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Vaishnava Philosophy
Why did I come to this material world?
And how do I get out again?

One may rightly ask, "If I am originally a pure servant of God, then why did I come to the material world in the first place? If there is no ignorance in the spiritual world, then why did I leave that wonderful place and come here, where I am suffering repeated births and deaths?" This is a good question, and one that Srila Prabhupada has elaborately explained.

Every living being, either in the material or spiritual world, has free will. Because we are minute parts of the Supreme, we have minute quantities of His qualities. One of Krishna's qualities is independent free will. He does whatever He likes, whenever He likes, and it is always perfect. He is never bound by the reactions of His decisions, because He is transcendental to the material nature. Because we do not possess the same quantity of free will as Krishna, we can sometimes do what we like and sometimes not. Further, whenever we act, we have to suffer or enjoy the reactions of that decision.

Every living being in the spiritual world loves Krishna. This is the nature of the spiritual world. However, that love is not forced. For example, if I were to hold a gun to your head and say, "Love me," you would naturally say, "Oh yes, I love you." But that would have no meaning. You cannot force anyone to love another person, for love comes from within naturally when the proper conditions arise. Therefore, Krishna does not force the living entities to love Him, for that would not be real love and it would not be satisfying to the Supreme Lord, who knows everything that is going on in the hearts of the living entities. Krishna is satisfied only by pure, natural, and spontaneous love, without any traces of self-motivated desire.

Therefore Krishna endows each and every living entity with free will. With this free will, one can love Krishna or one can not love Krishna. The choice is entirely up to the living entity. Those living beings who love Krishna are situated in the spiritual world, whereas those living beings who don't love Krishna are situated in the material world.

Those who don't love Krishna, or who have become envious of the Lord's position as the Supreme Enjoyer, cannot remain in the spiritual world for a moment. If it so happens that a living entity becomes envious of the Lord for some reason, then he immediately falls from the spiritual world, for no envy of the Lord exists in the spiritual world. Remember, the choice to love Krishna or not exists in each of us eternally. Envy comes as the opposite of love, for it is created from hatred. Hatred and love are very closely related, and each of us has experience how we can become immediately envious of others, even if our intelligence has not yet accepted that emotion. Therefore, when the living entity feels enviousness for the Lord, he immediately turns into a competitor of the Lord and desires to enjoy as the Lord enjoys.

This is not possible in the spiritual world because everyone there is considering themselves as enjoyed by the Lord; they never want to become the enjoyers themselves. Because this desire to become the competitor of the Lord as the enjoyer is spiritual (as all desires in the spiritual world come from the spiritual platform, since all the living entities there are completely spiritual), it must be immediately satisfied. Every desire in the spiritual world is immediately satisfied, because that is the nature of the spiritual world. But since the desire to be the Lord oneself is not possible to satisfy in the spiritual world, as Krishna is the enjoyer and there cannot be any competitor there, one comes to the material world in order to attempt to fulfill that desire.

The material world is a marvelous place, because here the Lord has created the grand illusion that we can become God and enjoy the creation independently of Him. Krishna has created this illusion out of love for us, the fallen souls. It is not in our power to create such a facility, which can be likened to a playground created by the father for the sake of his small children. Only Krishna can create such a facility, and He does so just to allow us souls the opportunity to think ourselves God and try to enjoy the material energy. The only problem is that this so-called enjoyment is simply illusory and cannot remain for long. Everything here is temporary and full of misery.

Why has Krishna created a world that is temporary and full of misery? The answer is simple: Because He does not want us to stay here. He wants us to find out that we have made a mistake in coming to the material world and to thus return to our original home, the spiritual world. Therefore He orders the material energy to push the conditioned souls toward frustration so that they will some day again turn toward the Lord, who is within their hearts as the Supersoul of all beings, and surrender unto Him. The Lord says that anyone who thus surrenders unto Him will quickly return to Him.

The Lord also assists the living entities by sending His pure devotees to speak the knowledge of the spiritual world to them to again awaken them to their real position. He also presents the Vedic literatures to open their eyes with transcendental knowledge. He is so concerned for the living entities that He periodically descends from the spiritual world Himself in order to display His transcendental pastimes and attract the conditioned souls back to His eternal abode.

One may also ask, If I had full knowledge in my spiritual position -- for we say that the soul is eternally full of knowledge and bliss -- why did I come to the material world, knowing that it is a place of suffering? The answer is again simple.

One is full of knowledge in the same way that a small glass is full of water. When the glass is filled with water, we say that it is full. However, no sane person would accept that all the water in the world is in that glass. Only a small portion of the water is in the glass. Since we are quantitatively different from the Lord, we can conclude that our quantity of bliss and knowledge is much smaller than that of the Lord. However, since we are smaller receptacles of knowledge, we can easily be full of knowledge according to our smaller capacity. This does not mean that we possess all knowledge, but rather only a small portion of knowledge, although enough to fulfill all our needs in relationship with Krishna.

Therefore the living entity, covered by envy, cannot recognize that he will suffer in the material world, just as a lusty person does not consider the results of his actions as he rushes forward to satisfy his lusty desires. Covered by lust, the living entity forgets his original knowledge and enters into the material domain to try to satisfy his desires.

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