Soquel, California — Wednesday, December 14th

What is real?

The world is in the mind. Is it possible? Could the physical world that we perceive and interact with really be an illusion? What is real? Is this world real? Am I real?

How do I know that I exist?

To ask the question is to know the answer. Consciousness is proof of itself: "I think, therefore I am." I prove I exist by my skepticism: if I did not exist, how could I doubt my existence?

But who am I? Am I this body? The mind? Intellect? How can I know what is real and what is not?

In the Bhagavad Gita (3:42) Krishna explains the superiority of spirit over matter to Arjuna to show that the search for reality will take us from gross sensory perception, through the subtle material mind and the even finer intellect, to the transcendental stage of consciousness:

indriyani parany ahur / indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu para buddhir / yo buddheh paratas tu sah

"The senses are superior to dead matter (indriyani parany), the mind is superior to the active senses (indriyebhyah param manah), intelligence is superior to the subtle mind (manasas tu para buddhir), and superior to even the intellect is the soul itself (yo buddheh paratas tu sah)."

Krishna says that spirit is superior to matter, that the material [body and its] senses, mind, and intelligence are all inferior to the embodied spirit soul (whose presence is perceived as consciousness) because:

Without the activity of our senses, this world would cease to exist. It may be there, but because we have no sensory experience of it, for us, personally, it might as well not exist. The world exists only because we can see it, touch it, hear it, smell it, and/or taste it. So the senses are superior (indriyani parany) to matter.

To interpret a sensory experience, we must be mindful of its input. If we are absentminded, we may see but not see: because we are absorbed in thought, the images we "see" do not register. If we are preoccupied, we may overhear a conversation but not "hear" it because our inattentive mind is elsewhere. So the mind is superior to the senses (indriyebhyah param manah).

The intelligence is superior to the mind (manasas tu para buddhir) because while the mind deals with the duality of acceptance and rejection (our preferences for sense enjoyment), the intellect, or reason, has the added quality of discrimination. When the senses are attracted to an object, the mind encourages the immediate gratification of that desire, but the intelligence cautions against the consequences.

So the material senses, mind, and intellect are subordinate to the soul, or consciousness. The world is perceived by the senses, interpreted by the mind, and adjusted by the intelligence only while the soul, or consciousness, is present.

Krishna says — and we can verify this with our own experience — that the lower stages of sensual enjoyment are ancillary to consciousness. Consciousness is not a product of matter; rather, the perception of matter presupposes consciousness.

Consciousness is real. It is our one verifiable reality: self-awareness means consciousness of the "self." The search for the self, the search for reality, really begins from this point.

This is the message of the Bhagavad Gita. We are powerless to change the external environment because it is not just a product of our own delusion, but the aggregate desires of all the other billions of living entities. If we want to live in harmony with the environment, we have to adjust ourselves; if we want to see things as they really are, we have to see the environment from the superior plane of consciousness.

And that means that we must look within, to the plane of soul. The reality we seek is not in the objective world of sense perception, but in the subjective world of consciousness.

Dive deep into reality.

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Layout by iMonk — December 14th, 2005.