“This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.10)
“Do you ever feel as if nothing we do actually matters? Think about it from the potential side. Take the largest scale possible. You have the beginning, known as the time of birth. The child is helpless. They are under the care of guardians, who are usually the parents.
“The adults have their own things going on. Daily life to tend to, such as work, school, maintaining the home and family, and so forth. There is not much to be threatened by or concerned over with the new addition. The child can barely do anything in the first few years.
“At some point people start wondering about the future, as to how the child will be raised. Imagine if the goal is to produce a stellar businessperson. A titan of industry, someone who really influences society. They will not only be able to support themselves, but so many others will be working for them.
“Let’s say that the reality meets the potential. Has anything meaningful been accomplished? Has such a person really lived any differently than your average laborer? Sure, there is prestige. There is an inflated bank balance. There is greater attention from the general public.
“But the destination is identical. Complete and total destruction. The business does not accompany you to the next place. Everything gets left behind. Under such a view, what is the meaning to it all? Why even try for anything? We are all destined for annihilation, regardless.”
Shri Krishna explains that the material nature works under His direction. He may not be directly supervising every little detail, but He doesn’t have to. He creates a sort of AI system that manages everything appropriately. The work is as effortless to Him as lying down and breathing.
Within that nature, there are moving and nonmoving beings. Humans aren’t the singular source of living creatures. The spark of spirit could be placed inside of a tree. There is potential to take birth within the water, in the air, or on land. We may be capable of movement or perhaps we are forced to remain in place.
There is a fixed period of duration. Entry and exit. There is no permanent stay. This cycle of coming and going continues so long into the future that we cannot properly comprehend. Again and again the host of beings comes, remains for some time, and then departs by force.
The information is not meant to depress. Rather, it should trigger a realigning of priorities and interests. Maybe becoming the wealthiest person in the world is not so important. Perhaps that feud I have with a colleague at work shouldn’t dominate my thoughts day and night. Maybe it doesn’t really matter who wins the big game or what movie is playing on the television screen.
For as long as there is the material consciousness, there is participation in the cycle within the material nature. These are the rules; nothing can be done to change them. It is a kindness on the part of the Almighty, as He does not force desires upon anyone.
That being said, I have the chance within the human birth to break free. I don’t have to be annihilated again and again. My memory is so depleted that I cannot ponder back beyond the current lifetime. I don’t know how many exact iterations of the loop have taken place, where I was five hundred or one thousand years ago. I cannot trace out the origin of the jiva to any degree of certainty, but fortunately I do not have to.
न रूपम् अस्येह तथोपलभ्यते
नान्तो न चादिर् न च सम्प्रतिष्ठा
अश्वत्थम् एनं सु-विरूढ-मूलम्
असङ्ग-शस्त्रेण दृढेन छित्त्वा
ततः पदं तत् परिमार्गितव्यं
यस्मिन् गता न निवर्तन्ति भूयः
तम् एव चाद्यं पुरुषं प्रपद्ये
यतः प्रवृत्तिः प्रसृता पुराणी
na rūpam asyeha tathopalabhyate
nānto na cādir na ca sampratiṣṭhā
aśvattham enaṁ su-virūḍha-mūlam
asaṅga-śastreṇa dṛḍhena chittvā
tataḥ padaṁ tat parimārgitavyaṁ
yasmin gatā na nivartanti bhūyaḥ
tam eva cādyaṁ puruṣaṁ prapadye
yataḥ pravṛttiḥ prasṛtā purāṇī
“The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. But with determination one must cut down this tree with the weapon of detachment. So doing, one must seek that place from which, having once gone, one never returns, and there surrender to that Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything has begun and in whom everything is abiding since time immemorial.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.3-4)
There is a way forward. There is the path of transcendence. There is a way to escape the cycle of birth and death. If I stay connected to the singular source of everything, at whose direction the material nature operates, then I no longer have to take birth in the temporary place.
Rebirth chance to erase,
Not again in temporary place.
Where control nature under,
Time my wealth to plunder.
Leaving it all behind,
And again start to find.
When shelter of the original source taking,
Then no more future karma making.