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Brahman, Paramatma, Bhagavan
121) There are three progressive stages of spiritual understanding mentioned in the Bhagavata (1.2.11). These are (1) brahman realization, (2) paramatma realization and (3) Bhagavan realization. To awaken these three levels in successive stages is compared to progressive knowledge of the sun.
122) Realization of the brahman feature of the Lord means knowledge of Krishna's bodily rays or spiritual effulgence. This incomplete realization, which is the extent of the jnani's understanding, is comparable to knowing of the sun's rays without any knowledge of the sun globe.
123) Secondly, knowledge of the sun globe is comparable to the yogi's realization of the Lord's paramatma feature. Yogi's perceive Krishna residing within the heart as Supersoul. This naturally includes the lower level of brahman realization. Some current yogis try to make the soul into the Supersoul, but this is not the actual yoga system according to authorities.
124) A merchant's son once insisted upon exploring the jungle. This worried his father who was unable to personally accompany him due to being needed at home. Therefore, the merchant sent along his representative, an experienced guide, to protect his son from danger. Similarly, Krishna does not like lo see His sons, die living entities, come to this dangerous material world. To care for each of us He expands Himself as paramatma, and, as a well-wishing friend, accompanies each soul birth after birth.
125) The topmost realization is that which understands Krishna in His original form. This level is called Bhagavan realization, and it is compared to knowing Lord Suryanarayana, who is the controller of the sun planet. As one who knows Lord Surya knows everything about the sun, so one who knows Bhagavan Krishna knows everything about the lower stages of realization, paramatma and brahman. Here, one begins his service to Krishna.
126) To merely think " 1 am spirit"—aham brahmasmi—is impersonal. But to act in that capacity is bhakti-yoga, or pure devotional service.
127) As bell metal becomes gold through contact with touchstone, so utilizing the objects of this world in the Lord's service spiritualizes them and gives them real meaning.
128) O Nirvishesh, can you, after hearing an authorized explanation of the science of God consciousness still maintain that you have become the Supreme Lord? You are ignorant of the activities all about you. Indeed, you cannot even feel the pains and pleasures of my body as I sit here before you. What is to be said of your omniscience?
129) Can you even see your own eyebrows? How many hairs are on your head? What were you doing at this same time yesterday? If the lights were switched off in your meditation hall, you would not even be able to see your hand in front of your face.
130) Do you really believe that all roads lead to the same goal? When you wish to take the bus to San Diego, do you purchase a ticket to Portland? Furthermore, is that ticket booked with a genuine company, or do you give the money to any pretender?
131) You may speculate that because all spokes lead to the center of a wheel you are somehow miraculously assured of liberation, despite any frivolous activity. But such idle talk will not save you from the revolving wheel of birth, disease, old age, and death. This terrible wheel of samsara ensnares all but the Lord's pure devotees.
132) Mental speculation which has no scriptural foundation is as useless as the tail of a dog which neither covers the rear, nor keeps away the flies.
133) This rare human form of life which has all facilities for going back to Godhead is not to be wasted on idle speculation. If it is not employed for developing Krishna consciousness, then it has all the value of the wings on the fruit insect which are useless for flying.
134) The powerful demigods headed by Lord Shiva and Brahma prayed to Krishna, "O Self-Illumined, the great saintly persons who have crossed over the ocean of nescience with the help of the transcendental boat of Your lotus feet, have not taken away the boat. It is still lying on this side." (Krishna p. 17). Hpw is it that these saints have crossed this ocean of nescience, and have left the boat for the use of others? The answer is that when a devotee surrenders whole-heartedly to Krishna, the ocean of illusory energy becomes shrunken in size to no larger than the hoof-print of a cow. This sublime "boat" of Krishna's lotus feet is forever available to anyone who will just step on board by chanting:
135) Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.