Istanbul Knowledge Center Lecture
28 April 2005
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
We are very happy to be with you here tonight. We are traveling throughout the world to distribute knowledge of the Absolute Truth. This human form of life is meant to realize what is the Absolute Truth. It is stated in the Vedanta sutra, athato brahma jijnasa: now that you have this human form of life, you must utilize it for realizing what is the Absolute Truth. That Absolute Truth is also described in the same Vedanta sutra. Janmady asya yatah: the Absolute Truth is that from which everything is emanating.
One may wonder, “How do I found out what is that Absolute Truth?” Actually it is not a difficult thing. You simply have to approach a bona fide spiritual master, and he will enlighten you as to what is that Absolute Truth. Then you may say, “Well, how do I find a bona fide spiritual master?” Actually there are two forms of guru. There is the guru within the heart; that is the caitya guru. Then there is the guru that appears before you; that is called the external guru. The caitya guru is always sitting inside your heart. When you become very eager to know what is the Absolute Truth, then that caitya guru within your heart brings you in contact with an external guru.
There were two young men that I know who went to India seeking a guru. There they heard so many swamis, yogis, rishis - but they could not find anyone about whom they could say yes, this is my guru. They came back to New York City disappointed; they could not find a guru. But then one of them – his name was Dr. Howard Wheeler – was walking down Houston Street on the lower East side of Manhattan; and there he saw, walking down the street, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He was very amazed, because Swami Prabhupada appeared, even though he was in the middle of New York City – and you know how it is just outside - we came through the downtown just now, and it is like a madhouse – everywhere hustle and bustle going on; running, running here, running there, police, streetcars, noise, restaurants, stores; just money, money, money everywhere, running, running, running – but he saw Swami Prabhupada just walking down the street, as if he were situated in an entirely different world. And later on he realized, “I went to India seeking a guru; I tried to find Guru, and could not find him. But now Guru has found me!” So in this way, if you are very serious to find out what is the Absolute Truth, the caitya guru who is seated in your heart will bring you into direct contact with a bona fide spiritual master who will then enlighten you with transcendental knowledge. Therefore we pray to the spiritual master:
om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master, because he brings the shining torchlight of knowledge, and he forces my eyes open which are tightly closed shut in the darkness of ignorance.”
So this is the actual key, if you want to realize the Absolute Truth. If you find that you are so fortunate to have come in contact with a bona fide spiritual master, the Bhagavad-gita tells you what you should then do:
tad viddhi pranipatena
Krishna is saying to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita, “Just try to learn the truth by approaching the bona fide spiritual master; inquire from him submissively, render service unto him; the self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”
Actually that light of spiritual knowledge - that blazing fire of spiritual knowledge - is already there within the heart of everyone. But currently it is sleeping. Just like a match has fire within it - all you have to do to bring out the fire is strike the match, and poof! the fire comes. But of course, the match has to be dry, and you must have the proper striking surface. So if you have a dry match and a proper striking surface, and you strike that match, then that blazing fire of spiritual knowledge will become awakened within you, and you will no longer be in the darkness of ignorance. Just like in this room you can flip one switch and turn on the lights: when you master the art of connecting with that Absolute Truth within you - under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master - the whole world will be turned on for you. You will be able to see everything within the Absolute Truth and the Absolute Truth within everything, wherever you may go. You may be meditating; you may be walking down the street; you may be at your business or at your job; you may be at school; you may be at your home; you may be at your friend’s house; you may be traveling around the world - you may even be at the time of death, also – but if you have awakened that dormant, enlightened consciousness within you, you will experience that Absolute Truth within everything and everything within that Absolute Truth.
Each one of us in an individual consciousness. You are conscious of the pains and pleasures of your body, but you are not conscious of the pains and pleasures of others’ bodies. But there is also a Supreme Consciousness – a Universal Consciousness – that is conscious of all the pains and pleasures of all the bodies. The science of self-realization is the art or technique of dovetailing your individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. If you try to figure it out on your own, you will find it very difficult to master this art; but if you will practice this science of self-realization under the guidance of a self-realized guru, then you will find it is very easy, it is not difficult. Just like when a little baby duck gets in the water, he simply follows the mother duck into the water - and he can really swim; no problem. He follows that mother duck, and he has no problem. Therefore the Vedic wisdom says, mahajano yena gatah sa panthah: you must follow the path chalked out by the great spiritual masters because they are showing us the way out of this darkness of ignorance. They are teaching us the art of how to dovetail the individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness.
You may wonder, what’s in this for me? Why should I endeavor this way? What will I get out of it? The fact is we are presently in a state of suffering. What is that suffering condition we are in right now? In the Sanskrit language it is called [ ]: birth, death, old age, and disease. Can anyone in this room claim that they didn’t have to take birth from the womb of their mother? Can anybody claim they do not get sick? Can anyone in this room claim they are not getting old? Is there anyone in this room who will claim that they will not die? I didn’t see any hands going up. So that means we are all subject to birth, death, old age, and disease. These are called miseries. But the real fact is that the soul, the atma, is not subject to birth, death, old age, and disease. Only your material body is subject to these things. So when you meet a bona fide spiritual master, the very first lesson he will teach you is this: You are not that body. You are not male, you are not female; you are not white, you are not black; you are not Turkish, you are not Greek, you are not American - you are none of these bodily designations. You are an eternal spiritual being who was never born and will never die. The bona fide spiritual master will not only teach you how to understand this theoretically. He will guide you, teach you, and train you in how to live practically in that spiritual identity - with every thought, every word, and every deed. That is a bona fide spiritual master. And he doesn’t charge money. The bona fide spiritual master does not take the knowledge that he has been given from his spiritual master and use it as a money-making business. The knowledge he has received from his spiritual master can deliver the entire world from all suffering conditions, and a bona fide spiritual master is an ocean of compassion. He would never even think of turning this into a money-making business. He simply travels all over the world to give this knowledge freely to everyone. The bona fide spiritual master is a spiritual revolutionary who is trying to save the world from all suffering conditions. He has perfect knowledge, and he can give you perfect enlightenment - if you are ready to follow his instructions. Just like when you bake a cake, you have to follow the recipe. You may think, well, I’ll just invent my own recipe - and you leave out the baking powder - then your cake will be flat. So you want to follow the actual instructions of the spiritual master. By doing so, you will know that what he is saying is true because of a simple principle. It’s a very simple principle – in the English language we say it in two words: Truth works. If you have actually discovered the truth, it is effective. It will deliver you from all ignorance, from all suffering, and from all identification with your temporary body. It’s very easy to find a guru who can take your money; but it’s very difficult to find a guru who can take away all your anxiety. If you are fortunate enough to find a guru who can actually remove all the anxieties from your heart, then you should take advantage of his mercy.
So we will have a little group meditation now. I understand you are all meditators - is that a fact? Everyone’s a meditator here? We are going to practice an ancient type of meditation called kirtan. This is little different from what you may be doing. Now you think of meditation as being very silent - you close your eyes, try to slow your mind down - but with this meditation we are going to practice a principle which is called mantra-yoga. Mantra is a Sanskrit word: man means “mind”, and tra means “deliver.” So a mantra is a sound vibration which delivers you from all anxiety and all illusion. Sometimes people want to vibrate a mantra silently, by just thinking about the mantra. But the whole point of meditation is to fix your mind on God, or Transcendence. So actually, mantra meditation is more effective when that mantra is pronounced - when you make it audible. So we are going to vibrate this mantra out loud.
Some people think that when you say a mantra out loud it loses its potency. But the fact is that the mantra, when vibrated out loud, becomes even more powerful, more potent. Many centuries ago there was a great Indian saint; his name was Ramunajacharya. His guru gave him a mantra. He said, “This mantra will deliver you from all material existence”, and he said that anybody who chants this mantra will become delivered from all material existence. He said, “This mantra is secret: you must not tell it to anyone.”
Ramunajacharya was thinking that anybody who says this mantra will become delivered. So he went to the public square and announced to everyone, “Please come. I have this mantra, and I will give it to you, and you will become delivered.” Hundreds of people came, and everyone chanted the mantra, and they became spiritually enlightened beings immediately. But when Ramunajacharya’s guru heard that he had disobeyed the order by making the mantra public, he became very angry. He chastised Ramunajacharya - “You are a rascal, you disobeyed my order!” So Ramunajacharya said, “Let me go to hell for disobeying your order - that is all right - but all of these people have been delivered by the power of the mantra. I am willing to go to hell so that they can all become delivered.” And the guru then realized, “Actually, my disciple is better than me, higher than me - he is actually my guru” - and apologized for chastising him.
So we are going to make this mantra public tonight. We are not charging any money; we are not keeping it secret. I will teach you this mantra and we will all sing it with some nice music. We can all sing it together. I understand that you are all very spiritual people – I’m sure that you will become very excited to chant this mantra. So I will say and everybody will repeat, all together. We’ll do it two words at a time. Are you ready?
[assembly repeats each time]
Very good. Now we will do it with some music - it becomes even more beautiful. The way we’ll do it is – now I said two words, and everybody repeated it as a group. But this time I will say all sixteen words, and you can repeat all sixteen words. Maybe we should practice a little bit – we’ll go gradually. I’ll say four words and then you repeat, and then we’ll do eight, and then sixteen. So now I’ll do four words and then you will repeat:
That’s very good – you’re very good! I should take you on tour, all around the world with me! So now I will do eight:
Krishna/Krishna Krishna/Hare Hare
That’s very good! Now I will do all sixteen words, and you repeat all sixteen words:
Hare Krishna/Hare Krishna/Krishna Krishna/Hare Hare/Hare Rama/Hare Rama/ Rama Rama/Hare Hare
You’re very good! . . . Now we will sing it. Here’s how it works: I will do a solo, with sixteen words - I will do the mantra as a solo, then you all come in as a group. Then I will do another solo, and then you come in as a group. If you’re confused as to when you are supposed to sing, just sing when she sings [referring to Adi Radhika, the translator]. When she is not singing, you should not sing; and when she is singing, that’s when you should sing. But I will first of all do it all by myself - and then you do it as a group, one time, and then I will do it one time – do you understand? Now this is my turn first – the first time I do it all alone, then you do it as a group, then I do it all alone, then you do it as a group - we alternate back and forth. And you can clap also [claps in time].
[Begin light percussion, clapping, harmonium; Srila Gurudeva sings alternately with the assembly, once around] - now it’s my turn – [solo] – now it’s your turn – [assembly]
[kirtan proceeds for several rounds]
This is a form of meditation that was spread all over India five hundred years ago. It is called sankirtan. San means a group of people; kirtan means chanting. You have all heard – in English we have a word, you must have a Turkish word similar – ‘synergy’ – do you have a word like ‘synergy’? If one person is meditating, you see, there is some potency. But when a whole group comes together and chants, Hare Krishna/Hare Krishna/Krishna Krishna/Hare Hare/Hare Rama/Hare Rama/Rama Rama/Hare Hare - then the potency becomes magnified millions and billions of times. This meditation - Hare Krishna chanting - is so powerful . . . the more we have kirtan like this in the world, a group of people chanting - it will solve all the problems of the world. It will stop war, it will stop tsunamis, it will stop earthquakes, it will stop poverty, it will stop AIDS - it will solve all the problems of the world. And besides that – it’s fun! It elevates your consciousness to a very high platform. Last night we had a program in the home of one wealthy businessman, and we all chanted Hare Krishna together. This morning, the lady at whose house we had the program called us and said, “When I woke up this morning the first thing I said was ‘Hare Krishna’!” And also last night, after chanting at her home, I dreamed I was in Detroit. And what was I doing in Detroit? “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna” - I was also dreaming that I was chanting Hare Krishna. So it is a very powerful meditation. If you will chant this either individually or collectively every day - what you do is you get up in the morning and you take your bath, and before you eat your breakfast, you must chant Hare Krishna. Whatever time you can spare – five minutes, twenty minutes - ideally two hours is very good, if your schedule will allow it - but if you can do it every day, even for a little bit, you will find that this is the switch that turns on the whole world. As I told you earlier: Truth works.
I’ve given you this mantra free of charge now, and I am simply saying: try it, you’ll like it. So - would anybody like to ask some questions? I am very happy to answer questions.
Q: What is the meaning of the mantra?
A: Yes, the meaning of the mantra - the word ‘Hare’ refers to the energy of God, and ‘Krishna’ or ‘Rama’ - those two names refer to God, just as in your Muslim tradition the name ‘Allah’ refers to God. So first of all we are asking the Lord’s energy, and then we are asking the Lord: will you please engage me in Your service. So it is a prayer begging the Lord and His energy, “Will You kindly engage me in Your service?” Questions more?
I have a policy - that is, if you don’t ask me questions, then I will ask you questions – here’s a question –
Q: Will you give more mantras also?
A: She has asked an interesting question, and I will first answer this question, but it reminds me at the same time - we have a free e-course on the Internet. It is absolutely free, and we will pass around a sign-up sheet. Just give your name and your e-mail address in big, block letters . . . It’s in English - I’m sorry, I don’t speak your Turkish language, but I’m traveling to many countries, and I can’t learn every language in the world - so since my native speech is English, I’m giving the course in English. It will come to you in English every day. You will get what’s called “Thought for the Day”, and every week you’ll get a Weekly Lesson. It’s free; I think you’ll like it.
So there are other mantras - in fact we have a few copies of the Bhagavad-gita here, and it has about 800 mantras in it. We are sorry we could only bring ten copies, so the first ten people who come forward to give some contribution can get a copy of the book – but you can always leave your name if you want to get one later on; we can try to get more copies. The Bhagavad-gita is in Turkish - we have it translated into Turkish . . . but you have to come forward and give a donation to cover the printing cost . . .
Anyway, so yes, we have many mantras, but the Hare Krishna is the most powerful. It is called the maha-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance. The mantra is written there if you want to copy it down . . .
Q: I have read Bhagavad-gita, and I see that Krishna is Arjuna’s inner teacher. Do we really need an outside teacher?
A: Krishna is Arjuna’s inner teacher, it’s true. But Krishna is also his outer teacher at the same time. You can see, Krishna is standing on the outside – they are both standing in the chariot. Krishna is situated in the heart of Arjuna as Paramatma, the Supersoul, so Krishna is caitya guru - that’s a fact. But at the same time He is appearing outwardly, as the external guru. So Arjuna has Krishna as inner and outer guru both. Now if you are already a spiritually enlightened being, you will be fully attuned to that inner guru already. But if you are not yet fully awakened, then an external guru is required. So the answer is, if you are fully awakened then you already have the full connection with your inner guru; but if you’re not, then you require an external guru to help you properly connect with the internal guru. This is why throughout the history we have always seen that everyone accepts an external guru. That is always the system. Since the very beginning of the universe, that has been the system, because that external guru will teach you how to fully, properly connect with the internal guru. On your own you will not be able to figure out how to do that.
Q: What is the marking on the forehead? [referring to Vaisnava tilaka, the sacred insignia worn by devotees, applied to the forehead and other parts of the body]
A: This is the sign of one who has conquered over death.
Q: Can we also use this sign?
A: Yes - since you have chanted Hare Krishna, you can wear it also.
Q: What is death?
A: Death means a change of body. Just like now you are wearing this suit - when the suit becomes old and worn out, you will throw it out and get a new suit. So when your body becomes old and worn out, you will throw it out and get a new one. That is called death. It is simply a change of bodies.
Q: Is happiness contained in this maha-mantra verse? Or can I create a melody and mantra myself?
A: You can create your own melody . . . any melody is fine. But if you want to make your own mantra, you try to bring in your own mantra – just like you may say, “Things go better with Coca-Cola” [to tune]. You may make that as one mantra . . . You chant “Things go better with Coca-Cola” on your side, and we will chant “Hare Krishna” on our side, and we will see who can chant longer . . . Golokera prema-dhana hari-nama-sankirtan. This Hare Krishna mantra is coming from the spiritual world. So you cannot invent your own mantra - that you cannot do, because you are still within the shackles of time and space, and any mantra you invent will likewise still be within time and space. You must take a mantra which has come from a realm beyond this time and space, that will deliver you to the realm beyond time and space. But the melody of that - you can choose your own melody.
Q: Is enlightenment a continuous condition, or does it come and go?
A: I have many students all over the world, through my e-course, and they will write me and say, O Gurudeva, I became enlightened. And then they say, oh, it went away after a while. That is not enlightenment. When you become actually enlightened it never goes away. And it simply gets better and better and better and better for all of eternity. This is described as brahma-saukyam tu anantam: that spiritual happiness which goes on increasing eternally forever. It’s like diving into the ocean, and going deeper and deeper and deeper – and the ocean has no bottom. You will continue diving deeper and deeper and deeper, for all of eternity. And you’ll never get tired of it - you’ll never get bored. It will get more and more exciting with every minute that goes by.
Q: Does this mantra conflict with human nature’s changing mood?
A: There are two natures: there is the material nature and there is the spiritual nature. The material nature is up and down, happiness and distress. But the spiritual nature is ever-increasing happiness. So you can choose which nature you like better: do you want to be happy, sad, happy, sad? Or would you rather taste ever-increasing spiritual bliss? That choice, my dear sir, is up to you. No one will force you; you can do what you like. On the top of the ocean the waves are going up and down, up and down, up and down; but when you go deep within the ocean there is no more turbulence.
Q: How do we feel as we are getting enlightened? How does it start?
A: If you are actually becoming spiritually enlightened, then you become completely devoted to God. You’ll have no more attraction for anything in this world. You will see everything in this world as the property of God, and you will want to use everything in His service - your body, your mind, and your words. Everything in the service of God.
Q: Can you open up . . . understand what is God?
A: Sure. God is the Absolute Truth. God is the source from which everything is coming. There are two popular conceptions of God. Some say God is a person, and some say God is impersonal. But my question to you is, is God limited or unlimited? What is the answer - limited or unlimited?
Yes. So if God is unlimited, He must be person and imperson, both at the same time. If I say God is a person, but he is not an imperson, that is a limitation. And if I say God is an imperson but he is not a person, that is also limiting. Therefore God must at the same time be person and imperson. So understanding that God has both the personal nature and the impersonal nature, we can then understand by reason something about God. We understand that there is the personal nature and the impersonal nature of God. So are both natures equally valid, or is one higher and one lower? That is the question
Do you know any persons who are sometimes very impersonal in the way they deal with you? Of course we all do; we know people who are sometimes very nice and sometimes very impersonal. So we all have experienced that persons can be impersonal. But do we have any experience that an imperson, like a rock, can be personal? Has a rock ever asked you, “How are you doing today?” So we have practical experience that persons can be impersonal, but impersons cannot be personal. Therefore, we can understand that essentially God must be a person – and that He also has an impersonal nature that goes along with His personality. So that’s a little about God - actually, we can speak unlimitedly about God, but that’s some introductory idea.
‘Person’ means God has a name also. Just like you’re a person – and what is your name? Habi? So Habi is your name - but your wife may call you something else. And your children may call you something else. So even though you have the name Habi, you have many, many names also. So if you, a man of this world, can have so many names - your wife calls you one thing, your friends call you something, your children call you something else – then we can understand that God must have many, unlimited names. So we see that there are many names – there is Allah, there is Krishna, there is Rama, there is Jehovah, there is Christ - there are so many names.
Q: Some people completely renounce the material world. How do you think of this?
A: There are two types of renunciation. One is called paugu-vairagya and the other is called yukta-vairagya. Here is a better example: Just like you can walk into a bank - you can bring a gun, and you can rob the bank. That is called thievery. That is punishable by the laws of the state. Or, you could walk into that same bank, and you could say, “I renounce this bank.” But then you are a fool, because that bank is not your property. How can you renounce it if it doesn’t belong to you?
Similarly, if you try to enjoy this world - which is God’s property - then you are a thief. And if you renounce this world, then you are a madman, because it is not your property to renounce. So what does the enlightened person do? The enlightened person sees that everything in this world is the property of God; therefore he says, “Let me engage everything in His service.” That is proper renunciation. If you simply go away and say this world is false, within your heart all of your attachments will still be there. But if you remain in this world and engage everything in the service of God, then you are the greatest renunciate.
Q: How do we engage everything in the service of God?
Just like I am doing – here is a very nice microphone. I am using this microphone to describe to you the science of God. This harmonium - I am using it to chant Hare Krishna. Actually, this is taught to you when you take shelter of a spiritual master. He will specifically guide you, in your life, in how to make everything perfect. Did you sign up for the course? . . . If you sign up for the course you can ask me personal questions - how you specifically can do everything in the service of God. Do you speak English? Not so much? She [translator] is translating my course into Turkish – you get her email address. You ask her questions, she will translate, and I will answer through her. I will guide you in how to do everything in the service of God. So anybody who wants to correspond with me who doesn’t speak English, get her e-mail address and you write her the questions.
Q: Your garland is very beautiful. What is the meaning of it?
A: In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, “Offer me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water.” So we offer directly to Krishna nice flower garlands like this. The devotee of the Lord is also respected as being a representative of God, just like the tax collector is there on behalf of the government. So the spiritual master is sometimes also offered a flower garland. This is the love of the student for the master - they want to give the master a nice flower garland.
Q: Can you explain what renunciation is?
A: Renunciation means using everything in the service of God - every thought, every word, and every deed.
Questions more? [no questions]
So what we’ll do now is have a little more chanting, for a few minutes, then we’ll end the meeting, and anybody who would like to speak with me personally can come forward and do that. We have a few Bhagavad-gitas left, and anyone who would like, after the kirtan, can come forward if you would like to purchase a Gita - then I can also personally sign it for you. There are only about 8 copies left, so first come, first serve.
Q: Just before you said that death means changing bodies. But now you put on the sign of tilak, which means conquering over death. Does that mean you won’t die?
A: That means no more bodies. It means that one who has taken shelter of this pathway of Krishna bhakti doesn’t take birth again. So the one who has taken the shelter of Lord Krishna, taken the pathway of devotion that we are teaching – they do not take birth again. They have conquered death; they don’t change bodies again. They achieve their eternal, original position in the kingdom of God.
So now we’ll have a little short kirtan in the evening, and anyone who wants can come forward and ask questions, or take a Bhagavad-gita.
Hare Krishna Hare
Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
[kirtan for several rounds]
Ah, this is Love . . .
So anyone who would like to speak personally or would like a Bhagavad-gita can come forward now, and meet with me personally. Anyone who takes a Gita, I will sign your Bhagavad-gita for you.
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi