Even if we can’t change the content of our experience, we can change its context
Sometimes people ask spiritualists, “What do you gain in this life by your spiritual practices? You too face the same problems as we do – you too will grow old, get diseased and die.”
Actually, spirituality does change the content of our experience – when we practice bhakti-yoga, we connect with Krishna, who is the reservoir of all happiness. By that connection, we relish higher, sweeter, richer experiences inaccessible to those not practicing bhakti. And even if our spirituality doesn’t change some experiences such as old age, disease and death in their content, it changes them dramatically in their context.
Suppose two sets of people are traveling in similarly crowded trains, but one set is being taken to a concentration camp for being exterminated, while the other is being taken to freedom and home. In content, both experience the misery of the crowded train; in context, their experiences are hugely different.
A similar difference applies to the life-experiences of materialists and spiritualists. Whether materialists acknowledge it or not, their materialism makes them conceive of themselves as bags of protoplasm on their way to irrevocable extinction. In contrast, our spirituality enables us to see ourselves as indestructible beings progressing towards eternal life with Krishna. This changed context makes life’s inevitable miseries much more tolerable. The Bhagavad-gita (05.20) indicates that the spiritually realized are not disturbed by life’s ups and downs.
In fact, Gita wisdom transforms our negative material experiences into positive spiritual spurs. We see those experiences as reminders and prompts: reminders of the distressful nature of material existence, and prompts to seek deeper absorption in Krishna. By thus raising our consciousness to the spiritual level, we can better tolerate worldly distresses. And ultimately our spiritualized consciousness helps us transcend material existence, thereby positively transforming our experiences forever.
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