Two Questions About Soul and Matter

[Krishna's lotus feet]“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)

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वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय
नवानि गृह्णाति नरो ऽपराणि
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णान्य्
अन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही

vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛhṇāti naro ‘parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny
anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī

1. Can you explain the difference between prakriti and purusha?

Prakriti is the material energy. Purusha is the spiritual energy; it is one way to describe that component of vitality. Both are eternal in the sense that they originate from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the greatest purusha, or Purushottama.

Prakriti is like a lump of clay, but on the largest scale. If clay is in our possession, we can manipulate it to our liking. We can roll it into a ball. We can configure it to stand tall, like a column. It might be pressed down completely, like a flattened sphere.

We can also divide the single lump into several other lumps. The original source is the same collective, and the divided matter is of the same property, wherever it lands. Prakriti is dominated; it is controlled by a controller.

That dominating force is purusha. In this regard, purusha can also refer to a person. A person has control over matter. The rocks move at the direction and will of a superior force. The rocks cannot move on their own.

Purusha is also known as the enjoyer. Prakriti is that which is enjoyed. Hence the two often pair up as male and female. In the higher scheme, the living entities are prakriti, or the energy dominated by the Supreme Controller.

अपरेयम् इतस् त्व् अन्यां
प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम्
जीव-भूतां महा-बाहो
ययेदं धार्यते जगत्

apareyam itas tv anyāṁ
prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho
yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat

“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.5)

2. Is body and spirit a combination?

It may seem as if matter and spirit combine. After all, they are interlinked at such a level that one can barely notice the difference. We identify others based on the visual manifestation of the prakriti. Someone’s eyes. The color of their skin. The way the body moves. The type of function it serves within society.

That prakriti is dominated for the entire duration known as a lifetime. This means that an identification is not fixed. One day I am a student in school. Later, I am an adult, gainfully employed. Tomorrow, I will be an old man, retired and with limited functional ability.

[Krishna's lotus feet]His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that rather than a combination, it is more an “encagement.” The purusha living entity is spirit soul, which is pure and untainted. The individual is never affected by what surrounds it, though the properties of knowledge and bliss can be covered temporarily.

Matter and spirit are a combination in the sense of how they accompany one another for a certain amount of time, but spirit is always separate. Shri Krishna explains that the changing of prakriti is like putting on clothes and taking them off.

When purusha is encaged by the division of prakriti identified as human, there is a chance to work in such a way that the inhibitors to knowledge and bliss get removed. This is the ultimate purpose of instruction. We can teach a high-level animal to obey basic commands, but only the human being has the opportunity to learn who they truly are.

Upon learning of my real identity, I can configure my activities to align with that identity. In other words, if I am spirit soul, I should follow work that benefits the soul. If I am temporarily dominating matter, I should limit the interaction so as to constantly remember my position as prakriti in relationship to the Supreme Soul, who is the origin of everything.

If I consider myself the enjoyer, if I continue to work only for the senses, if I intentionally disregard the instruction to look inside, at the soul, then I will stay in ignorance. The accompanying conditions are misery, despair, regret, and overall depression.

This is one reason the acharyas describe material life as conditioned. The pure spirit soul becomes subject to conditions in duality, such as happy and sad, victory and defeat, peace and chaos, and so forth. Everything is sandwiched in between the paired events of birth and death.

The knowledge of the difference between body and spirit is vital towards achieving success in life. It is the first instruction offered to serious students of Vedanta, which is the conclusion of knowledge. It accounts for the beginning portion of the famous conversation between Arjuna and Krishna. That great bow-warrior eventually decided to make use of the body for Krishna’s service, acting but as an instrument in what was already destined to occur.

In Closing:

With Krishna’s guidance to concur,
As instrument in what already to occur.

Of the body the best use making,
From that blessed wisdom taking.

Such that purusha inside to know,
And how prakriti changing so.

To Supreme Spirit this soul bound,
Fortunate that now I have found.

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1 reply

  1. Radhe Radhe ❤️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❤️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram

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