Changing Our Angle of Vision to Uncover our Soul Part 2

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Hearing from the Sadhus
We have to confront the mind to begin change, and the mind according to the Bhagavad Gita is our best friend or worst enemy. Our mind’s business, in addition to accepting and rejecting, is to protect the false ego. False ego is the subtlest material element. It is so close to us, we can miss it, just as we don’t see our eyelid, or the back of our head. It is the force which compels us to identify our soul with matter. This is the root cause of all our suffering. We could also say the false ego is the foundation upon which we build our material identity, though truly our material structures are like castles in the air! This means, that in order to understanding our spiritual identity, we have to unravel or dismantle this false foundation and build a new one based on the soul. Our soul and our relationship to Krishna are the only solid ground for our heart’s happiness and fulfillment.

The goal of any personal growth work, or improving ourselves or life in any way, should be to make our life more favorable for spiritual practice. While we study and understand our eternal nature and relationship with God, or Krishna, and do our spiritual work, we have to take the help from our conditioned nature and mind. Often beginning spiritual practitioners try to condemn or fight against the bodily nature and mind. This is ill-advised, and will backfire. Though we do have to control the lower nature, in bhakti, we spiritualize our bodily nature and desires, by using them in Krishna’s service. This means that fruitive or selfish work, which is the cause of bondage, can become the cause of our liberation, if we dedicate that work for the satisfaction of Krishna and his pure devotees.

Bodily identification not only means our attachment for what we perceive as the positive aspects of our conditioned nature, but also our repulsion for those parts of ourselves that we dislike, loathe or even hate. These are known in the modern world as our "shadow or dark side, personal “issues” over the choices we made or didn’t make, or with people we dislike, resent, or hate. We often don’t like our self very much—our conditioned self, actually—and we also have self loathing. With unresolved anger or resentment toward our self or others, we often lash out at people or situations which have nothing to do with the real source of our problems.

Though me might go far back to our childhood and believe it was our parents who screwed us up, it could be someone else as well--there are unlimited people and situations to blame if we put our mind to it. However, our problems with life and other people are also inherited from our previous lifetimes. At some point in our growth and healing, we will see that the real culprit is not outside our self. We are the problem, or rather our conditioned, selfish self, and our identifying our self with a temporary, and miserable material body is the problem. Deep introspection is essential which can also benefit from trained help. Whatever way we gain insight into our life, we need to see through the neutral lens of detachment, which means being able to step back from our life, like a third person looking at someone else. This vision can help us understand the necessity for change.

Without such insights people become overwhelmed by their emotional attachments or aversions, and can’t do what they, at a deeper level, know they should do. I find that most everyone knows what to do to solve their problems, but they don’t believe in themselves to trust their personal guidance. Skilled, compassionate friends or counselors can help their acquaintance or clients discover what they already know to do—at least subconsciously. Much of our advancement comes not only from having a humble attitude about the smallness of our existence, but in having confidence in Krishna’s guidance, and his maintaining and helping us in every aspect of our life. From Lord Chaitanya’s Shikshastakam prayers we learn that humility and confidence go together.

The more we spiritually advance, the more our soul comes out, and the less we have interest in the world for our personal benefit. We see the world as meant for Krishna’s enjoyment, ourselves as his servant, and gradually we uncover a particular loving relationship with Him. Therefore, Krishna consciousness means uncovering our pure spiritual self by the purification of bhakti or spiritual practice through the mercy of the Lord and his pure devotees. Spiritual life is about beneficial change in pursuit of our highest ideal, love for Krishna, or Krishna prema. This love is the perfection of our personal growth and spiritual work.

We will some day become what we hold as our more cherished ideal—that is who we are. This fact that we become what we hold dear and meditate on keeps us in the material world, or brings us to Krishna. We can have whatever our hearts desire. Our real “occupation”, or the true calling of our soul, is to manifest our love and service for Krishna, which creates the spiritual world wherever we are. Removing our anarthas and material desires is part of the work to uncover our spiritual nature.