Dreams And Reality

Dreams And Reality

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS

Founder-Ācārya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

The following lecture on Dreams and Reality was given by His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami in ISKCON Durban, South Africa at the Durban Ratha-Yatra Festival on 29 March 2013.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami:

Hare Kṛṣṇa!  So how are you all doing?  How do you like the festival?  How many of you were there on the parade?

Wonderful!

And how was it?  Ecstatic?  Did you chant?  And dance?  Was it an expression of your ecstasy?

(Devotees respond:  Yes!)

Thank you!  Hare Kṛṣṇa!

And how did you like the presentation on the Astrology on Karma. I was also listening.  It was a very nice presentation. So do you understand what karma is?  Do you understand how astrology can predict your future according to the Vedic understanding?

Hare Kṛṣṇa.  Can everybody hear me? Thank you.  As I was saying, Vedas are considered to be a body with six different limbs and astrology is one of them.  Do you know which part of the body astrology is?  Eyes.  With your mundane eyes you can see only the present, but with the eyes of astrology you can see the past, present and future.

The Vedas are the most profound wisdom that the world has ever received.  All our presentations here in this arrangement, you will find, are based on the Vedas.  Today, whatever I am going to say, what I am going to speak, is also based on the Vedic wisdom.  So the topic that we are going to discuss about is “Dreams and Reality”.  Everybody knows about dreams.

The general definition of dream is a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep. We fall asleep and then we experience certain series of thoughts or images, projection of the mind and emotions, and we consider them to be real.  And as a matter of fact, the dreams are a reflection of reality. Whatever we experience in our real life – when those experiences are projected through our thoughts, those experiences are retained in our memories. Then in our sleep we experience some projections of those retained experiences, and consider them to be dreams.

And what is reality?  Reality is something that exists factually.  The dreams are not real.  The dreams are the creation of the mind.  Reality is what exists irrespective of our mental or emotional projection.  So this is the general understanding of Dreams and Reality.

Now I’ll go into another direction:  Do you know how many types of bodies you have?  How many bodies do you have?

One body we know we have is this one.  I have this one, you have your body.  That is one body.  But beyond that there is another body.  That body is the subtle body made of three subtle elements.  Those three subtle elements are mind, intelligence and false ego.  How many of you are already aware of these three subtle elements, please raise your hands.

Very good.  Okay, so I can see that I have quite a learned audience here.  So, in this way we have two different types of bodies.  One is the gross body made of five gross elements.  What are those five gross elements, how many of you know?  Okay.  Yes, they are earth – earth means solid substance; water – liquid substance; then fire – fiery substance; air and ether.  These are the five elements the body is made of.  We can see that this body has solid substance like flesh and bone. They are solid substances.  This body also has liquids like blood, mucous, etc.  Then this body has fire.  For example, does the body have temperature?  Where does the temperature come from?  So there must be fire.  Without fire can there be heat?  So the heat is coming from fire.

Next let us consider air. What is the air aspect of the body? According to the Vedic understanding there are five different types of airs in the body and they are known as Prana, Apana, Samana, Vyana, and Udana. Different functions of the body are conducted through these airs.  For example breathing. When you breathe, the breathing is conducted by prana.  Actually, what is prana doing?  Prana is holding the soul within the body.  The soul is trying to go out and prana is holding him back.  So prana is keeping the soul within the body.  Apana Vayu is causing the waste products of the body to be excreted from the body.  Then Samana Vayu maintains the equilibrium of the body.  Then Vyana Vayu is controlling the nervous system. In this way these five different types of airs control different activities of the body.

So we spoke about earth, fire, water, air and ether.  Ether is the space. I won’t go into the details of this because it will take a long time to explain what ether is.  But let us just accept that ether is the fifth element.  Now consider, all these five – earth, water, fire, air, and ether – are actually gross material elements.  Even ether is considered to be a gross material element. This body is made with these five elements.

When we say “reality”, we actually consider the wakeful state of the body.  When the body is awake, what we experience through the gross body, we consider that to be the world of reality around us.  Now we come to the subtle body. As I mentioned, the subtle body is composed of mind, intelligence and false ego.  These are the three subtle material elements that make up the subtle body.  Do you have a mind?  Everybody will accept that you have a mind.  Everybody will have to accept that he has intelligence.  Then false ego – it’s a little difficult to understand what false ego is.  In simple words it can be described that false ego is the identification of the body as the self.  When we think that this body is my actual identity – this body is me – that awareness is called “false ego”.  But this false ego is also a subtle material element.

According to the Vedic understanding, the wakeful state is the perception of our gross body and dream is the perception of our subtle body.  So in this way we can see that the gross body is made of earth, water, fire, air and ether; and the subtle body is made of mind, intelligence and false ego.

We actually have three states of existence.  One is, the wakeful state. When we are awake we are actually functioning on the gross body platform.  When we are awake, both the gross and subtle bodies are active.  But when the gross body falls asleep and the subtle body is active, then that is the dream state.  “Dream” means the experiences of the subtle body.  Whatever the subtle body experiences when the gross body is inactive, that is the dream state.  When both the gross and the subtle bodies become inactive, that is the state of deep sleep. Actually when we fall asleep we are not always in deep sleep.  When the subtle body is awake we are dreaming. In fact, most of the time, during sleep, we are dreaming.  The subtle body is active although the gross body remains inactive.  However when both the gross and the subtle bodies become inactive, that is the state of deep sleep.  This deep sleep is the real sleep.  Anybody who has gone through intense mental distress can testify that often, although they sleep, they don’t sleep.  Why? Because the subtle body remains awake and as a result of that they don’t experience proper sleep.  The real sleep is the deep sleep – when both the gross and subtle bodies become inactive.

Now I will enter into another dimension of our discussion.  This is based on a statement from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Eleventh Canto, Tenth Chapter, Text Three. Here we get another, deeper perspective. One who is sleeping may see the objects of sense gratification in a dream, but such pleasurable things are merely the creations of the mind.

A dream is creation of the mind when we are asleep, right?  But then we are going into another dimension: The living entity who is asleep in his spiritual identity also sees many objects of the sense, but these innumerable objects of temporary sensual pleasure are creations of the Lord’s illusory potency and have no permanent existence.

Have you got the point?

We know about sleep. During sleep our mind creates different objects.  Some objects are pleasing, some objects are distressful, but they are all the creation of the mind.  When we are forgetful of our gross body, we fall asleep.  Similarly when a living entity forgets his spiritual identity he is said to be asleep in his spiritual identity. When a living entity is asleep in his spiritual identity he sees many objects of the senses, but these innumerable objects of temporary sensual pleasure are creations of the Lord’s illusory potency; meaning they are not there.

So what is this point of the Vedas implying?    

It’s implying that this world also is unreal.  What we are experiencing in this world is also unreal when we are spiritually asleep.  So how many of you are spiritually asleep?  How many of you are spiritually awake?

Okay.  A few hands still went up for being spiritually awake, but the most of you accepted that you are spiritually asleep; meaning that you are forgetful. You are oblivious of your spiritual identity. When we are oblivious of our spiritual identity, or when we are spiritually sleeping, then we become subjected to Lord’s illusory energy.  What is the Sanskrit word for the illusory energy of the Lord?  How many of you know?

Devotees unanimously respond: Maya

Maya. Very good. The Sanskrit word maya means “illusion”.  This maya is the Lord’s illusory energy. In this maya-icdimension, we experience various types of objects of sense gratification. Everyone is trying to enjoy. A living entity by nature, in his constitutional position, is joyful.  Therefore the living entity is constantly searching for enjoyment. But when a living entity is spiritually inactive, or rather oblivious of his spiritual identity, then a living entity becomes subjected to the illusory energy of the Lord and he experiences a whole lot of unreal, dream-like experiences.

Now let us go back to the previous considerations that we made.  What did we consider?  That we have two types of material bodies:  the gross body and the subtle body.  Everybody will accept that the subtle body’s experiences are dreams.  But here it is being pointed out that the gross body’s experiences are also dreams.  The only difference is that the subtle body’s dream is a projection of his mind or creation of his mind, individually.  For example when you dream, a person sleeping next to you will not get to know what you are actually going through.  You may dream that you have become a King or a Queen, and you may be enjoying your wonderful situation, but the person sleeping next to you may not have any understanding of what you are going through.  Therefore those dreams are individual dreams.

However the gross body’s experiences are collective dreams.  At a certain space and time, whoever may come will experience the same things.  For example, we all are here in this particular space, in this particular point in time. Aren’t you all experiencing the same thing?  You are seeing the tent and you are listening to the class. At the same time we are also seeing things from our own perspective.  For example, from your point, you are seeing me; and from my point, I am seeing you.  Apart from that, you have your own way of thinking.   Somebody may be thinking, “Oh, what is he talking about? Better he shuts-up.” While some of you may be thinking, “Well, really after all, what he is saying makes some sense.”

So this is how we have our own way of perceiving things.  A simple example can be given in this respect.  A mother sees the baby and her heart becomes filled with love, and her love transforms her blood into milk.  A tiger sees the same baby and its mouth starts to salivate.  So the object may be the same, but the perceptions of different individuals may be different.  So that is this reality.

So in a way you can say that individually we create our own three-dimensional world. And in this collective dream, a projection of the Lord’s illusory energy, where we all are – those that have become oblivious of their spiritual identity go through a dream-like experience where they try and enjoy the objects of this world.  They try to exploit different objects of the sense gratification to derive some pleasure.

So now have you got the point?

We are talking about “real” and “reality”, right?  There are two types of dreams: individual dreams and collective dreams.  Are you with me?  How many of you accept that there is a consideration of collective dreams?  So this collective dream is when we become subjected to the Lord’s illusory energy.  When do we become subjected to the Lord’s illusory energy?  How many of you have got the answer?

(Devotee answers).

Yes, very good, when one is spiritually asleep then he becomes subjected to the Lord’s illusory energy.  And the Lord’s illusory energy is dream-like, or actually unreal.

Dream is a projection of reality.  What you experience in reality, in your mind you concoct and put things in a different observational combination and you create your own world of dreams.  For example, you have seen gold and you have seen mountains, and in your dreams you see a golden mountain.  So this is how you combine your experiences and project them through your mind when you are sleeping.  So dreams are only a projection of reality.  So what we are going through is projected in a dream.

We have pointed out that these material experiences that we are going through, the experiences of this nature through our gross material body, is also a dream, a collective dream.  Then the question is, what is reality?  We are dealing with dreams and reality.  Now we have come to a point that what we thought is reality, is also a dream.  Then the question is: what is the actual reality? The actual reality or the absolute reality is another reality, another world that exists beyond this material nature.  The world that exists beyond this material nature is beyond our sight, and that is spiritual reality.

After a dream when you wake up, what do you experience?  You experience the wakeful state or what you consider to be the reality.  So when you wake up from your collective dream of this dimension, where do you wake up?  You wake up in your spiritual identity, in the spiritual realm.  So let’s just go through this quickly:  Individual dream is when the gross body becomes inactive and the subtle body predominates the consciousness, right?  When the subtle body predominates your consciousness then that is dream.  What type of dream?  The gross body’s perception is also a kind of dream and that is collective dream.

Now let’s discuss “consciousness”.  What is consciousness?  Are you conscious?  How many of you are conscious?  How many of you are unconscious?  Okay, so all of you are conscious.  So then what is consciousness? When you are aware of yourself and what is around you, that is consciousness.  Our existence is relative to our consciousness.  When we are conscious then we are existing.  When we are not conscious, are we existing?  So our existence is relative to our consciousness.  Now the question is, we all are conscious, but where does the consciousness come from?

How many of you agree with me that consciousness comes from the soul? Now, we can consider that the alertness of the body is due to the presence of the soul.  I am aware of my body, you are aware of your body because of the presence of the soul.  When the soul leaves the body, will we be aware of our body?  For example, when somebody pricks us with a pin; we respond.  A mosquito bites; we respond.  But when the soul leaves the body, the body will be burnt to ashes and we will not respond.  Why?  Because the awareness has been withdrawn from the body.  So this awareness has been created due to the consciousness, due to the presence of the soul in the body.

What is the soul and how does consciousness come from the soul?  Have you seen how the sun radiates light?  There is a globe, and the light comes out from the sun.  Similarly, consciousness radiates from the soul.  It is the soul that generates consciousness.  And where does the soul come from?

Let us consider this point.  In this world of matter, do we find any consciousness?  There is a vedic branch of philosophy which is known as Sankhya philosophy.  “Sankhya” means analytical study of this nature.  They have very systematically come to the conclusion of understanding the nature of the soul transcending matter.  You know how they did it?  They analyzed the world and they considered there are five elements that we discussed before.  What are those five elements?  Earth, fire, water, air and ether.  And we have five senses. Eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue.  These five senses interact with the five elements, and five objects of the senses are generated.  For example when ether acts with ear, sound is produced. When air interacts with skin, touch is produced. When fire interacts with eyes, form is produced. When water interacts with tongue, taste is produced. When earth interacts with nose, or olfactory organs, smell is produced.  So due to the interaction between five elements and the five senses the five objects of the senses are produced, like sound, touch, form, taste and smell.  So how many have you got that?  Three fives are fifteen.  Then they considered that there are five working senses with which we become active in this material nature.  What are those five working senses?  Hands, legs, anus, genitals and mouth.  So four fives are twenty.  Then they considered there are three subtle elements:  mind, intelligence and false ego.  So twenty plus three is twenty-three.  Then they considered the sum total of the material substance from which everything has evolved called the maha-tattva, which is the material element in its very elementary substance, its very basic substance. The total is twenty-four.  So in this way, the entire material nature has been analyzed with these twenty-four elements.  But then they considered that all of these twenty-four elements are objective in nature. Can the object exist without the subject?

So who is the subject?  I gave myself away.  I said “who” is the subject, so you got it.  I should have said “what” is the subject!  So who is the subject?  We are the subjects – the conscious beings. I am, therefore the world is.  You are, therefore this world is.  So if I am not here, will this world exist for me?  No.  So I am the subject.  And in this way, the entire material creation composed of these twenty-four elements exists because of my presence here. Now the entire material nature has been analyzed with these twenty-four considerations but I could not be found there.  “I” is beyond those twenty-four considerations.  So what would be the natural conclusion?  The natural conclusion is that I came from another world, right?  So this is how, through this very systematic analysis, it has been established that beyond this material nature there is another reality and that is called the spiritual reality.

Actually, although Sankhya philosophy analyzed it with twenty-four considerations, it is a very extensive philosophical analysis through which they come to the conclusion.  But in the Bhagavad-gītā how did Kṛṣṇa establish that?  It was established in just two verses, in four lines.  Kṛṣṇa said that this material nature is composed of eight elements.  Those eight elements are:

bhūmir āpo ‘nalo vāyuḥ

khaḿ mano buddhir eva ca

ahańkāra itīyaḿ me

bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā

(Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, 7.4)

He says that this material nature is composed of eight elements.  They are earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego.

But then He says:

apareyam itas tv anyāḿ

prakṛtiḿ viddhi me parām

jīva-bhūtāḿ mahā-bāho

yayedaḿ dhāryate jagat

(Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, 7.5)

This world composed of these eight elements is inferior.  That is, as I mentioned, the objective reality, inferior.  But this inferior material nature is sustained by the living entities.  We, the living entities, sustain this world and he is saying that we come from His superior energy.

The living entities that are sustaining this material nature come from another reality, another nature.  In this way we can see that there is another reality beyond this material nature. So that reality is an actual reality; and material nature is a perverted reflection of that reality.  How is that reflection taking place?  That reflection is actually taking place through our mind, just as you see the reflection on a pool of water. How do you see that reflection? Kṛṣṇa is also making this point very beautifully.  In Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa says that this material nature is like a Banyan tree, which has its roots upwards, and branches downwards.  Have you seen a tree with the roots upwards and branch downwards?  How many of you have seen a tree with the roots upwards and branches downwards? As I mentioned, when you see a tree as a reflection in a pool of water, how do you see it?  Don’t you see the root upwards and branch downwards?  So similarly this material nature is a perverted reflection of the spiritual sky.  So that is the relationship between material nature and spiritual nature.

The spiritual world is the world where the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the center.  Now here also, what is the difference between spiritual nature and material nature?

By the way, I wanted to mention also that I will try to give a lot of time for questions and answers because in this type of discussion, question and answers is very important.  So I will conclude the talk and answer questions.  If you need any paper to write questions you can let us know.  Whoever wants can just pass this…

So we were just discussing what is the difference between material nature and spiritual world?  In simple words it can be described that the material world is the world where we put ourselves as the center, and the spiritual world is the world where God, or Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the center.

The difference between the material world and the spiritual world is not a physical difference as such; it is a difference of consciousness.  When we are the center, when we put ourselves as the center, that is material nature.  The world where God is the center, that is the spiritual world.  Now just consider in this world how we are acting, how we are reacting, how we are functioning, what is the motivation?  Don’t we put ourselves at the center?  Doesn’t the world revolve around us? That is material. As long as we do that, that is material.  And when we put Kṛṣṇa in the center then that is the spiritual world.  When you go to the spiritual world what will you find?  Kṛṣṇa is the center of everything.  And in material nature, what are we seeing, what are we experiencing?  All the time it is the consideration of me and mine.  That is material nature.  But when Kṛṣṇa is the center, that is spiritual.  That is the difference between material and spiritual worlds.

Kṛṣṇa is the absolute reality.  Kṛṣṇa is the Absolute Truth.  Do you know what is the specific characteristic of absolute truth?  The specific characteristic of absolute truth is that anything in relation to absolute truth is also absolute truth.  Are you familiar with the concept of infinity in mathematics?  How many of you are familiar with the concept of infinity in mathematics?  Okay, so what is infinity plus twenty-five? Rangini Radhika?  Infinity plus twenty-five?  Infinity.  Infinity multiplied by two thousand five hundred?  Infinity.  Infinity minus twenty-five trillion?  Infinity.  So infinity always remains infinity, and anything in relation to infinity is infinity.

Now if Kṛṣṇa is the Absolute Truth, anything related to Kṛṣṇa is also the Absolute Truth.  Actually in mathematics, although they do not understand generally, but through mathematics they actually have a concept of spiritual reality.  They have a concept of God, but they do not want to delve into that.  That is the unfortunate part.  So anything in relation to Kṛṣṇa is absolute.  Now Kṛṣṇa is real.  Is Kṛṣṇa’s reality or Kṛṣṇa’s domain real or unreal?  It’s real!  So the world where Kṛṣṇa is, that is the Absolute reality, that is the ultimate reality.  We all came from there. We are all spiritual beings.  How long will this material body last for?  Although everyone thinks that he is going to live forever, but will anybody be here forever?

You see, Yudhisthira Maharaja was asked by the personified religion, Dharmaraja, “What is the most amazing thing in this world?”  And do you know what was Yudhisthira Maharaja’s answer?  Yudhisthira Maharaja’s answer was that “although everybody sees that so many people have died in the past, so many people are dying in the present, and so many people will die in the future, but he thinks that he will never die.  So that is the most amazing thing in this world.  Everybody thinks that he is not going to die.”

And actually it’s not surprising, because everybody in reality is immortal.  The spirit soul is immortal.  The spirit soul does not die.  And because we are all spiritual beings we naturally think that we are not going to die.  But the problem is that when we identify ourselves with this material body, the material body is subject to death, therefore this body dies. But we never die.  Unfortunately, for as long as we identify ourselves with this material body, we become prone to death because we think that the body is the self, and the body will eventually die.  So we all are immortal, but we will become immortal in reality only when we become situated in the spiritual realm.

Now, to go into that, have you seen a spark from a fire?  A spark is a tiny little fire.  When that spark comes out of the fire, can it retain its fiery qualities?  It loses its fiery qualities, falls on a heap of ash, and turns into ash.  Similarly, we, the living entities, the tiny little spiritual entities, when we become separated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then we lose our spiritual bodies.  And just as falling on a heap of ash, that inflammable state of that spark becomes ash; becoming separated from Kṛṣṇa and falling into this world of matter, we have become transformed into matter.  We are identifying ourselves with this body that is made of matter.  Is this point clear?

We are spiritual sparks.  Tiny little spiritual spark means tiny little living entity.  When we got separated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, were we able to retain our spiritual identity?  No, that is what happened to us.  Because we have become separated from Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we lost our spiritual identity and we are mistakenly identifying ourselves with this body made of matter.  Now the spark has lost its fiery quality, becoming separated from the fire.  If it has to become a spark again, what does it have to do? Go back into the fire, or become reconnected to the fire.  Similarly for us to regain our spiritual identity we have to become reconnected to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  So how many of you want to regain your spiritual identity?  Very good.  So what do you have to do?  You have to simply re-establish your connection with Kṛṣṇa.  How do you become connected to somebody?

Did you ever consider that?  Through love.  Doesn’t love bring us together, and hatred separates us?  So if we want to become connected to the Supreme Personality of Godhead we simply have to offer our love to Him, and by creating this loving relationship we will establish our relationship with Him.  Now the consideration is, as they say, love is a two-way traffic.  That means both the parties have to be in love to make the love work.  We have to develop our loving relationship with Kṛṣṇa.  How to do that?  The thing that we need to consider here is that actually Kṛṣṇa loves us, but we do not love Him.  That is the problem.

Does Kṛṣṇa really love us? Okay, let’s consider, all the food that you are eating, and all the food that you have eaten – where did it come from?  Kṛṣṇa gave it to you, right?  Why did Kṛṣṇa give you all the food?  Because…he loves you!

Where did you get all the water to drink?  Who made this arrangement for all the water that you are drinking? There is a lot of water in the ocean. Can you drink that water?  But see what a wonderful arrangement Kṛṣṇa has made:  with the rays of the sun he makes the water from the ocean to evaporate, then that becomes cloud, then the cloud is transported by wind to different parts, then condensation takes place and it comes down in the form of rain.  Who made this arrangement?  Kṛṣṇa!  Why?

Devotees respond:  “He loves us.”

I can’t hear you!

Devotees respond louder:  “He loves us!”

Okay.  So he loves you.  More important than water is oxygen.  We take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide.  If the process just continued, what would happen?  The whole atmosphere would be filled with carbon dioxide.  Did that ever happen?  Why not?  Yes, because trees and plants are taking in carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen.  Who made this arrangement?

Devotees respond:  “Kṛṣṇa!”

Why?

Devotees respond:  “He loves us!”

That’s better!  So see Kṛṣṇa loves you, but the question is, do you love Him?  If you don’t love Him, will that love be complete?  For example, a young boy is in love with a young girl, but the young girl does not respond.  How does the young boy feel?  Doesn’t he feel terrible because his love is not being properly reciprocated?  Now Kṛṣṇa loves us, but we do not respond.  How does Kṛṣṇa feel?  But if you respond simply by saying, “Kṛṣṇa I love you”, then can you imagine how Kṛṣṇa will feel?  And that is the reality.  And when we develop our loving relationship with Kṛṣṇa in this way, we become situated in our constitutional position with Kṛṣṇa in the absolute reality. Now do you understand what is dream and what is reality?  What is the actual reality, the absolute reality?  The absolute reality is in the spiritual world.

Okay, I’ll take some questions. We have about twenty-five minutes.  Let’s take the questions that are already written.

(Reading question)  “How about a spiritual dream? “ Very good.  “How does one know that it is truly bona fide in the meaning of Kṛṣṇa consciousness?”  Very good.  Whose question is this?  Okay, very good.

As I mentioned earlier, spiritual means in relation to Kṛṣṇa.  When a dream is in relation to Kṛṣṇa then it is, as you say, a spiritual dream.  But then it is not a dream, it is reality.  Although it may appear to be like a dream, it is actually diametrically opposed to a dream, it is reality.  Just as sunrise and sunset, although diametrically opposite, appear to be similar; similarly a dream and experiences of the spiritual reality with Kṛṣṇa in the center appear to be similar.

(Reading question)  “I read in one of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books, Science of Reincarnation, a statement that claims that dreams are projections of previous lives lived.  Is a dream not a process whereby the soul leaves the body and through consciousness the individual gets to experience materialism through the soul?  Then the soul re-enters the body in a state called wakefulness and the soul chooses to leave the body and be free; that is, a body sleeping; more because the soul experiences less through its body.”  Whose question is that?  Okay, very good.

As I explained earlier, we have two bodies: gross material body, and subtle material body.  Dreams are experiences of the subtle material body.  It is not that in a dream the soul leaves the body.  The gross material body becomes inactive or the gross body falls asleep, but the subtle body remains active.  It is not a matter of entering, because these two bodies are there in relation to the soul.  When the soul leaves the body, then the body dies.  So it is not that the soul leaves the body.

When one is asleep, is he dead or alive?  Alive.  So what makes him alive?  The presence of the soul.  So that is the proof that the soul is still in the body.  But in this respect there is a similarity between sleep and death.  The similarity is that in sleep you come back to the same body when you wake up, but when you die; you wake up in another body.

(Live question):  “I always had the sense that when you reach that level of mastery, it is possible for your soul to leave your actual body and travel anywhere throughout the planets, or anywhere in the world; and then actually come to that same body.”

HHBCSM:  Why worry about that?  Are you not happy with just travelling in this body?  Are you not happy being here?

(Devotee): “It’s sort of a question of choice; that once your soul is free you get to choose if you want to leave your body or what…”

HHBCSM:  At a very advanced spiritual stage one can do that.

(Devotee):  “What I meant to…”

HHBCSM:  But the question is, what is the use?  After all you are just travelling in this world.  What really matters is to go back there.

(Devotee):  “Once you go back there is there a possibility that once we reach perfection to choose to manifest in this world again…”

HHBCSM:  That perfection will not come from your choosing.  It will be Kṛṣṇa’s decision.  When Kṛṣṇa wants, you will return.  You have prayed to Him:  “Kṛṣṇa, I want to get out of here”…

(Devotee):  “If I was to have this soul experience again of being here; if I asked Kṛṣṇa to let me be here to experience what it is…”

HHBCSM:  Yes, you have had plenty opportunity to experience that…

(Devotee):  “Yes, and I think there is plenty more coming still…”

HHBCSM:  Yes, it will come; but my question is, what is the use?  Okay, now let’s just deal with this question in a particular way.  You see, this material nature is like a prison house where you are subjected to punishment because of your wrong actions. As Bhaktivinoda Thakura put it in a very beautiful expression:  “The flesh is not our own alas, the mortal frame a chain…”  This mortal body is bondage, a chain.  “…The soul confined for former wrongs will try to rise again”.  The soul has been confined in this material body and in this material nature for our former wrongs, for our past misdeeds.  Just like a prisoner is being punished in the prison house because of his crimes.  Now does a prisoner, in his right consciousness, want to continue staying in the prison, or does he want to get out?

(Devotee):  “With the prisoner, there comes a time that when he becomes aware of his wrong-doing, then he realizes that…”

HHBCSM:  So then will the prisoner want to travel from one cell to another to experience what the prison is like, or will he want to get out of the prison?  The point is that the prisoner should want to get out of the prison.  So he should figure out what is the best way to get out.

(Reading question) “Is Kṛṣṇa the Supreme Personality personified, or is it a symbol, symbolizing the true self within, the soul, the brahman?”

HHBCSM:  As I mentioned, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the Absolute Truth. So if He is the Absolute Truth then why should His identity be false?  According to this point, Kṛṣṇa is not Kṛṣṇa, if Kṛṣṇa is a symbol.  Now is it dealing with the Absolute Truth, or is it dealing with something unreal?

Kṛṣṇa is Kṛṣṇa, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and we all are His eternal parts and parcels.  Yes, He has his impersonal aspect also. His energy is His impersonal aspect, brahmajyoti as was mentioned, brahmanBrahmajyoti is Kṛṣṇa’s bodily effulgence; that is not Kṛṣṇa the Personality of Godhead, it’s His radiation of the spiritual effulgence of His body.

(Reading question)  “If this world is considered unreal, then how it is that we emotionally react to something good or bad.  Kindly explain.”

HHBCSM:  You see, not really unreal, it is a dream.  For example in a dream, don’t you react?  In a dream if you see you have become a King, how do you feel?  Don’t you feel some sort of emotion?  Or if in a dream you see that a tiger is attacking you, don’t you feel scared?  Similarly in this material world also we are reacting to the happenings around us, or reacting to the happenings pertaining to us.  But those reactions are not of a permanent nature.  They are of a temporary nature, just as this material nature is.  But the spiritual reality is the reality where we experience the real emotion in relation to Kṛṣṇa.

We experience love, we experience joy, we experience laughter, we experience chivalry… In this way we experience various types of emotions with Kṛṣṇa in the center.  That is the difference.  Those emotions and reactions are of a permanent nature because they are in relation to Kṛṣṇa, whereas the emotions that we experience in this world are of a temporary nature.

(Live question):  “You mentioned that we are reacting; so how to react and still remain equipoised?  We are reacting in our day-to-day lives, but how to react…”

HHBCSM:  Good point.  The point is, don’t get involved – just accept it as it comes, because they are not of a permanent nature, they are transient.  Just as weather changes, sometimes in the summer it is hot and in the winter it is cold.  We know that it will pass, so just tolerate, titikshah.

(Reading question) “If I dream of Kṛṣṇa or spirituality-related matter is that unreal?”

As I said the ultimate reality is Kṛṣṇa so anything related to Kṛṣṇa is real, whether you are superimposing it or whether you are going through it.  For instance when you are chanting the names of Kṛṣṇa, although you are in this world, you are chanting and saying, “Kṛṣṇa, I love you; Kṛṣṇa, I love you; Kṛṣṇa, I love you…”  That is real because Kṛṣṇa is listening and Kṛṣṇa will positively reciprocate.  So that’s how it is real.

(Reading question)  “Kindly explain the out of body experiences and the state of consciousness when one is in a coma state.”

HHBCSM:  Very good. The state of coma is actually when the gross body is not functioning and is inactive.  But that doesn’t mean that the subtle body is inactive.  Just like a person is apparently inactive in his sleep but he is dreaming.  Apparently, externally, it seems like he is inactive or in his sleep, but that doesn’t mean that his subtle body is inactive.  So one may be in a coma, and his gross body may be inactive, but that doesn’t mean that his subtle body is inactive.  But sometimes one may be in a coma of both gross and subtle.  That can also happen.  So the coma means that the soul is there but either just the gross body is not active, or gross and subtle bodies are both inactive.

In our scriptures it is described that a state of coma is a state when Yamaraja, the supreme judge, cannot figure out what judgment to make.  So when he is in some turmoil then that individual remains in a kind of state of inactive waiting for Yamaraja to decide.

Okay now a few live questions…

(Live question):  “How can we be in constant touch with our spiritual reality?”

HHBCSM:  By constantly engaging our mind in thinking about the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  By engaging our intelligence to decide how we are going to please Him and be engaged in His loving devotional service.  In this way when our body, mind and words are engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, we are in constant touch with the spiritual world.

(Live question):  “Hare Kṛṣṇa Maharaja, it’s always good to have your association and somehow or the other remove our doubts.  Just to add to Kṛṣṇa Caran’s question, you see many of our difficulties arise from being in the kanistha, in the neophyte stage, and somehow or other these difficulties arise because of our fear.  And towards the end of Bhagavad-gītā, I believe it is 18.54 that one has to come to that brahma-bhutah platform to become ever-joyful.  So hopefully you can just comment a little bit further.  Thank you.”

HHBCSM:  Very good comment.  You see material nature is a nature where we are in constant anxiety because our existence here is so uncertain. Death may come at any time. We may be subjected to all kinds of difficult situations. That’s why we are in constant fear.  What is the constant fear?  To keep the body alive, maintain the body, preserve the body, to keep the body and soul together.  That’s why we are in constant fear.  But when you transcend the bodily platform and come to the spiritual platform, as you say, like brahma-bhutah prasannatma; then at that platform there is no anxiety and there is no fear, because the soul is not subjected to material calamities.  Does that answer your question?  Hare Kṛṣṇa!

 (Live question):  “Hare Kṛṣṇa Maharaja, just a short one.  Dreaming about Kṛṣṇa is good; dreaming bad dreams is also good for a devotee.  For a non-devotee, both are bad?  Please answer this one.”

HHBCSM:  I think you answered the question yourself.  The answer is, for a devotee everything is good, and for a non-devotee everything is bad.  Anyway, become a good devotee.  Thank you all very much.  All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda!  Gaura Premanande!  Hare Kṛṣṇa!  Thank you!

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Audio-link : click here

Transcription: Sarisha Harischund
Editing : Mukunda Hari Dasa