“The last illusion, the last snare of maya to trap the living entity, is the proposition that he is God. The living entity thinks that he is no longer a conditioned soul, but God. He is so unintelligent that he does not think that if he were God, then how could he be in doubt? That he does not consider. So that is the last snare of illusion. Actually to become free from the illusory energy is to understand Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and agree to act according to His order.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 18.73 Purport)
There is relative personalism in this world. I am individual. I have a certain name with accompanying facial features. The exact look changes on a constant basis, in so drastic a way that a picture of me from decades ago is unrecognizable.
I make the decision as far as action. There is autonomous movement, in a sense. There must be a qualification to the claim based on the factor of disease. I might lose the ability to move my hands and legs. Certain parts of the body might have to be removed.
Everything has an associated “my”, which indicates duality. There is the advaita principle of Vedanta philosophy, wherein the connected pieces are nondifferent from one another. There is a oneness represented by the functioning body.
At the same time, the individual “my” components can be removed, without impacting identity. I am the same person whether certain pieces function or not. This “I am” is thus different. It represents my true identity.
Within Vedanta philosophy this is the soul. I am spirit soul. I do not have a soul. It is not something I can lose. It is neither acquired nor maintained. I am soul because I am. I exist, and therefore I am Brahman.
न त्व् एवाहं जातु नासं
न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः
न चैव न भविष्यामः
सर्वे वयम् अतः परम्
na tv evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ
na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ
sarve vayam ataḥ param
“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada calls it “a solace for the frustrated.” The frustration is over the presence of other identities. You are someone different. You are also spirit soul, when stripping away the connected components. You have autonomy with respect to choice in action. You undergo the same changes to the body, beginning from the time of birth.
देहिनो ऽस्मिन् यथा देहे
कौमारं यौवनं जरा
धीरस् तत्र न मुह्यति
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
There is the potential to be frustrated by this relative personalism, that I am different from you, and vice versa. In that respect, I might become victim to the last snare of maya, wherein I think that I am God. Unhappy with relative personalism, I speculate that there is no personal aspect at all.
“We are all one, don’t you see? We are all God. Some of us just haven’t realized it yet. The aim of an existence is to again become aware of our equivalence with Divinity. Just meditate on yourself as God, as the Supreme Being, and everything will work out.”
Well, even to the unrefined the parts of the equation don’t add up. If I am God, why did it take me so long to realize it? Why was I forced to spend time within the womb of the mother? Why can’t I remember that particular period of time? Why am I forced to rely on the testimony of others to validate past experiences?
If I am God, why can’t I control what you do? Why can’t every wish come true, immediately? Why is there a difference between sankalpa and vikalpa? I should not have to hanker or lament. Everything should be taken with the same attitude, with equanimity.
न शोचति न काङ्क्षति
समः सर्वेषु भूतेषु
मद्-भक्तिं लभते पराम्
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)
This speculation of impersonalism cannot provide the answer to our eternal search for truth and meaning. It is unnatural and also an incomplete understanding. The frustration is easily corrected, however.
There is relative personalism, and at the same time there is a Supreme Person. He is individual like you and me, but simultaneously different. He is the lone reality to this world, lasting beyond the manifestation and dissolution of the universe.
भूत-ग्रामः स एवायं
भूत्वा भूत्वा प्रलीयते
रात्र्य्-आगमे ऽवशः पार्थ
bhūta-grāmaḥ sa evāyaṁ
bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate
rātry-āgame ‘vaśaḥ pārtha
“Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active; and again the night falls, O Partha, and they are helplessly dissolved.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.19)
No one is expecting the awakening to take place over night. After all, there may have been countless lifetimes spent in ignorance. Fortunately, we are in the human birth at the moment, and this is our best chance at returning to the original consciousness, wherein we are aware of the superior Almighty, who is a person worthy of knowing.
A person worthy of knowing,
Otherwise helplessly going.
In circle without end,
Illusion to extend.
By personalism frustrated,
Because relative demonstrated.
But upon knowing Supreme one,
A proper understanding to come.