The materialists have many branches of philanthropic and altruistic activities from a political, national and international angle of vision, but none of the field work can go beyond the jurisdiction of the misconception of identifying the material body with the spirit soul. Unless, therefore, one is saved from the wrong conception of the body and the soul, there is no knowledge of Godhead, and unless there is knowledge of God, all advancement of material civilization, however dazzling, should be considered a failure.
There is no necessity of tracing out the history of when the living entity desired this. But the fact is that as soon as he desired it, he was put under the control of ātma-māyā by the direction of the Lord. Therefore the living entity in his material condition is dreaming falsely that this is "mine" and this is "I." The dream is that the conditioned soul thinks of his material body as "I" or falsely thinks that he is the Lord and that everything in connection with that material body is "mine." Thus only in dream does the misconception of "I" and "mine" persist life after life. This continues life after life, as long as the living entity is not purely conscious of his identity as the subordinate part and parcel of the Lord.
The different positions of the living entities in the material world under multifarious manifestations of bodies are due to the misconception of "mine" and "I." The karmī thinks of this world as "mine," and the jñānī thinks "I am" everything.
As soon as the living entity becomes situated in his constitutional glory and begins to enjoy the transcendence beyond time and material energy, he at once gives up the two misconceptions of life (I and mine) and thus becomes fully manifested as the pure self.
The two misconceptions of life, namely "I" and "mine," are verily manifested in two classes of men. In the lower state the conception of "mine" is very prominent, and in the higher state the misconception of "I" is prominent.
In the animal state of life the misconception of "mine" is perceivable even in the category of cats and dogs, who fight with one another with the same misconception of "mine." In the lower stage of human life the same misconception is also prominent in the shape of "It is my body," "It is my house," "It is my family," "It is my caste," "It is my nation," "It is my country," and so on. And in the higher stage of speculative knowledge, the same misconception of "mine" is transformed into "I am," or "It is all I am," etc.
There are many classes of men comprehending the same misconception of "I" and "mine', in different colors. But the real significance of "I" can be realized only when one is situated in the consciousness of "I am the eternal servitor of the Lord." This is pure consciousness, and the whole Vedic literatures teach us this conception of life.
The misconception of "I am the Lord," or "I am the Supreme," is more dangerous than the misconception of "mine." Although there are sometimes directions in the Vedic literatures to think oneself one with the Lord, that does not mean that one becomes identical with the Lord in every respect. Undoubtedly there is oneness of the living entity with the Lord in many respects, but ultimately the living entity is subordinate to the Lord, and he is constitutionally meant for satisfying the senses of the Lord.
The Bhagavad-gītā says that one can be freed from the control of the material nature by surrendering unto the Supreme Lord, but if there is no surrender, then the living entity will never be able to control the material nature. So one must also give up this misconception of "I" by practicing the way of devotional service or firmly being situated in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
So the science of bhakti-yoga, of worshiping the Lord, glorifying the Lord, hearing the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from the right sources (not from the professional man but from a person who is Bhāgavatam in life) and being always in the association of pure devotees, should be adopted in earnestness. One should not be misled by misconceptions of "I" and "mine." The karmīs are fond of the conception of "mine," the jñānīs are fond of the conception of "I," and both of them are unqualified to be free from the bondage of the illusory energy.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and, primarily, the Bhagavad-gītā are both meant for delivering a person from the misconception of "I" and "mine," and Śrīla Vyāsadeva transcribed them for the deliverance of the fallen souls. The living entity has to be situated in the transcendental position where there is no more influence of time nor of the material energy. In conditioned life the living entity is subjected to the influence of time in the dream of past, present and future.