S igmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. Freud was born to Galician Jewish parents in the Moravian town of Freiberg, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He qualified as a doctor of medicine in 1881 at the University of Vienna.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud saw a conflict between the primal self, which he called the id, and the ethical self, the ego. It is the id that attempts to gratify all needs, and its basic motivating force is the libido, the sexual instinct. When the id comes in contact with the senses, the ego is formed. The superego is a modified part of the ego, which is formed through experiences related to one's parents. The superego is characterized by the feelings of conscience, and it is the principal repressive factor in the ego's striving to curb the primitive, sex-motivated, lawless tendencies of the id.
Srila Prabhupada: We also agree that everyone has a sexual appetite, and it is stated in sastras that sex is the principal bond to the material world. Actually, everyone has a tendency not only for sex, but for intoxication and meat eating also. These tendencies are inherent in the living entity. According to the sastras, we are allowed sexual intercourse in marriage, but we are prohibited from having any other sex. Krsna says, dharmaviruddho bhutesu kamo 'smi. "I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles." (Bg. 7.11) This means that sex life has to be regulated. Of course, people have a perverted tendency to have sex against the Vedic injunctions. The Vedas give regulations for all undesirable activities, not only sex, but meat eating and intoxication as well. The idea is to restrict these anarthas, these unwanted things, so that the living entity may eventually be freed of them. In the conditioned state, everyone creates a false ego, thinking, "I am American, I am Hindu, I am Christian, Moslem, Russian, I am a human being, I am this body, I am this and that." This is false ego. Superior ego says, "I am Brahman. I am the eternal servant of Krsna." If we understand the self in this way, false ego automatically vanishes. Our senses are gross, but they are controlled by the mind. The mind is part of the subtle body, and the mind in turn is controlled by the intelligence. The intelligence is controlled by the ego, and if this ego is false, the entire structure is false. False ego thinks, "I am this body." This is false identification. When the ego is thus deluded, everything subordinate to it is also illusioned because everything else is standing on a false platform. Therefore the Vedas advise us to come to the platform of knowledge, and this is called brahma-jnana. As Bhagavad- gita states:
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state, he attains pure devotional service unto Me." (Bg. 18.54) When we come to the knowledge that we are not the body but pure spirit soul, we immediately become happy. All the neuroses and problems that Freud is trying to cure are due to false ego. When we understand our actual position, the blazing fire of material existence is immediately extinguished. Freud is describing this blazing fire, and he is trying to treat people within this fire. But how can a person be happy when there is fire all about? It is the fire itself that must be extinguished, or the person himself must be removed from the fire. Then there will be happiness.
I recall some years ago in India, when a criminal was pleading insanity to a murder charge, a psychiatrist was called to judge whether this person was sane during the time of the murder. The psychiatrist said, "I have examined many people, and I have concluded that more or less, everyone is insane. If his innocence depends upon his sanity, then I would say that he should be excused, but as far as I know, everyone is more or less insane." This is also our conclusion. Whoever is infected with this material nature is more or less insane. When the living entity takes on the material body, he must be crazy. Therefore everyone is speaking in different ways.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud believed that painful or traumatic experiences, often repressed by forgetfulness, lie deep in our subconscious. By recalling them, we may be able to overcome the neuroses that they inflict.
Srila Prabhupada: Our process is different. When you give a man a better thing, he will forget inferior things.
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) Fear is created when we are not in Krsna consciousness. This is a characteristic of the conditioned soul. As soon as we become Krsna conscious, our fears and anxieties automatically vanish.
na kutascana bibhyati
"Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets, liberation, and the hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees are interested only in the service of the Lord." ( Bhag. 6.17.28) When we are God conscious, we don't fear anything. Although Prahlada Maharaja's demonic father threatened him with death and put him in all kinds of frightful circumstances, Prahlada remained quiet and peaceful. Indeed, his father asked him, "Prahlada, how is it that you are so proud and fearless when I am trying to chastise you?" Prahlada replied, 'The person who gives you your power is the same person who is protecting me." Forgetfulness of painful experiences is in itself artificial. People forget because they are not properly trained. There is no usefulness in forgetting painful experiences. When we are Krsna conscious, we are not afraid to remember them. We actually thank Krsna, and say, "Krsna, You are so kind that You have saved me from so many frightful situations. Now I am sure that I am pure and have my safety in You." A Krsna conscious man is not frightened by any of his past experiences. Rather, he laughs at them, thinking, "What a fool I was to have been afraid of all these things!"
Syamasundara dasa: Freud did not believe that forgetfulness is artificial. He felt that it is a natural instinct to forget painful experiences.
Srila Prabhupada: Well, that is so. For instance, when you were in the womb of your mother, you were in a very, very painful situation. Now you have forgotten that experience, and that forgetfulness is certainly natural. It is a fact that you were confined to a womb, but you cannot remember this. When you think about it, you can understand what a horrible situation that was. However, the sastras say that even though you have forgotten this, you have not escaped the situation. You are waiting for a similar painful experience.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud contends that anxieties and tensions are caused by the id's primitive instincts that are always forcing us to act contrary to the rational, moral ego and superego.
Srila Prabhupada: Anxieties will continue as long as you are in the material condition. In conditioned life, you cannot be freed from anxiety.
Syamasundara dasa: Is this because we are always desiring something and being frustrated?
Srila Prab hupada: Frustration must be there because you do not desire the right thing. You are desiring something that is not permanent, and this is a cause for anxiety. We wish to live forever, but we have accepted this temporary material body. Therefore there is no question of living forever, and we are always anxious because we fear that death is coming. We fear death and the destruction of the body, and this is the main cause of our anxiety. Anxiety is due to our acceptance of something which will not exist, which is temporary.
Syamasundara dasa: The ego develops strategies of defense against this anxiety engendered by the id. Whenever there is a strong animalistic desire, the ego represses it for self-preservation.
Srila Prabhupada: Repression is always there. If we are diseased, and the doctor advises us not to take solid food, we have to repress our appetite. In the system of brahmacarya, the brahmacari represses his desire for sex. This is called tapasya, voluntary repression. Of course, this is very difficult without some better engagement. Therefore, as I said, we have to replace an inferior engagement with a superior one. When you are captivated by seeing the beautiful form of Krsna, you naturally no longer desire to see the beautiful form of a young woman.
Syamasundara dasa: The Buddhists speak not only of the repression of desires, but of their extinction.
Srila Prabhupada: We don't advocate that. There will always be desires, and sometimes we have to repress them. My Guru Maharaja used to say that as soon as you rise from bed, you should beat your mind a hundred times with your shoes, and when you go to bed at night, you should beat your mind a hundred times with a broomstick. In this way, you will be able to control your mind. Wild tigers have to be controlled by repression, but when the tigers are under control, there is no question of repression. Then you can play with the tigers, and they will be your friends. So repression is not always bad.
Hayagriva dasa: Freud considered sexual repression to be harmful, but sublimation to be often beneficial. He didn't advocate total sexual freedom; rather, he suggested that instead of trying to deny the sex drive, we should try to redirect it, perhaps to some artistic activity, or positive study.
Srila Prabhupada: This means diverting our attention, and that is recommended in the Vedic culture for the brahmacari. If we are taught Krsna from the very beginning of life, we will forget sex. Even if an adult takes to Krsna consciousness seriously, he can also forget sex. That is the experience of Yamunacarya,: Yadavadhi mama cettah padaravinde, krsna-padaravinde. "Since I have been engaged in Krsna consciousness, every time I think of sex, I spit." If we engage in sex without restriction, we will eventually become impotent. That is nature's way of punishment. Sex cannot be artificially repressed, but there is a proper training process.
Hayagriva dasa: Freud believed that sex could not be stamped out, and that if one tried, it would manifest itself in undesirable neurosis.
Srila Prabhupada: He did not know the training process of Krsna consciousness. According to our philosophy, as long as we have sexual inclinations, we have to accept a material body and become entangled in the miseries of material existence. However, there is such a thing as spiritual life, and if we are trained spiritually, we will no longer be bothered by material desires.
Hayagriva dasa: In exploring the realm of infantile sexuality, Freud discovered a definite sexual nature in the early stages of childhood. He concluded that sexual activities in childhood were normal, and this led him to write that "in a normal sex life, no neurosis is possible."
Srila Prabhupada: It all depends on the child's training. If a child is trained as a brahmacari, he will have no inclination for sex. Sometimes a father enjoys sex before his children, and the children imitate. It is the nature of a child to imitate, especially his parents. According to Vedic civilization, as soon as a child is four or five years old, he is sent to a gurukula, where he is disciplined. There, he practically forgets sex life. But when he becomes a young man, he may naturally have a little tendency for sex, and if this is the case, the guru suggests marriage. If, on the other hand, one can perfectly control his sexual tendencies, he can become a sannyasi. My Guru Maharaja, for instance, never married. This is all a matter of education.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud believed that many of our present unconscious wishes and conflicts have their origins in these infantile experiences.
Srila Prabhupada: That may be, but you are not going to be an infant again. So why not forget all this? After this life, you will be placed in the womb of another mother, and all those experiences will happen again. It is therefore the duty of the guru and the parents to save the living entity from rebirth.
gurur na sa syat sva-jano na sa syat
pita na sa syaj janani na sa syat
daivam na tat syan na patis ca sa syan
na mocayed yah samupeta-mrtyum
"One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother, or a worshipable demigod." (Bhag. 5.5.18) Janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi. At the time of death, we will again experience this horrible situation. We will again have to enter a womb, be confined, and undergo birth. Whether we forget these experiences or not, we will have to undergo them again and again if we do not become Krsna conscious.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud felt that most of our problems, which are sexual in nature, can be cured by recalling painful experiences and objectively analyzing them.
Srila Prabhupada: We must understand why this sex problem is there. If we tolerate a little itching sensation, we will be spared much pain. Yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham kanduyanena karayor iva duhkha-duhkham . "Sex life is compared to the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. Grhamedhis, householders without spiritual knowledge, think that this itching is the greatest platform of happiness, although it is actually a source of distress." (Bhag. 7.9.45) When ordinary men are overly attached to materialistic life, their only happiness is sexual intercourse. The sastras say that happiness derived from sexual intercourse is very, very insignificant. Indeed, it is not even happiness. At best, it may be considered a tenth-class happiness. Because people have no idea of the happiness of Krsna consciousness, they think that sex is the highest happiness. But if we analyze it, what kind of happiness is it? When we have an itch, we scratch it and feel some pleasure, but after that pleasure passes, the effects are abominable. The itch becomes worse. The sastras tell us that if we just try to tolerate this itching sensation, we will be spared a great deal of pain. This is possible if we practice this Krsna consciousness.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud believed that neuroses, disorders, anxieties, and frustrations have their origin in repression.
Srila Prabhupada: And I am telling you that all these are due to sex. But we are not advocating repression. We give facility in the form of a wife. The sex impulse is to be directed to the wife.
Syamasundara dasa: But Freud insisted that the sex impulse is present at the very beginning of life.
Srila Prabhupada: We also admit that. We say that as soon as the living being is embodied, he experiences hunger and sex. Why is that? Ahara-nidra- vyavayah. We find these impulses even in animals. These drives are already there. What is the use in philosophizing about them?
Syamasundara dasa: Through psychoanalysis, pent-up emotions can be released, and the original shock mitigated by remembering and confessing.
Srila Prabhupada: But what guarantee is there that we will not receive another shock? The living entity is receiving shock after shock. You try to cure him of one, and another comes. It is a fact that material life is painful. As soon as you receive this material body, you must suffer the threefold miseries. Everyone is seeking happiness, but unless materialistic life is stopped, unless we put an end to birth, old age, disease, and death, there is no question of happiness. Materialistic life is a disease, and Vedic civilization attempts to cure this disease. Our program is total cure. No more shock. Freud's treatment is useless because he cannot guarantee that there will not be another shock. If you are situated in real Krsna consciousness, the worst type of misery may face you, and you will not be disturbed. You will not experience any shock at all. Freud was trying to cure his patients of the results of some shock they had experienced years ago , but there is no guarantee that a similar shock will not come again. Rather, the living entity will receive one shock after another after another.
daivi hy esa gunamayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
"This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it." (Bg. 7.14) As soon as we try to solve one problem, another problem comes, then another. If we are in Krsna consciousness, there are no more shocks.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud believed that our present personality is greatly influenced by our sexual experiences in infancy and childhood.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore we are trying to train our boys as brahmacaris. Of course, there is the tendency for sex, but by practicing brahmacarya, by diverting our attention to Krsna, there will be very little chance that a shock will come about. If the Vedic system is followed by human society, these shocks will not be there.
Hayagriva dasa: Freud also tied infantilism in with the religious impulse. He wrote: "Psychoanalysis, which has taught us the intimate connection between the father complex and belief in God, has shown us that the personal God is psychologically nothing but an exalted father....Youthful persons lose their religious belief as soon as the authority of the father breaks down." Thus Freud sees God as a father figure arising out of the helplessness experienced by the little child.
Srila Prabhupada: How can a little child invent his father? Was he not born of his father? And how can he abandon the idea of his father? Without a father, how can one come into being? Even Freud had a father, grandfather, great grandfather, and so on back. We speak of God as the first father because there is no one beyond Him.
Hayagriva dasa: Still, Freud considers belief in God as infantile. In The Future of an Illusion, he writes: "Man cannot remain a child forever; he must venture at last into the hostile world." Instead of continuing to dwell in such a nursery, man should try to rid himself of the psychic crutch of religion.
Srila Prabhupada: What is his definition of childishness? Everyone must be a child, and everyone must have a father. Just as we cannot deny our biological father, we cannot deny the ultimate Supreme Father.
Hayagriva dasa: It is not that he is denying biological fathers, but the idea of a Supreme Father, which he felt arose out of man's initial helpless state.
Srila Prabhupada: Helplessness is always there, because the threefold miseries will always exist in material life. There will always be miseries arising from the body and mind, miseries inflicted by other living entities, and natural catastrophes. In addition, there is always birth, old age, disease, and death. It is only a fool or a rascal who hopes against hope and makes plans to overcome all these difficulties. However we may plan, nature is so strong that it will smash our plans to pieces with the kick of death. Man hopes against hope to adjust material things so that he can be happy in this world, but this is foolishness. Man is helpless at every step.
Hayagriva dasa: Freud felt that belief in God the Father is "so patently infantile, so incongruous with reality, that to one whose attitude to humanity is friendly, it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life."
Srila Prabhupada: So what is his reality? Belief in God may be infantile to him, but what is he except a child? He also makes plans, and that in itself is childish. How is it that he is more than a child? Can he give an ultimate solution that will rid man of his helplessness?
Hayagriva dasa: Well, he personally hoped that psychoanalysis would provide the answers.
Srila Prabhupada: How can a common man understand psychoanalysis? The fact is that there is a supreme controller who is present everywhere. Psychoanalysis should begin with this point. Why is he defying this fact?
Hayagriva dasa: He sincerely believed that the maturation process necessarily entails ridding oneself of religion. He writes: "If one attempts to assign religion its place in man's evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity."
Srila Prabhupada: He has reached this conclusion because he has seen so many sentimental religions, but first of all he must understand what religion actually is. Religion is not possible without an understanding of God, and a religion without God cannot truly be called a religion. According to the Vedic system, religion refers to the orders of God; therefore if we have no conception of God, we cannot be said to have a religion. If we do not know God or His nature, how can we know the orders God is giving?
Hayagriva dasa: It has often been noted—initially by Jung—that Freud tried to repress religious feelings within himself. In a letter, he once confided, "I cannot rid myself of certain materialistic prejudices, and I would carry them over into the research of the occult."
Srila Prabhupada: Religion is neither occult nor obscure. Of course, everything is obscure for an unintelligent person who has no idea of either God or religion.
Hayagriva dasa: In the same letter, Freud continues: "Thus I am entirely incapable of considering the 'survival of the personality' after death, even as a mere scientific possibility....I think, therefore, it is better if I continue confining myself to psychoanalysis."
Srila Prabhupada: But if he cannot understand the eternity of the soul, he will be deficient in psychoanalysis as well. Even within one lifetime, we can see that the body changes while the soul remains the same. We go through the changes of childhood, youth, manhood, middle age, and old age, but the soul, the person, is always there.
Hayagriva dasa: In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud theorizes on the death instinct. Equating a child's fondness to repeat a certain act that gives him pleasure with the tendency to restore a previous state of affairs, he concludes that if instincts aim at the past, they would necessarily tend to regress to the prenatal state. This is a desire to "return to the womb" that brought Freud to write: "The goal of all life is death." For him, death is the cessation of suffering.
Srila Prabhupada: If this is the case, why are people afraid of death? Why do people go to a doctor when they fear some disease? If death is ultimate happiness, why do people try to avoid it?
Hayagriva dasa: Once, after an argument with Jung, Freud fainted, and his words when he came to were, "How sweet it must be to die."
Srila Prabhupada: Now, what pleasure does one derive from being dead? What is the pleasure of extinction? That is the pleasure of a stone.
Hayagriva dasa: Well, he did speak of return to the "quiescence of the inorganic world."
Srila Prabhupada: Then why bother philosophizing or psychoanalyzing? Just commit suicide and become like a stone. Why take up so much time? If it is better to die, then become a stone, and be happy. If ultimate happiness is extinction, why write so many books?
Hayagriva dasa: Freud considered the quietude that follows the sexual act to be very much like death, because desires are extinguished. Thus sleep often follows sexual intercourse. In this sense, the pursuit of pleasure is a drive to extinction.
Srila Prabhupada: If this is the purpose of life, we should pray to God to make us dogs and hogs because these animals have very good facilities for sex life. They all consider sex to be the ultimate goal, and then sleep.
nayam deho deha-bhajam nrloke
kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye
tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam
suddhyed yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv anantam
"Lord Rsabhadeva told His sons: My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one's heart is purified, and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness, and which continues forever." ( Bhag. 5.5.1) Human life is meant for tapasya, for putting an end to sex. This is the process of brahmacarya.
Syamasundara dasa: For Freud, the sexual energy, or libido, is not only manifest through sexual intercourse. It is associated with a wide variety of pleasurable sensations relating to bodily activities and including pleasures of the mouth and the different organs.
Srila Prabhupada: We have already said that the only happiness in this material world is considered to be sexual. Yan maithunadi (Bhag. 7.9.45). The word adi means the basic principle, which, in the material world, is sex. What is materialistic happiness? It is enjoying this life with one's friends and family. But what kind of pleasure is this? It is compared to a drop of water in the desert. Actually, we are seeking unlimited pleasure. Anandamayo 'bhyasat [Vs. 1.1.12]. How can this drop of water in the desert, which is materialistic pleasure, ever satisfy us? No one is satisfied, although people are having sex in so many different ways. And now young girls are almost going naked, and the female population is increasing everywhere. As soon as there is an increase in the female population, the women say, "Where are the men?" There then must be disaster because every woman is trying to attract a man, and men will take advantage of this situation. When milk is available in the market, what is the use in keeping a cow? The more men become attached to women, the more the female population will increase.
Syamasundara dasa: How is that?
Srila Prabhupada: When you have more sex, your power to beget a male child is diminished. When the man is less potent, a girl is born, and when a man is more potent, a boy is born. If a man's discharge is larger, there will be a male child. If the woman's discharge is larger, there will be a female child. When women are easily available, men become weak, and they beget female children because they lose their power from overindulgence. Sometimes they even become impotent. If you don't restrict your sex life, there will be so many disasters. Yamunacarya, says:
yadavadhi mama cetah krsna-padaravinde
nava-nava-rasa-dhamanudyata rantum asit
tadavadhi bata nari-sangame smaryamane
bhavati mukha-vikarah susthu nisthivanam ca
"Since I have been engaged in the transcendental loving service of Krsna, realizing ever-new pleasure in Him, whenever I think of sex pleasure, I spit at the thought, and my lips curl with distaste."
Syamasundara dasa: Freud would consider this a form of repression.
Srila Prabhupada: His idea of repression is different from ours. Our repression means rising early in the morning, attending mangala-aratik, chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, and engaging in devotional service. In this way, we repress material propensities.
Syamasundara dasa: In other words, it's repression with awareness and knowledge.
Srila Prabhupada: Actual knowledge will come later. In the beginning, there is obedience to the spiritual master. In this way, we will not become habituated to undesirable activity.
Syamasundara dasa: Yet by remembering some traumatic or shocking experience, our tensions are often relieved, and personality disorders rectified. This is a fact of psychoanalysis.
Srila Prabhupada: That may be, but when a seed has fructified and grown into a tree, it is no longer possible to rectify the seed. The seed is no longer there. It has changed into a tree. Freud may be able to find out the cause, but does he know the cure? Our cure is to divert the attention to Krsna. By understanding Krsna, we automatically forget our problems. Krsna is the panacea for all diseases.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud also investigated projection, that is attributing one's own personality onto others. A man may regard others as a thief because he's a thief himself.
Srila Prabhupada: We accept that. Atmana manyate jagat. Everyone thinks others to be like himself.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud also felt that children act in different ways to win the love and affection of their parents.
Srila Prabhupada: Children imitate. In Agra, I have seen two and three-year-old children try to imitate the sexual intercourse of their parents. They did not know anything about sex pleasure, but they were imitating what they had seen. Children do not know the value of things, but they imitate their parents. There is no fixed pattern of development for the personality of children. You can mold children in any way. They are like soft dough, and you can make out of them what you like. All you have to do is put them into the mold. Many of the neuroses Freud talked about are not experienced in Indian families. If you place a child in good association, he will act properly, and if you place him in bad association, he will act improperly. A child has no independence in that sense.
Syamasundara dasa: Freud believed that our behavior must be understood in terms of our entire life history.
Srila Prabhupada: That is so. Therefore in our Vedic system, it is forbidden for the husband and wife to speak of sex even jokingly before a small child, because the child cannot understand. If children know of sexual intercourse, it is because they have learned about it from their parents.
Hayagriva dasa: Although often avoiding the very subject of religion, Freud sometimes took an agnostic stand. He writes: "Of the reality value of most religions we cannot judge; just as they cannot be proved, neither can they be refuted."
Srila Prabhupada: First of all, he does not know what religion is. As we have said, religion means the orders given by God. Since he has no conception of God, how can he know anything of God's orders? He is acquainted only with fictitious religions, which have been described in Srimad-Bhagavatam as kaitava—cheating religions. Real religion is law. Just as you cannot manufacture laws in your home, you cannot manufacture religion.
Hayagriva dasa: Freud further writes: "The riddles of the universe only reveal themselves slowly to our inquiry. To many questions science can as yet give no answer; but scientific work is our only way to the knowledge of external reality. ...No, science is no illusion. But it would be an illusion to suppose that we can get anywhere else what it cannot give us."
Srila Prabhupada: First of all, we have to learn what the object of knowledge is. The word veda means "knowledge," and anta means "ultimate." Unless you come to the ultimate point of knowledge, or Vedanta, your knowledge is imperfect or insufficient. The ultimate object of knowledge is God, and if we cannot define God or explain His nature, we have not reached the ultimate point of knowledge. God is a fact, but unfortunately we have no clear idea of Him. This means that our knowledge has not reached the ultimate point—that is, it is imperfect. If the knowledge of a philosopher or scientist is imperfect, of what value is it? According to the Vedic method, we receive our knowledge from the perfect person: Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Hayagriva dasa: As for the origin of religions, Freud writes: "As it is a delicate task to decide what God has Himself ordained and what derives rather from the authority of an all-powerful parliament or a supreme judicial decision, it would be an indubitible advantage to leave God out of the question altogether, and to admit honestly the purely human origin of all cultural laws and institutions."
Srila Prabhupada: God does not derive power from anyone. As stated in the beginning ofSrimad-Bhagavatam: janmady asya yato'nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah sva-rat ( Bhag. 1.1.1). The Supreme God, the Absolute Truth, knows everything in complete detail. The word abhijnah means "complete awareness." How is it God has complete knowledge? From whom has He received this knowledge? The answer is: sva-rat. He does not receive it from anyone. He is completely independent. If God has to receive knowledge from Mr. Freud, He is not God. God is the only person who is completely independent.
na tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate
na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate
parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate
svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca
"He does not possess bodily form like that of an ordinary living entity. There is no difference between His body and His soul. He is absolute. All His senses are transcendental. Any one of His senses can perform the action of any other sense. Therefore, no one is greater than Him or equal to Him. His potencies are multifarious, and thus His deeds are automatically performed as a natural sequence." (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.7-8) God is naturally all perfect, and He doesn't have to adopt some process in order to become perfect. Anyone who is trying to be perfect is not God. When Krsna was only three months old, He could kill the big giant Putana. His potencies are there automatically, whether He appears as a child or as a young man. Nowadays, so-called yogis are trying to become God by meditating, but Krsna did not have to meditate. If God is always God, He doesn't have to learn anything from anyone. That is the true meaning of independence. If we want to know something about God, we should receive knowledge from Him directly, or from a person who knows Him. This is the direction given in Bhagavad-gita:
tad viddhi pranipatena
upadeksyanti te jnanam
"Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." (Bg. 4.34) The word tattva-darsinah refers to one who factually knows about God. It is necessary to learn about God from one who has seen Him eye to eye. Arjuna, for instance, was talking to God on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. If we wish to understand God, we should understand Him as Arjuna did. What was Arjuna's understanding? That is found in the Tenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita:
param brahma param dhama
pavitram paramam bhavan
purusam sasvatam divyam
adi-devam ajam vibhum
ahus tvam rsayah sarve
devarsir naradas tatha
asito devalo vyasah
svayam caiva bravisi me
"You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth, and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me." ( Bg. 10.12-13)
Hayagriva dasa: Concerning early religious training, Freud writes: "So long as a man's early years are influenced by the religious thought-inhibition and by the lower one derived from it, as well as by the sexual one, we cannot really say what he is actually like." Freud strongly believed that early religious education warps a man's natural development.
Srila Prabhupada: What is wrong with informing a child that there is a Supreme Being controlling the whole cosmic situation? Is it that Freud did not believe in education?
Hayagriva dasa: He felt that children should not be indoctrinated with religious "thought-inhibitions."
Srila Prabhupada: But there must be some form of education, and spiritual education is the most important. The only business of human life is to learn about God. Lower species cannot understand God, but understanding is possible in the human form. Therefore spiritual education is primary.
Hayagriva dasa: Marx called religion "the opiate of the people," and Freud similarly says that "the consolations of religion may be compared to that of a narcotic."
Srila Prabhupada: As I have said before, neither Marx nor Freud know what religion is, and that is their difficulty. First, they have to learn what religion is before they can discuss it intelligently.
Hayagriva dasa: Freud writes: "The believer will not let his faith be taken from him neither by arguments nor by prohibitions. And even if it did succeed with some, it would be a cruel thing to do. A man who has for decades taken a sedative is naturally unable to sleep if he is deprived of it...."
Srila Prabhupada: It is also cruel to mislead people by telling them that God the Father is simply an infantile conception. That is real cruelty. It is cruel to stress sex and death and deny the conception of God as the Supreme Father.
Hayagriva dasa: Freud would not think that it is cruelty to disenchant man with an illusion. He writes: "I disagree with you when you go on to argue that man cannot in general do without the consolation of the religious illusion, that without it he would not endure the troubles of life, the cruelty of reality."
Srila Prabhupada: Without a spiritual education, man remains an animal. A man's life should be more than merely eating, sleeping, mating, defending, and dying. Man should strive to advance in spiritual knowledge. Spiritual education means understanding God. Freud may deny the existence of God, but in any case the conception of God is there in human society. One may accept or reject different conceptions of God, but the fact is undeniable that in every civilized country, there is some form of religion. One may be Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or Moslem: the designation is not very important. Understanding God is the important factor, because that ultimate understanding is Vedanta, the ultimate conclusion of all knowledge. Athato brahma-jijnasa. Now, in this human form, is the time to inquire, "What is Brahman?" Brahman, the Absolute Truth, is the goal of real knowledge. Man does not have to be educated to understand sex. According to a Bengali proverb, you do not have to be taught how to cry, or how to enjoy sex. When you lament, you automatically cry, and when there is the impulse to enjoy sex, you enjoy it automatically. This doesn't require the help of an educator like Mr. Freud. Everyone, animals and human beings, knows how to enjoy sex. There is no question of a "sex philosophy." Philosophy means inquiring into the Absolute Truth, Brahman, the supreme controller, He from whom everything has emanated. Philosophy is concerned with understanding where things come from. We may inquire into the origin of life on earth, and conclude that life comes from water, earth, or fire. Then, where do earth, water, and fire come from?
He who is the source of everything is the Absolute Truth. In Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says:
aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
"I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts." (Bg. 10.8) You become a devotee of Krsna when you perfectly understand that Krsna is the ultimate source. This knowledge comes after many lifetimes of searching and searching.
bahunam janmanam ante
jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti
sa mahatma sudurlabhah
"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." (Bg. 7.19) After understanding that Vasudeva, Krsna, is everything, the mahatma, the great soul, begins his bhajana, his worship.
mahatmanas tu mam partha
daivim prakrtim asritah
jnatva bhutadim avyayam
"O son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible." (Bg. 9.13)
Hayagriva dasa: Freud admits that without religion man will "find himself in a difficult situation. He will have to confess his utter helplessness and his insignificant part in the working of the universe." Yet he goes on to say that without religion, man will venture at last into the hostile world, and this venture is his "education to reality."
Srila Prabhupada: And what service has Mr. Freud rendered? He has misled the world and made it more difficult for people to accept the words of God. Men who are innocent accept the words of God, but now many have become "over intelligent," and they think that sex is God. It will take some time to counteract this type of mentality, but man must eventually learn that his happiness is found in understanding and accepting the way of life defined by God Himself.
Hayagriva dasa: Christ pointed out that unless one becomes as a little child, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God, but Freud advocates "growing up" and setting this illusion aside.
Srila Prabhupada: He may advocate so many things, but if he does not know the meaning of God, or God's nature, what is the value of his knowledge? According to the Vedic philosophy, we should receive knowledge from a person who knows God. If one has not known God, his knowledge is useless, or, even worse, misleading. It is a fact that there is a supreme controller, and real education means understanding how the supreme controller is working. Denying Him is useless. He is there beyond our control, and we cannot avoid His control. We may make plans to live here very happily, but today or tomorrow, we may die. How can we deny the fact that we are being controlled? Knowledge means understanding how the supreme controller is controlling. People who defy religion and deny the existence of a supreme controller are like the jackal that keeps jumping and jumping, trying to reach grapes on a high vine. After seeing that he cannot reach the grapes, he says to himself, "Oh, there is no need to reach them. They are sour anyway." People who say that we do not need to understand God are indulging in sour-grape philosophy.