Published on January 1st, 2018 | by Harmonist staff1
Changing Your Angle of Vision
By Swami B. V. Tripurari, excerpted from a lecture titled “Q&A: To Take Out a Thorn with Another,” given on September 13, 2013.
Spiritual life is about change. It is about changing the angle from which we view ourselves and the world around us. Rather than simply adding to a flawed conception of who we are, we must entirely change how we think of ourselves. When we look to the world, we see a world of things that are for our purposes and that have meaning only if we use them. However, the world is not the only place to which we should look.
Turning our attention inward, we begin to realize that we are not of the world. This gives rise to the question of our actual source, and for the answer, we must look to the other side. As much as we are the subjects in the world and material things are objects for our material purposes, deeper consideration reveals that we are actually being used by them. We may think that we are using these things, but they are using us, and thus we become like the object or like matter. This is Vishnu-maya, and although this illusion is very powerful, if we look carefully we can see that we are not matter. Matter is limited and has no life of its own, needing someone to animate it. We are entirely different, being consciousness. What, then, is our source?
The jiva, the atma, has a natural affinity for its source. This is mentioned in Paramatma Sandarbha as one of the qualities of the atma. It senses that it exists, “I am.” It is a unit of enduring existence, knowing, and bliss. It has a natural bond with its source, the Maha-Vishnu, which is a particular manifestation of Krishna for the lila of creation. This affinity is very understandable, like a natural affinity for one’s parents. We have a natural inborn tendency to search for this source, as we wonder, “Why am I? What am I about? From where do I derive?”
If we look to our source we find that while we are consciousness, we are also like a spark of the fire of consciousness. Our relationship to our source is thus somewhat like the relationship of objects of the world to us. Although thinking and feeling, we are dependent entities, like material objects. Our ability to know and to love is derived from our source, rather than independent. We have derived ananda, derived sat, and derived cit. This is the changing of our angle of vision.
We must shift from the illusion of thinking ourselves to be the subjects in command of the material objects to seeing ourselves as subjects of the supersubject. We have meaning and value inasmuch as he thinks of and cares about us, and it’s through the sadhus—Krishna’s agents of divinity—that Bhagavan shows his caring. They are the kripa shakti, the potency of mercy, of Bhagavan.
Krishna himself is absorbed in trying to find whether Radha loves him or not. He knows no suffering other than that. But the sadhus, having been in the world and remembering that suffering like a terrible dream, can be empathetic with us. Pujyapada Shridhara Maharaj once described our material existence to be like moss—it has no roots. We are rooted in Brahman and Paramatma. The material covering has no roots though, and thus it can be swept away very easily. That may seem to be very difficult for us, but for someone that can see, it is a small thing.