(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 16 May 2013, Simhachalam, Germany, Srimad Bhagavatam 9.7.21)
Transcribed by Jnana-samudra das
There is so much impersonalism everywhere. In ISKCON there is also impersonalism everywhere. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave a personal explanation of the Koran. Unfortunately, we don’t have that explanation in its full form but we hear that he gave a personal explanation of the Koran.
Historians say that actually impersonalism came into Islam via India. It is said that the Sufi’s came to India and became influenced with the mayavadi philosophy and then brought it back to the Middle-east and established an impersonal understanding of the Koran which became predominant. So, the point is that impersonalism exists in all kinds of cultures. Also, in the Western world there is ample impersonalism.
Here in Germany, there was Meister Eckhart, and I forget the date, but Meister Eckhart was at one point developing a whole theology on how we are actually God – how he was God and everyone was God – and he was excommunicated from the church at one point. And then, we also see very interestingly that in the late 50′s, in America, the beatniks came up – they were the forerunners of the hippies. And the beatniks were beginning to look into expanding consciousness. So, they were into experimenting with drugs and so on, and they started to read books that were about expanding consciousness.
One of the big books that the hippies were reading was a book written by Aldous Huxley called The Doors of Perception, and if you hadn’t read that book, you were square, totally square! Aldous Huxley, in 1945,took LSD and he wrote a book about it. He even took it as he was dying, as we was leaving his body, he took it again and he also died on LSD – so an interesting way to go. Anyway, Aldous Huxley became a big hippie prophet and he was a complete impersonalist.
Saint John of the cross, in the 15th century was also describing, actually he was realising that he is God – so there was also impersonalism. In the Western world, there’s a lot of impersonal history and the hippie movement started out with impersonalism. Jack Kerouac, another hippie prophet, wrote a book about the Dharma Bums who were sort of living on the road – it was all Bhuddism, it was all sunyavada.
When Prabhupada came in 1965 and started to preach against nirvisesha sunyavadi pascatya desha tarine, delivering the Western countries from impersonalism, it was a fact – it was right there, right there in the Western world. So it’s not just something from India – something like Kirtananada thought. Kirtanananda said to Prabhupada, “Why are you just so much stressing impersonalism, mayavada in the West? In India, yes there are so many mayavadis, but why not here in the West just preach against atheism?” and Prabhupada said, “You’re saying that because you are a mayavadi! You’re an impersonalist!” And we see that the West is full of impersonalism.
We also see that in Christianity, initially there was a concept of a personal God – that somewhere up there in the sky, there were heavens, and you know, whatever was there – shepherds and sheep, angels and all kinds of celestial beings. Then the brothers Wright invented the plane and went up above the clouds and they saw nothing there! By now, everybody’s been up there and I don’t know if you saw any angels? I got quite a few air-miles behind me but I never saw any angels or gandarvas – nothing up there! Absolutely nothing! Sorry about that.
So, under the pressure of modern science, Christianity had to really retreat. There was that bishop who calculated that 5000 years ago Adam and Eve were driven out of paradise.
Anyway, this well-known Christian scholar who was very prominent, on the basis of a systematic calculation of going through the ages of all the great personalities in the Old Testament, and then tracing back the whole lineage, he made a calculation and he came to the result that Adam and Eve were driven out of paradise about 5000 years ago. This stood as being accepted in the Western world up to like the 18th century.
When Indologists were going to India, to preach the gospel and to kind of establish that India was a primitive country, when they came up with ideas of the Aryan invasion and that a real culture came into India from outside – still at that time, in the intellectual world, this idea that Adam and Eve were driven out of paradise 5000 years ago had not yet been eradicated. So that is amazing.
Modern astronomers think that the universe is about 10 billion years old and the Vedic literature says about 5.5 billion years old. Okay, that’s at least both in the billions? That’s kind of close, you know – 5.5 billion, 10 billion; but 5000 years old? I mean, where were they? So, in the face of modern science, Christianity had to withdraw and had to give up many of its ideas and what happened was Christianity dug in the second position.
Christianity went for the second position of impersonalism and said that actually, God is an all-pervading love; an all-pervading intelligence; and this whole idea of angels in clouds, that is simply Anthropomorphism – where human reality is projected upon a spiritual one. A lot has been written about Anthropomorphism and even Einstein – who also was a first class mayavadi, got into it! Einstein gave a very enlightened idea how God consciousness, in it’s primitive form, is trying to appease the ghastly deities and that in a higher form, God consciousness becomes moral, but still man is projecting a human feature on the absolute reality. Then, in its enlightened stage, God consciousness has become formless and just the all-pervading… anyway, you know, after that, we need not hear much more – we know where we are, we know we have reached mayavadi philosophy.
So, we can see how much Mayavada philosophy has penetrated into the Western world. For example, we can also see how Christianity got rid of the elves and all the other romantic entities who were there in previous beliefs, and who were being respected and worshipped. There are thirty-three principal demigods, and each of them are assisted by one million smaller demigods. Even elves are little demigods who are protecting… so there are such protective spirits and so on.
I remember a very famous community is Scotland – Findhorn. Findhorn was extraordinary because [in Scottish accent], “Scotland is quite on the northern side and you know it gets quite cold because Scotland is high – it is the plains, high plains and it’s north and therefore what grows in Scotland is not what grows in ordinary places. The seasons are short and many plants don’t grow.”
But in Findhorn, people started again to pray to elves and to the spirits that protect the plants and to everyone’s amazement, it worked! They started to grow flowers out of season, fruits were growing in abundance whereas nowhere else in Scotland, fruits were growing. Findhorn became famous like that… pumpkins almost as big as Cinderella’s coach! In short, it was absolutely a miracle! It became very famous – lots of people were going there. Anyway, but Christianity got rid of all that – all these personal elements in the universe. We see how it became a vehicle of impersonalism; how impersonalism, in this way, gradually has taken over and how we again systematically have to begin to think in a personal way, which is difficult.