anaṣṭo naṣṭavan mṛṣā
naṣṭe ’haṅkaraṇe draṣṭā
manyamānaḥ—thinking; tadā—then; ātmānam—himself; anaṣṭaḥ—although not lost; naṣṭa-vat—as lost; mṛṣā—falsely; naṣṭe ahaṅkaraṇe—because of the disappearance of the ego; draṣṭā—the seer; naṣṭa-vittaḥ—one who has lost his fortune; iva—like; āturaḥ—distressed.
The living entity can vividly feel his existence as the seer, but because of the disappearance of the ego during the state of deep sleep, he falsely takes himself to be lost, like a man who has lost his fortune and feels distressed, thinking himself to be lost.
Only in ignorance does a living entity think that he is lost. If by attainment of knowledge he comes to the real position of his eternal existence, he knows that he is not lost. An appropriate example is mentioned herein: naṣṭa-vitta ivāturaḥ. A person who has lost a great sum of money may think that he is lost, but actually he is not lost—only his money is lost. But due to his absorption in the money or identification with the money, he thinks that he is lost. Similarly, when we falsely identify with matter as our field of activities, we think that we are lost, although actually we are not. As soon as a person is awakened to the pure knowledge of understanding that he is an eternal servitor of the Lord, his own real position is revived. A living entity can never be lost. When one forgets his identity in deep sleep, he becomes absorbed in dreams, and he may think himself a different person or may think himself lost. But actually his identity is intact. This concept of being lost is due to false ego, and it continues as long as one is not awakened to the sense of his existence as an eternal servitor of the Lord. The Māyāvādī philosophers’ concept of becoming one with the Supreme Lord is another symptom of being lost in false ego. One may falsely claim that he is the Supreme Lord, but actually he is not. This is the last snare of māyā’s influence upon the living entity. To think oneself equal with the Supreme Lord or to think oneself to be the Supreme Lord Himself is also due to false ego.
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