From Endless Love
By Ravindra Svarupa dasa
Selves are beings that experience, centers of consciousness, subjects. Matter does not experience; it is without subjectivity, it is completely an object. Selves live; matter is lifeless.
When the selves enter the alien, material energy, they acquire and animate bodies ma& out of lifeless matter. Driven by a desire to forget Krishna and their relation to Him, they identify themselves with bodies of matter- In this way the self becomes a divided being.
Now the self thinks of itself as a product of nature, as an object created and destroyed in time. As the body is damaged by disease and injury, as it disintegrates with age, and as it dies, the self thinks, “This is happening to me.” Thus the self enters,the interminable horror of material existence, a nightmare of carnage from which it cannot awake.
As one body is destroyed, nature transfers him to another, to undergo a similar destruction.
The self moves blindly through these bodies, driven by an overwhelming appetite for enjoyment. In its original condition, the self is filled with a ceaseless love for the supreme, all-attractive self. This love is constitutional; it cannot be removed; it is the self’s very life. Therefore, when the self turns aside from the proper object of his love, that love is not annihilated but becomes transmuted or redirected. When the self contacts the material energy, his love for Krishna is transformed into lust, just as milk in contact with acid turns into curd.
So the erotic drive is indeed part of our essential makeup. But it is a transformation of what is in fact our love for Krishna. Desire, therefore, cannot possibly be annihilated, nor can it be successfully repressed or suppressed. However, it can be reverted to its original state.
Yet as long as we are impelled by the erotic drive, we take on a succession of bodies of matter. We move up the hierarchy of beings; in the lower stages of our evolution, in plant and then animal bodies, our consciousness is heavily covered. We are only dimly and fitfully sentient. When at last we acquire human bodies, our consciousness, that effulgence of the eternal self, becomes uniquely uncovered.
This fuller manifestation of the eternal self in beings that still inhabit material bodies creates a problematic situation, full of the tensions of a divided nature, and provides a kind of suffering that ignorant animals do not experience. The gift of uncovered consciousness causes us to wonder: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why must I die? Such questions lead us toward self-realization.
If we do not at least begin upon this course, then we must take another. The revelation of our spiritually conscious nature shows us the incongruities of our position in matter, and the proper response is to seek freedom from material entanglement and thus resolve the suffering that arise from duality. Unfortunately, too many people respond to the illuminations of a higher consciousness by frantically tryingto snuff it out by pursuing intense animal satisfactions that produce a narrow, excited awareness, and by seeking the oblivion of drugs. This course drops the self again into animal bodies, in which it will devour and be devoured, until it at last returns to human form and once more confronts its eternal nature.
If we seize the chance of human consciousness, we can solve the problem of existence by cultivating knowledge of the self, become freed from encagement in matter, and return to our pure existence in intimate, eternal love with Krishna.
Our return to our normal condition is engineered by Krishna. While we have forgotten Him, He has not forgotten us; He has remained close by our side through all our wanderings in darkness and in pain, waiting for us to show the first flicker of a desire to abandon our illusory project of becoming the supreme. When, in the hidden depths of our being, we start to yearn for Krishna and to regret our folly in turning away, Krishna immediately arranges for us to meet one of His self-realized representatives.
This person tells us explicitly about the conditions of material existence, about our eternal nature, and about our relation with Krishna, thus reviving our latent knowledge. He also initiates us onto the path of spiritual restoration with direct practical instructions. We would probably think that freedom from material conditions was some unrealizable idea, if we did not have Krishna’s representative before us as a living testament to its factuality.