The Path of the Hero – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 12, Vs 5

Samadhi

This post addresses the Imperishable Absolute, the potential difficulty of approaching God solely as Impersonal, and the path of the Hero. 

The Bhagavad Gita appears in the story of the Mahabharata. It is a conversation between Lord Krishna and his devotee and childhood friend, Arjuna. Listening in, we receive the teachings of Lord Krishna as he relates them to Arjuna.


Previously:
Those highest initiated worship Me with their minds absorbed in Me with supreme faith. They are the most fit and most naturally attached to Me. But those who worship the imperishable, unalterable Absolute, non-manifest and invisible, intangible, undefinable and not comparable to anything, with all their senses restrained and delighting impartially in all beings, they also attain to Me.

5
However, for one whose mind is fixed on the Invisible Non-manifest Absolute, the effort is greater, for the goal of the unseen is difficult to reach for embodied beings.

“However”

Now that we know that worship of both Personal and Impersonal God can get us to God, Lord Krishna points out something more: It is difficult for us as embodied beings to grasp Impersonal God. As embodied human beings, the idea of a separate entity who is greater than ourselves is easier. This is the way of most religions.

  • Worship, resort to, surrender to, fix the mind on, renunciation and sacrifice, all have essentially the same meaning.

“For one whose mind is fixed on the Invisible Non-manifest Absolute”

The word for ‘mind’ in the previous verse was buddhi (intellect), but in this verse it is chetas, which means ‘consciousness’. It is sometimes translated as ‘mind’ because consciousness is what the mind is made of. Consciousness, the stuff of the mind as a whole, is the subtlest of energies. We use the word Attention for the flow of this energy from you to something other than you that you can be conscious of.

The Attention, being a subtle but powerful primal energy, flows out through the gateways of the senses (ears, eyes, skin, tongue and nostrils) in order to provide us with consciousness of things. This is the means of perception we are familiar with and depend on. But the non-manifest Absolute cannot be reached this way, for there is nothing there for your senses to perceive. It is not manifest, and therefore not visible or perceptible by the senses. This makes it difficult for us to grasp. 

We humans like to see, feel and touch a thing before we consider it to be real. We have come to rely on this indirect means of perception, but anything that is not manifest cannot be experienced this way. We have been assured by Lord Krishna however, that there is a way to overcome this obstacle easily.

The Path of Surrender

Through surrender to that very Absolute God that we seek, any potential difficulty is resolved. Once we have given ourselves over to That, we begin to lose our identification with the body as ourselves, and our senses as our only means of perception.

Once we have experienced direct perception in meditation, we begin to lose the limitation of this false identity with the body. The idea of “who” we are, which was once thought to be the body, feelings, mind, personality, and the things we do, begins to change. The packaging that hides our Real Selves gets thinner and thinner, and ultimately disappears as we become Self Realized.

The Path of the Hero

You can can take the Divine as Personal or Impersonal or both. The way of the non-manifest Absolute is more difficult only if you insist on it exclusively.

  • Absolute God – Personal and Impersonal God

If you must have it one way or the other, the path of Devotion (Personal God) is much more doable and easier than trying to grasp and surrender to the abstract, invisible Absolute. But with both, you will achieve God-realization easily and quickly. This is the path of the Hero. 

The Spiritual Hero is not concerned that others will see him as soft by consorting with Personal God, or as aloof by contemplating Impersonal God. The Hero surrenders to God as both.

In the Sanskrit of this verse, it is found that the path of surrender to the Impersonal Absolute is the path that brings about the most rapid progress. I do not see this in other translations, but it is there in the Sanskrit. If you are a Hero, this is your path. With the inclusion of devotion to Personal God, you will override the difficulties of the Impersonal Absolute and find great joy in accomplishing the full extent of yoga sadhana

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma
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Personal & Impersonal God – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 12, Vs 1

Ascension to Godhood

The Bhagavad Gita appears in the story of the Mahabharata. It is a conversation between Lord Krishna and his devotee and childhood friend, Arjuna. Listening in, we receive the teachings of Lord Krishna as he relates them to Arjuna.

The subject of this chapter is Devotion.

This post addresses the nature of Personal God, the nature of Impersonal God, and which might be the most advantageous.


1
Arjuna spoke:
Of those who are constantly engaged in worshipping You, and those who worship the Imperishable Absolute, which of these has the best knowledge of Yoga?

“You” is Lord Krishna, an incarnation of God. Embodied and in visible form, He is Personal God. The “Imperishable Absolute” however, being non-manifest and imperceptible, is Impersonal God. Arjuna wonders which best knows Yoga. 

Personal God

There have long been discussions on the idea of God as Personal. This is prevalent in the West in Christianity. Impersonal God on the other hand, is abstract and mostly referred to as Truth or The Absolute, etc.

  • Personal God – God as a divine individual entity.

There is nothing abstract about Jesus, but “the Father”? That’s a little abstract, but only because we can’t get a good look at Him. In the East, this entity is called Purushottama, meaning first and highest God, and is also considered male.

Purushottama, the first Divine Individual in the Absolute to know and unconditionally accept all other Divine Individuals as the same, is considered male.  Everything that is other than Purusha that Purusha can be conscious of, is called Prakritti, and considered female. So here we have God as both male and female. 

From Purushottama we extract the word Purusha. Purusha, a Divine Individual with a viewpoint, seems to have been arbitrarily assigned male status even though, in the Absolute, one would not be either male or female. Prakritti is all the other individuals in the Absolute — nothing else, because there isn’t anything else.

So Purusha and Prakriti both refer to all of us in the Absolute sense, with Purusha as the individual viewing, or knowing, others, and Prakriti as an individual being viewed, or known.

From your point of view, you are Purusha and I am Prakritti. From my point of view, I am Purusha and you are Prakriti. 

Now let’s say there is something happening because of all this knowing of Others. What is happening is called Creation. And it all began because of (but not by) the first One, Purushottama. Now we have a world and people and things and we wonder where it all came from, and what it’s for, and why.

We are living lives as human beings, and as we look out on Creation we see Otherness as people and things that are different from ourselves and call it Nature. Prakritti, Divine Otherness, gets the dubious title of “Mother Nature”, and “God” is institutionalized as “Him”. 

The word Purusha has long sense become used as a term meaning ‘a man’ in general. Purushottama is known as the god Vishnu, a male, whose avatar is Krishna, also male. Personal God is also “the Father” whose son is Jesus, also male. We have now taken this assigned gender for one’s own viewpoint to mean a man, a human male, who is thus Superior. What is viewed by Purusha is secondary to Purusha, an illusion, and female. But really, is the viewpoint superior to the view?

One wonders how it would be if someone took the time to rewrite everything and switch genders. Then how would we look at things, the world, and God? God and Vishnu would be female. I was told by my guru that in the very distant past, this was indeed the case: Vishnu was a woman, God was female, and with the descent into the present age, Personal God became male. He then charged me to do my part in turning this around and to “Bring back the worship of the Goddess.”

Impersonal God

If you have been following Mystical Tidbits, you will have noticed that I mostly don’t use the word “God” by itself unless it has been preceded by suggesting both Personal and Impersonal God with “God/Truth.” Personal and Impersonal can both work together.  

  • Impersonal God – God in the abstract sense as the Absolute, or Truth, thus doing away with gender altogether. 

Some of us don’t like the idea of some old guy with a beard and a staff hanging out in a corner of the universe directing traffic. It’s just too absurd. But that’s where the idea of a Personal God has taken many of us because of our religious associations.

Of those who, as children, picked up this idea of God, many eventually left religion and rejected God altogether. Some though, discovered another way of understanding that God might really mean Truth in the Absolute sense. They became involved in more peripheral religious groups who postulated this idea.

Others like myself just got so mad at God for all the trouble and suffering in the world (including mine), and ranted at Him for doing such a lousy job with His traffic gig. I liked the idea of Personal God if He would just get His act together, but that didn’t happen, so I left. For about ten years, I drowned my sorrows and tried my best to figure everything out on my own. Those ten years, while everyone else was partying and having a good time, were the worst years of my ‘adult’ life.

Near the end of all of this, I had a visitation from an Immortal and everything changed. Instantly. I was driven to search for a “spiritual master” to teach me, and eventually found Kripalu. (At this point I had never heard of Yoga.) I couldn’t speak Gujarati so I studied with his disciple, Yogeshwar Muni, who had formerly been a scientist. This greatly appealed to me — no woo-woo nonsense here! 

This changed my perspective drastically to one that embraced both the personal and the impersonal: God and Truth, one God and many gods, and even more beautiful paradoxes. 

Approaching Impersonal God can open doors you couldn’t otherwise jar loose with a hammer. Behind these doors are answers to questions you haven’t even thought of yet, but you will think of them when the answer is starring you in the face (once you have opened the door to the Impersonal). On the other hand, it feels really good to have a personal God. So why limit yourself to one or the other? I enthusiastically recommend both. 

In our next post we will consider how to go about this.

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

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Petitioning God – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 10, Vs 13-18

Arjuna petitions Lord Krishna
Arjuna petitions Lord Krishna

Petitioning God

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. Now Arjuna, petitioning God, his guru, takes these verses to do so:

Arjuna is speaking:
13
So say all the sages—Devarshi Narada, Asita Devela, and Vyasa—and so you yourself tell me.

This refers to what Arjuna has said in the previous verse—that Lord Krishna is Absolute God, the Highest Abode, the best means of purification, and the Eternal Divine Individual who is Personal God. Here he gives this description its credentials for having been said by these three sages, and even by Lord Krishna Himself.

The three sages mentioned are Devarshi Narada, the ‘god-sage’ and famous blissfully-mad devotee who ‘carries messages from the gods to humans’; Asita Devala, ‘the virtuous and unbound dark one’; and Vyasa himself, the author of the Mahabharata from which this Bhagavad Gita is taken.

The name Vyasa means ‘arranger, or complier’. Vyasa sometimes shows up in his own work. He has a great sense of humor, usually putting himself in a poor light. This cagey fellow, who hides himself inside his own stories, is full of covert messages. For instance, we have a god-sage (Devarshi Narada) who carries messages to folks like us, and another sage (Asita Devala) who is without bounds and is dark but virtuous. Might this indicate that the messages themselves are ‘dark’, hidden, and carrying ‘virtuous’ esoteric teachings? Knowing the author, it is likely.

Vyasa is telling us in this roundabout way, that he is spilling the beans on that secret yoga we talked about earlier, and that we are going to have to learn how to read between the lines to get everything he is telling us. How do we do that? We do yoga sadhana and let experience be our guide in this, and consult guru to either validate our understanding or correct us.

14 – 15
All that You tell me I regard as Divine Truth. Indeed, neither the gods nor the demons understand Your manifestations. 
You know Yourself by Your Self alone, O First and Highest Purusha, Lord of Beings, Lord of Worlds, God of gods.

When Arjuna says “You know Yourself by Your Self alone,” he reveals his understanding of Lord Krishna’s awareness of Himself as Absolute and Self-Knowing.

Speaking of Lord Krishna as the first and highest purusha, he acknowledges Him as the first individual in the Absolute to become Self-aware and knowing Others as the same as Himself. He is therefore Lord of Beings, lord of those individuals like ourselves who have come into being.

Calling Him Lord of Worlds, Arjuna acknowledges Him as Creator. The Illusion of this Creation, this world, is often spoken of in scriptures as awesome and amazing for a reason—it is so powerfully difficult to see beyond because of the Power behind it: Absolute God.

Calling Him God of gods, he acknowledges Him as lord of those individuals who became what we humans think of as ‘gods’. The traditional ‘gods’ are Divine Individuals who, upon becoming self-aware and knowing Others, immediately accepted them all as the same as themselves.

16 – 18
Please describe completely, your divine manifestations by which you pervade and abide in all these worlds. How can I know You by constant meditation, Lord of Yoga, and in what aspects of being are you to be known by me? Please explain to me in complete detail, Your power and manifestations, for there is no end to my desire to hear your nectar-like words.

Arjuna wants to hear more.
Arjuna wants to hear more.

Now look who’s being cagey! Arjuna is covering all the bases. Not only does he not want to miss anything, any detail, and do his practice perfectly, but he has a hidden agenda: He is swimming in loving devotion for his guru and wants to keep him talking, for it is bringing forth a happiness that he wants to sustain as long as possible.

Guru cannot resist this kind of devotion (which is why devotion is so effective), so of course Lord Krishna will accommodate Arjuna with an answer. In our next installment, we will get to listen in as He explains.

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