Śrīla Prabhupāda: Now, who knows the difference between the karmī, the jñānī, the yogī and the bhakta?
Hrdayānanda dāsa Goswami: The karmī wants to enjoy the gross senses, the jñānī wants to enjoy the subtle mind—to mentally speculate—and the yogī wants to manipulate the universe with mystic powers.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: These are all material powers.
Hrdayānanda dāsa Goswami: And the bhakta has no material desires.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. And unless one is actually desireless, he cannot be happy. The karmī, the jñānī and the yogī are all full of desires; therefore they are unhappy. Karmīs are the most unhappy, the jñānī is a little less unhappy, and the yogī is still more advanced. But the bhakta, the devotee, is perfectly happy. Some yogīs have a mystic power that enables them to snatch pomegranates from trees in another country, thousands of miles away. Others can fly without an airplane. And some yogīs can hypnotize anyone. Then they point to someone and say, “This is God,” and their victims believe them. I have actually seen such magical nonsense.
Krishnakānti: Is the pure devotee more merciful than Krishna?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. A real Vaisnava, a real devotee, is even more merciful than Krishna. Take Lord Jesus Christ, for example. It is said that Lord Jesus took everyone’s sins upon himself, yet he was crucified. We can see how merciful he was. Today, rascals think, “Let us go on committing sinful activities; Christ has taken a contract to suffer for us.” [There is a long, thoughtful silence.]
The Difference Between Matter and Spirit
Dr. Singh: Scientists say that trees also have consciousness.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is true, but a tree’s consciousness and my consciousness are different. My consciousness is more developed. If you pinch my body, I will immediately protest. But if you cut a tree, it will not protest. Actually, everything has consciousness in it; it is simply a question of degree. The more covered consciousness is by matter, the more it is considered material. And the more consciousness is developed, the more it is considered spiritual. This is the difference between matter and spirit.
Spirit souls are everywhere. They are trying to come out of the earth. [Points to the grass.] As soon as there is an opportunity, they want to express their consciousness. Those souls who descend from higher planets to this planet sometimes fall down to the ground in raindrops. Then they become grass and gradually evolve to higher forms of life.
Dr. Singh: Oh, that is terrible.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: These are the workings of subtle energy. What do the scientists know about this? Actually, their knowledge is carried away by māyā, illusion, and they are thinking, “Oh, I am a very learned scholar.”
Dr. Singh: Śrīla Prabhupāda, what about heart transplants? We know that the spirit soul is within the heart. But nowadays doctors can replace an old heart with a new one. What happens to the spirit soul in each heart? Does the person who receives a new heart also get a new personality?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No.
Dr. Singh: Why not?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Suppose I get up from one chair and go sit in another chair. Does my personality change? I may change my seat, but does that mean I have changed?
Dr. Singh: But the heart is changed, and the heart contains the spirit soul.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The Vedas describe the heart as a sitting place for the soul. So when they transplant hearts, they simply change the soul’s seat. The same soul remains. If they could prove that by changing the heart they have increased the patient’s duration of life, then that would prove they’ve caught the spirit soul. But they cannot increase the duration of life, because people have acquired their bodies by a superior arrangement. You have this body, and you must live within it for a certain period. If you simply change one of the parts of your body, that will not help you prolong your life. That is impossible. The doctors think that by changing the heart they will increase the duration of life, but that is not possible.
Dr. Singh: So a heart transplant is a kind of artificial transmigration of the soul from an old heart to a new one?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, it is something like that. Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gītā (2.13):dehino ‘smin yathā dehe kaumāram yauvanam jarā tathā dehāntara-prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” Changing hearts is just a change of material bodily organs. The heart is not the real source of life, and therefore changing the heart does not prolong the duration of life.
Dr. Singh: Yes, most heart transplant patients live only a very short time after the operation. But is it ever possible to transplant the soul from one body to another?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Sometimes certain yogīs can do that. They can find a better body and transfer themselves into it.
Dr. Singh: When the doctors perform a heart transplant, they take a heart from someone who has just died and exchange it for a weak heart in someone else’s body. Does the soul from the dead heart change places with the soul in the weak living heart?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. The soul has already left the dead heart. There is no question of bringing in another soul.
Dr. Singh: Let me see if I understand you correctly. When the doctors remove the heart of a man who has just died, the soul has already left his heart. Then, when they transplant his dead heart into the body of the patient, the patient’s soul passes into the transplanted heart.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. The soul is destined to live in a particular body for a certain number of years. You may change whatever part of the body you like, but you cannot change the duration of the life of that body.
Dr. Singh: So the heart is just a machine—an instrument?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. It is the sitting place of the soul.
A Mustard Seed in a Bag of Mustard Seeds
Dr. Singh: Śrīla Prabhupāda, biologists tell us that there are many species of life that can reproduce without sex. Do the Vedas agree with this?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.
Dr. Singh: So we cannot curtail their reproduction?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. How could we? There are so many living entities that have come into this material world to enjoy life, and therefore reproduction must continue. This material world is like a jail. You cannot put an end to jails. As soon as one man leaves the jail, another is ready to enter it. This same question was discussed by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. One of His devotees, Vāsudeva Datta, said, “Please take all the living entities of this entire universe and release them from material bondage. And if You think they are too sinful to be rectified, then just give all their sins to me.” But Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “Suppose I were to take this entire universe and all the living entities with it. This is only one of innumerable universes. It is just like a mustard seed in a huge bag of mustard seeds. If you removed one seed from the bag, what would be the difference?” So reproduction cannot actually be stopped. Living entities are unlimited in number, and therefore it must continue.
Dr. Singh: You have said that this material world is like a correction house to teach one to get out of material entanglement and the cycle of repeated birth and death.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Therefore you must practice Krishna consciousness.
[This conversation was recorded on December 2, 1973, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, near Los Angeles – an excerpt from “LIFE COMES FROM LIFE” available at your nearest Hare Krishna Center.]Also Read: KARMIS SHOULD BECOME DEVOTEES EXPERIENCING THE SOUL THE SIZE OF THE SOUL DON’T WAIT FOR OLD AGE WHO AM I? THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST