“As soon as the living entity becomes aloof from the activities of the body, he becomes free from the reactions as well. As long as he is in the city of body, he appears to be the master of it, but actually he is neither its proprietor nor controller of its actions and reactions. He is simply in the midst of the material ocean, struggling for existence. The waves of the ocean are tossing him, and he has no control over them. His best solution is to get out of the water by transcendental Krishna consciousness. That alone will save him from all turmoil.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 5.14 Purport)
“I know some people are all about freedom. They consider it the sole determining factor in their chosen place of residence. They are proud of where they live precisely because of the freedom they have. At least this is what they think. The wise person notices otherwise.
“Not that I am necessarily smarter than anyone else, but I notice the negative side. I see restriction instead of freedom. We only think we have a choice in how to act. There are so many contravening forces.
“Take the typical day of the working adult. They are dragged in every which direction. Like being in the front-row of a general admission rock concert. You go wherever the crowd takes you. There is no control over the lower body. You want to move forward or backward, but the combined force of the other attendees is too much to go against.
“I feel material life is that way, from beginning to end. You start by being stuck inside of the mother’s stomach. There is the painful and traumatic entry into the world, followed by utter helplessness. Ideally, we gain some maturity and ability, eventually.
“By the time you have things figured out, you are on the decline. You can’t eat as much as you used to. Suddenly, there is monitoring of various bodily metrics, such as glucose levels and blood pressure. The hair falls off or turns gray. You are tired more often. You just want an escape. Let me spend just a single day without any interruptions or distractions.
“Before you know it, life is over. One foot out the door. On to the next destination, chosen by nature. We were actually helpless the entire time; we just chose to ignore it. How can the living entity be the superior energy, then? This is the explanation of the acharya of the Vedic tradition. It’s a tough sell to someone like me, who is completely jaded.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that it is the mindset which leads to trouble, and it is the same mindset which can turn things around. I think that I am the master of the city known as the body. Because of this false conception, I get tossed in every which direction, as if I am stranded in the middle of the ocean.
As soon as I relinquish this notion, the material world no longer affects me. I may have similar responses to certain actions. I may experience highs and lows. I may become diseased. I may become a millionaire.
None of this will make a difference to me. I will be above it all, since I know both theoretically and practically that this body does not define me. Neither do any of the associated experiences. I am pure spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme.
तस्मात् त्वम् उत्तिष्ठ यशो लभस्व
जित्वा शत्रून् भुङ्क्ष्व राज्यं समृद्धम्
मयैवैते निहताः पूर्वम् एव
निमित्त-मात्रं भव सव्य-साचिन्
tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sācin
“Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasachin, can be but an instrument in the fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33)
Rather than being a toy in the hands of an unforgiving material nature, I am under the direct and complete shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. He controls my destiny. He decides where I go next. He makes the determination as to my conditions of living. I am but an instrument in His will, which is Divine.
माम् एकं शरणं व्रज
अहं त्वां सर्व-पापेभ्यो
मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)
Understand this concept in theory, and then take validation from those who have found transcendence. Notice how they are not affected by the events of the world, unfolding at a rapid pace. Observe how they are the same in victory and defeat, and how no one can ever shake their confidence in the benevolence of the Almighty, who is shining over everything with His brilliant effulgence.
His brilliant effulgence shining,
Nature’s control undermining.
Since only His shelter taking,
A different outlook making.
No longer tossed this way and other,
Not a toy in the hands of another.
Authority of the Supreme to respect,
And further devotion to expect.