dialectic spiritualism - Benedict Spinoza

Hayagrīva: Spinoza. Spinoza says that "The infinite God must possess infinite attributes." He is saying that God, being the basis of all existence, cannot be described in a material way. He is a pantheist in the sense that he believes in the one substance. However, he believes that God has infinite divine attributes, and only two of these attributes fall within the realm of human experience, and these are thought and extension, or mind and matter.

Prabhupāda: So, so far God is concerned, and undoubtedly He is unlimited and His qualities are unlimited. So His one of the most important quality is called Bhakta-vatsala. He is very much dear to His devotee, Bhakta-vatsala. So He has unlimited devotees and unlimited dealings with them; therefore He is unlimitedly expanded. That is pantheism. But it does not mean because He is unlimitedly expanded, His personality is lost. He is person always, even though He is unlimitedly expanded. That is the Vedic version: pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam eva avaśiṣyate [Iso Invocation]. He is complete, and if another complete form expands from Him, still He remains complete. He is not lost. The material conception is if one unit, if something is taken from it, then it becomes less of that thing. But God is so complete that you can go on taking from Him unlimitedly, still He remains unlimited. That is pantheist. I think they are impersonalist.

Hayagrīva: Yes. Spinoza is impersonal. He asserts that God cannot be a remote cause of the creation. He says that the creation flows from God in the same way that conclusions flow from principles in mathematics. God is free to create, but He is the eminent cause. That is to say, the creation is an extension of Himself.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is, He creates by His energy. Just like in the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated,

bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ

khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca

bhinnā me prakṛtiḥ aṣṭadhā 

[Bg. 7.4]

These eight kinds of material elements—earth, water, air, fire, sky, mind, intelligence and ego—they are material energies, and this material world is made of these material elements. So because it is made of God's energy, therefore it is called created by God. But this is creation of His energy. Prakṛtiḥ pradhāna, upadhāna, pradhāna. The ingredients are coming from Him, and prakṛtiḥ, nature, creates. This is the idea of creation. So God is a remote cause and a eminent cause also, because these elements, they are God's energy. So the eminent cause is the energy. Therefore it is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā, mayā tatam idaṁ sarvam: "By Me, everything is expanding." So when He says "By Me," then He is the eminent cause. There are two causes: remote and eminent.

Hayagrīva: Yes.

Prabhupāda: So both, He is remote cause and eminent cause.

Hayagrīva: Both remote and eminent.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: He says that each soul coincides with its body. That is to say, the soul acquires a body befitting it...

Prabhupāda: Hm?

Hayagrīva: ...a soul acquires a body befitting it. A soul can progress beyond bodies to come to know spiritual truths by turning toward God rather than the material world.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: Or, as Spinoza would put it, by turning toward God's extensions. He calls them God's extensions.

Prabhupāda: No.

Hayagrīva: Because he is pantheistic.

Prabhupāda: This is..., expansion also we accept. What is called, there is technical name, pracāra (?). Expansion, that is stated in Bhāgavatam, mayā tatam idaṁ sarvam: "By Me everything is expanded." This very word is used. Mayā tatam idaṁ sarvam [Bg. 9.4]. So expansion is also God, but at the same time in expansion there is no God. "No God" means not in person. The expansion is imperson, but expansion is from the person. Just as a government, this is impersonal, but the governor is person. So government means under the control of the governor. So impersonal expansion of God is controlled by the personal God. This is like pantheism. And pantheism, so I think that because everything is God, that God has no personal existence. Is it not?

Hayagrīva: Yes. Pantheists would say that God is eminent in everything.

Prabhupāda: Everything.

Hayagrīva: But has no personal or remote...

Prabhupāda: So that is material thought. That is material thought, because the paper in your hand, if it is made into pieces and thrown, expanding, then the original paper is lost. So this is material conception. But the spiritual conception is that He may expand Himself unlimitedly; still, He remains in His own person.

Hayagrīva: He believed that as long as man is composed of body and soul, he will be under the mode of passion, and as long as the soul is confined to the body, the living entity will necessarily be attached to the physical world.

Prabhupāda: Yes. We call it māyā. So that can... The body and soul in the material world is there, and therefore the aim of life is how to separate this soul from material body and remain in his original, spiritual form. That is the whole ideal objective for human life, because as long as he remains attached to the body, and... But he has to change the body. That is our practical experience also. We are changing always the body, one after another, and if we give up our attachment for this body, then we are liberated. That is called mukti, to remain in a spiritual body. That is possible only by always thinking of God. That is meditation. That is actual meditation. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakta, always thinking of Kṛṣṇa. To become Kṛṣṇa's devotee, to become worshiper of Kṛṣṇa, and always offering obeisances: "My Lord, I am Your eternal servant. Kindly keep me engaged in Your service"—that much prayer; nothing more. Then he remains always in... [break]

Hayagrīva: Continuation of Spinoza. Spinoza considered good and evil to relate only to man. They have no basis in God, who is beyond good and evil.

Prabhupāda: Right. But as everything is God, as Spinoza thinks that his... What is his position of bad? What is his conception?

Hayagrīva: That God is beyond good and...

Prabhupāda: God is beyond, but what is his position of evil? Evil is there, but he said that God has no evil. Then wherefrom the evil comes?

Hayagrīva: Seems inconsistent.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: He writes...

Prabhupāda: We, we say that God... Good and evil, they are also emanation from God. Evil is the back side and good is the front side.

Hayagrīva: He writes, "He who knows himself and knows his affections clearly and distinctly, and that with the accompaniment of the idea of God is joyous, for he knows and loves God. Thus through knowledge of the self one can come to know something of God, and in this way man can be happy and love God." But there is no mention here of service.

Prabhupāda: Love means service. Just like mother loves the child, she gives, she gives service. The father loves the child, she gives the service, he gives the service. So,

dadāti pratigṛhṇāti

guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati

bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva

ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam

Love means to give and to accept some gift from the lover, dadāti pratigṛhṇāti, to feed him and to take foodstuff from him, to disclose his mind to him and understand his mind also. These six reciprocation of dealings is love. So love includes service.

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