On Seeking the Right Thing in the Wrong Place
The following is the conclusion of the conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples that took place in May, 1975, during an early-morning walk in Perth, Australia.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, people often think that devotees are inhibited or repressed—that they never get any pleasure.
Srila Prabhupada: Everyone is looking for pleasure, because we’re meant for that. But because people have forgotten Krsna, the reservoir of pleasure, they’re trying to find pleasure in things other than Krsna. Therefore they are becoming frustrated. They do not know that unless they come to Krsna consciousness, they will find no real pleasure.
Suppose a child is crying. If some woman other than his mother takes him on her lap, he will continue crying. But as soon as he’s on the lap of his mother, he immediately stops crying. Why? He can understand, “Now I have the real thing.” He sucks his mother’s breast and is satisfied.
Similarly, when we finally come to Krsna, we’ll be fully satisfied. We won’t want anything further.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, earlier you were speaking about the importance of being inquisitive.
Srila Prabhupada: Being inquisitive about the ultimate source of happiness is the standard of human life. That inquisitiveness cannot be found in the cats and dogs. And unless a person becomes inquisitive about the ultimate source of happiness, he’s an animal, not a human being. Ninety-nine point nine percent of all people are not inquisitive in this way. They’re searching after happiness, but they are not inquisitive about the ultimate source of happiness. So they are being baffled.
Devotee: It seems as if the very things that they think will make them happy turn out to be the causes of misery.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. For example, in the name of happiness they have invented the motorcar. But when two motorcars crash head on, life is lost. Yet people aren’t inquisitive enough to ask, “We have invented this machine for happiness; so why has this disaster happened?” They don’t have the intelligence to ask this question. They simply go on searching after happiness in the material world. And when we say, “No, not in that way; come this way, to Krsna consciousness, and you’ll find real happiness,” they laugh.
Devotee: What about the scientists, Srila Prabhupada? They’re very inquisitive; they’re trying to find the cause of the material world.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We give them credit for that. But they are looking for the cause of this world in the wrong place. And when they’re given correct information, they do not take it. We say to the scientists, “You are searching for the cause of the world? Here is Krsna, the original source of everything.” But they will not accept Him. That is their foolishness.
Devotee: You were just saying that everyone is looking for happiness. But shouldn’t that desire be purified? Shouldn’t we give up all desire for happiness?
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. Happiness is life. How can you give it up?
Devotee: But if we desire happiness, we’re being selfish—
Srila Prabhupada: The problem is, you do not know that the ultimate goal of your selfishness is to realize Krsna (na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum). Everyone is self-interested, but no one knows how to fulfill his real self-interest.
Devotee: But isn’t it better to give up ego altogether?
Srila Prabhupada: Why? That is mayavada [impersonalistic] philosophy. We want to make our ego purified. We want to understand, “I am a servant of Krsna.” That egoism is wanted—not that I make my egoism zero.
Devotee: Why do the Mayavadi impersonalists want to eradicate the ego?
Srila Prabhupada: The Mayavadis are disappointed in life, so they think, “Let me finish my ego. Let me become zero.” But egoism cannot be finished. Because you are an individual soul, you will always have a sense of “I am.” Now I am thinking I am Indian, you are thinking you are American, someone else is thinking he is Russian, and so on. But I am not Indian and you are not American: we are all part and parcel of Krsna. We have to come to this egoism, the real egoism—that I am an eternal servant of Krsna.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, the materialistic scientists are so inquisitive. Why aren’t they able to come to the point of understanding that Krsna is the source of everything?
Srila Prabhupada: Because they are envious of Him. They are unwilling to accept His instructions. You have to take direction from Krsna. He says, “I am the goal of all knowledge. I am the destination. Come to Me.” If you don’t take this instruction, you are unfortunate. You will be baffled in your attempt to acquire knowledge.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, I saw a report that said atheism is much greater among scientists than among people in general. And the scientists are very influential in the universities and high schools, in government, in industry—
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore we say, “You blind leaders, you rascals, don’t try to lead unless you are willing to take Krsna’s instructions.” We must make our inquiries to Krsna and take His direction. Then we’ll be happy.