(Click to enlarge painting of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead)
Guest: Swami, are we now... Are we all part of Kṛṣṇa and at the time of death if we think of Kṛṣṇa, like we become what? Like meshed in with Kṛṣṇa? Like now we're, say, suspended within Kṛṣṇa. But at the time of death, if we think of Him we merge. Is that what you're saying?
Prabhupāda: Yes. You merge means you merge into the spiritual existence, but that does not mean you lose your individuality. You are already merged in the matter. We are all merged. Now your soul, my soul, his soul, you cannot distinguish where is the soul. But body, the material body, we have got everyone. But in spite of our being merged in the matter, we have got our individuality. Similarly, to become merged in spiritual existence does not mean that we lose our individuality. Try to understand. Just like we are all merged into the matter. If you dissect my body, you won't find where is that small particle spirit. It is already merged, but still, we have got individuality. That means spirit soul is individual. Otherwise, so far your body is concerned, my body is concerned, there is blood, you have got blood; you have got muscle, I have got muscle; you have got bones, I have got bones. What is the difference? But why you are individual, I am individual? Because the spirit soul is individual. We are merged in the matter but we keep our individuality. Similarly, you merge in the spirit, you keep your individuality. How can you lose your individuality?
Guest: Your individuality, you mean?
Prabhupāda: Yes. You are individual always. Just try to understand your present position. Yes. You are merged in the matter. I am merged into the matter. But still you keep your individuality, I keep my individuality. Similarly, when you merge in the spirit, why the individuality should be stopped? Only difference is, at the present moment the soul and the matter, they qualitatively different. And when you get spiritual body, the quality of the body and the soul is the same. But individuality must continue. How can you stop individuality? But that individuality and this individuality is different. In that individuality there is no disagreement. In this individuality there is always disagreement. Therefore in spite of individuality, there is oneness.
So individuality will continue. There is... If there is no display of individuality, then you'll have to come back again to this display of individuality in the material world. Because everyone... Individual means he has got his own choice. If I tell you that 'You can come here, but you haven't got any choice,' then you won't like to sit down here. You can sit down here, you can go out immediately. That's your choice. But if I make the condition that 'You can sit down here without your choice,' oh, you will hate to come here. 'Oh, I don't care for your meeting.' That is individuality. But that choice may be very nice, and that choice may be very bad. That is different thing. But you have got your choice. That is individuality. So in the spiritual world the choice is there to serve Kṛṣṇa. Somebody is thinking, 'I shall serve Kṛṣṇa like this.' Somebody is thinking, 'I shall love Kṛṣṇa like this.' The choice is there. The individuality is there. But the center is Kṛṣṇa. Therefore there is no disagreement.
Just like in this world there may be dozens of parties. They may fight with one another, but the center is nationalism. Therefore those parties are not null and void. They're accepted by the government. They may be fighting with one another with aims and objects, but because their point is nationalism, they are accepted. There is the agreement. Similarly, in the service of Kṛṣṇa, there may be individuality, the choice of individuality may be, but the center being Kṛṣṇa, that is absolute. There are many authoritative books, means Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Prīti-sandarbha. But generally, if you simply try to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is, without any malinterpretation, then you get all information of these things.
Just like here Kṛṣṇa advises, yudhya ca mām anusmara: (BG 8.7) 'You go on fighting. Because you cannot stop your fighting because you are a soldier.' But mām anusmara, 'At the same time you think of Me.' This is the secret, that nobody can stop his activities, but he can think of Kṛṣṇa at the same time. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. I have given several times the example that a woman who is in love with other man in spite of her husband, she is very mindful to the household duties, but she is always thinking, 'When at night I shall meet with my friend?' Yudhya ca mām anusmara (BG 8.7). Apparently, she is very busy, very nicely she's performing her household duties, but at mind, oh, she is always thinking of the lover, when she will meet. As it is possible, why not Kṛṣṇa? Is it very difficult? Meditation, perfect meditation. Always, twenty-four hours. You cannot forget Kṛṣṇa. Just like a lover cannot forget beloved. So you have to contact Kṛṣṇa in love, then the meditation continues for twenty-four hours.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, October 26, 1966)