In this amazing conversation from June 9, 1976, Srila Prabhupada clearly and concisely explains why we are in this material world and why we are suffering the pain of separation— to some guests in his garden in L.A.
Arnold Weiss: In the beginning, when we were first part of God, as I understand from reading Bhagavad-gita and some of your other translations and purports, which I enjoy very much -- I thank you for making them available -- I understand that our souls are also part of God, as a drop of water is part of that ocean. How... Is there any knowledge or information of how we incurred this first separation from God?
Prabhupada: Separation... Generally, when we want to become God, there is separation.
Arnold Weiss: A rebellion.
Prabhupada: You cannot... There is one God, and if you want to become God, you are immediately driven away: "Just become God in the material world. Go there and try to become God."
Dr. Wolfe: Prabhupada? There is a parallel in the Bible that Lucifer broke away from God because He wanted to be God.
Prabhupada: That's it.
Arnold Weiss: I was thinking that too.
Prabhupada: (laughs) This rascaldom... This rascaldom makes him a dog. Instead of God, he become a dog. So this rascaldom is going on, that "I am God." For this purpose he's suffering, and still, he wants to continue it. Nobody can become God; God is one. Ekam brahma dvitiyam nasti. So how we can become God? But that endeavor is going on.
Arnold Weiss: As I understand it, since God is omnipresent, omnipotent, all-knowledgeable and all-remembering, then He is in a position where He can know what our choices are going to be, and what is going to happen with us in the future.
Prabhupada: No, no. You make a choice; you can change it. But as soon as you change it, God knows what you are going to do. This is very common sense. Suppose you are honest man; I entrust you with something. But as soon as you become dishonest, immediately I withdraw my trust, because I know what you'll do. So you have got little independence. You are put into certain position, but you can change it at anytime. So your position is, actually, you are eternal servant of God. As soon as you change it, then your suffering begins.
In the Bhagavad-gita you'll find, after instructing Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna, Krsna is asking, "Now I have instructed you everything. Now whatever you like, you can do." Yathechasi tatha kuru. That independence you have got. Krsna, or God, does not interfere with the little independence He has given to us. And because we are part and parcel of God, God is fully independent, so we have got little portion of independence. So by misusing that independence, we can desire to become God, and we suffer.
Arnold Weiss: Isn't it within the nature of our souls to have...
Prabhupada: That is the nature, little independence. That is the nature. You can properly use independence, and you can improperly use. That is the meaning of independence. That you can use it improperly. Then you suffer. That is the meaning of independence. If it is that I have got independence -- I cannot use it otherwise -- that is not independence.
Arnold Weiss: So that small, miniscule amount of independence we have represents our free will in making decisions and choices towards either returning toward God or trying to go on our own way, which is the origin of our original position, being in this material world. Very interesting.
Prabhupada: So therefore Krsna said that "The most confidential part of knowledge I am giving you, Arjuna, because you are My very intimate friend, that you give up your nonsense plans." Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: [Bg. 18.66] "You just surrender to Me. This is the most confidential knowledge. You can misuse your independence, but I am instructing you most confidentially because you are My intimate. Don't make plans like rascals. You just surrender to Me. This is confidential."
Now, if He is ordering to become His devotee, how can I try to become another God, competitor? This is the folly, and for this we are suffering. He asked him, "You become My devotee." And I want to become another God, competitor. And therefore we are suffering. We cannot become another God. That is not possible. But artificially you are trying. Therefore you are suffering. Anything you try artificially, you'll suffer. If you try for a thing artificially, then what is the result? Result will be suffering and disappointment. Therefore sastra says, tasyaiva hetoh prayeteta kovidah. Don't try for such things... You have tried all through in different forms of life. You have failed. So don't try for that. But try to become servant of God. Then your life will be successful. Because in the material world the endeavor is how to become God in different varieties: how to become president, how to become minister, how to become master, how to become very strong man, very wealthy man, very beautiful man, so on, so on, so on, up to -- when everything fails -- then how to become God. When everything fails, then, ultimately, "Now I shall become God." The same disease is there, how to become big, now the biggest.