Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
March 24, 2017

German idealism

Arthur Schopenhauer

A rthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation (expanded in 1844), wherein he characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and insatiable metaphysical will. Proceeding from the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that has been described as an exemplary manifestation of philosophical pessimism, rejecting the contemporaneous post-Kantian philosophies of German idealism.


22 February 1788 Danzig (Gdańsk)


21 September 1860 (aged 72) Frankfurt, German Confederation


19th-century philosophy


Western philosophy

Main interests

Metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, morality, psychology

Chapter Ⅶ. German idealism

Arthur Schopenhauer


Hayagriva dasa: For Schopenhauer, happiness is inactive satisfaction, inactivity, nirvana. Since the will to live is the irrational urge that brings about all suffering, he advocates the extinction of this world. In The World As Idea, he writes: "The Vedas and Puranas have no better simile than a dream for the whole knowledge of the actual world, which they call the web of maya....Indeed, life is a long dream....What is this world of perception besides being my idea? Is that of which I am conscious only as idea, exactly like my own body, of which I am doubly conscious, in one aspect as idea, in another aspect as will?" He goes on to conclude that life is a projection of the will.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, life is a projection of the will, or material desire. The living entity cannot be desireless. Nirvana means that material desires are finished, but because the living entity is an eternal spiritual being, he has spiritual desires. Now these spiritual desires are covered by material desires, but in any case, desire is the constant companion of the living entity. Because he is materially covered, he considers the temporary world to be reality, but because it is constantly changing, it is not. According to the type of body we get, we have different desires. The soul transmigrates in this material world from one body to another, and he creates desires accordingly. The supreme will affords him different bodies in order to fulfill his will or material desires. The living entity is willing, and the supreme will, God, or Krsna, understanding the finite will, gives him facilities to fulfill his particular desire. Therefore will is the cause of this material existence. However, we say that since you are a living being, you must have desires. If your desires are stopped, you become like a stone. Instead of trying to put an end to all desire, you should try to cleanse this diseased form of desire. That is the process of bhakti.

tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena hrsikesa-
sevanam bhaktir ucyate

"Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. He is freed from all material designations, and, simply by being employed in the service of the Lord, his senses are purified." ( Bhakti-rasamrta sindhu, 1.1.12) Presently, our desires are desires of the body (upadhi). When the living entity acquires the body of an American, a European, a Chinaman, or whatever, he thinks in a certain way. When he changes his body to that of a dog, he spends his time barking. According to his desires, he has received a particular type of body. These desires are temporary, and the living entity moves from one body to another. Therefore in one sense this is all a dream. It is a fact that we cannot fulfill our material desires, which come and go like dreams. Now all material activities, subtle or gross, are manifestations of different desires, and therefore the Mayavadi philosophers say brahma satyam jagan mithya. The dreamer is a fact, but the dream is false. Our Vaisnava philosophy agrees that the dreamer is the factual living entity, and the dream is temporary; therefore the dreamer has to be brought to the real spiritual platform so that his material dreams can be extinguished. When we abandon the dream and awaken to reality, that is Krsna consciousness, or bhakti.

Syamasundara dasa: Then will or desire can never be annihilated?

Srila Prabhupada: No, not even for a second. Because we are living, we must will and desire. It is stated in Bhagavad-gita that we cannot live for a second without will, without desires.

na hi kascit ksanam api
jatu tisthaty akarmakrt
karyate hy avasah karma
sarvah prakrti-jair gunaih

"All men are forced to act helplessly according to the impulses born of the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment." (Bg. 3.5)

Syamasundara dasa: Don't the Buddhists advocate a state of desirelessness, or nonwillingness?

Srila Prabhupada: They believe that if you dismantle this material combination, this material body, there will no longer be will, desire, or suffering. But this is not a fact. You are the eternal servant of Krsna, and you do not die after the destruction of the body. Thinking, feeling, and willing are carried from this body to another body in the process of transmigration. When the body dies, the living entity is carried away by his will. According to our will, we receive another body at the time of death. That body may be the body of a demigod, dog, human, or whatever. In any case, will, or desire, is the carrier.

Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer was profoundly influenced by some of the Vedic literatures. For example, he writes: "Every keen pleasure is an error and an illusion, for no attained wish can give lasting satisfaction; and moreover, every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour. All pain rests on the passing away of such illusion; thus both arise from defective knowledge. The wise man therefore holds himself equally aloof from joy and sorrow, and no event disturbs his composure."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, in this material world, people say, "This is good, and this is bad," but factually there is no question of good and bad. This is all on the temporary platform. The Mayavadis use the word "false," but we say "temporary." It is also stated in Bhagavad-gita that the pains and pleasures experienced in the material world do not touch the spirit soul. Under illusion, a spirit soul, concerned with a material body, thinks that the pains and pleasures are his, but this is not a fact. Therefore Krsna instructs that the pleasures and pains simply touch the body, not the soul. Krsna says:

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
agamapayino ‘nityas
tams titiksasva bharata

"O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perceptions, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed." (Bg. 2.14) Since pleasures and pains come and go in due course, they are not the reality. So why bother about them? If I feel pain, let me tolerate it and go about my business.

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer sees happiness in the world as a negative state at best, a momentary suspension of suffering.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is also explained by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sometimes when a man is to be punished, he is held under water to the point of suffocation. Then he is let up, and when he comes up for temporary relief, he thinks, "Ah! Happiness at last!" The point is, he should do something that will relieve him of his unhappiness permanently.

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer says, "Human life must be some kind of mistake." The greatest crime of man was that he was ever born.

Srila Prabhupada: When you understand that there is a crime, you must understand that someone is there to punish you. If you suffer because of that crime, you must understand that there is someone who has judged you to be criminal.

Syamasundara dasa: He concludes, however, that because the world is mad or irrational, it could not possibly have an author. If there were a God, He would have set the world in order.

Srila Prabhupada: We have certainly experienced that there are madmen in the world, but there are also hospitals where such men can be treated. The world may be mad, but there is hospitalization. Unfortunately, Schopenhauer has no knowledge of the hospital or of the treatment. He speaks of sinful life, but he does not accept the judge who gives the punishment for sinful life. He sees that the world is mad, but he does not know the treatment for madmen.

Hayagriva dasa: In The World As Will, Schopenhauer writes: "My body is the objectivity of my will....Besides will and idea, nothing is known to us or thinkable—The genitals are properly the focus of the will, and consequently the opposite pole of the brain, the representative of knowledge....In this respect...they were worshipped by the Hindus in the lingam, which are thus the symbol of the assertion of the will. Knowledge, on the other hand, affords the possibility of the suppression of willing, of salvation through freedom, of conquest and annihilation of the world."

Srila Prabhupada: As I said before, willing is done in accordance with the body, but we should understand that we have nothing to do with this material world, which is the production of the material will. We are spiritual, and when we will spiritually, we are Krsna conscious. When we will materially, we get different types of material bodies. It is true that the basis of material life is sex. We always say:

yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham
kanduyanena karayor iva duhkha-duhkham
trpyanti neha krpana bahu-duhkha-bhajah
kandutivan manasijam visaheta dhirah

"Sex life is compared to the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. Grhamedhis, so-called grhasthas who have no spiritual knowledge, think that this itching is the greatest platform of happiness, although actually it is a source of distress. The krpanas, the fools who are just the opposite of brahmanas, are not satisfied by repeated sensuous enjoyment. Those who are dhira, however, who are sober, and who tolerate this itching, are not subjected to the sufferings of fools and rascals." (Bhag. 7.9.45). The basic principle of those who are addicted to the material world is maithuna, sexual intercourse. This strong desire for sex continues as long as we are in material existence, because that is the center of all pleasure. However, when we get a taste of Krsna's pleasure, we can give this up.

visaya vinivartante
niraharasya dehinah
rasa-varjam raso 'py asya
param drstva nivartate

"The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness." (Bg. 2.59)

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer considers sex to be selfishness, whereas real love means sympathy.

Srila Prabhupada: Sex is animalistic. It is not love but lust. Sex means the mutual satisfaction of senses, and that is lust. All this lust is taking place under the name of love, and out of illusion, people mistake this lust for love. Real love says, "People are suffering from a lack of Krsna consciousness. Let us do something for them so that they can understand the value of life."

Syamasundara dasa: He also considered immoral acts to result from a sense of egoism.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is so. People think, "Why should I surrender to Krsna? Krsna is a person, and I am also a person." Such thinking is demoniac. Rascals cannot understand that by surrendering unto the supreme will and satisfying the supreme will, salvation can be attained.

Syamasundara dasa: Yet Schopenhauer felt that it is possible to crush egoism and desire by love and sympathy for others.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, without love, nothing can be sustained. If I do not love Krsna, I cannot surrender unto Him. A small child naturally surrenders unto his parents because there is love for the parents. The more you love, the more your surrender is perfect. When there is a lack of love, the mentality by which you can surrender will not develop. If you have some love for me, you will carry out my orders. There is no question of forcing one to surrender. The living entity is free to love or to reject. Without freedom, there cannot be love. Krsna consciousness means learning to love Krsna.

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer looked on love as compassionate sympathy for one who is suffering. Through this compassionate love, we can lose desire.

Srila Prabhupada: Why should you love those who are suffering and not those who are enjoying?

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer sees everyone as suffering.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we agree to this. Everyone within material nature is suffering. Therefore Krsna descends and delivers Bhagavad-gita. Krsna is described as the deliverer of all fallen souls. A Vaisnava takes sannyasa, the renounced order, out of compassion for others, because his only duty is to preach the message of Krsna consciousness. People in the world are suffering due to their ignorance. They think, "Oh, now I have a nice car, apartment, and girlfriend; therefore I am happy." Actually, this is not happiness but suffering. Because the Vaisnava loves Krsna and understands that he is part and parcel of Krsna, he realizes that the conditioned living entities are suffering for want of Krsna consciousness. Therefore, out of compassion, the Vaisnava takes sannyasa and goes forth to preach.

Hayagriva dasa: As for the nature of the world, Schopenhauer is vague, but he sees material life as basically irrational and whimsical.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is a fact, and therefore we are changing bodies. This means that our material mind is not fixed; it is constantly rejecting and accepting. Mayavadi philosophers and Buddhists say that since these material pleasures and pains arise from this material combination, the best course is to dismantle it. They do not say that the soul is the basis, but that the material body is nothing but a combination of the material elements. They therefore advise us to let the earth return to earth, the water return to water, and so on. In this way, they tell us that we should strive to become zero, to attain nirvana.

Syamasundara dasa: Leibnitz claimed that this is the best of all possible worlds, and you agreed because the world is God's arrangement. But Schopenhauer sees this as the worst of all possible worlds.

Srila Prabhupada: There is no doubt that whatever Krsna creates is perfect. However, since the nature of this world is material, there are three modes working: goodness, passion, and ignorance. As you work, you receive the results, the reactions. We do not agree that this is the worst of worlds. Why should God create the worst of anything?

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer believes this because the world is so full of madness and frustration.

Srila Prabhupada: Had he taken his frustration seriously, it might have made him successful. We receive many letters from frustrated students who understand that frustration is another hell, and eventually they come to understand that they should seek the real shelter. So frustration is really not so bad. If you are put in a dangerous position, and you know how to save yourself from it, that very danger will later give you pleasure.

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer claims that the working of the world is ethically evil.

Srila Prabhupada: To some extent that is right because when you are in prison, you will find that there is evil. But that evil is good for you. It is there so that you can learn a lesson. When you are out of the prison, you will be able to love someone.

Hayagriva dasa: For Schopenhauer, there is frustration behind all material pleasures and endeavors. Happiness eludes us. As soon as we attain the objects of our desires, they no longer appear the same. "They soon grow stale or forgotten," he writes, "and though not openly disowned, are yet always thrown aside as vanished illusions."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, all this is going on, and therefore the living entity acquires one body after another.

Hayagriva dasa: He sees us moving through a constant transition from desire to satisfaction and then to a new desire, "the rapid course of which is called happiness, and the slow course sorrow...." It is this flux from desire to satisfaction that characterizes the will's activities in the phenomenal world. Outside of this, there is only nirvana, extinction.

Srila Prabhupada: That is not a fact. We have to understand that behind the will and its satisfaction is a person who is willing. Schopenhauer does not take that person into consideration; he considers only the will and its satisfaction. It is the individual soul who is willing. If he succeeds in stopping this flickering willing, what next? Even the stopping of the will is temporary. One kind of willing may be stopped, but there will be another kind of willing and satisfaction. We must understand that behind the whimsical will is the spirit soul. When that spirit soul understands his real identification as the eternal servant of Krsna, his will is purified. We should not be satisfied by simply trying to annihilate the whimsical will. We should understand the real will of the real person. That is the beginning of spiritual life.

Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer believes that voluntary and complete chastity is the first step in asceticism, or in the denial of the will to live. "Chastity denies the assertion of the will which extends beyond the individual life," he writes, "and gives the assurance that with the life of the body, the will, whose manifestation it is, ceases."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but he must understand that behind the will there is a person who is willing. It will not help us simply to negate the temporary material will. We have to will in reality, and that is our eternal willing, that is Krsna consciousness. In the material world, the will is directed toward sense satisfaction because the living entity has forgotten the spiritual field of willing. When the same will is directed towards satisfying the senses of the Supreme, that is the eternal willing of the living entity.Jivera 'svarupa' haya—krsnera 'nitya-dasa' ( Caitanya-caritamrta, Madh. 20.108). When we come to the platform of real knowledge, we understand that we are the eternal servants of God. When our will is concentrated on how to serve God, we attain our real position of eternity, bliss, and knowledge.

Hayagriva dasa: Although Schopenhauer officially takes an atheistic stand, he writes: "If a man fears death as his annihilation, it is just as if he were to think that the sun cries out at evening, 'Woe is me! For I go down to eternal night....' Thus suicide appears to us as a vain and therefore foolish action...."

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, because the will is there, death is not the stoppage of life. One simply gets another life.

dehino 'smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

"As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change." (Bg. 2.13) This is proof that the life of the person who is willing is eternal. His desire and will are eternal, but Schopenhauer does not know what his eternal willing is. His eternal will is to serve Krsna always. It is a fact that suicide is no solution. One just implicates himself more and more. If we kill the body given by God, we have to accept another body, or remain a ghost. If I live in this body eighty years, and then commit suicide, I have to remain a ghost for five years before I get a chance to receive another body. Of course, you may argue that since the soul is everlasting, it makes no difference whether the body is killed. It is all right if the body is annihilated, but you cannot deliberately kill the body because that is hindering its progress. The living entity is destined to live in a particular body, and if you destroy that body, he has to wait for another. This means that you are interfering with his spiritual evolution, his spiritual progress. Therefore you are liable for punishment.

Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer also looked on Indian philosophy as a philosophy of the denial of the will, and he cited many examples of suicide as a religious act.

Srila Prabhupada: But he did not study Vedic philosophy and religion perfectly. He has some idea of some portions of the Mayavadi and Buddhist philosophies, but evidently he did not know about Vaisnavism. Although he has touchedBhagavad-gita, he did not study it thoroughly, because in Bhagavad-gita, Krsna tells Arjuna that if he only tried to attain knowledge of God, his life and will would be purified, and he would return back to Godhead upon giving up the body.

janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ’rjuna

"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna." (Bg. 4.9) Either Schopenhauer did not study Bhagavad-gita thoroughly, or he could not understand for want of a real spiritual master. According to Bhagavad-gita itself, we should go to a bona fide guru who has seen the truth. Schopenhauer is speculating on the basis of his own experience; therefore, although everything is there in Bhagavad- gita, he could not see it.

Hayagriva dasa: As examples of the denial of the will to live, Schopenhauer cites the religious suicides under the wheels of the Jagannatha carts, and the ritual of sati.

Srila Prabhupada: These are not suicides. These are acts based on the understanding that because we are getting different types of bodies, we are suffering a variety of miseries. When one voluntarily accepts death in these ways, he thinks of his spiritual life while dying, and he attains it.

yam yam vapi smaran bhavam
tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya
sada tad-bhava-bhavitah

"Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits the body, that state he will attain without fail." (Bg. 8.6) Therefore King Kulasekhara prayed that Krsna take him while he was in good health and remembering Krsna, because he feared forgetting Krsna when dying in a diseased condition. Often, when death comes, a person is in a coma, his bodily functions are impeded, he dreams in various ways, and so on. Therefore an intelligent man sometimes thinks that it would be more desirable to meet death in sound health so that he can think of his next life and go back to Godhead. If a person thinks of Lord Jagannatha while dying, he goes back to Lord Jagannatha. That is not suicide but the voluntary acceptance of death so that one can immediately transfer to the spiritual world.

Hayagriva dasa: And that is effective?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Hayagriva dasa: What of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's throwing Himself in the ocean?

Srila Prabhupada: No, that was different. That was an act of ecstasy.

Syamasundara dasa: Schopenhauer noted that the will forces a person to live even when he has nothing to live for. It impels him to suffer day after day. He compares it to the alms which a beggar receives one day just so he can live in hunger the next day. All this misery and frustration are not partaken by a few men, but by all.

Srila Prabhupada: That is certainly a good point, but why does the individual hanker after something when he is being frustrated? The point is that there is a goal, and the individual is hankering after that goal. In order to understand what that goal actually is, we should approach a spiritual master.

Hayagriva dasa: According to Schopenhauer, the man of knowledge is not perturbed in any condition. "Such a man would regard death as a false illusion," he writes, "an impudent specter which frightens the weak but has no power over him who knows that he is himself the will of which the whole world is the objectification or copy, and that therefore he is always certain of life and also of the present—"

Srila Prabhupada: This is contradictory. On the one side there is a desire for the certainty of life, and on the other he says that nirvana is the only answer. Which does he want? He is simply trying to adjust things. He cannot understand the philosophy behind purification of the will.

Hayagriva dasa: One of the first major Western philosophers to have read Bhagavad- gita, Schopenhauer feels that it was Krsna's assurance of immortality that brought Arjuna to fight.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but what is Schopenhauer's philosophy of the immortal living being? He does not understand that just as the living entity is immortal, his will is also immortal. If the soul is immortal, how can his will be stopped? How is nirvana possible?

Hayagriva dasa: He offers no solution other than suppression of the will.

Srila Prabhupada: But that is not possible. He must change the quality of his willing in order to be happy. That is the process of bhakti.

tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena hrsikesa-
sevanam bhaktir ucyate

"Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. He is freed from all material designations, and, simply by being employed in the service of the Lord, his senses are purified." ( Bhakti-rasamrta sindhu, 1.1.12) Bhakti is the purification process: sravanam kirtanam visnoh. Chanting and hearing the pastimes of the Lord will purify us. Schopenhauer misses the point of Bhagavad-gita. Although he accepts the fact that life is eternal, he thinks that its purpose is nirvana. Unfortunately, he does not know what real nirvana is. Nirvana means putting an end to the whimsical will and coming to the platform of willing in Krsna consciousness.

Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer was impressed that the religion of India has endured for more than four thousand years. He writes that such a religion "cannot be arbitrarily invented superstition, but must have its foundation in the nature of man."

Srila Prab hupada: Within the Vedic religion there are two basic sects: Mayavadi and Vaisnava. Both acknowledge the fact that the material world is flickering and transient and that there is another life in the spiritual world. For the Mayavadis, spiritual life means merging into the Brahman effulgence, and for the Vaisnava it means associating personally with God in His abode, Goloka Vrndavana, Vaikuntha. Both envision a spiritual life attainable after death.

Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer considered Indian religion to be based on the denial of the will.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, denial of the will for material happiness, but it is not the will itself that is denied. While denying the will for material happiness, we must assert the will for spiritual happiness. When denying one thing, we must accept something else. No one can remain in a neutral position. Param drstva nivartate (Bg. 2.59). We give up the inferior for the superior.

Syamasundara dasa: For Schopenhauer, there are three means of salvation: aesthetic, ethical, and religious. Through aesthetic salvation, contemplation of the Platonic ideals through poetry, music, and art, we are transported above passion, desire and willing.

Srila Prabhupada: This is nothing new. It is mentioned in Bhagavad-gita, and the students of this Krsna consciousness movement abandoned their abominable living habits because they received a better life with superior thoughts, philosophy, food, song, poetry, and art. When the mind is filled with Krsna, there is no chance in its engaging in the contemplation of nonsense.

Syamasundara dasa: Aesthetic salvation is a temporary experience. When we look at a beautiful painting, for instance, we momentarily transcend the lower levels of consciousness and become desireless.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we admit that this may be the case, but we wish to remain in that higher consciousness continually, not momentarily. This is possible through practice. By practice, a child learns to read and write, and thus becomes educated. It is not a momentary thing. If we practice Krsna consciousness daily, lower consciousness will automatically vanish. Sri-vigraharadhana-nitya- nana-srngara-tan-mandira-marjanadau (Sri Gurv-astakam 3). The spiritual master engages his disciples in the temple worship of the Lord. You cannot derive benefit from worshipping the Deities unless the aesthetic sense is applied with reverence and respect.

Syamasundara dasa: According to ethical salvation, we should attempt to satisfy the will. When it is satisfied, no new desires can arise. This brings permanent happiness.

Srila Prabhupada: Apart from the individual will, there is the supreme will. If we satisfy the supreme will, we are happy. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado (Sri Gurv-astakam 8). Our philosophy is that by satisfying the spiritual master, the representative of God, we satisfy the supreme will. It is not our will that is to be satisfied, but the will of God.

Syamasundara dasa: By religious salvation, the most effective type of salvation, the will is denied through asceticism. In this way, Schopenhauer believed that we could attain the state of nirvana, nothingness.

Srila Prabhupada: Such people claim that when there is no longer any sense of pleasure and pain, there is no world. The fact is, there are three stages: waking, sleeping, and total unconsciousness. In all three stages, the will is there. A person can emerge from a state of total unconsciousness and immediately remember his waking state and his dreams. Therefore the will is there. The will cannot be killed because it is the function of the soul. Since the soul is eternal, willing is also eternal. The will may be suppressed for some time, however. For instance, after death, when a living entity enters a womb, he spends the next nine months developing his next body, and there is a suspension of the will. However, according to your will, you develop a certain type of body. When you emerge from your mother's womb, the willing process resumes. Death means a suspension of the will for a few months, that's all. If you train your willing process improperly, you have to suffer life after life, but if you train it properly, you can go to Vaikuntha immediately after death.

Hayagriva dasa: Concerning religious practices, Schopenhauer writes that "the Christian mystic and teacher of Vedanta agree that all outward works and religious exercises are superfluous for him who has attained to perfection." But doesn't Krsna recommend just the opposite?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. In Bhagavad-gita, He says:

na tyajyam karyam eva tat
yajno danam tapas caiva
pavanani manisinam

"Acts of sacrifice, charity, and penance are not to be given up but must be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity, and penance purify even the great souls." (Bg. 18.5) If we give up the ritualistic ceremonies, there is every chance that we will fall down. Even though we may be liberated, we should continue performing sacrifices, charities, and penance in order to keep our position secure.

Hayagriva dasa: In discussing the functions of the brain, Schopenhauer notes that the need for sleep is directly proportionate to the intensity of our mental activities. Dull creatures like reptiles and fish sleep little and lightly; the more intelligent animals sleep deeply and long. 'The more completely awake a man is," he writes, "the clearer and more lively his consciousness, the greater for him is the necessity of sleep, and thus the deeper and longer he sleeps."

Srila Prabhupada: No. Those who are ignorant, materially covered, sleep more, and those who are spiritually enlightened sleep less. Sleep is a necessity of the body, not of the soul; therefore those who are spiritually advanced do not require a lot of sleep. Nidrahara-viharakadi-vijitau. We understand that Rupa Gosvami conquered sleeping, eating, and mating. When we are spiritually engaged, we consider sleep a waste of time. Those who are interested in spiritual life adjust their lives in such a way that their sleep is practically nil. Arjuna was addressed as Gudakesa, "one who has conquered sleep."

Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer recommends about eight hours of sleep a night. How many are recommended in the Vedic tradition?

Srila Prabhupada: Sleep should be avoided, but since that is not possible, it should be adjusted to the minimum. The Gosvamis did not sleep more than two hours daily. Even some karmis are so absorbed in their work that they practically don't sleep at all. It is said that Napolean slept while riding his horse, and Gandhi slept while riding in a car. Generally, six hours is sufficient.

Hayagriva dasa: In The Ages of Life, Schopenhauer writes: "A complete and adequate notion of life can never be attained by anyone who does not reach old age, for it is only the old man who sees life whole and knows its natural course....He alone has a full sense of its utter vanity, whereas others never cease to labor under the false notion that everything will come out right in the end."

Srila Prabhupada: This may seem to be the case, but in Western countries we observe old men still following the path of sense gratification. So what is the use of their experience? Unless one receives training, it is not sufficient to become an old man in order to understand the purpose of life. Training is required from early childhood. According to the Vedic plan, an old man should take the renounced order of sannyasa and completely devote his time and energy to understanding and serving God. We do not become spiritually mature just by growing old. We should be trained from the very beginning as brahmacari.

Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer points out that it is customary to call youth the happy part of life and old age the sad part, but factually this is not the case. "This would be true if it were the passions that made a man happy," he writes, "but a man feels happy just insofar as his intellect is the predominating part of him."

Srila Prabhupada: For modern civilization, happiness means sense gratification. Desire for sense gratification continues even when one is an old man; therefore early training is required. It is said that one can become an old man even without advancing in age. This means that it is knowledge that is important, not age. If one is not educated properly, he becomes an old fool.

Hayagriva dasa: Schopenhauer notes that in the Upanisads, the natural human life span is set at a hundred years. "To come to one's end before the age of ninety means to die of disease," he writes. "In other words, prematurely."

Srila Prabhupada:

Yes. In this millennium, the maximum age is one hundred years, but in former millennia, men used to live for a thousand years. In the Treta-yuga, the life span was ten thousand years, and in the Satya-yuga, it was one hundred thousand years. Presently, in Kali-yuga, life has become so degraded that people expect to live only about seventy years. As one becomes more sensuous, his life span decreases. That is the law of nature.

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