Love of Kṛṣṇa, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is therefore the perfection of real knowledge in understanding things as they are. Our minds can never be vacant. The mind is constantly occupied with some kind of thought, and the subject matter of such thought cannot be outside the eight elements of Kṛṣṇa’s energy. One who knows this philosophical aspect of all thoughts is actually a wise man, and he surrenders unto Kṛṣṇa. The gopīs are the epitome of this perfectional stage of knowledge. They are not simple mental speculators. Their minds are always in Kṛṣṇa. The mind is nothing but the energy of Kṛṣṇa. Actually, any person who can think, feel and will cannot be separated from Kṛṣṇa. But the stage in which he can understand his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The diseased condition in which he cannot understand his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa is the contaminated stage, or māyā. Since the gopīs are on the platform of pure transcendental knowledge, their minds are always filled with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. For example, as there is no separation between fire and air, there is no separation between Kṛṣṇa and the living entities. When the living entities forget Kṛṣṇa, they are not in their normal condition. As for the gopīs, because they are always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, they are on the absolute stage of perfection in knowledge. The so-called empiric philosophers sometimes think that the path of bhakti is meant for the less intelligent, but unless the so-called man of knowledge comes to the platform of bhakti, his knowledge is certainly impure and imperfect. Actually, the stage of forgetfulness of our eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa is separation. But that is also illusory because there is no such separation. The gopīs were not situated in that illusory condition of life, so even from the philosophical point of view, for them there was no separation.
Uddhava continued reading Kṛṣṇa’s message: “ ‘Nothing is separate from Me; the whole cosmic manifestation is resting on Me and is not separate from Me. Before the creation, I was existing.’ ” This is confirmed in the Vedic literature: eko nārāyaṇa āsīn na brahmā na īśānaḥ. “Before creation, there was only Nārāyaṇa. There was no Brahmā and no Śiva.” The whole cosmic manifestation is manipulated by the three modes of material nature. It is said that Brahmā, the incarnation of the quality of passion, created this universe. But Brahmā is the secondary creator: the original creator is Nārāyaṇa. This is confirmed by Śaṅkarācārya: nārāyaṇaḥ paro ’vyaktāt. “Nārāyaṇa is transcendental, beyond this cosmic creation.” In this way, nothing within this cosmic manifestation is separate from Kṛṣṇa, although Kṛṣṇa’s original form is not visible in everything.
Kṛṣṇa creates, maintains and annihilates the whole cosmic manifestation by expanding Himself in different incarnations. Everything is Kṛṣṇa, and everything depends on Kṛṣṇa, but He is not perceived in the material energy, and therefore it is called māyā, or illusion. In the spiritual energy, however, Kṛṣṇa is perceived at every step, in all circumstances. This perfectional stage of understanding is represented by the gopīs. As Kṛṣṇa is always aloof from the cosmic manifestation although it is completely dependent on Him, so a living entity is also completely aloof from his material, conditioned life although the material body has developed on the basis of spiritual existence. In the Bhagavad-gītā the whole cosmic manifestation is accepted as the mother of the living entities, and Kṛṣṇa is the father. As the father impregnates the mother by injecting the living entity within the womb, Kṛṣṇa injects all the living entities into the womb of the material nature. They come out in different bodies according to their different fruitive activities. But in all circumstances, the living entity is aloof from this material, conditioned life.
If we simply study our own bodies, we can understand how a living entity is always aloof from this bodily encagement. Every action of the body takes place by the interactions of the three modes of material nature. We can see at every moment many changes taking place in our bodies, but the spirit soul is aloof from all changes. One can neither create nor annihilate nor interfere with the actions of material nature. The living entity is therefore entrapped by the material body and conditioned in three stages, namely while awake, asleep and unconscious. The mind acts throughout all three conditions of life; the living entity in his sleeping or dreaming condition sees something as real, and when awake he sees the same thing as unreal. It is concluded, therefore, that under certain circumstances he accepts something as real, and under other circumstances he accepts the very same thing as unreal. These matters are the subject of study for the empiric philosopher or the sāṅkhya-yogī. To come to the right conclusion, sāṅkhya-yogīs undergo severe austerities and penances, practicing control of the senses and renunciation.
All these different ways of determining the ultimate goal of life are compared to rivers, and Kṛṣṇa is compared to the ocean. As the rivers flow down toward the ocean, all attempts for knowledge flow toward Kṛṣṇa. After many, many births of endeavor, when one actually comes to Kṛṣṇa, he attains the perfectional stage. Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, kleśo ’dhikataras teṣām avyaktāsakta-cetasām: (BG 12.5) “All are pursuing the path of realizing Me, but those who have adopted courses without any bhakti find their endeavor very troublesome.” Kṛṣṇa cannot be understood unless one comes to the point of bhakti.