“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)
Friend1: What is the basic truth of the spiritual science?
Friend2: I think you already know.
Friend1: That I am not this body.
Friend2: And I am not my body, either.
Friend1: The same applies to every living thing.
Friend2: And why is this teaching needed, especially at the beginning?
Friend1: Because through the influence of ahankara, false ego, we think otherwise.
Friend2: And when does that thinking start?
Friend1: At the time of birth. As soon as we enter the world. We immediately associate with the temporary body.
Friend2: The goal is to change to the proper understanding by the time death arrives.
Friend1: Incorporated in this truth is the difference between spirit and matter. Spirit is eternal, whereas matter is temporary.
Friend2: Living beings are spirit. That is what defines a life. The body does not. The hands, the legs, the face, the ears – these are different features covering the eternal soul.
Friend1: The way to live life is to be conscious of this difference. Work for the interests of spirit and not matter.
Friend1: Alright, so here is my question. I believe there is a verse in the Bhagavad-gita where Shri Krishna says that both matter and spirit are eternal.
Friend1: Isn’t that a contradiction? Doesn’t that reverse the truths we have just established?
Friend2: The two Sanskrit words are prakriti and purusha. Do you know what they mean?
Friend1: Prakriti is matter, purusha is spirit. You can also say that prakriti is that which is enjoyed and purusha the enjoyer.
Friend2: There you go. So both come from God. They are different energies of His. Since God is eternal, so are His energies.
Friend1: That’s fine, but you still didn’t answer my question about the contradiction.
Friend2: There is none. Both energies are anadi, or without beginning. The idea is that the material nature existed prior to the present creation. The potential for the creation was there. It doesn’t somehow come into being. In the unmanifest state it is known as pradhana.
Friend1: Then why the teaching about matter being temporary, dull, and without life?
Friend2: Those are true, as well. The manifestations of the material energy do not remain forever. That is the key. Due to false ego we think that our work in this life will yield permanent results. But the house will eventually crumble. The money will run out. The beautiful body will start to age. The beginning-less energy that is the material nature will shift in its composition. At the end of the cycle of creation and destruction that nature will become unmanifest again.
Friend1: And spirit is different?
Friend2: It never changes. It is always sach-chid-ananda, eternally full of bliss and knowledge. In the conditioned state those properties remain, but they are covered up. The goal is to remove the covering. Become spiritually aware. Understand the two energies and also from where they come. Serve that source with heart and soul and no longer be subject to conditions in duality.
For from false ego influence to depart,
Distinction of spirit and matter at the start.
Knowledge, bliss and to die never.
Other dull, lifeless and changing ever.
But also of beginning-less nature hearing,
How then this contradiction clearing?
Coming from God energies eternal all,
But in duality when in this world to fall.