Seeing the subtle

Seeing the subtle

In our waking state, we see countless objects. Out of these, some register in our consciousness, some as a vague impression and many others appear momentarily, only to disappear  immediately afterwards. Out of those which do impact us, the percentage of the ones that are  really necessary for us is still smaller.

By ‘necessary’ is meant those that exert a positive  influence on us, those that are edifying, which help us to improve the quality of our lives. For the most part, the average person, immersed as he is in the mundane matters of life, is unable to distinguish between these countless things that he sees and experiences and takes in only those that aid him in his psychological and spiritual advancement.  Adi Shankaracharya in his ‘Vivekachudamani’ puts this as “being able to see what is subtle”. In a way, modern man’s senses have become so dulled, so ossified, that he has lost that vital link with his inner subtle being, the shroud of materialism being so impenetrable.  Lifting this veil requires “an intellect that is sharp and able to see what is subtle,” says Shankara.

How does one acquire this ability to see the subtle? Shankara mentions four crucial steps to be observed. First is to reduce dependence on material wants and more wants. How to do this? Follow the second step of reading the scriptures and respecting the words of learned masters.

“At least read whatever you can, even a few sentences, seek the grace of a true preceptor to acquire enlightenment. You will realize the futility of greed”, says Shankara. What happens when you do this? “Your mind gets purified, you become receptive to those inner vibrations;positive thoughts enter your mind” says Shankara.  This is the third level.

Finally “engage your mind in meditation, on what you have learnt from the scriptures and words of the realized souls. Constantly churn this inside yourself. Your intellect gets sharpened and is able to separate the useless things from the totality of all that is seen.

Go inwards. See the subtleties of the world that you live in. You will then realize that there is an unseen power in everything, the spark of the divine. You become spiritually enriched” says Shankara.