Dialectical Spiritualism: Sigmund Freud, Part 4

BY: SUN STAFF - 11.10 2017

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

Sigmund Freud (1856-1934)

Hayagriva dasa: It has often been noted — initially by Jung — that Freud tried to repress religious feelings within himself. In a letter, he once confided, "I cannot rid myself of certain materialistic prejudices, and I would carry them over into the research of the occult."

Srila Prabhupada: Religion is neither occult nor obscure. Of course, everything is obscure for an unintelligent person who has no idea of either God or religion.

Hayagriva dasa: In the same letter, Freud continues: "Thus I am entirely incapable of considering the 'survival of the personality' after death, even as a mere scientific possibility I think, therefore, it is better if I continue confining myself to psychoanalysis."

Srila Prabhupada: But if he cannot understand the eternity of the soul, he will be deficient in psychoanalysis as well. Even within one lifetime, we can see that the body changes while the soul remains the same. We go through the changes of childhood, youth, manhood, middle age, and old age, but the soul, the person, is always there.

Hayagriva dasa: In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud theorizes on the death instinct. Equating a child's fondness to repeat a certain act that gives him pleasure with the tendency to restore a previous state of affairs, he concludes that if instincts aim at the past, they would necessarily tend to regress to the prenatal state. This is a desire to "return to the womb" that brought Freud to write: "The goal of all life is death." For him, death is the cessation of suffering.

Srila Prabhupada: If this is the case, why are people afraid of death? Why do people go to a doctor when they fear some disease? If death is ultimate happiness, why do people try to avoid it?

Hayagriva dasa: Once, after an argument with Jung, Freud fainted, and his words when he came to were, "How sweet it must be to die."

Srila Prabhupada: Now, what pleasure does one derive from being dead? What is the pleasure of extinction? That is the pleasure of a stone.

Hayagriva dasa: Well, he did speak of return to the "quiescence of the inorganic world."

Srila Prabhupada: Then why bother philosophizing or psychoanalyzing? Just commit suicide and become like a stone. Why take up so much time? If it is better to die, then become a stone, and be happy. If ultimate happiness is extinction, why write so many books?

Hayagriva dasa: Freud considered the quietude that follows the sexual act to be very much like death, because desires are extinguished. Thus sleep often follows sexual intercourse. In this sense, the pursuit of pleasure is a drive to extinction.

Srila Prabhupada: If this is the purpose of life, we should pray to God to make us dogs and hogs because these animals have very good facilities for sex life. They all consider sex to be the ultimate goal, and then sleep.

rsabha uvaca 

nayarn deho deha-bhajam nrloke 
kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujarh ye 
tapo divyam putraka yena sattvaih 
suddhyed yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv anantam

"Lord Rsabhadeva told His sons: My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one's heart is purified, and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness, and which continues forever." (Bhag. 5.5. 1) Human life is meant for tapasya, for putting an end to sex. This is the process of brahmacarya.