THE RARE SOUL
Srimad Bhagavad Gita: 7.3
मनुष्याणां सहस्रेषु कश्चिद्यतति सिद्धये ।
यततामपि सिद्धानां कश्चिन्मां वेत्ति तत्त्वतः ॥३॥
manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣukaśchid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ kaśchin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ
manusyanam sahasresu–Of thousands of men; kaschit–a rare one; yatati–endeavours; siddhaye–for self-realisation and Supersoul-realisation; yatatam siddhanam api–and of thousands who have attained such realisation; kaschit–a rare one; tattvatah–truly; vetti–knows; mam–Me, Syamasundar. 
“Of countless souls, few reach the human form; of thousands of human beings, very few may try to realise the soul and the Supersoul; and of thousands who have attained such realisation, hardly one can actually know Me, Syamasundar.”
A most valuable verse which we hear quoted by our Gurus. It is a reminder of the rarity of the wealth our Gurus are giving to us, and of the great opportunity before us. It is rare enough to attain a human birth, more rare to endeavour for any kind of spiritual realisation—and yet more rare to approach the refined layer of truth which we have come to the periphery of by the grace of our guardians. What even the great gods like Brahma and Shiva are giving their respects to from a distance—our Gurus are intimately acquainted with and are trying to give us.Srila Sridhar Maharaj quotes this verse briefly in Sermons Vol I, and makes the point that, in light of the rarity of this gift, we must be ready to make any sacrifice to be truly worthy of it:
The fire lit by our Guru Maharaja must be allowed to burn. We must not keep a feeble fire. The ideal that Gurudeva has given is very rarely found in this world. Out of thousands and millions of chances, we may have such a seed sown in our heart.
manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaśchid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ kaśchin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ
brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja
(Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya-lila, 19.151)
“According to the thread of their karma, the living beings are wandering throughout many species of life in the universe. Among all such wandering souls, one for whom the fortune of spiritual merit (sukrti) has arisen by which devotion is facilitated, gains the seed of the creeper of devotion by the grace of Guru and Krishna; that seed is good faith (sraddha).”
It is not a light thing. We must know that this seed of Krishna consciousness is the most valuable thing in the whole of creation. “Everything—good or bad—belongs to Krishna, and I am His unconditional servitor.” Our general thought must be like this, and the details will develop gradually. We need not apprehend any injustice. He is Absolute Good, so His mercy is absolute, His love is absolute; He is the loving center. We must make our heart broad, wide, to accept such a seed. Love is the widest thing. Love can accommodate even the enemy. Love is not afraid of any sacrifice, so it can accommodate even the enemy, and he is thereby conquered. Such conquering is complete and perfect. Our conquest is not perfect, but love’s conquest is perfect. So we must be prepared to pay the value of this greatest achievement. ‘Die to live.’ What can I give? Everything belongs to Him, and *I* also belong to Him. I must admit that I am His. This much is necessary. This is the central knowledge, and it is not unreasonable. I am not out of central control, and His all-controlling potency is not power, but love. This is the most liberal proposal, good news, and fortune.
Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 7.4
GROSS AND SUBTLE MATTER
भूमिरापोऽनलो वायुः खं मनो बुद्धिरेव च ।
अहङ्कार इतीयं मे भिन्ना प्रकृतिरष्टधा ॥४॥
bhūmir āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva cha
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā 
bhūmiḥ–Earth; āpaḥ–water; analaḥ–fire; vāyuḥ–air; kham–ether; manaḥ–mind; buddhiḥ–intelligence; ahaṅkāraḥ eva cha–and ego; iti–thus; iyam–this; prakṛtiḥ–nature, māyā-śakti, illusory potency; me–of Mine; bhinnā–is divided; aṣṭa-dhā–eightfold.
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and ego are the eight divisions of My illusory potency in this world.”
As we know, the Lord has three principal energies (spiritual, material, and marginal), and in this helpful verse he outlines the different aspects of his material energy. One significant point here is that we can understand that there is gross matter as well as subtle matter. There are five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether), and three subtle (mind, intellect, ego). Many persons, becoming interested in spirituality, become excited upon connecting with the more subtle aspects of this material plane (examples being chakras, astral bodies, and so on), but we can understand that all they have come in connection with is a finer expression of the material energy. The plane of pure spirit, pure soul, composed of sat, chit, and ananda (eternity, pure consciousness, and bliss) is categorically different. But because these more subtle layers of matter are not perceptible to our gross senses, we may make the mistake of considering them spiritual. This point also shows how deeply we are bound to this material plane—both in a gross sense as well as in a very subtle way. We are entangled in a most insidious way, which makes our situation more dangerous.
In our published edition of Bhagavad-gita Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s commentary on this verse has been included as follows:
In this verse, it is expressed that jñān, or knowledge, in the true sense of the word and in accordance with the precepts of devotion, is actually Bhagavad-aiśvarya-jñān, or knowledge of the supremacy of the Lord. The general seekers of knowledge may consider realisation of the soul—as distinct from the body and material elements—to be enlightenment, but this does not constitute ultimate knowledge.
Thus, to explain the conception of His Lordship, the Lord reveals His forms, His potencies, and their characteristics: “My different aspects are Brahma, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān. Brahma is a non-differentiated, formless aspect of My potency. Paramātmā, the Supersoul, is also an appearance of My potency (in relation to the cosmic manifestation), and this aspect of Mine is not eternally manifest. Only My form of Bhagavān, the Supreme Lord, is My eternal Self, and in this form My three eternal potencies exist as antaraṅgā- or chit-śhakti—the internal, divine potency; bahiraṅgā- or māyā-śakti—the external, illusory potency; and taṭasthā- or jīva-śakti—the marginal potency comprising the innumerable living beings.”
In this verse, the Lord has described His external, illusory potency.
—Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur
Also, Srila Sridhar Maharaj discusses this verse in Sermons II and emphasises that faith proper, pertaining to the nirguna, spiritual plane, is completely independent of any mundane faculty of ours:
Mind is separate (from faith). Śraddhā (faith) is connected with soul, ātmā, and mind is matter. Mind is material: a part of material potency, and the jīva is a product of parā-śakti, the principal potency; and Svarūpa-śakti, the Lord’s Personal Potency, is higher than the jīva. The nature of the mind is mental speculation (mano-dharma ). That has nothing to do with truth. That is drawn from the material world, the world of misconception. The mind is full of misconception (avan-manasa gocharah). Mind cannot reach the stage of feeling or perceiving truth proper. It is only related to mundane things or exploitation.
Mind cannot be pure, just as a fossil cannot produce life. Similarly, the mind cannot produce śraddhā. Śraddhā is the original and fundamental. When the Supreme Lord appears in the heart, mind vanishes. Reality is just the opposite. Darkness cannot produce light: light comes, darkness vanishes. So truth appears when real pure consciousness appears, and mental speculation vanishes. The mind is concerned with misconception. It is an element of the aparā-śakti, the inferior potency. That potency is both subtle and gross. Earth, water, fire, air, and ether are gross; mind, intelligence and ego are subtle; but they are all material. Soul is transcendental. And Svarūpa-śakti, the Lord’s Personal Potency, bhajana or Divine Service, and Goloka-Vaikuṇṭha are all Supra-mundane and Transcendental—on the other side of the soul, not on the lower side where the mind is located. Mind emerges from the ego, that is, the false ego, and it is made of the exploiting tendency. But Mahāprabhu says: mora mana-Vṛndāvana: “My speculation is on the other side—Vṛndāvana.” That is not an element of this mundane plane.
Properly speaking, the word ‘mind’ does not deserve to be used in the context of ‘pure mind’ at all, otherwise everything will be wrongly equated. The residents of Goloka also possess senses, etc., but the affairs of the mundane world are never one with that. The mundane mentality is a product of sense exploitation. We need relief from this mind. We are surrounded by poisonous thought.