Conversation with an Avowed Atheist

Atheist: I believe what I see. If you can show me something higher, maybe I’ll believe it. I enjoy my life, have a nice car, a family, and a good bank balance. I sleep late every morning, no worries. I’m always trying to enjoy and always succeed. I’m a very happy person—quite satisfied. So why do you do all of this dry reading? You don’t go out to the movies or seem to enjoy at all. You only have this one life to enjoy, so you should do it while you can!

Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa: Do you sleep at night?

Atheist: Yes, I love my sleep.

Babaji: Do you enjoy sleeping?

Atheist: Very much.

Babaji: When you wake do you feel happy?

Atheist: Yes, I feel refreshed and satisfied.

Babaji: So the happiness you get from sleep, does it come because you have a motor car and a good bank balance?

Atheist: Well, if I didn’t have my motor car, I wouldn’t be happy or sleep so well.

Babaji: If your car is awarding happiness, and I give you many cars and a bigger bank balance, then you will not need to sleep because you will feel so happy?

Atheist: But I also enjoy sleeping.

Babaji: Sleeping means forgetting what you have. You cannot sleep nicely if your mind is full of worries and not peaceful. The more you forget, the deeper you sleep. If you derive happiness by forgetting what you have, it proves there must be happiness without the car or bank balance. Do you believe that is possible?

Atheist: Yes, that’s possible and I actually experience it.

Babaji: So when you say you are not enjoying, something about your concept of happiness must be wrong, because you also enjoy without the motor car, bank balance etc., while sleeping. The enjoyment which you derive through sleep, I experience that enjoyment all the time.

Atheist: How’s that?

Babaji: Because when you are awake you are thinking that your happiness is coming from your car, etc. When you sleep you forget everything and you enjoy that, but without all the objects. In fact, if you remember those objects you will not be able to sleep properly. You’ll worry about them, and will feel very miserable if you’re not able to sleep well for even one night, right?

Atheist: Yes.

Babaji: If you don’t sleep well, the next day all these objects will not be able to give you happiness, since you’ll be too tired to enjoy them. This demonstrates that the happiness you derive from sleeping is more essential than the happiness derived from all of your paraphernalia. But if I can derive that same happiness when I’m awake without car or bank balance, then my happiness is superior, because it’s not dependent on any objects.

This happiness from material objects and relationships must be inferior because a person can exist without them and still be satisfied. But no one can exist without sleep, which means that sleep is more important than these objects. There are many people who don’t have a wife or car, etc., but just as you sleep, so do they, and even someone who has more than you also sleeps. Sleeping is essential, and it means forgetting what you have. If you can’t forget you will not be able to sleep; instead, you’ll have insomnia, which is what many people suffer from and why they take so many drugs and sleeping pills. They want to forget and just sleep, and the deeper they sleep the happier they feel.

Therefore, you can see that the happiness you experience during sleep is superior to the happiness you feel when you are awake and attracted to all of these things. But if you can derive the same happiness of sleep when you are awake, without all these objects, isn’t that superior? If you can derive a particular kind of enjoyment from an object, and you find you can derive the same enjoyment without that object, isn’t that a superior happiness?

Atheist: Yes.

Babaji: So I’m saying that if you are receiving your happiness with the help of all these objects, and I am getting the same happiness without them, my happiness is superior to yours, my dear Sir. The first point is that happiness is not dependent on any object. Do you accept this?

Atheist: Yes.

Babaji: The second point, happiness without the object is superior, right?

Atheist: Yes.

Babaji: As far as being able to derive happiness goes, that is my own personal experience. Secondly, everyone wants to be happy. With this logic you should see that I am studying, etc., and you are doing something else, which I also am capable of doing. But if I’m not doing that, it means I must derive happiness from what I am doing, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. I’m not forced to do it. I can drop this at any time and do the same things you are doing, but I’m not doing that because I enjoy what I am doing. My enjoyment is superior to yours because I am not dependent on the paraphernalia that you need to enjoy yourself.

Your happiness is dependent on these objects, which will be lost one day. One day your wife or children will die. You yourself in time will lose the very basis of your enjoyment, this body. So if I can derive happiness without this, it must be superior happiness. This is logical.

Atheist: But right now I’m happy and I don’t have to worry about the future.

Babaji: My friend, I can understand you are an intelligent fellow, so with your intelligence you must use your power to discriminate, and figure out how to derive more happiness, and not to act in a way that will cause you suffering.

I’m therefore suggesting that you use your intelligence because, as I’ve explained, happiness that comes without depending on an object is superior, and external objects can be lost at any time. They are only temporary. If your happiness depends on an object, you become the slave of that object and lose your freedom. Loss of freedom means suffering. When you lose the objects you possess, you will feel unhappy. You are bound to your source of pleasure. So please try to understand what I’m suggesting and take heed. I’m sitting here in this heat without a fan or cooler and still I’m happy, but you cannot be happy like this.

Atheist: But if I have my generator and my air cooler, I’m even happier.

Babaji: No, you are not happier. That you cannot claim, but certainly your happiness is dependent on them. That you cannot deny. Try to imagine being without all of that and still being happy. Isn’t that superior?

Atheist: But where is your happiness coming from?

Babaji: My happiness is coming from where it actually exists. Do you know what happiness is?

Atheist: Happiness in this world takes place when things are favorable to the senses.

Babaji: Right. You may have your air-conditioned car and feel happy about it, but if someone comes and tells you that your son is dead, you will feel very unhappy.  Or you may get a stomachache or a bad headache and your air cooler and car will no longer make you happy. So your happiness comes when things are favorable to your senses, and distress comes when things are not favorable.

Now whether things are favorable or unfavorable is not under your control. You may go out and get into an accident, not through your own doing, no matter how well you drive. Some crazy man may smash into you, or a dog may suddenly run out in front of you, etc. It is not under your control. Even when you are sitting in the comfort of your home, there may be a sudden earthquake or a power failure, etc. Similarly, problems with your own body are not under your control, right?

Atheist: Right.

Babaji: You say this body can give you happiness, but just try to imagine how much misery it also can give you. Consider how much happiness you can get from your thumb, your hand or your chest. Now consider how much pain these can cause you. It appears that the amount of misery this body can give you is much greater than the amount of happiness.

Also, we can see that happiness and unhappiness are not under your control. If they were, you would never be in distress, right? No one wants distress, or works for it, but still it comes. So you are not the lord and master. There is something beyond you that you are not aware of. Intelligence will tell us, why don’t you try and find out who is that beyond us?

Atheist: Why must it be “who?” Nature controls these things.

Babaji: OK, call it as you like, but the point is that there is something beyond you, which you have no control over. You want happiness, but distress comes. Why?

Atheist: Because it’s been going on like this eternally.

Babaji: So eternally there has been some order. The seasons are coming, the sun rises at a particular time, etc. You accept that nature has an order, and that nature has control over you. It can send rain and cause trouble, or no rain at all and cause even more trouble. It is an energy that can wreak havoc on you. You acknowledge there is something beyond you that is quite orderly. If it were disordered, this world would not function. Now what does your intelligence say: when you recognize some order, is there some greater intelligence behind that, or is it just random?

Atheist: It is Intelligence.

Babaji: Good. I don’t like to speak only of things from the scriptures, as that sounds very orthodox and to just speak of faith doesn’t sound so logical. I’m a rational person and I can see that you also are like that.

So if you can maintain your house or your company nicely for 50 years, then we would say that they are very nicely managed, and there must be intelligent people behind it. Without someone taking personal care of matters, people would go elsewhere.

We also observe perfect order in nature. And science has proven that if we were one percent closer to the sun we would all burn up, and one percent further away, we would freeze. The combination of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere is perfect for life to survive. If it was just a little bit different there would be no life. This and many other factors which are crucial for our survival did not happen by coincidence.

Since that has been going on for so long, it must mean that there is some very intelligent person behind it. Intelligence exists only in a person.  Intelligence means personality. So this proves there is an intelligent person, and since this has all been going on eternally, He also must be eternal, right?

So you should find out about that eternal intelligence and read this book, Bhagavad-gita, which explains all about Him. Then you also can become intelligent.

This supremely intelligent person once came here to this planet and spoke about how we could contact Him. He gave a formula to contact Him, which I know and can give to you.

If I say there was a fire on the street yesterday, I can prove it by witnesses who were present. But if the fire happened 50 years ago, all the witnesses would be gone, so you have to believe the history book. Here, I have a history book about God.

Atheist: Hmm …. (scratching his head).

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