Prabhupāda: So you must be aware what is going to happen after death. Then if you become fearless, that is secure. But without knowing, if you are not afraid, that is risk.
Richard: Okay, are you familiar with the writings of Descartes?
Prabhupāda: We don't read anyone's books except Bhagavad-gītā.
Richard: Oh, I thought you said you studied other philosophies.
Prabhupāda: Study, there are so many books we study.
Richard: Right, okay, well anyway, there was a French philosopher in the 1700's named Rene Descartes, and his...
Prabhupāda: I think we have discussed this philosopher.
Richard: You have discussed him? All right, one of the things he said was that.... Oh, I'm sorry, it's Pascal. Anyway, same thing practically. Ah, he said that as far as an afterlife goes, as far as proving it, it's impossible to prove it.
Prabhupāda: Why impossible? He does not know.
Prabhupāda: We can prove immediately.
Richard: Okay, but it's just a wager, it's a moot argument, the proofs are of a spiritual kind rather than a...
Prabhupāda: It requires little brain; otherwise, it can be proved immediately.
Richard: Pardon me, I didn't catch the last part.
Prabhupāda: This, that the spirit soul is there, that can be proved immediately provided one has brain to understand.
Richard: How do you prove that a spirit is dead?
Prabhupāda: That is very easy. Just like you are a young man...
Rāmeśvara: Prabhupāda said "spirit is there."
Richard: Oh, oh, I misunderstood.
Rāmeśvara: Not that" spirit is dead." Spirit is there.
Richard: Oh, oh. I misunderstood.
Prabhupāda: Just try to, try to...
Rāmeśvara: Just like when you have a very..., when you were first born, you had a very small body. Now you are older. So where is that small body? It is no longer existing. Now you are in a young man's body. So similarly, when you are sixty years old, the body that you have now will no longer exist, but you still exist. Even though your body has changed, your life goes on. In other words, life is not dependent on the body. The body changes.
Richard: Yes, but you still have a body at sixty.
Rāmeśvara: Death is another change of body. Life will go on. The example of life going on even though you are changing your body, you are experiencing within this one life. You've already experienced that your life goes on even though you have changed your body so many times. So death is simply another change of body. You have already experienced that you can exist even though you have quit one body and gotten a new body.
Prabhupāda: Now the point is that you are going to get another body. That's a fact.
Richard: How do you know that?
Prabhupāda: Now what kind of...? This is a fact, just like you have got already another body. Where is that child's body, where is that boy's body? That is finished. This is the proof.
Richard: But I'm still alive.
Prabhupāda: Alive, you are always alive.
Richard: Physically alive.
Prabhupāda: No, physically not. Spiritually, you are always alive. This point is to be understood. The death taking place only of the physical body. That you have to understand.
Richard: Right, but I have never been aware of any proof...
Prabhupāda: That is education. You are not aware because you are not educated.
Richard: Perhaps, but I have never read of anyone else actually proving that there is a spiritual afterlife.
Prabhupāda: Here is the proof, he is giving proof. Therefore I said it requires little brain. He's giving proof.
Richard: I think it requires more than education; it requires faith.
Rāmeśvara: The first question Prabhupāda asked is what is the difference between a dead man and a living man. The body is the same, but something is missing in the dead man, in the dead body. So that is the proof that the body is not living at any time, but there is a living energy, and when that living energy is inside the body, it makes the body seem alive, and if that living energy is taken out of the body, then the body is seen as it really is, a lump of matter. The body is never alive; it is the presence of the soul within the body that animates the body.
Richard: Right, animate, that's the etymology of animation, anima, soul.
Rāmeśvara: So your body...
Richard: I agree with all that.
Rāmeśvara: And that living energy is eternal, and when this body becomes an old man's body, or rather when you get an old man's body, the body you have now will be finished, but you will still be alive because you are that eternal living energy.
Richard: Okay, and what I am saying is that I have, there has never been any empirical proof of that.
Rāmeśvara: But I have already explained that these senses are not the perfect instruments for experiencing reality. Just like sometimes there may be a cloud, and therefore you cannot see the sun with your senses, but that does not mean the sun is not there. It simply means your senses are not powerful enough to see. The senses are imperfect instruments for perceiving reality. The sun is always there, but sometimes you can see it and sometimes you can't.
Prabhupāda: Just like night, this is night, you don't see the sun. That does not mean there is no sun.
Rāmeśvara: Don't rely on empirical sense perception.
Richard: Okay, right, you're introducing here though, the essence of all religion, and that is faith. Faith...
Prabhupāda: It's not faith, it is fact. If I say that there is sun and you cannot see, if you deny, "No I don't see. There is no sun," so which is fact?
Richard: Well there is no sun now. There's no sun present.
Prabhupāda: Sun is there. You cannot see.
Richard: Right now, the sun, in my life, is not present.
Prabhupāda: It is present, that is ignorance. You just phone immediately to Bombay, "Is there sun?" He'll say, "Yes."
Richard: Is the sun out in Bombay?
Richard: I have faith that it is.
Prabhupāda: No faith, it is fact.
Richard: It is a fact, not to me though.
Prabhupāda: No, then you are not very intelligent. You phone your friend that "Where is the sun?" He'll say "It is above my head."
Richard: Right now, the sun is not above my head.
Prabhupāda: Not your head, but you phone to your friend in Bombay, he'll say "Yes, here is sun." But that does not mean you believe in the sun existing. That's not fact.
Richard: No, that's not what I'm talking about. You asked me whether the sun was above my head now, and I said no it is not, but that does not mean...
Prabhupāda: Head or not head, sun is there, but you cannot see. That is the point.
Hari-śauri: Prabhupāda is explaining the existence of the sun is not dependent upon your perceiving it through your senses. The sun is always there, but sometimes you perceive it and sometimes you don't.
Prabhupāda: You don't perceive. That is your position.
Richard: Right. That is because I am physically limited by my body.
Prabhupāda: Yes, that is the point. That is the point.
Richard: But I still don't see that as an affirmation nor as a denial.
Prabhupāda: Therefore this verse is explained to you, sukham ātyantikaṁ yat tad atīndriyaṁ grāhyam [Bg. 6.21]. So we have to understand through supersenses, not this blunt senses.
Richard: Right, and I think...
Prabhupāda: These are imperfect.
Richard: And I think that in the Western world, I don't know about the Eastern world, in the Western world, that understanding is called faith.
Rāmeśvara: No, what Prabhupāda is explaining is.... Just like now you are seeing me through your blunt senses. By the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, you awaken a different type of senses, called transcendental senses, and it is just as real as the blunt sense perception, except it is perfect sense perception, whereas your physical senses are conditioned, limited. There are transcendental senses.
Richard: Yes, but all the input goes into the mind, right?
Rāmeśvara: No, these are actual sense perceptions. "The soul is sentient, thou has proved."
Rāmeśvara: Just like your body has senses, the soul also has senses, and the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa and taking the spiritual prasādam, seeing the Deity in the temple and hearing this Vedic knowledge, that awakens the soul, and thus you can experience the sense perception of the soul, the knowledge of God through the soul, sense perception. You can see God, when you're very pure. And that's a fact, not faith.
Prabhupāda: There are five stages of ascending to come to the right conclusion. This, this is.... Just like pratyakṣa, directly, you do not see the sun on the sky, but the same example, if you phone your friend, "Where is the sun?" then he'll say, "Yes, here is the sun." So this is called parokṣa, mean you get the knowledge by other sources. Your direct sources, you cannot see, but you get from other sources, you understand, "Yes, sun is there in the sky."
Richard: And I have faith that it is.
Prabhupāda: You must have faith.
Richard: I trust that it is.
Prabhupāda: You have to trust.
Richard: Okay, I was listening to him and, you know, I'm hearing a lot, okay, the brain...
Prabhupāda: I mean to say, there are five stages, pratyakṣa, parokṣa, aparokṣa, adhokṣaja and aprākṛta. So our process should be to go to the aprākṛta, transcendental knowledge. This is the stages. Just like.... This is explained. We can directly understand that by directly, I'm seeing there is no sun, but when I ask my friend, he says there is sun. So this is also knowledge. This is called parokṣa knowledge, from other sources. Similarly, there are stages. So when the perfect stage is, that is aprākṛta, no more material, all spiritual.
Richard: Okay. The brain, the mind, interprets the senses...
Prabhupāda: Well, the brain, mind, they are instruments.
Richard: Okay, they interpret the senses. Right. Okay.
Prabhupāda: Yes, they are instruments.
Richard: Now if the...
Prabhupāda: Suppose if you see with your eyes, and then you see with microscope, then you see with telescope, different processes. Yes. But you see with your spiritual eyes, that is perfect.
Richard: Now suppose the brain dies, as in the case...
Prabhupāda: Brain dies.... Brain is part of the body.
Richard: Right, it's a part of the body. It can fail just as the heart or the lungs or anything else. Now suppose the brain dies, the soul...
Prabhupāda: You get another brain.
Richard: Pardon me?
Prabhupāda: You get another brain. Suppose, just like you are working with the glass, spectacle, it breaks, you get another spectacle. That's all.
Richard: In the same body?
Richard: Okay, now Karen Ann Quinlan, you know her?
Prabhupāda: We don't know anyone.
Richard: Okay, this is a, let me explain very briefly. Here is a girl in New Jersey, near New York, whose brain has died through a traffic accident. Her body is still alive. Her body is still alive, but her brain is dead, she cannot get up, speak, move.
Prabhupāda: This is already explained, the brain is an instrument. The instrument is not working, but that is not death.
Richard: Right, her soul is still alive, is that correct?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.
Richard: Her soul is still alive, and she is still functioning spiritually, even though her brain is dead. Is that what...?
Prabhupāda: That is possible because soul is there.
Rāmeśvara: The soul is always alive, but the fact that she's being maintained means the soul's still in that body, has not left the body yet.
Richard: Okay, now what...
Rāmeśvara: The soul is always living.
Richard: Okay, now what is.... Is the soul in a...
Prabhupāda: That is another proof. That instead of, in spite of the brain is not working, the soul is there.
Richard: Okay, but just let me finish this, and then we'll leave it. The.... Okay, how am I going to say this? Is her spiritual, is her spirit in a less active state from when her brain was alive?
Prabhupāda: Spirit is always active.
Richard: It's always active at the same level?
Prabhupāda: Not same level, because you are understanding the spirit through the body. So body is changing. Just like the soul, when he's in the boy's body, it is talking so many nonsense things. But you don't take it seriously. But when you are grown up, if you talk such nonsense things, then you'll be taken as a nonsense, because the body has changed.
Richard: Okay, what I was leading up to was, her brain is dead, she has no...
Prabhupāda: Not dead, it is not working.
Richard: It's not working, okay. It's not working. She's getting no sensory input. She's not aware of the physical surroundings, and yet you maintain that her soul is still alive and still very active. Now would her state, her physical state, enhance the soul's activity or detract from...?
Prabhupāda: It has nothing to do with it.
Richard: It has nothing to do with it. Okay, would it matter to you whether they did turn off her life supporting apparatus? Would that make any difference?
Rāmeśvara: No, it wouldn't.
Prabhupāda: What is that?
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: There are machines that are maintaining her life.
Rāmeśvara: Just like a person in a car, the car engine may fail and the person may get out of the car or he may linger in the car. The car is just a machine. So the soul is lingering in her body. Even though it is...
Richard: But it's still very active.
Rāmeśvara: Yes, just like if my car breaks down, that does not mean I have broken down. I'm the passenger.
Richard: Can't she be in touch with her soul in a coma?
Hari-śauri: She is soul.
Devotee: She is soul.
Hari-śauri: That personality, that is the soul.
Rāmeśvara: No, when the machine, when the conscious, when the body is broken like that, she cannot become self-realized.
Rādhāvallabha: She's active on the mental platform.
Prabhupāda: She's covered with the body, but she's different from the body. Just like you are covered by your dress, but you are different from the dress.
Rāmeśvara: Thank you, Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Richard: Thank you.
Prabhupāda: Jaya. You are very intelligent boy. (laughs)
Richard: I don't know what good that does me.
Prabhupāda: They are very good questions.
Rāmeśvara: You are very merciful, Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Richard: You are very patient, I'll tell you. (laughs)
Rāmeśvara: Thank you, Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda: Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Richard: Thank you.
Room Conversation -- June 10, 1976, Los Angeles