We are the world’s purpose, but the world is not our purpose
The Bhagavad-gita (07.05) makes the intriguing statement that the living entities sustain the world. If the relevant root-word ‘dhr’ is taken to mean ‘to utilize,’ the verse’s meaning becomes straightforward: the living entities utilize the world. But if it is taken to mean ‘to sustain,’ a nuanced philosophical understanding emerges. The statement is intriguing because we know that we don’t control the things that sustain the world – the timely rising of the sun, the inexorable flowing of rivers or the cycling of the seasons, for example. Further, the Gita itself mentions at many places (e.g. 15.17) that Krishna is the world’s sustainer.
Then in what sense do we sustain the world?
Not in the sense that we are the cause of its existence, but in the sense that we are the purpose of its existence, just as patients are the purpose for a hospital’s existence.
Just as patients don’t run the hospital, we don’t run the world. But just as the hospital exists as a facility to heal patients physically, the world exists as a facility to heal us spiritually – to help us redirect our love from matter to Krishna.
And though the hospital is meant for patients, the patients are not meant for the hospital. That is, they are not meant to live forever in the hospital – they are meant for healthy, happy living at home and they are meant to use their hospital stay to cure themselves. Similarly, though the world is meant for us, we are not meant for the world – we are meant not to seek permanent enjoyable shelter in this world, but to use our stay here to cure ourselves by practicing bhakti yoga and thus attain a spiritually healthy, eternally happy life with Krishna in the spiritual world.
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