Dialectical Spiritualism: Sigmund Freud, Part 3

BY: SUN STAFF - 10.10 2017

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

Sigmund Freud (1856-1934)

Syamasundara dasa: Freud felt that most of our problems, which are sexual in nature, can be cured by recalling painful experiences and objectively analyzing them.

Srila Prabhupada: We must understand why this sex problem is there. If we tolerate a little itching sensation, we will be spared much pain. Yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccharh kanduyanena karayor iva duhkha-duhkham. "Sex life is compared to the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. Grhamedhis, householders without spiritual knowledge, think that this itching is the greatest platform of happiness, although it is actually a source of distress." (Bhag. 7. 9.45)

When ordinary men are overly attached to materialistic life, their only happiness is sexual intercourse. The sastras say that happiness derived from sexual intercourse is very, very insignificant. Indeed, it is not even happiness. At best, it may be considered a tenth-class happiness. Because people have no idea of the happiness of Krsna consciousness, they think that sex is the highest happiness. But if we analyze it, what kind of happiness is it? When we have an itch, we scratch it and feel some pleasure, but after that pleasure passes, the effects are abominable. The itch becomes worse. The sastras tell us that if we just try to tolerate this itching sensation, we will be spared a great deal of pain. This is possible if we practice this Krsna consciousness.

Syamasundara dasa: Freud believed that neuroses, disorders, anxieties, and frustrations have their origin in repression.

Srila Prabhupada: And I am telling you that all these are due to sex. But we are not advocating repression. We give facility in the form of a wife. The sex impulse is to be directed to the wife.

Syamasundara dasa: But Freud insisted that the sex impulse is present at the very beginning of life.

Srila Prabhupada: We also admit that. We say that as soon as the living being is embodied, he experiences hunger and sex. Why is that? Aharanidra-vyavayah. We find these impulses even in animals. These drives are already there. What is the use in philosophizing about them?

Syamasundara dasa: Through psychoanalysis, pent-up emotions can be released, and the original shock mitigated by remembering and confessing.

Srila Prabhupada: But what guarantee is there that we will not receive another shock? The living entity is receiving shock after shock. You try to cure him of one, and another comes. It is a fact that material life is painful. As soon as you receive this material body, you must suffer the threefold miseries. Everyone is seeking happiness, but unless materialistic life is stopped, unless we put an end to birth, old age, disease, and death, there is no question of happiness. Materialistic life is a disease, and Vedic civilization attempts to cure this disease. Our program is total cure. No more shock. Freud's treatment is useless because he cannot guarantee that there will not be another shock. If you are situated in real Krsna consciousness, the worst type of misery may face you, and you will not be disturbed. You will not experience any shock at all. Freud was trying to cure his patients of the results of some shock they had experienced years ago , but there is no guarantee that a similar shock will not come again. Rather, the living entity will receive one shock after another after another.

daivi hy esa gunamayi
mama maya duratyaya 

mam eva ye prapadyante 
mayam etam taranti te

"This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it." (Bg. 7.14) As soon as we try to solve one problem, another problem comes, then another. If we are in Krsna consciousness, there are no more shocks.

Syamasundara dasa: Freud believed that our present personality is greatly influenced by our sexual experiences in infancy and childhood.

Srila Prabhupada: Therefore we are trying to train our boys as brahmacaris. Of course, there is the tendency for sex, but by practicing brahmacarya, by diverting our attention to Krsna, there will be very little chance that a shock will come about. If the Vedic system is followed by human society, these shocks will not be there.

Hayagriva dasa: Freud also tied infantilism in with the religious impulse. He wrote: "Psychoanalysis, which has taught us the intimate connection between the father complex and belief in God, has shown us that the personal God is psychologically nothing but an exalted father Youthful persons lose their religious belief as soon as the authority of the father breaks down." Thus Freud sees God as a father figure arising out of the helplessness experienced by the little child.

Srila Prabhupada: How can a little child invent his father? Was he not born of his father? And how can he abandon the idea of his father? Without a father, how can one come into being? Even Freud had a father, grandfather, great grandfather, and so on back. We speak of God as the first father because there is no one beyond Him.

Hayagriva dasa: Still, Freud considers belief in God as infantile. In The Future of an Illusion, he writes: "Man cannot remain a child forever; he must venture at last into the hostile world." Instead of continuing to dwell in such a nursery, man should try to rid himself of the psychic crutch of religion.

Srila Prabhupada: What is his definition of childishness? Everyone must be a child, and everyone must have a father. Just as we cannot deny our biological father, we cannot deny the ultimate Supreme Father.

Hayagriva dasa: It is not that he is denying biological fathers, but the idea of a Supreme Father, which he felt arose out of man's initial helpless state.

Srila Prabhupada: Helplessness is always there, because the threefold miseries will always exist in material life. There will always be miseries arising from the body and mind, miseries inflicted by other living entitles, and natural catastrophes. In addition, there is always birth, old age, disease, and death. It is only a fool or a rascal who hopes against hope and makes plans to overcome all these difficulties. However we may plan, nature is so strong that it will smash our plans to pieces with the kick of death. Man hopes against hope to adjust material things so that he can be happy in this world, but this is foolishness. Man is helpless at every step.

Hayagriva dasa: Freud felt that belief in God the Father is "so patently infantile, so incongruous with reality, that to one whose attitude to humanity is friendly, it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life."

Srila Prabhupada: So what is his reality? Belief in God may be infantile to him, but what is he except a child? He also makes plans, and that in itself is childish. How is it that he is more than a child? Can he give an ultimate solution that will rid man of his helplessness?

Hayagriva dasa: Well, he personally hoped that psychoanalysis would provide the answers.

Srila Prabhupada: How can a common man understand psychoanalysis? The fact is that there is a supreme controller who is present everywhere. Psychoanalysis should begin with this point. Why is he defying this fact?

Hayagriva dasa: He sincerely believed that the maturation process necessarily entails ridding oneself of religion. He writes: "If one attempts to assign religion its place in man's evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity."

Srila Prabhupada: He has reached this conclusion because he has seen so many sentimental religions, but first of all he must understand what religion actually is. Religion is not possible without an understanding of God, and a religion without God cannot truly be called a religion. According to the Vedic system, religion refers to the orders of God; therefore if we have no conception of God, we cannot be said to have a religion. If we do not know God or His nature, how can we know the orders God is giving?