nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svaminn iti namine
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
It was 1968, and I was in Los Angeles sitting across from Srila Prabhupada. While we were talking I decided to ask about a thought I had had. “Is the world a reflection of scripture?” I said.
“Why are you thinking like that?” Srila Prabhupada asked.
“Is it wrong?” I asked.
“Why are you thinking like that?” Srila Prabhupada asked again.
I was surprised. This was hardly the yes or no I had expected. “Is it wrong?” I asked again.
“It is not wrong,” said Srila Prabhupada. “The world is a reflection of scripture, but scripture is not a reflection of the world. You should not think like that for sense gratification.”
“Oh, no,” I said. “When I see somebody doing something wrong, like eating meat, I think, ‘My
spiritual master said this is bad.’”
“Ah!” said Srila Prabhupada. “When you think like that, your life at once becomes sublime.”
That’s amazing, isn’t it? How easy it is to make our lives sublime! If Srila Prabhupada says it’s bad, then it’s bad; if Srila Prabhupada says it’s good, then it’s good. Just accept this principle and then study Srila Prabhupada’s books to see what is good and what is bad. And your life at once becomes sublime. What’s more, everyone who has tried it says it works.
And even more amazing, if you think about it, is that someone as great as Srila Prabhupada could come to this world just to make people’s lives sublime. He did not have to come to help his own life. It was already perfect. He came to help the fallen souls, and he spared no effort to give us all a life beyond anything we could imagine.
Recently, I was in Mayapur, and some of us were telling about our experiences with Srila Prabhupada —how he would make us laugh, make us tremble, make us see our own foolishness, make us run here and there to get something done. But Srila Prabhupada always had the same goal: to make our lives sublime.
We often say that Srila Prabhupada built a house the whole world can live in. But this does not mean that wherever you may be living in the world, you are living in Srila Prabhupada’s house. More likely, you are living in Maya’s prison.
How can we tell? After all, sometimes Srila Prabhupada tells that something is bad but we think it is sublime. Maybe our favorite material enjoyment still seems sublime to us. And Srila Prabhupada told us not to go outside of ISKCON, but maybe some smooth preacher in India makes us feel so good we think we have attained something spiritually sublime.
We have to be careful. Lord Krishna warns us in the Bhagavad-gita that what seems to be nectar may turn out to be poison. We have to let Srila Prabhupada tell us what is truly sublime. The bricks of Srila Prabhupada’s house are his teachings, and unless you are living within these teachings, you are not living in the house where life becomes sublime. If you think you know more than Srila Prabhupada about social issues or even about the moon, then you are living in Maya’s prison even though you may be feeling some pleasure.
But, you may object, it is impossible to get out of Maya’s prison. There is a way, though, and Srila Prabhupada has made it easy. Just remember this: If Srila Prabhupada says it’s good, then it’s good; if Srila Prabhupada says it’s bad, then it’s bad. What could be easier? And we have Srila Prabhupada’s guarantee. I heard him say it.
“Oh, you’re always harping on this,” you tell me. “Every time you give class, it’s the same thing. ‘Listen to Prabhupada. Listen to Prabhupada.’ You’re just a fundamentalist.”
Well, I’m not sure what that big word means, but if it means someone who takes everything that Srila Prabhupada says into his heart, then that’s what I am trying to become. What else does it mean to be a disciple?
And why not? I want my life to be sublime.
How about you?