“The mode of passion is born of unlimited desires and longings, O son of Kunti, and because of this one is bound to material fruitive activities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.7)
Friend1: The living entity is bound.
Friend2: Which one?
Friend1: The jiva.
Friend2: In the conditioned state.
Friend1: What other state is there?
Friend2: Liberated. Jivan-mukta. You can be liberated, free from the influence of the material nature, even while in the present body.
Friend1: Okay, when people hear terms like “bound” and “conditioned,” they may not know what you are talking about.
Friend2: It’s pretty easy to explain.
Friend2: First is the distinction between spirit and matter.
Friend1: The individual is spirit soul, atma. Since they can choose between spiritual and material life, they are jiva. Matter is prakriti, which is different from the enjoyer within, who is purusha.
Friend2: Yes, the body is matter. The body is limiting, something like a holding cell. If you are driving on the road, you can only go where the car allows you to. You are bound by the interior dimensions. The same goes for wearing certain clothes. The spirit soul is actually free, but material nature has a binding effect.
Friend1: Do you have more examples?
Friend2: Sleep. Some people need at least eight hours. Some people can function on four. Regardless, everyone has to sleep. Even if you don’t want to, eventually there is no fighting it. This is one effect of accepting a material body.
Friend1: What else?
Friend2: Heat and cold. The summer and winter seasons.
Friend1: And Krishna says a person should tolerate these, knowing them to be due to sense perception only:
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
Friend2: Exactly. The living entity is bound by the world, even though they are the superior energy. Matter is dull and lifeless.
Friend1: If it’s inferior how does it gain a dominating influence? Like with the sleep example. Shouldn’t there be a way to conquer?
Friend2: That’s why one of Arjuna’s names is Gudakesha. He is a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Empowered by God a person can overcome the material nature. It seems unlikely to us, but proof is there from the lives of so many saints, past and present. And go beyond something trivial like sleep. The devotee is able to conquer the source of conditioned life: birth itself. No more cycle of birth and death for someone who has the Divine consciousness while quitting the body.
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
Friend1: Alright, but Arjuna had Krishna, the all-attractive, original and personal form of God, by his side. Arjuna got guidance directly from Krishna on the chariot situated in the middle of the battlefield in Kurukshetra. How can we get the same help? We are bound in this world, for sure.
Friend2: But not alone.
Friend2: Krishna accompanies us as the Supersoul. In fact, without this feature of God no results to action would manifest. We know there are laws in the material nature, and such intelligence in the output requires intelligence at the input, i.e. the source. No one is more intelligent than God. The material nature gives evidence of this.
Friend1: Okay, if He is with us then how are we still bound? Shouldn’t we be liberated, especially if the Divine is in such close proximity?
Friend2: The bound, fallen, or sinful condition, whichever way it is described, is tied to consciousness only. Location is a different story. I can be in the kitchen, standing right next to the fully-stocked refrigerator and still be hungry. I have to take advantage of what is there to cure the negative condition. It works the same way with life in the material world. We are bound by so many factors, but the cure is very close by. A turn in consciousness brings the direct supervision and guidance of the Supersoul, who helps the process along by sending a spiritual master, who is the guru without. Working together there is great likelihood of transforming the state from conditioned to liberated.
Potential for state transforming,
When to spiritual life warming.
Inside Supersoul guidance providing,
Outside doubts to guru confiding.
Otherwise to remain bound perpetually,
To ask when to get liberation eventually?
Since rooted in consciousness through desire set,
Peace only through service in bhakti to get.