Dialectical Spiritualism: Soren Aabye Kierkegaard, Part 4

BY: SUN STAFF - 12.8 2017

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

Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855)

Hayagriva dasa: In defining love, Kierkegaard points out that St. Paul considered love to be "the fulfillment of the law. " "Love is a matter of conscience," Kierkegaard writes, "and hence it is not a matter of impulse and inclination; nor is it a matter of emotion, nor a matter for intellectual calculation Christianity really knows only one kind of love, spiritual love".

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, love in the material world is impossible, because everyone is interested only in his own sense gratification. The love experienced between men and women is not actually love, but lust, because both parties are interested in their own sense gratification. Love means that one does not think of his own sense gratification, but of the sense gratification of his beloved. That is pure love, and that is not possible in the material world. We see examples of pure love, however, in the Vedic depictions of Vrndavana, a village wherein men, animals, fruits, flowers, water, and everything else exist only for the sake of loving Krsna. They are not interested in any return from Krsna. Now, that is real love. Anyabhila-sitas-unyam. If one loves God with some motive, that is material love. Pure love is interested only in satisfying the desires of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When we speak of love in the material world, we are misusing the word. Lusty desires take the place of real love. Real love applies only to God— individually, collectively, or any other way. Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the supreme object of love, and this love can be expressed through adortion, service, or friendship. Or we can love Him as a child, or as a conjugal lover. There are five basic relationships expressing true love of Godhead.

Hayagriva dasa: For Kierkegaard, love of God is the decisive factor, and from it stems love of neighbor. "If you love God above all else," he writes, "then you also love your neighbor, and in your neighbor, every man To help another man to love God is to love the other man; to be helped by another man to love God is to be loved."

Srila Prabhupada: That is the basis of our Krsna consciousness movement. We're learning how to love God, and teaching the same principle to the whole world. We're teaching that God is one, and that no one is equal to Him, nor greater than Him. God is never dead. If love of God is taught by a religion, that religion should be considered first class, be it Christian, Hindu, Moslem, or whatever. The test of a religion is this: "Have the followers learned how to love God?" God is the center of love, and since everything is God's expansion, a lover of God is a lover of everyone. He does not discriminate by thinking that only man should be loved and given service. No. He is interested in all living entities, regardless of the forms in which they are existing. A lover of God loves everyone, and his love reaches everyone. When we water the root of a tree, we are nourishing all parts of the tree: the trunk, branches, twigs, and leaves. When we give the stomach food, we satisfy the entire body. God is everything. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, maya tatam idarh sarvam (Bg. 9.4). Nothing can exist without God because everything is His expansion. Visnu Purana says that God is present everywhere, although situated in His own abode, just as the light and heat of the sun are present everywhere, although the sun is situated in one place. God is all pervading. Nothing can exist without Him. At the same time, this does not mean that everything is God. Rather, everything is resting on His energy. Despite His expansions, He maintains His personality.

Syamasundara dasa: Kierkegaard also considered faith to be an important part of religion. For him, the opposite of faith is sin, which is the same as despair.

Srila Prabhupada: If you are in Krsna consciousness, there is no question of sin. It is not a question of faith, but of fact. At the beginning of Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna did not want to fight, but he finally decided to abide by the order of Krsna. That is piety: satisfying the higher authority, God. In the material world, we imagine this or that to be sinful or pious, but these are mental concoctions. They have no value.

Syamasundara dasa: Kierkegaard would define piety as faith in the orders of God.

Srila Prabhupada: That means he must receive God's orders. But if a person has no conception of God, if he conceives of God impersonally, there is no question of God's orders. If God is impersonal, He has no mouth with which to speak, no eyes with which to see. Therefore there is no question of His giving orders.

Hayagriva dasa: In his Journals, Kierkegaard writes: "There is a God; His will is made known to me in holy scripture and in my conscience. This God wishes to intervene in the world. But how is He to do so except with the help of man?"

Srila Prabhupada: Sadhu-sastra-guru. We can approach God by understanding a saintly person, studying the Vedic scriptures, and following the instructions of the bona fide spiritual master. Sadhu, sastra, and guru should corroborate. A sadhu is one who talks in terms of the scriptures, and the guru is one who teaches according to the scriptures. A guru cannot manufacture words that are not in the sastras. When we receive instructions from all three, we can progress perfectly in our understanding of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Hayagriva dasa: Kierkegaard writes: "The only adequate way to express a sense of God's majesty is to worship Him It is so easy to see that one to whom everything is equally important and equally insignificant can only be interested in one thing: obedience."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and God demands that full obedience: sarvadharman parityajya mam ekarh saranarh vraja (Bg. 18.66). Our original obedience should be to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we should obey the spiritual master because he is God's representative. If a person does not directly receive the orders of God, he cannot be a bona fide guru. A guru cannot manufacture anything; he simply presents what God speaks in the sastras. When God comes as an incarnation, He also gives references to the scriptures, just as Krsna referred to the Brahma-sutra in Bhagavad-gita. Although Krsna is God, and His word is final, He still gives honor to the Brahma-sutra because in that work spiritual knowledge is set forth logically and philosophically. It is not that we accept just anyone's proclamations about God. Statements must be corroborated by the standard scriptures.