The conditioned soul is the marginal potency overpowered by the external potency. However, when the marginal potency comes under the influence of the spiritual potency, it becomes eligible for love of Godhead. The Supreme Lord enjoys six kinds of opulences, and no one can establish that He is formless or that He is without energy. If someone claims so, his contention is completely opposed to the Vedic instructions. Actually, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the master of all energies. The living entity, however, being His infinitesimal part and parcel, can be overpowered by the material energy.
In the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad it is stated that two birds are sitting on the same tree. One of them is eating the fruit of the tree, while the other is not eating but simply witnessing the activities of the first bird. Only when the bird eating the fruit looks at the other bird does he become free from all anxieties. This is the position of the infinitesimal living entity. As long as he is forgetful of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is subjected to the threefold miseries. But when he looks toward the Supreme Lord and becomes the Lord's devotee, he becomes free from all anxieties and miseries of material existence. The living entity is eternally subordinate to the Supreme Lord: the Supreme Lord is always the master of all energies, whereas the living entity is always under the control of the Lord's energies. Being qualitatively one with the Supreme Lord, the living entity has the tendency to try to lord it over the material nature; however, being infinitesimal, he is then controlled by the material nature. Thus the living entity is called the marginal potency of the Lord.
Because the living entity can be controlled by the material nature, he cannot at any stage become one with the Supreme Lord. If the living entity were equal to the Supreme Lord, there would be no possibility of his being controlled by the material energy. In the Bhagavad-gītā (7.5) the living entity is described as one of the energies of the Supreme Lord. Although inseparable from the energetic, energy is still energy, and it cannot be equal with the energetic. In other words, the living entity is simultaneously one with and different from the Supreme Lord. The Bhagavad-gītā (7.4–5) clearly states that earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego are the eight elementary energies of the Supreme Lord and are of inferior quality, whereas the living entity is an energy of superior quality.
The Vedic instructions confirm that the transcendental form of the Supreme Lord is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. The impersonalists' conception of the Lord's form, however, is just the opposite, for they say that it is a transformation of the material modes of nature. Actually, the form of the Supreme Lord is beyond the modes of material nature and thus is not like the forms of this material world. His form is fully spiritual and cannot be compared with any material form. Anyone who does not accept the spiritual form of the Supreme Lord is counted among the atheists. Because Lord Buddha did not accept these Vedic principles, the Vedic teachers consider him an atheist. Although Māyāvādī philosophers pretend to accept the Vedic principles, because they do not accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead they indirectly preach Buddhist philosophy, or atheistic philosophy. Māyāvādī philosophy is inferior to Buddhist philosophy, which directly denies Vedic authority. Because Māyāvāda philosophy is disguised as Vedānta philosophy, it is more dangerous than Buddhism or atheism.
The only reason Vyāsadeva compiled the Vedānta-sūtra was so that all living entities could benefit from it by understanding the philosophy of bhakti-yoga. Unfortunately, the Māyāvādī commentary, the Śārīraka-bhāṣya, has practically defeated the purpose of the Vedānta-sūtra. In the Māyāvādī commentary the spiritual, transcendental form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead has been denied and the Supreme Brahman has been dragged down to the level of the individual Brahman, the living entity. Both the Supreme Brahman and the individual Brahman have been denied spiritual form and individuality, although it is clearly stated that the Supreme Lord is the one supreme living entity and the other living entities are the many subordinate living entities. Thus reading the Māyāvādī commentaries on the Vedānta-sūtra is always dangerous. The danger is that through these commentaries one may come to falsely equate the living entity with the Supreme Lord. In this way a conditioned living entity can be falsely directed, and then he can never come to his actual position of eternal activity in bhakti-yoga. In other words, the Māyāvādī philosophers have rendered the greatest disservice to humanity by promoting the impersonal view of the Supreme Lord and thus depriving human society of the real message of the Vedānta-sūtra.