The human condition involves existence in two worlds, the physical world made up of all the objective phenomena of our so-called physical reality, and the spiritual world that is the domain of consciousness and our unseen subjective reality. The awareness of the physical world is dictated and limited by our physical senses. This world is important for gaining knowledge of self and nature. It is certainly true that we have to take care of the body, sleep, provide clothing, shelter and pay bills. The problem is that if we only live in this material world, we become subject to illusion, because the physical senses are limited, and delusion, because the sense limitations distort thought, judgment, intellect, and self perception. The false assumptions lead to the pursuit of transient enjoyments, material pleasures, selfish, harmful and destructive behaviors. The big problem is learning how to be in his world, but not of it.
The awareness of the spiritual world is dictated and limited by the ideas held in the mind. This world is the realm wherein lie the potential seeds of every manifested power, faculty and form. It is the world of causes, whereas the physical world is the world of effects. Knowledge of this world is necessary to gain a truer realization of the Self and a profounder conviction that universal brotherhood is a fact in nature. Awareness of this world is important and desirable because spiritual knowledge liberates the mind from the illusions of the senses, the delusions of the intellect, the chains of selfish passions, and the suffering that accompanies change and loss of transient enjoyments. The problem is that it is possible to live in this world with a personal desire for eternal bliss or with a sense of spiritual pride in the great accomplishment of acquiring spiritual knowledge. Spiritual selfishness suffocates the feeling of compassion for suffering humanity. The big problem is learning how to live in and benefit from the bliss and knowledge of the spiritual world, and yet be able to renounce the great reward if compassion for the suffering of others demands it.
The goal of the independent thinker is to live in both worlds without bondage to material illusions and delusions on one hand and spiritual selfishness on the other. In order to do this a bridge must be built to bring the two worlds together. The key to building this bridge is the realization that the real inner man is a thinking being. Therefore, our real life is in the mind. The physical world and the spiritual world meet in man within the mind. The mind as the mental plane of existence is occupied by thoughts, feelings,
intentions, memories, and images. The real man is not any of these transient mental phenomena, but is the enduring witness of all of them. It has been said that, "the soul is vision itself that looks directly upon ideas."
The bridge that spans the two worlds is built of thoughts, feelings, intentions, memories, and images that relate to the two worlds. They comprise what has been called the highest aspect of lower mind (kama-manas), or the antaskarana. That which is sometimes called "care of the soul" is in fact care of this bridge between the spiritual and physical worlds of our being. The thoughts that form this bridge are universal ideas such as the unity of life, the universality of law, and the path of physical, mental and spiritual growth through self induced evolution. The feelings that form this bridge are those of brotherhood, charity, love, and compassion. The intentions are the virtues synthesized by an overarching desire to make these universal ideas and higher feelings living fires that illuminate, inspire, and guide our every thought, word and deed in the physical world. The memories that form this bridge are those of the sacrifices made by others for us and the forgiveness they have shown for our faults and failings, so that we might in turn be better able to exercise forgiveness of others and sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of others. The images that form this bridge are of those who embody our ideal of the fact of human perfectibility.
The stones that must be cast aside because they are unsuitable to form this bridge are ideas of separateness, selfish desires for personal reward for action, any malevolent feelings, memories of past failures, painful regrets and experiences, as well as images of past or future pleasurable sensations. These stones, more than likely, already form walls that surround the mind and separate it not only from other mind beings, but also from its spiritual nature. These walls must be torn down or they will obstruct the building of the bridge or threaten to destroy it. The wall is torn down amid mental suffering and pain, but a great reward lies beyond. It is the ability to live consciously in both worlds, beyond personal pain and suffering, but yet ever willing and able to relieve the suffering of others with the spiritual knowledge and power acquired.
"To live to benefit mankind is the first step." The Voice of the Silence