Thin Silver Layer - In Gita Verse 3.38 As ﬁre is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, the living entity is similarly covered by different degrees of this lust.
Krishna gives example to not only to Arjuna, but to us also. Many times that we are not able to see the real as it is covered with others, for example the fire if is is covered by smoke, due to smoke the we are not able to see the light. Same way when there is dust on the mirror, we will not be able to see anything in the mirror except the dust.
Similarly, when our consciousness is covered by unconsciousness we will not be able to see your own Godliness, your own divinity.
Let me tell you one story to explain this verse:
Thin Silver Layer:
A rich Jew went to a Hassid mystic and said, “I want to pray, but however much I try my desires don’t leave me alone. I want to give, I want to donate to charity, but even behind this charity my greed is present, my desire to gain is present. I can forfeit, but that too is bargain, a hope to get something, a hope to get even more; then I can forfeit. And however much I close my eyes; I don’t see any God. I remain full of my ‘I’. What should I do? And what is the reason for all this trouble?”
The mystic said, “You come with me.” Then he lead the rich man to a window. There was clear glass on the window; outside there were trees, birds, white herons flying in the sky; the sun was shining and a few clouds were also floating in the sky. He said, “Look outside. Do you see everything?”
The rich man said, “I do, the glass on the window is so clear and transparent.”
Then the mystic took the man to another wall by which a mirror was hanging. He asked the man, “Do you see any difference between this glass and the previous one?”
The rich man stood in front of the mirror and nothing except his own figure was visible in the glass.
“Both are glass,” said the mystic. “What is the difference?”
The rich man started laughing. He said, “I get it! The difference is of a thin silver layer. On that glass there is no silver layer, this glass has a silver layer at the back. Because of that layer nothing is seen through it, only my figure is seen in it. I get it! A silver layer is all around me. This is why whenever I look, nothing, no God, no Brahma is seen; only I am seen.”
This silver can be of many kinds. It can be worldly; it can be spiritual. But as long as there is any layer of desire on you – that is the silver – you are surrounded by yourself.
Self-consciousness never arises out of the mind. Self-consciousness arises only when the mind has been discarded. When the mind has been put aside, Self-consciousness arises. Mind is blocking the fountain of Self-consciousness like a rock. Mind is always mediocre; mind is always stupid, Self-unconscious. To be in the mind is to be Self-unconscious. To be beyond the mind is to be Self-consciousness. Self-consciousness is not the quality of the mind at all.
All meditation is the search for this Self-consciousness - how to drop learning, how to drop knowledge, how to drop all your accumulated past. Once it is accumulated it becomes more and more difficult to drop it, and every day it becomes bigger. The load goes on growing. The weight on your back goes on growing every single moment. It is not age that kills you, it is the weight.
A man who lives in no-mind lives without death - because he dies every moment. He never collects, he never looks back, he never looks ahead; he is just here. He is just here with this cry of the cuckoo; he is just here. His being is in this moment. He flows with the moment. He is not rigid, not confined by the past. In fact, he has no biography and he has no dreams for the future. He lives as it comes.
Krishna through Arjuna tells all of us Thin Silver Layer, which is not allowing us to have clarity of the whole. Who we are. When we are standing in front of Self-unconsciousness we see only our own image but when we look from Self-consciousness we can see the whole. Our unconsciousness is the influence of others on us. When we are self-unconscious it becomes silver layer. Because of this silver layer we will not be able to see our own Godliness.