Illusion makes us oblivious to the obvious
Nothing is as amazing as our obliviousness to the reality whose obviousness is evident all around us: death. This was king Yudhishthira’s insightful observation in the Mahabharata; he uses the word “amazing” as a euphemism for “amazingly dumb.”
Why are we so oblivious? The Bhagavad-gita (03.39) indicates that our knowledge is covered by the illusion spread by lust. This illusion first makes us believe that we can and will enjoy life through our senses. Then it protects this belief by blinding us to the facts that play spoilsport, especially the fact of death that acts as the greatest spoilsport.
Let’s see how this fanciful blinding plays out in our times. Death is obvious in the daily news headlines as well as in popular movies. Yet, because these media portray death primarily as an information item or an entertainment commodity respectively, we stay oblivious to the grimness of death. In a typical action movie, the bullets whiz all around the hero, but somehow never kill him. Likewise, we subconsciously believe that, though the bullets of death whiz all around us, they will somehow never down us. This belief survives, even flourishes, despite having no supporting evidence and having universal opposing evidence. The pervasiveness of this blind belief is scary testimony to the power of illusion.
Gita wisdom informs us that the more we free ourselves from lust, the more the grip of illusion on us decreases, and the more we realize as obvious the reality to which we were earlier oblivious. This reality includes the fact of death, but also extends beyond it to the fact of our eternal life of love with Krishna in the arena beyond death.
Put as an equation, our journey from “oblivious” to “obvious” reflects the difference between the spellings of these two words:
Oblivious – LI (Lust-induced Illusion) = Obvious
“Thus the wise living entity’s pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisﬁed and which burns like ﬁre.”