The Imperishable Absolute and the Coming and Going of Beings – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 11, Vs 2

Mt Meru 8

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. 

The Imperishable Absolute and the Coming and Going of Beings

In this conversation between Lord Krishna and his devotee and childhood friend, Arjuna confirms his understanding that the knowledge that has been given him by Lord Krishna includes both the relative and the absolute.

2
From You, O Lotus Eyed, I have heard in detail of the coming and going of the existences of beings, as well as Your exalted state of Imperishable Absolute.

Arjuna is saying that he understands that Lord Krishna is not only present in things that come and go in the relative realm of beings, but that He is also the Imperishable Absolute from which they have come to be.

The “coming and going of existences” is frequently translated as the “origin and dissolution of beings.” It can also easily be read as birth and death, but I opted for the simple expedient of “coming and going.”

The Sanskrit, bhavāpyaya, is a compound word consisting of bhava and apyaya. The meaning of bhava is, ‘coming into existence, birth, origin, turning into,’ and ‘a state of being, and life in this world’. The meaning of apyaya is, ‘juncture, pouring out, entering into, and vanishing’, and is associated with ‘being in or coming from water.’

There is a strong association with water here. Water is the source life by which living beings of all kinds come into existence. Lord Vishnu’s first avatara (of ten) was a fish. In the verse, Arjuna refers to Lord Krishna as “Lotus Eyed”. A lotus is a water flower, its stem reaching down into the soft watery earth as it floats above the water.

All this works very nicely to lead us to the idea of the coming and going of beings, which Arjuna has heard about in earlier chapters. But here, in the context of these verses, the Sanskrit has lured me into taking a deeper dip into this ‘coming and going’.

Vishnu, Brahman, Creation

Chakra means ‘wheel’, yet chakras are referred to as lotuses. The body of adult humans is 60% water, the brain and heart 73%, and the lungs 83%. The surface of the earth is 71% water. Lord Vishnu is seen seated on the eternal Cosmic Ocean, a lotus streaming from His navel. From this lotus Lord Brahmā is born. Brahmā’s first sound, Aum (OM), signals the beginning of Creation.

  • Water – Fluidity: Of no fixed form; takes the form of its vessel; able to move or change; the fluid transmission of power between two people or things, i.e., shaktpat.

From the Absolute to the Relative and Back Again

We have spoken long on Creation as transitory and Relative, even though it has come about from the Absolute. Beings, states of being, and even life itself, ultimately vanish in the way a river vanishes when reaching its confluence with other waters—it is not gone, but becomes a part of a greater water. It is not the Real Self that vanishes, but the Being. The encompassing veil of the Being that hides the Divine Individual is dissolved upon its confluence with the Cosmic Ocean, and vanishes.

When we enter into the equanimity of nirbija samadhi, we vanish in this way. We return to our original situation in the Absolute where we are merged with That, our individuality in tact. When trying to express this paradox, the experience is often spoken of as ‘a sea of bliss’, or the ‘rolling bliss’ of the ‘ocean of the Absolute’.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma
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III:27 Fast Track to Freedom

What you truly are does nothing at all and never has. What you seem to be doing is really nature at work. It only seems like you are doing something because you are identified with nature. But you are not nature, you are you. Knowing this, and constantly reminding yourself of it, is the fast track to freedom. 

BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSE 27 

27
All actions are performed by the gunas of nature. Deluded by the ego, one imagines oneself to be the doer of actions. 

What you are is different from what you do. What you are is divine, perfect and Absolute. What you are being is human, imperfect and Relative. What you are does nothing. What you are being does. What you are being is in the Relative realm of nature. All action occurs in nature, instigated by shakti and performed by the interactions of the three fundamental modes of nature: stillness, ease, and intensity. Imagining yourself to be the doer of actions is the result of mistaken identity with these modes of nature. This mistaken identity is known as ‘ego’.

Ego: ahańkāra, ‘I do’. This is what the word ‘ego’ means in yogic teachings. Ego is the belief that you are the doer of actions. You seem to be doing things because you are identified with nature, i.e., your body.

Ego, and other such terms used in these writings are not to be confused with similar Freudian psychological terms.

Self-reference:  When you become aware of doing something, you have become aware of ‘ego’—you have become aware that you are identifying with nature. Noticing this, you become deidentified with nature, and with actions as your own doing. This simple approach works because you can’t be the thing that you are perceiving.

Once having noticed this, ask yourself, Who’s looking?

Mind No Mind

It is said that the ego is the core of the mind, so what happens if you don’t have an ego? Do you become mindless?

Enlightenment is often thought of as the absence of ego, the absence of ‘me’. If there is no ‘me’ there cannot be identification with anything because there is no ‘me’ to become identified. But ahamkara (‘I do’) suggests that it is the sense of doership that is ego. The sense of self remains, but the difference is, once enlightened, you know what that is, and ‘me’ becomes moot.

By persisting with the practice of the teachings as prescribed by Lord Krishna, enlightenment begins as simple knowledge that you trust to be true, but do not entirely experience. Continuing with your practice, you come to experience and understand it. Over time it becomes so obvious that it seems ludicrous to have ever thought otherwise…and you catch yourself laughing at yourself in the midst of meditation!

When one finally reaches nirbija samadhi, then the sense of self does truly disappear (and you are certainly ‘mindless’), but returns upon vyutthana, an elevated state that follows. This blissful state persists for some while—hours, days, weeks, or…..

Anatomy of the Mind
(Graphic Illustration)

Coming this week: Fast Track to Freedom, Conclusion.

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

Yoga Sutras, Chapter 3 on Raja Yoga (Royal Union) continued.

Previously:

Concentration
III:1  Concentration (dharana) is the binding of the mind-stuff (chitta) to one place.

Meditation
III:2  When definitely established with certainty in that one place, concentration (dharana) becomes meditation (dhyana).

Samadhi

III:3  By this (meditation) samadhi is attained, and objects shine forth of their own light, in their own form, void of physical substance.

Samyama
III:4  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) bind together as one.

III:5  Having victoriously won that (samyama), one sees with the light of wisdom.

III:6  This progresses by degrees.

III:7  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are inner limbs, and surpass the previous five limbs.

The Highest Samadhi
III:8  Moreover, they (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are external and subordinate limbs as compared to nirbija (without-seed).

Today:
The Elevated State
III:9  Due to the cessation of the mind in nirbija, an impression of cessation is produced in the mind-stuff which overpowers other impressions, and the elevated state (vyutthana) ensues immediately following.

An Elevated State follows nirbija and lasts for as long as prana remains stable. Swami Kripalu uses the term stable, or stabilization, which I rather like, especially when discussing the Elevated State, which could not come about if the prana were not stable beyond emerging from nirbija.

During ordinary consciousness, prana and the mind, though they are different, are inexorably connected and follow each other around—a busy mind makes for busy prana, busy prana makes for a busy mind. However, in the Elevated State, prana remains stable even though the mind is functional.

At the point of emerging from nirbija, the breath and the mind resume their normal activities but the prana remains stable. This stability of prana is not lost even though the body begins to move again, and the mind, while functional, continues to maintain an undisturbed state in which there is no intent, no aim or purpose, no goals, no desires or ambitions.

What is this state like? It is not ecstasy, but a softly blissful state that is not incompatible with everyday affairs. One feels as light as air and is calm, even-tempered, and dispassionate. There is perfect equanimity, even in a difficult situation. This is our natural state.

Once one has experienced something, it is easier to experience it again because it is familiar—it has left an impression in the mind-stuff. This is true in ordinary life, and it is especially true of samadhi in general and nirbija in particular. 

Because of the powerfulness of the impression left in the mind-stuff by nirbija, one finds it easier to enter into nirbija again, for this most powerful impression overrides other, weaker impressions that would otherwise challenge it. Also, because of the profound nature of nirbija and the cessation of the mind, the overriding nature of the impression this leaves is instrumental in the diminishing and ultimate eradication of undesirable impressions that reek havoc with our lives and interfere with attaining samadhi and our ultimate purpose for living: union with God.

When the Elevated State finally gives way to the ordinary state of consciousness of everyday life, one can’t help being a little disappointed. On the other hand, one remains elated and inspired at having reached Absolute God and fulfillment. This is why we have been going through all of this yoga business in the first place—eight steps, many years and questionable conditions—and why we will persist to the end: complete and final liberation.

Now, I know you are all waiting to hear about all those powers—after all, this chapter is called Vibhuti, Powers—but I’m going to leave you hanging for one more week.

Love,
Durga Ma
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