The Big Picture – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 10, Vs 1-5

The Blessed Lord spoke:
O Mighty Armed One, because you are dear to Me, and because you are taking such delight in listening, hear once again as I repeat in a manner giving you the greatest advantage, these teachings of Mine. 

Read the Prelude to this chapter 

Lord Krishna acknowledges Arjuna’s devotional state, which is discernible by his eagerness to listen to Him. He is going to go over things again, only now He is going to present His teachings on the secret of yoga in such a way that Arjuna can be most benefited. This time he will expand on them and give Arjuna the big picture so that he can grasp the magnitude of what he has been taught.

Before now, Arjuna has gone from depression, resistance, disagreement and confusion, to finally urging Lord Krishna to “please just tell me what to do.” Now that he is in this devotional state and at his most receptive, Krishna determines to put things into a different light and address Time and the Creation of the world on a truly grand scale.

Of all the gods and great sages, none know my origin, because I am the source of the gods and the great sages in every way.

To begin, He tells Arjuna of the universality of His greatness by calling his attention to the fact that even the gods and the great sages have their origin in Him. He is the source of their origin. They exist subsequent to Creation which emanates from Him alone, Imperishable Absolute God without beginning or end. 

Even the source of Lord Krishna’s origin as an avatara cannot be known to the gods and the sages because they are beings, and the comprehension of beings is dependent on the senses and the mind, which can only provide indirect perception.

This indicates that it is He, Absolute God, rather than our own willful efforts, who is behind our successful journey, before we even understand all this, before we even understand God and what That really is. He goes on to suggest….

He who knows Me as existing eternally without beginning, Lord of all the Worlds, is not confused. He is released, freed from all troubles and misfortunes. 

One who knows God as Absolute, knows God to exist eternally without beginning, and as the ever-present divine force permeating all worlds, and all beings that reside in them. Knowing this as distinct from the relative nature of physical worlds themselves, clears up all kinds of confusion and misconceptions. Knowing God as Absolute, one will not make the mistake of surrendering to God as this world or anything in it, including beings, events, conditions or circumstances, for these are all relative, and we are to resort solely to His Highest existence. 

Although we are beings with the limitations of mind and senses, it must surely be possible to know God. Previous chapters and verses have shown us the way to perception and comprehension without the use of the senses and the mind through true meditation. With continued practice, our comprehension continues to unfold.

He is saying that if we understand all this—what He has taught us and what He is going to tell us next—we won’t get stuck and hold ourselves back; we will flow with greater ease through the ever-changing stages of our journey and its transitions.

Absolute God has no beginning and therefore no end, is not a born being and so has no journey to take. God is with you from the very beginning of your journey and will be with you until the end, when you become one with That, all suffering and sorrow ended.

Intelligence, knowledge, freedom from delusion, patience, veracity, self-restraint, tranquility, pleasure, pain, birth, death, and fear and fearlessness…
Non-violence, impartiality, contentment, austerity, charity, fame, disrepute, the manifold conditions of beings, arise from Me alone.

These Relative (changeable) characteristics of human beings suggest His presence as the Absolute (unchanging) behind them. Here we see yamas and niyamas mixed with other states (intelligence, knowledge, enlightenment) as well as opposites (pleasure and pain, birth and death, fear and fearlessness) and other characteristics.

It is God who guides our complete journey Home through time; these things will arise within us in the process of becoming successful due to the purification process that is inherent in change. When they do arise, we can remember this verse telling us that they arise from God and be comforted—progress is being made.

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

Prelude to Chapter 10, The Big Picture

During the last solar eclipse, which was also Maha Shivaratri and my birthday, my meditation was long and truly wonderous. When I came out after a full night’s meditation, I sat down to write the next installment of the Gita, and begin this chapter. I started with my usual pranams to the Board and before I knew it, the following script was on the computer. The Big Picture had emerged:

The Big Picture

Last night, my meditation was an odyssey, a Grand Tour of hundreds of worlds. It went on throughout the night, a long, complex journey too long to relate in any detail here. I don’t think I could do it even if I tried, even if I had the time and the space. Writing about these worlds would fail in any case. You would have to have been there and seen for yourself.

Beginning this chapter with an Odyssey has given me a perspective that would otherwise have sent me on an entirely different path in writing the translations and commentaries on these verses. But now I have a Big Picture. I think it was not a coincidence that this took place just before beginning this chapter.

We established in previous chapters that there are many worlds. We also learned that these worlds exist at different levels in both directions from our own world, some better and some worse. I thought I had some idea of a few worlds at each of these levels, but there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands. The residents of the worlds I visited on my tour carried the same characteristics mentioned in the fourth and fifth verses of this chapter, and in each world, one of these characteristics seemed to be more prevalent.

These worlds and their denizens varied greatly. They looked different, they thought differently, they did things differently and they lived differently. Some we would not recognize as human, though most did look human. I went through a number of plights on these worlds with a degree of equanimity I didn’t know I had. Then, near the end of the tour, I met someone on one of these worlds and asked where one went after this (i.e., after death). “They go to the the un-world,” she said.

In one short sentence this person revealed a different way of thinking about life after death as the absence of “world”, as if it is the world that goes away, not us.

This leaves us with a new way of considering the meanings of statements from avataras such as Lord Krishna when they say that all this creation arises from them, rather than saying that they actively make it happen.

As we move along in this chapter, I will be seeing what is being said in terms of a much bigger picture. I invite you to bring your imagination (you’ll need it) and try to see what is being taught on a much larger scale: The Big Picture. It all begins next week, and I am as curious as you may be, to see what unfolds.

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

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The Highest Goal of Yoga: The Finishline – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 9, Vs 33-34

“How much easier is this yoga for Brahmans and royal sages! So having acquired this temporal and unhappy world, devote yourself to Me, Arjuna! Devoted to Me, bowing down reverently to Me, having Me as your highest goal, united with Me, you will surely reach the Highest Goal.” — Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, Verses 33-34

How much easier it is then, for Brahmans and royal sages! So having acquired this temporal and unhappy world, devote yourself to Me!

Lord Krishna has been teaching Arjuna the practice of yoga, and in doing so He makes it synonymous with the worship of Himself as Absolute God, thus making yoga a ‘God-practice’. In the previous verse (32) and this one, He reveals that this yoga is easier for some than others, which He describes, but that anyone can do it successfully through devotion to God.

“This temporal and unhappy world”
In this verse we have God as Lord Krishna calling this world ‘unhappy’ and making devotion to God an imperative antidote. Although we know that our time in this world is temporary and can accept this, in this our own day and age, we resist hearing statements of an “unhappy world” and put them down as ‘negative’. We go on to reassure ourselves that everything is perfect and just as it should be, and try to take a more ‘positive’ stance. But clearly, Lord Krishna is not going to pull any punches. He tells it like it is to motivate us to get on with this yoga, this God-practice, while we can, so we can reach liberation from having to return.

Alternate translation:  
How much easier it is for those of auspicious births—upper caste men and royal sages! So now in this temporary and unhappy world, while you have a chance, devote yourself to Me!

Lord Krishna is telling Arjuna that, being of royal birth, he’s got it made. He has advantages other, more unfortunate folks don’t have (vs. 32). Yet they can accomplish the very thing he has been resisting on several counts (in chapter one). Even though he is a warrior and brave on the field, he has hesitated to go forward with this yoga, and Krishna is urging him (and us) onward.

Devoted to Me, bowing down reverently to Me, having Me as your highest goal, united with Me, you will surely reach the Highest Goal.

  • Highest Goal – the Sanskrit also means ‘the final end, chief objective or final aim, finished’.

Lord Krishna reiterates to Arjuna, his description of ‘worship’ as surrendering oneself solely to Him, Absolute God. By this means Arjuna will become united (yoga) with Him. This will take him to the Highest Goal. There being nothing higher, Arjuna (and ourselves) will reach the finish-line liberated from death and rebirth, the journey completed.

Bowing Down

What is it about bowing down before God, God-images, Gurus and Holy People that we westerners find so objectionable? This attitude strikes me as silly.

When I was given my first initiation, even though I had never seen or heard of bowing down, never heard of swamis or even yoga, before I even know what hit me, I had bowed down before this Master with my body fully outstretched on the floor and grasping his feet. I was flooded with love and bliss (there just isn’t a better word) and given experience after experience, and pieces of knowledge, one after the other, until I was steeped in wonder and joy.

From that time to now, I bow down at every opportunity. Done in the spirit of loving worship of God, that is what I get: God, the bliss and joy of God. I get drunk with it. Once I even found myself pranaming to students and had the same experience. But I had to stop doing that because they were disturbed about it. One student even left and never came back. Human beings are, I think, the greatest mystery on earth.

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“Bowing down reverently to Me”
Lord Krishna, who is teaching yoga to Arjuna, is Arjuna’s guru. It is customary to make this pranam by bowing down before Guru and images representative of God. By putting your head at the feet of God or Guru, you also honor your Real Self, for they are all the same. The willingness to make this gesture of devotion is what sends you forward to more advanced stages of yoga and Self realization. 

At the very least, you show your respect. Giving your ego a jolt by placing it at the feet of someone other than yourself, you open yourself to receiving more from the teachings of a guru than you otherwise would do. You draw the Truth to yourself in this way. 

This gesture of pranama is illustrated by a choice that Arjuna made earlier in the story of the Mahabharata:

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 8.16.13 AMArjuna demonstrated his loving devotion for Lord Krishna by placing himself at Krishna’s feet in pranama. Upon Lord Krishna’s awakening, Arjuna was the first to be seen by Lord Krishna, thus giving Arjuna first choice between Krishna’s armies or Krishna Himself. Arjuna chose his guru instead of the much needed armies.

This surrender resulted in Lord Krishna driving Arjuna’s chariot for him. To drive the chariot, Krishna seats Himself in the front of the chariot in a lower position, while Arjuna stands in the higher position behind Him.

Now do you begin to see the significance of this custom?

Reaching the Highest Goal of Yoga

“Having Me as your highest goal, united with Me”
If you have God/Krishna as your highest goal, you will become united with That. If you cannot even pranam to That, how do you expect to ever reach That?

By bowing down reverently to God, God will drive your chariot, and you will become united with God. “You will surely reach the Highest Goal”

You get what you worship.
You get what you surrender to.

End of Chapter Nine

The Secret Science of Royal Yoga

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

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Registration for this Intensive is now closed RE-OPENED for one person.

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