In the Thirteenth Chapter of Gita, Kṛṣṇa has been talking about realized vision of the relationship between spirit and matter (text 27). It is a vision that the soul and Supersoul are everywhere (28). This vision causes one to never act in a self-degrading manner (29).
After mentioning action, Kṛṣṇa goes on to say how this realized vision sees action: S/he sees that actions and reactions occur only in the material field (30), and that the actual self is distinct from the transformations of the field (31). “Distinct” means that the transformations in the field of matter do not cause the soul to transform. (32)
How Kṛṣṇa gives two analogies to illustrate these topics. 13.33 is the first analogy.
It is an analogy involving the “sky” – which actually means “space.” (aakaasha). Space is everywhere. Everything exists in space. But space doesn’t become contaminated or changed by the things that exist within it.
Space, by definition, is the area in which all other things exist. Air exists in space, fire exists in space, water, earth too. Space, however, remains space – it doesn’t change into earth, water, fire or air. Flowers exist in space, dog shit also exists in space, but space is just space, it doesn’t get changed into something else by having a fragrant flower or a smelly pile of dog doo in it. Space holds all things, but space is unchanged by the things it holds.
This analogy clarifies the relationship between the soul and matter!
All of the transformations of matter take place because of the soul. Although the soul causes matter to transform, the soul itself is never transformed by any transformation it causes – Just as space is never transformed into the object that it holds within it.
Maybe then we can visit my old friends in porno shops and conventions and check out the “transformations of matter?” It will not affect us… right? I mean, spiritually…. Right?
That is partially true. It will affect our senses with hunger, it will affect our minds with desires, it will affect our intelligence with plans of how to fulfill the desires to appease the new sensual hunger that has appeared / transformed into our senses. And it will affect our sense of identity (false-ego), causing us to conceive of ourselves as one who requires a particular flavor of sense gratification.
True, it does not affect the soul. But it does affects every avenue the soul possesses to express and realize itself.
Therefore the transformations of matter do indirectly affect the soul. Similarly a pile of dog shit, does indirectly affect space. It makes the space/area smelly and we run away from it. Although the actual physical substratum of space has not been contaminated – for all practical purposes the usable space surrounding a pile of dog shit is ruined until that poop is scooped and the area cleaned.
A person situated in Brahman does not interact with material desires. There is no question therefore of how such a person would react to an environment of sense gratification. The question could arise, however, for a person just attaining Brahman. Such a person realizes that the residual transformations occurring in the material field have nothing to do with himself. His false-ego, intelligence, mind and senses are like a dry coconut husk that is detached from the inner meat of the coconut, the soul. However this person does not go to the porno shop to shake his coconut (hahaha) and hear how nicely it rattles. The person en route to Brahman has residual karmic transformations occurring in the gross and subtle body – but she or he does not pursue them or initiate any new ones.
The rest of us are just still into sense gratification. The recurrence of sensual activities that we initiate every day is undeniable proof that we are nowhere near the realized spiritual platform.
We need to get cured of that.
The pill is nama-sankirtana, coupled with Vaishnava-seva – and augmented by constant hearing and discussing of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, his qualities/philosophy, and his beauty.