by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness,
upon arriving for his first visit in Stockholm.
Thank you very much for kindly receiving me on this first visit of mine to your country.
The Krsna consciousness movement is gradually spreading all over the world, but it is a little difficult to understand the purport of this movement because it is completely on the spiritual platform. Generally, people do not understand what the spiritual platform is. But it is quite simple. Every one of us—every living being—is a combination of two things: matter and spirit. Matter we can understand, but on account of our long association with matter we cannot understand what spirit is.
We know that there is something which distinguishes a dead body from a living body. That we can understand. Suppose your father dies. You will lament, “Oh, my father is no more! He has gone away.” But where has he gone? Your father is lying on the bed. Why do you say that your father has gone away? “No, he is dead and gone.” This shows you understand that the body lying on the bed is not your real father.
So, actually, you have no eyes to see your real father. During the lifetime of your father you did not know who he was. Therefore, when the actual father goes away, you cry, “My father is gone!” The actual father is the spiritual soul within the body. And when the soul goes away from the body, that is known as death.
So first of all we have to understand thedistinction between the spiritual soul and the material body. If we can understand the spiritual soul, we can understand this spiritual movement, the Krsna consciousness movement. Otherwise, simply on the strength of the materialistic conception we will find it impossible to understand spiritual life or the spiritual platform.
What is spiritual life? Complete freedom. And an eternal, blissful life full of knowledge. That is spiritual life—a life distinct from material life, which is based on the bodily concept. Spiritual life means an eternal, blissful life of knowledge, while material life means a nonpermanent, miserable life full of ignorance.
The body is impermanent, and it is always full of miserable conditions. There is no blissfulness in the material world; we are always suffering some kind of distress. But on account of our long association with material life, we have become so dull-headed that it is very difficult for us to understand spiritual life, spiritual activities, the spiritual world. God, and our relationship with God. Therefore I have begun the Krsna consciousness movement—to train people to understand these things.
Unfortunately, because the Krsna consciousness movement is a spiritual movement, sometimes it is misunderstood. People see it from the material point of view and misunderstand. But if we associate with those who are propagating Krsna consciousness, and if we chant the Hare Krsna mantra, we can easily understand spiritual life. Chanting Hare Krsna is very simple. There are only sixteen words: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. (Actually, there are three words—Hare, Krsna, and Rama—but they have been arranged in such a way that the mantra is composed of sixteen words.)
We are simply requesting you to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. It is not very difficult. And if you chant this mantra, your heart will gradually be cleansed and you will understand spiritual life in Krsna consciousness. The whole problem is that due to material association our consciousness is now contaminated; therefore we cannot understand spiritual life. But if we take advantage of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, our heart will gradually be cleansed and we shall be able to understand, “I am not my body: I am a spiritual soul.” Then real awakening will come.
At the present moment everyone is acting according to the bodily conception of life. But we are not the body. So we are acting for something that we are not. Therefore, we are in maya, or illusion. Our whole existence is a phantasmagoria. And because we are working for something that we are not, we are confused and unhappy. We work day and night for the body, and still we are not happy. We are trying to satisfy the senses (body means “senses”), repeating the same activities again and again, but we are finding no happiness. We cannot find happiness by trying to satisfy the material body, because we are not the material body. We are spiritual souls.
Here is an analogy: Suppose a man is thrown into the ocean. He may be an expert swimmer, but he cannot be happy in the ocean because he is out of his natural condition of life. The only way he will become happy is if someone picks him up from the ocean and places him on the land.
So we in the Krsna consciousness movement do not wish to foolishly try to become happy by swimming in the ocean of the material world. That is not our program. We know it is not possible to become happy here. Better to come to the spiritual platform and act in spiritual life. Then there is a guarantee of happiness.
In the Bhagavad-gita (4.9) Lord Krsna says,
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna
“After giving up the body, those who have cultivated spiritual life, who have understood Me in truth, are promoted to the spiritual world.” In the spiritual world is the eternal, blissful life that will make us happy.
So if we are serious, if we actually want to be happy, we must take to the cultivation of spiritual understanding, an understanding of Krsna consciousness. Of course, in every country of the world there is some religious system, some system for understanding spiritual life. But unfortunately, almost nobody is interested in spiritual life because people have been induced to become addicted to material, or sensual, activities. They are going further and further away from spiritual life and becoming more and more confused. Disappointment is rising all over the world.
So to mitigate this disappointment and confusion, one has to take to Krsna consciousness. Try to understand the philosophy of Krsna consciousness, and act accordingly. Then you will be happy.