Calcutta, West Bengal, India — Sunday, May 7th

Spiritual archaeology

In my recent Mind games blog I suggested that we have to become "spiritual archaeologists" if we want to uncover the self, if we want to understand who we really are.

Material archaeologists search for clues to a true understanding of a long-dead civilization; spiritual archaeologists search for clues to a long-dead understanding of the true self. The former tries to uncover the secrets of the dead; the latter tries to uncover the secret of life — the secret of consciousness.

We know that consciousness is buried within us, somewhere, because we see evidence of consciousness in the gross and subtle material artifacts of consciousness: the body, the mind, and the intellect. But what is the nature of consciousness?

We have some sort of idea, of course, but we don't know for sure. Excavating and exploring the different conceptions of the self will give us valuable clues, and the tools for this archaeological expedition are introspection and self-analysis.

In the Bhagavad Gita (3:42) Krishna describes how deeply the real self is buried beneath the body, the mind, and the intelligence — the gross and subtle material conceptions of the self:

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

The senses are superior to the body (indriyani parany) because without the senses we could not experience matter; the mind is superior to the senses (indriyebhyah param manah) because without the mind we could not interpret that experience; the intellect is superior to the mind (manasas tu para buddhir) because without intelligence we could not learn from and adapt to experience; and the self, or consciousness, is superior to the intellect (yo buddheh paratas tu sah) because without consciousness we could not experience anything. We would not exist!

This verse is our Rosetta stone: the key to deciphering the mystery of consciousness. Krishna gives us so many clues: where to begin, what to look for, and the names and the order of the layers to dig through.

As spiritual archaeologists (soul-searchers) we must dig below the surface of the body, painstakingly remove the accretions of the mind, persevere beyond the intellect, and sift through the artifacts and relics of previous lives (the false ego that shapes our perception of who we are) if we ever hope to uncover the hidden treasure: the pure spirit soul buried so deeply beneath the artificial material conceptions of the body, the mind, and the intellect, which constitute the false ego or the counterfeit self.

This is what Srila Sridhar Maharaj means by "dive deep into reality." We won't discover anything substantial just pottering about on the surface of the environment. We must dig deep into our own consciousness to discover our real wealth: the hidden treasure of the soul.

ya nisa sarva-bhutanam / tasyam jagarti samyami
yasyam jagrati bhutani / sa nisa pasyato muneh

If we limit our search to the evidence on the surface of the material environment (ya nisa sarva-bhutanam) we will never discover the real self buried deep within (tasyam jagarti samyami). If we never explore beneath the external material coverings (yasyam jagrati bhutani) we will never become self-realized (sa nisa pasyato muneh).

Ready, junior spiritual archaeologists? Begin digging... now!

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Layout by iMonk — May 7th, 2006.