Dialectical Spiritualism: Sigmund Freud, Part 7


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

Sigmund Freud (1856-1934)

Hayagriva dasa: Freud writes: "The believer will not let his faith be taken from him neither by arguments nor by prohibitions. And even if it did succeed with some, it would be a cruel thing to do. A man who has for decades taken a sedative is naturally unable to sleep if he is deprived of it...."

Srila Prabhupada: It is also cruel to mislead people by telling them that God the Father is simply an infantile conception. That is real cruelty. It is cruel to stress sex and death and deny the conception of God as the Supreme Father.

Hayagriva dasa: Freud would not think that it is cruelty to disenchant man with an illusion. He writes: "I disagree with you when you go on to argue that man cannot in general do without the consolation of the religious illusion, that without it he would not endure the troubles of life, the cruelty of reality."

Srila Prabhupada: Without a spiritual education, man remains an animal. A man's life should be more than merely eating, sleeping, mating, defending, and dying. Man should strive to advance in spiritual knowledge. Spiritual education means understanding God. Freud may deny the existence of God, but in any case the conception of God is there in human society. One may accept or reject different conceptions of God, but the fact is undeniable that in every civilized country, there is some form of religion. One may be Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or Moslem: the designation is not very important. Understanding God is the important factor, because that ultimate understanding is Vedanta, the ultimate conclusion of all knowledge. Athato brahma-jijnasa (Vedanta-sutra). Now, in this human form, is the time to inquire, "What is Brahman?" Brahman, the Absolute Truth, is the goal of real knowledge. Man does not have to be educated to understand sex. According to a Bengali proverb, you do not have to be taught how to cry, or how to enjoy sex. When you lament, you automatically cry, and when there is the impulse to enjoy sex, you enjoy it automatically. This doesn't require the help of an educator like Mr. Freud. Everyone, animals and human beings, knows how to enjoy sex. There is no question of a "sex philosophy." Philosophy means inquiring into the Absolute Truth, Brahman, the supreme controller, He from whom everything has emanated. Philosophy is concerned with understanding where things come from. We may inquire into the origin of life on earth, and conclude that life comes from water, earth, or fire. Then, where do earth, water, and fire come from? He who is the source of everything is the Absolute Truth. In Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says:

aharh sarvasya prabhavo 
mattah sarvaih pravartate 
iti matva bhajante mam 
budha bhava-samanvitah

"I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts." (Bg. 10.8) You become a devotee of Krsna when you perfectly understand that Krsna is the ultimate source. This knowledge comes after many lifetimes of searching and searching.

bahunam janmanam ante 
jhanavan mam prapadyate 
vasudevah sarvam iti 
sa mahatma sudurlabhah

"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." {Bg. 7. 19) After understanding that Vasudeva, Krsna, is everything, the mahatma, the great soul, begins his bhajana, his worship.

mahatmanas tu mam partha 
daivim prakrtim asritah 
bhajanty ananya-manaso 
jhatva bhutadim avyayam

"0 son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible." {Bg. 9.13)

Hayagriva dasa: Freud admits that without religion man will "find himself in a difficult situation. He will have to confess his utter helplessness and his insignificant part in the working of the universe." Yet he goes on to say that without religion, man will venture at last into the hostile world, and this venture is his "education to reality."

Srila Prabhupada: And what service has Mr. Freud rendered? He has misled the world and made it more difficult for people to accept the words of God. Men who are innocent accept the words of God, but now many have become "over intelligent," and they think that sex is God. It will take some time to counteract this type of mentality, but man must eventually learn that his happiness is found in understanding and accepting the way of life defined by God Himself.

Hayagriva dasa: Christ pointed out that unless one becomes as a little child, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God, but Freud advocates "growing up" and setting this illusion aside.

Srila Prabhupada: He may advocate so many things, but if he does not know the meaning of God, or God's nature, what is the value of his knowledge? According to the Vedic philosophy, we should receive knowledge from a person who knows God. If one has not known God, his knowledge is useless, or, even worse, misleading. It is a fact that there is a supreme controller, and real education means understanding how the supreme controller is working. Denying Him is useless. He is there beyond our control, and we cannot avoid His control. We may make plans to live here very happily, but today or tomorrow, we may die. How can we deny the fact that we are being controlled? Knowledge means understanding how the supreme controller is controlling. People who defy religion and deny the existence of a supreme controller are like the jackal that keeps jumping and jumping, trying to reach grapes on a high vine. After seeing that he cannot reach the grapes, he says to himself, "Oh, there is no need to reach them. They are sour anyway." People who say that we do not need to understand God are indulging in sour-grape philosophy.