Arrogance perverts the wings that free into nets that bind
As spiritual practitioners, we are like baby birds developing wings – wings that will help raise our consciousness to the spiritual level, thus freeing us from the bondage of material existence.
Our learning the philosophy is like the bird’s developing the vision to see far into the sky. Philosophy helps us differentiate between the material and the spiritual so that we can determine our flight destination: the spiritual abode of Krishna. Religious practices like mantra meditation provide an accessible spiritual focus-point like the mantra, thereby facilitating the elevation of our consciousness. Thus, religious practices are the wings that enable us to fly.
However, the ego perverts our attitude towards these liberating activities. Instead of letting us rise to the spiritual level, the ego keeps us at the material level, feeling superior to others due to our religious practices: “I am so holy; they aren’t.”
The Bhagavad-gita (16.17) outlines the mentality of those who reduce religion to a tool for garnering respect from others. The Gita deems such a mentality ungodly, even demoniac. The ‘I’ whose holiness such show-bottle religionists are so proud of is simply their illusory self-conception of themselves as bodies. And their arrogance aggravates that misidentification. Thus, the very religious activities that are meant to provide them wings for flying end up becoming nets that trap them.
Being seekers, we will probably not abuse religion so blatantly. But we are still vulnerable to this trap at a subtler level. How? By desiring prestige more than Krishna while engaging in religious practices.
If we use the philosophy to remind ourselves of our spiritual destination and pray to Krishna for protection from pride, we can subdue the ego and fly with the wings of religious practices towards the spiritual sky, where resides the all-attractive Lord of our heart.