Mirror, mirror on the wall.
Vaisesika Dasa: When I was a child, my parents occasionally took my brother and me to the Fun House, an amusement park located at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. One of the attractions was a hallway full of mirrors specially designed to distort one’s image. One mirror made even obese people look as skinny as a post; another made skinny people appear to be as fat as a Hippopotamus.
At the Fun House, people absorbed in viewing their own grotesque, distorted images sometimes laughed and sometimes grimaced.
All this was in the name of fun. However, one who identifies with one’s material body is constantly affected by misplaced emotions due to an inaccurate view of his or her true self.
As spiritual sparks we have nothing to do with our material bodies, but because of an artificial affinity for and identification with our temporary gross and subtle material bodies, we see ourselves as something we’re not and suffer as a result.
Mahaprabhu compares the mind to a mirror. When the mirror is clean, it reflects one’s true image as a pure spiritual being. When the mirror is dirty or misaligned however, one sees an inaccurate image of one’s real self and labors unnecessarily under this misconception.
Maitreya Muni tells his disciple Vidura: “The living entity is in distress regarding his self-identity. He has no factual background, like a man who dreams that he sees his head cut off.” (SB 3.7.10)
Interestingly, the suffering a man undergoes when he sees his head cut off in a dream is real even though the situation is temporary and is superfluous to the soul’s real position.
Guru, sadhu and sastra all invite one to wake up from the bad dream of material life.
Maitreya says that when a man awakens from a bad dream, his miseries are vanquished. Similarly, he says, a man who awakens to his true identity as an eternal soul – part and parcel of Krishna, the Supreme Soul – he becomes free from all woes and re-enters his life of blissful devotional service to God.
One should take seriously to the process of bhakti yoga to wake up from the bad dream of material life and become thus become truly happy.
Maitreya Muni: “But that misconception of self-identity can be diminished gradually by the mercy of the Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva, through the process of devotional service to the Lord in the mode of detachment.” (SB 3.7.12)
Mahaprabhu says that the best process for cleaning the mirror of the heart and attaining a permanent standing in the blissful life of devotional service is Sankirtana, the congregational chanting the holy names of Krishna.