So, material nature is a reflection of the spiritual reality. Everything seems to be there, but it’s a reflection. The reality is when it is real, not only an impression. It is there. Like, for example, leaves have a purpose. Flowers have a purpose. Fruits have a purpose. Like, we are hungry and we want to eat the fruit. Can we eat the fruit from the reflection? We like the beauty of the flower and want to pick it and make a garland. Can we pick the flowers from the reflection of the tree, although it appears to be there? That is the difference between the reality and the reflection.
Now when we are looking at the reflection, then our consciousness is stuck there. But when we look at the reality, in order to look at the reality we have to withdraw our consciousness from the reflection and then only will we be able to project it into the reality. Like, we are very hungry, so another reflection, impression of a reflection, can be seen in this way that in this world is a mirror. And, say we are standing there, and there is a table, full of beautiful, delicious food. And I am very hungry.
Now when I look at the reflection, extremely hungry, for seven days I didn’t have any food [laughs], and I come into the room and I see the reflection. Then what will happen? Mind you, did anybody ever fast for seven days? [laughs] Well, you know how it is like to fast even for one day. And Nirjala Ekadasi you fast and you are very hungry. The next day, not the same day. And you see all kinds of beautiful prasad, delicious prasad. So what will be the natural reaction for you? You came in from the door and there you see a
beautiful table full of hundreds of delicious preparations. The whole world is full of preparations, foodstuff.
Now what will you naturally do? Won’t you just run to the food, thinking that the food is there? But you try to grab the food, what do you get? You get the food? Or you get the solid mirror? And you are so hungry and you are so, you became so obsessed with the prospect of having the food, then what do you do? You are trying to get the food, but you don’t get the food. But then what do you think? You think there is something wrong in your trying, that’s why you are getting no food. Maybe if you try harder, then you’ll get it. Your food is there, but you can’t just get it. So what do you do? You take a few steps back and then pounce up, thinking that now you get it. What do you get? You get hurt. The more you endeavor the more you get hurt. The more you endeavor the more you get hurt.
Then somebody comes into the room and sees you struggling like that to get the food. And then he tells you, “this is only the reflection. You’ll never get the food you found in the reflection.” But since the reflection is there of the food since the food is there in the reflection, in reality also the food must be there! So the food is not there, the real food is there. But then, if you’re wise enough, then you believe in his words and you turn your face and you see, yes, the real food is there, the table is there, all the preparations are there. You simply just have to just approach in that direction, not in this direction.
So that is the difference between Krishna consciousness and maya. In simple words we can say that there is a reflection and there is a reality. The material nature, what is the definition of the material nature? The material nature is the reflection. Yathabhaso yatha tamah [SB 2.9.34]. Abhasa. Abhasa means the impression of the reality. It is not the reality. It is the impression of the reality.
- HH Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaj -
lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3, Chapter 25, The Glories Of Devotional Service Text 15