Light is usually seen before warmth is felt, but spiritual warmth frequently needs to be felt before spiritual light is seen
If we are lost in the dark and cold, we can spot the light of a fire long before we feel its warmth. In the spiritual domain, however, we often need to feel spiritual warmth before we can see spiritual light.
First, because people often don’t feel the need for spiritual light. The illusions of material existence have so blinded people that they don’t even know that they are blind. Though they are ignorant about life’s ultimate meaning or purpose, society provides them hundreds of contingent meanings and purposes even if these can be rendered invalid by life’s upheavals at any moment. Additionally, given that any philosophy can be critiqued through a simple Google search and given that philosophy is sometimes used to ideologically indoctrinate the masses, many people aren’t persuaded even if presented spiritual wisdom rationally and cogently.
Second, because people often feel the need for spiritual warmth. Modern and postmodern humans live in an increasingly fast-paced world that leaves little time or scope for deep human connections, thereby giving rise to increasing feelings of loneliness and alienation. Nowadays, people seek spirituality more for belonging to a community than for reaching any ultimate reality. They become receptive if they experience the warmth of courtesy and sensitivity, if they sense that those sharing spiritual wisdom are their well-wishers. Sound philosophy matters, of course, but it isn’t usually enough to get people to open their hearts.
That’s why when sharing our spirituality with others, we need to reach out more with spiritual warmth than with spiritual light. We learn to moderate our verbal presentation by following the Bhagavad-gita’s guidelines for discipline of speech: speak sensitively, not just truthfully; speak pleasingly, not just beneficially (17.15). Essentially, we need to focus on connecting with people’s hearts, not just correcting their heads.
Think it over:
- Why do people not feel the need for spiritual light?
- Why do people feel the need for spiritual warmth?
- How can we reach out more with spiritual warmth than with spiritual light?
17.15 Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature.
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