Hayagrīva: Spinoza's God is clearly not a personal God. Spinoza is an impersonalist, and his love for God is more intellectual or philosophical than theistic or religious. Being an impersonalist, Spinoza believed in the identity of the individual soul with God. This is not to say that he believed that the individual soul is infinite, but that it is not distinct from God. He writes, "Thus that love of the soul is a part of the infinite love with which God loves Himself." He sees the soul's intellectual love of God and God's love for the individual soul, which is within man, to be one and the same love.
Prabhupāda: Love is five kinds of love: śānta, dāsya, sākhya, vatsalya, mādhurya. The beginning of love is awe and adoration: "Oh, God is so great. God is everything." When he understands God's potency, unlimitedness, the soul adores Him. That adoration is also love. When that adoration is further advanced, then he serves God as master and servant. When the service is more intimate, then friend to friend—as one friend renders service to other friend, the other friend renders to other friend, like that, reciprocal. Then further expanded, the love is turned into paternal love, and further expanded it is expanding into conjugal love. So there are different stages of love. So Spinoza is touching only the beginning of love, simply adoring, appreciating God's power, expansion, that much. But when this love of adoration expands, that is called dasya-rasa, sākhya-rasa, vatsalya-rasa, madhurya-rasa. So he is on the beginning state of loving God. He has not advanced farther.
Hayagrīva: It, it seems that he believes in the Paramātmā present within all beings but does not believe in the jīva along with Paramātmā. Is this a typical impersonalist position?
Prabhupāda: That means he does not know what is love. If God loves the living entity, then He must be well-wisher, friend of the living entity. And because God expands Himself unlimitedly, therefore He lives with the living entity, and living entities are unlimited. That is said in the Bhagavad-gītā: īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe arjuna tiṣṭhati (BG 18.61). In Upaniṣads also it is confirmed that two birds are sitting on tree; one is eating the fruit and the other is simply witness. So this witnessing bird is God; therefore Paramātmā and jīvātmā live together. And there are many other places-sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo (BG 15.15). He reminds the living entity that "Unless Paramātmā is there, I forget everything of my past life." But because I wanted to enjoy something in my past life, God gives him the opportunity and reminds him, "Now you wanted this. Here is the opportunity. You do it." So Paramātmā is always with the jīva.
Hayagrīva: He does not believe that God has a body because by body, he says, we understand a certain quantity possessing life, breadth and depth, limited by some fixed form, and that to attribute these to God, a being absolutely infinite, is the greatest absurdity.
Prabhupāda: No. God has body, but not this material body. The material body is limited. That does not mean... This is imperfect knowledge of the spiritual quality. God has got body. That is confirmed in Vedic literature, sac-cid-ānanda vigrahaḥ (Bs. 5.1). Vigraha means body, a form. But His form is eternal. He is all-aware, sat-cit, and He is always blissful. So this body is neither eternal nor blissful nor all-awareness. Therefore this body is different from God's body. But God has got a body which is different in quality. That is spiritual body.
Hayagrīva: He writes, "God is free from passions, nor is He affected with any emotion of joy or sorrow. Properly speaking, God loves no one and hates no one, for God is not affected with any emotion of joy or sorrow, and consequently he neither loves nor hates anyone."
Prabhupāda: Yes. He is called ātmā-pama (?). He doesn't require anything from anyone. He is complete. But if anyone offers Him something out of love, it is his benefit who is offering something to God. God doesn't require anything. Just like in the Bhagavad-gītā God says, patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati: (BG 9.26) "A devotee, out of his love, even he offers Me a little leaf, little water, little flower," tad aham aśnāmi, "I eat that." So God is fully satisfied in Himself. Why He desires a patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyam from a devotee? It is not for His benefit. But if he begins to offer something out of love, then his love begins with God. He gives him the chance. So offering to God does not mean God is benefited. It is benefit of the devotee that he begins to offer, and if he gradually develops that love, then his life is successful. So it is a chance. God does not require anything, but the giver, whatever he, he gives to God, it is for his own benefit. Just like the example is given, the..., if your face is decorated, then the reflection of the face in the mirror is automatically decorated. So we are reflection of God. If God is decorated then we become decorated. That is the idea.
Hayagrīva: So when Kṛṣṇa destroys demons, He does so without passion or without hatred?
Prabhupāda: Yes, naturally. It is the benefit of the demon.
Hayagrīva: Spinoza writes, "No sorrow can exist with the accompanying idea of God. No one can hate God."
Prabhupāda: Therefore He is sac-cid-ānanda. That is the description of Vedic literature, ānanda-mayo 'bhyāsāt, by nature is always full of pleasure. He is the source of pleasure. We therefore see Kṛṣṇa's picture when He is dancing with the gopīs, He looks very pleasing, and when He is killing some demon He looks very pleasing. Not that He is morose that His is killing, because you know that He is not killing; He is giving him salvation.
Hayagrīva: Well, he says no one can hate God, but what about Kaṁsa and others?
Prabhupāda: That is demonic. Naturally one is in love with God. He should love God. But when he is in māyā he thinks himself as separate from God. Instead of loving Him, he thinks himself as separate from God. Instead of loving Him, he thinks that God is hindrance, my competitor of sense gratification, therefore avoid God, kill God, I become absolute sense gratifier. Anyone who hates God means he is a demon.
Hayagrīva: Spinoza writes, "The more we understand individual objects, the more we understand God." Is this the proper process? Wouldn't you say that the more we understand God the more we understand individual objects? Which is uh...
Prabhupāda: Anything you take, that is perfection of knowledge in God. Which thing is not related with God? Everything is related with God. In the material world anything you will take it is made of the five elements, but these five elements, they are expansion of God's energy. So intelligent person sees in everything with reference to God's expansion of energy. That is the position of devotee. He does not think anything separate from God. And as he is lover of God, devotee of God, he wants to engage everything, because if everything is God's property, that should be used for God's benefit. This is devotee's conception. The asuras, they have no conception of God. Neither they are obedient to God, neither lover of God. He thinks the material world is for his enjoyment. He cannot see the material world is expansion of God's energy. Therefore anyone who uses the material product for his personal benefit, he is called a thief. Just like I have created something. If somebody use up that something and does not think of the proprietor, he is a thief. Thief means, in our childhood we got a definition of thief, that anything taken without the permission the property is theft. That is very nice. So anything in this world has reference to the expansion of energy of God. So if you do not take everything as prasādam, then you are thief and you are punishable. A thief is always punished. So therefore those who are enjoying things without reference to the God, they are all demons and they are punishable. They are thieves.
Hayagrīva: That's all on Spinoza. (end)