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

VIII:22 Purusha and the Real You

Previously, we learned that there is another non-manifest state called “The Imperishable”. Here, there is no death and no returning to undesirable temporal worlds. This deathless place is Lord Krishna’s “Highest Abode”. We have been told by Him, that we can also reach this state.

That Highest Purusha in whom all beings exist, and by which all this universe is pervaded, is attainable by devotion not directed elsewhere.

In this verse, Lord Krishna refers back to Himself as Purusha, whose Highest Abode is the Imperishable. He could have called it by other names, but Imperishable conveys His deathless state, and keeps us on target with the subject of achieving this state ourselves.

  • “Devotion not directed elsewhere” – The attention remains on the object of one’s devotion. 

This is also the definition of meditation, and refers back to verses 5-7 and 8 -1o calling for singular attention directed only to God. By constantly thinking of God, the attention is always on God and only God—worshipping God, surrendering to God. By this devotion, this ‘Highest Purusha’ is attained. For this reason, yogis protect themselves from distraction by not living a worldly life where one constantly encounters the many demands of society. Instead, constant awareness of Absolute God is sought.

Through meditation, a steady flow of attention to a single object, one reaches God by making God the object of one’s meditation.

The Sanskrit for Highest is para, which also means ‘beyond’. Looked at in this way, we might read: That which is beyond Purusha … is attained by devotion not directed elsewhere.

In this case, ‘beyond Purusha’ indicates a state that is higher than, or beyond Purusha. You will recall that this was earlier referred to as Adhyatma, the Real You in your natural, divine situation (verses 1-4) before Creation. 

  • Adhyatma – ‘original self’, a Divine Individual in the Absolute

So why not just say, Adhyatma? Because Adhyatma had not chosen to engage the ability to be conscious of anything. Once Adhyatma chose to engage this power, he became known as Purusha. Now he can only be called Purusha, but once he achieves the “Highest Abode” again, he will not cease to be conscious of otherness, but will be conscious of everything that can be known—conscious of All That Is. Now Purusha is at his highest: the Highest Purusha.

In the Absolute situation before Creation, Purusha is only one step down from Adhyatma, the Real You, before having engaged your power of choice to know of the existence of others like You. Once this took place, You encountered a point of view, and became known as Purusha. But now you are here, living in this relative, illusory world, in a body, and now you have the opportunity to recapture your natural state of Imperishableness and Eternal Happiness. 

Purusha is Adhyatma with a point of view.

It is difficult to imagine the idea of not having a view point, a place from which you perceive things other than yourself. But when this viewpoint is expanded in all directions, what can be known is not limited either in what is known, or where it is know from. One is all-pervasive and all-knowing.

Consciousness is an inherent ability of the Real You. But once You engaged this ability to seek out otherness, you had a view point: you. Your consciousness then became ‘consciousness of‘, and your inherent abilities to know, such as seeing, hearing, etc., became manifest as sense organs.

Now that we have been through all this business of Creation, indirect perception via the senses, birth, death, suffering and happiness, we have come around full circle to our original state, but now with full consciousness. This is Purusha without the limitation of a single point of view: The Highest Purusha, the Real You. You have recaptured your original state of all-pervasiveness, all-knowingness and bliss. You are perfect, beyond birth and death, Imperishable, abiding in Eternal Happiness.

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

VII:24-25 Illusion

We live daily in the illusion of manifestation, but it is not this illusion that prevents us from reaching God/Truth, it is our union with it. To separate ourselves from it, we must look it in the face, for we cannot be anything that we can see. By standing apart from it we will know it for what it really is.  

Because I am not visible to them, those lacking in wisdom think of Me as having acquired manifestation. They do not know my highest existence: the unsurpassed, Imperishable Absolute.

Anything that is perceptible to you is not God to you. Perception takes place when one or more of the five senses opens its door and allows the attention to reach its object (i.e., sight reaches for something that can be seen). The attention will go to whatever attracts it. In this world there is always something, and the attention is always engaged in this process. But God is not perceptible by the senses.

Then what is it that we are perceiving if it isn’t God come into manifestation? You may remember in verse 8 we used the metaphor of seeing the image of a face in a cloud:

Like a face seen in a cloud, it is not that the cloud is a face, but that a face is what is perceived by the seer.

This metaphor describes how ‘those lacking in wisdom’ make this mistake. We, the unwise, tell ourselves that “all is God” and imagine that when we look at something, God is what we are seeing, but what we are seeing is an illusion (not what is seems). 

Remember that Lord Krishna has identified Himself as Absolute. But all perception takes place by means of the senses, which are not absolute. Yes, the face in the cloud is real, but it is not a face, it is a cloud. It is only seen as a face to the one looking. 

‘Illusion’ is perceiving something as other than what it really is. This is what is meant by ‘ignorance’, or ‘lacking in wisdom’.

The deluded and confused of this world are enveloped by their union with illusion and do not not recognize Me, the birthless and Imperishable.

Lord Krishna is saying that because we are in union with illusion, identified with it, we are deceived and defrauded by unreality.

One cannot find the Real by means of the unReal (illusion) 

We look at someone across the room, open ourselves to that person’s divinity, get high, and consider ourselves to have seen the Divine. But such experiences are usually a phenomenon of the mind having kicked off an emotional high that feels good.

I have often heard someone say that s0-and-so (who usually has a book they’ve read) is the Real Deal because they have worked so many paths, and know so much, that they must therefore be ‘very highly evolved’. These people openly express that people like us, who are interested in the Real, are on a ridiculous quest for something that has no real meaning because it is absolute, and too abstract—it’s getting good at Life that counts.

I have met many of these folks. They are, across the board, doing all their seeking in such a way as to maintain control, and they never release their guard. They don’t take risks, they don’t seek the guidance of anyone (especially if they do not concur with their already existing beliefs), and they don’t study the works of those who have attained the Highest. They read all the latest books by others like themselves who are reinventing the wheel with minimal success, and remain eclectic, thinking that this is the smartest and highest road.

But this road comes to a dead end, for they are unwilling to undergo the changes that accompany progress, especially if it doesn’t feel good. They strive instead to maintain the status quo (though they fervently believe otherwise about themselves) and “do not recognize Me, the birthless and Imperishable”.

Correct knowledge will up one’s progress by thousands, but knowledge without action is just knowledge and essentially useless.

Next week, we will learn a short-cut to Freedom and union with God/Truth, that can take us to Eternal Happiness.

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