John Nordheimer: How many followers do you have?
Prabhupāda: Well, this is a very difficult job, naturally. We don't have a large number of followers. As soon as you try to sell a diamond, you cannot expect many customers. Nonetheless, a diamond is a diamond, even if there are no customers. The number of customers is not the test. The customer must pay the value of the item. In this society we propose that you give up illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. When people hear this, they go away saying, "Oh, Swamiji is very conservative." But I cannot become liberal and tell everybody, "Go ahead and do all nonsense and you can become God conscious." I cannot possibly recommend that. Therefore my first condition is that if someone wants to become my student he has to follow these four regulative principles. Consequently I do not have many followers, but I do have a select few. Because they are select, they will bring about a revolution in the world. One moon is sufficient to dissipate darkness. If there is one moon, there is no need for millions of stars. It is useless to expect a large number of followers. We want only one good follower. If I can get one man to become Kṛṣṇa conscious, I will consider my mission fulfilled. If you talk to whatever small number of followers I have, you will find that they talk better than any great philosopher, better than any scientist or politician. That is the quality of my students. What's the point in talking nonsense? One's words may be simple, but they should be valuable. Every day your employer is printing so many newspapers. On Sunday, especially, the paper is so big that one can hardly carry it. But after reading it an hour, people throw it away. Here is this book, Bhagavad-gītā, and people keep it and read it for a lifetime, and in this way it has been read for the past 5,000 years. Give such literature that will be taken and kept forever.
John Nordheimer: (laughing) It's already been suggested that we (the New York Times) are not divinely inspired. At any rate, this book-
Prabhupāda: If one gets a diamond, he possesses something valuable. But in this civilization you are simply making plastic plates and plastic cups. Indeed, in Japan I have seen pasteboard homes. And everyone is thinking that he is advanced. Formerly people used to have golden and silver utensils, but now they have plastic ones, and still they are very proud to be so materially advanced. What is your position? You have a bunch of paper and think, "I am a millionaire." What is the value of that paper? Is that not cheating? However, if we possess gold or diamonds worth a million dollars, that is actual wealth. But we are educated in such a way that we think we are millionaires by paper only. As soon as there is some catastrophe, millions of such dollars could not buy bread. This actually happened in Germany; millions of marks could not purchase one piece of bread. All this is going on in the name of advancement of civilization, and the real purpose of life, God consciousness, is missing. So every thoughtful man should come forward to understand this movement and take it seriously. Why are the people being misled? We just have to try to understand this philosophy, the basic principles of God consciousness.
John Nordheimer: Can you really expect to change the whole society?
Prabhupāda: That I have already explained. The change is up to you; it is your choice. If everyone becomes God conscious, the world becomes the kingdom of God.
John Nordheimer: Many people have tried to change the world, but we see that they have failed. Many people have tried to see God, but they do not succeed.
Prabhupāda: That is because their purpose is not strong. That is due to māyā, forgetfulness. Just like darkness and light; if your light is strong, there is no darkness. But if you have no light, or if your light is not very strong, there is darkness. This is the principle: If you want to drive away darkness, you must bring light. That is the only medicine. You don't have to make a separate endeavor to drive away darkness. As soon as you bring light, darkness will go. The motto of our magazine Back To Godhead is: "Godhead is light, nescience is darkness. Where there is Godhead there is no nescience (CC Madhya 22.31)." This is also the Vedic
injunction: Don't remain in darkness; come to the light. How is this possible? When I flew to London from Los Angeles, there was no darkness, for we did not allow the sun to set, you remain always in light. This means that if you don't forget Kṛṣṇa, your life will be successful. If you aim your plane westward and don't stop, you will remain in sunlight all the time. Similarly, if you remain in Kṛṣṇa consciousness by the simple method of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare, Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, you will never see the darkness. This is because Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa's name are absolute; Kṛṣṇa is not different from His name. Kṛṣṇa is light, and if we associate with the name of Kṛṣṇa, we remain in light. Remaining in light is a very simple method; therefore you see all these boys with their beads chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare. In this way māyā cannot touch them. No intoxication, no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling. How can these boys, who have been trained to practice these four items from the beginning of their lives, give them all up? Everything is possible, provided we make the choice. Therefore according to Vedic civilization in the beginning of life you become a brahmacārī. Then you are allowed to marry and become a householder, and after a number of years you remain a husband but abandon sexuality, and that is called vānaprastha. Finally you take sannyāsa and leave your family to practice and preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is Vedic civilization. Everything is provided to enlighten the people in general. All the knowledge is there, and the method is there; we simply have to take advantage of it. If we do not, how can we expect a peaceful and happy world? If society creates animals, then how can it expect peace and prosperity? In spite of so many big universities and all educational facilities, this society is producing hippies and frustration amongst the youth because we are spirit soul and cannot become happy simply by amassing material comforts. We must have spiritual life. If a fish is taken out of water, it cannot be made happy with all the comforts of land. To be happy, a fish must have all the freedom of water. Similarly, we are all spiritual sparks, and we cannot become happy in matter. We require spiritual food, spiritual atmosphere.