being exposed to human senses. The human senses are all prisoners. They are all blind fellows. They cannot see Him. Rather they indulge in wrong ideas and give trouble to the people. The word "God" has been created by man. The direction is quite right, but what men produce in their factory is wrong. The people are engaged in non-absolute propaganda: This should cease.

Q: Those who work for the welfare of the people, are they not good?

A: Some people try to be good to enjoy a peaceful life. They are friendly to others to get their help in return.

Q: How we should know the will of God?

A: We are absolute infinitesimals and He is Absolute Infinity. If we are sincere and submit to Him, we will come in touch with Him and know His will. There are self-sufficient people who think they can, by their empirical knowledge, know everything. But the Absolute cannot be known by our empirical knowledge. This attempt would be like sending rays from the retina to the sun to know what the sun is. We should have nothing to do with the agnostics and karmakandins of this world. They will try to dissuade us from having an aptitude for devotion. The devotees are the most intelligent people. We should await the day when the Merciful Lord will send his messenger to give us the civil death by which all connections with the worldly people cease. We shall then be able to live the life of a devotee. Our selection of friends should be among the devotees. The agnostics and karmakandins will only lead us to trouble. The devotees are the only prudent and judicious people. The path of devotion is the shortest and easiest way. It is better that whatever we have gathered in this world, we should leave aside. We want to disown everything that are deemed to be quite suitable to persons who are busy with the mundane affairs, We should be "Trinadapi Sunicha", that is, consider ourselves less than the blade of a grass. We have now secured some non-absolute things which are quite inefficacious for our purpose. We should simply submit to the instructions of the; devotees who are busy to come in touch with the Absolute.

Q: What do you think of the yogis?

A: We do not subscribe to the principle of yoga. The yogis think that they should have some-thing for their own. They have no eternal purpose. The Indian yogis think that when they come in touch with the Absolute, they will be restored to their position and they will have nothing to do later on. They simply want emancipation from all troubles. The yogi thinks that when his duties are finished he will be able to pass his time in indulgence. So indulgence is the careful object of a yogi. And for this they strive for emancipation from the bonds of karma. The devotees are first class yogis, but they care very little for emancipation. They do not require these things. A devotee would be more happy to abide by the decision of the Providence instead of throwing off the troublous situation he has been put into. The yogis are inclined to have their passionate desires satisfied, they require peace for themselves.They do not want to engage themselves in the service of the Lord, but they try to get something for their own. If a yogi is at all successful in his endeavours to come in contact with the Absolute, He shows his stony aspect at that time. The yogis think that God should be represented as a neuter thing, that no idea of sexology should disturb their minds. The yogis want to reach kaivalya or "Iswarsajujya" and "Brahma-sajujya". They want to be made God like the slave "Altamas" who usurped the throne of his master. These are wrong ideas. The yogis are never successful in their attempts and we should not adopt the principles of a yogi. In paradise all sorts of enjoyment are supplied. But who is the enjoyer? He is a poor man who has got all sorts of bitter experience in this world.

It is better for us not to be agnostics, yogis, karmakandins and empiricists. Empiricists want to secure experience of the things of this world like a' versity man. The knowledge acquired by this method at the thirtieth year proves to be insufficient at the fiftieth year. And the knowledge acquired at the fiftieth year proves to be insufficient at the seventieth year.

The Supreme Lord disclosed before the people the true system of devotion. There was no party who could claim a better system. The karmakandins and jnanins gave up their established ideas and thoughts, they all submitted to the true and loving wishes of the Supreme Authority Whom we want to seek. The Supreme Authority is to be served and not the things which are hostile to the Supreme Authority.

What should be Supreme Authority ? What is He? Should the word "it" serve for targetting the Absolute ? Or the predominating aspect as'he'or the predominated aspect as "she" should be taken up ? The followers of the Old Testament like that the principle of "it god" should be taken up, that God should be neuterised and no personal forms should be attributed to Him, - in order to differentiate Him form the phenomenal existence. Some people say that if only the subjective aspect is ascribed to Godhead then the objective aspect of Godhead is neglected. So we require that Godhead should comprise both subjective and objective aspects. There must be some objects for the subject, otherwise the subjectivity cannot stand. When we talk of some relationship, the reciprocating portion should never be neglected. In theism we find that the predominating part should reciprocate with the predominated parts - these two parts should comprise the Whole Thing , otherwise the Plenary is divided into two, or is divided into three.

Here in this world we find the following relationships - between husband and wife, between master and servitor, between friend and friend and between children and parent. In the transcendental region the Supreme Lord is the only object of these relationships.

He is the only Husband, the only Master, the only Friend and the only Child. There is also the neutral relationship with Godhead. So in all we find there are five kinds of relationships we can have with the Supreme Lord. In the New Testament God is described as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost; but they neglect the five relationships mentioned above. Service of God in these five relationships has been given to mankind by Sree Krishna-Chaitanya. Service is the only function of the soul. We ignore the body when we are busy with the service of the Lord.

Q: Why do you require service ?

A: We should have our engagement. "Aradhananam sarbesham Vishnoradhanam param" of all the occupations the best occupation is to attend to the service of the Absolute. Man wants to Lord it over the phenomena, but in the long run he becomes a slave of the phenomena. For instance, there are people who wish to enjoy smoking and intoxicating liquor, but ultimately they become slaves of those habits. We devotees do not want our entities to be absorbed in the Integer - we want to adopt the process of devotion and have some permanent engagement. We should examine what we really are. Are we the external frame, the emporium of senses or the mind ? If we analyse, we find that these are foreign elements incorporated into us. In order to get rid of all these dirts, the only course left to us is devotion which is service, service fully filtered and unalloyed.

Q: Do you know the Absolute gradually, or at once ?

A: The knowledge of the Absolute can be had at once - there is no factor of time and space. If we are at all sanguine to know Him, we must have some sort of objective reference for His subjective activity. Now we are busy with worldly affairs; we think we are men and women. Instead of doing so, we require that we should be serving Him, and when He participates with our pure selves, we will be set free from all the tempting influence of the different things of Nature. We require that we should go back. Like a shooting star, we have strayed out of the range of His attraction. Like a comet, we are journeying without cessation. Our eternal conditon is that we are absolute infinitesimals, and as such; we should dovetail with the Absolute Infinity. The function between Him and us is love. He is the Lover. If He loves us, we will be taken back. If He has an apathetic tendency for us we will be averse to Him, and will be undergoing 84 millions of births and deaths, again and again. It would be judicious for us that we should go back to the Absolute Infinity, and that all our engagements should be with Him, and not with anybody else.

[Home Page]Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Page

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta
Saraswati Thakura Page