Be faithful, but be watchful too
People ask, “Why should we believe in invisible things such as the soul and reject realities seen with our eyes?”
Actually, we don’t need to reject visible reality – explaining visible reality requires the postulation of invisible reality. Modern science began with the purpose of explaining the universe’s observable phenomena. But for explaining those phenomena, it required theories that contained more and more unobservable features. Some features are unobservable in practice e.g. fundamental particles; and some, in principle e.g. parallel universes.
When scientists propose a theory with an unobservable feature, they begin with faith in the possibility of that feature’s existence. Then, to detect that feature, they conduct controlled experiments wherein they watchfully prevent extraneous factors from distorting their data. And based on the patterns in that data, they infer that unobservable feature’s existence or non-existence. Thus, the scientific way of knowing combines faithfulness and watchfulness.
The Bhagavad-gita (04.39) recommends a similar combination for knowing spiritual reality. The spiritual quest begins with the open-minded faith that some reality may exist beyond the material. And such faith is entirely reasonable because the fundamental reality that enables us to experience all other realities – the reality of our consciousness – eludes material explanation.
The same verse urges us to regulate our senses, wherein we watchfully evaluate sensory information without letting it monopolize our attention and without assuming that sensory reality comprises the totality of reality. Sense regulation is not a rejection of all sensory information, but the setting for transforming our consciousness into a lab for spiritual investigation. Therein, the controlled experiment of yoga tunes our consciousness to perceive the locus of consciousness – the soul, the spiritual essence of our identity.
Ultimately, this combination of faithfulness and watchfulness catapults us to the supreme joyfulness, for our consciousness rises to the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna, the source of unlimited happiness.
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