Hayagrīva: Now for both Plato and Aristotle, God is known by reason, not by revelation or by religious experience, not by mystical experience...
Prabhupāda: That is nonsense. You cannot... God is unlimited. You have got limited power to see or to smell or to touch. You have got all limited, and God is unlimited. So you cannot understand God by your limited power of sensual activities. Therefore God is revelation. We say that ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ (CC Madhya 17.136). You cannot understand by speculating your senses. That is not possible. When you engage yourself in His service, then He reveals. Nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya yoga-māyā-samāvṛtaḥ (BG 7.25). God says that "I am not exposed to everyone. I am covered by the yoga-māyā." That is fact. So unless God reveals Himself... So God not only reveals, He appears, and great authorities, they are searching. Just like Kṛṣṇa appeared, and great authorities like Vyāsadeva, Nārada, Śukadeva Gosvāmī and then the ācāryas, Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya and Caitanya Mahāprabhu-big, big stalwart scholars and transcendentalists—they accepted Kṛṣṇa. All the śāstras accept Kṛṣṇa. Long, long years, five thousand years, when there was no philosophy in the Western world, God revealed Himself, face to face. Arjuna saw Him and he accepted Him. And similarly other great persons accepted Him. So God is not to be speculated, but by one's service, when He is pleased, He reveals Himself.
Hayagrīva: There is a great deal of emphasis in Aristotle on reason. He says happiness depends on man's acting in a rational way. The rational way is the virtuous way. The virtuous way is the way of intellectual insight. There is a suggestion of sense control but no bhakti. So is it possible to obtain happiness simply by controlling the senses by the mind?
Prabhupāda: Yes. So that is the process of becoming a human being. The lower beings, animals, they do not know this process. Just like they are busy only for sense gratification-eating, sleeping, mating and defense, their only business. But a human being can be engaged by proper guidance in contemplation. Just like Aristotle is contemplating or Plato is con..., this is human being's business. But such contemplation should be guided by authorities. Otherwise one can contemplate with his limited senses for many, many millions of years, it will be impossible to understand what is God.
Hayagrīva: But for happiness, or ānanda, isn't bhakti essential, love, or ānanda?
Prabhupāda: Ānanda means... God is full ānanda, sac-cid-ānanda. He is eternal, sat; He is spiritual; and He is ānanda, bliss. So unless one comes in contact with God, there is no question of ānanda. (Sanskrit). In the Vedic literatures we understand that God is reservoir of all pleasure, unlimited. So when you come in contact with God, then you will taste what is pleasure. So material pleasure is only perverted reflection of the real pleasure. Real pleasure is possible when we come in contact with God.
Hayagrīva: In his Ethics, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle writes, "Moral excellence is concerned with pleasure and pain. It is pleasure that makes us do base or ignoble action, and pain that prevents us from doing noble actions. For that reason," as Plato says, "men must be brought up from childhood to feel pleasure and pain at the proper things, for this is correct education." So how does this correspond to the Vedic view of education?
Prabhupāda: Vedic view of education is, actually there is no pleasure in this material world, because we may arrange for all pleasure artificially in the material world, but all of sudden one has to die. So where is the pleasure? If you make arrangement of all pleasure and all of a sudden death comes upon you, then where is pleasure? So first of all they must, if they are intelligent, they must make arrangement that they will be able to enjoy the pleasures they have created. Otherwise, where is pleasure? It is disappointment. That is going on. They are trying to become pleased by inventing so many things, but because they are controlled by some superior element, so at any moment they will be kicked out of the pleasure platform. Then where is pleasure? Therefore the conclusion should be: there is no pleasure in this material world. If one is searching after pleasure in the material world, then it is the same thing as the animal is searching water in the desert. There is no water in the desert; it is simply illusion, and he is preparing for death. Because he is thirsty, he is searching after water, and in the wrong way he is searching water. The ultimate result will be he will die of thirst.
Hayagrīva: One last statement from Aristotle. He states, in his Politics, he says, "The beauty of the body is seen, whereas the beauty of the soul is not seen." Is this true?
Prabhupāda: Beauty of the soul is real beauty, and beauty of the body is superficial. Not every body is beautiful. There are so many bodies very ugly, and there are so many bodies very beautiful. So the material sense, this ugliness and beautifulness, they are all artificial. But the beauty of the soul is real; that is not artificial. So unless we see the beauty of the Supersoul, Kṛṣṇa, we have no idea what is actually beauty. Therefore devotees, they want to see the beauty of Kṛṣṇa, not any artificial beauty of this material world.
Hayagrīva: There's no correspondence there. That is to say, a beautiful body does not necessarily house a beautiful soul. There's no correspondence.
Prabhupāda: No, there is correspondence, because we say this material world is perverted reflection. So originally the soul is beauty, but here the beauty is covered. But we can simply have a glimpse of the real beauty from the material covering, but we have to wait to see the beauty of the soul. That is real point.