Study matter for deconstruction, edification, redirection and utilization
On the spiritual path, studying matter can aid our inner growth in many ways. Let’s consider four of them:
Deconstruction: Study of matter can help us deconstruct material things, thereby decreasing our vulnerability to becoming tempted by them. The Sankhya system of analyzing matter into its constituents shows how even the most enticing worldly forms are simply made of earth, water, fire, air and ether – none of which are enticing. Contemporary systems for studying matter such as modern science can serve a similar deconstructionist purpose today; irresistible-seeming sense objects can be seen as made of nondescript subatomic particles running wild.
Redirection: Of course, when things exist in particular forms, they do have their attractiveness, which we don’t have to deny or deride. But we do need to see their attractiveness as pointers towards Krishna’s all-attractiveness. The Bhagavad-gita (10.41) aids such devotional redirection of our consciousness by stressing that everything attractive manifests a spark of Krishna’s splendor. Modern science has revealed the delicacy and intricacy that pervades existence at all levels from the macroscopic to the microscopic. By understanding such artistry, we can appreciate the supreme artist who has infused those things with such brilliance.
Edification: By observing the functioning of various things, we can learn valuable life-lessons. Natural phenomena such as clouds, seas, trees, birds and rivers can serve as wellsprings for rich metaphors and life-enriching insights. By such study, we can also see scriptural truths demonstrated in real-life.
Utilization: For living in this world and for serving Krishna here, we need material things. So, we can study matter to learn how to best use various skills and organize different material resources. Pointing towards such positive utilization, the Gita (18.47) exhorts us to worship Krishna through our work.
When thus directed, the study of the material can help us approach the spiritual.
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