The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and a guest—Dr. Christian Hauser, a psychiatrist—took place in Stockholm on September 10, 1973.
Dr. Hauser: You know, I met your student James before he was your student. And I must say he was a very aimless person—a person who hadn’t found anything very specific in life. He floated about very much. But when I met him yesterday, he was very happy; he felt happy about himself and his new life as a devotee, and that made me very happy. I liked James very much.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, Krsna consciousness is the original status of the living entity. For instance, a young child is always conscious that “I am the son of such-and-such person.” This consciousness is natural.
A person may go mad. But when he’s cured, he immediately understands, “I belong to such-and-such family, and I am such-and-such gentleman’s son.”
Similarly, once in contact with this material nature, the spiritual spark, the living entity—he’s in madness. Even though we are all part and parcel of Krsna and our original consciousness of Krsna cannot be broken, somehow here in this world we have forgotten our relationship with Krsna. This is madness.
You are a psychiatrist. You know very well—every man in this material world is more or less a madman.
Dr. Hauser: Or he has the germ within himself.
Srila Prabhupada: There is a Bengali poem that says, pisace paile jana mote channa haya/ mayara grasta jivera sei dasa upajaya: “Anyone who is living within this material energy—he is as if haunted by a ghost.” Do you have any experience of a man haunted by a ghost, or possessed?
Dr. Hauser: Oh, yes. That’s very often a symptom of a psychosis. They feel that they are persecuted by foreign powers.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Foreign powers. That is the idea. Our material conception of life—it is as if we are haunted by a foreign power. It is madness. “I am Christian.” “I am Hindu.” “I am Muslim.” “I am English.” “I am German.” These conceptions are all haunted. Mad. Because the soul is pure. Asango ‘yam purusah: the pure spirit soul has no connection with any designations of the body.
For instance, in a dream we see so many things that have nothing to do with us. This is our nighttime dream, and we recognize it when we wake up.
Unfortunately, when we wake up, generally we go back into our daytime dream. “I am this.” “I am that.” “I am white.” “I am black.” “I am American.” And so forth.
At night, when we dream, we are in a different situation and we forget everything from the daytime. And again, in the daytime we forget everything from the nighttime. But actually we are entering another dream.
When we leave our nighttime dream, we forget all about it, and we see it for what it was—a temporary situation, a dream. But our daytime situation is also temporary; it is also a dream. We have got to know the permanent reality: I am the permanent spiritual observer within this temporary material situation, nighttime and daytime.
The difficulty is, most of us see these two dreams and recognize only one as a dream; we take the daytime dream as the permanent reality. When someone takes a dream state as reality, you treat him, do you not?
Dr. Hauser:Hmm. Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: So for practical purposes, everyone who is in contact with this temporary material energy is mad. And we are trying to take him out of this mad, dreaming condition. That is the sum and substance of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Dr. Hauser: But does he stop dreaming? I mean, substantially, does he stop . . . does one stop dreaming?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, in the sense we are using the word: the soul no longer identifies with what is not his eternal self or with what is not his eternal duty. He knows, “I am separate from this dreaming condition.” So when one knows himself to be simply the observer and not actually a part of the dream, then he’s cured.
Dr. Hauser: But the dreaming of the night also has another function.
Srila Prabhupada: No, that is not the idea. Dreaming at night and dreaming during the day are the same thing. Superficial, illusory. Simply their durations are different—at night you dream for a number of minutes, and during the day you dream for a number of hours.
But in the daytime if you think that you are English or you are Swedish, or that you are Hindu or Muslim, that is also a dream. You are none of these, any more than you are part of your nighttime dream. Because of madness, sometimes we take it, “This daytime dream is a fact,” or “That daytime dream is a fact.” But none of them are facts. Under their sway, we may accept them as facts, but none of them are facts.
So, once again, sanity means sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam: I have to become completely free from all dreamlike designations. For instance, during a nighttime dream I may think, “I have now become a king,” or “I am the proprietor of a factory.” But none of these are reality. They are only dreams. Similarly, in the daytime I may think, “I am Russian,” “I am African,” “I am this,” or “I am that.” But that, too, is all a dream.
In reality, I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, and my duty, my nature, is to serve Him. It is all very simple. So sanity requires that I become free from this dreaming condition, liberated from all kinds of false designations.
Dr. Hauser: But some of these false . . . false designations also are the necessary machinery of our society.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That society is also false.