Human life is meant for plain living and high thinking. Since all conditioned living beings are under the control of the Lord's third energy, this material world is designed so that one is obliged to work. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has three primary energies, or potencies. The first is called antaraṅga-śakti, or the internal potency. The second is called taṭastha-śakti, or the marginal potency. The third is called bahiraṅga-śakti, or the external potency. The living entities constitute the marginal potency, and they are situated between the internal and external Potencies. Being subordinate as eternal servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the jīvātmās, or atomic living entities, must remain under the control of either the internal or external potency. When they are under the control of the internal potency, they display their natural, constitutional activity—namely, constant engagement in the devotional service of the Lord. This is stated in Bhagavad-gītā (BG 9.13):
- mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha
- daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ
- bhajanty ananya-manaso
- jñātvā bhūtādim avyayam
"O son of Pṛthā, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible."
The word mahātmā refers to those who are broadminded, not cripple-minded. Cripple-minded persons, always engaged in satisfying their senses, sometimes expand their activities in order to do good for others through some "ism" like nationalism, humanitarianism or altruism. They may reject personal sense gratification for the sense gratification of others, like the members of their family, community or society—either national or international. Actually all this is extended sense gratification, from personal to communal to social. This may all be very good from the material point of view, but such activities have no spiritual value. The basis of such activity is sense gratification, either personal or extended. Only when a person gratifies the senses of the Supreme Lord can he be called a mahātmā, or broadminded person.
In the above-quoted verse from Bhagavad-gītā, the words daivīṁ prakṛtim refer to the control of the internal potency, or pleasure potency, of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This pleasure potency is manifested as Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, or Her expansion Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune. When the individual jīva souls are under the control of the internal energy, their only engagement is the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu. This is the position of a mahātmā. If one is not a mahātmā, he is a durātmā, or a cripple-minded person. Such mentally crippled durātmās are put under the control of the Lord's external potency, mahāmāyā.
Indeed, all living entities within this material world are under the control of mahāmāyā, whose business is to subject them to the influence of threefold miseries: adhidaivika-kleśa (sufferings caused by the demigods, such as droughts, earthquakes and storms), adhibhautika-kleśa (sufferings caused by other living entities like insects or enemies), and adhyātmika-kleśa (sufferings caused by one's own body and mind, such as mental and physical infirmities). Daiva-bhūtātma-hetavaḥ: the conditioned souls, subjected to these three miseries by the control of the external energy, suffer various difficulties.