“In sarupya liberation the bodily features of the devotee are exactly like those of the Supreme Person but for two or three symptoms found exclusively on the transcendental body of the Lord. Shrivatsa, for example, the hair on the chest of the Lord, particularly distinguishes Him from His devotees.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.29.13 Purport)
“The introductory teaching of Vedanta study is so important. Athato brahma-jijnasa is the call to arms. Wake up. Pay attention. You have finally made it to the human birth. This is rare. Don’t think it is not something worth celebrating. You should be pleased. You should feel some sense of accomplishment.
“Now, listen up. Make it count. Inquire into Brahman. Learn about the spiritual nature. You did not have that chance before. This is so important, and the person who does follow through learns right away of the difference between spirit and matter.
“Shri Krishna also covers this topic at the beginning of the famous conversation with Arjuna. The idea that identity is really something different from what we normally take it to be. The body is always changing. At every moment, but especially visible in the transition through different stages of life, such as boyhood, youth, adulthood, and old age.
“Learning of this key distinction is the first part of the education curriculum. The final outcome, the effect of the information transfer, if you will, is liberation. This is release from the cycle of birth and death. Superior to the human birth itself, there is no question of being compelled to take birth again.
“My question relates to the life in liberation. I know that one of the possible rewards is becoming an associate to Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. What is the nature of the spirit soul of these associates? I know that they are not bodiless, so what is the makeup of those bodies? What kind of elements go into the constitution?”
The idea is that liberation is the end to the dichotomy. The body-spirit paradigm no longer applies. In the life of liberation, the hand can indeed identify who I am. It is neither ever-changing nor an aspect subject to the influence of time.
After all, it is time, known as kala in Sanskrit, which is the agent forcing the change. Kala led to my present birth. Time manipulated the material elements and those forces controlling the elements to create the situation of my emergence from the womb of my mother.
The presence of spirit inside allows for development of the body, but it is time which brings the end result. I am sitting here reading or hearing these words with the senses I have, and those senses came to me in part because of the influence of time.
In the spiritual world time is present, but it lacks the debilitating influence. It does not change anything relating to the individual. There is oneness in terms of body and spirit. The concept of a spiritual identity is absent. The residents of the imperishable realm are not even aware of dharma. There is no such thing as right or wrong, pious or impious, because there can be no effect on the development of the body.
In one kind of liberation a person receives a body similar to the Supreme Lord’s. This is with the form of Narayana, who has four hands and is opulently adorned. The associates are all just like Narayana, except the real God has a distinguishing mark on His chest.
Devotees are not so interested in such kinds of liberation. They already break free of the body-spirit distinction through their efforts in devotion, which qualify as yoga. If I am a yogi in this life, following the devotional path, then I will be assured of the best and appropriate destination in the future.
Of best future to earn,
No worry of return.
That body-spirit line dividing,
Liberation the end providing.
Even if to Narayana the same,
Still to relish His holy name.
No influence debilitating time,
Narayana in effulgence to shine.