So make your life successful, that "I am not this body." Simply by understand... "I am not this body. I am embodied within this body, encaged. But I am not this cage." Just like a bird is within the cage. The cage is not the bird. But foolish persons, they are taking care of the cage, not of the bird. The bird, out of starvation, is suffering. So we are suffering spiritual starvation. Therefore nobody is happy in this material world. Spiritual starvation. Therefore we see in an opulent country like America, enough food, enough residence, enough material enjoyment, still they are becoming hippies, all over the world. They are not satisfied, because it is spiritual starvation. Materially we may be very opulent, but if you starve spiritually, you cannot be happy. This is the process.
Bird within a cage
SB Canto 1
Because foolish people have no information of the soul and how it is beyond the purview of the body and mind, they are not satisfied in the performance of their occupational duties. The question of the satisfaction of the self is raised herein. The self is beyond the gross body and subtle mind. He is the potent active principle of the body and mind. Without knowing the need of the dormant soul, one cannot be happy simply with emolument of the body and mind. The body and the mind are but superfluous outer coverings of the spirit soul. The spirit soul's needs must be fulfilled. Simply by cleansing the cage of the bird, one does not satisfy the bird. One must actually know the needs of the bird himself.
The need of the spirit soul is that he wants to get out of the limited sphere of material bondage and fulfill his desire for complete freedom. He wants to get out of the covered walls of the greater universe. He wants to see the free light and the spirit. That complete freedom is achieved when he meets the complete spirit, the Personality of Godhead.
SB Canto 3
The child thus remains just like a bird in a cage, without freedom of movement. At that time, if the child is fortunate, he can remember all the troubles of his past one hundred births, and he grieves wretchedly. What is the possibility of peace of mind in that condition?
After birth the child may forget about the difficulties of his past lives, but when we are grown-up we can at least understand the grievous tortures undergone at birth and death by reading the authorized scriptures like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. If we do not believe in the scriptures, that is a different question, but if we have faith in the authority of such descriptions, then we must prepare for our freedom in the next life; that is possible in this human form of life.
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
Prabhupāda: If you remain in a room, to serve the room, does it mean that serving you? You are within a room. Simply cleansing the room, does it mean serving you? The present moment, what they are doing? Just like my Guru Mahārāja used to say that a man has fallen on the water, and one brave man came. He said that "I shall save this man." And he also jumped in the water and brought his coat and shirt, and he said, "Now the man is saved." Is it saving the man? So similarly, the service of humanity means they are serving the body. Where is the soul? They do not know how to serve. Just like washing the cage, and the bird within the cage, it is starving (imitates bird): "kanh kanh kanh." So they do not know what is service.
So anyone who's accepting this material body as very important... Just like the other day, some rascals came. They were very much eager for feeding this body. Those who are starving, starvation... Starvation of the bodily concept of life. But there is spiritual starvation. That we are not taking care. Material starvation may be there, but actually that is not a problem because there is sufficient arrangement for maintaining this material body. Real starvation is of the soul. The soul is not getting spiritual food. Here, in this meeting, this is meant for giving to the starving spirit soul. And as soon as you get some spiritual food, then we become happy. That is the situation. Yayātmā suprasīdati. Unless you get spiritual food there cannot be satisfaction of the real soul. The same example, within the cage there is the bird. If you simply wash the cage very nicely and cover it and paint it and the bird within the cage is crying, starving... What is this civilization? Similarly, we spirit soul, we have been encaged within this body, so our natural aspiration is to get freedom from this encagement. As much as the bird is struggling to get freedom from the cage. Similarly, we are also, we are not happy being encaged.
Just like the American young men, they are now disgusted with this material civilization. So they are searching after knowledge. But unfortunately, the state is also not very enthusiastic, and there are many who are exploiting. But here is the knowledge. And that point comes, when the karmīs become disgusted, confused. Because the spirit soul, he wants spiritual life. He cannot be happy with any amount of materialistic life. In our childhood we read one poetry that a boy has brought one bird, and the bird is talking with the boy. "My dear bird, you live with me. I shall give you very nice fruits. I shall talk with you," and so many things. But the bird says, "No, I want to go away. I want to go away." "No, I shall give you a golden cage. You don't go away." So he says, "No, no. I don't like golden cage. I want freedom." So that was talk. So similarly, if a bird is kept in golden cage and if golden foodstuff is supplied to him, it is not happy. It is not possible. Similarly we are spirit soul. Any amount of material happiness will never make me happy. That is a fact.
Kṛṣṇa said that "If you do not get Me, here is a chance, human form of body." Aprāpya mām. "If you don't get Me, if you come..., do not come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then what is the result? Nivartante, mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani." If you do not take chance... Just like sometimes you have seen somebody takes his bird in the field and let him loose, out of the cage, and the bird goes and he also goes behind. But if the bird takes chance, "Now I am..., now let loose, let me fly away." But that, that he does not do. He again comes into the cage, again. Again he comes. So this human form of body is just like let loose. Now you get the freedom of flying away from this mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani, but that we'll not do. We'll enter again. We'll enter. Everything is clear.
The same example, as I have already said many times, that within the cage there is the bird. You don't take care of the bird, and you simply cleanse this cage—the bird will not be satisfied. He will cry always, "Give me food. Give me food."
Material world means everyone is working hard only for the happiness of the body. And some of them, they are trying to be happy by the happiness of the mind. Just like arts, poetry, philosophy, speculating on. But both of these kinds of happiness will not give us real happiness. Because real happiness belongs to the soul. Basic principle of happiness missing. Therefore simply by bodily comforts, sense gratification, we cannot be happy. And actually it is so happening. People are endeavoring throughout the whole world for bodily comforts, for sense gratification, but they're not happy. There cannot be happiness. Because... The same example. Suppose you have got a nice coat. If you simply show the coat and iron the coat and keep it very nice, that does not mean you'll be happy. Because you are trying to get happiness from the coat or shirt. That is not happiness, that is not possible. Happiness is possible when you try to make happy the soul. Then happiness is possible. Another example is given—just like a bird within the cage. If you simply wash the cage and keep it very nice and don't give any food to the bird, then the bird will never be happy simply by polishing the cage. So this is the cage, this material body is the cage of the soul. Therefore material living being is called conditioned or encaged.
Just like this body. Your body, my body, this is bahir-artha, external. Just like my, this wrapper. This is external. Real person is the soul. But they have no information of the soul, neither information of Viṣṇu, the origin of soul. They are interested with the external body. That is called bahir-artha. Bahiḥ means external. Artha means interest. Just like you have seen, our, in our Bhāgavata, the picture, that one lady is taking care of the cage, and the bird within is dying. So bahir-artha-mānī means this, that we are taking care of the body, external body, but not taking care of the soul within. This is the civilization of cows and asses. Sa eva go-kharaḥ (SB 10.84.13). Go means cows, and khara means asses.
Just like a rascal. He's simply washing the coat, but does not take care of the body. Or a bird is in the cage and if you take care of the cage and don't take care of the bird within the cage... The bird is crying: "Ka Ka. Give me food, give me food." But you are taking care of the cage. This is foolishness. So why we are unhappy? Why, in your country especially... You are supposed to be the richest country in the world. You have no scarcity. No scarcity of food, no scarcity of motor car, no scarcity of bank balance, no scarcity of sex. Everything is there, complete, in full abundance. And still why a section of people are frustrated and confused like the hippies? They are not satisfied. Why? That is the defect. Because there is no balance. You are taking care of the bodily necessities of life, but you have no information of the soul. And there is necessity of the soul also. Because soul is the real subject matter. Body is the covering only.
So whole world is missing the point that he is not this body, the body is his encagement, and we are accepting sometimes golden encagement and sometimes iron encagement, and sometimes silver encagement and wooden encagement. He's thinking by changing the encagement, he will be happy. But he does not know this is encagement, or cages. So either you are put in the golden cage or iron cage or wooden cage or any cage-cage is cage. And so... So long you are not free... Just like the bird is kept into the cage. He's unhappy. He's unhappy. It may be golden cage. It doesn't matter. Similarly, we cannot be happy with this encagement. We must be free from the encagement. Freedom. That is called liberty, mukti. That is required. So the Māyāvādī philosophers, they do no know that "Suppose, even I get free, so where shall I go?" He thinks, "I shall be free in the sky." Just like impersonalism. Sky is impersonal. So if suppose a bird is given freedom, but he flies in the sky, will he be happy? No. That also he'll not be happy. Then he'll again think of that "It was better to remain in the cage. Now what is the value of my, this freedom? I'm not happy." And again go back to the cage. You will see in India. There is a bird, fiftil.(?) Fiftil. The man who keeps that bird in the cage, sometimes he takes it to the open field, and he opens the door, opens the door, and the bird walks, sometimes flies. He is given freedom. Then again the man: (makes coaxing sound:) ts-ts-ts-ts. He says like that, and the bird comes again within the cage. You'll see. If you have seen, those who are Indian. But he thinks that "I have been given freedom now. But where shall I go? Where shall I go? I have to eat." So he again comes back: "Better to live within this cage. Better to live within this cage."
There are many examples. Just like in a nice cage, in a golden cage, there is a bird. If you don't give any food to the bird and simply wash the cage very nicely, oh, there will be always, (imitates bird:) "Chi chi chi chi chi chi." Why? The real bird is neglected. Simply outward covering. So similarly, I am spirit soul. That I forgot. Ahaṁ brahmāsmi: "I am Brahman." I am not this body, not this mind. So people are trying to burnish the body and the mind. First of all they try to burnish the body. This is material civilization. Very nice clothing, very nice food, very nice apartment, very nice car, or very nice sense enjoyment—everything is very nice. But that is to this body. And when one is frustrated to this very nice arrangement, then he goes to the mind: poetry, mental speculation, LSD, marijuana, drinking, and so many things. These are all mental. Actually, happiness is not there in the body, nor in the mind. Read happiness is in the spirit. Therefore Bhagavad-gītā says, sukham ātyantikaṁ yat tad atīndriya-grāhyam (BG 6.21). The real, the ultimate happiness is that which is beyond this material senses. Ātyantikaṁ yat tad atīndriya. Atīndriya means—indriya means the senses—transcendental to the senses. That means that spiritual. There are many instructions and practical also. So unless we go to the spiritual platform, we cannot have actual happiness.
Prabhupāda: This living soul, he is never born. That body is changed, that is called birth. But the soul is immortal. So he never takes birth, he never dies. "No, I see that he has died." No, that is the annihilation of his body. Take it from me that by the annihilation of the body, the soul is not dead. This, this is authority and this is, we have to accept this authority. If you don't accept authority, if you have no reason to understand how the soul is immortal, then what we are, except like the animals? So one who does not believe or cannot understand, he is no better than animal. He has no knowledge. This is the beginning of knowledge. Then other (indistinct). First of all one must understand what he is. If he does not know what he is, he is wrongly directed. He is taking care of the body. Just like he, the cage and bird. If you simply take care of the cage without taking care of the bird, is that very good knowledge? That is foolishness.
Conversations and Morning Walks
1975 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Yes. Chanting is a spiritual method for cleansing our heart. Because all dirty things are there in the heart, if the heart becomes clean, then we can understand things as they are. The first misunderstanding, that everyone is thinking that he is this body, this is due to ignorance. So when one is cleansed he can understand that he is not this body; he is separate from the body; he lives within this body. Therefore when the person leaves this body it is dead lump of matter. So people are giving more importance to the lump of matter than to the real person within the body. Just like a bird is within the cage, the cage is being washed very nicely and no food to the bird. Therefore the bird is in disturbed condition, and he's crying, "Khan, khan, khan, khan." This is going on. They're giving stress on the cage, not the bird within the cage. Neither do they know that the living being is within this material body.
Your fourth question: "Whether or not it is possible for the soul to exist without having this external gross and subtle body covering it? So if the bird is existing within the cage and someone takes away the cage does that mean that the bird can no longer exist? No. This body is illusion. It is only because of out attachment for this body that we have to remain within it. But as soon as one transfers his attachment to Krsna then no more is there any need for this body.
As I am travelling all over the world, I see that people are not satisfied. The dissatisfaction of the whole human race is being manifested in different ways. As sometimes the root disease becomes manifest by different symptoms. So far we understand from authoritative sources the dissatisfaction of the human race can be mitigated only by the acceptance of Krishna consciousness. The Bhagavad-gita confirms this: bhoktaram yajna tapasam/ sarva loka mahesvaram/ suhrdam sarva bhutanam/ jnatva mam samtim rcchati (BG 5.29). Another example can be given that if by taking care of the cage of the bird without taking any care of the bird within the cage, certainly the bird will be restless and unhappy and create disturbances.