VII:20-23 Stolen Wisdom

Belief is a fixed mental state of certainty that something is true. Faith on the other hand, is action based. When one trusts the spiritual teachings of their lineage enough to put them into practice, one is acting with faith. Real Faith comes when such action ultimately proves the teachings to be true. 

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Those whose wisdom has been stolen away by various desires for this and that, are surrendering to other gods. They follow this and that practice consistent with their own state of self-interest, and are held back by their own material natures.

  • Wisdom – Inherent wisdom reawakened by knowledge gained through personal experience in meditation, and oral teachings from the master.

Stating desires as “this and that” not only indicates a multiplicity of desires, but emphasizes their dual nature (we either like them or we don’t) and puts them in the relative realm of illusion (things aren’t what they seem). 

Lord Krishna is saying that we are deprived of our inherent wisdom because of the intrusive nature of desires (wanting “this and that”) and that we are driven to chase after them in order to get them fulfilled. We go about this in ways consistent with our existing beliefs and tendencies, which keeps us stuck where we are: in ignorance (mistaking the unreal for the Real). 

“Surrender to other gods
‘Other gods’ refers to desired objects, or to deities believed to be able and willing to provide them when worshipped.

Worshipped = Surrendered to

Wanting to get our desires fulfilled, we resort to praying to, or propitiating, “other gods”.  One propitiates fame, for instance, by seeking it. Seeking to obtain the desired objective, it takes a place of superior importance, worshipped as a god.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”

“Following this and that practice” refers to the actions taken to get what one wants. Among the multiple means available, one follows whatever strategy is necessary to get their desires fulfilled. 

“Held back by their own material natures” refers to the driving force of tendencies seated in one’s history. Acting on these tendencies causes one’s spiritual progress to get held back by motivating one to pursue the desire, an act of self-interest.  

Acting to fulfill a desire, following a course of action to get it, it becomes more important than God/Truth. The only sure way to reconcile this is to surrender to God/Truth instead. By putting a desire before God and acting on it, one is surrendering to another god, engaging their power of choice to get what they want, rather than to get God.  

If you want to know what your priorities really are, look at how you spend most of your time. 

Those who choose the worldly life over a life lived for the purpose of reaching God (by any name), regardless of religious, professional or social orientation, are worshipping ‘other gods’.

Desires can be especially commanding and controlling when they stem from samskaras. The reason for this is that one is usually not aware of them, or can easily explain them away. These dictators demand the fulfillment of desires, and produce even more desires in the process. And one digs oneself in deeper and deeper. This is the meaning of the worship of the golden calf in Exodus. The calf suggests desires for things of value (the gold) in the physical world (the calf, offspring of the wish-fulfilling cow).

  • Samskaras – Potent governing characteristics and tendencies acquired in previous existences.

21 – 22
For anyone wishing to worship the form of another god with faith, it is I who sustain that faith. Endowed with this faith and propitiating this god to obtain desires, it is I who fulfill them.

When acting to fulfill a desire it is achieved, it is not really you who achieved it, because it is not you who acted in the first place. This is all part of the ‘illusion’. Whether in success or failure, all action in this world is the interaction of the gunas of nature, the basis of which is Absolute God: “it is I (Krishna)”.

Although we may believe with faith that, by this or that technique, we can successfully get what we want, Lord Krishna is informing us that this happens not because of what we do or how we do it, but because God provides it. All such efforts and their results have been God all along. 

23
However, this fruit, gained by those of little understanding, is perishable. Those who worship the gods, go to the gods. Those who worship Me, come to Me.

You get what you worship.

A distinction is being made between the worship of God, and the worship of gods. To “those of little understanding”, the gods are not only the means of fulfilling desires, but the desire itself, as well as the object of desire.

The result of worshipping these gods can only be temporary because they are temporary—they are of the Relative Realm and subject to change. But the results of worshipping Absolute God is permanent and eternal, because That, and the power of That, is permanent, eternal, and unlimited.

By worshipping, surrendering to, anything in this relative world, you remain separated from God. By surrendering only to Absolute God, you are united with God, in God, of God, and are God your Self.

There are many gods. There is only one God. 

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

VII:4-7 God is One and Two

God is One and Two, and herein lies a paradox (or two): There is only one God. God is manifold. God is both Relative and Absolute. But such opposites do co-exist without conflict. Lord Krishna explains… 

4-5
(4) Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego constitute the divisions of My eightfold material nature. (5) Such is My inferior nature. But otherwise know My Highest nature by which all life is sustained. 

I have quoted these two verses before in other articles because they answer so many questions and resolve so much confusion about God, Truth, Creation, ourselves and others. In the previous verses, Lord Krishna introduced these teachings as being the Highest Wisdom. 

Our human perspective causes us to think of God as if God were some superior Being that is better and more powerful than any of us. We hear that God created the earth and are awed at such power.

While it is entirely possible that there is such an individual (God has no limitations), or even that there is a Divine Individual for every star in Cosmos that could be logically called “God” or “a god”, this isn’t the whole of the story. The whole story is much bigger, and may be difficult to comprehend. For this reason, we have myths, legends and stories, such as the Adam and Even story. There are multiple versions of these stories, all teaching the same things.

God is One and Two. When you understand that there are two aspects of God/Truth, things begin to clear up. In chapter two this was explained at a personal level as ‘the embodied one’ and ‘the being’. For you personally, the embodied one is you as you Really are: a Divine Individual that is never born and never dies. What you are being however, is human. The first of these two is Absolute, the second is Relative.

  • Absolute – Unchanging, complete, not subject to any limitation, unconditional, unlimited power, independent, not relative to anything.
  • Relative – Existing in relationship to something else, comparable, subject to limitations, dependent.

In these two verses, verse 4 defines the Relative, which is what we humans are able to perceive—earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego. Verse 5 then defines the Absolute, which is beyond all these, and not so easily understood, even conceptually. It is this Absolute God that we are driven to seek, whether we realize it or not. And it is our destiny to find It.

6-7
(6) Understand this: I am the womb of all living beings. I am their coming to be and their coming not to be. (7) Nothing superior to Me exists, Arjuna. On Me all of creation is strung like pearls on a thread.

These two verses continue with the description of the Absolute, as the Highest nature of God. In verse 6, Lord Krishna is saying that He is the cause of life as we know it, and that He is also what ends it (the Relative). Verse 7 is reassuring—there is something Higher that is behind it all that is eternal (the Absolute). 

Remember this?  Earlier, we learned that the womb, or source, of Creation and the dissolution of it, was female, Hiranyagarbha (‘Golden Womb’). Later, after leaving the remnants of the Golden Age behind, the source of Creation became known as male: Brahmā, and later Prajāpati (‘Lord of born beings’).

You as human, with a body, thoughts and feelings, consisting of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego, is you as a being (Relative).

When you cease being a being, the Real You in all your Divine Glory is revealed. And ultimately, as the sainted Paul says in First Corinthians, you attain incorruptible perfection—“the corruptible becomes incorruptible” (Absolute).

Hence, God is One and Two.

This state cannot be accomplished by belief, by any kind of mental effort, learned knowledge, immense intelligence, insight, direct experience or realization. From chapter three through six, we have Lord Krishna driving home to us that it is the action of yoga (Karma Yoga) that gets us to this point. So now we have chapter seven reminding us of this ultimate aim of yoga.

All that is, is God. Anything that looks like something else is an illusion (not what it seems). This includes the entire relative world we call home. But we are to understand that there is something higher than this that is behind all of creation, a higher aspect of God/Truth that we are missing if we only take it this far—The Absolute, the home of eternal happiness. 

Now we are beginning to see how the Gita teaches us. These concepts are not new, we’ve read them before, but now, as Lord Krishna restates them in different words for his disciple, Arjuna, along with more clues to help him understand, we listen in so we can understand. And we are about to hear more.

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