svarṇaṁ kṛtākṛtam iveha na vastu-bhedaḥ
ajñānatas tvayi janair vihito vikalpo
yasmād guṇa-vyatikaro nirupādhikasya
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says that the living entities are representations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s marginal potency whereas the various bodies accepted by the living entities are products of the material energy. Thus the body is considered material, and the soul is considered spiritual. The origin of them both, however, is the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. As the Lord explains in Bhagavad-gītā (7.4-5):
bhūmir āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ
khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me
bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
apareyam itas tv anyāṁ
prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego — all together these eight comprise My separated material energies. But besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which consists of all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” Thus both matter and the living entities are manifestations of energy of the Supreme Lord. Since the energy and the energetic are not different and since the material and marginal energies are both energies of the supreme energetic, the Supreme Lord, ultimately the Supreme Personality of Godhead is everything. In this regard, the example may be given of gold that has not been molded and gold that has been molded into various ornaments. A gold earring and the gold in a mine are different only as cause and effect; otherwise they are the same. The Vedānta-sūtra describes that Brahman is the cause of everything. Janmādy asya yataḥ. Everything is born of the Supreme Brahman, from which everything emanates as different energies. None of these energies, therefore, should be considered false. The Māyāvādīs’ differentiation between Brahman and māyā is only due to ignorance.
Śrīmad Vīrarāghava Ācārya, in his Bhāgavata-candra-candrikā, describes the Vaiṣṇava philosophy as follows. The cosmic manifestation is described as sat and asat, as cit and acit. Matter is acit, and the living force is cit, but their origin is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in whom there is no difference between matter and spirit. According to this conception, the cosmic manifestation, consisting of both matter and spirit, is not different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Idaṁ hi viśvaṁ bhagavān ivetaraḥ: “This cosmic manifestation is also the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although it appears different from Him.” In Bhagavad-gītā (9.4) the Lord says:
mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ
na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ
“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” Thus although someone may say that the Supreme Person is different from the cosmic manifestation, actually He is not. The Lord says, mayā tatam idaṁ sarvam: “In My impersonal feature I am spread throughout the world.” Therefore, this world is not different from Him. The difference is a difference in names. For example, whether we speak of gold earrings, gold bangles or gold necklaces, ultimately they are all gold. In a similar way, all the different manifestations of matter and spirit are ultimately one in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. ekam evādvitīyaṁ brahma. This is the Vedic version (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.2.1). There is oneness because everything emanates from the Supreme Brahman. The example already given is that there is no difference between a golden earring and the gold mine as it is. The Vaiśeṣika philosophers, however, because of their Māyāvāda conception, create differences. They say, brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: “The Absolute Truth is real, and the cosmic manifestation is false.” But why should the jagat be considered mithyā? The jagat is an emanation from Brahman. Therefore the jagat is also truth.
Vaiṣṇavas, therefore, do not consider the jagat to be mithyā; rather, they regard everything as reality in connection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
yuktaṁ vairāgyam ucyate
vairāgyaṁ phalgu kathyate
“Things should be accepted for the Lord’s service and not for one’s personal sense gratification. If one accepts something without attachment and accepts it because it is related to Kṛṣṇa, one’s renunciation is called yuktaṁ vairāgyam. Whatever is favorable for the rendering of service to the Lord should be accepted and should not be rejected as a material thing.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.255-256) The jagat should not be rejected as mithyā. It is truth, and the truth is realized when everything is engaged in the service of the Lord. A flower accepted for one’s sense gratification is material, but when the same flower is offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead by a devotee, it is spiritual. Food taken and cooked for oneself is material, but food cooked for the Supreme Lord is spiritual prasāda. This is a question of realization. Actually, everything is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore everything is spiritual, but those who are not advanced in proper knowledge make distinctions because of the interactions of the three modes of material nature. In this regard, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says that although the sun is the only light, the sunshine, which is exhibited in seven colors, and darkness, which is the absence of sunshine, are not different from the sun, for without the existence of the sun such differentiations cannot exist. There may be varied nomenclature because of different conditions, but they are all the sun. The Purāṇas therefore say:
jyotsnā vistāriṇī yathā
parasya brahmaṇaḥ śaktis
tathedam akhilaṁ jagat
“Just as the illumination of a fire, which is situated in one place, is spread all over, the energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Parabrahman, are spread all over this universe.” (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 1.22.53) Materially, we can directly perceive the sunshine spreading itself according to different names and activities, but ultimately the sun is one. Similarly, sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma: everything is an expansion of the Supreme Brahman. Therefore, the Supreme Lord is everything, and He is one without differentiation. There is no existence separate from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.