What is the spiritual reality
- reflection in the water -
The world as a distorted reflection of spiritual reality
The material world experienced in the NOW is existent or a reality at the time of the experience. However, time is the annihilator of material realities. What exists today doesn't have to be tomorrow. Matter can be transformed at will in the flow of time. It is time that creates everything, manifests for a while, and then annihilates again.
Yet this endlessly changeable world has something permanent, something of real value to the seeker: It is the distorted reflection of spiritual reality. The real background behind the temporary reflection is the eternal transcendental reality.
However, the reflection always lacks the dimensions of the mirrored. As an analogy from this world I like the reflection of a smooth pond Serve: We see the 2-dimensional image of what is mirrored through the reflection of the water surface. But the mirror image only gives an idea of the mirrored reality. For example, the 3-dimensionality of the environment is missing, the possibility to feel trees, smell flowers, hear birdsong, feel a breeze, etc.
Nevertheless, a reflection, even if it is distorted and cloudy, can awaken the memory of what is mirrored. Through the focus of the seeker on the spiritual, memories of the soul of the true spiritual nature can be awakened from the perception of this material world.
The defects of the mirror image
- Dusty reflection -
In the reflection, the material world, the dimensions of the nature of the soul are missing. Since we mostly only perceive the material world, there is a constant lack. The soul is by nature eternal, full of consciousness and full of joy. The defect arises basically from:
- the transience of this world
- the restricted and covered consciousness - the constantly recurring painful experiences.
The experience of suffering, impermanence and obscured consciousness is not an "evil intention of God", but merely the natural consequence of the desire to lead an ego-centered life turned away from God.
The eternal soul is unlimited and therefore can never be satisfied by something limited and temporary. Only the infinity of God fulfills all the needs of the soul; without the direct experience of God the soul cannot be permanently happy.
- Mirror image as a perverted reflection of the substance -
Illusions are the norm in our world, not the exception. Everyone has their "filter" of reality, ego glasses with individually colored lenses. To a certain extent everyone only sees what he is used to seeing or what he would like to see (law of resonance).
But even if one were to perceive the world of manifest matter without a filter, one would have to recognize that it is a relative reality even without a filter. Relatively because it is ephemeral. Today's reality is tomorrow's past and therefore no longer exists.
On the way to Krishna it is, among other things, about recognizing relative realities as temporary illusions and gradually approaching the immortal transcendental reality of Krishna again. To do this, however, one should carefully reflect on whether one's own perception actually captured the transcendence, or whether the perception is a construct of one's own mind (manas).
The saints of the Vaisnava culture give a figurative analogy. Someone wants to help you to find the moon in the sky: "Look up here in the tree over the thick branch on the right, you can see the moon!". Likewise, scriptures or wise transcendentalists can show you where your focus needs to be in order to know God, Krishna. But you have to see the shining moon for yourself! If you look into the branches and mistake the branches for the moon, you are mistaken. Likewise, one should not take the poetic words of scriptures or respected saints for transcendence, the spiritual reality itself. The words basically still contain our personal associations with this world.
Just as we have to recognize the moon ourselves, we must also perceive and experience Krishna ourselves. The personal perception of Krishna and the loving exchange between us souls and God is the spiritual reality. Those who consider themselves spiritually advanced, but only expand their perceptions by the "filter" of the concepts of sacred scriptures, are potentially on the wrong track of "spiritual" illusions.
In people susceptible to mental illness, spiritual illusions can take pathological forms.
People in "spiritual" illusions are often trapped in their own thought patterns and can hardly be influenced from the outside, since there is often no inclination to honest self-criticism, and external impulses for self-criticism only trigger a strong defensive reaction.
Spiritual reality as a goal
If something is to be described that is beyond our perception and thus our experience, the reference points are missing. Any descriptions are reflected by us in our own experiences. However, since we (the self, the soul) are transcendental or spiritual, deep recollections and longings can awaken when describing the spiritual reality. Descriptions of transcendental reality can be gates through which we can see transcendence. From the Vaisnava tradition known to me, numerous literary works are freely accessible today, which contain descriptions of the confidential games of God in this world as well as in the spiritual world (the transcendental dimension).
The Spiritual Reality is described as an infinite, everlasting world. This world shines out of itself and consists of the love that has become form between Krishna and the living beings. One should not suspect a material concept under this “love that has become form”. It is the pure love energy (prema bhakti), which takes a form visible to the transcendentalist and is the basis for the divine games (lila) between Krishna and the individual souls.
The transcendental nature of the soul blossoms in direct communion with Krishna. Freed from egocentricity, the pure soul develops its transcendental being through its relationship with Krishna. The loving exchange between Krishna and the individual souls is the substance from which the true body of Atma emerges. This luminous “body” no longer carries any oscillation of selfish motifs. The shape, the beauty and the ornament of the transcendental body is the direct manifestation of the soul's exuberant love for God.
Every peculiarity of the true self is permeated with the desire to please Krishna / God, to offer one's love to Krishna, to make Krishna happy, to give oneself to Krishna.
If the atma is able to increase Krishna's transcendental joy through his devotion, he experiences an indescribable transcendental ecstasy (prema). The more the living being gives up its selfish desires for its own satisfaction and only sinks into devotion to Krishna, the stronger the transcendental joy (prema) of the unveiled soul grows.
The illusion - maya shakti
In the spiritual world, the consciousness and perception of each atma is centered on God, Krishna. From a spiritual perspective, God is the all-attractive and the center of all perception for souls.
Our perceptible material world is a training field for those souls who want to be the center of attention and want to lead an ego-centered life without God. In order to fulfill this wish of souls, God manifests the illusory energy - maya.
Free will is a fundamental right of every individual. It is the basis and prerequisite for love. Without free will everything would be coercion. By free will, each soul can choose whether or not to have fellowship with God.
Mayan energy is required to allow us the freedom not to perceive God directly. The illusionary energy causes the atma to be at the center of its perceptions. Everything that is perceived seems to have a direct or indirect connection with the perceiver. Mayan energy obscures the actual omnipresence of God.
Maya is a state of consciousness that arises when we forget our original spiritual identity and identify with ephemeral material forms. Identity and identification are not the same!
The realized transcendentalist can perceive this temporary world of matter as reality and move in it, but he neither identifies with it nor sees it as separate from God, he sees the presence of God everywhere in this world.
Matter as such is not an illusion, it is a temporary appearance that is constantly changing and disappearing again. The spiritual soul basically has nothing to do with perishable matter, since it is part of the spiritual nature of God.
The soul as part of God
The nature of the soul is not different from God; it is just as transcendental as God himself, just as pure and eternal. However, God is more than the sum total of all souls / individuals. All souls / individuals proceed from God, and yet God does not become "less".
Although on the one hand the soul is not different from God, there is still a difference between the endless number of souls and God. God is the origin of all souls'He is the Oversoul who dwells in the heart of every living being. He is aware of all of his infinite creation, whereas the consciousness of souls can never pervade all aspects of creation. God is the Absolute Individual, whereas the innumerable souls are relative individuals. Relative because, by their nature, they always stand in relation to the Absolute Individual, to God.
This simultaneous unity and difference (acintya bheda abheda tattva) between souls and God cannot be understood logically and empirically. Yet the transcendentalist can experience this truth in relation to God.
Just as a drop of water has the same properties as the ocean, the living being (the soul) has the same properties as God (both are essentially spiritual), but the living being can (since it is an infinitely small particle of God ) never become God Himself.
Although the water drop is qualitatively the same as the ocean, there is a large difference in quantity. The tiny drop doesn't have the power of the ocean. The tiny soul, as part of God, is always subordinate to the whole and finds its fulfillment in loving service to the Lord.
The material world - a distorted reflection of the spiritual world
This material world is just a distorted reflection of the spiritual world. It is the shadow, the abstraction of the spiritual world, which is of real substance. Somehow our soul, an inhabitant of the spiritual world, has lost all memory of this substantial world. But the characteristics of the spiritual world are mirrored in a twisted way into this material world. This very world is faked to us in this distorted and incomprehensible way by our faulty senses. The sleeping soul is responsible for this distortion itself. It is the inevitable result of the misuse of free will, which is a fundamental principle of the soul. The soul is free to decide whether it wants to serve the Absolute Truth. She can just as freely take the opposite path.
For this we must first and foremost try to recognize clearly that the world as it is fooled into us by the material senses is not the world with which our soul has something to do. The soul belongs to its own, separate world. It is not just an abstraction, nor is the spiritual world one of our material fantasies. The real truth is just the opposite of this.
- Bhagavad Gita - as it is - PDF
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami prabhupada
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