Three Kinds of Faith – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 17, Vs 1-10

 

Faith

1
Arjuna spoke:
What is the status of those who sacrifice without consideration of scriptural injunctions but sacrifice with
faith? Is it sattva, rajas or tamas?

  • Sacrifice – surrender; letting go of something and giving it to God.
  • Sattva, rajas or tamas – the three gunas of material Nature: sattva – ease, light, peace; rajas – excitement, color, passion; tamas – dullness, darkness, ignorance.

2 – 3
The Blessed Lord spoke:
The faith of embodied beings is of three kinds according to their nature as sattvic, rajasic or tamasic. Of this now hear: All beings have some kind of faith according to their nature. 
What one wants to believe, is what he has faith in, and who he is.

“What one wants to believe, is what he has faith in, and who he is.” Lord Krishna is saying that faith ordinarily comes from what one wants to believe, and marks the nature of the individual. In this way, it can be said that everyone has some kind of faith according to their predominant guna — sattva, rajas or tamas.

“According to their nature.” The nature of each of us is most inclined toward one of the three gunas, and that this colors our characteristics, personality and actions, and consequently, our beliefs will also be of this nature.

“What one wants to believe is what he has faith in.” He becomes identified with, and invested in, what he believes to be true. He is uncomfortable outside of this, and only comfortable within it. He sees this as “who he is.”

“Who he is” is what he identifies himself to be as a human being according to his predominant guna — his mind, body, personality and behaviors are predominantly sattvicrajasic or tamasic.

Considering what you now know about faith, Lord Krishna is saying that your essential nature as a human being will be predominately sattivic, rajasic or tamasic, and as such, will reflect your nature as a human being.

The following verses address this by explaining how your predominate guna affects what you surrender (sacrifice), open up to, or let go of, in life or meditation, and what you sacrifice it to.

4
Those who are sattvic sacrifice to the gods, the rajasic to the yakṣhas and rākṣhasas, and others, the tamasic, sacrifice to ghosts and departed spirits.Offerings to the gods 

  • Gods – I think we can take the word ‘gods’ to mean Divine Individuals who have not come into being in this world, but exist on a higher plane than our human selves.
  • Yakṣhas – demigods; those who covet power and great wealth.
  • Rākṣhasas – demigods; those who passionately embody great power, sensual pleasure and wrath.

Sattvic Sacrifice. Sattva is the guna that is the easy-going characteristic of purity and goodness. This guna is closest to your Real Self, so it gets ranked as the best of the three qualities. Sattvic sacrifice then, is the best sacrifice (surrender), until one reaches Absolute God and attains God-realization.

5  Rajasic Sacrifice
Those who perform severe austerities not enjoined by the scriptures, do so out of pride and egoism, impelled by the force of desire and attachment.

Rajas is the guna of passion, and actions done for the purpose of fulfilling desires. It is taught in scriptures that these self-motivated actions must be abandoned in order to reach Divine Union, for they are the backbone of attachment, the real obstacle. These kinds of sacrifices are not in accordance with scripture, for they do not allow for Divine Union and Liberation, the ultimate purpose of Life.

Egoismahamkara in Sanskrit, literally means, “I do,” or “I am the doer.” But what you really are is not a doer of action, but a Divine Individual entity. So as a rajasic human being, you are not aligned with the Divine Individual that you really are, and your sacrifice, your surrender, is made from this position.

Enlightenment. There are those who deem the realization of WHO they are to be the ultimate enlightened state. But the realization of non-doership, which stems from knowing WHAT you really are, is the highest enlightenment. 

6  Tamasic Sacrifice
Ascetics who imprudently cause torment and emaciation of the physical body, also torment Me within the body. Know them to be demonically resolved.

In other words, when you force or resist (that’s what it would take to do these things), you are not only not being nice to yourself, you are also not being very nice to God. The only practical solution is to surrender yourself to God, and let That deal with everything.

Mortification of the flesh is not in accordance with any scriptural injunction, and is thus considered ‘demonic’ and tamasic

Demonic. The word in Sanskrit is āsura. Asuras are powerful superhuman demigods with both good and bad qualities, who battle constantly with the devas (gods). They are sometimes regarded as nature spirits.

Tamas is the state of darkness. In this case, darkness is meant as ignorance. Actions that are harmful to oneself or others are also tamasicTamasic sacrifices are done from a position of doership and motivated by evil or misguided purposes: “demonically resolved.”

Imprudently. The word in Sanskrit for ‘imprudent’ also means ‘unconscious’, or the ‘subconscious actions of the unenlightened, the ignorant’. 

The way you can resolve the effects of the gunas running your life and determining who you are, is by surrendering yourself and your will to Absolute God with complete abandon, and leaving everything to That during this time. This is the ultimate leap of faith that will produce the ultimate pay-off.

As risky as this may seem, I can personally attest to the veracity of this surrender when done correctly under the proper conditions. As Yogeshwar used to say…

“God is not a cheat.” — Yogeshwar Muni

Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are),
Durga Ma
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The Cosmic Form of Lord Krishna – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 11, Vs 5 – 6

Cosmic Form 14

The Power of God in You

Upon seeing the power of God in everything around you, it is only a short hop to realizing that God is also in you. 

Arjuna Sees the Cosmic Form of Lord Krishna

During this dialogue between Lord Krishna and his devotee and childhood friend, Arjuna, Lord Krishna shows him His Cosmic Form.

5
The Blessed Lord spoke:
Arjuna, behold the hundreds and thousands of My divine forms, of various and manifold kinds, and different and various colors.

6
Behold the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the Ashvins, the Maruts, and innumerable wonders never seen before. 

A form suggests the Relative Realm of Creation, not the Absolute and Highest of God from which it comes. What Lord Krishna is showing Arjuna (and us) is Himself in all that exists in the Relative Realm.

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These gods suggest some of the characteristics of God within you:

Adityas, unlimited. There is no limit to your potential.

Vasus, dwelling in all beings. You dwell in all beings.

Rudras, fear that drives away evil. The rudimentary fear within your body protects you from harm.

The Ashvin Twins, twin gods who are heavenly physicians. Your body is structured to heal itself.  

Maruts, storm gods residing in the North (the head) drive away evil (impurities, misplacements) within the mind and brain. (In meditation the Maruts are seen and experienced as thunder and lightening bolts in the crown of the head.)

The Ashvin Twins
The Ashvin Twins

These ‘gods’, some of whom are regarded as frightening, are aspects of God that dwell within us. We are mostly unaware of them, so their discovery in meditation can be surprising, even scary. But they are our allies, and perform their tasks for our benefit.

You can think of these gods as their functions, or you can think of them as actual entities. As westerners, we are probably more comfortable thinking of them as functions that are inherent within ourselves, but I think it is also important to know that these gods are members of our divine family: They are Divine Individuals who are everywhere (just like You), each acting in the capacity of a specific function within each us. Each of these functions is ruled by one of these gods. I realize that this idea is difficult to comprehend, but it is true none the less.

For a long time now, I have been having very disturbing experiences during my meditation. This began to concern me. After forty-plus years, one expects lovely samadhi experiences, not nightmares. These experiences had me worried and asking God to take these horrors away, but they only increased. While writing this post, I suddenly realized what had been going on, and I now thank God for dismissing my entreaty and upping the ante on this Divine Process.

We are all gods.
We are all everywhere always.
We act in various capacities within all beings.

We are all gods, and each of us rules some function in the Relative Realm of Creation, whether a person, a tree, the wind, an energy, or even such things as darkness and light. Each of us has been named by mystics who have experienced this truth at some time or other, in some place of another.

For this reason alone, it can surely be seen that our lives here are only a side effect of something much Greater, and that this Life we are living is something we are meant to use to know and understand Truth, and bring our human selves into sync with It. This is the purpose and ultimate destiny of all human beings. The more we move forward in this, the better the effects on all others, and hence ourselves as well. To ignore it is to produce the exact opposite effect of helping others.

The Net

Have you ever seen one of those 3D spider webs where hundreds of spiders have built their webs in such a way that all the webs are interconnected? This network of webs looks like one huge, multidimensional web, but there is a center in each individual web that each spider calls home.

When a thread in a single web is plucked, the vibrations are felt throughout the net by the other spiders. Those closest feel it the most. Those farthest away feel it least. In a similar way, the vibrations of what each of us does affects everyone else.

Of course this image is inadequate, but it works this way in nature, and gives us an idea of how each of us affects all other individuals. The only real difference is that there are no connecting lines, because each of us is everywhere always.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma
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Yoga in Meditation & Life -Bhagavad Gita, Ch 10, Vs 12

Parabrahman
Parabrahman, the Highest Abode, the Highest Purifier, Eternal Divine Purusha, the first god to appear

This Bhagavad Gita of eighteen chapters is a conversation between Arjuna and his childhood friend and Guru, Lord Krishna. Since chapter two, we have been hearing mostly from Lord Krishna, but now Arjuna has something to say that takes up more than a verse or two. This is the first:

12
Arjuna is speaking to Lord Krishna:
You are Parabrahman, the Highest Abode, the Highest Purifier, Eternal Divine Purusha, the first god to appear. 

Alternate translation:
Absolute God, the Highest Abode, is the Highest means of purification in existence. Eternal Divine Purusha, ‘the first god to appear’, or manifest, is the driving force of Others to appear (come into being).

You may be wondering how we can get away with so many uses for the word ‘god’, so I will explain. We have said that the ‘gods’ are all of us. We have said that the ‘gods’ are the senses. Now we are hearing that Lord Krishna, who has told us that He is in actuality, Absolute God, is the first ‘god’ to appear. But there is really no contradiction here…..

All of Us and the Senses, Too

We are all divine absolute individuals who have become embodied and no longer remember our true Selves. As Divine Individuals, we have the same characteristics as God: omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.

We are all inherently powerful and we each have the same amount of ‘power’ (even though as beings we don’t know this).

We are all-conscious and know everything that is knowable (even though, as beings, we don’t know what we know). 

We are all everywhere; we all make up all things—including bodies with five senses (even though as beings we think that we are our bodies and that we are located somewhere on planet Earth).

Now look back on The Problem with Consciousness, and you will understand how this connectedness among us can be utilized to benefit everyone, including you, and even the planet itself.

God, the Best Purifier

Parabrahman is Absolute God, and being completely perfect, is the obvious best purifier. The best means of purification then, is to join with That through the practice of uniting (yoga).

  • Purification – Getting things where they belong; aligning yourself with the divine one that you really are.

Eternal Divine Purusha and the ‘gods’

Eternal Divine Purusha is the Eternal Divine Individual. Purusha is a Divine Individual in a state of self-awareness knowing Other Divine Individuals. Being the first in this, this individual causes a ripple effect, setting off this same state in the Others. So he is called the ‘instigator, leader, mover or driver’. Thus we turn to this Purusha as Personal God.

All Divine Individuals are Absolute and the same. All can know and be known by Others. Being Absolute, all Divine Individuals are ‘gods’. This is You, the Real You. This is what you really are. This is what everyone really is.

Embodiment

Having become embodied, we have forgotten ourSelves. In this state we don’t always use our inherent power wisely. We make choices that are not harmonious with our True Selves. This causes unfavorable ripples in the fabric of our existence, and takes us farther away from our real Selves.

Personal God and You

The first Purusha is our “Personal God”, whereas “Truth” is God in a more impersonal sense. We may feel that we cannot experience something as abstract as Truth, but we can petition a Personal God and find comfort.

Personal God can be the catalyst for the experience of Absolute Truth. This is called asamprajnata (without a knowable), or nirbija (without seed) samadhi (equanimity). This is the experience of Absolute God that is Divine Bliss beyond description.

Eternal Divine Purusha, the first god to appear

Your True Self is Absolute, already completely pure and perfect, an Eternal Divine Purusha and knower of Others. This is true of all of us. Having manifested, we will ultimately become consciously aware of this, and when we return Home, we will take this awareness with us.

Here I would remind you of the earlier verses in this chapter on the Big Picture and the magnitude of this journey Home. It is not a small venture accomplished in a lifetime. However, it is the purpose of Life, which is effectively satisfied through the correct practice of meditation. By this practice, we can ultimately return Home with consciousness of our divine situation, and live in Eternal Happiness, our natural state.

Purification

Purification is the process of getting things in sync with our own innate divinity. This practice has two parts: (1) the daily practice of yoga meditation, and (2) the rest of our lives—what we do when we are not meditating.

The first of these two is resisted by most people. They try to do everything in Life, but it is the daily practice of yoga (uniting) that makes it possible to know how to go about Life in such a way as to correspond with the Divine Real You. To do this, you need to experience it for yourself. This is possible through meditation.

Meditation is the foundation of spiritual development. 

Meditation

The way to Fulfillment then, is the full and unconditional surrender of yourself to Absolute God in meditation. This surrender, called ‘sacrifice’ in the Gita, is the acceptance of all Divine Individuals as the same as You.

Meditation, the spiritual practice for reaching a meditative state, is vital to this. Not only is it the means of reaching equanimity (samadhi), it is your lab for personal experience of God/Truth. With experience, you have some idea of what it is that you are trying to match in Life. Without this foundation you will flounder. You will hit the mark sometimes, but most of the time you will not. So it pays to do both.

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