“Material nature and the living entities should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.20)Download this episode (right click and save)
The goal of spiritual life is an enhanced living experience. It must be something better than what we have right now, but also to extending past the known limit. Hunt for the rhinoceros, because even if you fail people will give you respect for attempting something so difficult. If you succeed, there is even greater satisfaction.
The many rules and regulations are there for advancing towards the highest goal, eternal bliss, which is already part of the individual. The spirit soul is ananda, or blissful, and eternally so, nitya. There is the knowledge aspect to the soul as well, which explains why certain animals can start running immediately after taking birth and why there is the expectation that the infant human will eventually grow up to walk and talk on their own.
To follow the path is not easy, especially with many distractions around. There is also the issue of doubt. How do we know that there is something better? Is it only available in the afterlife, as the doomsday preachers say? What if the promises are empty, just words to insulate against the depression caused by the harsh reality of eventual death?
To help clear doubts the Vedas explain so many aspects of the world in which we live. Taken collectively the many aspects form what is called the material energy. Understanding this energy puts the goal of spiritual life into the proper perspective.
1. Eternally existing
Prakriti is an energy, and it has a source. The electricity flowing through the household, the street, the community, and town does not appear magically. There is a source, which is referred to as the powerhouse or the power plant.
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)
In a similar way the material energy comes from the all-powerful that is God. All energies emanate from Him, in fact. In this way prakriti is eternal. It can never not exist. It does not come into being at a certain time, nor will it ever be completely destroyed.
Everything about nature that leaves us in awe is due to God. The same goes for the negative aspects. Rain is welcomed in the dry heat, but it brings misery during periods of cold. Mountains are beautiful, but since they are so high it is not safe to climb them. Rivers help in transporting goods from place to place, but if you get caught in a current it could be your doom. Thus there is duality in the material nature, with conditions changing all the time. But still, the energy is Divine at the core.
2. Temporarily attached
Vedic teachings highlight the distinction between spirit and matter. Purusha animates prakriti. Material energy is that which is enjoyed, and the individual inside is the enjoyer. In fact, prakriti can’t do anything on its own. A car can’t drive itself. Even though the technology is being tested today, there is some intelligent being in the background serving as the guide.
Though the material energy is eternal, it does not remain forever on the individual. The spirit souls are temporarily attached to matter. This is the meaning of a material existence. The goal of spiritual life is to break free of that attachment.
For this reason certain properties of matter are stressed. Dull and lifeless. Lacking consciousness. Matter is eternal, but the manifestations are not. In the unmanifest state the material energy is known as pradhana. The spiritual glance comes over it, causing the transformation into the manifest state. When the time for dissolution arrives the energy returns to the unmanifest state.
The living beings get caught in a cycle of birth and death, which involves accepting matter, becoming attached, and then rejecting. Spiritual life is for ending the cycle, for regaining the spiritual form, svarupa. This way of life is so powerful that the nature of the energy can change even before death. The previously inhibiting material energy becomes auspicious, ready to help the sincere seeker in their quest to remain attached to the source of all energies, the Supreme Lord, the all-attractive Shri Krishna.
Over everything gaining upper hand,
Helpful for material nature to understand.
Since from God eternally existing,
Never created, through time persisting.
But temporarily attached right now,
To free from spinning cycle how?
Devotional life, positive approach take,
Progress before end of life make.