Radhanath Swami explains purpose and various types of science:
As I was walking in on the entrance of this prestige institution I was appreciating the modal of the principles on which it is based upon, to spread knowledge for the welfare and the benefit of human society. And actually this is what everyone should be striving for whatever our occupation may be in life. Science is meant to improve the condition of life within the world. And for this purpose throughout history so many various forms of science have been pursued. There is science of psychiatry, psychology to understand deeper and deeper the nature of the mind because these are problems that cause so much suffering in this world. There is a science of biology, physics, chemistry to analyze deeper and deeper the creation we are living in and the more we understand the more we could help to solve the problems the people are facing. But at the same time the deeper understanding we have of how this material nature works the more we can actually cause the greatest most terrible suffering within the world we live. And this is a fact. The pollutions, the destruction of the ecology, the bombs that are being created, and the various gases that have been developed only to create suffering and destruction are warfare. They have been discovered and they have been developed often times by men who are very good and with very good purposes. But they have been used by men who are filled with envy and grief and power, a thirst for power and manipulation over others. Within this chemical institution everyday you are discovering the wonderful wonderful intricacies of the creation in which we live, more and more and more. And this is something sublime.
Radhanath Swami explains purpose of science of spirituality:
But there is another science which is absolutely essential for the world to understand for the good of humanity. And that is this science of the essential background of this creation: The science of spirituality. This science is meant not only to discover and experience the very essence of our existence and the joy and glory of our true nature. But it is meant to share the wealth of real love with humanity. And when that wealth of love is established within a person’s heart then all the other various sciences will actually be utilized for the real welfare of human society. And without that whatever we do or whatever we get our attention it will not have the desired effect. The science of spirituality is truly a science like all other science. It is the origin of science. Every science we begin to study under authority. Just like I believe this institution we take seriously those people who have proper education, who have studied under people who actually are authorized to train. We go to the colleges, read proper textbooks, the proper professor and then your own realizations and the practical application of how to utilize that knowledge gradually more and more in your life.
Attitude of people towards spirituality:
But today when it comes to spirituality people have become so drastically unscientific. Anything anyone wants to solve is considered to be authority. When we talk about God, when we talk about soul in India especially more than anywhere else in the world because I have travelled many places of the world everyone has their opinions, everyone has their interpretations, everyone has their feeling. I believe God is this, I believe truth is this.
Things beyond our sense perception must be understood from higher authorities:
When anyone comes to your institution and start giving their beliefs and ideas we accept it because you take them seriously as they have been properly trained and studied under authority. So similarly we must understand what truth is which is beyond the perception of our senses from those scientific books and those professors who have deeply realized the context of those books. The physical sciences have been understood through theory, through experimentation and through finding practical results. But when talk about the source of life, when we talk about that stage of existence which is beyond our sense perception we must approach within.
Radhanath Swami on meaning of Faith:
Sometimes in scientific circles the idea of faith is looked down upon. But this I must frankly say is ridiculous because everybody has faith. 99.999 percent of what you believe whether you are a scientist or whether you are a religionist in your life is based on faith. Faith means to believe in something that is beyond the perception of your senses. Something that you have never seen, heard, tasted or touched. When I first came to Pune I saw the nice statue of Mahatma Gandhi. How do you know that Mahatma Gandhi existed? You know there are few people or source providing who know him personally. Other than that it’s based on faith. You never saw him, you never had direct experience. But you read about him in books, you talk to people who may have seen him. I would be safe to say probably everyone in this room that your belief in existence of Mahatma Gandhi is exclusively based on faith beyond your own direct perception. Has anyone personally met him? So in this way it is reasonable faith because the people who have explained him, the books that have explained his history are reasonable and they are trusted. Similarly when we speak about geography there are so many countries in the world, most of us have not been to all that countries and all those continents but because there are authorized maps, there are authorized geographical books, there are authorized people who have been to that places is the means. That is called faith. In fact who is your mother is exclusively based on faith. You were not there, you were there but you were not able to perceive who are your mother and father at the time of conception. And when you are a baby you don’t know what is what. But gradually as you are growing you accept that this is my mother and this is my father. So only one who casts is ridiculous, most foolish assumption that we do not accept things on the basis of faith is completely contradicting. Practically everything we accept in life is true. But there is a difference between reasonable faith, faith based on reason, logic, philosophy, common sense, faith which is consistent without perception in this world that is reasonable faith. Faith in authority means that which we have experienced. And when we try to approach that science at what is beyond the capacity of our mind and senses to perceive we have to accept it on the basis of faith. But it is the position of our good mind and intelligence to rationally be convinced that what is being spoken, that what is being understood is reasonable.
Existence of God:
The existence of God no one throughout history has ever disproved the existence of God. There have been so many theories, there have been so many hypocrisies, and there have been so many claims that there is no God but has anyone ever been there at the beginning of the creation of this universe to see with their own eyes whether God did it or whether it happened by chance. All of our scientific studies which negate the idea of God are simply speculation. No evidence. At the most putting a few ideas together and coming up with what they call truth. But this is not evidence.
Radhanath Swami explains How everything has a cause:
The question that is often asked is everything coming from something or is everything coming from nothing. Now the atheists believe that everything is coming from nothing. And the devotees of God believe that everything is coming from something. Now which is more reasonable? According to our perceptions in this world have we ever found anything that has come from nothing? Everything has a cause. What is your cause? You have a mother and a father. And what was their cause, your grandmother and grandfather. And their cause your great grandmother and great grandfather. Whenever you see a tree you know as a fact that came from a seed that has come from another tree. Which came from a seed came from another tree. And this microphone that we are speaking in made of nettles and rubbers and wires and various conductors they are all coming from various ingredients of the earth. Everything that we have ever experienced in our entire life has come from something, has come from a cause. So consistent with logic is it reasonable to accept that everything comes from something. And that is the definition of God according to the Vedas.
The Vedanta sutra declared God is the absolute truth. It’s that from whom everything emanates. Is there ultimately a cause for all causes or there is no cause for all causes? So it is obvious that the scientific assumption in this case to accept that everything is coming from something, that there is a cause or there is a God, an absolute truth.
Purpose of Scriptures by Radhanath Swami :
Now to understand this truth according to the great authorities of the scriptures which have been existing since time immemorial and according to the those great spiritual professors who have lived since time immemorial they are explaining that the absolute truth reveals who he is, how things are working in this world under his control and that is what the scriptures are. They are the science books revealed by God himself; Just like if you buy a sophisticated piece of machinery such as a computer the manufacturer will also give you a manual of how to operate it so you get the best result from it. In the same way the scriptures are the revealed instruction manual of how to live within this world and get the best results within your life. Throughout history let us examine the most noble, compassionate, loving influential people, in every society, in every country, in every age. Practically all of them were people who deeply studied and realized the spiritual science and they were telling us not just what they believe but what they have seen.
Steps to be followed to realize that spirituality is the greatest science:
Science means hypothesis, some theory, and some process of experimentation and then direct observation of the result. Spirituality is the greatest science. And you will not know until you make a test of this science. First step is to understand what the truths are revealed by guru, sadhus and shastras. Then to actually apply the process that is given to our life. And anyone who has done this sincerely under proper authority actually experiences and observes what the sublime truth beyond our mind and senses are.
Explanation about the source of life:
I would like to explain very briefly in summary what are the truths that the Bhagavad-gita and other great scriptures declare. The first truth is to understand who am I, what is the source of life within me? Krishna in Gita describes
Bg chapter 2 verse 13
Dehino smin yatha dehe
Kaumaram yauvanam jara
Tatha dehantara praptir
Dhiras tatra na muhyati
That there are eight material elements (bg chapter 7 verse 4) bhumir apo nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva cha: And earth, water, fire, air and ether basic elements, those elements can be broken down into innumerable categories, deeper and deeper and deeper studies. And basically what much of your work is doing here in this university or in this institution, breaking down into deeper and deeper investigations how material nature is working.
Mind, intelligence, thoughts and ego:
And subtler than all the chemicals we can see is the mind and the intelligence and the ego. You cannot see the mind, you cannot touch it. A thought is physically totally intangible. It exists. It exists so much you can’t get away from it. Sometimes we are played with our thoughts, sometimes so much anxiety due to thoughts coming in, coming in. Actually if you have to pay your bills and you don’t have any money the physical situation is not so bad. But the anxiety on your mind is unbearable. It can plague your whole life. When someone physically dies that you love that physically what’s happened is some chemicals readjusted itself and now the body is dead. But what does it do to our mind, it devastates us. We weep, we cry, sometimes we become immobilized. This is all thoughts. Can you observe a though under a microscope? There may be certain waves that machines have to basically show certain patterns in the brain but to grasp and analyze that thought is beyond our physical perception.
The spirit soul:
But Krishna explains in Gita
BG CHAPTER 7 VERSE 5
Apareyam itas tv anyam
Prakrtim viddhi me praram
Jiva bhutam maha baho
Yayedam dharyate jagat
Beyond this gross and subtle matter is a spiritual source which is the source of consciousness wherever there is life. And that source of consciousness is called the atma or the soul, the spirit soul. And it is explained that this body is like the chariot. Today we don’t ride in chariots. Today we ride in automobiles. So when you go on an automobile the automobile is meant to take you someplace. It has its functions. But you are not the automobile. You are the person who is consciously making the automobile animate. The automobile cannot turn on itself. Even the most sophisticated computer systems cannot operate without a person, a living being turning it on. Matter is essentially dead and this body is essentially dead unless there is a person within it, a conscious force within it.
Nature of the spirit soul:
And Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita what the nature of this conscious force is.
Bg chapter 2 verse 20
Na jayate mryate va kadacin
Nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
This conscious force is eternal. It is not born and it does not die.
Bg chapter 15 verse 7
Mamaivamso jiva loke
Jiva bhutak sanatanah
Its nature is that it is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss. It is part and parcel of the Supreme conscious force, the Param-atma.
Everyone is entrapped in ignorance and that is the source of all suffering in this world:
And when this conscious force forgets its own nature, its own blissful nature, its own Godly nature, it becomes entrapped in ignorance or illusion. And what is that ignorance and illusion? When that conscious force within us simply identifies with the designations born of matter and this is the source of all the problems and sufferings in the world. If you read the papers or travel you will find what’s happening. The newspapers very seldom give any good news. It’s mostly crises, tragedies, dangers, miseries. Why because we are ignorant of our real eternal blissful nature. Indians and Pakistanis are fighting over whose land is whose but actually the soul is neither Indian nor is it Pakistani. There is so much strife amongst the caste. The lower caste wants more rights and powers. The higher castes want to push them down and maintain control and dignity in their own conception. But actually the soul has nothing to do with any caste. Men and women are always on conflict. It is an age old problem. In the west there is a great war between the males and the females. But actually the soul is neither male nor female in the physical sense. There is always conflict between generations. When I went to college in the 1960s in America there was a war literally declared war being fought between the young generation and the older generation and in any university it was the model, it was the war cry of all the youth: Anyone over thirty never trust them. And we lived by that. So this is the condition. And this is supposed to be the most highly, educated, qualified, sophisticated technological scientific country in the world: The United States of America. And the blacks and the whites have been fighting. They have been enslaved and to this day in the streets there are always wars between black people and white people. But the soul is neither old nor young, neither black nor white. Building bombs over the misconception of different nationalities. But the soul has no nationality.
Scientific discoveries are being used by ignorant people:
And all the technology and the science and all the so called improvements that we are making through our scientific discoveries are practically being utilized by people who have these ignorant misconceptions. Einstein, Oppenheimer they were actually deeply religious men in their own ways with high moral standards. And they investigated very very very deeply how this material world works and what type of powers in within the atom, what type of powers is within Gods creation. And according to their conception the more they discovered that power the more that power will be used for the benefit of humanity. But their investigations and their studies, discoveries came into the wrong hands and they simply used it for the purpose of destruction of power. And these poor man, geniuses in their own right they realized that they have created something that could destroy the world. Not created but discovered. And it plagued their consciousness and because they were men of God in their own rights and they had dignity and integrity they regretted for the rest of their lives what they had done. What we discover in our scientific laboratories, is it going to be for the good of humanity or is it just going to be used by greedy people for commercial purposes to exploit people for their own sense enjoyment, for their own power. It is a great danger. It is the greatest danger. And we should not be part of this danger. We should be a part of the solution. And the solution to this is to understand what the true Godly quality of our existence is and to try to give that knowledge and understanding to others. Then every aspect of life can be utilized for the right purpose and real good of the man and women of all living beings.
Our true nature:
So Krishna and all the great acharyas and teachers of all the great genuine scriptures of the world and all the enlightened souls have told us this principle that we are that eternal soul. We are blissful by nature. We are kind and loving, unselfish, without false ego and real happiness means to cleanse our mind and our heart from the misconceptions of the ignorance that we are now bound to.
And that comes through spiritual practice. The soul within this life is identical to the soul that is in all forms of life. But in the lower species of life the souls are simply engrossed in the bodily and mental conceptions and are simply trying to survive through the process of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. And the soul evolves through the various species of life from lower to higher that is what takes place at the time of death until the soul comes to its most fortunate and auspicious condition it enters into the human species of life.
Animals act according to their instinct whereas human beings have rational power to make choices:
Human being is called the rational animal. What does that mean? Within human life we have the rational power to make choices. The animals make no choices. They act according to their instinct. They have no power to decide to do something else. We have never seen a cow attacking a deer and eating it. A cow will eat the grass and will always eat the grass. You will never find a tiger eating a grass. You will never find a dog taking a vow, celibacy for higher realizations in life. Why because every animal just acts according to its nature. But a human being can decide to be and do anything. That is rational.
Human intelligence should be used to understand the purpose of human life instead of pursuing the same purposes of lower species:
Human life according to the Vedanta sutra is meant to understand and realize our spiritual essence. And human being that does not use that developed consciousness for realizing spiritual knowledge is actually no better than an animal in quality. Our Gurumaharaj he used to say that a dog is running on four legs and you are running on four wheels, what is the difference? You are running from one place to another just to satisfy your mind and senses. With the same consciousness, you are using your sophisticated God given human intelligence simply to pursue the same purposes of the lower species. But when we utilize this intelligence to understand who we are, what is the purpose of life, what is real happiness, what is real good to humanity, that’s when our human existence is actually fulfilled.
What happens to the soul at the time of Death?
In this human life we are born, we grow; we have some endurance for some time. Gradually we start to grow old and deteriorate. We may produce some offspring in the process and then we die. What happens at death? There are so many speculations. But has anyone actually discovered what happens at death. Some people say at the time of death the chemicals are changed, the life is gone, you as we know you cease to exist. But Krishna explains in the Gita and it can also be rationally understood by our own common sense that from the time of our birth our body and mind are going through so many transformations and changes but we remain the same, the same person observing through various conditions of our body and mind. So at the time of death it is like when the car is no longer usable you go from one car and you enter into another car or automobile.
Law of Karma:
According to the consciousness and the quality of our desires the soul is implicated in the laws of karma or the laws of action and reaction. For every action there is an equal corresponding reaction. That is the law of nature. That is the law of gravity, what goes up must come down. There are laws in this world. But there are also laws that you cannot see. You can see the results of it but you may not see how it’s happening. Why some people are born into suffering conditions? Why some people are born into prosperous conditions. Why people look different and think different? This is all creations that have been born of the consciousness that we have had in previous lives. The soul takes shelter of a particular form accordingly.
Meaning of Self-realization:
Now when we come to the point of practically applying spiritual principles to our lives we gradually cleanse our minds of all artificial, superficial illusory designations and we gradually have direct perception and realization of our eternal soul and its true glory and its true nature. And that is called self-realization. And all those great souls that have taken to this process have come to the same conclusion. They have seen not with these eyes but with the very eyes of the soul and experienced eternal strata of existence which is the background and underlined essence of all creation.
Steps to achieve self-realization:
And what is that process? The process is to live in harmony with laws of nature and the laws of the manufacture of the nature of the laws of the supreme. That means to live a pious and moral life. Not to do harm to others. Not to unnecessarily ignite and aggravate our propensities for greed and false prestige. And these are the basic principles that every society is based on because every society originally was based on religious spiritual principles. No illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling, no animal slaughter these are the basic principles of human civilization and compassion. To keep the company of people who are pious, who are moral and who are genuinely seeking spiritual principles. To study under those professors who are properly authorized to teach by their realizations and by what they have learnt from the past, from the scriptures, from the sadhus, what actually is the path of perfection.
Chanting of Maha-mantra:
And in this age of Kaliyuga there is a wonderful wonderful process and most sublime and scientific process of bringing about an awakening of the original spiritual, ecstatic loving consciousness within us. And that is the chanting of the transcendental sound vibration of the name of God. We are called the Hare Krishna movement because we chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare. This is called mantra. man means mind and tra means to free, to liberate, and to deliver. Mantra means that sound vibration which liberates the mind from all the anxieties born of all the illusions in this world. It is the spiritual sound.
Power of sound vibration:
The sound vibration actually has the power to cleanse and to free our soul, our consciousness from misconception. Just like today there is such a problem with water especially here in India. Any foreigner that comes to India the first thing they are told to do is do not drink the ordinary water because there are so many pollutants. Sometimes there are chemical pollutants, sometimes there are bacterial pollutants but there are so many pollutants. When you properly filter water what you are doing is bringing the water to its natural original state. So our consciousness, the soul is originally pure. It is full of joy, it is full of love. But now the soul has been contaminated, polluted by so many misconceptions, by so many superficial temporary designations. When we chant this mantra we take to real spiritual principles. Gradually what happens is our consciousness is filtered, it is purified, it is cleansed, and it is brought back to its original natural state of God consciousness, Krishna consciousness. This is self-realization
Material sciences have no real substance unless utilized by God conscious people:
And when we have this then we have the real position by which we could do the greatest good for humanity. Science, material science is a wonderful thing. It is one of the most wonderful things if utilized by people who have God conscious realizations, people who use it in pursuance of truth, and people who use it with compassion and love and with a real genuine understanding of the needs of society. Otherwise all various forms of science and occupational duties have no real substance to doing any real good for man. You can feed a poor man and that’s good, you can heal a sick man and that’s good but still they will be hungry and die in due course of time. But if we learn that science giving people direct perception of their eternal spiritual joyful nature beyond birth and beyond death and at the same time utilize the physical sciences to make this world a better place for everyone to pursue the ultimate purpose then we have done something wonderful.
Material things never make us happy:
The dignity to every human being is to choose what’s the most auspicious and important purpose of life. And that is something that each and every one of us should very carefully contemplate. Our spiritual master His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad spread this message of the teachings of the Vedas throughout the world, developed environment as far as material opulence as far as modern amenities, they were all frustrated. Having money will never make you happy. Having good cars and good televisions and good computers and good telephone systems and good hospitals will not make you happy. They had it all. Modern hospital, modern telephone exchange, best possible computers and everything else in every home but our hearts were empty.
Everyone is a part of rat race but they are getting nowhere:
And we looked around are we just saw everybody like a rate race. You have seen rats when they are on the wheels. They are running and running and running and running and they think they are going so far but they are getting nowhere. If you just take an objective look at society they are running so madly in so many different ways trying to go forward and they think they are going forward. But like that wheel that the rats are racing, getting nowhere.
There can be no real advancement unless we change our consciousness:
We have developed science so wonderfully in so many years, look at what we have. Hundred years ago here in India people where sitting under tress talking, they did not have microphones, and they did not have auditoriums. They did not have all these wonderful automobiles and everything else. But still the same anxieties and the same frustrations were there and they are even more now. We have the best hospitals but still people are being sick and dying. Have we actually improved? No we have not improved. We may say we are curing so many diseases but because we are not curing the disease that makes us commit activities which were countable by the laws of material nature. You can cure one disease but another disease will come. We have cured small pox that’s wonderful but because we are still engaged in the same unclean types of activities Aids has come and more people are dying of Aids than small pox. Have we advanced? Until we advance by changing the quality of our life and our consciousness there is no real advancement at all.
So this the most important thing for a human being to contemplate, what is the quality of my life? What will I really do for humanity during my life? And at the time of death what will be the destination of my soul? This is the highest most critical science in all of creation. And our very humble request is let us utilize the wonderful talents and the wonderful discoveries that we have in the most compassionate and the most realistic way to do real good to humanity and then that wonderful principle that I so pleasingly saw on the gateway of your institution will actually find its real fulfillment. Thank you very much.
Is there any question that anyone may want to ask?
- How to define spirituality and how to distinguish a scientist who has a spiritual mind and does not have a spiritual mind?
Radhanath Swami: A scientist who generally has a real spiritual mind is one who has properly studied spiritual science from a proper spiritual teacher and is applying in his scientific occupation according to that direction. This holds true with the politician, businessman, housewife or a student. Whatever occupation if we are living our life and are performing our duty under spiritual direction, the direction of the scriptures, the direction of the teacher who is presenting the essence and the truth of the scriptures then we can understand that the person is performing a scientific work in a genuine spiritual direction. And spirituality means pursuing the spiritual nature within us through all of our aspects of life. Through our family, to learn to live within our family, to live within our occupation, to live within our society, everything should be oriented in such a way that we are living in harmony and it pursuits the spiritual truths within us and which underlie this entire creation. Does that answer your question? Is there any other question?
- How is spirituality different from religious practices?
Radhanath Swami: In a common sense today most religion is not based on scientific philosophical truth. Most religion is based on superstition and sentimentalism. And most religious teachers are just giving their opinions and their own ideas. And many of them are doing it for the purpose of becoming famous, for becoming worship able. It is their occupation. Just like our Gurumaharaj said, when he was a little boy living in Calcutta he would sometimes see this one man, he had a wife and children and he was actually making a lot of money. And every morning Srila Prabhupad would see this man and he would put on his business clothes which happened to be saffron robes. And he would put on tilak. And he would go door to door begging as a sadhu and giving people blessings. And then all the money he would make he would bring home and he would buy nice, every type of things for his family to enjoy. So that was the way he made his living. So these types of spiritual teachers, which there are so many, giving their own concocted ideas, exploiting people they had many ways of ruining the name of religion among the intelligent scientific minded people. And so many of our mothers and fathers and grandfathers and grandmothers they perform pooja’s but they don’t even know why they are doing it. Simply out of fear that if I don’t do it something bad may happen to me. Today most religion is not based on truth, it is based on superstition. It is based on sentiment. It’s based on exploitation, concoction. So that’s what we consider to be religion. That is not real religion. Real religion is spirituality. Real religion is based on authority of God and the chain of disciplic succession of great professors or teachers who have preserved the original teachings of the truth. Real religion and real spirituality is based on truly pursuing the genuine spiritual principles underlying in this creation and how to live in harmony with them. And this is a great science. It is the most important of all science. In the western world and even in India we are meeting so many young college students in India and they are turning away from their own spiritual heritage because they do not see a philosophical, logical scientific basis to it. And they have so much western education that they just can’t accept things blindly but as soon as they hear the same things that their parents are teaching, that their parents are doing but when they hear it according to the real teachings they accept and they live by it greater than any of their ancestors because they have actual scientific philosophical conviction of what is to be done. That is the difference between real spirituality and common religion.
- Who is a real spiritual leader?
Radhanath Swami: A real spiritual leader is explained within the Bhagavad-gita. In fact the Bible and Quran also say the same thing. This is the authority by which we can discriminate. A real spiritual leader is simply one who presents the spiritual truths as they are revealed in the scriptures. He does not give his own opinions. That a real professor too. Is it not? A real spiritual leader is one who lives by these principles: Someone who is not acting out of greed, someone who lives a very simple life, who is selfless and genuinely trying to always help others physically, mentally, spiritually. A person who is compassionate, tolerant, self satisfied and person who is always speaking the glorifications of spiritual truths and helping others to advance to those principles, that is a real spiritual leader. He can be wearing a suit and tie, she could be wearing a sari, and he could be wearing robes also. Spiritual leader is not a matter of dress or hair style. A spiritual leader is one who manifests these qualities within one’s life.
- Does spirituality induce devotion?
Radhanath Swami: Yes. As we develop our spiritual lives, as we become purified, deeper and deeper does devotion manifest in our life because it is the quality or the very essence of our existence or soul to have devotion, Bhakti, Devotion to God and devotion to all of Gods manifestations. And this is the greatest of all virtues: Devotion. In fact it is only through devotion that we can come to true realization of God and simultaneously as we come to deeper realizations of God our devotion becomes more and more intensified, pure. And it is this devotion toward the will of God and toward the betterment of mankind that is the real hope for the world.