A cow produces milk for as long as it is taken. When the calf stops nursing, the cow’s milk dries up. This metaphor demonstrates that we must continue to receive through ‘sacrifice’, for this is the very thing that causes the milk of the Cow of Plenty to continue to flow, fulfilling all our wants and needs. Thus does receiving perpetuate itself—“sacrifice is the milch cow of your desire”.
BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSE 14-16
Living beings exist from food; food is brought about by rain; the source of rain is sacrifice, sacrifice is brought about by action.
Reading this verse, it is easy to imagine why cultures have adopted rituals for the purpose of affecting nature. They have understood this principle, but not its application, and they sacrifice for purposes of their own. But true sacrifice is a natural thing that is accomplished when there is no self-motivated interest, and the action, the ritual, is spontaneous.
The natural cycle of life is rooted in sacrifice. When the meaning of sacrifice is understood, it is easy to see how this is so—the waters of the earth are sacrificed to the heavens and the earth receives rain in return. Sacrifice is simple, spontaneous and natural. Yes, something is given up, but it is not given up in a hard and willful manner, and nothing is really gone or lost. To the contrary, everything and everyone prospers, and life continues.
Know that the source of action is Brahma arising from the Imperishable. Therefore all that exists is eternally rooted in sacrifice.
“The source of action is Brahma arising from the Imperishable”
The word Brahma means God. In one form, it means God as ‘growth, expansion, and evolution’. In another form it means ‘absolute’, which by definition never changes, exists independently, is not relative or comparative to anything, and is all-powerful and omnipresent. The source of action is the arising of Relative God from Absolute God which has no beginning or end (imperishable). This arising is the original action, the source of all action.
Earth, water, fire, air, ether, thought, intelligence and ego, are the eight parts of my relative nature. Such is My inferior nature. But know this as different from My highest absolute existence by which this world is sustained.
— Bhagavad Gita, Ch 7, vs 4 – 5
(See also, The Absolute and the Relative)
The Source of Life and All Existence
Brahmākṣara – the sound of OM
It is the arising of the Relative from the Imperishable Absolute that is the source of OM, the sound of Creation. This arising of the Relative from the Absolute produces the oscillation (vibration) that is the original sound. This sound is ‘The Word’, OM (pronounced AUM).
When you, in the all-existent Imperishable Absolute, having become self-aware chose to know one-other-than-self, the situation became relative. This choice was your original act. The awareness flowing from yourself to one-other-than-self produced ‘consciousness’, the sound of OM which produces form.
- One becomes aware of oneself.
- One chooses to know what is other than self.*
- Carrying out this choice produces consciousness.
- The sound of consciousness is the sound of AUM.
- The sound of AUM produces form, all life and all existence.
* In this situation there are only perfect others (like you) to be conscious of.
This comes to be known directly when, in deep meditation (samadhi), this sound is heard by the meditator as not only one single tone, but all tones, each of which are at once discernible to the meditator as simultaneously one and many.
The source of life is the sound of OM (AUM, ओम् ) arising from self-existent Absolute.
The Sanskrit for ‘arising from’ also means ‘coming to life again’, and ‘revival’. So we are reminded by a single word that, through sacrifice, there is a continuing cycle of life, a coming to be that changes and comes to be again.
One who, not following this wheel thus set into motion, living for the desirable things provided by the senses, acts opposed to this wheel, causing harm to the world and living in vain.
I am including the often omitted ‘harm’ in this translation. I found it in one other place where the translator says, ‘he is evil in nature’.
‘Harm’ – aghāyuh – ‘intending to injure, malicious’
I believe that, for the most part, people do not take this path out of intent to harm but because they want to have their desires fulfilled, and believing that they cannot be fulfilled through surrender (sacrifice), they try to control things themselves. This harmfulness is simply a byproduct of ignorance that is shared by nearly everyone of us.
Not understanding the truth about this, we live our lives in vain, missing the mark as to what our true purpose is in being in human form. But the stalemate this causes still affects the world and everyone in it, so I have included it to put it in plain view. Otherwise, how can we ever end our ignorance, stop harming each other, and even the world itself?
Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),