How can we know reality?
Suppose someone is walking on a road with their eyes blindfolded and ears plugged. If they struggled only to remove the ear plugs that blocked their hearing and left their blindfolds untouched, we would consider that strange.
Might we be making a similar error in our life-journey? During our life, we journey physically to various places, seeking the many things that provide us sustenance, strength, safety and sex. In pursuing these things, we humans are like all other living beings. Unlike them, however, we also seek meaning and purpose.
To gain knowledge for fulfilling our bodily drives, we need our senses. They show us threats and opportunities, helping us choose prudently. But to gain knowledge about life’s meaning and purpose – which are in themselves abstract truths, not physical things – our senses aren’t of much help. Seeking to know such truths by extending our sensory knowledge is like pulling off ear plugs to see the path ahead. Unfortunately, that’s what we have done over the last few centuries as we sought to expand our scientific knowledge of physical reality.
Gita wisdom asserts that reality extends beyond the physical; at our core, we are spiritual beings; we are parts of a Divine Whole, Krishna. By divine arrangement, we have been granted the eternal birthright to know reality, especially our place and purpose in it. To tap that right, we need to open ourselves to experiential ways of knowing, thereby expanding our consciousness and activating our capacity for nonphysical perception (Bhagavad-gita 15.10). Such perception reveals how we can play a part in the unfolding of a higher plan for humanity’s holistic well-being. Playing that part infuses our life with the deepest meaning and the highest purpose.
We have the right to know reality, but we need to know the right way to know reality.
Think it over:
- With our senses, what can be known and not known?
- In what sense do we have a right to know reality?
- What is the right way to know reality?
15.10: The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this.
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