God is present in our heart, but our consciousness is usually not present there
Some people ask, “Why do we need to go to a temple? God is there in our hearts; we can just remember and worship him in the heart.”
Yes, God is present in our hearts, but is our consciousness present there? Hardly ever. Our consciousness is presently caught in the worldly objects we are attached to. Because our consciousness is externally directed, we cannot perceive God’s indwelling presence.
The Bhagavad-gita (13.22) states that the spiritual soul becomes situated, indeed shackled, in material nature because of the desire to enjoy worldly objects. Our situation is like that of a child who, though sitting safely at home with his mother nearby, is so caught in watching a horror movie on TV as to be oblivious to her presence. Similarly, material cravings and concerns so fill our consciousness that we hardly ever perceive God’s indwelling presence as the Supersoul.
How can we perceive his presence? By raising our consciousness to the spiritual level. Spiritualizing our consciousness is the theme of the entire Bhagavad-gita and especially of its conclusion. Therein (18.65), it urges us to remember Krishna, become devoted to him, worship him and offer him our obeisances. Offering obeisances is a physical action wherein we bow down to an external divine manifestation such as a temple Deity.
As our consciousness is externally directed, we need to go to places where the externals are rich with spiritual stimuli. Without such external spiritual stimulation, whatever spiritualization we experience through inner recollection alone will be superficial and short-lived.
When we consistently expose ourselves to external spiritual stimuli, that spiritual stimulation won’t just purify the impurities that drag our consciousness outward; it will also activate our latent spiritual awareness. Only with our consciousness thus spiritualized can we steadily and substantially relish Krishna’s indwelling presence.
To know more about this verse, please click on the image
Explanation of article:
How philosophy and realization harmonize in bhakti
[Bhagavatam class at ISKCON, Lost Angles, USA]