“The child cries to have the moon from the mother, and the mother gives the child a mirror to satisfy the crying and disturbing child with the reflection of the moon. Similarly, the crying child of the Lord is given over to the reflection, the material world, to lord it over as karmi and to give this up in frustration to become one with the Lord. Both these stages are dreaming illusions only. There is no necessity of tracing out the history of when the living entity desired this. But the fact is that as soon as he desired it, he was put under the control of atma-maya by the direction of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.9.1 Purport)
Friend1: I know you don’t like getting into the “origin of the jiva” debates.
Friend2: Then why are you bringing it up?
Friend1: Just in case a person finds themselves stuck in a situation, where they have to fall on a particular side, no pun intended.
Friend2: To be honest with you, this is one of the silliest issues to have a dispute over.
Friend1: Why is that?
Friend2: Because both sides are correct.
Friend1: How can that be? One says that the individual soul never falls from the spiritual world, Vaikuntha. The other side says that it is possible, though the fall isn’t necessarily what we think it is.
Friend2: It is like the distinction between nitya-siddha and nitya-baddha.
Friend1: Eternally liberated and eternally bound.
Friend2: Which invalidates the entire proposal of spiritual life, if you think about it. If someone is eternally bound, they are basically wasting their time worshiping the Supreme Lord, hearing about His activities, chanting the holy names, etc.
Friend1: I think nitya-baddha means that a person can’t trace out a time when they were liberated.
Friend2: And nitya-siddha means they were always in that position. We view the spiritual master in this way. We don’t think that they were ever in maya.
Friend1: Which opens up a whole new issue. If we are teaching that someone can one day become a guru in their own right, implicit in that instruction is a transition. If there is a transition, then there are two different states.
Friend2: One illusion and one liberated. Before and after.
Friend1: And so doesn’t that mean the spiritual master is not bona fide? Not only my guru, but every guru, considering they have to be taught by someone who has seen the truth.
तद् विद्धि प्रणिपातेन
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)
Friend2: This is exactly my point. You are preaching to everyone that they originated in the brahmajyoti, that they never fell from Vaikuntha. Then you are also saying they can become a guru one day, if they are humble, serve an elevated soul, and then assimilate the principles of sanatana-dharma.
Friend1: When they become a guru, they are a liberated soul.
Friend2: Which means they could never have been in the brahmajyoti. This is why the debate is pointless to me. Moreover, people I respect say that it is a waste of time to try to trace out the history of the jiva.
Friend1: Because that information is not valuable.
Friend2: It won’t lead to some amazing discovery. We know how we are in illusion now; we forget about God and service to Him. That is how we originally fell into illusion; plain and simple. The path is straightforward. Find a way out; you already know that you were born into delusion.
इच्छाद्वेषसमुत्थेन द्वन्द्वमोहेन भारत।
सर्वभूतानि संमोहं सर्गे यान्ति परन्तप।।
icchādveṣasamutthena dvandvamohena bhārata।
sarvabhūtāni saṃmohaṃ sarge yānti parantapa।।
“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)
Friend1: Alright, but how does someone deal with the situation presented before them? What if they are forced to choose sides?
Friend2: If someone is pressing you, tell them that you consider everyone else to be eternally liberated except yourself:
“I can believe that I was never in Vaikuntha. That makes complete sense. I don’t think the same of you. The level of devotion you have is unmatched. You inspire me on a daily basis, as do others. They may not even be aware, but they serve God in some magnitude. They must have been sent here from Vaikuntha on a mission, to rescue fallen souls like me. I will always appreciate them.”
Everyone liberated but me,
Most fallen soul to see.
Cannot escape illusion where,
Not realizing God standing there.
As far as the origin can tell,
Timelessly bound to spell.
But now for Supreme trying,
On blessings of devotees relying.