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Practical Benefits of the knowledge about the soul
The knowledge and realization of the soul, as explained in Bhagavad-gita by Lord Shri Krishna to Arjuna has several practical benefits for one even in the modern age as outlined below:Acquiring Divine Assets and Freedom from Demoniac nature: To live a life with the consciousness, T am not this material body; I am pure spirit soul' directs one to cultivate divine qualities as humility, contentment, tolerance, patience, sweetness, equipoise, universal love, honesty, sincerity, etc. Cultivation of such qualities brings peace and happiness now, and at the same time leads one to the world of eternal joy. On the other hand the qualities normally found in those leading a life of bodily consciousness are selfishness, intolerance, craving for flickering pleasures, arrogance, false pride, anger, etc., which take one away from harmony with nature and God.
People who think that everything is finished at death try to selfishly accumulate as much as they can without caring for others, like Duryodhana. Ignoring God, considering themselves to be the ultimate controller and center of everything, they consider everything as objects of their enjoyment. If you draw millions of circles with a common center, there will be no clash; similarly when one understands God to be the center of the universe, then all living beings can live without quarrel. When everyone considers, 'I am the center' then it is like drawing multiple circles with different centers all clashing with one another.Freedom from Lamentation, Fear and Illusion: Everyone in this world laments when some near and dear ones pass away. We have seen once when the wife of a big government officer died, he lamented like a child flapping his hands and legs on the ground. When one knows the knowledge of the soul, one can understand that the soul has passed away to the next body, and that death is nothing but the transfer of the soul from one body to another. When old age sets in, people fear that death may come at anytime. But one who knows that he is different from the body, does not fear death, rather prepares his consciousness to achieve the blessings of God's remembrance at the time of leaving the body. When bombs were being dropped during the second world war, Srila Prabhupada was making kachoris singing Hare Krishna happily. A devotee has no fear, because he chants God's names when he is alive and returns with his spiritual body to God's kingdom when he dies.
One who thinks, 'I am the body' spends all the time in illusory enjoyment like smoking, drinking and activities that degrade the body, mind and soul. In modern times there are hundreds of varieties of shoes, coats, suits, hairstyles, cosmetics, soaps, hair oils, etc. - all meant for pampering the dying material body. Such an attempt is compared to the efforts of the lady who polished the cage, but forgot to feed the parrot within the cage. Modern man is pampering the material body due to illusion, forgetting the soul within. But one who knows that the actual self is the soul, and that the body is like a mere dress, acts on the spiritual platform according to the good instructions of the scriptures. This leads to the benefit of body, mind and soul.
The above qualities bring about universal brotherhood under the Fatherhood of one Supreme God. A spiritualist endeavors to stabilize his awareness of the soul and strengthen his loving relationship with God and all other living beings. This leads to peace, happiness, purity, knowledge for the welfare of everyone. In other words the 'Vaikuntha' (place of no anxiety) atmosphere can be created even in this world when God is kept in the center of everyone's life, and the knowledge of the soul in relation to God is understood and practiced by all. Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in gas chambers, considering them his enemy. The quarrel between whites and blacks is simply based on superficial skin identity. All these quarrels can be stopped at once as soon as one understands the soul. Man against man, family against family, country against country have quarrels simply on the basis of self-imposed, demarcated, false superficial identities. When one understands the real identity as the soul, then not only other humans, but even animals, birds, trees all become our brothers under the protective shelter of God. This can put an end to mass scale slaughter of innocent cows and abortion of millions of children in the womb.
Positive Outlook and Attitude to life:
Understanding the knowledge of the soul changes man's outlook and attitudes, and helps one act correctly while facing different situations in life. The attitude transformation and spiritual upliftment that one gains by the knowledge of the soul proves that there is Potentiality of goodness in man, and it can be awakened by loving service to God and by removing the negativity of the enjoying mentality. The transformation of heart leads to the attitudes of goodwill, co-operation, sympathy, love and serving others with humility.
When one understands the knowledge of the self, then one gains self-awareness that can lead to self-management. We can observe ourselves, our chemistry or nature, our right and wrong behavior, our strengths and weaknesses and where we need to improve. Just as we have the courage to direct others as to what they should be doing, why they should be doing it and how they should be doing it, similarly, we are able to direct our sense organs with proper understanding of these aspects. For example, the tongue has no bones, but it can break bones if not managed properly. On most occasions, the information slips through the tongue in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in front of the wrong person, and one cannot avoid the consequences that arise. This is the difficulty in managing oneself. If I am not able to take the responsibility of managing my own sense organs, how can I take up the responsibility of managing my life, my family or my workplace, and maintain a balance in all the different areas of my life ? In short, therefore, we need the courage to manage our own selves. This is so helpful in our practical life situations - both in the family and in the office.
If I really want to improve my situation or relationship with a partner, I can work on the one thing over which I have control myself. I can stop trying to shape up my wife/subordinate/friend and work on my own weaknesses. I can focus on being a great partner, and a source of unconditional love and support. Hopefully, that person will feel the power of my example and respond in kind. But whether that person does or doesn't, the most positive way I can influence my situation is to work on myself, on my BEING. There are so may ways to improve our life - to BE a better listener, to BE a more loving marriage partner, to BE a better student, to BE a more co-operative employee.Such a positive attitude is possible only with one who has a high Spiritual Quotient (SQ). The knowledge of the soul can help one conquer the problems of negative thinking that arise from previous experiences stored in the mind, and help one live a life happily as a detached witness or observer. This is a very essential quality for the common people as well as for those in high responsible positions. A lack of this attitude can lead to stress, depression, revenge, grudge, boredom, defensiveness, etc.
Art and Science of Mantra Meditation: One who studies the soul also studies about the mind. The mind is a storehouse of varieties of plans and desires for enjoyment. The mind constantly keeps accepting and rejecting various desires and this causes the individual to suffer from stress, tension, depression, inferiority complex, etc. But the knowledge of the soul as a non-material spiritual being combined with Mantra Meditation, 'Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare"(see Appendix for more information), can offer one freedom from all mental problems to begin with and eventually pure love of God. Mantra Meditation is done with the understanding that as tiny souls we are helpless; God being the Supreme father of the living being is eager to help us. Chanting is a loud call from Ae core of the heart to the Supreme Lord to kindly elevate us from this suffering situation and to be placed in His loving company. Thus the understanding of the soul offers one complete protection from all dangers and worries of this world. One can simply hand over the charge of one's life to God by such focused meditation on the Holy names of God. On the other hand, there are those who consider themselves to be their own body and avoid meditation, thinking of it as a waste of time. They are made to run from pillar to post by their minds that hanker for practically everything in the world from a hamburger to the most costly independent bungalow. Furthermore, they suffer from loneliness and boredom, with no knowledge of the soul and its loving relationship with God.
Right use of resources:
When people are conscious of the soul, they are aware that the material body is temporary, and that the material world is a temporary place of suffering designed by God to reform and purify usand prepare us to return to the eternal Kingdom of God. Thus they live a life socially, politically, culturally and economically centered around God. This brings purity, peace, and prosperity, health, wealth and happiness, all aimed at pleasing the Supreme Lord. Modern man absorbed in bodily consciousness believes in 'survival of the fittest', and thus does not worry how he harms others in his rat race to 'eat, drink and be merry'. Claiming his forefathers to be apes, the origin of the universe to be a big bang, modern man imagines himself to be no more than a bunch of chemicals or atoms colliding with one another. Such a blunt, blind, superficial material outlook to life renders life meaningless, making the world purposeless, and is neither useful to the individual nor beneficial to others in the world. The Vedic life that centers around the awareness of the soul and its loving relation with God and all fellow beings, teaches one to consider another man's wife as a mother, other people's wealth as garbage, and to wannly treat others in the same way as one would want to be treated by others. Thus spiritual life is based on the firm foundation of co-operation of all, welfare forall, proper utilization of God-given resources, and freedom from greed and selfishness.