“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)
हृद्-देशे ऽर्जुन तिष्ठति
hṛd-deśe ‘rjuna tiṣṭhati
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that this entire world is operating on account of the combination of matter and spirit. You cannot create life in a laboratory. Some aspect of existing life is necessary. Even the experiment requires intelligence represented by the scientists.
But is the claim true? Is there anything that operates on its own, without a director? Is autonomous existence possible?
1. The car on the road
There are so many. A variety of models, as well. Sometimes it is just too much and you are stuck in a jam. Based on the typical hours for the average worker, certain windows of time in each day are known to have more cars on the road [rush hour].
Zooming in for a closer view, we see that each car is impressive. A collection of parts integrated to facilitate travel from one place to another, in much shorter a journey than if attempted by foot or by cycle. The modern cars are equipped with several amenities of luxury, such as heating and cooling systems and sound entertainment.
However impressive the vehicle, there is always a driver. This is a human being, and hopefully one who is sober and conscious. A brief distraction in attention can lead to disastrous results. The car is travelling at high speeds, which then requires alertness from the operator.
2. The driverless car
A person may argue that the technology is advancing so rapidly that soon the driver requirement will be eliminated. The driverless car can already be found in several places. It was the automobile that first eliminated the need for the horse. For a while the innovation was known as the horseless carriage.
Even with the driverless car, there is still an operator in the background. If it eventually functions more like an autonomous robot, it is not like everything came together randomly. There was no big bang explosion that led to the invention.
3. The plane in the sky
Similar to the automobile, the plane in the sky does not move by itself. There has to be a pilot to get it off the ground, monitor the situation in the air, and then safely land when approaching the destination. There is an autopilot feature, but that is not meant to be a permanent replacement for human operation.
4. The production plant
Mass production. The ability to harness the power of machines to produce at a much greater rate than if relying on human effort alone. Yet there is an illusion to the mechanism, as human intervention is certainly necessary. A human being has to start the production, monitor the process for any issues that should arise, and then properly shut down when the work is complete.
5. The scholarly institution
Based on recent world events, it is now established that physical proximity is not a requirement for learning. The teacher can be thousands of miles away and I can be sitting in my bedroom. Yet the interaction qualifies as formal education, as there is a transfer of information.
Even in the case where I only learn from published works and recorded video lessons, there is still a human being on the other side. It is not two rocks interacting with one another, transferring information as if it were water emerging from the top of a mountain and eventually descending to form a river.
These are just a few examples chosen out of the vastly complex material nature. The truth of the necessary connection between matter and spirit first descends from the authority figures. We can then prove through our own experience. Even if we haven’t witnessed everything there is in the world, based on the negation of the principle we see that there is yet to be any proof. That is to say, no one has come across an instance where life emerged from matter alone or where a vital function of nature takes place without the presence of spirit.
At the local level there is the driver of the car known as the body. That driver is the individual; the car does not identify them. From Bhagavad-gita we get further clarity. It is the Supersoul who really makes things happen. We are seated on something like a machine. We press the start button, but unless Supersoul agrees the desired outcome will not manifest.
The wise take advantage of this philosophical information to make a practical difference in life. The takeaway is that spirit is more important than matter, and as a mature human being I have the opportunity to inquire into the spiritual nature. I do not have to stay with the dull and lifeless matter, hoping to find an exception, where spirit loses its significance.
The Supersoul is but a feature, a way to understand and visualize, the origin of both the material and spiritual energies. We often refer to that entity as God, but the Vedic tradition provides much more descriptive and meaningful names. If we make an honest effort to understand that origin, we have made the most of the human birth.
With car a driver needed,
Else without direction proceeded.
The plane not empty to fly,
Always on operator to rely.
Same at individual level there,
Combined matter and spirit where.
Acharya of these truths making aware,
So that on needs of soul to care.
Categories: the five