“Before the soul can see, the Harmony within must be attained, and fleshly eyes be rendered blind to all illusion. Before the soul can hear, the image (man) has to become as deaf to roarings as to whispers, to cries of bellowing elephants as to the silvery buzzing of the golden fire-fly. Before the soul can comprehend and may remember, she must unto the Silent Speaker be united just as the form to which the clay is modeled, is first united with the potter’s mind. For then the soul will hear, and will remember. And then to the inner ear will speak the Voice of Silence.” ~H. P. Blavatsky
Of course the soul does not have eyes or ears so this is obviously allegory, but quite true. When you concentrate on using the physical eyes to see your way through the world of matter, you do not see anything that is spiritual. When your ears are constantly bombarded with the sounds of a world of matter and materialism, there is no room for hearing the whispers of the spirits.
It is not really accurate to say that the soul cannot comprehend the spiritual when we are too busy being material beings. The awakened soul, or at least the Divine Soul rather than the mundane soul of the body and mind, always comprehends the spiritual. The problem is that it isn’t awake in most of us but is in a state like a deep coma or hibernation. Before it can remember the spiritual and it’s connection to that world, it must be awakened. Sadly, many of the popular churches of this day do little, if anything, to help make that happen or to instruct the person on how to do it himself. Sometimes the music and incense used in those churches can help awaken the soul, but it is more of a happy accident than a deliberate act since the churches have forgotten the purpose of such things. Fortunately, there are spiritual schools in the world that can help one awaken the spirit and soul and develop those spiritual faculties to their fullest.
As Ms. Blavatsky notes, part of the training for those who seek to awaken the soul is to learn to ignore, and, to some degree, block out the sights, sounds, and scents of the material world. There are exercises that teach you to unfocus the eyes so you are not concentrating on the material. There are spiritual sounds you can listen to to aid in locking out the discordant noise of the land of matter. There is incense and perfumes you can sniff to aid in raising you scent frequencies above that of the usual. But the most important one of all Blavatsky did not mention specifically, but only hints at in the quote: detachment.
It is not so much the sights, sounds, scents, feelings, needs, responsibilities, etc. of the physical world that holds back our spiritual development, but our attachments to them. When we see a person defending to his death a piece of land, or a house, or even a car, that is being attached to matter. When a person has his home destroyed two or three times by a hurricane or a tornado or a flood and he just keeps rebuilding because he refuses to leave the land that his pappy and grand-pappy lived on, that is being too attached. While I loved the animated movie “UP” for illustrating that love is forever, and for an old man’s defying the big corporation and the development mentality, I also recognize that he was simply too attached to that old house for his own good. So one of the things a good spiritual school or church must teach is detachment. Detachment doesn’t mean you have to give up worldly comforts, only that you need to avoid becoming attached to them.
Blavatsky says something very important in the later part of the quote that is so subtle, it might be overlooked. She doesn’t say that the awakened soul must learn, must study, must read books. Instead, she says that the soul must remember. It must remember what is already knew. But, she adds, it must be united with the “Silent Speaker”, God, in order for that to happen. So the first goal is to become detached to the material, the second is to awaken the soul, and the third is to unite with God. Then gnosis can happen.