His Divine Grace Hrdayananda dasa Goswami talks with guests at the New Orleans Krsna center.
HIS DIVINE GRACE HRDAYANANDADASA GOSWAMI is one of the spiritual masters that ISKCON’s founder-acarya Srila Prabhupada selected to initiate new disciples. He came to the Krsna consciousness movement in 1969, and in 1972 he received sannyasa (the renounced order). He has lectured extensively at colleges and universities throughout the United States. Also, he speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese and played a pioneering role in bringing Krsna consciousness to Latin America. Currently he directs ISKCON projects in Brazil.
They say all roads lead to Rome, but right now all roads lead to America. I’ve been traveling all over South America, all over Europe and Asia also, and frankly, everyone just imitates the Americans. Whatever we do, people think, “Oh, this must be what we should do.” And that’s why everyone is having so much trouble. “Follow the leader.” The leader goes this way, touches the tree, so you touch the tree. Then he goes here and jumps over the stone, so you jump over the stone. Then the next thing you know he accidentally falls over a cliff…….
Or it’s like the lemmings. As soon as one gets brave enough to jump into the sea, thousands of others simply follow him. Yes, so at the present time we Americans-we are the head lemming. Of course, it’s not the ordinary people but the bigshots—the political, industrial, and scientific leaders—they’re doing so many crazy, horrible things. They’re simply dragging the whole country and the whole world down. Why don’t they stop harassing people?
For instance, the last time I drove to the Gainesville airport, I saw one sign that said, ”Don’t Drink.” A nice government billboard: “Don’t Drink Alcohol. Please Don’t Drink.” And then as soon as you passed that one you saw fifteen billboards for whiskey companies (who, of course, pay the government lots of taxes). Now, if ten thousand times a day you see “Drink This,” ‘Smoke That,” “Eat This,” “Buy That,” then you’re going to go crazy. If someone is always whispering into your ear, “Do this, do this, do this,”‘ finally you’ll say, ” Yes—I’ll do it.” So the government allows all this vicious propaganda, and the government—employed scientists come along and tell us, “Yes, you can do it. It’s all right. Don’t worry. It’s all approved by us. It’s authorized. You can slaughter animals and kill unborn babies. You can do anything you like. Don’t worry about it. Just give us your tax money.”
These rascals are very flagrantly and openly rejecting God—”God is dead,” “God is useless,” “He is the opiate of the people”—just kicking Him out. And everything is science, technology, sex, drugs. “We can do whatever we like.” Yes, that’s all right. So you build everything up very nicely, and then God—Krsna—will come and in ten seconds He will kick it all down. Yes, that’s already being prepared. All these bombs they’re stocking. The government thinks they are making them! Actually Krsna is making them. By His deluding potency He is ordering, “Make these nice bombs. They’re good for you.” “Oh, yes! They’re good for us!”
So they make all the bombs, stock them up, and then Krsna will just use these bombs and these other nasty things they’ve made, and He will simply kick everything down and break it all to pieces. Ah, then everyone will cry. Just like a child doing so many crazy things in the basement—lighting fires, torturing insects—until finally his father comes and just kicks everything down. So that’s the modern civilization, that’s all. The time is coming when everything is going to simply be broken to pieces. So if we don’t want this to happen, we should voluntarily stop all of this nonsensical materialistic life.
Of course, everyone will remain an eternal soul, even after everything around them is broken. People will get another chance, another body. But for sure they’ll get kicked out of their present body. So if we want to do things peacefully, then we have to stop this foolishness of “I can do whatever I like,” “I’m independent,” “There is no authority over me,” “I feel like doing it.” People have become so arrogant. “I feel like doing this.” “It feels good to me; therefore I can do it.” “No, you can’t tell me.” This is such a childish attitude. It has to be broken. Madness, arrogance. You can’t think like this—that you’re independent. If the sun doesn’t come up in the morning, then will you be independent? If there is no air, if there is no water. . . All these things are being given so kindly by God, and people have become so arrogant that they insult Him. They can’t go on like this. It’s not possible. It has to be stopped. It’s come to the point where the father tells the child, “Either you stop this voluntarily or I’ll stop it.”
So don’t think this modern so-called culture is going to go on—that we can just spend the next thousand years driving around in our vans, listening to our stereos and smoking hashish and eating slaughtered animals and doing whatever we like. It can’t go on like that. It’s not possible. It’s not possible. So Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita [18.66],sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja:
“You’ve done so many nonsensical things that your karma is a little negative at the present time, and therefore in the future you’re going to have to suffer in so many ways. . . .” (For instance, America’s karma is a little bit on the dark side right now-every day killing millions of animals and babies. Yes, these things are all registered. So our karma is becoming a little negative. We’re going to have to suffer the reaction.) But Krsna says, “It doesn’t matter. Whatever you’ve done—it doesn’t matter. Just surrender to Me. Accept what you really are—a spiritual being, eternally related to Me. Don’t pretend that you are something else,” Krsna says. “Just chant Hare Krsna. Just start serving again and relating to Me. And then it will all be rectified peacefully.”
After all, why is someone born in Vietnam underneath some bomb, or why is someone born in Siberia? Why do these things happen? That’s karma. If you think we’re just threatening people—”Oh, you’re going to go to hell”—no, you don’t have to look to some other place for hell. Krsna is so kind that just to convince you, He shows you hell while you’re on this planet. He let’s you see it even on this planet. Why do you think that someone has taken birth in a hellish condition on earth and you, for example, have beauty, money, and a leisurely life? These things are all good karma—tohave personal beauty, to have money, to be born in a country where the government is not always breaking your head. So, why are you born here in these conditions while someone else is born in a horrible situation? That’s karma.
So next time you’ll switch places. Say you’re a child and you’ve behaved nicely—your mother is embracing you—and yet because your brother or sister has done some crazy thing, your mother is just smashing him or her. That doesn’t mean your mother loves you more. But because you have acted nicely, you are being rewarded and the other one is being punished. So if you’ve been born in America and some other soul has been born in some crazy country, it doesn’t mean that God loves you more, but that the other one is being punished. And if you also act crazy, you’ll also be punished.
So it is not a matter of simply frightening people, but these things are frightening. We shouldn’t be just idiots, like an ostrich that puts his head in the sand . . . or like a rabbit. If some fox comes to eat the rabbit, the rabbit tries to get away, and when he’s finally cornered, when there’s nowhere else to go, then his ultimate weapon-he closes his eyes. ‘There’s no more fox! No more fox!”
On the one hand, we don’t want to surrender to God just out of fear-because we have to love Him. But on the other hand, we can’t just be like dumb animals and close our eyes to the disaster that is around the corner. We see the American leaders—you’ve read that perhaps drugs have even found their way into the White House. And in Russia, or course, who knows how much vodka they drink every day. So you have all these intoxicated people, these people who are very openly rotten. They’re drinking their vodka and smoking whatever they’re smoking and playing with all these buttons and lights and colors and maps, and it’s all going to blow up. Unless the leaders become God conscious, it’s going to blow up. And this is all karma, also . . . because at the present time you can hardly find any country in the world where people are actually serious about God. You cannot. Therefore it’s all going to be kicked over.
Guest: Could I ask a question? You were saying that your karma can make you “switch places” in your next life?
Srila Hrdayananda dasa Goswami: That’s a fact.
Guest: Then if you’re connected with animal slaughter, in your next life you’ll be an animal and you’ll be slaughtered?
Guest: But so many people kill animals or butcher or sell them or at least buy and eat them. Then they’ll have to be cows?
Srila Hrdayananda dasa Goswami: You just drive down the road in the rural areas, and all you see is one beef farm after the other. They’re just killing cows—big business.
Guest: So all these beef cattle are, like, the truckers who ship the meat, and the people who prepare the meat?
Srila Hrdayananda dasa Goswami: Yes. If someone is a little advanced in spiritual awareness, he doesn’t just see a cow and a tree and a barn. No. He can see who’s who-who has done what. I mean, how could people think that God will permit this? . . . that you build a big slaughterhouse, you drag in millions and millions of poor innocent animals that are crying and screaming, and you simply take big knives and kill them? How can you think that this is going to go unpunished? These fools, these so-called government leaders, may be fond of thinking that they can simply pass some law—”Yes, we approve.” Boom—they stamp it, everyone signs, they give out the fountain pens. “Yes, it is now legal to do this.” No. These fools can say whatever they want, but God is not a fool like them. They may be very proud—”I am a U.S. senator. I am a congressman.” But God will simply take this rascal, and when he dies, He’ll stick him on a beef farm, too. “You think it’s so nice. Now you try it.” This is only fair, isn’t it?
For example, if a mother comes and sees that her big child is simply harassing her small child and slapping him, she’ll say, “Oh! Then I will slap you!” That’s only fair. If one child is much bigger and he’s simply slapping the smaller child, then the father or mother comes and . . . Slap! . . . protects the smaller child. “Stop!” Isn’t that natural? Is that unfair? Is there something wrong in that? Of course, a mother may slap her child and make him feel pain to punish him, but she will never actually do him any harm. So in the same way, even when you’re “killed” you are not being killed. You just have to give up one body and accept another body. You’re just being slapped.
Guest: You sound as though you know what God looks like and what He does, but how can anybody know these things?
Srila Hrdayananda dasa Goswami: How can anyone not know? That’s even harder to understand. God is your father. If you take a poll in America, how many people will know what their father looks like and how many people won’t know? Who will be the majority? If someone says, “Oh, I know what my father looks like,” that’s not a big thing. So why should I care about that? But if someone says, “Oh, I’ve never seen my father,”‘ that’s actually unusual. So if you say that you’ve never seen God, that’s actually unusual. Because He’s your father. To say that you can see God—so what? God is your father. But if you say that you haven ‘t seen God, that’s actually hard to understand. Actually the Vedic scriptures are so elevated and so exalted that you’ll never find a guru or saint in Vedic culture asking, “How is it possible to see God?” But Pariksit Maharaja asked, “How is it possible that people don’tsee God?” He’s not that hard to understand. Just like if someone says to you, “I’ve never seen my father.” Oh, really? How is that? How is it you’ve never seen your father? So what do you think God is? He’s not simply playing hide-and-seek.
What do people think God is doing? Do people think that He’s simply up in the ionosphere or something, and He’s sitting on a big throne and just watching the play-by-play on the earth, and there are some angels hovering there, floating or playing trumpets, and God is just operating a big universal scoreboard? “Ah, one sin—click. Ah, one pious activity—click.” Do they think that God has nothing else to do, that He just sits there for billions of years and keeps score? It’s a crazy idea, isn’t it?
And even more crazy, when people come before God (I’ve actually seen so-called religious tracts about this), they come before a throne and a huge faceless figure, and “God” demands, “Why didn’t you serve Me?! Now I am going to throw you into a lake of fire for all eternity.”
“No!” Then the person surrenders. “I’m sorry, God. Now I want to serve You. I’m sorry for what I did. Please accept me.”
“No. I’m sorry. It’s too late. I’m going to make you suffer forever. Ha, ha, ha!”
This is not actually how God is. There must be lakes of fire somewhere in the universe; that’s a fact. But anyone who will sincerely surrender to God-he’ll be liberated from his negative karma. And God—He’s not like some neurotic parent who says, “I’ve given My whole life for My children,” and who just Sits there fretting over what we’re doing. God has His own activities, His own friends, His own life, just as ordinary parents sometimes say- “I’ve given my life for my children, but now I must have my own life.”
So Krsna has His own life. He has His own planet and He has millions and billions of girl friends and boyfriends. They’re all young, they’re all eternal, they’re all very beautiful . . . gorgeous. Everything there is conscious and eternal. Yes, and God never grows old. Actually He is very young. Young Krsna.
So the point is that you’re related to God—you can see Him and you can go back to His spiritual world to live with Him. But you have to love Him. That’s all. The only requirement. You just have to stop being a rascal and a fool and thinking that you can do whatever you like. You have to become sincere.