In materialistic life we cannot control our senses and mind. The mind is dictating, "Enjoy your senses in this way," and we are enjoying our senses. Materialistic life means sense gratification. This sense gratification process is going on life after life. In the many varieties of life there are different standards of sense gratification. Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He has given us full liberty to gratify our senses.
We are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa; we have small particles of all the desires of Kṛṣṇa. Our existence is a small particle of God's, just like a small particle of gold which has all the qualities of the original gold. Kṛṣṇa has the propensity for sense gratification. He is the original sense gratifier. It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme enjoyer. Our enjoying spirit exists because it exists originally in Kṛṣṇa.
The Vedānta-sūtra says that everything originates from Kṛṣṇa. Param Brahman, or the Absolute Truth, means that from which everything is generated. Therefore, our desire for sense gratification is coming from Kṛṣṇa. Here is the perfect sense gratification - Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī. Young boys and girls are similarly trying to enjoy their senses, but where is this propensity coming from? It is coming from Kṛṣṇa. Because we are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, the quality of desire for sense gratification exists within us. But the difference is that we are trying to gratify our senses in the material world; therefore we are perverted. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness one gratifies his senses in association with Kṛṣṇa. Then it is perfect.
For example, if there is a nice sweetball or some nice foodstuff and the finger picks it up, it cannot enjoy. The foodstuff has to be given to the stomach, and then the finger can also enjoy. Similarly, we cannot gratify our senses directly. But when we join with Kṛṣṇa, when Kṛṣṇa enjoys, then we can enjoy. That is our position. The finger cannot eat anything independently; it cannot enjoy the nice sweetball. The finger can pick it up and put it in the stomach, and when the stomach enjoys, then the finger enjoys.
We have to purify the propensity of material sense gratification. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. For Kṛṣṇa consciousness we have to be purified. What is that purification? We cannot enjoy anything directly, so we have to enjoy through Kṛṣṇa. For example, we take prasādam. The nice prasādam, the foodstuff that is prepared, is not taken directly - we take it through Kṛṣṇa. First of all, we offer to Kṛṣṇa, and then we take it.
What is the difficulty? There is no difficulty, but you become purified. The eating process is the same, but if you eat directly then you become materialistically encumbered. If you offer to Kṛṣṇa, however, and then take it, then you become freed from all contamination of material life. That is stated in Bhagavad-gītā. Devotees take prasādam after offering it to Kṛṣṇa. That is called sacrifice. Whatever you offer to Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu is called sacrifice. Whatever we do here, within this material world, is some sort of sinful activity, even if we do not know it. Killing is sinful activity, even if we do not kill willingly. When you walk down the street you are killing many animals. Whenever you drink water, you are also killing. Below a water pot there are many ants and microbes that are being killed. Whenever you light a fire, there are many small microbes that also burn in the fire. When you grind spices with a mortar and pestle, many small microbes are killed.
We are responsible for this. Willingly or unwillingly, we are becoming entangled in many sinful activities. Therefore, Bhagavad-gītā says that if you take the remnants of foodstuff after offering sacrifice, you become freed from all contamination. Otherwise, one who cooks to eat personally without offering to Kṛṣṇa is simply eating sinful reactions. This is our position. Therefore, it is stated that because people generally cannot control their senses, they engage in the materialistic way of life in which repeated birth and death in different species takes place.
I do not know what is my next life, but the next life will come. Before us there are many species of life; I can take birth in any one of them. I can become a demigod, I can become a cat, I can become a dog, I can become Brahmā - there are so many forms of life. In the next life I shall have to accept one of these forms, even if I do not want to. Suppose someone asks, "In your next life would you like to take the form of a dog or a hog?" I would not like it. But the law of nature says that after giving up this body, when I am not existing in this body any more, I will have to accept another body according to my karma. That is in the hands of nature. It is arranged by superior supervision. You cannot order, "Give me the body of Brahmā, give me the body of Indra or a king or something exalted." That is not in your hands or in my hands; that will be judged by the superior agency of God, Kṛṣṇa, and you will be given a body. Therefore, it is our duty to prepare a body which will help us go back to Kṛṣṇa. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Prahlāda Mahārāja, a great authority, says that one must take instruction from others. One must take instruction from a guru, a spiritual master. One should not take instruction from anyone unless one accepts him as a guru. But even one who has a nice guru cannot remain Kṛṣṇa conscious if he is determined to remain in this material world. If my determination is to remain in this material world to enjoy material life, then for me Kṛṣṇa consciousness is impossible.
Everyone in the material world is engaged in all kinds of political, philanthropic and humanitarian activities to make material life happy and prosperous, but this is not possible. One should understand that in the material world, however one may try to make adjustments, he cannot be happy. To cite an example I have given many times, if you take a fish out of water, you can give it a very comfortable velvet bedstead, but still the fish cannot be happy; it will die. Because the fish is an animal of the water, it cannot be happy without water. Similarly, we are all spirit soul; unless we are in spiritual life or in the spiritual world, we cannot be happy. That is our position.
Everyone is trying for that spiritual realization. But we do not know. Therefore, we are trying to be happy here, in material conditions. We are becoming frustrated and confused. Therefore, we have to withdraw this understanding that we shall be very happy by making adjustments to this material world. Then Kṛṣṇa consciousness will be effective.
The boys and girls who are our students have been very scornful of the materialistic way of life. Their fathers and guardians are not poor. There is no scarcity of food or material enjoyments. Why are they being frustrated? You may say that because India is poverty-stricken the people are frustrated, but why have American boys and girls been frustrated? That is the proof that the materialistic way of life cannot make you happy. You may go on for some time trying to become happy, but happiness will never come from materialistic life. That is a fact. Those who are trying to be happy by making material adjustments cannot take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Frustration and confusion with materialistic life is the qualification to come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. These boys and girls have a good qualification; they are coming to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. There is a verse in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam which states that sometimes to show special favor to His devotees Kṛṣṇa takes away all one's material opulence. For example, the Pāṇḍavas were bereft of their kingdom, although Kṛṣṇa was present there. Kṛṣṇa was present as their friend, and still they were bereft of their kingdom. They lost their property, their wife was insulted, and they were driven away to the forest.
This question was posed by Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja to Kṛṣṇa. "How is it," he inquired indirectly, "that You are our friend and that we are put into such difficulty?" Kṛṣṇa replied to Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja, "This is My special favor." Sometimes we cannot understand the special favor of Kṛṣṇa.
So this frustration of the American and English boys with the materialistic way of life is a good sign for accepting Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Of course, one does not need to become poor to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But if anyone has the desire to become spiritually advanced while at the same time enjoying material life, that is not possible. These are two contradictory aspirations. One must become determined to be happy in spiritual life. That is real happiness.
This human form is especially meant for coming to that standard of spiritual life by tapasya, by voluntarily rejecting the materialistic way of life. In the history of India there were many great kings like Bharata Mahārāja who even at a very young age practiced tapasya. Bharata Mahārāja at the age of only twenty-four years left his young wife, young children and the whole empire Bhāratavarṣa and went to the forest for meditation. There are many such instances. Prahlāda Mahārāja was questioned by his father, Hiraṇyakaśipu, "Who has taught you this Kṛṣṇa consciousness?" A king's son does not mix with anyone else; he simply takes lessons from the appointed teachers. How is it then that this boy, who was only five years old, was so Kṛṣṇa conscious? His father was surprised, so he asked him, "How have you taken to Kṛṣṇa consciousness?" The answer was, "My dear father, Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be achieved by a person like you, whose job is always simply to enjoy this material world." Hiraṇya means gold, and kaśipu means softly cushioned bed.
Materialistic life is spent chewing the chewed. Take, for instance, a father. A father knows that he has responsibilities, so he works hard to maintain his family. It is very difficult to keep the high standard of living in this age, so one must work very hard and engage one's son in the same way. In spite of very bad experience with materialistic life, still one engages his son in the same way. This happens again and again, so it is like chewing chewed things. Once I have chewed sugar cane and taken its juice, it is thrown out in the street, and if someone wants to taste it to see how sweet it is, he is chewing the chewed. Similarly, we don't have very good experience with this materialistic life, this hard struggle for life, but human beings, as it is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, are born of the quality of passion. There are three qualities in the material world: goodness, passion and ignorance. Because people are in the mode of passion, they love to work very hard. That hard work is considered happiness. In London you will see everyone engaged in hard work. In the morning, all the buses and trucks travel with great speed, and people go to the office or factory from morning until late at night. They work hard, and it is called advancement of civilization. Some of them are frustrated; they don't want it. There will be frustration - after all, it is hard work. Hogs, too, are working hard day and night, thinking, "Where is stool? Where is stool?"That is their business. Therefore, in one sense this kind of civilization is a hog and dog civilization. It is not human civilization. Human civilization means sobriety. One should be inquisitive. A human being should be inquisitive to know these things: Who am I? Why am I put into this condition of working very hard to get only a few grains? Why am I in this uncomfortable situation? Where did I come from? Where do I have to go? The Vedānta-sūtra begins by stating that a human being should be inquisitive to know who he is, where he comes from, and where he has to go. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is for those who have come to detest this material world. They are good candidates for developing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. They will inquire why these men are working so hard and what their goal in life is.
That is answered in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, people are working so hard because they do not actually know what the goal of life is. Everyone says that he is looking after his self-interest, but he does not know what his self-interest is. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇu. He should know that his real self-interest is to make progress toward Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They do not know this. Why don't they know it? Because they have hopes which are very difficult to fulfill. I may hope for something which is possible; that is good. But if I hope for something which is never possible, that is hope which will never be fulfilled.
We are a composition of the external and internal energies of God. The gross external energy is this gross material body, and the subtle external energy is the mind, ego and intelligence. Behind both energies - the gross external energy and the subtle external energy - is the soul, the internal energy. This body is made of earth, water, fire, air and ether. This is called gross external energy, and there is also a subtle external energy of mind, intelligence and false ego. And behind that, the soul is there.
I am the proprietor of this body. Just as one is covered by a shirt and coat which are external to his real body, similarly we are covered by this gross body made up of earth, water, fire, air and ether, which is the gross external energy of God, or Kṛṣṇa, and the mind, ego and intelligence, which are subtle. Thus we are covered.
I may think that simply by having a nice shirt and coat I can be happy, but is it possible? Unless you eat nicely, unless you sleep nicely, unless you have your sense gratification, will you be happy simply by putting on a costly shirt and coat? No. That is not possible. We want to be happy by adjustment of this external energy. That cannot be. You are spirit soul - you must have spiritual food, you must have a spiritual life, and then you can be happy. As you cannot be happy simply by having a nice shirt and coat, similarly simply by the materialistic way of life you cannot be happy. There is gross matter and subtle matter. Gross matter includes high skyscraper buildings, machines, factories, nice roads, good cars, etc. Subtle matter includes nice songs, poetry, philosophy, etc. People are trying to be happy with this gross and subtle material existence. That cannot be.
Why have people accepted this sort of civilization? Because they are led by blind leaders. We are conducting this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, and very few are interested. But suppose we advertise some falsehood - "If you follow this path, within six months you will become God, and you will be all-powerful." Many people would come. This is actually one blind man leading other blind men. Suppose one blind man says, "All right, come, follow me. I shall help you crossing this busy Mulberry Street." He is blind, and the followers are also blind. The result will be that they will be hit by some car or truck and they will all die.
We do not know that we are bound by the stringent laws of material nature. How can we become free from this material bondage? We have to take instruction from those who are not blind, whose eyes are opened and who are liberated from this material bondage. One must take instruction from such persons, and then he will understand his self-interest. Otherwise, if one who is blind takes instruction from a blind man, it will not be possible for him to be liberated from material bondage.
What is self-interest? What is the interest of a child when it is crying? It is searching after the mother's breast. Anyone who knows this immediately brings the child to its mother - "Take care of your child; he is crying." The mother takes him to her breast, and the child is immediately happy. The child cannot express what he wants, so he simply cries. But one who knows what he is crying for helps him, and the child becomes happy. Similarly, because we are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we are actually crying for Kṛṣṇa. But these false leaders, these blind leaders who do not know, are giving stone instead of bread.
How can one be happy? I have already explained the gross external energy and the subtle external energy. Those who are interested in this gross and subtle external energy will never have their ambition of life fulfilled. One who is interested in Viṣṇu and in showing the path of Viṣṇu is the real friend. One who is giving Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the real friend of the world. No others can give happiness to human society. That is the explanation given by Prahlāda Mahārāja.
You cannot manufacture a process of happiness by tackling this material energy. That is not possible because the material energy is not under your control. It is controlled by the Supreme. How can you overpower the material energy? It is not possible. That is explained in Bhagavad-gītā. It is not possible to overcome the stringent laws of material nature. Kṛṣṇa says, "It is My energy; I am the controller. But one can surrender unto Me."
All the material activities of the cosmic manifestation are going on just to bring the rebellious souls back to Godhead. That is the situation. Māyā's stringent laws are there. Why? What is the purpose of the police force or the military force? The purpose is to keep the citizens obedient to the state. If a citizen is disobedient to the state law, he is immediately put into police custody. Similarly, anyone who has rebelled against the superiority of God is put under the stringent laws of material nature, and he must suffer. That is the position. Therefore, his self-interest is to seek out the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrender unto Him. That will make him happy. Otherwise, if he simply tries to accept material things and become happy, that is not possible.
Prahlāda Mahārāja gives a hint as to how one can seek out the path of Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He says that we have created so many unnecessary things and become entangled by them. In the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that we should desire to get out of this unnecessary trouble and to be free from the problems which are created. This morning I saw a picture of Berlin which was sent by one of my disciples. I have been to Berlin and to Moscow, and both are very nice cities. Berlin is a very nice city and London is also a very nice city, but why do the people engage in fighting and bombing every other city? Why has this happened? Because they have lost their interest in Viṣṇu, God. Therefore, they are thinking, "You are my enemy; I am your enemy," and they fight like cats and dogs. But as soon as we come to the Viṣṇu understanding, the Kṛṣṇa understanding, these advanced cities, these advanced civilizations, can be maintained very nicely. You'll be happy, you'll eat nicely, dance nicely, live nicely and go back home, back to Godhead. Enjoy this life and the next life. That is our request.
Everyone should take the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement seriously and try to understand it seriously. It is authorized on the Vedic principle; it is not something manufactured or unauthorized. We are opening centers in different parts of the world to give an opportunity for people to understand their real interest: Viṣṇu, Kṛṣṇa. That is our mission. Kindly help us and join us.