Comprehension comes by the integration of visual perception with intellectual education
We usually consider our eyes as reliable sources of knowledge. In court cases, eyewitness testimonies are deemed strong evidence. Yet valuable as visual perception is, it can be misleading when the action being observed is complex and needs intellectual background to comprehend.
Suppose an eyewitness observed a doctor giving an injection to a patient. If the eyewitness were a child, he or she may see the doctor negatively, as the giver of a painful prick. A more mature observer would see the injection positively, as part of a treatment. But that may not be the case – nowadays with medically assisted suicides on the rise, that injection may well be lethal. Worse still, an unprincipled doctor bribed by greedy relatives might have administered that fatal injection to an unsuspecting patient.
The Bhagavad-gita (15.10) exhorts us to understand the soul not by visual perception alone, but by the integration of visual perception with intellectual education.
Clearly, in complex cases, eyewitness testimony doesn’t tell much. Far more complex than medical matters are spiritual subjects. Naturally therefore the Bhagavad-gita (15.10) exhorts us to understand the soul not by visual perception alone, but by the integration of visual perception with intellectual education. The Gita uses an apt compound word: jnana-chakshushah (eyes of knowledge). When we educate our vision with spiritual knowledge, we see the consciousness that pervades the body as persuasive evidence of a non-material soul. After all, matter that is the building block of the body is unconscious, so it can’t be the source of consciousness.
Gita wisdom offers much more than this inferential comprehension of the soul – it also offers processes for accessing non-material modes of perception. If we follow the process of yoga, especially bhakti-yoga, for activating our latent capacity for spiritual perception, we gain increasing intellectual comprehension and spiritual realization. Being inspired by these insights, we march steadily on the yogic path till we perceive the spiritual realm in its full glory.
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