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Seeing Technology in a Spiritual Light

This exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his students took place on a morning walk in Chicago, in July 1975.

Student: Earlier you were saying that the Western world is spiritually blind and that India is technologically lame, but that if they combine their resources, then both India and the West will benefit.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. If the Western world, the blind man, takes India, the lame man, on its shoulders, then the lame man can point the way spiritually and the blind man can sustain them materially, technologically. If America and India pool their technological and spiritual resources, this combination will bring about perfect peace and prosperity all over the world.

How blind these Americans are. They have attained the human form of life—such an intelligent form of life—and yet they are utilizing it for riding motor boats in the lake. You see? A human being should use every moment for regaining his God consciousness. Not a single moment should be wasted—and these people are simply finding new ways to waste timer

Of course, the Americans are doing things in a very nice way, with great technological advancement, but what they are doing is blind. You may be a very good driver, but if you are blind, then how well will you drive? You’ll create disaster. So the American people must open their eyes spiritually, so that their good driving capacity will be properly utilized. Now they’re trying to see through microscopes. But as long as they remain blind to their own spiritual identity, what will they see? They may have microscopes or this machine or that machine—but they are blind. That they do not know.

Student: I think most Americans are more interested in raising a family than in self-realization.

Srila Prabhupada: Krishna consciousness is not hindered by family life, one way or the other. Ahaituky apratihata. God consciousness cannot be checked by anything—if you are sincerer In any circumstances you can be engaged. You can execute Krishna consciousness in four ways: pranair arthair dhiya vaca—by your life, by your money, by your intelligence, and by your words. So if you want to be a family man—if you cannot dedicate twenty-four hours daily—then earn money and use it to spread Krishna consciousness. And if you cannot earn money, then use your intelligence. There is so much intellectual work to do—publication, research, and so on. If you cannot do that, then utilize your words to tell people about Krishna. Wherever you may be, simply explain to someone, “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just offer your obeisances to Krishna.” Finished. So where is the scarcity of opportunities? You can serve Krishna in any capacity, provided you want to serve. But if you want to engage Krishna in your service, that is a blunder. People are going to church—“Krishna, serve us; give us our daily bread.”

People manufacture their own problems. Actually, there are no problems. Ishavasyam idam sarvam: God has arranged everything. He has made everything perfect and complete. You see so many fruits for the birds—so sumptuously supplied. Purnam idam: Krishna has already supplied everything in sufficient quantity. But these rascals are blind—they do not see this. They are trying to “adjust:” Why do they need to make an “adjustment”? Everything is already sufficient. It is just that people are misusing things. But otherwise, they already have sufficient land, sufficient intelligence—everything is sufficient.

In Africa and Australia they have so much land—and instead of relying on nature’s bounty of crops, they are raising cattle to kill them. This is their intelligence. People are growing coffee and tea and tobacco, even though they know these things hurt their health. In some parts of the world people are dying for want of grain, and yet in other parts of the world people are growing tobacco, which will only bring disease and death. This is their intelligence.

The problem is that these rascals do not know that life is meant for understanding God. Ask anyone. Nobody knows. They are such fools. Don’t you see how much care they are taking for dogs’? They’re blind: they do not know whether they’ll be God conscious or “dog conscious.” The dog runs on four legs, but people think they have become advanced because they can run by car—on four wheels. They think they have become civilized, but their business is running, that’s all.

Student: And the purpose for the running is the same—eating, sleeping, mating, and defending.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. If the purpose is the same as a dog’s, then what is the use of running by car? Of course, you can use the car for reaching people with the message of Krishna consciousness. You can use everything for Krishna. That is what we teach. If there is a nice car, why should I condemn it? Utilize it for Krishna: then it is all right. We don’t say, “Give it up.” Nor When you have produced something by your God-given intelligence, it is all right—if you use it for God. But when you use it for other purposes than Krishna, then it is nonsense.

Take this car—so nicely decorated. If I say, “It is all nonsense,” is that very intelligent? Nor “The purpose for which you have created this car—that is nonsense:” So we simply want people to change their consciousness. We don’t condemn the things they have produced.

For instance, with a knife you can cut vegetables and fruit, but if you use it for cutting your throat, that is bad. So now people are using the knife of technology for cutting their own throat, for forgetting all about self-realization, Krishna consciousness. This is bad.

Nri-deham adyam sulabham sudurlabham plavam sukalpam: our human body is just like a good boat—with our human intelligence we can cross the ocean of nescience, the ocean of repeated birth and death in this material world. And guru-karnadharam/ mayanukulena nabhasva-teritam puman bhavabdhim na taret sa atma-ha: we have a favorable wind—Krishna’s instructions in the Vedic literatures—plus we have a good captain, the bona fide spiritual master, who can guide us and enlighten us. With all these facilities, if we cannot cross the ocean of nescience, then we are cutting our throat. The boat is there, the captain is there, the favorable wind is there, but we are not utilizing them. That means we are killing ourselves.