How Should One Cultivate Human Spirit

by Tridandi Goswami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami 

Draft of Lecture Meant to be Delivered at the International Congress in Japan 1961. Published October 1962 in ‘The Mother’ (India) by Aurobindo of the Aurobindo Ashram 

Part 1

Culture of human spirit by the human being is the prime duty of humankind. All great thinkers, philosophers, reformers and persons who thought for the whole of human society in terms of its welfare in general, thought like it from time immemorial. Out of them those who were perfectly self realised soul or the perfect human being, recorded their self realised experience in the books of knowledge known as the Vedas or the scriptures. There are various types of attempts to understand the import of the Vedas by those who are not themselves perfect beings and as such the books of knowledge have been again molded in the ways of the quality of imperfect interpreters. 

Apart from all these controversial points, we may safely generalise that there are four different classes of human beings all over the world and they are (1) The intelligent class of men or good men or the Brahmins (2) The politicians or the ruling class of men, the men of passion or the Kshatriyas (3) The productive class of men or the men of mixed quality compounded of passion and ignorance called by the name of the Vaishyas and (4) The labour class of men or the men in ignorance called by the name of Sudras. And all of them are meant for co-operation for the common cause of cultivating human spirit. When they co-operate for the common cause there is harmony and progress but when they non-co-operate with one another there is unrest and trouble in the society. 

At the present moment there is a tendency of non-co-operation between the different classes of men on account of their missing the common cause of human spirit and therefore there is prime need of a batch of intelligent class of men to combine together and thus educate the other classes in the matter of co-operation for human spiritual culture. The world is now dominated by the third-grade productive and fourth-grade labour class of men and there is scarcity of intelligent class of men and that of political philosophers also. Diplomats are not political philosophers. Without being guided by the intelligent class of men and political philosophers. The productive class of men and the labourer class of men have formed into groups of capitalist and communists ; both of them being practically disabled from the common cause of cultivating human spirit. These two classes of men are more or less concerned with the bodily necessities of life without reference to needs of the human spirit. The intelligent class of men can be interested only in the culture of human spirit and therefore there is need of the intelligent class of men to reform the diplomats, capitalists and the communists all over the world. 

‘HOW SHOULD ONE CULTIVATE HUMAN SPIRIT is a grand question by the modern materialistic man who had so long thought of the identity of the human being either with the human body or with the human mind. Some of us identified the living being with the human body and some of us speculated on the construction of the psychic activities in thinking feeling and willing and misinterpreted them with the human or living being. If we ask somebody what is his name, he at once answers that his name is John, he is the son of Frank, his native place is in London and his occupation is to earn money by hundreds of thousand. If he is further asked whether he is satisfied with his identification of the body as Mr. John Frank of London, certainly he will reply. If he is a sane man at all, in the negative. 

Any man identified with the body or the mind is not at all satisfied because he is always troubled in the body and the mind in spite of his all endeavours to avoid them. The troubles are the three fold miseries of life. The first trouble is in relation with his body 

namely that he may feel some sort of headache, fever, heat, cold and so forth which he does not want at all. The second trouble is in respect of his mind. Even if one is quite all right se far as his body is concerned, his mind may be in trouble for so many cares and anxieties. 

In the modern set up of materialistic civilization nobody is free from cares and anxieties. There are so many great men in the modern world and almost all of them are so much troubled in the mind that they cannot sleep at night peacefully without being intoxicated by some artificial means. Insomnia is a disease for the man always troubled in the mind. 

The third trouble is in our relation with other living beings. India thought that the arrangement of the Panchashila will allow her to live in peace and friendship with other nations of the world but in spite of her following a policy of neutrality, her immediate neighbour and friend China has occupied a portion of Indian territory and for this the mind of the Indian leaders is in trouble. We have nothing to do with politics in this connection but we have taken up this particular incident just to get an idea of our trouble in relation with other living beings. The Law court is another place where there is ample evidences of human trouble in respect of our dealings with one another. Even there is trouble in the dealings between husband and wife, father and son, friend and friend, man and animal and so forth and so on. It is concluded, therefore, that there are many troubles between one living creature, with another for want of the culture of human spirit. 

And above all these troubles there is another insurmountable trouble imposed by the laws of nature, Famine, pestilence, war, earthquake, volcanic eruptions, flood and so many other things like that are always troubling the human being even though we do not want them. Big brains of world leadership are always busy to get rid of these troubles but so far they have failed to achieve any success over the threefold miseries for want of cultivating human spirit. 

A living being’s intuition is to get over all the above mentioned troubles of life and live in peace and friendship and the prosperity of eternal life and knowledge. 

When I received the letter of invitation from Mr. Toshihiro Nakano, he expressed the following sentiments in his letter under reference. He wrote to say “This seems to be good opportunity for you to present your evidence by attending the glorious meeting to indicate that you have been lending every effort to attain the long-sought goal of securing the ultimate peace and infinite prosperity of humankind, a terrestrial paradise.” 

Living beings other than the human being, although feeling all the above mentioned troubles, are unable to take any measure against them. The human being is gifted with higher talented status of consciousness and he is always trying to get rid of all these troubles because he is meant for such realisation. Foolish human beings in the third and fourth grade of above mentioned classifications take it for granted that it is impossible to get over the troubles but the intelligent class of men do not give up the attempt and they do try it even life after life. There is no doubt that this congress is being organised only to fit out the ways and means of infinity prosperity which is the natural urge of a developed human being. The intelligent class of men probe into the psychic field in various ways to find out the right path of satisfaction. Such attempt in psychology for producing good poetry philosophy and thoughtful matter by the human being, has failed to achieve the end of his life namely peace, prosperity in eternal life, knowledge and happiness. When the living being admits failure both in the gross and subtle spheres of materialistic satisfaction, he is sure to search after the Human spirit which is transcendental to the gross and subtle material elements. 

The identity of human spirit or the living energy of the living being is never to be identified with the body or the mind. Body and mind are two gross and subtle coverings of the living being. The doubtful scientist may make a dissection of the whole body in his biological research laboratory but be cannot find out the living spirit within the body. By dissection of the body we can see only that the body is something like reinforced structure of bones, marrow, nerves, muscle, skin, blood and secretion. The bones are the supporting pillars of the construction and the nerves are like the binding ropes? And on this superficial structure of bones and nerves there is the reinforced plastering with flesh and blood: There are different ventilating holes or windows of the body and from each of them always bad smell is emanating because all the secretions of the body are different grades of urine and stools. This obnoxious structure of the body is accepted falsely as beautiful without the knowledge of the beautiful human spirit now invisible with the light of matter. This obnoxious structure of the body is the germinating source and breeding ground of all kinds of diseases and when it is old enough and shattered by hard struggle for existence against the odds of the above mentioned threefold miseries, it is full of agrievement and the temple of diseases. The material scientist has no remedy for the wretched condition of life. To pull on with such a troublesome body is also another difficulty because the bodily needs are never to be satisfied. It is troublesome in every inch and with all, the whole false structure is susceptible of collapsing within a moment and that also without and previous notice. 

Can the material scientist move this false body made of bones and nerves without the spiritual aid? No, it is not at all possible. Had it been possible to do so by the materialist, then he could move the railway trains without any steam or electric power. Even the steam and electric power is unable to act without the help of a living spiritual being. 

They see to the wonderful acts done by the seemingly imperceptible spiritual living being but do not search after the wonderful actor playing the parts of this wonderful act. In the modern days of throwing sputniks in the outer space we are amazed to hear about the revolving of the space vehicle but we neglect to study the spirit behind the bodily structure of the man who works on the sputnik. Certainly the structure of the body as described above, of the sputnik man, is not at all different from that of another non-sputnik man. The difference lies in the qualities of the spiritual spark of the individual being and we have neglected to make a study of it. The body is a lump of matter and it is a burden of the conditioned soul like the fetters of a convicted prisoner of state. 

The sum and substance of an analytical study of the physical and anatomical conditions of living beings is explained above. And the ultimate end of such body is to turn into moths, stool or ashes. The dead body is either buried in the grave to be transformed into moth, it is given to be devoured by other animals and birds and the result is that it turns into stool or it is burnt into ashes. 

Such a constructive body certainly cannot be imperishable as some of us wrongly think of. We have to seek out the imperishable element beyond the body and that is the process of CULTIVATING HUMAN SPIRIT. And that is the function of the human form of life. Find out the permanent out of the perishable. They are busy in keeping up the perishable body by eating vitamin values. And what are these vitamins? They are after all different active principles of different grades of foodstuff. But on the ultimate analysis, however valuable a foodstuff is there, when it is cooked up as eatables it becomes decomposed in some hours. How is it then possible to keep fit the perishable body by eating such perishable vitamins? The sane man therefore does not try to keep up the body by artificial means, knowing well the sad end of the perishable body in spite of all endeavours. Such sane man makes the best of a bad bargain for the purposes of spiritual culture only and nothing more. The Bhagwat Geeta has given its final judgement that the body is undoubtedly perishable but the living entity embodied is eternal. 

But we must always remember that the human form of body is distinct from all other animal bodies. Biological and physiological features of the bodies of man and animal may be on the same level but psychologically there is great difference between the two classes of bodies. This distinctive feature of the human body is a special prerogative of the human body. It is explained in the Puranas that there are 84 lacs species of life in the biological evolutionary process. There are nine lacs of aquatic species of life, twenty lacs species of immovable plants and trees, eleven lace species of worms, ten lac species of birds, thirty lac species of beasts and four lac species of human beings. The highest class of human beings is the intelligent class of men as mentioned herein before. Such intelligent class of men cultivate the qualities of truthfulness, forbearance, restraint, simplicity, faithfulness, toleration, knowledge and conviction in the existence of God. Therefore to be situated in the highest developed consciousness of a human being is the highest cultural efficiency in the evolutionary process of the living being. Such intelligent class of men can churn out the human spirit from the inert material body as it is possible to churn out fat out of the liquid milk. Before churning of the milk it appears that there is no such thing as butter within the milk but after churning, the butter begins to float on the surface and it is collected for proper use. Similarly on the outward dissection of the human bodily structure we cannot see what is the human spirit but by culture of proper and systematic knowledge derived from the right sources we can gradually feel for it, think of it and work for it.* 

Part 2

In the Katha Upanishad which is a part of the Yajurveda it is advised that in order to find out the spirit in the human body one must approach a proper spiritual master who in ‘Shrotriyam’ and ‘Brahmanistham’. Shrotiyam means one who has properly heard of the Vedic knowledge from the right sources and Brahmanistham means one who has realised the Absolute Truth. 

What we cannot see, touch, smell or taste by our present imperfect senses, can be heard of from the right authority. In the modern scientific advancement of material knowledge also, we learn by hearing. When we hear of the so much advertised sputniks encircling round the moon, we do not, of course, circumambulate around the moon orbit but learn it from the authoritative statements of the scientists and after hearing those statements we apply our own reasonings and make a reasonable conclusion which we call knowledge. And this is the process of acquiring spiritual knowledge also. The main principle is to hear from the authority applying one’s own reasonings and thus make a conclusion. We hear from the right sources that every man dies: apply our reasonings that we are also all men and therefore we shall also die in due course The same method is also applied in this matter of cultivating human spirit from the lump of reinforced concrete work of flesh and blood. The next question is where to go and how to acquire knowledge in the human spirit. We shall humbly request all to go to the mother Vedas. The Vedas are accepted to be the sources of all knowledge. You will have information of every branch of knowledge both physical and metaphysical from the Vedas and to find out the human spirit, also one can consult the Vedas by learning it from the realised spiritual master. The qualification of the spiritual master is already mentioned and to affirm the same validity we may once more repeat that the spiritual master is he who has experienced the spirit by transcendental hearing. 

The best and the topmost spiritual master is Lord Shri Krishna who spoke on the Philosophy of the Bhagwat Geeta to Arjuna in the battle field of Kurukshetra about five thousands of yearn before. The book of knowledge ‘Bhagwat Geeta’ is accepted as authoritative philosophical statements by great souls of the world. In India great souls like Shankar, Ramanuja, Madhya, Vishnuswami, Nimbarka, Sri Chaitanya, and in the modern days, Aravinda, Vivekananda, Gandhi Radhakrishnan and all others have attempted to study the Bhagwat Geeta. There are sections of philosophers in India but none of them denounced the authority of the Bhagwat Geeta. In countries other than India there are twenty six different linguistic translations of this great book of knowledge. Bhagwat Geeta is very well known in England, Japan and Germany specifically. I shall therefore request you all to make a thorough study of the Bhagwat Geeta, without any interpretations. We cannot learn the import of the Bhagwat Geeta by our own interpretations. If an interpretation becomes the magnifying glass for Geeta then the authority of Geeta becomes at once null and void. One an give only explanations of the Geeta on the line of the original test. The Bhagwat Geeta as authority is self-illuminating and there is no need of a powerful searchlight for seeing it as there is no need of a lamp to see the sun. The only point is how to kindle up the light of the Geeta. One who knows the key of handling a machinery can get into the work at once and utilise the necessary advantages. 

The key of the Bhagwat Geeta is already mentioned in the book and we have simply to take delivery of the key from the right person with whom it is kept. In the Bhagwat Geeta, the Lord kept the key with Arjuna. It is said that originally the key was first delivered to the Sungod ( Vaivaswata ) who delivered it to his son Manu, the father of mankind. Manu delivered the key to his son Ikshaku and thus the key was being delivered by the successive chain of authorities and in course of time some how or other the key became lost sight of and the Lord had to deliver a duplicate key to Arjuna because Arjuna proved to be His confidential friend and devotee. Therefore we can take delivery of the key from Arjuna. The Bhagwat Geeta was spoken for the second time before Arjuna and the import which is accepted by Arjuna is the right interpretation of the Geeta. The import of the book as it was accepted by Arjuna is already given in the book and any sincere student can take it without hesitation. 

The Bhagwat Geeta begins with searching out of the Human Spirit, ascertaining its nature as distinct from all physical elements including the mind. It is something wonderful to the materialistic mind but it is felt within oneself by the one who has realised it. It is said in the Bhagwat Geeta that the human spirit is observed by some body as wonderful and others describe it in wonderful way. Some body hears of it in wonderful mode and others cannot realise it even after hearing of it in wonderful patience. The human spirit is, therefore, wonderful for all sections of materialists and there are many other theories about this wonderful subject. The protagonists of materialism and temporary animation of the material body more or less follow the philosophy of monism. The whole subject matter is wonderful because it is just like a mad man is trying to know himself. A mad man has everything by his side but he sees and accepts everything in a different way. A mad man cannot realise himself in relation to his home, relatives, status, occupation, aim of life and all other things because the man is himself in diseased condition. In deranged condition of the brain one cannot know what he is and where he is. The human being at present is practically. in deranged condition of the brain and he must therefore put himself under the treatment of a psychiatrist for treatment. He must undergo the process of treatment and then only he can understand what he is. Lord Shri Krishna played the part of a great psychiatrist for treating Arjuna for curing him from his temporary stroke of madness by acceptance of the material body as identical with the human spirit. The Lord at once differentiated the human spirit from the material elements and called the spirit as Dehee and the body as the Deha. 

Because the Dehee is engaged within the Deha so there are changes in the material body. We learn it from the Bhagwat also that the living being spirit enters into the material body of a female by the vehicle of semen of the male, according to his deeds in the succeeding body. The living being enters into a new body by the direction of superior order* ( Daiva) We have no information of the Superior order, the laws of nature, how do they work, trans. migration of the spirit soul and so many other things beyond our present activities. The present activities are nucleus of our future life as our past life was responsible for the present. 

Lord Shri Krishna gave a very good example in the matter of detecting the human spirit within the human body. He said that because the living being is encased within the Doha or the body, the body of a child grows to become a boy and the boy becomes a youth and the youth an old man by changing of bodily features. Similarly when the body of the living being is old enough not to be prolonged any more, the living being transmigrates from one body to another as a living man changes his dress from one garment to another. Therefore death takes place till the living being is liberated from the material attachment of body and mind with the desire for lording it over the material nature. So after each and every occurrence of death, the whole thing is under the control of the laws of material nature. As we have mentioned above the deeds of a man are taken into consideration before the arrangement of the next body under superior control. The living being is thus promoted or degraded in terms his deeds in the past life. The deeds are of the living being and the reactions is made by the Superior order of the laws of nature. 

There are persons who do not believe in the existence of the spirit soul beyond the physiological condition of the body. To them the very fact of death is a great stumbling block. Unless one can explain the genesis of death properly, we have to accept something extra, than the physiological condition of the body, which being absent from the body—the body is called dead. The construction of the body as far as the senses are concerned, are all present in tact even after death and then why the dead man is no longer breathing. 

If the function of the breathing arrangement has mechanically been stopped, why the advanced scientist can not restore the breathing organ by modern appliances of oxygen gas and artificial breathing apparatus. Even if the breathing is restored still the dead body cannot be brought into life. Because the ‘symptom of breathing is one of the condition of life but it does not mean actual life. There are many animals which do not show any symptom of breathing and as such the fly and the ant do actually live without any breathing. The fish in the water does not breathe and still it lives within the water. A man cannot breath within the water and therefore he dies within water. And the fish dies on the land. Therefore breathing is not always life it is a symptom only. It may be a symptom of life for the man and we can only say that the breathing man is alive. The conclusion that the spirit soul having departed from the dead body it can no more work or move in spite of all other conditions being present. The body is now vacant in the absence of the living being. And if we do not accept this difference of life and death, there cannot be any proper explanation for death. The living being is therefore a combination of matter and spirit and when the spirit is off the matter becomes as it is. That is the right definition of death. 

You cannot say also that at a certain stage of material combination animation become visible and that is called life. There is undoubtedly reactions of chemical physical combinations but the same reaction is not stopped even after death. All the physical elements are present there even after death and still, the dead body cannot move in the absence of the particular individual spirit. To the gross materialists there is nothing beyond the senses but in the dead body the senses are present and the body appears to be a sleeping man. Material science depends on the principles of observation and experiment. The material scientist has observed the physiological condition of life but be has failed to observe the spiritual condition of life. And in the absence of such observation material science has failed to study the conditions of life. The materialists believe in deeds and actual facts. How they can deny the spiritual fact without any reasonable alternative. We must therefore accept the participation of the spirit soul within the material body. The material scientist must submit a perfect definition of death before he can deny spiritual existence of the living being. 

As we have already explained the spirit soul is put in the vehicle of material semen and is forced into the womb of an woman and thus the material body grows nourished by the body of the female. The physical elements are only vehicle of the spirit soul. As such the physical elements being present and many spiritual fragments are taking advantage of this vehicular position and coming out in batches of microbes and germs. There are many species of life which manifest even without sexual intercourse. They are called incubated living beings born out of perspiration and other seramic culture. The microbes which are germinating out of the dead body are different spiritual entities than the one who has left the body and therefore physical elements helping germination of other living beings cannot bring in the particular living entity who has vacated the body to transmigrate into another body by the superior order as we have already explained. Every individual body of the living entity has separate identity and each and every one of them are individually controlled by the laws of nature in terms of every one’s actions in limited freedom. 

By the limited freedom of a living entity endowed upon him by the Superior Will, each and every living being is free to act as he likes within the limitation but after leaving a particular terms of body, he is completely under the control of the laws of nature and therefore must he enter into the body as directed by the Superior Will. 

You cannot also say death has taken place in the absence of proper ventilation within the body. The air is already ventilating within the body through the different holes and they are not airtight packed. Had it been so air tight-packed, no decomposition would take place in the dead body. No body can stop air and ether being passed and even the skin bellows of the black smith shop, is full of air. 

The medical man will say that red corpuscles of the body has changed into white and therefore death has taken place. Does it mean that redness of a physical object does bring in life 7 There are many other physical objects which are by nature red. There are many jewel stones which are by nature red but that does not mean that this redness of the jewel can give it living force. By chemical treatment the dead body also can be made into red and still it is sure and certain that life will not come again in that particular body only for the reason that the spiritual element is off from the body. 

All these false theories and imperfect vision of life has not only failed to give enlightenment in the problems of life but also it has brought about a materialistic civilization dragging human being in the region of darkness. If we still follow the very same false theories in the problems of life and death without any trace of spiritual culture we shall then be dragged more and more in the darkest region of ignorance. We must now agree to accept the words of the great authority ‘THE BHAGWAT GEETA’ and agree to accept the progressive path of spiritual culture with clear distinction of the spirit from the matter. The living spirit is completely a different element superior to the material elements analysed into eight as (1) earth, (2) water, (3) fire, (4) air, (5) sky, (6) mind, (7) intelligence and (8) false ego. These eight elements are inferior in quality and above these, there is the superior quality element known as the living entity. This living entity is the fragment of the Supreme Spirit controlling the whole cosmos as much as the infinitesimal spiritual spark is the controlling force of the living embodiment. Any number or degree of combination of the inferior qualitative energies as above mentioned is unable to produce the superior qualitative energy of living entity. The electronic steel man is never equal to the living insignificant ant even. Modern scientific manipulation of electronics and automation are supervised by a living spirit. Any number of blind men cannot bring about the visionary situation unless and until there is at least one man with visionary power. The inferior quality energies are like combination of blind men. The world of machine is exactly like the combination of decorated blind men and therefore machine is never to be compared with the living man nor there should be any attempt to educate living man to become dead machine at the sacrifice of culture of humanity. The living being is a cognisant soul and be can play wonders by the jugglery combination of the material elements but the material elements alone are as much as dead stones. The cognisant soul designated as Sri Isac Newton by his material embodiment or the same as Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose or Professor Einstein could do wonderful and not the body. If the body could do so they could be preserved by some medicinal effects and thus wonderful services from these bodies could have been derived up to date. 

The cognisant soul is full of knowledge. He is called therefore as Brahman or the one who is eternal, fully cognisant and blissfull. There are innumerable Brahmans or living beings and above all of them there is one Supreme Brahman who is known also as the Paramamatma and Bhagwan. That is a different subject. But so far as the living entities are concerned they are constitutionally of the same quality as that of the Supreme Brahman of the Almighty God. Some of the Godly qualitative Brahmans are in material contact and therefore the fullness of their cognisance, eternity and blissfulness are jeopardised and culture of human spirit means to get these Brahmans freed from material contact and re-establish them in the original pure state of godly qualities. That is the function of the human life. The example of madness as cited above is still applicable here in this connection. To find out the spirit soul out of the lump of material combination of inferior energies is the prime necessity of human life. If we fail to realise this truth in this human form of life by practising the culture of human spirit, then the human intelligence power, strength, education and culture all are total failure and all of them are compared with the decoration of the dead body. 

After death or after leaving the material body the spirit soul shall be forced to accept another body under the stringent grip of material nature and in all possibility regard being had to be present activities, the next body may not be a comfortable human form of body. We must not therefore miss this golden opportunity for cultivating the human spirit or self realisation during the present life. Do not be, therefore, misguided by the false conception of accepting the material body as the human spirit. The whole misadjustment of the world situation is the product of this misconception. Because we have no information of the spirit soul in the madness of materialism, the place of appearance of this temporary body is wrongly accepted as the native place. We forget for the moment that we have to give up this so called native place for another so called native place without any companion. There is no meaning of nationalism for a man who knows it well that he had native places in the past and he will have many such native places in the future also. Any man of power and opulence has to quit this native place for another and therefore culture of human spirit means that one should not be too much attached for the temporary arrangement of the body and commit all sorts of vices for the upkeep of a false status. If by chance one is put into the body of either a cow or goat in the same native place after his death, he will be sent to the slaughter house for being killed by the same act which he might have enacted. That is the law of nature.