G ottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz was a German polymath and philosopher who occupies a prominent place in the history of mathematics and the history of philosophy, having developed differential and integral calculus independently of Isaac Newton. Leibniz's notation has been widely used ever since it was published. It was only in the 20th century that his Law of Continuity and Transcendental Law of Homogeneity found mathematical implementation (by means of non-standard analysis).
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz was a German mathematician and philosopher who maintained that in the universe, every act has a purpose, and the purpose of the universe is to realize the goal set forth by God.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, actually the goal is to reach God. The ignorant do not know this. Instead, they are hoping for something that can never be realized. This is the version of Srimad-Bhagavatam:
na te viduh svartha-gatimhi visnum
durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah
andha yathandhair upaniyamanas
te 'pisa-tantryam uru-damni baddhah
"Persons who are strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached to external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead, and to engage in the service of Lord Visnu. As blind men guided by another blind man miss the right path and fall into a ditch, materially attached men led by another materially attached man are bound by the ropes of fruitive labor, which are made of very strong cords, and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the threefold miseries." (Bhag. 7.5.31) Throughout history, people have been trying to adjust situations by manipulating the material, external energy, but they do not know that they are bound fast by the laws of material nature. No one can violate the laws of nature. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu explained:
krsna bhuli' sei jiva anadi-bahirmukha
ataeva maya tare deya samsara-duhkha
"Forgetting Krsna, the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial. Therefore the illusory energy (maya) gives him all kinds of misery in his material existence." ( Caitanya-caritamrta, Madh. 20.117) Maya, the illusory energy, ties the living entity by his neck, just as one ties a dog. The dog thinks, "I am very happy and free. My master is controlling me." In Bhagavad- gita, it is also stated:
gunaih karmani sarvasah
kartaham iti manyate
"The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature." (Bg. 3.27) Prakrti, material nature, is controlling the living entity by her different modes, but in ignorance the living entity is thinking, "I am inventing, I am acting, I am progressing." This is called maya, illusion. No one can progress or improve without Krsna consciousness.The living entities have come into this material world because they wanted to imitate Krsna. Therefore they have been given a chance to engage in so-called enjoyment. At the same time, Krsna is so kind that He has given them the Vedas, the right directions. He says, "All right, if you want to enjoy, enjoy in this way so that one day you may come back to Me." If a child insists on acting improperly, the father may be very careful in giving him what he wants, and at the same time directing him.
There are two kinds of activities. One is pravrtti, by which we become very much attached to the material world. By the other type of activity, nivrtti, we become detached. Both activities are mentioned in the Vedas. However, there is a plan. Because the living entities have forgotten or disobeyed Krsna and are trying to enjoy life by imitating Him, they are placed into this material world. Under the supervision of the superintendent of this material world, Durga, these living entities can return home, back to Godhead. That is the plan, and there is really no other. Every one of us has to go back home, back to Godhead. If we do so immediately and voluntarily, we save time; otherwise we waste time. We have to come to this point. Therefore Bhagavad-gita says: bahunam janmanam ante ( Bg. 7.19). After struggling for many births, the wise man surrenders unto Krsna. The final point is surrender, and maya gives the living entity trouble in many different ways so that he will eventually come to this point. When he becomes frustrated in his attempts at sense gratification, it should be understood that he is receiving special favor. When Krsna is anxious to reform the living entity, He bestows His mercy by first of all taking away all his money. This is a special favor. The living entity always wants to delay, but by special favor Krsna draws the living entity to Him by force. This is explained in Caitanya-caritamrta. The living entity wants Krsna, or God, but at the same time he wants to enjoy the material world. This is inconsistent, because desiring God means rejecting the material world. Sometimes the living entity is caught between these two desires, and when Krsna sees this, He places him in a hopeless condition. He takes away all his money, and then the living entity sees that all his so-called relatives and friends turn from him, saying, "Oh, this man is useless. He has no money." In this hopeless condition, the living entity surrenders to Krsna.
All beings are trying to be happy in this material world, but it is nature's plan to give them trouble. In other words, every attempt at happiness will be frustrated so that eventually the living entity will turn to Krsna. This is the plan: to bring the living entity back home, back to Godhead. This plan does not apply to just a few living entities. It is not that some will remain here and others will go back to Godhead. No, the whole plan is that everyone must come back to Godhead. Some living entities are very obstinate, just like bad boys. The father says, "Come on," but the boy says, "No, I'll not go." It is then the father's business to drag him. At the end of Bhagavad-gita, Krsna says:
srnu me paramam vacah
isto 'si me drdham iti
tato vaksyami te hitam
"Because you are My very dear friend, I am speaking to you the most confidential part of knowledge. Hear this from Me, for it is for your benefit." (Bg. 18.64) Then He says, "Surrender unto Me, and I will give you all protection." (Bg. 18.66) In Bhagavad-gita, Krsna instructed Arjuna in karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, and other yogas, but His final instruction was to surrender.
Syamasundara dasa Leibnitz agrees that the mechanics of nature serve to fulfill God's purposes.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that's it. All the laws of nature are working under Krsna's direction.
"This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again." (Bg. 9.10) Material nature is the goddess Durga. It is she who is the superintendent of the fort. Material nature is like a fort which no one can leave. Durga is the confidential maidservant of Krsna, but she has a very thankless task of punishing the demoniac living entities, who are thinking, "I will worship my mother Durga," not knowing that her engagement is punishment. She is not an ordinary mother. She gives the demonic living entity whatever he wants. "Give me money. Give me a good wife. Give me reputation. Give me strength." Goddess Durga says, "All right, take these things, but at the same time you will be frustrated with them." On the one hand, the living entity is given whatever he wants, and on the other there is frustration and punishment. This is nature's law, and nature is functioning under the instructions of Krsna. The living entity in the material world has revolted against Krsna. He wants to imitate Krsna and become the enjoyer; therefore Krsna gives him all the resources of material enjoyment, but at the same time He punishes him. The goddess Durga is so powerful that she can create, maintain, and dissolve, but she is working just like a shadow. A shadow does not move independently. The movement is coming from Krsna. A fool thinks that material nature is there for his enjoyment. This is the materialistic view. When he sees a flower, he thinks, "Nature has produced this flower for me. Everything is for me." In the Bible, it is stated that animals are placed under the dominion or protection of men, but men mistakenly think, "They are given to us to kill and eat." If I entrust you to someone, is it proper that he eat you? What kind of intelligence is this? This is all due to a lack of Krsna consciousness.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz believed that truth could be represented by an exact, mathematical science of symbols, which could form a universal language, a linguistic calculus. He believed in a rational world and an empirical world, and that each stood opposed to the other. He felt that each had its own truth, which applied to itself, and that each had to be understood according to its own logic. Thus for Leibnitz, there are two kinds of truth. One is the truth of reason, which is a priori. This is innate knowledge which we have prior to and independent of our experience in the material world. The other truth is a posteriori, which is knowledge acquired from experience. This is accidental knowledge in the sense that it is not necessary.
Srila Prabhupada: The real truth is that God has a plan, and one has to be taught that plan by one who knows it. This is explained in Caitanya-caritamrta:
nitya-siddha krsna-prema 'sadhya' kabhu naya
sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya
"Pure love for Krsna is eternally established in the hearts of living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally awakens." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madh. 22.107) The truth is there, but we have forgotten it. Through the process of chanting and hearing, we can revive the truth, which is that we are eternal servants of Krsna. The living entity is good by nature because he is part and parcel of the supreme good, but due to material association, he has become conditioned. Now we have to again draw forth this goodness through the process of Krsna consciousness.
Syamasundara dasa: As an innate, or a priori truth, Leibnitz gives the example of a triangle: three angles of a triangle must always equal two right angles. This is a truth of reason which is necessarily permanent. The other type of truth is gathered by experience and is called accidental, or unnecessary. For example, we see that snow is white, but it is also possible that snow may be red.
Srila Prabhupada: It is also experienced that the three angles of a triangle must always equal two right angles.
Syamasundara dasa: But this truth exists independently.
Srila Prabhupada: How is that? Not everyone knows how a triangle is formed. Only when you study geometry do you understand. You cannot ask any child or any man who has no knowledge of geometry.
Syamasundara dasa: Whether the man knows it or not, this truth exists.
Srila Prabhupada: But truth by definition exists. It is not this truth or that truth. You may know it or not, but truth exists. So why is he using this particular example?
Syamasundara dasa: Because there is also another kind of truth, which may say that snow is white, but that truth is not absolute because snow could conceivably be red. However, a triangle must always have certain innate properties. That is a necessary truth.
Srila Prabhupada: Any mathematical calculation is like that. Why use this example? Two plus two equals four. That is always the truth according to mathematical principles.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz was trying to prove that there are certain truths that we cannot deny, that exist independent of our knowledge, and that are fundamental. There are other truths, like snow is white, which may or may not be true because our senses deceive us.
Srila Prabhupada: But that is due to our defective senses. It is a fact that snow is white. Now why should it be red? In any case, we have no experience of red snow. Pure snow is white by nature. It may assume another color due to contact with something else, but actually it is white. It is an innate truth that the three angles of a triangle must always equal two right angles, and it is also an innate truth that snow is white, that water is liquid, that stone is hard, and that sugar is sweet. These are fundamental truths that cannot be changed. Similarly, the living entity is the eternal servant of God, and that is his natural position. Water may become hard due to temperature changes, but as soon as the temperature rises, the water again turns into a liquid. Thus the liquidity of water is the truth, the constitutional position of water, because water by definition is a liquid. Similarly, the whiteness of snow is truth, and the servitude of the living entity is truth. In the conditional world, the living entity serves maya, and that is not truth. We cannot consider that there are two types of truth. Truth is one. What we take to be not truth is maya. There cannot be two truths. Maya has no existence, but it appears to be true or factual due to our imperfect senses. A shadow has no existence, but it resembles whatever projects it. In the mirror, you may see your face in exactly the same way that it exists, but that is not truth. The truth is one, and there cannot be two. What is taken for truth at the present moment is called maya.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz says that innate truths are governed by the principle of contradiction. That is, the opposite of the truth is impossible to conceive.
Srila Prabhupada: The opposite is maya.
Syamasundara dasa: For instance, it is impossible to conceive that the three angles of a triangle cannot equal two right angles.
Srila Prabhupada: My point is that there are not two types of truth. When you think that there are, you are mistaken. When you think that two plus two equals five, you are mistaken. Two plus two is always four, and that is the truth. Similarly, snow is always white, and when you think that snow is red, it is the same as thinking that two plus two equals five. It is an untruth. You cannot say that the whiteness of snow is another type of truth. You may make a mistake by thinking snow to be red, but this mistake cannot invalidate the truth that snow is white or that water is liquid. There is one truth, and any other truth is but a shadow. It is not true. Our language must be exact. You can see your face in the mirror as exactly the same, but it is a shadow only; therefore it is not truth. You cannot say that the reflection of your face in the mirror is another type of truth.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz would call this type of truth conditional truth.
Srila Prabhupada: That conditional truth is not the truth. For instance, the living entity is trying to become master of the material world. He thinks, "I am monarch of all I survey." That is not the truth. The truth is that he is the eternal servant of God. You cannot say that because he is trying to imitate God that he is God. There cannot be a second God. God is one, and that is the Absolute Truth. Our point is that we do not accept the proposition that truth is two. There are relative truths, but Krsna is the Absolute Truth. Krsna is the substance, and everything is emanating from Krsna by Krsna's energy. Water is one of Krsna's energies, but that energy is not the Absolute Truth. Water is always a liquid, but that is relative truth. Absolute Truth is one. Leibnitz should more precisely say that there is Absolute Truth and relative truth, not that there are two types of truth.
Syamasundara dasa: According to Leibnitz's law of continuity, everything in nature goes by steps and not leaps. In other words, there are no gaps in nature. Everything is connected, and there is gradual differentiation.
Srila Prabhupada: No, there are two processes: gradual and immediate. Of course, in one sense everything is gradual, but if the gradual process takes place quickly, it appears immediate. For instance, if you want to go to the top of the building, you can go step by step, and that is gradual. But you may also take an elevator, which may take just a second. The process of elevation is the same, but one takes place very quickly, and the other is gradual. Foolish people say that a flower is created by nature, but in fact the flower is growing due to the energy of Krsna. His energy is so perfect that He doesn't have to take a brush and canvas and try to paint a flower like an artist. The flower appears and grows automatically. Krsna is so powerful that whatever He desires immediately happens. This process is very quick, and it appears to be magical. Still, the process is there.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz sees in nature a combination of forces or activities at work. According to the law of motion, there is an uninterrupted series of regularly progressive changes in a body as it moves. If a ball rolls along the floor, it goes progressively, without gaps or sudden changes.
Srila Prabhupada: I explained that. The complete motion is part of the same process. However, the ball has no power to move of itself. If you push it in one way, it will roll slowly, and if you push it in another way, it will roll quickly. All these wonderful processes are happening in material nature due to the will of the Supreme. The process takes place automatically, but it is initially pushed by God, who created this material nature. In the beginning, material nature was unmanifest. Gradually, the three qualities or modes came into being, and by the interaction of the modes, many manifestations arose. First there was space, then sky, then sound, one after another. Krsna's push is so perfect that everything comes into being automatically in perfect order. Foolish people think that everything comes about automatically without an initial push, without a background. Therefore they think there is no God. This cosmic manifestation has not come about automatically. Krsna is the creator, and He gives nature its original purpose. A potter may make a clay pot on a wheel, but the wheel is not the original cause of the pot. It is the potter who gives force to the wheel. Foolish people think that the wheel moves automatically, but behind the wheel's movement there is the potter who gives it force. There is no question of nature creating independently. Everything results from God, Krsna.
As soon as you speak of a process, you imply that everything is linked together, that one event follows another. That is nature's way. The first creation is the mahat-tattva, the sum total of material energy. Then there is an interaction of the three gunas, qualities, and then there is mind, ego, and intelligence. In this way, creation takes place. This is explained in the Second Canto ofSrimad-Bhagavatam. The Supreme Lord impregnates matter, prakrti, by glancing at her. In the material world, one has to impregnate by the sexual process, but in the Vedas it is stated that Krsna impregnated the total material energy simply by His glance. This is due to His omnipotence. When Krsna throws His glance toward material nature, material nature is immediately activated, and events begin to happen. So the original cause of the creation is Krsna's glance. Materialists cannot understand how Krsna can set material nature into motion just by glancing at it, but that is due to their material conception.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz says that space and time are mere appearances and that the ultimate reality is different.
Srila Prabhupada: The ultimate reality is Krsna, sarva-karana- karanam (Brahma-samhita 5.1), the cause of all causes.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz calls the ultimate entities monads. The word "monad" means "unity," or, "oneness." He says that the stuff out of which even atoms are made are all monads, the ultimate particles.
Srila Prab hupada: That small particle is not final. Within that particle there is Krsna. Andantara-stha-paramanu -cayantara-stham (Brahma-samhita 5.35).
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz says that these monads are individual, conscious, active, and alive, and that they range in quality from the lowest type (matter) through the higher types, such as souls, to the highest, which is God.
Srila Prabhupada: Does he state that within the atom there is the soul?
Syamasundara dasa: His theory is that even the atoms are composed of these monads, which possess activity, consciousness, individuality, and other inherent qualities. The monad is the force or activity that constitutes the essence of a substance.
Srila Prabhupada: We understand from Brahma-samhita that Krsna is within the atom. That is Krsna who is the substance, the summum bonum. He is smaller than the smallest, and is within everything. That is His all-pervasive nature.
Syamasundara dasa: Then how are the individualities accounted for?
Srila Prabhupada: Every individual soul is awarded a portion of independence because each is part and parcel of God. Thus he has the quality of independence, but in minute quantity. That is his individuality. We consider the atom to be the smallest particle of matter, but we say that Krsna is the force within the atom. Leibnitz is suggesting that some force or power exists, but we are directly saying that the force or power is Krsna.
Syamasundara dasa: But he says that the force or power in each atom is individual, separate, different.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is so. By His omnipotence, Krsna can expand Himself in innumerable forms. Advaitam acyutam anadimananta rupam (Brahma-samhita 5.33). The wordananta means unlimited, and it is clearly said andantara- stham: He is within the atom.
Syamasundara dasa: Is he within each atom as an individual entity different from every other entity?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. If Krsna is there, He is individual. There are varieties of atoms, and sometimes they are combined together.
Syamasundara dasa: How is each Krsna different? How is it He is an individual in each of the atoms?
Srila Prabhupada: Why is He not an individual? Krsna is always an individual. He is always a person, the Supreme Person, and He can expand Himself innumerably.
Syamasundara dasa: And is Paramatma a person?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, every expansion is a person. We are all atomic expansions of Krsna, and we are all individual persons. Paramatma is another expansion, but that is a different kind of expansion.
Syamasundara dasa: Is the jivatma, the individual soul, also a person?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. If he were not a person, then how would you account for the differences? We are all different persons. You may agree with my opinion or not, but in any case you are an individual. Krsna is also an individual. Nityo nityanam. There are innumerable individual souls, but He is the supreme individual person. Now Leibnitz may say that within the atom there is a monad, or whatever—you could call it by any name you want—but within the atom the force is Krsna.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz maintains that the lowest type of monad is found within material atoms, and then they progress to higher monads, which are souls.
Srila Prabhupada: Directly we say Krsna, and that is automatically spiritual.
Syamasundara dasa: He says that each monad has an inner or mental activity, a spiritual life.
Srila Prabhupada: As soon as we say Krsna, we include everything.
Syamasundara dasa: So even within material atoms, there is a spiritual life, a spiritual force?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, force means spiritual force.
Syamasundara dasa: He says that all bodies are ultimate quantums of force, and that the essential nature of all bodies is force.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that force is the spiritual soul. Without the spirit soul, the body has no force. It is a dead body.
Syamasundara dasa: But even within the dead body there are forces. There is the force of decomposition.
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna is within the atom, and the body is a combination of so many atoms; therefore the force for creating other living entities is also there even in the process of decomposition. When the individual soul's force is stopped within a particular body, we call that body a dead body. Still, Krsna's force is there because the body is a combination of atoms.
Syamasundara dasa: He says that what is manifested to our senses, what occupies space and exists in time, is only an effect of the basic nature, which is transcendental to the physical nature. Physical nature is just an effect of a higher nature.
Srila Prabhupada: Physical nature is a by-product. As I have explained, according to your desire, you receive or create a body. Physical nature is subservient to the soul.
Syamasundara dasa: According to Leibnitz, these monads create bodies.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, at the time of death, you think in a certain way, and your next body is created. Therefore you create your next body according to your karma.
Syamasundara dasa: But does the monad of a hydrogen molecule, for instance, create its own body? Does it only accidentally become part of a water molecule?
Srila Prabhupada: Nothing is accidental.
Syamasundara dasa: Then does it also desire to become a water molecule? Does the hydrogen desire to combine with oxygen and become water?
Srila Prabhupada: No. The ultimate desire is of Krsna. If you take it in that way, Krsna is within every atom, and therefore Krsna wants whatever is to be. Therefore He wills that these two elements become one, and therefore the molecules combine to create water, or whatever. Thus there is a creation, and again there is another creation, and so on. In any case, the ultimate brain governing all creation is Krsna.
Syamasundara dasa: But does the hydrogen molecule have an independent desire?
Srila Prabhupada: No, because Krsna is within the atoms, they combine. It is not that the atoms as matter are individually willing to combine; rather, because Krsna is within the atoms, He knows that by certain combinations, certain creations will result.
Syamasundara dasa: But does the individual soul have a little independence to choose?
Srila Prabhupada: No. Bhagavad-gita states that when the individual soul wants to act, Krsna gives the orders. Man proposes, and God disposes.
Syamasundara dasa: So we have no free will?
Srila Prabhupada: Not without the sanction of Krsna. Without Him, we cannot do anything. Therefore He is the ultimate cause.
Syamasundara dasa: But I thought you have been saying that we have a little independence.
Srila Prabhupada: We have the independence in the sense that we may deny or affirm, but unless Krsna sanctions, we cannot do anything.
Syamasundara dasa: If we desire something, we take a body because of that desire. Now, can a hydrogen molecule desire to become a part of water and be given a body accordingly? Does it have the independence to desire something?
Srila Prabhupada: As far as we understand from the Vedas—andantara-sthaparamanu-cayantara-stham ( Brahma-samhita 5.35)—Krsna is within the paramanu. It is not stated that the soul is within the paramanu.
Syamasundara dasa: Then the individual soul is not present within the atom?
Srila Prabhupada: No. But Krsna is present.
Syamasundara dasa: Then Leibnitz's view does not accord with the Vedas?
Srila Prabhupada: No.
Syamasundara dasa: Is this because he states that in matter there is also this kind of individuality?
Srila Prabhupada: That individuality is in Krsna. As I have stated, Krsna knows that a certain element will be formed when so many atoms combine. It is not the individual soul enacting this, but Krsna Himself directly.
Syamasundara dasa: But when we refer to the living entities, the individual soul is also there?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, the individual soul is within the body. Both are present within the body: Krsna and the individual soul.
Syamasundara dasa: According to Leibnitz, substance is defined as being capable of action.
Srila Prabhupada: Substance is original, and extensions are categories. Since substance is the original cause, He is completely able to act. To be means to act. Without activity, what is the meaning of existence?
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz states that the monads change in their appearance because their inner desire compels them to pass from one phenomenal representation to another.
Srila Prabhupada: The monad does not change, but the mind changes. At any rate, I do not know what Leibnitz means by monads. He is simply complicating matters.
Syamasundara dasa: By definition, the monad is a small unit, a unity, which is the substance behind everything, even the atom.
Srila Prabhupada: That is Krsna. Krsna is fully independent.
Syamasundara dasa: Yet Leibnitz says that a monad changes his appearance according to his desires.
Srila Prabhupada: That is the case for the individual souls, but Krsna is not like that. Krsna is acyuta. He does not change. It is Krsna who creates the entire cosmic energy. By His plan and devices, so many creations are divided into different parts, and they change. Material objects change according to the will of God, Krsna. These individual monads are more precisely the Supersoul existing within matter, within the atom.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz would say that each particle of Supersoul, or each monad, is self-contained, that there is no loss or gain of force.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, each is eternal.
Hayagriva dasa: Concerning the relationship between the soul and body, Leibnitz writes: "Insofar as the soul has perfection and distinct thoughts, God has accomodated the body to the soul, and has arranged beforehand that the body is impelled to execute its orders."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, it is explained in Bhagavad-gita (18.61) that the body is like a machine. Because the soul wants to walk or move in a certain way, he is given this instrument. The soul has particular desires, and God gratifies these desires through His material agent, a particular type of body. Therefore there are birds flying, fish swimming, animals hunting in forests, men in cities, and so on. According to Padma Purana, there are 8,400,000 different bodies created to gratify the desires of the soul. Thus the machine of the body is supplied by nature under the orders of God.
Hayagriva dasa: For Leibnitz, in that the soul is perfect, it controls the body. However, "insofar as the soul is imperfect and its perceptions are confused, God has accomodated the soul to the body, in such a sort that the soul is swayed by the passions arising out of corporeal representations."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, it is explained in Bhagavad-gita that the soul in the material world is influenced by the three modes of material nature.
na tad asti prthivyam va
divi devesu va punah
sattvam prakrti-jair muktam
yad ebhih syat tribhir gunaih
"There is no being existing, either here or among the demigods in the higher planetary systems, which is freed from the three modes of material nature." (Bg. 18.40) He receives a particular type of body according to his position in respect to the modes. If his appetite is insatiable and his eating indiscriminate, he receives the body of a pig. If he wants to kill and eat bloody meat, he gets the body of a tiger. If he wants to eat Krsna prasadam, he is given the body of a brahmana. Thus we receive different types of bodies according to our desires. People attempt to gratify their desires because they think that by doing so they will be happy. Unfortunately, people do not know that they will be happy only by completely abiding by the orders of God. Krsna comes personally to request the living entity to abandon his material desires and act according to God's orders.
Hayagriva dasa: In Monadology, Leibnitz writes: "The soul changes its body only gradually and by degrees, so that it is never deprived of all its organs at once. There is often a metamorphosis in animals, but never metempsychosis or transmigration of souls."
Srila Prabhupada: What is his understanding of the soul?
Hayagriva dasa: He believes that it is not possible for souls to be entirely separate from bodies. For living entities, a body must always accompany the soul.
Srila Prabhupada: According to Vedic understanding, the body changes, but the soul remains eternal. Even in one lifetime we can see that our material body is changing from childhood to youth to old age, yet the soul remains the same. When the body dies, the soul takes on another body. This is the first lesson of Bhagavad-gita. If the soul is distinct from the body, it is nonsensical to say that a soul cannot exist without a body.
Hayagriva dasa: Leibnitz elaborates on this: "There is, strictly speaking, neither absolute birth nor complete death consisting in the separation of the soul from the body. What we call birth is development or growth, and what we call death is envelopment and diminution."
Srila Prabhupada: But that is the process of transmigration. Why does he deny it? The diminution is temporary. The living entity is not dead; he goes on to develop another body.
Hayagriva dasa: He seems to be saying that as soon as the human soul leaves the body, it must immediately enter another body.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is the case, but that is the process of transmigration. So why does he deny transmigration?
Hayagriva dasa: Well, he denies the existence of the soul apart from some form of material body. He writes: "God alone is wholly without body."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is, He has no material body. He does not transmigrate. According to Bhagavad-gita, mudhas, fools, consider Krsna's body to be like that of a human being.
avajananti mam mudha
manusim tanum asritam
param bhavam ajananto
"Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be." ( Bg. 9.11) Krsna does not change His body as an ordinary living entity does. He is the Supreme Person. Because He does not change His body, He remembers everything in the past. When we receive a body, we do not remember our past lives, but Krsna remembers because His body never changes. God is without a body in the sense that He has no material body.
Syamasundara dasa: According to his doctrine of preestablished harmony, Leibnitz likens the soul and the body to two perfectly synchronized clocks, both going at the same speed but both separate.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, the soul is different from the body, but the body is manifest due to the soul's desire. The body is the instrument of the soul.
Syamasundara dasa: Does the body ever affect the soul?
Srila Prabhupada: The soul is unaffected by the body, but the body is helping the soul to fulfill its desires. I am using this microphone to serve my purposes, but this microphone is not influencing me. It is not that this microphone wills that I dictate this or that. The body is a combination of atoms. If Krsna is within the atoms, the monads of the atoms and the monad in the body are different. If the monad is a small united particle, Leibnitz is speaking of the Supersoul. Although the Supersoul appears innumerable, it is in actuality one. As stated in Isopanisad:
yasmin sarvani bhutany
tatra ko mohah kah soka
"One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things, and there is no illusion or anxiety for him." (Isopanisad 7) Although we find the Supersoul all-pervasive, there is but one. Krsna says in Bhagavad- gita:
samam sarvesu bhutesu
yah pasyati sa pasyati
"One who sees the Supersoul accompanying the individual soul in all bodies and who understands that neither the soul nor the Supersoul is ever destroyed, actually sees." (Bg. 13.28) The devotee always sees all things in Krsna, and Krsna in all things. That is the true vision of oneness.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz believes that God creates the principle of preestablished harmony, that He sets the two clocks in motion and synchronizes them. The body is acting, but the soul is independent. It is not really affected by the body.
Srila Prabhupada: We also agree to that, but why use the example of clocks? Why not analyze the relationship between the body and the soul? You cannot consider them separately, because they are combined. The fallacy of this analogy is that two individual clocks are not combined at any point.
Syamasundara dasa: The common point is their synchronization.
Srila Prabhupada: But eventually one clock will go faster than the other. You cannot consider the body and soul as completely separate entities working independent of one another. It is stated in the Vedic sastras that the soul is the master of the body; therefore you cannot say that the body is working independently. If I tell my body to place this hand here, my hand will move to this spot. It is not that suddenly my hand moves without my desire.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz would say that the act of your desiring and the act of the hand moving are simultaneous but separate.
Srila Prabhupada: In Sanskrit, this argument is called kakataliya-nyaya. Once, when a crow flew into a tal tree, the fruit on that tree immediately fell to the ground. One observer said that the crow lighted on the tree first, and then the fruit fell, and the other observer said that the fruit fell before the crow could light. This kind of argument has no value. We say that if Krsna so desires, a stone can float on the water, despite the law of gravitation. Although the law of gravitation is working here, there are so many huge planets floating in space. All these laws act according to Krsna's desire. By the law of gravitation, all these planets would have fallen into the causal ocean and hit the Garbhodakasayi-visnu in the head because He is lying on that ocean. But by His order all these planets are floating in space. Similarly, if God so desires, a rock may fall into the water, but the water will not give way. The rock will simply float. Since God is the ultimate monad, this is possible. Whatever God wills will come into effect.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz admits that the monads are spiritual in nature and therefore immortal.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we agree to that. Both Krsna and the living entity are spiritual. Ultimately, everything is spiritual because everything is Krsna's energy. If Krsna is the original cause, matter can be changed into spirit, and spirit into matter. Electricity may be used to heat or to cool, but in either case, the original energy is electricity. Similarly, the original cause is Krsna; therefore He has the power to change matter into spirit, or spirit into matter.
Syamasundara dasa: He states that unlike the other monads, God is absolute necessity and eternal truth, and He is governed by the law of contradiction. That is to say, it is impossible to conceive of no God.
Srila Prabhupada: The atheists say that there is no God, although God is there. Unless God is there, where is the idea of God coming from? The atheist refuses to accept God. Similarly, the impersonalists refuse to accept a Supreme Personality of Godhead. Unless the idea of personality is there, how can they consider God to be impersonal? All this is due to frustration.
Hayagriva dasa: Leibnitz pictures a city of God very much like that of Augustine. He writes: "God is the monarch of the most perfect republic composed of all the spirits, and the happiness of this city of God is His principal purpose."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. If everyone becomes Krsna conscious and acts according to the instructions of Krsna, this hellish world will become the city of God.
Hayagriva dasa: Leibnitz further writes: "We must not therefore doubt that God so ordained everything that spirits not only shall live forever, because this is unavoidable, but that they shall also preserve forever their moral quality, so that His city may never lose a person."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, this is Vaikuntha consciousness. As stated in Bhagavad- gita:
avyakto 'ksara ity uktas
tam ahuh paramam gatim
yam prapya na nivartante
tad dhama paramam mama
"That supreme abode is called unmanifested and infallible, and it is the supreme destination. When one goes there, he never comes back. That is My supreme abode." (Bg. 8.21) That spiritual sky, or city of God, is well known to Vedic students.
Hayagriva dasa: Leibnitz did not believe that the city of God is divorced from the natural world. In Monadology, he writes: "The assembly of all spirits must compose the city of God, that is, the most perfect state possible and of the most perfect of monarchs [God]. This city of God, this truly universal monarchy, is a moral world within the natural world, and the highest and most divine of the works of God."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and we can realize this city immediately if we come to the proper consciousness that this planet does not belong to any particular nation but to God Himself. If people accept this principle, the entire world will become the city of God. Presently, the United Nations is attempting to settle all the problems of the world, but the leaders themselves have an animalistic mentality. They are thinking, "I am this body, I am American, or Indian, or whatever." People must give up these designations and understand their real identity as part and parcel of God. The entire planet belongs to God. We are His sons, and it is possible for us to live peacefully understanding that our Father is supplying us everything. If there is scarcity, it is due to improper distribution. If everyone abides by the orders of God, and everything produced is divided among the sons of God, there no question of scarcity. Since people are denying the actual fact that everything belongs to God, and since they are hoarding goods, there is scarcity. If people want to remain in animal consciousness, they will continue to suffer. Once they come to Krsna consciousness, they will realize the city of God, even within this material world.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz also states that the world could have been otherwise if God so desired, but that He chose this particular arrangement as the best possible.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, God can do as He likes, but this world was not exactly planned by God. It is given to the living entities who want to imitate God. The plan is shaped according to the desires of the living entities who want to lord it over material nature. This is not God's plan. This material world is like a prison supported by the government because there are criminals. It is God's plan that all the living entities in the material world give up their striving and return home, back to Godhead.
Syamasundara dasa: But from the standpoint of the ingredients of this world, is this the best possible world?
Srila Prabhupada: The spiritual world is the best possible world. This planet earth is not a very good planet; there are many other planets even in the material world thousands of times better. The higher you go in the planetary systems, the more comforts and amenities you find. The next planetary system is a thousand times superior to this one, and the planetary system above that is a thousand times superior still. In Brahma-loka, the highest planet, twelve hours of Brahma's day are beyond our comprehension.
Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz accepts the conditions of this material world as being the best we can hope for, the best of a bad bargain.
Srila Prabhupada: But Bhagavad-gita states that this is a place of misery:
punar avartino 'rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
"From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again." ( Bg. 8.16) This place is meant for suffering. We cannot stay here for very long, even if we agree to stay in such an uncomfortable situation. We have to change our body and go to a higher or lower situation. On the whole, material life is miserable. There is no question of happiness.
Syamasundara dasa: He also states that because there is more good than evil in this world, the creation of this world is justified.
Srila Prabhupada: Well, there is good and evil according to our angle of vision. A devotee sees this material world as good. In the material world, people are always complaining and are in a distressed condition, but a devotee sees that there is really no distressed condition. Everything is happiness because he lives with Krsna. Because he dovetails everything with Krsna, including himself, for him there is no misery.
Syamasundara dasa: He also says that if the world had not been worth creating, God would not have created it. The fact that He created it makes it worth creating.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is stated in the Vedas:
om purnam adah purnam idea
purnat purnam udacyate
purnasya purnam adaya
"The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance." (Isopanisad
Invocation) The creator is complete, and the creation is also complete. Nothing incomplete can be created by the complete. In that sense, everything that is wanted in this world is here. The arrangement is complete.