Monday Morning Greetings 2023 #37 – Ignorance, Meaning, and the Expansion of Consciousness

September 11th, 2023

Without understanding what something is, do we really perceive it? All the senses of an animal are functional, with some more acute in perception than ours, but if you gave a monkey a computer, would they know what it is? And if not, are they truly perceiving it? It seems obvious from this example that the complete perception of an object entails expanding our awareness of what it is, and therefore the ultimate purpose of knowledge is the expansion of awareness or perception. But why would that be important?


It’s important because of the causal relationship between such heightened perception and contentment. In other words, a deeper meaning or knowledge of reality elevates our consciousness and happiness. If that were not the case, or there wasn’t such a relationship, then why do we help someone in distress by helping them see their situation more clearly or with deeper meaning? The principle that knowledge enhances our perception of reality and consequently our contentment is certainly true from a theistic standpoint where reality is ultimately connected with God, and when used according to its logos (purpose) brings us closer to His nature and joy. What else could be the purpose of a creation by an omnibenevolent being?


That logos of everything in Sanskrit is called the Vedas, or śāstra. The idea is that from “oṁ”, the sound from which the whole universe manifests, simultaneously the Vedas, the meaning and utility of everything, is also manifest. In other words, śāstra shows how everything is directly or indirectly related to the purpose of creation, which is the elevation of consciousness, including such variegated subjects as health, social philosophy, and metaphysics. For Vaiṣṇavas, the best representation of Vedic knowledge to elevate one to the platform of meaning beyond a limited or superficial understanding is the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.


A classic example of this principle of enhancing one’s perception and contentment through knowledge is the story of Vidura, who was insulted, threatened with violence, and ultimately thrown out of the kingdom by his evil nephew. While most people would perceive such an incident as being victimized and develop enmity towards his oppressor, Vidura, who was already educated beyond a superficial perception, could observe reality at the level of meaning. He saw that in addition to the fact that his nephew was evil, he was unknowingly serving as an agent of God and delivering to him an important message—that at his advanced age it was time to leave the palace intrigue, go on pilgrimage, and dedicate himself fully to the service of Sri Krishna.


I have a choice. In fact, we all have the same choice. We can remain in this world with a limited vision of reality and intensely suffer its dualities, or we can follow and apply a tradition of wisdom and expand our consciousness to the level of meaning and contentment. With the increasing insanity of the modern world, is that not more urgent than ever?



Comments are closed.