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Vaishnava Philosophy
To be, or not to be...
Our real identity

We all have likes and dislikes, fond memories, and plans for the future. But all these things change with the passing of time, because the body changes.

The Existence of the Soul

The temporary body is not as important as the soul, because the soul is eternal. As far as the soul's existence is concerned, no one can establish the soul's existence experimentally. There is no source of understanding the soul except through the Vedas, just as there is no source of understanding the identity of the father except from the mother.

The Subtle Body

When we speak of the body, we include the subtle body. The subtle body is made up of the mind, intelligence, and false ego. The false ego is the material identity that the spirit soul accepts upon entering a material body. The intelligence is meant to make judgments and plans by remembering information supplied by the mind. Everything we have done, felt, desired, or said is stored in the mind. Most of it is subconscious information, especially that from past lives. Within the arena of the mind, the intellect works and the senses reach out for their objects. Whatever gratifies the senses, the mind accepts, and whatever doesn't, it rejects -- unless the intelligence intercedes on behalf of the desires of the soul. The intelligence and the soul are closely enwrapped, separated only by the transparent layer of false ego.

The Changing Body

The body changes continuously, almost like the frames in a movie. Moment by moment, the cells in the body are changing, and growth and old age take place in the body. Scientists say that all the cells of the body are renewed every seven years. Thus the body changes many times in a lifetime. The small baby's body is gone, and now it is replaced by another. But despite all the changes of the body, the spirit soul exists permanently, remaining the same. To enlighten those who do not understand the difference between matter and spirit, the Lord teaches Bhagavad-gita.

The Symptom of the Soul

If you take salt and mix it in a glass of water, the salt can no longer be seen, but the salt can be recognized by tasting the water. Similarly, the soul is a spiritual atom smaller than a material atom, one ten-thousandth part of the tip of a hair in size, but can be recognized by its symptom, consciousness. Consciousness pervades the entire body. If you pinch your body, you will feel pain. Everyone is conscious of the pleasures and pains of one's own body. This consciousness is direct evidence of the presence of the spirit soul. A material body minus consciousness is just a dead body, and no material means can bring back the consciousness. Consciousness is limited to one's own body and unknown to another's. Therefore each body is the embodiment of an individual soul.

The Sun and the Sunshine

Sometimes we cannot see the sun in the sky owing to clouds, but the light of the sun is always there, and we are convinced that it is daytime. As soon as a little light is in the sky early in the morning, we can understand that the sun is in the sky. Similarly, since there is some consciousness in all bodies -- whether man or animal -- we can understand the presence of the soul. As the sun is illuminating the universe from one place, the small particle of spirit in the heart illuminates the body. Although the spirit soul is within the body, the soul is ever detached from the body. The soul does not respond to material influences. The soul cannot be dried by air or heat, burned by fire, or cut with a knife.

Proper Use of Independence

The living entities are eternally fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. As fragmental parts and parcels, they have fragmental portions of his qualities. Thus every living entity, as an individual soul, has personal individuality and a minute quantity of independence. By misuse of that independence one becomes a conditioned soul, and by proper use one is liberated. After liberation the soul remains an individual and lives in eternal knowledge and bliss with the Personality of Godhead.

Our Constitutional Position

Everyone wants to love and be loved. No one can live without loving someone else. This inclination to love moves us to serve our family, community, country, or society, but our love remains imperfectly fulfilled until we repose it in the Supreme Beloved, Sri Krishna. The Supreme Lord is the source of everything, including all loving relationships. Although human civilization has advanced comfortable living, we are not happy, and many are frustrated and confused, because they are missing this point: Our constitutional position, as spirit soul, is to serve in love the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Missing Krishna means missing one's self, and loving Krishna means loving one's self and all living entities perfectly.

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