ISKCON Sydney Youth Forum Program
(10 December 2005)
[begins in progress]
God appears in the form of His name. We’ve all heard the word avatar, meaning an incarnation of God. But this avatar comes whenever a devotee chants with love the name of Krishna. Normally, avatar means that there’s a certain schedule; the scheduled avatar is actually given in scripture. Of course, nowadays it’s popular for people to proclaim, “I am the avatar.” This is bogus. The last avatar came 500 years ago, and the next one is coming in 427,000 years, according to the scripture. So we understand avatar according to scripture, not according to somebody’s claim to be an avatar. But anyway, avatar will also come in the form of the name “Krishna” when it is chanted with love. In other words, Krishna, the original source of all avatars, will personally manifest right here today - on our tongues, in our hearts, in this room - if we will chant His names with love.
This is a very special thing. We can directly associate with God, right now. We simply have to realize that the name of God and God Himself are one in the same. They’re not different; they are completely and totally one in the same. So we chant in that mood, in that understanding, that Krishna and His name are one in the same. This is confirmed in all the revealed scriptures. Even the Bible indicates, “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” Even the Bible indicates that, what to speak of the Qur’an - all the scriptures indicate the transcendental power of the holy names of God.
Of course, God is not limited, so He has unlimited names. It’s not some sectarian thing – only the name “Krishna.” No. Our philosophy is that God has hundreds of millions of names. Even an ordinary person in this world has more than one name. His parents call him one thing, his girlfriend calls him something, his friends call him something else, his boss calls him something else – he has so many different names. So if an ordinary fellow in this world can have so many names, then how many names God can have? An unlimited number.
These Krishna names – Krishna, Rama – are very special out of all of the millions of names of God. In fact, it is stated in the Kalisantarana Upanisad that in this particular Iron Age of Kali, in which we are now living, these particular names have the most potency, the most power of enlightening the living being:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Therefore we chant these names. But we never say that unless you chant Hare Krishna you’re going to hell. We never say that. If one chants any names of the Lord with love and devotion then one achieves perfection. But these names are the most powerful, the most efficient. So therefore we will chant Hare Krishna.
So the idea is to get into such a mood of bhakti when you’re chanting that you could go on chanting for millions of years – just keep diving deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper. That’s the way. That’s when you’re really on track. You think, “Wow, this is so sweet! I could just go deeper and deeper, for millions and billions of years, just go deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper. You can do it on your own at home too, on your chanting beads. You can get up every morning and sit down with your chanting beads and chant, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” The neat thing about this is that when you do this on a regular basis . . . it’s just like a surfer getting addicted to the surf. We were just up there on the Gold Coast; there’s such an atmosphere of surf there that you expect someone to just come surfing right up there to the ticket counter, just hanging ten into the ticket counter - and sure enough, somebody showed up with a surfboard to take the flight. The devotee loves the Name even more than the surfer loves his surf. Because how long do those waves last? This is a wave; this is the ultimate wave. You catch this wave, under that guidance of the Vaisnavas and Guru, then you never ‘wipe out,’ as they say (that means falling off the wave and falling onto your board). You can catch this wave and ride if for eternity – the wave of bhakti. This wave will take you all the way beyond the cycle of birth and death back to that transcendental abode from which we all originally came.
Have you ever realized that you’re a stranger in a strange land? Did you know that? You don’t belong to this world. That’s why things don’t seem right here. This is not our place! We’ve been artificially transplanted here by an artificial desire to try to be God ourselves when we’re not actually God. We’re actually servants of God.
Once upon a time, a foolish child wanted the moon. He said, “Mommy, Mommy, give me, give me!” A mother cannot give a child the moon. But the mother wanted to pacify the child, so she took a mirror and put it in the child’s hand is such a way that it looked like the child had the moon. Similarly, at one point we were situated in the spiritual world and then we had the foolish desire to be God. So Krishna gave us the illusion, “Yes, you are God.” He gave us a place to live where everyone thinks he’s God. What is that place called? Sydney, Australia.
But this doesn’t work! We have so many Gods running around butting heads with one another. It doesn’t work. But every now and then, out of thousands and millions of living beings who are running around butting heads, it happens, as Krishna says:
Out of thousands and millions of living entities who are running around butting heads, there will be one who says, “What’s going on? This isn’t right. There’s got to be something more to life than this struggle for existence. There’s got to be something more than the rat race. It just doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t feel right that money, money, money is the whole goal of existence.” And out of a thousand persons who have that realization, one very fortunate person will actually come in contact with a bona fide spiritual master or a devotee of the Lord who can actually give him information on how to escape the cycle of birth and death. And out of a thousand people who meet the spiritual master or a Vaisnava and get the proper information, very rare is that person who will actually take it up – who will go, “Wow, this is amazing – I’m going to do this! I’m going to become Krishna conscious - this is incredible!” This is an extremely rare thing. If you’re waiting for popular votes to confirm that Krishna consciousness is the right thing to do with your life, forget it. It’s not going to happen. You have to go on your own realization.
There is one former nun who is writing to me from Malaysia these days. She has a hard time accepting that Krishna is the name for God because the Catholics don’t accept that – the Catholic Church doesn’t acknowledge that Krishna is the name for God. So she has a hard time accepting that because the Catholic Church doesn’t accept that. I haven’t answered her letter yet, but I’m getting ready to write her back and tell her, “My Dear Such-and-Such: Who cares what the Catholic Church thinks what God’s name is? Why don’t you find out what God wants to be called?” He’s the authority on what He wants to be called. Of course, all the names are valid. But they [Catholics] say, “No, only this name, not the other name.” That’s not proper.
So the question is: We’ve been glorifying this process of Krishna consciousness as being a valid system of actually realizing who you are and being who you are. What is our basis of saying that? Are we just making this up? Is this just some hype to win friends and influence people? Is this actually valid? Is it real; is it tangible? Or is it another one of those things going on in this world that is concocted to exploit people, to take advantage of people?
Let’s take a deep, philosophical look at reality. Let us analyze reality with our own intelligences. Let’s analyze reality starting right here, with this harmonium. This harmonium came from a manufacturer. That manufacturer came from something, which in turn came from something, which came from something, which came from something. You can take any object – a mobile phone, your own body, your mind, your glasses – and trace out what the cause of it was, and what the cause of that cause was, and the cause of that cause of that cause, and so on. And if you trace out the line of causality for any object or any phenomenon is this world, you will eventually come to a cause that has no cause.
Some people argue that there is an infinite chain of causality, and thus there is no beginning point. It just goes back into infinity. That’s like supposing you have an infinite row of dominoes, with no beginning domino. But still, consider what this would mean in terms of the ‘domino effect’ of causality. Even if there were an infinite row of dominoes, there would have to be one domino somewhere along that row of dominoes that, on its own volition, fell over (in order to get the domino effect to happen and for all the dominoes to fall over). So the idea of an infinite chain of causality doesn’t hold water logically. There has to be a line of cause and effect going back to an original cause that has no cause; otherwise, nothing could happen. There has to be an original cause that can make things happen without anything or anyone else making it do that. You see? That is God. It’s just pure logic. We’re not blindly accepting any religious dogmas here; we’re just using our intelligence to analyze things.
So there is some common origin. Even the atheistic scientists are looking for the origin of the universe. Everyone – the theologians, the atheists – everyone admits that there’s an origin, that everything is coming from that origin. All right, then; there’s an origin. In Sanskrit it’s called adi. So what is the nature of the origin and what is our relationship with that origin? These are very important questions we must ask. “What is the nature of that origin and what is my relationship with that origin?”
That origin is the original fountainhead of all the energy. Everything is coming from that origin. So now I’ll give you a practical example. If every day I brought you one kilo of gold, pure gold – if every day I delivered it to your door, saying, “Here’s your gold!” – you would start to become very enlivened, because that would be worth a lot of money. And if you reached that certain point where you could say, “I don’t have to take that hour or hour-and-ten-minute commute anymore, because I’m financially independent now - I’ve got enough gold that I can live off the interest of my investment” – that would make you a very happy person . . . And let’s say one day your curiosity got the best of you, and you said to me, “Sankarshan Prabhu, where are you getting this gold from, anyway?”
“Well, I’ve got a gold mine.”
“You do? How much gold have you got in that gold mine?”
“I don’t have any gold in the gold mine.”
“Come on; you’re lying. You’re just trying to cover it up. You must have an unlimited fortune of gold and you’re trying to hide it.”
So the point is that if you’re getting gold out of a gold mine, the gold mine must have gold in it! It’s common sense.
So from that original origin, we see that so many persons have come out. You’re a person, I’m a person – there are so many persons. Thus, that original source must possess personality. So why are we referring to it as “it?” If I called you “it” would you like it? “How is ‘it’ doing today?” Would you like it? You might tolerate it for a few days, but in a few days you may just punch me in the face! “What do you mean, calling me ‘it’? I’m not ‘it’!” So that original source is a person, actually. That means that it’s a ‘he’ or a ‘she.’ Of course, in Krishna consciousness there’s a big debate going on regarding the ‘He’ or the ‘She’ – that’s a big thing right now, people saying, “Because society is male-dominated they imagine a male God, so now we have to introduce the female God.” Actually in the Vedas it’s never been a problem, because God is ‘She-He:’ Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, Laksmi-Narayana. We actually approach God through the feminine aspect; ‘Hare’ is the feminine aspect of God, and ‘Krishna’ is the masculine. So we’ve never had any trouble like that. We’ve always approached God as ‘She-He.’
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
So anyway, Krishna or God is emanating all living entities for what purpose? That’s the next question. Why is this going on like it’s going on? Why is it happening the way it’s happening? So that Original Person is emanating from Himself all varieties of living beings -for what purpose? The Original Person is described in the Vedas as atmarama. (I think your spiritual leader here is also Atmarama, but he’s Atmarama das, temple president of our Sydney temple - a great devotee of Krishna and a great preacher of our movement. He’s Atmarama das.) The original atmarama is Krishna. Atmarama means self-enjoyer. Krishna doesn’t need anything else to enjoy; he can just enjoy, all by Himself. So why has He bothered to manifest all these millions of planets and living entities?
Well, why do people want to have friends? Why do parents want to have children? Because the more you have relationship, the more the happiness grows. People like to go to a party because there are a lot of people there – just like we’re having a party here today, a kirtan party. So people like to go to a party because at a party there are a lot of people together doing the same thing together in a loving mood. It creates a wonderful, wonderful feeling in everyone’s heart. God is no exception; he likes to party also. Actually, we like to party because God likes to party. He is the original partier. Our partying nature comes because we are a part of Him and His partying nature.
So to party, Krishna manifests from Himself an infinitude of living beings in order to enjoy a loving relationship with each and every one of them. Moreover, the living beings are not carbon copies - that would be rather boring. It’s just like snowflakes. How many snowflakes are exactly the same? None. Every snowflake is totally unique. So the Lord manifests from Himself an infinitude of living beings, each one of them with unique qualities, characteristics and personalities, so that He can have a special type of unique rasa or relationship with each and every one them.
So guess what? That’s why you exist! God is manifesting you from Himself at this very second; he is emanating you from Himself at this very second to enjoy a certain type of loving relationship with you that only you can give Him, and no one else. And that’s why unless we are connected with God in love, we cannot be satisfied. Just as a fish cannot be satisfied out of water, we cannot be satisfied unless we are connected in loving relationship with the Lord. That’s the cool thing about Krishna consciousness. It brings you back into your original, constitutional nature very quickly and easily, just by the power of the Hare Krishna mantra. You actually get back in the water of your actualized spiritual nature, and you swim in that water. Eternity, knowledge and bliss are your actual nature – not temporality, ignorance and misery.
So the Krishna consciousness movement is not something sectarian. It is simply a network of those persons who want to get back into their original, constitutional nature – where they were before they decided to come down to Sydney, Australia.
So we’re very happy that you all have come today to participate in this function – actually you two have organized it [referring to two devotees present]. These are the facilitators; I just come here and flap my jaws and dance my fingers a little bit, that’s all. These are the ones who have done the work. They’ve made a nice arrangement so that we can all come and dive into that sweet, nectarean ocean of Krishna prema, love of God. Now we are just scratching the surface. But as we progress along this pathway - by regular chanting, eating foodstuffs sanctified by being offered to the Lord, and so forth – by regularly engaging in these activities, one can actually become mature. And do you know what maturity means? It means you become a fully spiritually enlightened being. You’ll become a spiritually enlightened being and due course of time by following this pathway of bhakti-yogi.
So we’re very happy to see you all here today. We feel blessed by the presence of each and every one of you. You are all chanting the names of God, so we are blessed by your presence here. Even if you’re brand new to chanting, you just became a saint by chanting Hare Krishna – a neophyte saint, beginning on the path of sainthood. Actually, everyone is a saint. All you have to do is uncover the fact by regularly chanting the names of the Lord:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Christians have a philosophy they talk about which actually goes against their own scripture. They say it’s not possible to become perfect; you can only be forgiven. But their very Bible says, “Blessed are the pure, for they shall see God.” So we should never think that it’s impossible to become pure. How could it be so, if the Lord is speaking like that? “Blessed are the pure, for they shall see God.” The fact is that one can see God. In fact, we have a prayer to that end in Krishna consciousness. We have the prayer, jagannathah svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me. We pray to the Supreme Lord of the entire universe, “Jagannatha, to please bless me that my eyes become purified so that I can see you.” We have another prayer also, Brahma-samhita [5.38]:
The meaning is that when your eyes become anointed with the salve of love of God, you can see the Lord everywhere - within your heart and everywhere.
“So, all right,” you may say, “Where is” – what do you call it here in Australia, a drugstore? Chemist? – “Where is that chemist who sells the premanjana – that ointment of love of God? I want to buy some!” That chemist is the spiritual master, and he is selling it for the price of faith - a very cheap price. If you have some faith in the spiritual master, then he will sell you – simply for the price of faith – this premanjana. And how do you apply it? It’s a very interesting ointment. It comes in through your ears. It goes to your eyes through the medium of your ears. So if you will submissively hear the words from the mouth of Sri Guru, the spiritual master, then that ointment of love of God will purify your vision, and you will be able to come to that point of being able to perceive God directly, face to face, eye to eye. And then, if somebody asks, “Do you believe in God?” you can say “No. I know Him.” You will see Him at every minute; what is the question of ‘believing?’ “Do you believe in God?” - “I don’t have to believe in Him; I see Him all the time.” The pure devotee has that vision. One time Srila Prabhupada was saying how he could actually see how Krishna is eating the food when we offer it on the altar. We believed that Krishna was eating the food, but Prabhupada could see how he was eating the food.
So anyway, we’d like to thank you all very much for coming today, and we’d like to ask you if you have any questions. I’d be happy to try to answer them for you. Inquiry is one of the important aspects of the bhakti-yoga system. If you have any curiosity or any desire to know anything more, please speak up – don’t be shy. The only stupid question was the one you didn’t ask; if you ask it, that’s intelligence. Asking the question is the sign of intelligence. (I’m getting my hearing aids turned on, then we’ll be all set . . .)
You mentioned how it is our constitutional position to serve Krishna. At the same time, why is it so difficult in the material world that only one in a hundred or one in a thousand takes to this process?
Because the present-day materialist society does a superexcellent job of conditioning us to think that we are these bodies. “I am Australian;” “I am male;” “I am female” – we have been conditioned from day one, as soon as we came out of the womb – “Oh what a cute little boy!” We were conditioned to think, “I am this body” from day one. Now they can determine the sex of a child even from within the womb – isn’t there some test? So even while the child is in the womb, there’s all this talk – “It’s a boy, it’s a boy, it’s a boy!” “It’s a girl, it’s a girl, it’s a girl!” So were conditioned to think, “I am this body” from the very beginning. Everywhere we go, it’s the same conditioning.
Actually, Plato gives an example in one of his writings. Do you know about the Platonic cave? There are all these men tied in this cave. They’re tied down; their heads are tied down and all they can see is this shadow display on the wall. Someone behind the scenes is doing a shadow display. For those men, that is reality. They can’t see anything beyond that. One of the men happened somehow to get loose from his bindings, and he wandered through the cave, looking. Somehow he came out of the cave into the bright sunlight. At first it was dazzling; he wasn’t used to it. It took him a while to adjust his eyes to be able to handle it. But finally he realized that this was the real reality. He thought, “Oh, those other poor men tied in the cave!” and he went back to them to tell them what he had found out. When he did, the other men thought he was a madman. They couldn’t believe that there was something beyond the shadow display on the wall. That’s what it’s like. It’s called ‘mass psychosis.’ The whole world is in a state of psychological unreality. The whole world is actually psychotic. People don’t realize what the reality is. Everyone’s caught up in illusion.
And that applies only to this age?
It’s in every age, but especially in this age. In this age you have 75% ignorance, increasing rapidly up to 100%. In the previous age, it was 50% ignorance; in the previous age 25%; in the Satya-yuga, though, everyone was a spiritually enlightened being, a paramahamsa. Prabhupada explains that in the Satya-yuga everyone was a paramahamsa, a spiritually enlightened being. So what we’re trying to do in our Krishna consciousness movement is create another Satya-yuga-like atmosphere on this planet right now. That is actually possible – it’s actually predicted that it will happen, by Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami in the Caitanya Caritamrita, that there will be this inundation of Krishna bhakti that will actually influence the whole world. Everyone will become swept away by this wonderful spiritual enlightenment of Krishna consciousness. So we get to be spiritual revolutionaries by practicing it and spreading it. It’s pretty exciting. It’s actually the most exciting moment in history right now, when we can be instrumental in the awakening of the whole world from the dense, dark ignorance of bodily consciousness.
How long does an age last?
This particular age of Kali has duration of 432,000 years, of which 5,000 have passed, leaving a balance of 427,000 years. But there’s a Golden Era predicted to occur in the middle of it like an Indian summer, where in the middle of winter some warm spell comes. That began 500 years ago. There’s that 10,000-year period within the 432,000-year total. So that’s where we are in history right now: right in the beginning of a 10,000-year era of spiritual enlightenment
But outside of the Krishna-conscious atmosphere which is created by this movement, the materialistic age is getting worse and worse and worse. Have you noticed? Yes. With things like the terrorism, the 9-11 – we never dreamed that such things could happen in the society, but they’re happening. Even the ordinary pundits say it’s going to happen more and more and more. We have to be ready. They’re trying to solve it by the Department of Homeland Security – good luck. (That’s what they call it in the U.S. – the Department of Homeland Security.) By forming new department in the governmental bureaucracy we’re going to solve the problem of terrorism. Good luck. That’s like chopping off the weeds at the surface. If you want to get rid of the weeds you’ve got to uproot them. The root cause of all the problems of the world is the false identification with the material body. The Krishna consciousness movement is dealing with the problems at the root. We’re not treating the symptoms; we’re going to the root of the problems, which is the false sense of thinking “I am God” and “I am this body.” If you can enlighten people to understand that we are not our bodies and we are not God, but that we are servants of God, then that knowledge can become widespread and all the problems of the world will be solved. They will all be solved.
We remember someone - we might meet someone and explain to them what Krishna consciousness is – and then we come together as a group, with all these people who have been introduced, and we seem to have agendas among ourselves, or we don’t cooperate and we judge others.
Yes. This is because we’re not focusing. It means we are getting into other agendas. Basically, Prabhupada has stated the point very clearly. He said that sometimes we take to devotional service in exchange for material power. That’s really what it boils down to. “I want to influence you. You do what I say and you follow what I do.” That tinge of desire for material power often comes with us with all good intentions. We come to become purified, but we carry with us this baggage of desire for material power and prestige. We have to, as they said in the Old West, “Check your guns at the door.” We have to have a peg at the door for false egos. “Come on in - check your false ego at the door.” That desire for power or prestige – leave it at the door. It doesn’t work in the Krishna consciousness movement. Sometimes it may appear to work, but you see how we had big leaders who couldn’t check their false egos at the door. They got some power, some position; but then, because they were more attracted to the power and the position than they were to Krishna consciousness, when they got that power and position they had no taste for it, and they gave it up.
This is why I’m giving these seminars on Pure Devotional Service. I gave a seminar in West Virginia, New Govardhana and in Europe also. This is the real essence of Krishna consciousness: pure devotional service. In fact, it was amazing that when I first wanted to do one of these seminars at the North American Festival of Inspiration, I told the organizers that I wanted to do a seminar on pure devotional service and it went over like a wet rag. They said no – like it wasn’t very important. I’m well known for being an Internet guru, for having success with 20,000 people taking my e-course all over the world. So they said, “You do a seminar on Internet preaching. We’d like you to show how you use the Internet for Krishna.” This is high-tech and state-of-the-art, whereas pure devotional service is kind of old-fashioned - they didn’t say that exactly, but this was the implication - “We want something that is cutting-edge.” They didn’t say it directly, but they decided that they didn’t want to allow me to do a seminar on pure devotional service. So I said, “Look, I’ll make a deal with you. I will do an Internet Preaching seminar if you let me do Pure Devotional Service also.” So they said, “All right.” And then, do you know what happened when I gave the two seminars? Guess which one was more popular with the devotees? Pure Devotional Service.
So we need to focus on that. We really do. We did a program with some devotees and initiated a devotee the other day and one man there argued that it’s not possible to become a pure devotee in this lifetime – that you might as well not even try; you can’t attain that. That’s not the right attitude.
Prabhupada ordered me to become a pure devotee. He said, “Now you just qualify yourself to see Krishna face to face.” That doesn’t mean, “Well, later on, Prabhupada” – no, that means now. When the spiritual master gives an order, you do it now. You don’t say, “Later on, Prabhupada; when I go back to Godhead I’ll think about it” – no. When the spiritual master gives an order, it means do it now. Prabhupada ordered me, “Now you just qualify yourself to see Krishna face to face.” So if each and every one of us focuses on becoming a pure devotee, then everything will be very wonderful. We’ll see a pure, Vaikuntha-like atmosphere manifested in the association of devotees. There will be wonderful, loving relationships among all the devotees, and that will create an atmosphere which will attract the whole world.
I think our time is running short . . . we can actually continue talking over prasadam. Anybody who wants to discuss more can join me for prasadam . . .
So we thank you very much for your nice listening, your nice questions and your nice chanting. Hare Krishna – Srila Prabhupada ki jaya! __________________________________________
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi