The Finite Self

The different forms described previously are non-differentiated partial manifestations of God-dess. The living entities are God-dess’ differentiated partial manifestations. The living entities are the marginal energy, distinct from the spiritual and material energies but connected with both just as the shore is distinct from land and sea but connected with both. The living entities are subject to the influence of both the spiritual and material energies just as the shore may be part of the land or the sea depending on the tides. Though the living entities are free to surrender to the spiritual or material energy, their intrinsic nature is to serve God-dess under the guidance of the spiritual energy.

The living entities have a distinct metaphysical reality of their own. Knowledge, action and enjoyment are their attributes. They are self-luminous. “Like the light of a lamp, it reveals itself as well as the objects falling within the focus of its consciousness. Its luminosity, however, is derived from” Cosmic Consciousness, “who alone is self-luminous in the real sense. It is called self-luminous only in contrast with the material objects, which neither reveal themselves nor anything else.” (133)

The living entity is atomic in size, yet it pervades the physical body in which it is temporarily encased. It is the subject of ego-consciousness, but its ego or self should not be identified with the self of the empirical ego, which is a product of material nature and its modifications–the body and senses. Being the product of material nature, the empirical ego is impermanent, impure and liable to suffering. The pure ego, which is unaffected by material nature, is eternal, of one substance, identical with itself, spiritual, blissful and eternally pure. Birth, death, development and decay, refer to the body in which the living entity is encased under the influence of illusion, and not its intrinsic nature, which is eternally the same. Consciousness of bliss is explicit in those living entities under the spiritual energy, but implicit for those under the material energy.

The relation between the living entities and Cosmic Consciousness is described as “inconceivable identity-in-difference.” (133) It is identity, because Cosmic Consciousness is the source and ground of existence of the living entities from which they derive their nature as existence, consciousness and bliss. It is difference, because the living entities share the nature of Cosmic Consciousness in very small measure. Their existence, consciousness and bliss are limited, while Cosmic Consciousness’ consciousness and bliss are unlimited. Again, the analogy of a tiny part of a hologram containing the whole is apt.

The living entities “are infinite in number, and their intrinsic nature is always the same. But there are differences among them according to their past and present deeds and the different positions occupied by them on the mundane or the spiritual plane.” (133) Devotees of God-dess are happy because they are without desire. The rest are unhappy because they desire either enjoyment or liberation.

The eternal function of the living entity is to serve God-dess, but it has free choice in this regard. It is free to serve God-dess by submitting to the spiritual energy or to enjoy material nature. Thus, we have a distinction between these two types of living entities. Those who choose to serve God-dess are eternally liberated beyond the influence of illusory material nature. Those who choose not to serve God-dess are bound by illusion on the material plane. The liberated entities dwell with God-dess as companions in the spiritual abodes and enjoy the bliss of devotion. Those bound in illusion, undergo a process of conscious evolution as God-dess persuasively tries to attract them.

The bound entities forget their real nature as spiritual servants of God-dess. They are covered by subtle and gross bodies which they identify with, rather than the spirit soul. The subtle body consists of mind, intelligence, consciousness and egoism, which are conditioned by illusion in the case of the bound entities, but exist in their pure form in the liberated entities. When the spirit soul is further covered by a physical body, its material consciousness is intensified. It then begins the cycle of repeated birth and death. According to its actions, it experiences a wide range of births in heavenly, hellish or middling conditions. In these lives, it unavoidably experiences physical and mental pain along with enjoyment.

Since the living entity is part of God-dess and of the same nature, perfect eternal happiness is one of its intrinsic qualities which it always seeks to experience. This is not found in the objects of the senses. Their pleasures are short-lived and mixed with pain.

As a result of grace and past good deeds, one gains the company of an advanced devotee who imparts right knowledge and initiates one into devotion. Then one may turn from illusion, find God-dess and become established in one’s eternally blissful nature. The cover of illusion is removed with the appearance of God-dess just as darkness is removed by the rising sun. Attainment of God-dess is the culmination of life. “There is no real happiness without it.” (135)

In its natural state, the entity is part of God-dess whose natural function is to serve God-dess. Attainment of this state implies attainment of God-dess and bliss, removal of illusion and the binding of actions, entering a state from where there is no return to this world, as well as cessation of pain and suffering.

Liberation may be attained while the entity is in the physical body or after death. The later is the real goal, as it implies complete transcendence of the phenomenal plane and elimination of all extraneous factors blocking the entity’s inherent capacity to realize the highest bliss.

Cultivation of loving devotion makes intimacy with God-dess possible. Loving devotion “implies both the quality of loving and being loved.” (139) To realize God-dess fully, one must realize loving devotion, which means one must realize God-dess as the subject and object of love in his-her sweet aspect. God-dess loves the devotees just as his-her devotees love him-her. They are each others heart and soul and their minds are absorbed in each other.

Divine love is not a means to liberation but an end in itself. It is the highest bliss of which liberation is the natural accompaniment.

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