By Tattvavit Dasa
Adapted by Tattvavit Dasa from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings based on the analogy of the bird in the cage.
After the destruction of the body, the soul is not destroyed. The Gita says that the soul is always new and fresh, imperishable, eternal. People foolishly neglect this actual self and misidentify with their body and mind, which are like a cage. Concentrating their energies on the upkeep of the cage, people neglect the captive soul within. The bird is not meant for the welfare of the cage, of course. But most human activities are done just for maintenance of the body and mind. People scarcely try to give any food to the bird, or the soul, who is distinct from the cage. Therefore everyone is committing suicide.
The message of the guru is to stop such misdirected activities. Some people do not believe in the scriptures, but if people have faith in divine wisdom and authority, they must prepare for their freedom in the next life. Thus in human society there must be a balance between matter and spirit. We are actually spirit souls, but somehow we became encaged within the body, and we have to eat, sleep, mate, and defend. The soul itself does not need to do those things. A civilization that only looks after the body’s necessities and does not care for the soul is unbalanced. Suppose one has a bird in an ornate cage, but merely polishes the cage and ignores the bird. How foolish! The bird is crying to be fed. How can the bird become happy if you only polish the cage?
People are unhappy and dissatisfied because there is no balance. Everyone simply takes care of the body, but has no information of the soul and its needs. The soul is the real substance; the body is only a covering. The care of the soul is our constitutional duty. We should know the soul’s needs, not simply be busy supplying the body its comforts. Bodily comforts cannot enable anyone to exist permanently.
The real necessity of life is to supply the comforts of the soul, and the soul cannot be comforted by physical or mental adjustments. Because the soul is a different substance, it must be given spiritual sustenance. That is Krishna consciousness. Just as when people are ill, they are given a proper diet and proper medicine, similarly, souls encaged in bodies need Krishna consciousness, which provides the right diet and medicine. The diet is food that has been offered to Krishna, which counteracts karma, the cause of the illness. And the medicine is the Hare Krishna mantra, which delivers the mind to the spiritual platform.
The soul can be happy only when its essential nature can be expressed. The essence of sugar is sweetness. What is the essence, or dharma, of the soul? Service.
No one can say, “I do not serve anyone,” because we must serve. That is our dharma. If a person has no one to serve, he keeps a cat or dog and serves it. To render service to someone else is our essential nature, but we are missing the point. Entrapped in this world, the soul adopts artificial dharmas based on misidentification with the body.
But when the soul acts on the platform of spiritual understanding, its dharma becomes clear. We learn from Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.6) that the dharma of the soul is bhakti, loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord. Everyone is already a devotee: a devotee of one’s country, society, family, children, or senses. But we do not love God. Therefore we are not really happy. When we offer love to the proper object, Krishna, we become happy.
The living entity is part of the supreme living entity, Krishna, and Krishna is always full of joy. Being part of Krishna, we also want a life of bliss and jubilation.
So we have to go to Krishna, where everything exists in spiritual variety. We can play with Krishna, dance with Krishna, talk with Krishna, fight with Krishna, and love Krishna. Every act in the spiritual world with Krishna is enjoyment.