Spiritual Form Constitution

Forums Nature of Soul and God Spiritual Form Constitution

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    Hare Krishna,

    Please explain how to understand Spiritual Form. I understand tree like description of material body (causal/subtle/gendered bodies with Mahat tatva/Pradhana being root for each soul and subsequent elements being values in the subsequent higher dimension element). But How do we understand spiritual form and activities in the Spiritual world? More specifically, what “elements” spiritual form is constituted of? How we are able understand/appreciate/get ecstasy from hearing those activities now? Thank you.


    Sāñkhya Sūtra commentary (Material and Spiritual Natures) is the book to read for this. Here is an excerpt from the book overview (given at the above link; you can read the link fully):

    The discussion ends with the description of the transcendental reality which has qualities similar to material nature, and yet, differs from material nature in many ways. The spiritual body for instance is manifest from within the soul, and is not externally imposed on the soul. The material body is therefore ‘external’, while the spiritual body is ‘internal’. The eternity of the soul therefore entails the eternity of the spiritual body. This body is described to have a voluntary nature—it can produce things based on will, because these things are simply potentials within the soul.

    In both material and spiritual natures, there is a whole and part. In the spiritual nature, the whole is seen within each part, and in material nature, although the whole is present within each part, He is not seen. When the whole is not seen in each part, we think that the part is separate from the whole. That is an illusion. This illusion is created by hiding the whole in the part. The hiding agency is called Māyā and She covers the face of the Lord. When the Lord’s face is covered, then matter is called Pradhāna which means “I am the boss”. That is because the face of the real boss is hidden by Māyā.

    All the elements in matter are also in spirit, except that the root element is not Pradhāna. Instead of saying “I am the boss”, the root element is “I am a servant”. When this root element is changed, then everything after that also changes. The biggest change is that the separateness of things disappears. The simplest example is that each person doesn’t think I am separate from other persons.

    Similarly, the separateness of the various elements also disappears. For example, in the material realm, we separate the mind from the body and say that the body is public and the mind is private. That privacy is not there for the mind in the spiritual world. This means that everyone is transparent. There are no hidden thoughts, motivations, emotions, etc. Everything is transparent. Therefore, if we taste the food cooked by someone, we can feel their thoughts, motivations, and emotions. That is because the mind-body separation is dissolved in the case of spirit. The perception of the cook in the food is not becoming the person who cooked the food, but the person can be known from their cooking. This is the meaning of distinctness without separation. The food is distinct from the cook, however, the cook can be completely known from their cooking, hence, they are non-different.

    This is why Sāñkhya is not just a philosophy of material nature, but also that of spiritual nature. Unscrupulous commentators have created the falsehood that Sāñkhya is only about material nature. That is not true. The later part of Sāñkhya discusses spiritual nature. Hence, my translation and commentary are entitled “Material and Spiritual Natures”. Both natures are produced from a root, and that root is “I am the boss” in the case of matter, and it is “I am a servant” in the case of spirit. Matter and spirit are both spirit, but in the case of matter, the immanent form of the Lord is hidden. This is called avyakta-mūrti or unmanifest form. If the Lord is revealed, then matter becomes spirit.

    So, there is only one change required, namely, transform the idea of the self from “I am the boss” to “I am the servant”. When that happens, the ego is dissolved, the Lord is revealed, and everything changes. It is not a lot of complicated stuff. Śrila Prabhupāda has already explained everything in simple words. Everything else is just the elaboration and detailing of the simple conclusion.


    Thank you, one follow up question- there are some substances/concepts that exists only in material world (eg: onion/garlic), how do we understand that? How does self realized person perceive them? Are they not present not present in spiritual world?


    Onion and garlic are living entities. Nobody wants to take that kind of body, so they are not born.


    Thank you very much for that brilliant insight. This question might be absurd, but how do we explain evacuation, is it present in Spiritual world?


    No defecation, no urination, no constipation, no diarrhea, no penetration, no ejaculation, no periods, no pregnancy, no birth, no death. Everything is happening simply by will. If it is not willed, then it doesn’t happen. That willingness is based on what is enjoyable. In Freudian psychology even defecation and urination are enjoyable. But as one becomes spiritually advanced, lots of things that were previously enjoyable cease to be enjoyable. They may be done due to force exerted on each person by the laws of nature and not due to enjoyment. All such things cease in the spiritual world because there is no law of nature forcing you.

    Instead of analyzing the private part functionality, we should try to understand the role of will. Everything is working under the control of the will. That will is everyone’s heart. So, if we understand the heart, then we don’t have to separately understand all the body parts. And understanding the heart means knowing what they want, what makes them happy, and what they consider pleasing and enjoyable.

    There are lots of things that happen only in the case of the material body. For example, the body generates hunger, thirst, lust, sleep, and tiredness. Even if you don’t want to be tired or hungry, you will be hungry by nature’s arrangement and the action of demigods. This means that your body is not in your control. It is out of your control, and someone else is controlling it. You have to defecate and urinate because you cannot absorb everything you have eaten. The question is: Why did the plants not produce that which would be completely absorbed in your body? The answer is simple: Nature is not giving you the food that your body can fully absorb. There is a mismatch between your body and the food. That mismatch ensures defecation, urination, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and acidity. This is because the food is not ideally suited to the body. Eating is also suffering.

    Similarly, there is suffering from sleeping, namely, you cannot sleep as soon as you want, and you don’t wake up when you want. Rather, you keep tossing and turning during the night, and when you want to get up in the morning, your body is too tired and reluctant. Again, the body is not working according to your will. You cannot put it to sleep when you want and wake it up when you want. Then there is suffering from sex. Prabhupada has explained how one ass kicks another ass, and after being kicked many times there is some sex. Finally, there is suffering from trying to defend. All day long people are worried about job safety. They are worried that someone will take away their job, and they keep defending themselves by dragging each other down. So, remove all these undesirable things and that is the spiritual world. Spirit is things working according to your will, not forcing your will.

    In your questions, you have normalized the misery of this world, and you are asking why it doesn’t exist in the spiritual world. That may be because you haven’t understood that this world is miserable, it is not actually willed by the soul, but it is forced on the soul by the material energy. Material energy makes you hungry. Then material energy supplies incompatible food. Then material energy causes acidity and bloating. Then material energy causes defecation and urination. We are trapped in this vicious cycle of material activity that is being forced upon us. If we can intelligently analyze the miserable condition, then the question of why it doesn’t exist in the spiritual world will not arise because it will be clear that it is being forced on us, it is miserable, and by removing misery and force, it disappears.


    Thank you , how do we understand this verse in the context of above explanation? Does a self realized person does not feel the pushings that you have described above?

    In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.187) it is stated: īhā yasya harer dāsye karmaṇā manasā girā nikhilāsv apy avasthāsu jīvan-muktaḥ sa ucyate. “Anyone who, by his actions, mind and words, lives only for the transcendental loving service of the Lord, is certainly a liberated soul, even though he may appear to be in a condition of material existence.”


    Feeling the suffering is not the same as being deviated from the path because of the suffering. Haridas Thakur was beaten in 22 marketplaces, but he did not deviate from chanting the holy name. This is the meaning of jīvan-mukta. Most people are easily deviated by a little suffering or pleasure. Most people are deviated even by the promise of little pleasure or the threat of little suffering. This means that the material energy is applying a force, and the person is quickly deviating. That is a person bound by material energy. A jīvan-mukta is one who is not deviated. He is sthita-prajña, which means fully convinced. Others are not convinced.

    Conviction is tested by the material energy. Only one who passes the test is freed from Her control, and is then considered liberated. That means that as we progress in spiritual life, enormous difficulties will come, and we should not deviate. No promise or threat should deviate us. That is conviction. Just wearing a dress and proclaiming a title is not liberation. Anybody can do that. The test is how we can remain undeviated despite threats and promises (or their factual realization).

    One has to become convinced that Krishna is always protecting me. Prahalada was not afraid while entering fire. He did not resist. He did not try to run away. And he did not change his position due to the threat of being burnt. Normally, most people change their position very easily. For example, if they feel that they will get a bad name, or criticism, or they will be attacked, or they will not get material benefits, then they compromise. Material energy creates fear within a person: “You are going to die”. But a devotee has no fear. So, he never deviates. This is jīvan-mukta.

    Mukti in Vaikuntha is freedom from the causes of suffering, such as hunger, thirst, lust, sleep, anxiety, depression, etc. Jīvan-mukta is one who is in the world, and is facing all the causes of suffering and is still not deviated from the spiritual path. He doesn’t think: Let me compromise to save myself. So, Vaikuntha mukti is freedom from the causes of suffering. But jīvan-mukta is when the causes are present but one is still not deviated. Vaikuntha mukti comes after one is already jīvan-mukta.

    Therefore, the meaning of “he may appear to be in a condition of material existence” is that he is continuously being tested by material tribulations. And yet, he is undeviated, so he is free. Like a man walks on a tight-rope, and wind blows to shake him. But he steadies himself and continues the tight-rope walk. That moment when he is steadying himself, it seems that he is disturbed by the winds. But he doesn’t fall. In fact, winds may blow or storms may come but he remains undeviated.

    This conviction comes by dedicating ourselves to some service, enduring difficulties, and remaining undeviated. Those who do not take a service have no idea of what it means to remain undeviated. They sit quietly and think that they are advanced because they are not doing a tight-rope walk in the face of storms. But such people are not jīvan-mukta. There are others who don’t take a test out of fear of failure. They look at those struggling to rebalance and say: Oh, he is shaking. But they will be flat on the ground if they tried the same thing. Since many people may say that “he is shaking”, hence it is said that he is liberated even if he seems to be in material control. Shaking on a tight-rope is not a bad thing if you don’t fall.


    That makes it very clear, thank you.

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