“A reflection of the sun in a mirror or on water appears to be the sun but is not. Similarly, the material world is but a reflection of the spiritual world. Although it appears to be factual, it is not; it is only a temporary reflection, whereas the spiritual world is a factual reality. The material world, with its gross and subtle forms, is merely a reflection of the spiritual world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 7.118 Purport)
When lacking God consciousness, though one may see variety around them everything is actually a reflection of the same nature. All aspects of the manifest world are reflections of a different aspect of the inverted tree. The image of the inverted tree is found in the water, and as this is a reflection of a real tree, the analogy is used to describe the land that we presently inhabit. In the reflected land there is actually variety and nuance, but unless the consciousness is dovetailed with the Supreme Consciousness, it is not possible for one to see this.
“The Blessed Lord said: There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.” (Bhagavad-gita, 15.1)
When true God consciousness is lacking, the desires of the individual can be grouped into three categories. True God consciousness is where the individual actually thinks about the Supreme and in turn uses that thought process to guide all of their actions. They do not concoct a form of God that suits their whims. They do not have a desire to dominate, kill, or belittle others, with the justification that everything they do is somehow sanctioned by God. In true God consciousness, the thinking of the Lord comes first, and His desires are fulfilled through work. In all other versions of thought, the personal desires come first, which then drive activity.
There is the desire for bhukti. This is basic enjoyment. One person can’t wait to eat pizza for dinner. Another person can’t wait to go out to the nightclub to get intoxicated from a heavy night of consuming adult beverages. Another person can’t wait for their new tablet computer to arrive, so that they can spend hours playing with it. Another person can’t wait to go on a cruise ship for a vacation. They will get away from it all, eat whatever they want, and see beautiful, exotic destinations.
There is the desire for mukti. This is the release from material life. Smaller scale versions of this desire are seen in basic renunciation. Mukti can be thought of as the opposite of bhukti. One person has had so much to drink that they swear off alcohol forever. Another person doesn’t want to eat so much anymore, as they are gaining weight. Another person has a garage sale to get rid of all of their junk that they’ve accumulated over many years. Another person wants to retreat to a place of solitude, where they don’t have to do anything and no one will bother them.
There is the desire for siddhi. This is the goal of the real yogis, not the ones who only do various exercises for the sake of bodily health. When there is a siddhi, one can do amazing things. They can become lighter than air. They can become heavier than a mountain. They can move to different places at the speed of the mind. It is difficult to imagine such things, but they are possible through meditational yoga practiced properly.
In whichever category one belongs, the reflections look the same since the destination is more or less identical. In bhukti, the future destination is continued material enjoyment. There is no lasting satisfaction from this kind of enjoyment. If there were, there would be no such things as diet and exercise regimens. There would be no such thing as divorce. In a marriage one should ideally have no problem getting the carnal enjoyment one craves. In mukti, the future destination is the same. Release from troubles can only make one happy for so long. Eventually they will want a taste of enjoyment again. The same goes for siddhi, as with a mystic ability one will need an area in which to use it. It’s wonderful if someone gives me a gift card worth hundreds of dollars, but the gift doesn’t mean anything until I spend the money on something.
With the spiritual consciousness, the reflections start to look different. The review of the three categories of desires is one example of this. These categories were not conjured up by anyone who was driven by them. Rather, they were revealed to enlightened beings, who understand the origin of matter and spirit. The root of the tree is the Supreme Lord, and the material creation descends from that tree. The tree is inverted because a temporary land full of branches and leaves that more or less look the same would never be considered superior to the root area. The downward growth means that the further and further you get away from the root, the worse off you’ll be.
In the material land, one actually thinks that spiritual life is dull and boring, that it is a lifestyle where all reflections look the same. In fact, the opposite is the case. The person in the spiritual consciousness knows that all creatures are spirit souls at the core. They know the purpose to the creation and how it represents an inverted tree. Most importantly, they know how to get back to the root. Though in physical distance the journey may be too great for a single man to conquer, one can reach there through using the mind. The mind helps to forge the consciousness, and that link in consciousness is known as real yoga.
Bhakti-yoga is the linking to the Supreme Consciousness in a mood of love. It is the culmination of all other kinds of yoga. Without bhakti, yoga is not complete. Unlike other kinds of yoga, bhakti is not expensive or difficult to practice. God is the most benevolent saint because His association is available to one and all, regardless of the gifts of nature they may or may not possess. The essential items in life are relatively inexpensive and abundantly available. Those things we don’t really need are more expensive. Bhakti-yoga is an essential item that can be practiced through something as simple as the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” The highest knowledge is found in a very concise work known as the Bhagavad-gita, which reaches the conclusion of bhakti-yoga through a systematic explanation of the origin of the universe and the mission of the human being within it. Thanks to the efforts of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his disciples, this work is widely available today in so many different languages. This work gives one the root of the tree, whose association allows one to see the spiritual component in everything, which in turn gives rise to the endless variety made possible by the most creative brain of God.
Today pizza pie I’ll eat,
Or friend at nightclub to meet.
In trance to take my yoga seat,
Or in renunciation no more to eat.
All such reflections look the same,
Since Supreme’s company not to gain.
Root at the top in the inverted tree,
Reach it and spiritual component see.