QUESTION: How many different levels of material consciousness are there?
ANSWER: There are three: 1) concealed consciousness, like trees and plants; 2) constricted consciousness, like animals and birds; 3) budding consciousness, like human beings who are not yet spiritually awake. These three subcategories fall within the basic category of upadhi-jiva, souls living a dream of false identity. This category is also known as nitya-baddha-jiva, or eternally conditioned souls.
QUESTION: How many levels of budding consciousness are there?
ANSWER: There are many different types. They may be roughly classified as six levels. 1) Uncivilized tribes. 2) Civilized races with developed material knowledge and industrial capabilities, but who are ignorant of proper moral conduct and who have little faith in God. These are the characteristics of the mlecchas (meat-eaters). 3) Civilized races that follow no personal God but are very fond of the beauty of the material world. Buddhist culture provides an example of this. 4) Civilized races that follow an imaginary God. They worship various demigods, thinking them to be supreme, and do good works in the hopes of being promoted to the heavenly material planets where these demigods reside. This form of religion is called imaginary because they believe their conception of God to be the highest, though it is still only material. 5) Civilized races that accept the Original Transcendental Person as the true Supreme Lord, but who do not perform devotional service to Him. 6) Civilized races that are fond of nirvisesa philosophy (the doctrine of impersonal oneness).
QUESTION: Is there level that a soul must pass through to go from the eternally conditioned state to the eternally liberated state?
ANSWER: From the nitya-baddha or eternally conditioned level the soul must rise to the baddha-mukta level, at which the soul lives in the material world but is not caught up in maya (illusion). From the baddha-mukta level the soul may rise to the nitya-mukta (eternally liberated) level, which is the level of svarupa-jiva (souls situated in the reality of their own eternal forms).
QUESTION: Are there different types of baddha-mukta jivas?
ANSWER: There are two types: 1) those with blooming consciousness, like the practicing devotees (sadhana-bhaktas) who serve Krsna by follow the rules of the scriptures; and 2) those with fully flowering consciousness, like the devotees who experience spiritual ecstasy while executing scriptural duties.
QUESTION: Where do the nitya-baddha, baddha-mukta and nitya-mukta souls reside?
ANSWER: The nitya-baddha and baddha-mukta souls reside in the material world. The nitya-mukta souls reside in the spiritual world, Vaikuntha (the place of no anxiety).
VSM 8: Liberation is the Attainment of Krsna's Lotus Feet
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The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me,
their lives are surrendered to Me,
and they derive great satisfaction and bliss
enlightening one another and conversing about Me.
Die Gedanken Meiner reinen Geweihten weilen in Mir,
ihr Leben ist Mir hingegeben,
und sie erfahren große Zufriedenheit und Glückseligkeit,
wenn sie einander erleuchten und über Mich sprechen.