Use intelligence to see beyond appearance

Some people argue, “Seeing is believing.” They deride as unintelligent those who believe in invisible things such as the soul or God.

However, the defining characteristic of intelligence is to see beyond appearance. For example, animals craving for water in a desert unintelligently believe the mirages that appear to be reservoirs of water. Chasing mirages, they try in vain and die in pain. Human beings survive when they use their intelligence to assess, not accept, whatever they see. Evaluating thus, they refuse to chase mirages and instead shrewdly seek an oasis.

Science too rests on using intelligence to see beyond appearance. Scientists go beyond visible phenomena to invisible principles for explaining those phenomena – Newton went beyond falling apples to the concept of gravity. Indeed, technology has dramatically transformed our visible world because researchers tapped invisible laws of nature, rejecting the progress-choking dogma “seeing is believing.”

Using our intelligence to see beyond appearance is vital in our search for happiness. The world allures us with countless sense objects that look irresistibly attractive. However, the pleasure these objects offer is short-lived and soon gives way to a long tail of misery, as the Bhagavad-gita (05.22) cautions. Many celebrities whose looks madden millions are lonely, insecure and distressed; they are heavily dependent on anti-depressants and intoxicants. By adulating or aping them in our pursuit of pleasure, we sentence ourselves to frustration, being deceived by our naïve belief that things are the way they appear to be.

The Gita (03.43) recommends that we use intelligence to situate ourselves on the spiritual platform. This implies turning away from the mirages of sense objects and turning towards the oasis of the all-attractive whole, the supreme spiritual substance, Krishna. When we practice bhakti-yoga and learn to relish the sublime joy of loving him, deceptive worldly appearances can no longer entrap us.

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