Nature and Spirit – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 13, Vs 1-3

Spirit and Nature

Nature and Spirit 

Arjuna spoke:
Of Nature and Spirit, the Field, the Knower of the Field, knowledge and what is to be known, I wish to learn. 

  • Field (kṣhetra) – a place or sphere of action, property, land, region, the body. Also chiromancy, determining a person’s life by the patterns in the hands.

If you are consulting other editions of the Gita, in this chapter, instead of prakriti and purusha as per previous posts, you are likely to come across the terms Nature and Spirit. 

Spirit (puruṣha) – You with a ‘viewpoint’. You are a Divine Individual viewing Other Divine Individuals. Purusha is inactive, changeless order. What You really are does nothing. You are the eternal non-doer.

Nature (prakṛiti) – Other Divine Individuals that You view, or perceive, and who, because they are different than you, appear as material ‘Nature’. Prakriti is active and constantly changing, unpredictable, spontaneous and self-organizing. All action occurs in nature. 

Now fasten your seat belts. I am going to try to tell you something that is difficult to put into words without seeming so abstract as to be unintelligible….. 

You With a Viewpoint

A viewpoint is a place from which something or someone is observed.

The original situation in the Absolute (before creation) consists of divine, perfect and blissful Individuals like You (“I”). This changes when an Individual becomes aware of its existence (“I Am”) and seeks to know Others. When the self-aware Divine Individual engages Its innate ability to be conscious in order to know about Others, a viewpoint is established.

A viewpoint suggests that the Individual is ‘looking’ from a certain ‘place’ at something other than himself. That place from which he looks, is himself (“I Am That”). From this place he views, or perceives, another Divine Individual and realizes that this other Individual is different than himself. This difference can be taken two ways …

  1. Different than himself in what that Individual really is, or
  2. That this other Individual is a different Individual who is not different than himself, but the same.

When Divine Individuals in the Absolute take other Individuals as different than themselves in what it is that they really are (number 1), this is called ‘denial’. Now imagine that this is happening to other Divine Individuals in the Absolute, and you have the beginning of spontaneous Creation and the embodiment of Divine Individuals as beings.

This was the first act of the self-aware Divine Individual, Its first choice, which was to engage Its consciousness in order to know about Others. These are our innate powers as Beings: the power to be conscious, to choose, and to act.

Once involved in knowing otherness by means of a viewpoint, the Individual is called Purusha, Spirit. (Before awakening to its own existence It is called Adhyatman.) When the Individual denies the sameness of Others, they are seen by him incorrectly as Nature. 

We look outward and everything that we see looks like material nature, but it’s really Prakriti, other Divine Individuals.

The Blessed Lord spoke:
It is said that this body is the Field and that the one who knows it is the Field Knower.

  • The Field (prakṛiti) – the body, nature.
  • The Field Knower (puruṣha) – the embodied viewer who knows, or experiences, the body.

It might be said that You, as the embodied Individual, would naturally have intimate knowledge of the body—after all, it’s where you live—making You the Field Knower. But living in a house doesn’t necessarily mean you know everything about the house, so there may be more to being a Knower of the Field than we might expect.

True Knowledge

True knowledge is knowledge of Truth, the knowledge of Truth as both Absolute and Relative.

Furthermore, know that I am the Knower of the Field in all Fields, Descendant of Bharata. I consider knowledge of the Field and the Field Knower to be True Knowledge.

  • Descendant of Bharata – An epitaph of Ajruna. Bharata is the true name of India. It means ‘constantly seeking enlightenment’.

What is the Field, and who is the one who knows it?

To begin with, the Field is the body, Nature (Prakriti), and the one who knows it is the one who is embodied, Spirit (Purusha): You. And now, Lord Krishna says that He is the Knower of the Field in all Fields. We may each know our own Field but Lord Krishna (Absolute God) is the Knower of ALL Fields.

Those who worship Me with devotion, they are in Me and I am also in them.

First we must remember who is talking (Lord Krishna), and who He is (Absolute God). As Lord Krishna, He is the avatar of Vishnu, who is Personal God, the first Divine Individual to become aware of His own existence, and who accepted everyone else (Us) as the same. Because of this complete acceptance, He did not become an embodied Being. This Divine Individual is known as Vishnu, which means, ‘All-Pervading’, and Purushottama, which means ‘Highest Purusha’.

If you know the Field (Prakriti), and you also know yourSelf (Purusha), you have True Knowledge—knowledge of Truth. If you know both the Field and yourSelf, you will also know that God is within You and everyone else—the Field Knower in all Fields, all bodies.

In an earlier chapter Lord Krishna said that He is the “witness within” the city of nine gates, the body, suggesting that He was identifying Himself even then, as “the Knower of the Field in all Fields,” all bodies … the Self in everyone. Not the self that we think of as ourselves, but another Divine Individual who is God present in all of us individually. But how can this be?

We have seen in several verses throughout the Gita that God is all-pervasive and present everywhere in everyone. We probably thought of this as God being spread out amongst all of us, but consider the possibility that this is meant literally: God is present within you as Another, and you call this Divine Other, your Real Self, but it is actually God.

We didn’t have too much trouble imagining that each of us is all-pervasive and everywhere, but that was because we thought of this as being spread out like butter and, in some small way, present in everyone. Then we came across verses saying what our functions might be in other bodies. This indicates our ability to be in several places at the same time. And now we must consider that God is fully present in each of us—not spread out, but individually.

If God is God, God can be in more places than one at the same time. Some yogis have even demonstrated this by doing just that—being in several places at once, and corroborated by witnesses.

If we can be everywhere, surely God can be everywhere. God’s position as the “witness within” is simply a matter of this Divine Absolute Individual we call “God” becoming self-aware before we did, and in addition to this, accepting all of Us unconditionally right on the spot, and therefore not compelled to come into Being as we have been. 

Now here’s what makes all this so significant:

Divine Love

By understanding this, you will understand the nature of the spiritual path, and what it entails: to become enlightened, united with God/Truth, and eternally free and fulfilled. To achieve this, we must do the same—we must accept absolutely, no strings attached, ALL Others as the same as ourSelves. This acceptance is Divine Love. 

What is Love?
Love is the unconditional acceptance of another as the same as oneself.

The unconditional acceptance of Another is what Love really is. When we have accepted all Others as divine and the same as ourSelves, we will have achieved Divine Love and Godhood. This is our primary purpose in Life, and puts us in the last leg of our journey Home to Eternal Happiness.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma

Spiritual Leadership

Are you a spiritual leader in hiding? How would you know? Take this short self-survey and let me know what you think:  

  • Deep down you feel that your life has a purpose, but you struggle with taking action.
  • You get inspired at the possibility of fulfilling your desire to be a spiritual leader, but you struggle with acting on it.
  • You see your relationships as catalysts for mutually beneficial growth, but feel a lack of support and fulfillment while being emotionally drained.
  • You know that you are meant to have a positive impact in the world in a big way, but you aren’t sure how to do this while maintaining your current responsibilities.

I am interested in hearing your story. On this page, under “Subject,” please write “Spiritual Leadership,” and tell me about it.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma

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