We need to see intellectually before we can see visually
People ask, “Can you show me the soul?”
Yes, answers Gita wisdom. But it underscores that we need to see intellectually before we can see visually. Let’s understand with an example from medicine.
If congenitally blind people gain vision through some treatment, their initial experience of sight is not illuminating but disturbing. As they have never seen anything before, they just can’t make sense of the splashes of shapes and colors that confront their eyes.
For example, when an acquaintance talks with such people, they turn towards the source of the voice and just see an unrecognizable pattern of outlines and shades. Only because they know beforehand that voices come from faces do they infer that the pattern in front of their eyes is a face. And because that voice is familiar, they infer that pattern to be the face of their acquaintance.
Consider another example: Blind carpenters who gain vision gaze at a hammer with a blank look. Only when they touch it, as they are habituated to, do they recognize it and start handling it with their usual deftness.
The point is that we need a conceptual framework to make sense of what we see. Unless we see intellectually, the signals that enter our eye add little to our comprehension. To the contrary, they may add to our confusion, because we may subconsciously process those inputs using an incompatible conceptual framework.
No wonder the Gita (15.10) underscores that perceiving spiritual reality requires the eye of knowledge (jnana-chakshu), the conceptual framework necessary to make sense of spirit – a framework that the Gita provides coherently and cogently.
But to gain this eye of knowledge, we need to change our starting question from “can you show me the soul?” to “can you explain what is the soul?”
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