Recorded on April 28, 1973, In Cheviot Hills Park, Los Angeles
Śrīla Prabhupāda is accompanied by Dr. Singh, Karandhara dāsa adhikārī and other students.
Scientists as Thieves
Śrīla Prabhupāda. [holding a rose in his hand]. Can any scientist create a flower like this in the laboratory?
Dr. Singh. That is not possible.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. No, it is not. Just see how wonderfully Kṛṣṇa's energy is working! No scientist can create a flower like this in his laboratory. They cannot create even a few grains of sand, yet they claim to possess the most advanced intellects in the universe. This is foolish.
Dr. Singh. They take matter from Kṛṣṇa, manipulate it, and then claim that they have created something wonderful.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. At least if they would admit that they have taken the matter from Kṛṣṇa, that would be good. We understand that everything comes from Kṛṣṇa.
Dr. Singh. But they will not admit that they are taking anything from Kṛṣṇa. Instead they say that they are the creators.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. How have they created anything? They take the sand and mix it with some chemicals and make glass. They have not created the sand or the chemicals; they have taken them from the earth. How have they created anything?
Dr. Singh. They say, "We have taken the materials from nature."
Śrīla Prabhupāda. "From nature" means from a person. They have taken from nature, but they are thieves because everything in nature belongs to Kṛṣṇa. Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam: "Everything is God's creation." ( [Īśomantra 1]) In Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa states that if one does not perform yajña [sacrifice], he is a thief. Yajña means acknowledging that things have been taken from Kṛṣṇa. We should think, "Kṛṣṇa, You have given us many, many things for our maintenance." This much acknowledgement Kṛṣṇa wants; that's all. Otherwise, what can He expect from you? What are you in His presence? We should acknowledge Kṛṣṇa's kindness. Therefore, before we eat we offer the food to Kṛṣṇa and say, "Kṛṣṇa, You have given us this nice food, so first You taste it." Then we eat it. Kṛṣṇa is not hungry, yet He can eat the whole world and then again produce it exactly as it was. Pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate [Īśo Invocation]. Kṛṣṇa is so perfect that if you take from Kṛṣṇa all of Kṛṣṇa's energy, all the original energy is still with Him. That is perfect conservation of energy.
The Origin of Nature
Dr. Singh. There is a scientific journal called Nature. It contains articles concerning natural products like plants, flowers and minerals, but it does not mention God.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. We may rightly observe that plants are being produced by nature. But the next question we must ask is, "Who has produced nature?" To ask this is real intelligence.
Dr. Singh. They don't generally think about this.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Then they are foolish. Where does nature come from? As soon as we speak of nature, the next question should be, "Whose nature?" Is it not so? For instance, I speak of my nature, and you speak of your nature. Therefore, as soon as we speak of nature, the next inquiry should be, "Whose nature?" Nature means energy. And as soon as we speak of energy, we must inquire into the source of that energy. For example, if you speak of electric energy, you must accept its source, the powerhouse. How can you deny it? Electricity does not come to us automatically. Similarly, nature is not working automatically; it is under the control of Kṛṣṇa.
Student. In the Vedas it is said that material energy works under Kṛṣṇa's direction.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. As soon as you speak of energy, there must be a source.
The Mirage of the Material World
Karandhara. Geologists study the strata of the earth's crust to trace out the origin of the earth.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. But these strata are being created and destroyed at every moment. Now they are one way, and a half hour from now they will be different. They are jagat, always changing. Kṛṣṇa states in Bhagavad-gītā (8.4), adhibhūtaṁ kṣaro bhāvaḥ: "Physical nature is known to be endlessly mutable." Therefore, one cannot find out the source of all energy simply by observing the energy itself. Now the earth's strata may be black, later they may be white, and then again black. So the geologists study the black color, then the white color, again the black, and so on. This is called punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām [SB 7.5.30], "chewing the chewed." Now it is cold, at midday it will be warm, and at night it will be cold again. In this way, the entire material cosmic manifestation is subject to different types of change. Even our bodies are changing. Everything is changing. But what is the eternity behind this changing? That is the subject of real knowledge. The scientists do not find that eternity, and therefore they are disappointed. They think that the background of everything is void, zero. They think that eternity is zero. And when they are asked where this zero comes from, they say, "It comes from nothing." So we must ask them, "How have the varieties come about?" The Vedic conclusion is that variety is eternal, although the changing varieties the scientists study in the material world are temporary. These varieties are shadow varieties. Real variety exists eternally in the spiritual world.
Dr. Singh. So the material universe is like a mirage?
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. Suppose I think I see water in the desert when there is not water. This is an illusion. Water exists, but not in the mirage. Similarly, the material varieties we see—the varieties of enjoyment—are like that mirage. We, the living entities, are meant for enjoyment, but we are seeking enjoyment in a false place—in an illusion. We are like the desert animals who run after water in a mirage and eventually die of thirst. They cannot relieve their thirst with such illusory water. Similarly, we are trying to manufacture many things to satisfy our thirst for enjoyment, but we are being baffled at every turn because material existence is an illusion. Therefore real intelligence means to inquire, "Where is the reality? Where is the eternal substance behind the illusion?" if we can find that out, we can experience real enjoyment.