Deeper understanding of Transcendence

Forums Nature of Soul and God Deeper understanding of Transcendence

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    Hare Krishna prabhuji
    Please accept my humble obeisances.

    When there is a discussion in Gita regarding the three modes in chapter 14 Arjun comes to ask Krishna about the symptoms of one who has transcended the modes and the process for the same.

    The symptoms are described in Gita 14.22-25 and they are given as follows:

    “The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O son of Pāṇḍu, he who does not hate illumination, attachment and delusion when they are present or long for them when they disappear; who is unwavering and undisturbed through all these reactions of the material qualities, remaining neutral and transcendental, knowing that the modes alone are active; who is situated in the self and regards alike happiness and distress; who looks upon a lump of earth, a stone and a piece of gold with an equal eye; who is equal toward the desirable and the undesirable; who is steady, situated equally well in praise and blame, honor and dishonor; who treats alike both friend and enemy; and who has renounced all material activities – such a person is said to have transcended the modes of nature.”

    Regarding the above I do not understand how the influence of modes (prakash, pravritti, moha) is still there in a person who has transcended.

    Moreover the process is unalloyed bhakti. How does a person who is lets say, currently in the sway of illusion (tamo guna) be unalloyed and uninterrupted in bhakti, how can he connect to Krishna under such influence. Especially as it is mentioned by Acharyas that those who are passionate and ignorant cannot be devotees.

    So there are two questions in essence:

    1) How are modes present in a person who has transcended, what does is mean practically, when will be liberated we will remain the same, just identify ourself as the soul but the mind is still full of modes?

    2) How to follow the process and connect to Krishna in times of passion and illusion.


    How are modes present in a person who has transcended, what does is mean practically, when will be liberated we will remain the same, just identify ourself as the soul but the mind is still full of modes?

    This is the stage of mukti or liberation. It is “beyond” the three material qualities. But the spiritual qualities are not yet developed. During this stage, there are disturbances created by the mind. But the person or soul doesn’t come under their control. He dissociates from these disturbances. Upon further progress, even the mental disturbances are destroyed, so there is no need to dissociate.

    How to follow the process and connect to Krishna in times of passion and illusion.

    By strong willpower. You are asking the same question in numerous different ways. The answer is always the same. Detach and dissociate. It needs willpower. If you don’t have willpower, then it means you have led a comfortable life. You are not used to hardship, austerity, or endurance. In that case, you can either take voluntary hardships by picking up difficult projects for Krishna. Or, time and situation will force a lot of suffering on you, and by that suffering, you will develop endurance.

    We have already discussed so many times that the soul has free will and free won’t. Free will is called the path of pravṛtti or doing what needs to be done. And free won’t is called the path of nivṛtti, or denying yourself pleasure, taking on austerity, developing endurance. The same thing is called yama and niyama. Yama means not doing something; denying yourself pleasure, and taking on hardship. Niyama means doing something regularly, that which needs to be done. By a combination of these two, you develop willpower. For example, by denying yourself pleasure, you develop free won’t. And by engaging in something regularly, you develop free will. There is no magic that will change things overnight. It is a long-drawn process because you have to realize that you have willpower. It can only come through practice.

    If you take on difficult projects for Krishna, then both pravṛtti and nivṛtti are applied. The same thing happens in all types of yoga practice. There are some don’ts and do’s. We have to apply them repeatedly to develop willpower. That is how we develop free will and free won’t. It is unmanifest now. By practice, we manifest it.

    Under tamo-guna, we don’t like to deny ourselves pleasure. Hence, we cannot follow yama. And under rajo-guna, there is a tendency to do that which doesn’t need to be done to obtain pleasure. Hence, we are unable to follow niyama because time is wasted on unnecessary things. So, the desire for material pleasure is the root cause of other problems. To get material enjoyment we don’t want to do the things required for yoga due to the influence of tamo-guna, and we want to do things other than yoga to obtain great pleasure due to the influence of rajo-guna.

    But there is no magic wand to solve these problems. You have to follow the do’s and don’ts and it takes time. The lack of enthusiasm and determination is a symptom of tamo-guna. It produces questions such as “I have tried so hard, but it is not working, so why try more?” or “This is too complicated; can we not have an easier solution?” The basic principle is laziness, avoidance, escapism, miracle, and magic.

    Real devotees do not ask these questions. They have only one question: How can I serve Krishna? Scheming, planning, strategizing, and executing plans for serving Krishna. But you are not asking such questions. Your question is: How can I get liberated? How can I transcend the modes? How can I go to the spiritual world?

    This is a form of egotism or self-centeredness under which bhakti is a method for mukti. In that case, you have to struggle. You have to develop endurance via austerity, hardship, and discipline. And it is a long-drawn and slow process.

    There is the other path in which we stop asking all these questions and simply ask: How can I please Krishna? Then the process is different. It achieves everything that liberation achieves and more. But it is not easy to give up desire for “enlightenment”, “nirvana”, “liberation”, “emancipation”, “going to heaven”, “being perfect”, and “transcending the modes of material nature”. A devotee transcends these questions because he only asks: What can I do for Krishna? It is a change in attitude. One who has changed this attitude is liberated, even if they superficially seem to be conditioned by material modes because they have no interest other than Krishna.

    You can ponder the difference between mukti and bhakti. All these discussions about free will, material modes, and transcending the modes, are about mukti. The discussion of bhakti is the nature of the Lord, His pastimes, His desires, and His service. Just forget about yourself, your liberation, your emancipation, your purification, your transcendence. Not everyone can do that. But if someone can do it, then by bhakti they automatically get mukti. Those who cannot do that, have to struggle with do’s and don’ts, repeated practice, and long struggle. But if you forget about yourself and only think about Krishna, then you already got mukti.


    Thank you prabhuji, not just by answering my questions but by helping me see my motivations also.

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