The jîva is the fundamental, eternal life unit of every evolving being - tiny fragments of S'iva/Krishna, the Eternal Omnipresent Reality of Pure Consciousness.
A jîva is the essence or soul of an individual evolving being. Each one of us is a jîva. We came into existence as separate from S’îva by our own choice and intention to be an independent being. That is, we are, each one of us, entirely self -created beings. It is as if from an ocean, a tiny droplet of water spontaneously emerges into the atmosphere of its own volition. Thus jîvas are constantly and spontaneously emerging from Krishna and moving away from S’îva into the realm of materiality.
We can trace the emergence of a single jîva from the body of Krishna and follow it through its entire course of evolution, which ultimately culminates in one of the following two situations:
- jîva merges back into the body of Krishna, or
- jîva merges into Krishna Consciousness – this only happens if the jîva has achieved Brahman Consciousness in its last lifetime.
During the journey of a jîva we will see how all that we might now think of as not consciousness, really is consciousness after all.
First we should broaden our distinction between S’îva, Krishna and jîva. S’îva is that Supreme light of total knowledge, which we have called Pure Consciousness. S’îva is complete, self -sufficient and lacking nothing. Krishna is the full expression of this light of total knowledge whose body consists of a vast collection of jîvas. Unlike individual jîvas, Krishna has not become separate from S’îva and therefore maintains connection and ownership of the totality of knowledge. The jîvas are like the cells of the body of Krishna, but Krishna is far more that simply a collection of jîvas.
Think of Krishna as a complete holographic image of S’îva. As with any holographic plate, the image is most vivid and full when the resolving laser is passed through the full, original plate. However, if a small fragment of the plate is broken off, this one fragment is capable of producing the complete image, but will not produce the image with the same vivid and clear resolution that the full plate is capable. Jîvas are like tiny fragments of the Krishna holographic image of S’îva.
Jîvas have two and only two modes of functioning, either at rest or in activity. Jîvas at rest make up the collective consciousness that is the body of Krishna. When a jîva becomes active it spontaneously breaks away from the body of Krishna.
What causes a jîva to come out of a resting state and become active? The cause is the nature of consciousness to be in a state of either rest or activity, and to cycle between the two. Jîvas simply begin to act due to the natural rhythm of consciousness. You and I are jîvas and our action at the beginning of an action cycle resulted in each one of us breaking away from the body of Krishna. Eons of evolutionary experience culminating in this moment have been the result of this action.
Jîvas are eternal, there is no “birth date” for jîvas and they never cease existing. Every jîva is unique because every jîva has had a different range of experience. The jîva is simply a structure that encapsulates a bit of consciousness and some knowledge structures, and is subject to the rest and activity cycles of consciousness.
Once the jîva starts a major activity cycle and breaks away from body of Krishna, that cycle will keep it away for the long tenure of its evolutionary course through innumerable lifetimes. The active existence of the jîva functions within this extremely long activity cycle. Simultaneously, throughout this major cycle, the jîva inhabits numerous bodies that participate in much smaller rest and activity cycles of their own.
Near the end of the jîva’s major activity cycle there will occasionally arise a window of opportunity for the jîva to initiate its free will to:
- either cut short the remaining duration of the major cycle and immediately return to the body of Krishna, or
- initiate a new cycle that extends the major cycle and ultimately culminates in Brahman Consciousness.