(The living entities in the material world are covered by different degrees of lust—description below)
Devotee: (reading) Thirty-seven: "The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world (BG 3.37)."
Prabhupāda: Yes. Passion, if you increase your passion, then when you cannot fulfill your passion, you'll be angry, wrath, one after another. So this is due to our being situated in the modes of passion.
As I have told you, there are three kinds of modes of material nature. One is goodness, one is passion, and one is ignorance. So ignorance is the lowest quality, passion is still better than ignorance, and goodness is the highest good quality within this material world. And one has to transcend even goodness. Then he can go to the Kṛṣṇa consciousness platform. So one should not remain on the platform of passion. He should try to rise on the platform of goodness, and from there he should try to be promoted in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is one method. But if you take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness directly, then automatically you transcend the platform of ignorance, passion, and goodness. Go on.
Devotee: (reading) Thirty-eight: "As fire is converted by smoke... As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, similarly the living entity is covered by different degrees of this... (BG 3.37)"
Prabhupāda: Lust. Different degrees of lust. Those who are in the modes of goodness, their lust is a different quality. Those who are in passion, their lust is in different quality. Those who are ignorance, their lust is different quality. It is the question...
Just like there are first-class prisoner, second-class prisoner and third-class prisoner. So after all, they are prisoners, maybe first-class, second-class or third-class. That doesn't matter. Similarly, within this material world somebody may be very learned, rich, beautiful, all good qualifications, in the modes of goodness. So they... Or somebody is passion and somebody in lower degree, even animal life. But they are all prisoners within this material world.
One has to transcend this position. One has to transcend even the so-called goodness of the material world. Just like Arjuna was trying to be so-called good man of this material world. He was trying to avoid the injunction of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa wanted him that "You should fight this Kurukṣetra battle," but he wanted to be good man. So that fighting, when he was convinced of Kṛṣṇa's instruction, this Bhagavad-gītā, that means he transcended even the goodness platform of this material world. So Kṛṣṇa is trying to raise him to the... traiguṇya-viṣayā vedā nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna. This whole material atmosphere is surcharged with three modes of material nature. So one has to transcend the modes of material nature. Just like one should not try to become a first-class prisoner. In the prisonhouse, if one is a third-class prisoner and one is first-class prisoner, the third-class prisoner should not aspire that "Let me remain in this prisonhouse and become a first-class prisoner." That is not good. One should transcend the prison walls or come out of the prisonhouse. That is his aim. Go on.
Devotee: (reading) Purport: "There are three degrees of covering of the pure living entity, and thereby the pure consciousness of the living entity, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is embarrassed by nonmanifestation. This covering is but lust under different manifestations, like smoke in the fire, dust on the mirror, and the womb about the embryo. When lust is compared to smoke, it is understood that the fire of the living spark can be a little perceived. In other words, when the living entity exhibits his Kṛṣṇa consciousness slightly, he may be likened to the fire covered by smoke. Although fire is necessary when there is smoke, there is no overt manifestation of fire in the early stage. This stage can be compared with the beginning of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The comparison of the dust of the mirror refers to the cleansing process of the mirror of the mind by so many spiritual methods. The best process is to chant the holy names of the Lord. The comparison of the embryo being covered by the womb is an analogy illustrating the most awkward position, for the child in the womb is so helpless that it cannot even move. This stage of living condition can be compared also to the trees. The trees are living entities, but they have been put into that condition of life by such a great exhibition of lust that they are almost devoid of all consciousness."
Prabhupāda: Yes, these trees... We should know that the trees, they are also living entities, but they have been put in such awkward position that they are standing up in a position for thousands of years. They cannot move even. If somebody is cutting, it cannot protest. They have been put into such conditional life. If somebody is coming to do some harm, they cannot go away. So the most abominable condition of life is the trees. Go on.
Devotee: (reading) "The covered mirror is compared to the birds and beasts, and smoke-covered fire is compared to the human being."
Prabhupāda: Yes. The birds and beasts, they can move. They can protect themselves from somebody who is coming to harm, but still, they have no knowledge. The same... A little better than the trees. Go on.
Devotee: (reading) "In the form of a human being, the living entity can perceive a little Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and if he makes further development the fire of spiritual life can be kindled in the human form. By careful handling of the smoke in the fire, the fire can be made to blaze."
Prabhupāda: Yes. When the fire is covered by the smoke, if you little fan over it, then immediately there is blazing fire; immediately smoke is gone. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or God consciousness, in every living entity, especially human being, there is, even in the aborigines, those who are called uncivilized. They are also offering some respect to the seas, to the thunderbolt, to a big mountain. Something wonderful, they offer. They bow down. That means there is Kṛṣṇa consciousness, so, just like a fire covered with smoke. Now, if you fan it, if you just try to eradicate the smoke, the fire will come out.
So we should take advantage. We have got now this consciousness, God consciousness. Therefore in every human society there is some sort of religious propaganda: "Try to understand God." So we should take advantage of this. But instead of taking advantage of this opportunity, we have declared, "God is dead. I am God. This God, that God." You see? So we are not fanning. We are, rather, going more and more away from God. This should not be done.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, January 1, 1969)
Pictured above (Bhagavad-gita 3.38): The living entity in the center is being enveloped by fiery lust. At the top is fire covered by smoke, symbolizing human life. At the bottom left is a mirror covered by dust, symbolizing animal life. At the bottom right is an embryo covered by the womb, symbolizing tree and plant life.