“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.14)
The fundamental truth of the spiritual science is the difference between matter and spirit. I am spirit soul, which is part and parcel of God. Every other living thing is also soul. When the question arises, “What is soul,” one answer is, “The animating force within each living thing.” The soul is like a magical spark, since it is so small that not even a microscope could capture its image.
“When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.” (Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 5.9)
“Spirit soul” is the answer to the question of existence, so where does that leave matter? It is the opposite of spirit. While as an individual I will continue to live on into the future, matter as it is presently manifest will not. We can take any object as an example. Though the house can stand erect for hundreds of years, one day it will tumble. That is just the way of nature, which makes its changes through time, which continues to elapse.
Spirit is consciousness. Matter lacks it. Matter is dull and lifeless. This basic truth is the building block to a vast array of information, all meant to lead to ultimate enlightenment. In that highest state, which goes by such names as brahma-bhuta and nirvana, the spark of spirit is ready to reenter their eternal engagement, devotional service. That service is directed towards the origin, the source of both the material and spiritual natures.
Interestingly, the material nature is also considered to be divine. Though matter is without life, and though it is only temporarily manifest, ultimately it is being controlled by the Supreme Lord. Everything is connected to Him in some way, so every energy we know of is divine at the source. The living entities, the conscious spiritual beings, are part of the superior divine energy. In illusion, they surrender to the inferior divine energy, forgetting the Supreme Lord entirely.
Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, says that the divine material energy is difficult to overcome. Getting into the specifics, there are the three modes of nature within that energy. These modes are gunas, which are material qualities. Even the quality of goodness has a binding effect. Goodness is basically any pious behavior. Passion is working hard for a temporary result, and ignorance is going backwards, i.e. doing stupid things.
Each guna is like a rope, binding the living entity to the inferior divine energy. Krishna gives the way out. He says that those who surrender to Him can easily cross over, into the shelter of the superior divine energy. The devotees are under that protection, known as daivi prakriti.
“O son of Pritha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.13)
Just because the material nature is eternal does not mean that it is a fit candidate for shelter. The objects and experiences within that nature are manifest only temporarily. When under the protection of the divine nature, the surrendered souls remain enlightened. More importantly, their experience is more pleasurable. This is due to the Supreme Lord’s direct influence. He stays with them in their service. These great souls, known as mahatmas, don’t fall back into illusion since they know that Krishna is the origin. They know that He is inexhaustible, avyayam.
I am spirit soul and so are you,
Different are we from body too.
Though matter’s form not to persist,
Still eternal, into future to exist.
Since all energies from Krishna alone,
Divine in some way all are known.
Devotees getting divine nature’s protection,
Safe because service in Lord’s direction.