Intelligence is limited (05/20/12)
As always your questions are very nice and very fresh.
Here is a quote from Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja on the subject.
“It is a very intricate question—troublesome, intricate and puzzling question. The nature of too much discussion may oppose faith. Ultimately everything is adhokṣaja. Kṛṣṇa, Nārāyaṇa, that is adhokṣaja. We must have some respect for that. It is approachable only through faith, ā, and not with intellectual reason and argument.”
The point in relation to your question is that ultimately it is adhokṣaja, beyond our range of experience and expectations.
The jīva and the brahma-jyoti (bodily effulgence of Kṛṣṇa) are simultaneously one and different. As the collective Brahman effulgence there is no individuality. When individuality arises the jīva cannot stay in the Brahman effulgence. Individuality is the distinguishing characteristic between the jīva and the brahma-jyoti.
The brahma-jyoti is the plane of the taṭasthā and the jīvas are taṭasthā. In other words, both are taṭasthā but in different ways. Taṭasthā means marginal and it also means the outer edge. The center of the Absolute Truth is Kṛṣṇa and the outer edge of the Absolute Truth is Brahman — it is there that the jīvas have their origin, as particles of the Absolute Truth. This happens outside of time and space, so it is called anādi (without beginning).
It may be possible to make an example of the mother and the child. When the child is in the womb it is for all practical purposes non-different from the mother. They are both made of the same stuff, they are one… if the mother dies, the child dies. Only the mother is aware of the child. When individuality arises the child is born, then the child has ego/individuality and the mother and child are recognizably distinct [but are still the same stuff].
The question of our origin has troubled thinkers since time immemorial. But better than thinking is śrota-panthā, hearing from self-realized souls. Hearing from them is purifying and when we have service to the higher Vaiṣṇavas then that purification turns into self-realization.
Without hearing from the ācāryas, Kṛṣṇa remains unknown and unknowable. Not just Kṛṣṇa, but His energies also. Even the material world in which we live is still a great mystery… so what to speak of that which is beyond, in the infinite world.
We must use our intellect but we should always remember that intelligence is one of the material elements that make up this world. Therefore, intelligence is limited. Our three greatest tools for understanding the Absolute Truth are śravaṇam, śraddhā and śaraṇāgati (hearing, faith and surrender).