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Isn't there also this other one (eternity), when, for instance, Christ says, "I am before Abraham was," this "I am." There is one kind of eternity which has nothing to do with past and future at all, which is beyond past and future?

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Expressions researched:
"I am before Abraham was" |"Isn't there also this other one, when, for instance, Christ says" |"There is one kind of eternity which has nothing to do with past and future at all, which is beyond past and future"

Conversations and Morning Walks

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

Past and future is concerned with this body.
Room Conversation with Professor Durckheim German Spiritual Writer -- June 19, 1974, Germany:

Professor Durckheim: May I put a question to the question of time, the meaning of time? I think there are two ways to look at time and to look at eternity.

Prabhupāda: Time is eternal. Time is eternal, but we calculate time, past and present and future, according to my temporary material existence. Just like a small ant. The ant's past and present is different from my past and present. I am a human being. I live for hundred years. So my past and present is different from the ant who lives for, say, a few hours.

Professor Durckheim: Is different from?

Prabhupāda: From the ant, a small living entity. And similarly, Brahmā, his past, present, is different because he has done millions and millions of years as one day. So the time is eternal, but according to our condition, occupying the time and space, we calculate past and present and future. Otherwise time itself is eternal.

Professor Durckheim: Well, now I question you. You see, talking about eternity, there are two meanings or concepts at the same time. The one is that the finite life is going on infinitely, infinity, millions of years. That is one way to think about eternity.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Professor Durckheim: But there is another one.

Prabhupāda: Eternity means, we say, no beginning no end. That is eternity.

Professor Durckheim: Isn't there also this other one, when, for instance, Christ says, "I am before Abraham was," this "I am." There is one kind of eternity which has nothing to do with past and future at all, which is beyond past and future.

Prabhupāda: Past and future is concerned with this body.

Professor Durckheim: Is concerned with this body. It is concerned, exactly, with this body and with this ego, with regard to which there is a before and an after, up and down. And if you take away this ego, what's there, what's left?

Prabhupāda: That is pure ego. Now I am born Indian, say, seventy-five years ago, or seventy-eight years ago, and I have got this Indian body, I have got this false ego that "I am Indian; I am this body." This is misconception.

Professor Durckheim: That is one way to look at time.

Prabhupāda: Time is there, but because I have got this temporary body, I am thinking past, present, future. The temporary body will vanish. I shall get another temporary body. Then again my begins past and present. So therefore this is called illusion. Time is eternal. It has no beginning, no end, but we transmigrate from one body to another. We are calculating, miscalculating, past, present, future.

Professor Durckheim: Yes, time has no beginning and no end. But time in this second sense has nothing to do with beginning and end.

Prabhupāda: It has no end, beginning, no end. The beginning and end is of this body. And in relationship with this body, we are calculating past, present, future.

Professor Durckheim: But without this body, you wouldn't become conscious of what is beyond body.

Prabhupāda: I am conscious always. Just like in sleep, I am getting different body, but still I am conscious. And daytime, that sleeping body is gone; still, I am conscious. That consciousness is impure on account of our contact with this temporary body. So when you come to the pure consciousness, that is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Professor Durckheim: But as an experience, the pure consciousness as an experience, has to have a background which is not pure consciousness. Otherwise it could become...

Prabhupāda: No. Pure consciousness is actually you are. Just like water. Water is pure. When it is comes from the sky, it is clear crystal water. But as soon as it touches the ground, it becomes muddy. Similarly, we soul, spirit soul, we are pure. As soon as we come in contact with this matter, material existence, we become impure. And there are three stages of impurity: goodness, passion and ignorance. So all of them are impure. Unless one comes to the spiritual consciousness—he may be a very nice man—he is infected with the impurity of goodness. He is thinking, "I am very big man, I am very..." That is also impurity. And another man does not know what he is, just like animal, all the animals. That is also impurity. When both of them will come to the clear consciousness that "I am part and parcel of God; my duty is to serve God," that is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So long he identifies with this material consciousness, he is impure. Just like people are fighting: "I am German," "I am Englishman," "I am this," "I am that," "I am black," "I am white," "I am brāhmaṇa," "I am śūdra"—so many, designations. These designations are impurity. Just like sometimes the artists, they manufacture some statue naked. In France I saw, naked. They take it this naked statue is pure art, not dressed. Similarly, when you come to the nakedness of spirit soul without this designation of this body, "I am American," "I am German," "I am this," "I am that," that is purity.

Professor Durckheim: But the meaning of the impure is to be the background of the consciousness of the pure without any experiencing the suffering in the impure.

Prabhupāda: The consciousness is covered by impurity, just like your health is covered by disease, and the symptom is fever. But that is a covering. That is not your healthy state. Similarly, my consciousness, when I think that "I am American," "I am German," "I am this," "I am that," "I am that," that is impurity. And when he thinks that "I am neither German, neither American, nor this nor that. I am part and parcel of God," that is pure consciousness.

Professor Durckheim: But in order to get there, to feel that one is neither this nor that, one must have suffered by first having thought that one is this or that.

Prabhupāda: That suffering is just like you suffer in the dream. You are attacked by a tiger. There is no tiger. Actually there is no suffering. But on account of ignorance, you are thinking, "The tiger is eating me."

Professor Durckheim: Yes, but this is a very good example because the dream of the tiger comes very often. And it always means that you are pursued by some of your inner instincts, yourself. So you discover in the image of the tiger something which is not right in yourself.

Prabhupāda: Yes, that experience is also material. That is not spiritual experience. That experience is going on continually so long we are materially attached. Because in the material world we are constantly changing our body. Your experience in childhood is different from the experience at this time. So as we are changing our body, we are getting different experiences, and all those experiences are photographed within the mind. And they sometimes come out and make an intermixture, and we see dreams and so many contradictory things. This is going on, mental speculation. That is hovering on the mental plane. That is not spiritual plane. That, it is stated,

indriyāṇi parāṇy āhur
indriyebhyaḥ paraṁ manaḥ
manasas tu parā buddhir
buddhes tu yaḥ parataḥ saḥ
(BG 3.42)

So we have to transcend the platform of intelligence also. Then we come to the platform of spiritual realization. That is instructed in the Bhagavad-gītā. (aside:) What happened to your eye?

Devotee: I was cut.

Prabhupāda: How?

Devotee: I was in an automobile accident.

Prabhupāda: Oh.

Haṁsadūta: But he's all right.

Prabhupāda: Others also?

Haṁsadūta: No. It's just a cut.

Prabhupāda: So our real business is how to become free from all these designations. Yes. Then we come to the real consciousness. That real consciousness is that "I am eternal. God is eternal. I am part and parcel of God. My duty is to serve God. And now I am serving also. I am not free from service, but I am serving under designation." Just like you went to fight, because you designated yourself that "I am German." This is an example, that "I must fight, give service to my country." Somebody is thinking, "Give service to my community" or "to my family." Or if there is nobody else, at least "to my dog." So this is going on. So we have to close all these designations and become pure and serve God. And that is self-realization.

tat-paratvena nirmalam
hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-
sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate
(CC Madhya 19.170)

Just like the Arjuna. Arjuna was put into the ba... You have read Bhagavad-gītā, I think, this Bhagavad-gītā?

Professor Durckheim: Yes.

Prabhupāda: So he was thinking in terms of designations, that "I am... I belong to the same family. The other side, they are my cousin-brothers. They belong to the same family. So why shall I fight? Let them enjoy." From material point of view it is very good man. But Kṛṣṇa condemned him. Aśocyān anvaśocas tvaṁ prajñā-vādān: (BG 2.11) "You are talking very high words, but you are fool number one." That is the first, because he was talking on the platform of this bodily concept of life. But after hearing Bhagavad-gītā, when he understood that "I am not this body; I am eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. My duty is to obey the orders of Kṛṣṇa," then he fought. Superficially, he remained the same soldier. But in the beginning he was a soldier for his designation of this body, and later on, he became a soldier to carry out the order of the Supreme. That is the difference. So when we act to carry out the orders of the Supreme, that is self-realization, not for this body.

Professor Durckheim: There is only one way toward peace, through self-realization of those who are responsible.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Self-realization, that is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, that one should understand that "I am not enjoyer. Nobody is enjoyer." That is false. They are trying, endeavor, for enjoying this world, and that is false. Real enjoyer is the Supreme Lord. We are trying to occupy this land, that land. "This is Germany. This is England. This is France. This is India. This is my land, worshipable. Land is worshipable. It is my land." But he should know that no land belongs to us. Everything belongs to God. And this is a fact. The land is not created by us. The ocean is not created by us. Then why should we claim, "This is German ocean, and this is English ocean"? This is all false imagination. So when it comes to this understanding, that "Nothing belongs to us..." The United Nations, they are fighting for the last twenty years, but they are fighting on the false ground because everyone is thinking, "This land is mine. I must protect it." So they have no self-realization, and there is no peace.