“Both the material and spiritual worlds belong to Krishna. We are not proprietors of anything. It is all the property of the Supreme Lord, just as everything in the state belongs to the government, either in the prison house or outside the prison house. Conditioned life is just like life in a prison house in this material world. A prisoner cannot freely change from one cell to another. In free life one can go from one home to another home, but in prison life one cannot do that but must stay in his cell.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Easy Journey to Other Planets, Ch 2)
Friend1: Have you heard about these people who are staying in their homes for months at a time?
Friend2: On purpose?
Friend1: Yes. Because of the virus.
Friend2: Oh, so it is a safety precaution?
Friend1: They don’t want to be a victim. They think it is unsafe to go outside.
Friend2: Interesting. They are not leaving, at all? Who is picking up the essential items for the home?
Friend1: In some places they are getting everything delivered.
Friend2: Such a luxury is not available everywhere, though. It is more a feature of living in urban areas.
Friend2: Which is more troubling, at least to me.
Friend1: Why is that?
Friend2: Because real estate prices are so high that most people can’t afford to live in large spaces. These people locked at home might be in something not much larger than a prison cell.
Friend1: This is why I am baffled. Not that I will judge anyone’s risk tolerance. Some people go skydiving. They visit amusement parks and sit on rides that seem way too dangerous to me.
Friend2: For the thrills.
Friend1: To each his own, but I can’t imagine intentionally choosing to stay in a prison-like environment for so long.
Friend2: Keep in mind, many of these people have children. Nowhere to go. No play areas. Schools are closed. These so-called benevolent leaders have essentially placed their citizens under house arrest.
Friend1: For an indefinite period of time.
Friend2: All in the name of safety.
“Just give it two more weeks. Then the threat will strike for real. We mean it this time.”
Friend1: The people are accepting it! That’s what baffles me. Why would someone choose to stay in prison? Isn’t any alternative better?
Friend2: This shouldn’t surprise you.
Friend1: Why is that?
Friend2: Because the entire world is something like a prison. Conditioned life for the jiva, spinning on the wheel of suffering, samsara-chakra. Repeated birth and death.
Friend1: I have heard the material realm compared to a fort.
Friend2: With large walls. Difficult to overcome, durga. There is also a goddess of the same name.
Friend1: She is the wife of Mahadeva.
Friend2: People worship her in order to lessen the misery of the experience, but the difficulty remains. Those walls are paid for, in a sense, by desire.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: The jiva chooses the material world. It is the consequence of turning away from the eternal, constitutional engagement of devotional service. That service is the real meaning to dharma.
Friend1: Material existence is therefore adharma?
Friend2: The foundation is in adharma, and there is a prison house built for the crime, so to speak.
Friend1: It seems to me most people don’t know this.
Friend2: That goes with the territory. Illusion. Forgetfulness. You think you are free. You think you are safe, but you are actually in prison.
Friend1: Don’t people want to get out?
Friend2: Of course. Why do you think the scientific community is so desperate to travel to other planets?
Friend1: Okay, but if desire builds the walls of the fort and people want to get out, aren’t those competing forces?
Friend2: Which explains reincarnation. The continuing cycle. There really is only one way out. Change desire.
Friend1: Not eliminate it?
Friend2: Become desire-less in the sense of wanting to please the Supreme Lord, who is the proprietor of both the material and spiritual worlds. His energies create the temporary prison-like setting, and His favor brings final release. This should be the main objective of the human birth. Find liberation. Then the travel to the spiritual planets will be effortless and guaranteed.
Liberation should find a way,
But others choosing in prison to stay.
Where not the situation knowing,
Afraid even of outside going.
But the walls by desire made,
Repeated suffering price to be paid.
Escape only at Krishna’s feet,
On departure plane booking seat.