(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Every year I’m so inspired by the feeling of spring as I watch its gradual unfolding like the stages of a lovely flower, from bud to full blown petal perfection, or a step by step, most profound, yet accessible concert, which carries one to a moving experience, difficult to convey to others. While the basics of earth, plants, flowers, trees, insects, animals, wind, sky, clouds, sun, moon, and stars are obvious, how they affect and teach me by the power of Krishna’s seasonal changes, can be challenging to express in fresh ways. This is my challenge every year as I am stirred by spring and the various natural transformations, yet because I have the desire to share something meaningful with you, making the endeavor to serve and give, I find new inspiration. This is what has come to me:
The cultivation of spiritual life is like setting different small parts of special lenses in place which enables us to view life from a new and deeper perspective. Beginning with the premise that there is a God, we are eternal souls having a relationship with Him, and that this is a purposeful universe gives us insights completely different from thinking consciousness is simply chemical, electrical reactions, and that life has no meaning. As quantum mechanics in physics has taught scientists that the act of observing something changes the phenomenon being observed, life reflects back to us according to our faith or belief about existence. This can be expressed in the words of Krishna in his Bhagavad Gita [4.11], “As they surrender to Me (or don’t) I reward accordingly.” Ordinarily Krishna is neutral and gives people what they think they want, even arguments against the existence of God, or so-called scientific proof that life comes from chemicals, or that chance evolution is responsible for life. Yet when we take interest in God, he helps us come to Him in every way possible, since the purpose of life is to wake up to the spiritual reality.
However, from the perspective of Vedic texts, for conditioned human beings, material “objective reality” is really a myth, the ultimate conspiracy by the agents and energies of God! In the Gita’s language, we presently see through the modes or qualities of nature (the three gunas), comparable to different colored lenses which are clear or cloudy, leading us to conclusions accordingly. Although we may make experiments with consistent results and draw conclusions which convince those with similar lenses or biases, the ultimate, spiritual, objective reality, or Source of all, will still escape us, since we don’t want to find it! If the truth be told, no one is truly neutral or unbiased. This is a very important concept to grasp, and is part of the key to understanding the limitations of material knowledge and sense perception. Another meaning of the Sanskrit term “maya” or the illusion of the material world by which souls think they are material bodies and minds, is “to measure.” To measure implies that we can control and are superior to what we can observe, and that the purpose of life is to exploit material resources for our personal benefit or corporate agenda.
There is an objective spiritual reality, but it isn’t possible to realize it by simply observing phenomenon and thinking about it through our limited mind and intelligence. In other words, we have to have some qualification to realize the existence of God and see from a true spiritual objective perspective. It is easier to have faith in a particular religious doctrine, but realization is beyond dogma, or the externals of religious practice. To realize the spiritual, objective truth requires a gradual spiritual awakening, also referred to as purification of consciousness, or cleansing our limited conditioned awareness of the material coverings. The pure consciousness and perception of the soul is said to pure like rain water used to be, but it becomes clouded when it falls to the earth and is mixed with mud and debris.
Krishna consciousness or bhakti yoga is the process of removing the contamination or colored filters from our perception, like making distilled water from polluted water. Although it takes time to really see or perceive the soul and God, we can none the less, perceive the spiritual reality by seeing through the scriptures the life all around us, and beginning with the theory of the existence of the soul and God. This brings us back to my spring observations, and how spiritual theory will enable us to see Nature very differently than those who limit their perception to a merely mechanistic perspective of life.
Instead of seeing the unfoldment of time in a linear way (sometimes held even by religionists), the Vedas see time and material life as cyclic, or like a circle rather than a line. If we study natural phenomenon will see this played out everywhere. Something as simple as the hands of a clock which go around and around, visiting and revisiting the various marked hours, teach us about cycles; the rising and setting of the sun, moon and various constellations; the cycles of the moon, and seasons. Even the shape of the planets is round. Our various lives are a process of becoming and then diminishing through birth, growth, duration, byproducts, dwindling, and finally death, and then what?
Science teaches that matter is never created or destroyed, but is endlessly recycled. Spiritually we can say that anything that exists always exists, or that consciousness is never created or destroyed, but is only differently manifest. Consciousness is a symptom of the soul and has no material origin, and matter has no power to act or react without the power of the soul—either by the tiny individual soul (jivatma), or the Supreme Soul (paramatma). Beginning from this spiritual perspective of life, as we observe life and the changes and beauty of Nature, we will appreciate them in relationship to the Supreme Source and Law Maker, who Gaudiya Vaishnavas accept as Krishna in His highest, most loving feature. Of course this is my subjective reality, which rules the spiritual realm as well as here—but in the best way, from the spiritual heart centered on one’s type of love for God. One may prefer God’s manifestation as Lord Vishnu, Krishna or various avatars like Jesus the Christ, or one’s own guru versus another. In spiritual life, diversity is beautiful, and all things are possible!