Perception is a function of association

Suppose some non-Indians unfamiliar with cricket come to India and enter a cricket stadium. They may find the hullabaloo bewildering, and the noisy, sweaty, jammed environ stifling. But if instead of just walking out, they talk with the fans. If the fans explain things to them, cricket will start making sense.

Many spiritually-minded Westerners read Indian wisdom-texts such as the Bhagavad-gita and become inspired to tour and explore spiritual India. But their starry-eyed expectations are often dashed when they see filth, disorder and commercialization, even in places such as Vrindavana that they had envisioned as special and spiritual.

At this point, they face the temptation of letting the first impression be the last and lasting impression. If they succumb to that temptation, they will let disappointment determine their decision and will go back the way they have come, thereby missing the spiritual treasures that hide below the surface. But if they can resist the temptation, they will try to make sense of things by enquiring from some spiritually-informed people.

Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (15.10) reminds us that spiritual truths can be seen only with the eyes of knowledge. Spiritual insight is gained not through sensory perception, but through sensory perception guided by intellectual comprehension and devotional intention. And that training of the head and tuning of the heart to probe below the surface come primarily through spiritual association.

Undoubtedly, spirituality is a subject far deeper and subtler than cricket. So, if association shapes perception even in cricket, how much more vital is association in spirituality. If seekers are fortunate, they get good association. And if they are intelligent, they value that association and let it educate and elevate their perception. Over time, their consciousness guided by spiritual sound will penetrate below the surface of disorganization to the substance of devotion, granting them life’s deepest fulfillment.

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