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Becoming Pure

Māyāpur, India – February 29, 1972

Bob: Thank you so much for allowing me to ask my questions.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is my mission. People should understand the science of God. Unless we cooperate with the Supreme Lord, our life is baffled. I have given the example many times that a screw which has fallen from a machine has no value, but when the same screw is again attached to the machine, it has value. Similarly, we are part and parcel of God. So without God, what is our value? No value! We should again come back to our position of attachment to God. Then we have value.

Bob: I met a young fellow today who came here because he heard that hippies were in Māyāpur.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: He’s Indian?

Bob: Yes. He lives nearby and speaks English fairly well. When he was young he worshiped Kālī [a popular demigoddess] every day very rigorously. But when the floods came and the people saw hardship, he lost faith and now he has no religion. He said he now finds his happiness in trying to develop love among people. I couldn’t think of what to say to him to add God and religion to his life. He said that after he dies “maybe I’ll become part of God, maybe not,” but he can’t worry about it now. He said he’s tried various religious experiences, but they didn’t work. One reason I ask this is because when I go back to America, a lot of people I come across are like this. They see that religion, like his worship of Kālī or other kinds of religion they’ve experienced, doesn’t work. And I don’t know what to say to them to convince them it’s worth trying.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Do not try at the present moment. You first of all become convinced, and then try to convince others. Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instruction is that you can improve the welfare of others when your own life is a success:

bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra
janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra

First make your life perfect. Then try to teach others.

Bob: The devotees have told me that without consciousness of Kṛṣṇa all the time, you cannot be happy. But at times I feel happy.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: At times. Not always.

Bob: Yes.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: But if you become Kṛṣṇa conscious, you will feel happy always.

Bob: They implied that you cannot feel happy without Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is a fact. For example, if you are an animal of the land and you are thrown into the water, you cannot be happy in the water in any condition. When you are again taken up on the land, then you’ll be happy. Similarly, since we are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, we cannot be happy without acting as part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. The same example as before: the machine part, fallen out of the machine, has no value, but when it is again put into the machine it has value. We are part of Kṛṣṇa; we must join Kṛṣṇa. And you can join Kṛṣṇa immediately by your consciousness, simply by thinking “I am Kṛṣṇa’s, Kṛṣṇa is mine.” That’s all.

Bob: We are part of Kṛṣṇa.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Everything is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa because everything is generated by the energy of Kṛṣṇa and everything is the energy of Kṛṣṇa.

Bob: How I can come to feel closer to God? I come to the temple at times, and then I leave, and I’m not sure how much I take with me.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: You have to be purified. It does not take much time. Within six months you will realize your progress. But you have to follow the regulative principles, just as these boys and girls are doing. Then it will be all right.

Bob: Yes, I see.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: They have no tendency for going to the cinema or a nightclub. No. They have stopped all anarthas, all unnecessary things. The whole human life is meant for purification.

tapo divyaṁ putrakā yena sattvaṁ
śuddhyed yasmād brahma-saukhyaṁ tv anantam

Lord Ṛṣabhadeva says here that we should perform austerities and penances so that we can purify our existence (sattva means existence) and come to the stage of endless transcendental happiness. So if you don’t purify your existence, then you will have to change your body from this to that. Sometimes it may be higher, sometimes lower. For example, if you don’t cure a disease, it can put you into trouble in so many ways. Similarly, if you don’t purify your existence, you will have to transmigrate from one body to another, and there is no guarantee you will get a very comfortable American body. Therefore, it is essential for a human being to purify his existence. Unless you purify your existence, you will hanker after happiness but will not always be happy.

Bob: When I go to my job in New York, I hope I’ll become pure, but I’m sure that I won’t become as pure as your devotees here. I don’t see myself doing that.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: You can do as they are doing. They were not pure in the beginning; now they are pure. Similarly, you can become pure. For example, in your childhood you were not educated, but now you are educated. If you are serious you can keep yourself pure anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you stay in America or India. But you must know how to keep yourself pure. That’s all.

Bob: You mean by following the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. I went to America, for instance, but whether in America or India, I am the same man.

Bob: I have somewhat tried to follow since I met you the first time last November.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Hmm. But you must strictly follow if you are serious.

Bob: OK, maybe … What I will say now is – well – the most foolish of all I’ve said. But let me tell you how I feel.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, no, not foolish. I don’t say you are foolish – but imperfect.

Bob: OK. [He laughs.] Imperfect. But let me tell you. I feel that right now I admire and respect your devotees, but I don’t feel as if I am part of them, or even that I have a great desire to be part of them. I feel that I just want – I want to do what is right, come closer to God, and if I can just go to a better life next time, I’d be satisfied.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Very good.

Bob: I guess it’s material clinging, but …

Śrīla Prabhupāda: So, you just follow in their footsteps, and your desire will be fulfilled. We are training people how to become purified and happy. That is our mission: we want to see everyone happy. Sarve sukhino bhavantu. People do not know how to become happy. They do not take the standard path to become happy. They manufacture their own way. That is the difficulty. Therefore, Ṛṣabhadeva gave this advice to his sons: “My dear boys, just undergo austerity for transcendental realization.” Everyone is performing austerity. One boy I know – he had to go to a foreign country to learn commercial management. Now he is well situated. In this way, everyone is undergoing some austerity for temporary material happiness. So why not undergo austerity for permanent happiness?

You have to purify your existence and your body. As many times as you accept a material body, you will have to change it. But as soon as you get a spiritual body, there is no question of change. You already have a spiritual body. Now, due to our material contamination, we are developing the material body. But if we associate with spiritual life, then we shall develop a spiritual body. If you put an iron rod within fire, it will become like fire. Is it not?

Bob: Yes.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: And when the iron rod is red-hot, you can touch it anywhere, and it will burn. It takes on the quality of fire, although it is still iron. Similarly, if you always keep yourself in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, your body will become spiritualized and act spiritually, although it is material. No more material demands.

Bob: How do I do this?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: By the process we are teaching. You have seen these six boys who were initiated today. They are doing it; it is very simple. You have to follow the four restrictive regulations and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa on these beads. Very easy.

Bob: Well, but, I follow some of the regulative principles, but not all.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: “Some” means? There are only four regulative principles. “Some” means three, or two?

Bob: Two or three.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: So why not the other one?

Bob: No, no. I mean I follow one or two. One or two I follow now.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: [Laughs.] Why not the other three? What is the difficulty? Which one do you follow?

Bob: Well, I’m almost vegetarian, but I eat eggs.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Then that is also not complete.

Bob: No. Since I saw you last November, I’ve become vegetarian.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Vegetarian is no qualification. The pigeon is vegetarian. The monkey is vegetarian – the most rubbish creature, most mischievous.

Bob: I felt that it was a little bit of progress because it was somewhat difficult at first, then easy.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, you can stick to all the regulative principles, provided you take to the Kṛṣṇa consciousness process. Otherwise it is not possible.

Bob: Yes. When I’m back in Bihar with my friends and we’re sitting in the evening and there’s nothing to do but fight mosquitoes, they say, “How about smoking some marijuana?” And I say, “Sure, there’s nothing else to do,” and then I sit down, and I enjoy myself for the evening. We were doing this every day – we got carried away – until we realized we were hurting ourselves and stopped. But still on occasion we …

Śrīla Prabhupāda: You have to live with us. Then your friends will not ask you, “What about marijuana?” [Bob laughs.] Keep the association of devotees. We are opening centers to give people a chance to associate with us. Why have we bought so much land in Māyāpur? So that those who are seriously desirous of advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can come live with us. Association is very influential. If you associate with drunkards, you become a drunkard; if you associate with sādhus, you become a sādhu.

Śyāmasundara: He can come and stay with you in Bombay.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, you can stay with us in Bombay. But he wants friends with marijuana. That is the difficulty.

Bob: Let me ask you about something else; then maybe I’ll come back to this. I find that I think of myself too much, and this way I can’t think of God so much. I think of myself in too many places. How can I forget about myself so I can concentrate on other, more important things?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: As these devotees have done.

Bob: [Laughs.] I think what you’re saying to me is that my path to purity is to become a devotee.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Do you hesitate?

Bob: Well, I … 

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Is it very difficult to become a devotee?

Bob: For me it is. I don’t feel so much the desire. First the devotees tell me that they have given up material life. These four regulative principles, they have explained to me, mean giving up material life, and that I see. And in place of this they have …

Śrīla Prabhupāda: What do you mean by material life? [Bob is silent.] I am sitting on this bed. Is it material or spiritual?

Bob: Material.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Then how have we given up material life?

Bob: I think how I interpreted it was “a desire for material gain.”

Śrīla Prabhupāda: What is material?

Bob: Working toward material gain and not giving up all material desires.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: When you desire to gratify your senses, that is material life. And when you desire to serve God, that is spiritual life. That is the difference between material life and spiritual life. Now we are trying to serve our senses. But instead of serving our senses we should serve God; that is spiritual life. What is the difference between our activities and others’? We are using everything they use – table, chair, bed, tape recorder, typewriter – so what is the difference? The difference is that we are using everything for Kṛṣṇa.

Bob: The devotees have said that the sensual pleasures they have given up are replaced with spiritual kinds of pleasures, but I haven’t felt this.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Spiritual pleasures come when you desire to please Kṛṣṇa. That is spiritual pleasure. For example, a mother is more pleased by feeding her son. She’s not eating, but when she sees that her son is eating very nicely, then she becomes pleased.

Bob: Hmm. Spiritual pleasure, then, is pleasing God.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Spiritual pleasure means the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa.

Bob: Pleasing Kṛṣṇa.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Material pleasure means the pleasure of the senses. That’s all. This is the difference. When you simply try to please Kṛṣṇa, that is spiritual pleasure.

Bob: My thought of pleasing God was to …

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Don’t manufacture your own ways of pleasing God. Suppose I want to please you. Then I shall ask you, “How can I serve you?” Not that I manufacture some service. That is not pleasing. Suppose I want a glass of water. If you concoct the idea, “Swamiji will be more pleased if I give him a glass of hot milk,” that will not please me. If you want to please me, then you should ask me, “How can I please you?” And if you do what I order, that will please me.

Bob: And pleasing Kṛṣṇa, then, is being a devotee of Kṛṣṇa.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: A devotee is one who is always pleasing Kṛṣṇa. He has no other business. That is a devotee.

Bob: Can you tell me some more about chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa? I have for quite some time chanted, but never regularly – just a little bit here and there. I just got beads very recently, and once in a while I feel comfortable chanting, and once in a while not comfortable at all. Maybe I don’t chant properly. I don’t know.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, everything has a process. You have to adopt the process.

Bob: The devotees tell me of the ecstasy they feel when chanting.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, the more you become purified, the more you will feel ecstasy. This chanting is the purifying process.

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