Suppose an alcoholic visits a new city. Though the city may have many attractive sights, the alcoholic will look for bars.
Similarly, when we function in the world, our desires direct our vision, consciously or subconsciously. For example, in our relationships, we see about others only the things we want to see. If we dislike someone, we highlight occasions when they behave rudely and overlook occasions when they behave politely.
Our desires can blind us not just to specific aspects of people’s personalities, but also to entire levels of reality such as spiritual reality. The Bhagavad-gita (15.11) indicates that we can’t perceive spiritual truths as long as we are materially desirous. Those desires direct, even drag, our consciousness towards materialistic things and don’t let spiritual stimuli register within us.
Since we all have material desires and we can’t give them up immediately, how, then, can we perceive spiritual reality? By striving to cultivate some spiritual desire. Such desire can come from knowledge, association and purification.
Knowledge: If we study the Gita and come to know its systematic delineation of spiritual reality – how we are at our core spirtual and indestructible and how the supreme spiritual reality is an all-attractive supreme person, Krishna – that knowledge kindles our desire to explore life’s spiritual side.
Association: Our desires are shaped substantially by our association. If we associate with seers who relish spiritual happiness and seekers who seriously aspire to grow spiritually, that association strengthens our spiritual desires.
Purification: When we strive to remember all-pure Krishna, our consciousness becomes purified and rises beyond matter. As we experience the serenity of our indestructible spiritual identity and the sweetness of Krishna, our spiritual desires become stronger still.
When spiritual desires drive our life, we perceive with increasing clarity and relish with increasing ecstasy our all-attractive Lord.