What we can know depends on what we know
People sometimes ask, “Can you show me the soul?”
Before we can see the soul, we need to know enough to know what to see. Discolored nails may mean nothing to ordinary observers, but they can be symptoms of anemia to doctors. Medically uninformed people can’t see the anemia, no matter how long they stare at the discolored nails. They need the pertinent knowledge to connect the discoloring with the deficiency of red blood corpuscles.
What we know determines what we can know – this principle is universal in knowledge acquisition. We need to harmonize with it while seeking spiritual knowledge. If we don’t know the characteristics of spirit and how they differ from the characteristics of matter, we can’t know the soul, even if we see it. The Bhagavad-gita states that the soul can be seen only with the eyes of spiritual knowledge (15.11). Those who don’t apply this knowledge for situating themselves in higher consciousness can’t see the soul, even if they try (15.12).
Gita wisdom explains that consciousness is the characteristic of the soul. Matter, being made of insentient atomic particles, has no consciousness. This knowledge of matter and spirit helps us connect consciousness with the presence of the soul.
Thereafter, when we practice yoga, especially bhakti-yoga, we taste a mystical joy. The knowledge that bliss is integral to the soul’s constitution helps us connect this sublime joy with our essential spirituality. As we become purified, our capacity for spiritual cognition becomes increasingly activated. Eventually, we see the soul in its full glory as a blissful part of Krishna and therein rejoice forever (06.20-21).
Demanding to see the soul right now will keep us stuck in spiritual blindness. In contrast, studying the Gita open-mindedly will give us the knowledge to know and see the soul. The choice is ours.
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