VIII:17-18 The Day and Night of Brahmā, Part 1

Previously, we learned about the World of Brahmā, and that we must rise above this realm in order to achieve liberation from death and rebirth. In these verses we will get an idea of how long we have been on this journey to freedom and eternal happiness.

17
Those who know that a day of Brahmā is a thousand yugas, and a night of Brahmā is a thousand yugas, are day and night knowing people.

  • Brahmā – God as Creator
  • Yuga – An age

An age of Brahmā is a maha yuga, a Great Age. There are four ages within a Great Age, which, when added together, amount to 4,320,000 of our years. There are one thousand of these Great Ages in one day of Brahmā, and the same for one night.   

This gives us a another picture that is far bigger than our usual sense of time, and some idea of how long we have been on this journey to freedom and unending happiness. One lifetime is but a blip on God’s radar. This kind of time is beyond our comprehension, but there are some who do comprehend it: the “day and night knowing people”.

In the previous issue, we found that the World of Brahmā not only refers to worlds where those not liberated from death and rebirth will return, but that it also applies microcosmically to the human body. Lord Krishna is revealing all this to Arjuna for the purpose of demonstrating the process by which liberation is attained.

In Sanskrit texts, prana and apana are usually translated as ingoing breath and outgoing breath because the breath is the way the Life Energy noticeably enters and leaves the body. Life Energy functions as sun (prana, the warmth of day) and moon (apana, the cool of the night) in the body—days and nights of Brahmā. Their cycles are yugas.

18
From the un-manifest, all manifestation comes forth at the arrival of day. At the arrival of night they are reabsorbed into what is known as un-manifest, again.

  • Un-manifest (avyakta) – not manifest, invisible, not perceptible to the senses.

From the un-manifest, the night, things are beyond the range of our perception. Everything becomes perceptible by the senses with the arrival of day, to be dissolved again into the night.

These cycles of day and night are the yugas within the body as a whole. At the end of the day you go to sleep, and anything you perceive is not perceived by your senses but by your power of perception. We experience this in our sleep as dreams. 

Day and Night

We are all used to thinking of darkness as being associated with evil. So as you read, try to remember that ‘dark’ (night) is simply the opposite of ‘light’ (day).

Nowadays, we are bombarded with the idea of light as divine (silently suggesting that dark is the opposite of divine, or evil). Many people have had experiences of seeing this divine light in their meditation. This is all well and good, but it creates limitation when we ignore its opposite: darkness.  

Anyone can meditate. Everyone does meditate. Most people who meditate regularly, meditate during dawn or dusk, evidence of innate knowledge that this natural transition, when darkness and light are united together, is the key to a true meditative state. 

‘Day’ refers to any situation in which things are perceived through the senses, causing the attention to become externalized and taking the life energy with it. But the means of reaching our goal requires that the energy be internalized and concentrated so that we can reach a meditative state and equanimity (samadhi). So ‘day’ isn’t really the good guy after all. Night is more to the point.

Night is when we naturally sleep—the attention and prana are not leaving the body but are restrained within it (pranayama), and the gateways to external perceptions, the senses, are closed (pratyhara). 

Sleep is the most natural form of meditation. Persons practicing Experiential (Surrender) Meditation often report that they find themselves meditating in their sleep and having the most inspiring experiences. 

The real reason sleep is not given its due is not because of darkness being associated with evil, but because Yoga and meditation have become misunderstood as things we can only accomplish through control by using our will. Once this error is corrected, we come closer to understanding the mysteries of meditation. For instance, yogic teachings on such things as yoga nidra, ‘the sleep of union (yoga)’, finally become correctly understood. Then we find ourselves in possession of knowledge that is extremely valuable to us in achieving a true meditation state, equanimity and Divine Union.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 1.50.03 PMLord Shiva wears a sliver of the moon in his hair to suggest the dark of the moon. Shiva Ratri is celebrated on the darkest night of the moon each month for this reason. The word Krishna literally means ‘dark, black, the dark half of a lunar month’. So the importance of Night and darkness is inescapable.

  • Shiva Ratri – Shiva, ‘Lord of Yoga’, Ratri ‘dark of the moon’.

So now you can consider yourself a (somewhat) day and night knowing person.

Read a short personal note on the day and night of Brahmā.

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

Who Am I?

Sadhana:

I am with a large multitude of people somewhere that is not inside of anything. I know some of the people nearest me but most are strangers. Nevertheless, I feel quite at home and pleasantly comfortable with everyone. Then there is a sound that we are all very much drawn to, and soon, people begin to act strangely:

They (this is very difficult to explain) seem to become confused about the people around them; they are scrambling around looking for them, their parents, siblings, other relatives and friends, and can’t recognize any of them and begin to recognize people that they don’t even know as being people they do know. But these people are also confused and don’t recognize those who think they recognize them as their own people, and the situation becomes more and more complicated and confused, with people running this way and that, trying to find their people. No one can remember anything. No one can remember anyone.

People begin wandering around and taking things from other people (we are all carrying some kind of luggage). Someone sees something in my backpack and says that I have something that belongs to them so they take it. I don’t resist this, and soon, my own luggage is empty so I leave it where it is and move on. I am not disturbed about losing it or anything that was in it.

Someone asks me to identify myself as the daughter of a woman they are trying to claim a relationship with, so I do. I don’t see why this matters so much anyway. A man looks furiously at me, but does nothing. I move on.

I am walking along and watching all this craziness and thinking it over. As I watch I realize that the reason no one knows who their people are is because they don’t know who they are. And I realize, this is God answering the request I made to show me what is going on with this crazy world.

I recall the famous question, “Who am I?” that I had always thought was such a strange question—how is it possible that a person does not know who they are? I realize that what I am being shown is why people don’t know who they are — they identify themselves with their relatives, their belongings, their bodies, etc. People depend on others—people and things—and their relationship with them, to show them who they are because this is the only way they can have some sense of themselves. But this is the very thing that keeps them hidden from themselves.

I have always known who I am. What is going on is that I know who I am and those around me do not, and this mass of confusion is what all this life in this world looks like.

A few years ago, I was asked to address a meditation class at a local church and was surprised that when I arrived they were all sitting in twos across from each other saying, “Tell me who you are” with the partner answering. I was invited to join and sit with someone without a partner. As people answered this statement with various and multiple descriptions of their names, their backgrounds, their homes and belongings, family and friends, what they like and don’t like, their professions, etc. My answer was always the same: “I’m this one.” My partner looked at me like I was nuts.

In the beginning was the Word (the sound we heard in the beginning). Subsequent identification with Creation caused everyone to forget who they are, and to look to others for this to be revealed to them.

At the onset of Creation we became identified with prakriti—nature, otherness—and left the Garden of Eden, the Absolute. The rest is history. A trip into the Absolute will change this. In yoga this is called nirvikalpa samadhi, a subject we will take up in the next few articles.

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


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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Vs 1

Arjuna’s Depression

1
Dhirtarashtra said:  O Samjaya, about my sons of the field of doers, and the sons of Pandu of the field of dharma, eager to fight, tell me what they are doing.  

Characters:

Dhritarashtra – Dhritarashtra was the blind king. The name means, ‘one whose empire is firmly held’. 

Samjaya – The king’s minister. The name means, ‘victorious’.

What is going on:

A conflict is about to take place on the battlefield. Dhritarashtra, who was king and is blind, is asking his minister, Samjaya, to tell him what is going on between his son’s army and the opposing army. His son leads the armies of the Kurus. The armies of the Pandavas are lined up against him.

Because Dhritarashtra is blind, he tells his minister, Samjaya, who has the power to see at a distance, to tell him what is going on. The result is that we get to listen in as Samjaya reports events to Dhritarashtra. This is the source of a dialogue that makes up the content of the Bhagavad Gita. The dialogue is between Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, and Krishna, Arjuna’s guru and childhood best friend who has come over from the other side to drive Arjuna’s chariot for him. But this is another story.

The Two Fields
The field of dharma (truth, divine law, virtue)¹ and the field of kuru (doership, will, ‘ego’).

Think of ‘field’ as a scope of influence and action. The field of the Pandavas is dharma, Truth. The field of the Kurus² (from, kri, ‘to do’) is doership. These two, Truth and doership, have come together in one place to contend their right to rule the kingdom, thus implying that Truth and doership do not tend to get along well with one another.

What does all this have to do with you? 

As a king, Dhritarashtra represents a ruler. His blindness represents ignorance—he is unenlightened. Because he cannot ‘see’ and must have his minister relate events to him, we draw the obvious conclusion that this indicates perception that is indirect on the part of the unenlightened, whereas the perception of one who ‘sees’ is direct. So we have ‘ignorance’ as ‘ruler’ of the ‘kingdom’.

What rules you and your kingdom? You will find the answer to this question in what you want. Do you want Truth, or do you want to be in control? Do you want Truth to rule, or do you want to do everything yourself? The setup of this story seems to be telling us that there is no middle ground where this is concerned.

The rightful ruler is Truth, dharma.
Doership (will) has usurped the thrown.
A conflict is inevitable.

The conflict between the Kurus and the Pandavas represents a clash of opposing forces that occurs when attempting to right this situation. The clash is the coming together of two opposing energies in the body of the person engaged in this endeavor. This union of sun-energy and moon-energy (ha-tha yoga) in the body³ awakens the evolutionary force (kundalini). Once awake and active, the evolutionary force begins the process of doing what is necessary to correct the situation. This process is explained by Lord Krishna in His dialogue with Arjuna, his devotee, and makes up the content of the Bhagavad Gita (Song of God).

Ignorance, the state of the unenlightened, is indirect perception. Dhritarashtra represents ignorance as the ruler of one’s kingdom—your perception, actions, and life in general. But there is someone with you who perceives directly, and can ‘see’. This individual knows what’s going on, and will tell you everything if you ask. But it will be up to you to understand what is being conveyed to you by this individual … and by this scripture, for it is this individual who is conveying it.

FOOTNOTES:

¹ dharma means law, the true essence of anything, and Truth in the absolute sense, i.e., sanatana dharma, ‘Eternal Truth’.

² The physical place, Kurukshetra, is located north of Delhi near Pranipat.

³ The Kurus are of the race of the Moon, and the Pandavas are of the race of the Sun.

Jaya Bhagavan(Victory to God!)
Durga Ma
durgama.com

Satsanga, Retreats, Life Readings, New Hartford, Connecticut, May 1 – 7.

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