The Unknown Goal
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lecture given in New York City, December 6, 1966
Lord Krishna says that He, and not solutions to temporary so-called problems, should be the goal of life.
"I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge, and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place, and the eternal seed."—Bhagavad-gita 9.18
The Lord is gati, the destination or goal. Due to our ignorance, due to our becoming overwhelmed by the illusory energy, we do not know what is our destination of life. The destination of life is to reestablish one's lost relationship with the Supreme Lord. Unfortunately, people do not know this. They are simply thinking that the purpose of life is to have the greatest amounts of sense gratification. This is illusion. Because we are materially absorbed and the material concept of life centers on our senses, we try to squeeze out all kinds of pleasure from the senses. People have no other information. They are earning, working very hard, and their ultimate goal is sense gratification.
The actual ultimate goal is Krishna, or the Supreme Lord. Where are you going? Which way are you making your progress? "Oh, that we cannot say. We make progress in sense gratification. Our goal is the greatest amount of pleasure we can derive from the senses." No, the goal is God, Vishnu, the Supreme Lord, of whom we are the parts and parcels.
Having forgotten our relationship with God, we are struggling. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (15.7),
"The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind." Prakriti-sthani: "in this material nature." The fragmental portions of the Supreme Lord, the living entities, are struggling, entrapped by the senses and the mind. But this is not the goal. The Lord says in the Bhagavad-gita that He is the goal.
This material nature is the external nature of the Supreme Lord. Because we have been trapped in this material nature, we are thinking that to make material advancement in life is perfection. This is called durashaya. Duh means very distant or very difficult, and a shaya means hope. This hope is never to be fulfilled. This is called illusion. We are making progress to make life perfect by material advancement. This is our undue hope. It will never be fulfilled.
And what is the activity? Adanta-gobhir vishatam tamisram. Go means the senses. Adanta means unbridled, uncontrolled. Uncontrolled senses—just like an uncontrolled horse. You are on the carriage, and your horse is uncontrolled, unbridled, and he is taking you with full force and putting you into the Atlantic Ocean. You have no control. Vishatam means you are entering the darkest part of ignorance because of your uncontrolled, unbridled senses.
People who do not know the destination are trying to discover by experiment what has already been discovered. I'll give you a practical example.
The father of one of our students came and told him, "Oh, I don't like this association you have joined. Why don't you chase after women? Eat and drink and enjoy. I will give you a car."
You see? What is the fault of that poor student? He is trying to give up all intoxication. He is not eating meat. He is living purely on vegetables. He is controlling his senses, not having illicit sexual relationships, attending class morning and evening. Oh, his father thinks it is dangerous.
But the father has already experienced material life. He was married and divorced three times. He has a very bad experience of life, but he is inducing his son to do the same thing. He has no other idea.
This is called punah punash carvita-carvananam: "chewing the chewed." I take a sugarcane, chew it, take out all the juice, and then throw it into the street. Then somebody comes and chews it. What is there for him? I have already taken all the juice. This material life experience—chasing after women and drinking and sense gratification and spending like anything and so many things—we have seen it, but we have not experienced any actual happiness. Still, I am trying to induce my son, my dependent, into that way of life.
Foolish people do not think, "I have already experienced all these things. What benefit, what happiness, have I gotten? I am frustrated in my life. So why shall I induce my son to do the same thing? If I at all love my son, why shall I induce him into that? Let him experiment with this Krishna consciousness." No. Because of uncontrolled senses they cannot think that way.
There is a very nice story. Monkeys are always very busy. Do you know? But their business is to simply destroy. In the village there was a carpenter who was splitting a big beam with a saw. At the end of his workday, he had sawed halfway through the beam, so he put a block between the two sides and went away. A monkey came and pulled out the block, causing the two halves of the beam to snap together and cut off his tail. So he went to his society and said, "To cut one's tail is the latest fashion."
I saw a similar story in the cinema in my childhood. A man was sitting in the park, and some naughty boy nailed his coattail to the bench. When he got up, half of the tail was taken away. So when he was dancing at the ball, everyone was looking to his backside: "What is this? His tail is cut." He saw in the mirror. "My tail is cut." So he began to dance more nicely, and everyone asked him, "What is . . . ?" "Oh, this is the latest fashion." So all the men began to cut their coattails. You see?
Life is going on. "I have become befooled, so I don't want my son to be intelligent. Let him become befooled. "
This is repeatedly chewing the chewed. But from the Bhagavad-gita we understand that our ultimate goal of life is to reach Krishna, the Supreme Lord, gatih.
Krishna the Maintainer
The next word in today's verse is bharta, "maintainer." Krishna is maintaining everyone. That's a fact. There are 8,400,000 species of life, out of which human beings are 400,000. The other species have no economic problem. There is no question of starvation. They are eating, sleeping, mating, and defending in their own way. They have no problem. Only civilized men have problems. They do not believe that God protects everyone. By advancement of civilization they have learned this art, to refuse God. They want to solve their economic problem by themselves. God is giving them sufficient grains, fruits, vegetables, milk. No, they want to solve their problems by killing poor animals. But they do not believe in God. They do not consider, "I am killing poor animals. They are also sons of God as much I am. God is maintaining that poor animal. God is maintaining me. Why should I encroach upon others' life?" You see? They have no such sense because they don't believe in God. They have no such faith. This is going on.
But in the Bhagavad-gita the Lord says, "No, I am the Supreme. And I am the prabhava. Everything, whatever you see, is emanating from Me."
We have no economic problem. God is maintaining everyone. The production all over the world is sufficient to provide all the population of the world. That is God's arrangement. There is no scarcity. But because we have made our own rules and regulations, we can produce much more than what is needed by us and throw the excess into the ocean. Still, if some poor country or poor brother comes, we will refuse to share. Because we do not know that our destination should be God, we violate the rules of nature, the laws of God, and are becoming entrapped by this material nature. This is a fact.
Gatir bharta prabhuh. Prabhu means the master. And sakshi means witness. God is sitting within your heart, so He is the witness. Whatever you are doing, He is witnessing it. He is giving you facility to do whatever you like, but at the same time you may forget. Suppose I wanted to do something in this life but my task was not fulfilled. Next life, when I get another body, God reminds me, "Well, you wanted to do this. Why not experiment?" Lord Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita (15.15): sarvasya caham hridi sannivishtah: "I am seated in everyone's heart." Mattah smritir jnanam apohanam ca: "From Me come remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness." Why does God make one person forgetful and encourage another person? He responds to their desire. Most people don't want to revive their relationship with the Supreme Lord.
Whenever I speak of God, some person will challenge, "Oh, what is God? Swamiji, why are you speaking about God?"
They don't want God, so God responds: "Forget Me. Yes, you forget and suffer."
Others want God, such as the student trying to reestablish his relationship with Krishna. Oh, Krishna gives him what he desires too: "Yes."
God's business is to make you forgetful because you want to forget. And when you are advanced, if you want know, if you want to reestablish your relationship with Him, He will encourage you.
The witness gives you full independence. Whatever you like, you do, but He gives instruction at the same time: "These things will not satisfy you, My dear boy. Give up all this nonsense. Come to Me. I shall give you all protection." But we don't want to take protection. What can God do? He can do everything, but He doesn't interfere with your affairs. If you want to forget, He will give you so many facilities by the illusory energy that you'll forget, forget, forget.
Now you have this beautiful body of a civilized human being. And you can get more developed bodies, like those of Brahma or the sun or the moon. And if you forget, you go down to the cats and dogs and ants and germs and so many things—become a worm in the stool. He will give you all facilities. This is called karma-chakra, the cycle of work.
Reviving Our Pure Desire
As you desire, God gives you facility. Therefore our pure desire should be revived. For that, the Bhagavad-gita and other scriptures are there. We have forgotten all these things. Therefore the books and the scriptures are there. That is a mercy of God.
Every day we consult books to do something. What is the postal rate? I do not know. I have a parcel to send, so at once I consult a book. The direction is there, the postal guide is there, and I do the right thing. Similarly, when we have forgotten the destination of life, we have to consult the scriptures for direction.
The Lord says, gatir bharta prabhuh sakshi: "I am the destination. I am your maintainer. I am your Lord. I am witnessing what you are doing." Nivasa: "And you are living in Me. You are not independent." We are living on the earth, underneath the sky. And what is the sky? What is the earth? The energy of the Supreme Lord.
Nivasah sh aranam. "You are trying to live. Every moment you are flattering somebody who is greater than you, but why don't you come to Me? You cannot live without flattering your boss. That is your position."
Saranam means to take shelter of somebody. Especially in these days, however educated I may be, with an application I take shelter of a big man: "Please give me some employment." I may be a very intelligent man and become the ruler of this country. Oh, I will have to flatter people on the street: "Please vote for me. Please vote for me. Please reelect me." So I am taking sharanam. I am flattering. I am taking shelter at every moment. So why not take shelter of God?
"Oh, what do you say? Why do you speak about God, Swamiji?"
They will take shelter of dog but not God. You see? This is going on.
Saranam suhrit. Suhrit means well-wisher. Who can become more of a well-wisher than God? I can be a friend, a well-wisher, to a limited circle, but God is the friend and well-wisher of all living entities. I can take care of my family members, to see that they are happy, they are eating, but God is taking care of innumerable living entities. You see? I don't take care of the ants in my room to make sure they are eating. I do not take care of the bugs in my bed. God is taking care of them. He is suhrit. He wants that "You live. You are given freedom, whatever you like. But if you want to be happy, then give up all this nonsense. Come to Me. Take shelter in Me. I will give you all protection."
Prabhavah: development. You are trying for economic development, but how can you have economic development if there is no material supplied by God? Can you build a big skyscraper without the materials being supplied by God? Can you manufacture wood? Can you manufacture stone? Can you manufacture lime? Can you manufacture iron? You cannot manufacture. You can work, labor. The materials are supplied by God, and by your labor, your intelligence, you can transform one thing into another.
Economic experts say that. Man cannot manufacture anything. He can transform one thing into another. You cannot manufacture iron. You can transform the iron ores in a big iron factory. That you can do and waste your valuable time. That energy you have. But you cannot produce iron. You can manufacture glass and live in a very comfortable building with glass on all sides, but what is glass? Glass is a stone melted with some chemicals. The stone is supplied by God, and the chemicals are supplied by God. The intelligence with which you are working is supplied by God. Your body is supplied by God. You are God's. So everything becomes God's. Prabhavah: "I am the source of supply of everything."
Pralayah. If God wants, in a second your New York City will be pushed into the Atlantic Ocean. Sthanam: He is the shelter. Nidhanam bijam. Bijam means the seed.
Avyayam: imperishable. Now, what are the living entities? They are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. We are living entities. We are applying our energy to build all these things, but these materials have no value if we are not there. This land, America, was lying vacant before civilized persons from Europe came here. By the energy of these living entities, the matter here developed. Matter is not prominent. Don't give more importance to matter. The important thing is the living entity. And what is the living entity? The living entity is the part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Therefore He is the cause of the seeds of the living entities.
The next verse begins tapamy aham: "I am the giver of heat." The sun gives heat. You cannot manufacture a sun, but the Lord can. Therefore He is heating.
Aham varsham: "I am rain." You cannot regulate rain. That is in God's hand or under God's management. If there is no rain, you cannot make rain, or if there is too much rain, you cannot stop it.
Nigrihnamy utsrijami: "And if I want, I can give trouble to the whole population of the world. If I want to annihilate them, in a moment I can do that."
Amritam: "If I like, I can give you eternal life." If we approach God, eternal life is guaranteed. And if we don't, then we go on in the cycle of birth and death. Amritam chaiva mrityush cha sad asach chaham arjuna. Sat means the spiritual energy, and asat means the material energy. "Because both energies are God's energies, these energies are also God, Arjuna."
This description of His personal position, God's position, is given by Lord Krishna to Arjuna. We have to learn from Bhagavad-gita, directly spoken by the Supreme Lord, and accept it and act accordingly. That is called Krishna consciousness. We think of Krishna. He is everything. So let us become submissive and prosecute this process of devotional service. That is the way of happiness. That is the way of perfection.
Thank you very much.