Krishna Consciousness: The Perfection of Mercy
Mahäräja Prahläda informed his classmates about the all-pervasiveness of the Supreme Lord. But although the Supreme Lord is all-pervasive by means of His expansions and His energies, that does not mean He has lost His personality. That is significant. Although He is all-pervading, still He is a person. According to our material perception, if something is all-pervading, then it has no personality, no localized aspect. But God is not like that. For example, the sunshine is all-pervading, but the sun also has a localized aspect, the sun planet, and you can see it. Not only is there a sun planet, but within the sun planet is a sun-god, whose name is Vivasvän. We get this information from Vedic literature. There is no way to understand what is taking place on other planets except to hear from authorized sources. In the modern civilization we accept scientists as authorities in these matters. We hear a scientist say, “We have seen the moon; it is such and such,” and we believe it. We have not gone with the scientist to see the moon, but we believe him.
Belief is the basic principle of understanding. You may believe the scientists, or you may believe the Vedas. It is up to you which source you believe. The difference is that the information from the Vedas is infallible, while that received from the scientists is fallible. Why is the scientists’ information fallible? Because an ordinary man conditioned by material nature has four defects. What are they? The first is that a conditioned human being has imperfect senses. We view the sun as a small disc. Why? It is far, far greater than this earth, but we see it as just a disc. Everyone knows that our seeing power, our hearing power, and so on are limited. And because his senses are imperfect, the conditioned soul is sure to commit mistakes, however great a scientist he may be. Not very long ago in this country, there was a disaster when the scientists tried to send a rocket up but it at once burned to ashes. So there was a mistake. The conditioned soul must make mistakes, because that is the nature of conditioned life. The mistake may be very great or very slight—that doesn’t matter—but a human being conditioned by material nature is sure to commit mistakes.
Further, the conditioned soul must become illusioned. This happens when he continually mistakes one thing for something else. For example, we accept the body as the self. Since I am not this body, my acceptance of the body as my self is an illusion. The whole world is going on under the illusion that “I am this body.” Therefore there is no peace. I am thinking that I am Indian, you are thinking that you are American, and a Chinese man is thinking that he is Chinese. What is this “Chinese,” “American,” and “Indian”? It is an illusion based on the body. That’s all.
The propensity to cheat is the fourth defect of conditioned life. I may be a fool, but I will boast that I am very learned. Everyone who is illusioned and commits mistakes is a fool, but still such fools pose themselves as being sources of infallible knowledge. So all conditioned souls have imperfect senses, they are subject to commit mistakes and become illusioned, and they are influenced by the propensity to cheat.
How can one expect real knowledge from such conditioned souls? There is no possibility of receiving actual knowledge from them. Whether a person is a scientist, a philosopher, or whatever, because he is conditioned he cannot give complete information, no matter how educated he may be. That is a fact.
One may now ask, How can we get complete information? The process is to receive knowledge via the disciplic succession of spiritual masters and disciples beginning with Krishna. In the Bhagavad-gétä Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, “This knowledge of Bhagavad-gétä was first spoken by Me to the sun-god, and the sun-god spoke it to his son, Manu. In turn, Manu spoke this knowledge to his son Ikñväku, and then Ikñväku spoke the same to his son. In this way the knowledge has come down. But unfortunately that disciplic succession is now broken. Therefore, O Arjuna, I am now imparting the same knowledge to you because you are My very dear friend and good devotee.” This is the process of receiving perfect knowledge—to accept the transcendental vibration coming down from higher sources. The entire stock of Vedic knowledge is a transcendental vibration to help us understand the Supreme Lord.
So, Prahläda Mahäräja says that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is identical with the all-pervading Supreme Soul, the Paramätmä. The same information appears in the Brahma-saàhitä—that the Supreme Lord, although situated in His own transcendental abode, is all-pervading. Still, although He is present everywhere, we cannot see Him with our imperfect senses.
Prahläda Mahäräja then says, “Although He is not seen, He can still be perceived. One who is intelligent can perceive the presence of the Supreme Lord everywhere.” How is this possible? During the daytime, even someone in a room can know that the sun is up. Because it is light in his room, he can understand that the sun is shining in the sky. Similarly, those who have received perfect knowledge in disciplic succession know that everything is an expansion of the energy of the Supreme Lord. Therefore they see the Lord everywhere.
What can we perceive with our material senses? We can see what is visible to the material eye—earth, water, fire. But we cannot see air, although we can perceive it by touch. We can understand that there is sky by sound, and we can understand that we have a mind because we are thinking, feeling, and willing. Similarly, we can understand that we have an intelligence which guides the mind. If we go still further, we can understand, “I am consciousness.” And one who is further advanced can understand that the source of consciousness is the soul and, above all, the Supersoul.
The visible things around us are expansions of the inferior energy of the Supreme Lord, but the Lord also has a superior energy—consciousness. We have to understand consciousness from higher authorities, but we can also directly perceive it. For example, we can perceive that there is consciousness spread all over the body. If I pinch any part of my body, I will feel pain; that means there is consciousness throughout my body. In the Bhagavad-gétä Krishna says we should try to understand that consciousness is spread all over the body and that it is eternal. Similarly, consciousness is spread all over this universe. But that is not our consciousness. That is God’s consciousness. So God, the Supreme Soul, is all-pervading by His consciousness. One who understands this has begun his Krishna consciousness.
Our process is to dovetail our consciousness with Krishna consciousness—that will make us perfect. It is not that we merge into that consciousness. In one sense we “merge,” but still we keep our individuality. That is the difference between impersonalist philosophy and Krishna conscious philosophy. The impersonalist philosopher says that perfection means to merge into the Supreme and lose our individuality. We say that in the perfectional stage we merge into the Supreme but keep our individuality. How is that? An airplane starts from the airport and climbs up and up, and when it goes very high we cannot see it: we can simply see sky. But the airplane is not lost—it is still there. Another example is that of a green bird entering into a big green tree. We cannot distinguish the bird from the tree, but they both continue to exist. Similarly, the supreme consciousness is Krishna, and when we dovetail our individual consciousness with the Supreme, we become perfect—but keep our individuality. An outsider may think that there is no distinction between God and His pure devotee, but it is due only to a poor fund of knowledge. Every individual person, every individual being, maintains his individuality eternally, even when dovetailed with the Supreme.
Prahläda Mahäräja says that we cannot see consciousness—either supreme consciousness or individual consciousness—but that it is there. How can we understand that it is there? We can understand the supreme consciousness and our individual consciousness simply by perception of blissfulness. Because we have consciousness, we can feel änanda, or pleasure. Without consciousness, there is no feeling of pleasure. Because of consciousness we can enjoy life by applying our senses in whatever way we like. But as soon as consciousness is gone from the body, we cannot enjoy our senses.
Our consciousness exists because we are part and parcel of the supreme consciousness. For example, a spark is only a tiny particle of the fire, yet the spark is also fire. A drop of the Atlantic Ocean possesses the same quality as all the ocean water—it is also salty. Similarly, because the pleasure potency exists in the Supreme Lord, we can also enjoy pleasure. The Lord is parameçvara, the supreme controller; therefore we are also éçvaras, or controllers. For example, I have some controlling power to take a drink of water when I cough. According to our capacity, everyone of us has some controlling power. But we are not the supreme controller. The supreme controller is God, Krishna.
Because Krishna is the supreme controller, He can control all the universal affairs by His different potencies. I also feel that I am controlling my bodily affairs to some extent, but because I am not the supreme controller, if there is something wrong in this body, I have to go to a physician. Similarly, I have no control over other bodies. I speak of this hand as “my hand” because I can work with this hand and move it according to my desire. But I am not the controller of your hand. If I desire to move your hand, that is not in my power; that is in your power. You can move your hand if you like. So I am not the controller of your body, and you are not the controller of my body, but the Supreme Soul is the controller of your body and my body and every body.
In the Bhagavad-gétä, the Lord says that you, the soul, are present in your body and that your body is the field of your activities. So whatever you are doing is limited by the field of your body. An animal bound up in a certain tract of land can move there but cannot go beyond what that space allows. Similarly, your activity and my activity are bound up within the limits of our bodies. My body is my field of activities, and your body is your field of activities. But Krishna says, “I am present in every field.”
Thus Krishna, as the Supersoul, or Paramätmä, knows what is going on in my body, in your body, and in millions and billions of other bodies. Therefore He is the supreme controller. We have our limited energy, but His energy is unlimited. By His controlling power, by His supreme will, this material creation is moving. That is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gétä, where Krishna states, “Under My superintendence the whole material nature is working. All wonderful things that you see in this material world are due to My supervision, My supreme control.”
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