What About Cosmic Consciousness?
(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada in Tompkins Square Park, New York, 1966)

Guest: I practice transcendental meditation myself, and some of the concepts we use, as far as levels of consciousness, we use the word "cosmic consciousness" and "God consciousness," and I was wondering how Kṛṣṇa consciousness would relate to this cosmic consciousness.

Prabhupāda: What do you understand by "cosmic consciousness"?

Guest: Living transcendental consciousness simultaneous...

Prabhupāda: Just explain..., just try to explain what do you mean by "cosmic consciousness."

Guest: Being in a transcendental state simultaneously with the waking, dreaming and deep sleep states, the relative states (indistinct), and having the transcendental state also. Being...

Prabhupāda: What is the distinction between transcendental stage and this stage?

Guest: The transcendental is pure being, pure existence, pure consciousness, pure awareness, and the other states are pure (indistinct) irrelevant.

Prabhupāda: And what is impure?

Guest: Not impure. They...

Prabhupāda: Then how you distinguish pure?

Guest: The object of perception is...

Prabhupāda: What is that object of perception that is pure?

Guest: The perceiver and the object perceived would be one.

Prabhupāda: What is that object? Give me tangible example.

Guest: In relative existence it would be that which exists, and...

Prabhupāda: What is that relative? Relative means there must be something absolute. When you speak of relative... Just like you are son, relative. Immediately the conception of father must be there; otherwise why... how it is relative? So as soon as you say "relative," what is the absolute?

Guest: The absolute is... I can't say much more than it is, I guess.

Prabhupāda: Then you have no conception of the absolute. You cannot explain.

Guest: It's...

Prabhupāda: You are simply... Your meditation means you are simply in the relative.

Guest: It's not...

Prabhupāda: You are giving definition in the... Just like you do not know what it is. You say simply "It is not this," that's all. But you do not know what it is. That is not concrete definition. If I say, "This is not watch. This is not book. This is not light. This is not microphone," I can go on thousands of years saying, "This is not, this is not, this is not," but that does not mean it is this. And if you know it, immediately say, "It is glass, spectacle."

That means you do not know it. Simply negation, "This is not, this is not, this is not," is not the realization of the absolute. You must give concrete idea of the absolute. That is transcendental meditation.

Guest: I'm working on it.

Prabhupāda: Eh?

Guest: I'm working on it.

Prabhupāda: So you are working; you are not realized. But we are giving concrete absolute truth. That is Kṛṣṇa. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, how He is concrete absolute. It is just like this: You are studying this article. You are simply trying to understand it, "It is not this, it is not this, it is not this." But if you take it from an authorized person who knows what it is, that "This is spectacle," your knowledge is immediately there. So here the Absolute is speaking about the absolute. So if you understand Him, Kṛṣṇa, then immediately understand absolute.


Young woman: How do you (indistinct) Kṛṣṇa? By talking about Him?

Prabhupāda: No. These people are not talking; they are realized. Talking is the beginning, but there is realization. Just like when I did not come to your country I was talking that "America is like this." But now when I have come to America, I realize what is America. So talking is theoretical understanding, and when you realize, that is practical understanding. One is called jñāna, other is called vijñāna. So jñāna and vijñāna, both things are there, theoretical and practical.

Young woman: So how do you realize Kṛṣṇa?

Prabhupāda: You have to adopt the process. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Young woman: Say that again?

Prabhupāda: You have to adopt the process. Ādau śraddhā. If you are inquisitive to understand, that is your first stage of faith. That is called śraddhā. Ādau śraddhā. In the beginning, your inquisitiveness that "I want to understand," that is faith. Then next stage is association of persons who know, sādhu-saṅga (CC Madhya 22.83). Then initiation. Then disappearance of all misgivings. Then steady faith. Then attachment. And then ecstasy. Then realization. These are stages.

So if you are anxious to know, then please come to our classes. We are discussing simply this subject matter, so you'll kindly..., if you kindly come, gradually you'll be able to understand. It is not very difficult. All my students, they are all American boys and girls. I have not brought with me any Indian or Hindu, but they are understanding.

Just talk with them. They will be able to explain how they are understanding. So similarly, you will also be able to understand. It is not very difficult subject. But you must be sincere to understand. That is the only qualification required. That's all.


Young man: (indistinct) do you reach a certain spiritual...

Prabhupāda: What is that?.

Devotee: (explaining question) By studying what is the realization...

Prabhupāda: Study, yes. Study..., simple study will not help you. You must study from a bona fide teacher. Otherwise it will be misleading. Just like if you want to be a medical practitioner, if you purchase books from the bookstore, medical books, and you study, that will not help you. You have to admit yourself in a medical college and study there. Then you will understand.

If you say that "I have studied all the medical books," the government will not recognize you as a medical practitioner. When he will see, and the government will see or any person will see that you have regularly passed medical examination from authorities, then you will be accepted.

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, January 8, 1969)

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