1) pure spiritual consciousness [caitanya]
2) materially contaminated consciousness [citta]

When a pure drop of rain falls from the sky and comes in contact with the ground it takes up the nature of the ground and becomes muddy. By association with matter the pure raindrop becomes conditioned and gets mixed up with matter, thus losing its original purity.

Similarly when a living entity comes in contact with material nature his original spiritual consciousness becomes covered up by matter and thus becomes perverted reflected as material consciousness.

The pure spirit soul, when coming in contact with material nature, becomes conditioned by it and his pure consciousness becomes perverted reflected. Material consciousness is therefore nothing but a covering or perverted reflection of the original pure consciousness of the spirit soul.

But what is this consciousness? Consciousness means to be conscious of something. I am conscious of my self. I know that I exist. This consciousness is 'I am'. Then what am I? In material consciousness one is conscious of one's physical body in relationship to the interaction with the material environment. In this contaminated consciousness 'I am' means I am a product of this material world and I am the enjoyer and Lord of all I survey. The world revolves because every living being thinks that he is the Lord and creator of the material environment.

Material consciousness has two psychic divisions. One is that I am the creator, and the other is that I am the enjoyer. But actually the Supreme Lord is both the creator and enjoyer, and the living entity, being part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, is neither the creator nor the enjoyer, but co-operator. He is the created and the enjoyed. When we refuse to co-operate with the Lord and try to artificially enjoy the material resources, by lording it over material nature, we become forgetful of our spiritual nature and our pure consciousness gets contaminated.

When we are materially contaminated we are called conditioned. False consciousness is exhibited under the impression that I am a product of this material world. This is called false ego. One who is absorbed in the thought of bodily conceptions cannot understand his real self which is spiritual and not a product of this world. One must become free from the bodily conception of life; that is the preliminary activity for the transcendentalist. One who wants to become free, who wants to become liberated, must first of all learn that he is not his material body.

Mukti or liberation means freedom from material consciousness. In the Bhagavad Gita we are advised to purify our contaminated consciousness in order to be situated in pure consciousness.

Purified consciousness establishes one in his own spiritual nature. In pure consciousness one is conscious of one's spiritual identity in relationship with the Supreme Lord. In this purified consciousness 'I am' means I am the spirit soul, part and parcel of the supreme soul and I am meant to serve the Lord. This is the original constitutional position of the living entities and the whole sum and substance of purified consciousness.

Consciousness is already there because we are part and parcels of the Lord who is the supreme consciousness but for us there is the affinity of being affected by material consciousness due to being infinitesimal small parts only. But the consciousness of the Lord, being the Supreme, is never affected by matter and remains always transcendental or spiritual.

The Supreme consciousness isvara is similar to the living entity in this way: both the consciousness of the Lord and that of the living entity is transcendental or spiritual. It is not that consciousness is generated by association of matter. That is a mistaken idea. Pure consciousness is the symptom of the living entity and manifested by the spirit soul. The foolish theory that consciousness develops under certain circumstances of material combination is not accepted in Vedic scriptures.

Consciousness may be pervertedly reflected by the covering of material circumstances, just as light reflected through coloured glass may appear to be a certain colour, but the consciousness of the Lord is not materially affected. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita 'mayadhyaksena prakritih'. When He descends into the material universe, His consciousness is not materially affected. If He were so affected, He would be unfit to speak on transcendental matters as He does in Bhagavad-Gita. One cannot say anything about the transcendental world without being free from materially contaminated consciousness. Since the Supreme Lord is the creator He is not affected by His creation. So the Lord is not materially contaminated but remains always transcendental. We, the individual souls, who have been created by the creator, are endowed with a mixed aptitude. Our consciousness possesses a two-fold potentiality. It takes cognisance of material categories and it is also open to the influence of spiritual categories which are distinguished from the mundane world.

Our consciousness at the present moment, however, is materially contaminated. The Bhagavad-Gita teaches that we have to purify this materially contaminated consciousness. Pure unadulterated consciousness is the original quality of the individual soul in his liberated state. Material consciousness is the perverted reflection of spiritual consciousness exhibited by the individual soul in his bounded state, which is due to his misidentification with matter.

Through the process of Bhakti yoga one can purify one's whole existence and thus regain his original pure consciousness.


Understanding the Supreme 2003 All rights reserved