Recover the soul; don’t re-cover it
We may get the question: “If I am a soul different from my body, then why can’t I realize myself as such?”
Because of our desire to enjoy bodily pleasures, which binds our consciousness to the material level of reality and blinds us to spiritual reality. The primary among such desires is lust.
Human life is an opportunity to recover the soul, that is, to release it from spiritual forgetfulness by removing the covering of lust.
The Bhagavad-gita (03.38) gives three analogies to convey how lust covers the soul. Gita commentators explain that these analogies refer to the coverings on the soul in different species. The analogy of the womb covering an embryo, which connotes the thickest covering, refers to the soul in the plant species, where its consciousness is most constricted. The analogy of dust covering a mirror, which connotes a thinner covering, refers to the soul in the animal world, where its consciousness is slightly more freed. The analogy of smoke covering a fire, which connotes the thinnest covering, refers to the soul in human species, where its consciousness is most freed – free enough to perceive spiritual reality.
By expertly stoking the fire, we can remove the smoke and the fire can blaze forth. Similarly, by leading a regulated life under scriptural guidance, we can remove the covering of lust and gradually re-ignite our spiritual consciousness so that it illumines our path to eternal life with Krishna. Thus, human life is an opportunity to recover the soul, that is, to release it from spiritual forgetfulness by removing the covering of lust.
If, however, we indulge unrestrictedly in lust, as is becoming increasingly common in contemporary culture, then we thicken the covering and transmigrate to the lower species. The soul on the verge of being recovered becomes tragically re-covered.
Nonetheless, even amidst today’s spiritually destructive culture, Krishna stands ever ready to protect, purify and liberate us if we seek his shelter by practicing bhakti-yoga sincerely.
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