Expansion of consciousness opens the self to the self
When we are so caught in watching a movie as to be oblivious to everything else, our consciousness shrinks to the movie screen. But when we shift our awareness to things around us, we don’t become oblivious to the movie – rather, our consciousness expands to see both.
We are spiritual beings occupying material bodies. As our present existence is distributed over the spiritual and material levels, we need to be aware of both. But our consciousness is presently shrunk to the material level. Yogic practices are meant to expand our consciousness to encompass the spiritual level. The Bhagavad-gita (06.20) indicates that sustained yoga practice enables our spiritually directed consciousness to realize and relish the self.
However, we have little inclination to expand our consciousness beyond the movie-like material world because the fantasy of finding happiness in material things captivates us. This fantasy acts as a perception-blocker that closes the self to the self. So, whereas expanding our consciousness to see beyond the movie requires a simple shift of focus, expanding our consciousness to the spiritual level requires breaking down the perception-blocker.
To open the self to the self, we need spiritual education and experience. By philosophical education coming from Gita wisdom, our intelligence becomes keenly aware of the nature of both the material and the spiritual. The temporality of material things – a temporality that makes even the most glamorized material pleasures ultimately pointless. And the eternality of spiritual things: not just the soul, but also the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna.
Further, by diligent bhakti-yoga practice, the undeniable first-person testimony of our own experience convinces us that the peace and fulfillment of absorption in Krishna supersedes the pleasure found in anything material.
By thus expanding our consciousness, we realize the self fully: not just the soul, but also Krishna – the self of our self, the whole whose parts we are eternally.
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