Some Thoughts About Awakening Our Spiritual Vision

I was reflecting back on my life as a teenager the other day; on how it seems as if it were a previous life rather than an early chapter of this one; on how reckless I was with my privileges and resources; on how lucky I was to get away with so many ill-advised escapades without losing my life or my freedom; on how others I knew weren’t so lucky.

The physical body of my gloriously misspent youth is long gone but, somehow or other, I’m still here. If we accept the proposition that almost every cell in our bodies is replaced every seven years or so by a new one, then I’ve changed bodies six and a half times since surviving my teens. Traces of my youthful self remain as impressions on my mind but, other than those impressions, the person I once was is long gone.

In that sense, I really can say that my teenage life was a previous life; experiential proof that I’m not my body.

If you’re old enough to be reading this, you’re old enough to recall having a physical body that’s since been replaced by a new one, maybe even several times over by now.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna uses our experience of continuously changing bodies within a single lifetime as an example to support the proposition that we are all eternal spiritual beings passing through temporary material bodies:

“Just as an embodied person experiences the transformations of their body, from childhood to youth to old age, that same person will pass into another body (at death). Those who are wise do not find this bewildering." – Bg 2.13

Beyond the theoretical idea of being eternal, what would happen if we actually experienced ourselves as being eternal? Would that change how we look at our lives?

If we were able to see others as eternal spiritual beings in temporary material bodies, would that change the way we look at them?

Would that change the way we look at death?

The wise may not find death bewildering but most of us aren’t that wise. Most people are completely bewildered by death. Dying is supposed to be a natural part of living and yet it seems so… wrong.

That’s because it is wrong, In fact, it’s not even possible, at least from the standpoint of our true nature, which is to be both eternal and eternally joyful.

Joy naturally arises from the cultivation of spiritual consciousness. And spiritual consciousness starts with the awakening of our spiritual vision: the ability to see the distinction between the temporary material body and the eternal spirit soul within the body.

Spiritual vision is the ability to see our lives and the world in a spiritual context. It starts with a basic understanding of what the world looks like from a transcendental perspective. It culminates in realization: the direct experience of engaging with the world from a transcendental position.

As if escaping from my gloriously misspent youth relatively unscathed wasn’t enough for me to be grateful for, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to spend the better part of my life studying spiritual wisdom texts with amazing teachers. They’ve helped me to develop a practice that has allowed me to get a glimpse of the material world from a spiritual perspective.

Developing just a little bit of that ability has made a huge difference in my life.

Perhaps it will make the same kind of difference in your life too.