“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)
न त्व् एवाहं जातु नासं
न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः
न चैव न भविष्यामः
सर्वे वयम् अतः परम्
na tv evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ
na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ
sarve vayam ataḥ param
Friend1: Have you heard of this analogy involving pots and sky?
Friend2: What is it used to describe?
Friend1: I am guessing the nature of the spirit soul and what will happen after liberation.
Friend2: What is liberation?
Friend1: Mukti. Release from the cycle of birth and death. No longer suffering on the wheel of transmigration, changing from one body to the next. You get different philosophical schools based on the understanding of liberation.
Friend2: Personalist and impersonalist is the primary distinction.
Friend1: Yes, and so the impersonalist might use the comparison to the pot. If you put water inside of a pot, the water will take the shape of the vessel. Yet as soon as you remove the pot, the water takes a different shape. It might return to what it was previously, like the entire ocean.
Friend2: The same applies with the sky. The vessel is nothing more than an artificial barrier. The spirit soul stays inside of the vessel known as the body. That identity lasts for a number of years, on average.
Friend1: The goal of liberation is to shed the vessel, but permanently. Everyone leaves the current one behind at some point.
Friend1: Which is not a significant achievement. No person has to try for it. It will occur eventually; this is the nature of time, who is known as kala. Liberation for the impersonalist is making sure that there is no vessel in the future.
Friend2: Then what happens to the individual?
Friend1: They merge into the collective. Like returning to the sky or the ocean. The individual soul merges into Brahman, which is the total spiritual energy.
Friend2: What happens to the vessels?
Friend1: They get left behind. Or maybe they get used for those individuals who have yet to achieve liberation. The vessels are prakriti or maya; they are not Brahman.
Friend2: Does this make sense to you?
Friend1: I can see why someone would believe it. It seems logical enough. What is the argument from the other side, from the personalists?
Friend2: They use Shri Krishna as the authority figure. He explains in Bhagavad-gita that every person existed in the past and they will continue to exist in the future. Nothing can remove their identity.
Friend1: Okay, but do I lose identity when merging into Brahman?
Friend2: Absolutely; if that is the goal. You can be Brahman-realized prior to giving up the vessel, also. That is a discussion for another time, but suffice it to say the vessel does not have to remain in the category of maya perpetually. It could be part of my spiritual adventure for a length of time; thereby removing any negative influence.
Friend1: If we don’t want to merge into the sky of Brahman, where do we go after liberation?
Friend2: If Arjuna, the direct recipient of Bhagavad-gita wisdom, will remain an individual moving forward, then he must have some kind of vessel. He will live as a liberated soul, following the instruction and guidance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend1: The vessel will just be of a different nature?
Friend2: Shifting in time and place. Krishna appeared in the material world, but He did not interact with maya. If Arjuna will be His companion in the future, they will not associate with maya. The personalist’s view is that there is something known as a spiritual body. In another realm, which is indestructible, there are residents who don’t live under the jurisdiction of karma and time.
Friend2: The place free of anxieties. It is the destination for the devoted souls, and even prior to quitting the body they are able to create a Vaikuntha-like atmosphere, through always maintaining a connection to Krishna and singing His glories: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Truth to keep in mind,
That never a time,
Where not living,
Nature a body giving.
Whether in past or future so,
With same identity as spirit to go.
Question then of to realm where,
Best when Shri Krishna standing there.