Dialectical Spiritualism: Arthur Schopenhauer, Part 2

BY: SUN STAFF - 9.5 2017

Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from  Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer sees happiness in the world as a negative state at best, a momentary suspension of suffering.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is also explained by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sometimes when a man is to be punished, he is held under water to the point of suffocation. Then he is let up, and when he comes up for temporary relief, he thinks, "Ah! Happiness at last!" The point is, he should do something that will relieve him of his unhappiness permanently.

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer says, "Human life must be some kind of mistake." The greatest crime of man was that he was ever born.

Srila Prabhupada: When you understand that there is a crime, you must understand that someone is there to punish you. If you suffer because of that crime, you must understand that there is someone who has judged you to be criminal.

Syamasundara dasa: He concludes, however, that because the world is mad or irrational, it could not possibly have an author. If there were a God, He would have set the world in order.

Srila Prabhupada: We have certainly experienced that there are madmen in the world, but there are also hospitals where such men can be treated. The world may be mad, but there is hospitalization. Unfortunately, Schopenhauer has no knowledge of the hospital or of the treatment. He speaks of sinful life, but he does not accept the judge who gives the punishment for sinful life. He sees that the world is mad, but he does not know the treatment for madmen.

Hayagriva dasa: In The World As Will, Schopenhauer writes: "My body is the objectivity of my will Besides will and idea, nothing is known to us or thinkable The genitals are properly the focus of the will, and consequently the opposite pole of the brain, the representative of knowledge In this respect...they were worshipped by the Hindus in the lingam, which are thus the symbol of the assertion of the will. Knowledge, on the other hand, affords the possibility of the suppression of willing, of salvation through freedom, of conquest and annihilation of the world."

Srila Prabhupada: As I said before, willing is done in accordance with the body, but we should understand that we have nothing to do with this material world, which is the production of the material will. We are spiritual, and when we will spiritually, we are Krsna conscious. When we will materially, we get different types of material bodies. It is true that the basis of material life is sex. We always say:

yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham 
kanduyanena karayor iva duhkha-duhkham 
trpyanti neha krpana bahu-duhkha-bhajah 
kandutivan manasijam visaheta dhlrah

"Sex life is compared to the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. Grhamedhis, so-called grhasthas who have no spiritual knowledge, think that this itching is the greatest platform of happiness, although actually it is a source of distress. The krpanas, the fools who are just the opposite of brahmanas, are not satisfied by repeated sensuous enjoyment. Those who are dhira, however, who are sober, and who tolerate this itching, are not subjected to the sufferings of fools and rascals." (Bhag. 7.9.45). The basic principle of those who are addicted to the material world is maithuna, sexual intercourse. This strong desire for sex continues as long as we are in material existence, because that is the center of all pleasure. However, when we get a taste of Krsna's pleasure, we can give this up.

visaya vinivartante 
niraharasya dehinah 
rasa-varjam rasopy asya 
pararh drstva nivartate

"The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness." (Bg. 2.59)

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer considers sex to be selfishness, whereas real love means sympathy.

Srila Prabhupada: Sex is animalistic. It is not love but lust. Sex means the mutual satisfaction of senses, and that is lust. All this lust is taking place under the name of love, and out of illusion, people mistake this lust for love. Real love says, "People are suffering from a lack of Krsna consciousness. Let us do something for them so that they can understand the value of life."

Syamasundara dasa: He also considered immoral acts to result from a sense of egoism.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is so. People think, "Why should I surrender to Krsna? Krsna is a person, and I am also a person." Such thinking is demoniac. Rascals cannot understand that by surrendering unto the supreme will and satisfying the supreme will, salvation can be attained.

Syamasundara dasa: Yet Schopenhauer felt that it is possible to crush egoism and desire by love and sympathy for others.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, without love, nothing can be sustained. If I do not love Krsna, I cannot surrender unto Him. A small child naturally surrenders unto his parents because there is love for the parents. The more you love, the more your surrender is perfect. When there is a lack of love, the mentality by which you can surrender will not develop. If you have some love for me, you will carry out my orders. There is no question of forcing one to surrender. The living entity is free to love or to reject. Without freedom, there cannot be love. Krsna consciousness means learning to love Krsna.

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer looked on love as compassionate sympathy for one who is suffering. Through this compassionate love, we can lose desire.

Srila Prabhupada: Why should you love those who are suffering and not those who are enjoying?

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer sees everyone as suffering.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we agree to this. Everyone within material nature is suffering. Therefore Krsna descends and delivers Bhagavad-gita. Krsna is described as the deliverer of all fallen souls. A Vaisnava takes sannyasa, the renounced order, out of compassion for others, because his only duty is to preach the message of Krsna consciousness. People in the world are suffering due to their ignorance. They think, "Oh, now I have a nice car, apartment, and girl friend; therefore I am happy." Actually, this is not happiness but suffering. Because the Vaisnava loves Krsna and understands that he is part and parcel of Krsna, he realizes that the conditioned living entities are suffering for want of Krsna consciousness. Therefore, out of compassion, the Vaisnava takes sannyasa and goes forth to preach.

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust