Previously, the sages asked Suta why he suggests so strongly that Krishna and other expansions of Vishnu are of the highest benefit to humanity. Suta replied that the Vishnu is the category of divinity in charge of the mode of clarity – the most beneficial of the three energies of existence. Now the sages will ask follow-up questions.
They begin by wanting to know, “If Vishnu is the deity of the energy of clarity, how can you say that he is above and beyond all material energies?” In our previous comments we noted that Suta already answered this question by using the words, “absolutely pure clarity” (viśuddha-sattva) to describe the energy of Vishnu. But now the sages ask Suta to elaborate on it more clearly.
“Indeed,” Suta answers, “before manifesting this world, the energies and qualities of cause and effect sprang forth from the supra-qualified power of the inner energies of the All-Attractive.
“He functions through those energies and qualities, so it looks like the All-Aware, All-Enlightened One is within and defined by them.”
The sages were highly experienced and thorough researchers of sophisticated psychological and spiritual subjects. Therefore Suta could speak to them with such intense philosophical density. Most of us, however, need to take our time carefully with these passages to grasp what he is trying to communicate.
Suta explains that Vishnu is not “in” the energy of clarity, nor “created” or “manifest” by it. Rather, Vishnu existed alone before the energy of clarity or any energy at all ever existed. All the energies and things that exist now are results of his energy. He creates things which create other things, and thus all things spring from him. Since the energy of clarity is an extension of his inner being, he is not “within” or “confined” or “created by” it – but rather it is within and created by him, and he works through it.
The Vishnu category of divinity exists beyond and before the energies which compose our present universe. Thus he is not a product of this universe, unlike the powerful gods, humans, and creatures which spring from him. Although he is not confined or produced by his creation, he works within it through the energy of clarity, without staining his transcendent nature.
“Thus that Person, the one womb of all creation, shines forth in many forms as the soul within every soul; just like fire shines forth from every type of wood.”
Vishnu is the original womb of everything; the singularity – the singular absolute point – from which all rays forever emanate. He emanates infinite quintillions of endless rays and thus illuminates everything, generates all the souls, and becomes the soul within every soul.
To help us envision this abstract concept in a more concrete way, Suta suggests we visualize wood and flame. Flame exists within all wood, hidden. Similarly God exists within everything, though “hidden” from the eye afflicted with cataracts of willful ignorance. When fire leaps forth from wood, it is pure. It does not matter what type of wood the fire comes from – the fire becomes fire; pure, bright and hot. This imagery helps us more tangibly understand that Vishnu is within everyone and everything – but always retains his own identity and purity, just as fire and wood remain distinct entities and the wood cannot change the essential identity of fire.
Next, the sages would like to know, “Why does Vishnu enter all beings? What purpose does it serve?”
“The many living entities, by nature infatuated with various things, have only the subtle potential for senses. That is why Vishnu enters into his own creations, to allow them to enjoy the things they desire.”
What an extremely interesting statement!
The sages want to know why Vishnu enters all beings. Suta explains that all beings, on their own, do not possess actual senses (faculties of sight, taste, touch, etc), they only possess the “subtle form” of such senses. (sūkṣma-indriya) “Subtle” means potential as opposed to kinetic.
I envision it that the soul possesses plugs into which sensory instruments can be wired. The soul is pure conscious awareness, but of itself it does not have sensory equipment through which to extend its conscious awareness to things outside itself. Thus the soul in isolation is directly aware of existence and can only dream of anything else.
The soul dreams. By its very nature (bhāva), is infatuated with its source, Godhead. The soul awakens to individuality when it develops a dream about Godhead – like homogenous waves of light suddenly appearing as discrete photons. The soul dreams of knowing the qualities and forms of Godhead (guṇamaya). Some few souls dream of enjoying those qualities (bhunkte tad-guṇān). For their sake Vishnu sets aside a portion of his energies to be enjoyed. That portion is our universe. However, the souls on their own cannot enjoy God’s qualities expanded in this universe, because they do not inherently possess real senses, only the capacity and subtle potential for them. That is why Vishnu expands all throughout his creation (sva-nirmiteṣu nirviṣṭo) and becomes the soul within all souls. This “Supersoul” form of Vishnu is the “wire” which connects the soul’s capacity for sensual awareness to actual tangible senses capable of experiencing and interacting with the world.
Thus Vishnu becomes the Supersoul for the sake of connecting souls to bodies.
I would like to note that most souls do not dream of enjoying God’s energy. They dream of being involved in God’s enjoyment of his energy. They never require the Supersoul to connect them to sense-enjoyment. But they do require help because they have no senses of their own, only the potential for senses. Godhead extends his energy to permeate them, but this energy is not the Paramatma. It is the divine śuddha-sattva encapsulated hlādinī-śakti (devotional energy encapsulated in pure clarity) which enters their being and connects them to senses capable of directly interacting with Godhead.
I wish to awake to this dream soon.