Dialectical Spiritualism: John Locke, Part 3

BY: SUN STAFF - 4.3 2017

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

John Locke (1632 - 1704)

Syamasundara dasa: Locke states that God must be a thinking being because matter, which is senseless, could never produce sense experience, perception, and thoughts.

Srila Prabhupada: Certainly. By definition, God has full knowledge of everything. Krsna says:

vedaham samatitani 
vartamanani carjuna 
bhavisyani ca bhutani 
mark tu veda na kascana

"0 Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities, but Me no one knows." (Bg. 7.26) Krsna also told Arjuna that millions of years ago He instructed the sun god in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita. Krsna also points out that Arjuna took birth with Him, but that Arjuna had forgotten. Krsna knows everything. That is the meaning of omniscience.

Syamasundara dasa: Locke also says that since there are no innate ideas, moral, religious, and political values must be regarded as products of experience.

Srila Prabhupada: We should understand what is the best experience. For instance, we consider Manu to be the authority on political and social affairs. Manur iksvakave bravit (Bg. 4.1). Manu instructed his son Iksvaku. If this depends on experience, we should accept perfect, unadulterated experience.

Syamasundara dasa: He states that values must obey the will of God as expressed in natural law, the laws upon which men agree, such as social contracts, and the established traditions, customs, and opinions of mankind. He states that our laws must be obeyed in such a way that we will exist in harmony.

Srila Prabhupada: And what is that harmony? Perfect harmony is in knowing that we are part and parcel of God. In this body, there are different parts, and each part has a particular function. When each part performs its function, the body is harmonious. The hand is meant for touching, lifting, and grasping, but if the hand says, "I shall walk," there is disharmony. Being part and parcel of God, we have a particular function. If we fulfill that function, there is harmony. If we do not, there is disharmony. The law of nature means working in harmony with the desire of God.

mayadhyaksena prakrtih 
suyate sa-caracaram 
hetunanena kaunteya 
jag ad viparivartate

"This material nature is working under My direction, 0 son of Kunti, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again." (Bg. 9.10) Under Krsna's superintendence, everything is functioning in harmony. Events do not happen blindly. In any organization, there is a supreme authority under whose orders everything moves in harmony. Harmony means that there must be some supreme superintendent. It is generally said that obedience is the first law of discipline. There cannot be harmony without obedience.

Syamasundara dasa: Locke would say that we have to obey the laws of nature.

Srila Prabhupada: Everyone is obeying the laws of nature. Yasyajnaya bhramati. Brahma-samhita (5.52) states that the sun is moving in its orbit fixed by the law of Govinda. The ocean has certain limitations fixed by the Supreme. All nature is functioning according to the law of God.

Syamasundara dasa: Locke believes that we must also obey the laws upon which we agree, that is, the social contract.

Srila Prabhupada: This is the law: we must surrender to Krsna. When we agree to the laws of the Supreme, that is religion.

Syamasundara dasa: Men agree socially not to steal one another's property, or to kill one another. Shouldn't we obey these laws of man?

Srila Prabhupada: Men's laws are imitations of God's laws. God's law states: isavasyam idarh sarvam. "Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord." (Isopanisad 1) Every living entity is the son of God, and he has the right to live at the cost of God. Everyone is eating food supplied by God. The animals are eating their food. The cow is eating grass, but why should we kill the cow? This is against God's law. We have rice, grains, fruits, vegetables, and so on. These are for us. Tigers do not come to eat our fruits or grains, so why should we kill tigers? A tiger is not encroaching upon our rights.

Hayagriva dasa: Locke argues on behalf of private property given to man by God. He believes that a man may have stewardship over a certain amount of property. Is this in compliance with the Isopanisadic version?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Tena tyaktena bhunjitha. "One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota." (Isopanisad 1) Everything belongs to God. A father may have many sons and be the ultimate proprietor of his house, yet he gives different rooms to his sons. The obedient son is satisfied with what his father has alloted him. The disobedient son simply wants to disturb his other brothers, and so he claims their rooms. This creates chaos and confusion in the world. The United Nations has been formed to unify nations, but they have not succeeded. People continue to encroach on one another's property, and therefore there is no peace. If we accept God as the supreme proprietor, and are satisfied with the allotment He has given us, there will be no trouble. Unfortunately, we are not satisfied.