Dialectical Spiritualism: John Locke, Part 4


Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from  Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.

John Locke (1632 - 1704)

Syamasundara dasa: According to Locke's utilitarian ethic, happiness is the greatest good, and obedience to the moral law results in happiness.

Srila Prabhupada: But the difficulty is that here in this material world, happiness is temporary. And even if we follow moral laws, other people will give us trouble. There are people who don't care whether you are moral or immoral.

Bhagavad-gita confirms that this is not a place of happiness. Duhkhalayam asasvatam. "This temporary world is full of miseries." (Bg. 8.15) Therefore we have to find where real happiness exists. That is the spiritual world. Happiness here is only another illusion. It is not possible. If Krsna Himself says that this is a place of misery, how can we find happiness here? In Bhagavad-gita, Krsna speaks of real happiness:

sukham atyantikam yat tad 
buddhi-grahyam atindriyam 
vetti yatra na caivayam 
sthitas calati tattvatah

"In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness and enjoys himself through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this, he thinks there is no greater gain." {Bg. 6.21) Real happiness is beyond the senses. It is atindriya. In other words, we have to purify our senses in order to attain it. This is also confirmed by Rsabhadeva:

nayam deho deha-bhajam nrloke 
kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujarh ye 
tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam 
suddhyed yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv anantam

"Of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one's heart is purified, and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness and which continues forever." (Bhag. 5.5.1) Presently, our existence is impure. If a man is suffering from jaundice, he tastes sweet things as bitter. In order to taste real happiness, we have to purify our senses. Materialists think that as soon as they have sexual intercourse, they will be happy, but that is not real happiness. We cannot even enjoy that happiness. The conclusion is that we should not seek happiness like cats, dogs, and hogs, but as human beings. This means tapasya, purification of the senses. First we must be cured of this material disease, then we can taste real happiness in our healthy life. A sane man knows that he is spirit soul covered by a material coating. So let this coating be washed away by devotional service. Tat-paratvena nirmalam (Narada-pancaratra). When we engage in devotional service, we remove the false coating, and our real senses emerge. We enjoy those real senses by serving Krsna.

Syamasundara dasa: Locke also says that all men are born free and equal in the state of nature and that they have formed a social contract; therefore the government must be based on and subject to the mutual consent of all the citizens.

Srila Prabhupada: That agreement can be reached when everyone is situated on the spiritual platform. On the material platform, people are subject to the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion, and ignorance. How can the vote of a God conscious man and the vote of a drunkard be equal? Equality is not possible unless everyone comes to the spiritual platform.

Syamasundara dasa: Is it true that all men are born free and equal?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is a fact. If we are not free, how can we commit sin? Committing sin means that we have the freedom to commit sins. And equality means that we all have small independence. We are equal in the sense that we can properly utilize or misuse our independence. Because we all have independence, we are equal. If we misuse it, we go downward, and if we use it properly, we go upward. In the use of our independence, we have equal rights.