We need to come at least slightly out of ignorance to realize that we are in ignorance
- When people are a little drunk, they can understand that they are intoxicated and need to be careful – they shouldn’t drive, lest they meet with an accident or get a DUI. But if they are very drunk, then that drunkenness gives them an illusion of being in control; they insist, “I am fine” – though they can’t control their slurring even while speaking those few words.
- Just as alcohol can intoxicate, so can material nature’s mode of ignorance (referred henceforth as “ignorance”). This mode is characterized, the Bhagavad-gita (14.13) indicates, by utter delusion with neither proper vision nor proper action. When in ignorance, we don’t even realize that we can’t think or act effectively – we imagine that things are fine. Only when we come a little out of ignorance can we realize that things are very wrong, that ignorance has reduced us to bumbling caricatures of ourselves. Though such a realization can dishearten, it can also awaken.
- To get such awakening realizations, we need to regularly engage in spiritual disciplines that bring our consciousness in contact with transcendence. Prominent among such disciplines are associating with devotees, doing deity worship, practicing mantra meditation and studying scripture. Because of ignorance, we may not relish these activities. Indeed, ignorance may impel us to reject these disciplines as pointless and tasteless, just as drunkards may reject activities requiring sobriety.
- But by remembering that we ourselves have relished these activities in the past and by observing that many devotees relish them even now, we can come a little out of ignorance. Then, with a scripturally-guided intelligence, we will see the tastelessness as a problem not with these disciplines but with our consciousness. And we will feel inspired to persevere, thereby purifying ourselves of ignorance and regaining the missing taste.
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