“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)
पुनर् आवर्तिनो ऽर्जुन
माम् उपेत्य तु कौन्तेय
पुनर् जन्म न विद्यते
punar āvartino ‘rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
Friend1: I am well aware of the “origin of the jiva” debate.
Friend2: Would you mind explaining what that is? For anyone listening who may not be familiar.
Friend1: The individual is spirit soul. We are not this body. I am not my hands, my legs, my face, etc. Obviously, it is easy to identify in that manner. I see someone in the distance. It is their physical form which I notice. The sound produced on the telephone is rooted in body parts functioning in concert. But the Vedic science reveals that it is the soul inside which is giving the power.
Friend2: Something like the difference between the appliance and the electricity. The appliance is wonderful, but it can’t do anything without a power source.
Friend1: Except that this animating spark is everything. It is the individual. Anyway, upon further study we learn that the soul is sanatana.
Friend2: Without beginning and without end.
Friend1: Infinity. A concept impossible to understand with mental application. Always a beginning to a beginning and an end to an end. Oh, and this soul is known as jiva.
Friend2: Why is that?
Friend1: Because it can become conditioned. It has the vulnerability to falling into illusion. That is known as the “fall of the jiva” in common conversation.
Friend2: From where did it fall?
Friend1: So clever, aren’t we? That is the foundation of the debate. Some say that the jiva is originally with the Absolute Truth. God is also spirit soul, but of a different magnitude and nature. He never falls down. There is no such distinction as material and spiritual for Him.
Friend2: What do others say?
Friend1: That no one ever falls from the spiritual world. The jivas must come from some other place.
Friend2: Okay, but if they are eternal, how do they have an origin?
Friend1: Listen, let’s not focus on that debate today. I want to study the other end of the spectrum.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: Say that I am successful in this life in perfecting the realization of the Absolute. I am no longer in maya. I am Krishna conscious, as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada likes to say.
Friend2: Alright. Are you that way today or at some time in the future?
Friend1: In my hypothetical situation, I have reached the pinnacle. I am going to the promise-land. I maintained the consciousness of God the person through to the time of death.
Friend2: Awesome. That means liberation.
Friend1: Here is my question. We know from several direct statements of the Supreme Lord that one who reaches His abode never returns.
Friend2: Yes; you’ll find those in the Bhagavad-gita. Remember Him during “anta kale”, at the end. There is also a comparison made to the material planets. From the highest to the lowest, they are all mrtyu-loka. This is a place of death, which is tied to birth. Someone who reaches Krishna’s realm does not have to suffer death.
Friend1: Okay, so does that not invalidate free will? If I am somewhere that I never leave from, am I not under the control of some higher force? Why wouldn’t Krishna put me under that control today?
Friend2: It is your choice. By the exercise of free will, you are choosing a place to stay. If I board the train, I am at the mercy of the conductor. I no longer have control over where to go. But it was still my choice. With the promise of liberation, I am choosing to go to the realm from where I never have to return.
Friend1: That’s fine. I understand that. But it seems that if I never get to leave, then I no longer have freedom. When freedom vanishes, so does the opportunity to love. Do you see what I am getting at?
Friend2: The distinction is that one never has to leave. No matter your choice, you are compelled to quit the present body. That is the rule of mrtyu-loka. With Krishna-loka, that rule is absent. You can stay there for as long as you want. Free will, independence, and the like remain. Otherwise, no one would be able to show their love to Krishna in the way that they prefer.