Thursday, April 17, 2014

IX: 8

Chapter 9, Verse 8

"Through my nature,
Again and again,
I send forth
The myriad forms of life."

Paramahansa Yogananda:

At the start of another cycle, God awakens Nature and causes her to resume the manifest display where materialized beings act out their parts on the "screen" of time and space.

These cycles of evolution and involution are eternal.  The show goes on.  One by one the actors become liberated and are replaced by new cast-members.  A portion of God's consciousness will always be engaged in the unfoldment of phenomenal worlds, the stage whereon a multitude of his children perform their roles until, through Self-realization, they earn an honorable discharge.

Sri Aurobindo:

Ignorant, the Jiva is subject to Nature's cyclic whirl, not master of itself, but dominated by her.  Only by a return to the divine consciousness can it attain to mastery and freedom.  The divine, too, follows the cycle, not as subject to it, but as its informing spirit and guide.

Father Bede Griffiths:

There is a force which causes all beings to come into existence.  It drives them on in their course, brings them back and then again drives them out again.  This force is Karma, the force of Nature, and it is the cause of the world.  We find in Krishna's teaching another idea that, over and above Karma, is the personal God who by his grace directs the course of things.

We each have our own Karma.  We come into being because of inevitable laws, and we have a particular nature because of these laws and are driven by this nature; yet there is something in us that is free from these laws.  The grace of God comes and releases us from the power of this Karma.

This closely resembles the Christian of original sin.  We are all born into this condition as the result of primordial sin, without being able to help it.  From infancy we are conditioned by our heredity, our environment and all the forces around us, and our lives are largely shaped by the forces of the unconscious.  However, there is in everybody a principle of freedom, very minute at first, like a grain of mustard seed, having the power to respond to the grace of God.  When this touches us, it is able to set us free from this law of Karma and the bondage of original sin.

[A danger here is to focus so much on the mystery and miracle of God's grace as to fail to recognize the importance of personal dedication and effort.  Effort and grace are the two wings of a rocket which escapes the gravitational pull of the Karmic past.  Honoring both wings, a sense of balance ensues, and the rocket gains altitude.  Eventually, that glorious moment will arrive when the gravitational field will be left behind, once and for all.]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

IX: 7

Chapter 9, Verse 7

"All beings, Arjuna,
Return to my divine nature
At the end of the cosmic cycle.
I send them forth again
At the hour of creation."

Sri Eknath Easwaran:

According to the Hindu world-view, the Universe is created and dissolved over and over again, without beginning or end.  In between manifestations, everything in the Universe rests in a primordial, subtle, seed-state without material differentiation.  Time and space have been suspended.

By and by, in the instant of creation, the equilibrium is disturbed, setting loose a long chain of action and reaction in which all of the elements and forces of the Universe become manifest.

Swami Shivananda:

Just as the grass grows from the soil and dries up in the soil, and just as waves rise from the ocean and subside back into the ocean, so also do all the sentient beings who arise from the Self merge back into it during dissolution, or Pralaya.

[...only to arise anew in a new dawn.  The jury is still out for me regarding what happens to a liberated soul: complete immersion in the Divine Ground; a perpetual return to help others; endless communion with Ishta Deva (chosen form of God) on a subtle plane; some combination of the above; or something else entirely.

To be comfortable with the uncertainty is comforting.]

Saturday, April 5, 2014

IX: 6

Chapter 9, Verse 6

"Just as the wind, going here and there,
Always remains in the vastness of space,
So these, my wandering beings,
Are always within me."

Swami Shivananda:

Krishna offers a beautiful illustration to explain what he has said in the previous two verses.  Just as the wind rests in space without any contact or attachment, so also all beings and objects rest in the Self without producing any effect on it.

Just as the space in the pot is not distinct from the universal space before the origin and after the destruction of the pot and even during the existence of the pot, so also you are of the nature of the Self during the three periods before conception, during the lifetime, and after death.

Paramahansa Yogananda:

As the wind, wandering in all direction in the sky, is yet unable to affect the sky, so the colossal panorama of creation un-influentially abides in God's eternal consciousness.

Such is the paradox of creation that God exists as the soul of all beings, creating and supporting them, yet does not himself become entangled with them.  Human beings, although saturated with God, are overcome by cosmic delusion and made subject to birth and death.  A mystery indeed!

Just as prisoners plot ceaselessly to escape and regain their freedom, so the wise among us endeavor to escape the confinement of mortality.  In his own good time, God will reveal to his faithful aspirants the mysteries of Heaven and Earth.

Friday, March 28, 2014

IX: 5

Chapter 9, Verse 5

"This is my divine mystery.
Try to understand its nature.
My Being sustains all creatures
And brings them to birth,
But has no physical contact with them."

Paramahansa Yogananda:

Even though a beam of light conveys and sustains the scenes of a movie, with all their variety and contrast, the beam itself undergoes no transformation.  Similarly, the motion pictures of creation do not disturb the Lord's originating beam.

A man looking at the sky and the mountains and the ocean does not detect in them the divine presence.  The subtle beam of the Creator is imperceptible to the human gaze.  Because he is everywhere, it is as if he is nowhere.

By his mysterious divine Yoga, the Lord's vibrationless, unmanifested, Cosmic Consciousness is the foundation of all vibratory beings, who cannot be observed to exist in him, nor do they affect him.

Swami Shivananda:

Although all actions are done with the help of the Sun's light-energy, yet the Sun cannot become the doer of actions.  Even so, the Lord is not the doer of actions, but rather presides as the Witness.  Nature does everything.

Sri Aurobindo:

All these becomings are always changing.  He is their Being.  In the unthinkable, timeless and spaceless Infinity of his existence, he has extended this minor phenomenon of a Universe.

The pantheist's identity of God and the Universe is a more limited view, a partial seeing, for he is at once one with all that is, and yet at the same time he exceeds it.  This is the mystery of his Being, that he is supra-cosmic and yet not in any sense extra-cosmic, for he pervades all and everything as its Self.

There is a luminous, uninvolved presence of God, which is in constant relation with the becomings and brings all existences into manifestation by his simple presence.  It is only through union with him in our spiritual consciousness that we can arrive at our real relation with his Being.

Father Bede Griffiths:

Krishna is careful to explain how all things come totally from the Supreme.  He is Source.  All things are pervaded by him and spun out from him the way a spider spins its web.  This is a crucial verse.  It shows that God is at once both totally immanent in creation and totally transcendent of creation.

[The web is simultaneously "of the spider" and "not of the spider."]

Friday, March 21, 2014

IX: 4

Chapter 9, Verse 4

"This entire Universe is pervaded by me
In my unmanifested form,
Which is not apparent to the senses.
Although I am not contained within any creature,
All creatures exist within me."

Sri Aurobindo:

Here Krishna unveils the supreme and integral secret, the truth in which you, as a seeker of freedom, will learn to live.  This supreme secret is the mystery of the immanent God who is present in all and everywhere, while at the same time transcendent, so much greater and other than the Universe and all of its forms that nothing here can possibly contain him, and no language borrowed from the appearance of things in space and time can do justice to the truth of his unimaginable Being.

Your one sure path is to turn your entire existence in the world into a single movement towards the Eternal, an adoration by your whole nature and its self-surrender to its divine source and possessor.  By the power and mystery of a divine Yoga, you have emerged from the inexpressible secrecies into this bounded nature of phenomenal things.  By a reverse movement of the same Yoga, transcend the limits of your phenomenal nature and recover that greater consciousness by which you will live in the Divine.

Paramahansa Yogananda:

All of this cosmic drama and its creatures are produced by the pure, undistorted beam of God's consciousness, but his formless, infinite consciousness is ever transcendent and not limited to or by the finite manifestations.

Amit Goswami, Ph.D:

Today modern science is venturing into realms that for more than four millennia have been the domain of religion and philosophy.  Until the present interpretation of the new physics, the word "transcendence" was seldom mentioned in the vocabulary of physics.  The term was considered heretical.

In a 1982 experiment [Bell's Theorem] a team of physicists in France confirmed the idea of transcendence in quantum physics.  The experiment, conducted by Alain Aspect and his colleagues, proved that two quantum particles emitted from the same source remain inextricably linked.  When a change is made to one particle, even when separated by vast distances, instantaneously the other particle is affected.

When there is no signal in space/time to mediate their connection, where, then, exists the instantaneous connection between correlated quanta that is responsible for signal-free action at a distance?

The answer is: in the transcendent domain of reality.  The technical name for signal-free, instantaneous action at a distance is nonlocality.  According to physicist Henry Stapp, the message of a quantum nonlocality is that the "fundamental process of Nature lies outside space/time, but generates events that can be located in space/time."

Swami Shivananda:

How could the Infinite be contained in a finite object?

It has no contact with any material object in the way that a chair, for example, has contact with the ground or a person sitting on it.  That which has no contact with objects or beings cannot be contained anywhere, as in a vessel, trunk or room.

Swami Satchidananda:

Krishna is saying in so many words...

Everything is my manifestation.  Everything came out of me, but there is still so much more of me left.  That's why I'm not contained by anything.  I am limitless.  What you see is only a tiny fraction of me, a minute expression.

It's kind of like a potter who says...

Don't think that all of my clay has been used for these few pots.  There's more where that came much more.

A Friend:

What a great explanation from Swami Satchidananda!  In wonder, he encourages the seeker to seek more...and more... :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

IX: 3

Chapter 9, Verse 3

"Those without faith
In my supreme knowledge
Shall fail to find me.
Back they must turn
To the mortal pathway,
Subject still
To birth and dying."

Swami Shivananda:

This faith is not simply an intellectual belief in certain dogmas and principles.  It is not simply belief in the statements of another.  Rather, it is a firm, unshakable, inner conviction that the supreme knowledge of the Self alone can give you peace, immortality and eternal joy.

It was such strong faith that induced Lord Buddha to have that iron determination which he expressed in the words...

I will not move even one inch from my seat until I get full illumination.

Real faith goes hand in hand with such fiery determination.

Sri Aurobindo:

The knot of Arjuna's ignorance, which has bewildered his human mind and made his will recoil from his divinely appointed work, is about to be cut entirely asunder.  This is the wisdom of all wisdoms, the secret of all secrets.  It is a pure and supreme light, which you can verify by direct, spiritual experience [Pratyaksha] and feel in yourself as the truth of Being.  When you get hold of it and try faithfully to live in to it, it becomes easy to practice.

Faith [Shraddha] is necessary for this attainment and grace.  If you trust the critical intelligence alone, which relies on outward facts observable to the senses, then there will be no possibility of living in to this supreme knowledge.  The soul that fails to get faith in the highest truth must return to the path of ordinary living, subject to error, evil and death.  The supreme truth has to be lived in the soul's growing light and not argued about in the mind's semi-darkness.  You have to grow in to it.  You have to become it.  That is the only way to verify it.  It is only by this transformation that you can live the truth of your spiritual existence.

The secret wisdom must be lived.  Yoga practice works, because in doing it, you live in to the offering up of the whole working of all that you naturally are into the hands of the Divine.  God works out his divine birth in you progressively and infallibly by taking up your being into his and by filling it with his wisdom and power.  He lays his hands on your obscure, ignorant nature and transforms it into his own light and wideness.  That with which complete faith you aspire to, God within you will surely expedite.

Father Bede Griffiths:

Unless you penetrate this world of appearances to discover your inner center of stillness, which is the truth and root of the whole business, and unless you return constantly to that center, you will continue to get caught up in the snares of Nature.  With this penetration and stabilization, you are set free.

Friday, March 7, 2014

IX: 2

Chapter 9, Verse 2

"This is the knowledge
Above all other:
Pinnacle of secrets,
Only made plain
To the eyes of the mystics.
Great is its virtue.
Thus are they transported
To Truth Eternal."

Father Bede Griffiths:

The word that Krishna uses for this secret knowledge is Pratyaksha, which means "that which is truly known only by direct experience."  Once you have it, all of your actions will spring out of that inner understanding spontaneously and effortlessly.


My yoke [Yoga] is easy and my burden is light. (Gospel of Matthew, 11: 30)

Sri Eknath Easwaran:

Years ago I was taken to the library of someone who had collected a huge number of books about meditation.  I had never seen so many books about meditation in one place, and I told my host, "You must meditate regularly."  He coughed.  "Actually," he explained, "what with all of these books to study, I don't have time for meditation."  Then he asked politely, "Are you familiar with most of these titles?"  I coughed. "No," I said, "I don't have time to read many books on meditation.  I use the time to meditate."

In meditation, the mind is going to wander in spite of your best efforts.  Keep bringing it back whenever distractions upset the flow.

St. Francis de Sales:

Even if you do nothing during the whole hour but bring your heart back and place it again in our Lord's presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour will have been very well spent.

Swami Shivananda:

Strive with all you've got, for life is uncertain and the prize is very great.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

IX: 1

Chapter 9, Verse 1

"Because of your faith in me,
I will teach you
What wisdom is, Arjuna,
The most secret thing of all,
Open vision
Direct and instant.
Know it and be free
Of suffering forever."

Sri Krishna Prem:

Throughout world history runs a tradition of a wondrous secret sought under different names though all of the ages: the philosopher's stone, the elixir of immortality, the holy grail and so forth.  All these have been the object of a quest, and all are one if rightly understood.  No pen can ever write down this royal secret, nor can any lips reveal it.  It is written in the inmost heart of humanity and has lain there through countless ages, awaiting the day for you to tear away the veils of ignorance and experience its blazing truth in your heart.  There is no one, however mean or nasty, in whose heart it is not written, but few there are who read its life-giving words.
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