The two misconceptions of life, namely "I" and "mine," are verily manifested in two classes of men. In the lower state the conception of "mine" is very prominent, and in the higher state the misconception of "I" is prominent. In the animal state of life the misconception of "mine" is perceivable even in the category of cats and dogs, who fight with one another with the same misconception of "mine." In the lower stage of human life the same misconception is also prominent in the shape of "It is my body," "It is my house," "It is my family," "It is my caste," "It is my nation," "It is my country," and so on. And in the higher stage of speculative knowledge, the same misconception of "mine" is transformed into "I am," or "It is all I am," etc. There are many classes of men comprehending the same misconception of "I" and "mine', in different colors. But the real significance of "I" can be realized only when one is situated in the consciousness of "I am the eternal servitor of the Lord." This is pure consciousness, and the whole Vedic literatures teach us this conception of life.
The misconception of "I am the Lord," or "I am the Supreme," is more dangerous than the misconception of "mine." Although there are sometimes directions in the Vedic literatures to think oneself one with the Lord, that does not mean that one becomes identical with the Lord in every respect. Undoubtedly there is oneness of the living entity with the Lord in many respects, but ultimately the living entity is subordinate to the Lord, and he is constitutionally meant for satisfying the senses of the Lord. The Lord therefore asks the conditioned souls to surrender unto Him. Had the living entities not been subordinate to the supreme will, why would the living entity be asked to surrender? Had the living being been equal in all respects, then why was he put under the influence of māyā? We have already discussed many times that the material energy is controlled by the Lord. The Bhagavad-gītā (BG 9.10) confirms this controlling power of the Lord over the material nature. Can a living entity who claims to be as good as the Supreme Being control the material nature? The foolish "I" would reply that he will do so in the future. Even accepting that in the future one will be as good a controller of material nature as the Supreme Being, then why is one now under the control of material nature? The Bhagavad-gītā says that one can be freed from the control of the material nature by surrendering unto the Supreme Lord, but if there is no surrender, then the living entity will never be able to control the material nature. So one must also give up this misconception of "I" by practicing the way of devotional service or firmly being situated in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. A poor man without any employment or occupation may undergo so many troubles in life, but if by chance the same man gets a good service under the government, he at once becomes happy. There is no profit in denying the supremacy of the Lord, who is the controller of all energies, but one should be constitutionally situated in one's own glory, namely to be situated in the pure consciousness of being the eternal servitor of the Lord. In his conditional life the living entity is servant of the illusory māyā, and in his liberated state he is the pure, unqualified servant of the Lord. To become untinged by the modes of material nature is the qualification for entering into the service of the Lord. As long as one is a servant of mental concoctions, one cannot be completely free from the disease of "I" and "mine."