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26. Is it clear?
In the fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, the entire universe is visualised as a tree with roots above and branches below.
This is the universal process, which metaphorically has its roots in God, grows downward and then strikes roots down, so that in a manner of speaking, you emerge from God, you come down into this universe, and you become trapped in this universe by the three qualities - sattva, rajas and tamas, each one of them tying you here by its own characteristics.
Its form is not perceived here as such, neither its end nor its origin, nor its foundation nor resting place; having cut asunder this firmly rooted peepul tree with the strong axe of non-attachment. (15:3)
Krsna suggests that you cut this down by the weapon of non-contact.
How is this possible?
By the realisation that the jiva, the mind, the senses and the universe are 'not me' and are 'not mine'.
An eternal portion of myself having become a living soul in the world of life, draws to itself the five senses with the mind for the sixth, abiding in nature. (15:7)
When the Lord (the individual soul) obtains a body and when he leaves it, he takes these and goes with them as the wind takes the scents from their seats (flowers, etc.).(15:8)
Presiding over the ear, the eye, touch, taste and smell, as well as the mind, he enjoys the objects of the senses. (15:9)
The deluded do not see him who departs, stays and enjoys; but they who possess the eye of knowledge behold him. (15:10)
That which is considered jiva, is God himself, it is part of that flame from which it has never and can never be isolated.
A flame is composed of billions of sparks, but they cannot be isolated.
That spark is the jiva.
Then the analogy is changed to a particle of fragrance that is emitted by an incense stick.
It seems to pervade a certain space.
Does the space cease to be what it was because this aroma fills that space?
Does the air which comes into contact with this aroma undergo a change?
No, very soon the aroma is dispersed, and the air becomes air again, the space remains space.
Why was this space unaffected, and why did the air appear to be affected to begin with, but somehow freed itself from it?
If you understand this, you have got moksa in the palm of your hand.
The ultimate reality, the absolute or the infinite is like space - omnipresent, eternal, totally unaffected by what goes on within.
You and I are not like that.
We seem to be trapped in a certain type of conditioning or ignorance, maya or avidya, even as air that comes into contact with this perfume seems to have undergone a change.
Suppose there are a couple of dead rats here, and all the windows are closed, there is a terrible foul smell.
If you open all the windows and doors, suddenly this room is not polluted any more.
The moment the air in the room was brought into contact with the infinite air, the unpollutability of the air asserted itself.
What you regarded as pollution has been absorbed by the same air, neither by rejecting nor accepting it, but by asserting the omnipresence of this air itself.
So, that nothing - not even what you regarded as foul, or filthy - is rejected, but has been absorbed by the cosmic whole.
To that cosmic whole, this is not pollution at all.
If that is clear you have understood what asanga means.
Asanga does not mean non-attachment, detachment or thinking that you are holy, so that you say: "All these things are filthy. I am going to get rid of them or keep myself away from them."
That will lead to a dreadful form of violence, from which there is no escape.
On the other hand, to say that this is also God, is a pitfall, and there is no getting out of that.
Neither accepting evil as inevitable nor as something other than self and kicking it, is going to redeem us.
When the seeker enquires into the nature of what-is, that 'what-is' absorbs all that is good and all that was considered evil, and therefore transcends it.
That is what is described in the sixteenth chapter.
There are two types of beings in this world, the divine and the demoniacal; (16:6)
Krsna says here that the universe itself, as it flows, has these two elements, daiva and asura, built into it.
As soon as you are born in this world, you find that you are subjected to things called front and back, top and bottom, day and night, good and evil.
Such is the flow of life.
Where you are muddled, indecisive, confused, where there is delusion, there is asura nature.
That state of awareness or mind where things are clear, is daiva, divine.
If there is an evil quality or habit in you, the moment you become aware of it as undesirable, it will drop away.
So, to remain in constant awareness is daiva, to remain in constant unawareness is asura.
If you understand this one half a verse, you have understood what life is about, and what the Bhagavad Gita teaching is all about!
The asura quality can function only as long as you are unaware.
In the light of this awareness, darkness must disappear.
Though there is this dualism called light and darkness built into this universe, light does not know darkness.
Light does not dispel darkness as you might chase a thief from your room, though you and I use the expression.
If there is an evil thought or feeling, the moment you become aware of it, it is gone.
If it does not go, you have not learned to look!
You cannot cultivate a virtuous quality, however much you try.
If you have tried, you will understand what I am talking about.
When you understand this, it is then that true humility enters your heart and you say: "God, I have tried my best. I cannot do it - you had better take charge."
Then the moment that you face this light, or this truth or reality, you become an abode of all virtues.
When you face the light, you are enlightened illumined, there is clarity, you are a god, you are divine.
If you deliberately try to cultivate these virtues, it will compel you to face the light all the time - and it is also possible that you will acquire the first of the noble virtues described in the thirteenth chapter - humility.
All your 'I am a virtuous man, a holy man' arrogance will drop away, because you know what a struggle it is, how frustrating it is.
Then you realise, if the whole universe has come out of him, these divine and demoniacal qualities are also his.
This cosmic being absorbs everything into it.
Darkness exists as long as we are in darkness.
The only way to remain out of this darkness is paradoxically to remain aware of that darkness.
But when you begin to see that darkness, the darkness is gone.
It does not leave you only when you do not see it as evil, but also when you do not see it as something nice.
Bewildered by many a fancy, entangled in the snare of delusion, addicted to the gratification of lust, they fall into a foul hell. (16:16)
So Krsna cautions: "Avoid lust, anger and greed."
In the fifteenth chapter there is a description of the asvattha.
Asvattha means the peepul tree; asva means 'no tomorrow', that which is 'established in no tomorrow'.
If that makes sense to you, you have understood the entire Bhagavad Gita, and you have the key to enlightenment in your hands.
This universe that you see seems to be solid, permanent, but Krsna tells us that it is not.
It is something that will not be there tomorrow.
But, when you entertain a craving or a desire, that desire makes you think that this world is going to be like this tomorrow also, that you will come back and enjoy it.
We should not forget that all our cravings, desires, fears and hopes are futuristic, related to something called the future which does not exist now.
And we are trapped in a web of ideas, only because we think that that future is a real substance, whereas it is merely conjured up by hopes and aspirations and the fear, and so on.
Once this craving has collapsed, tomorrow vanishes.
Do today what in the light of your awareness today has to be done.
If you can live this moment as if there is no other moment, no tomorrow, you are the conqueror of the whole world, even of heaven.
One has to witness this, as in the case of Swami Sivananda.
He never believed in tomorrow.
Do It Now.
Everything He did, He did as if there were no tomorrow.
It had to be done now, today.
Tomorrow is created by your desire, and the desire is sustained by your foolish idea of tomorrow.
This is the central theme of the Bhagavad Gita.
The sixteenth chapter is extremely interesting, in that it reveals to us that what is known as 'asura' or diabolical is as much part of this creation as 'daiva' or divine.
Hence, it is not for the puny human mind and intellect to accept or reject these.
It is good to understand the constituent factors in both these trends in creation; it is also good to understand that whereas the daiva leads to liberation, the asura tends towards bondage.
This understanding itself is sufficient incentive to promote the daiva in oneself, and to move away from the asura - and this is of vital importance - without judging and condemning the asura nature in 'others'.
It is extremely interesting in this context to see that Krsna uses some of the expressions that the self-righteous often use in their descriptions of 'others who are of a sinful nature'.
They (the self -righteous) often consider themselves 'perfected ones', 'blissful ones', 'divine beings' and so on.
This is the direct result of perceiving the asura factors in others; and it cannot but lead to the asura nature taking root in oneself and growing there into what the self-righteous consider to be undesirable (asura) nature.
When all this becomes clear, it is clear that clarity itself is what is important; and that clarity is daiva or divine.
When that clarity is present, it makes it clear that all that is good in oneself is 'the nature of the Lord and part of his creation (not mine)' and that all that is good or sinful in others is also part of the same creation and hence beyond one's jurisdiction.
When this clarity of perception is absent, then one falls into the asura stream of creation; the virulent, violent and self-assertive rajasa ego (in the words of Gurudev Sivananda) arises, and leads one to hell or the three constituents of diabolic nature (lust, anger and greed).
Unclarity is very different from doubt.
Doubt itself may be characterised either by clarity or unclarity.
When doubt is accompanied by unclarity, it becomes destructive; and it compels one to abandon the very search for truth or God, by making you doubt the very existence of God and the validity of the teaching.
However, when doubt is accompanied by clarity, it enables you to see that the teaching is not clear to you, and induces you to seek and to seek greater clarity.
This is healthy doubt, constructive doubt, where there is 'clarity of one's own unclarity', whereas in the destructive form of doubt there is deceptive 'clarity', which arrogantly and blindly rejects the truth that what it suffers from is unclarity.
It therefore shuts the door to freedom in its own face.
When there is clarity and even healthy doubt, then it is important for the seeker immediately to seek the help and assistance of a guru who is well versed in the scriptures, and who has had direct experience of the reality.
The guru will surely transmit his knowledge of the scripture, reinforced by his own direct experience, to the seeker thus dispelling the unclarity and leading him to the daiva or perfect clarity.

The Bhagavad Gita - Introduction | EN

Swami Venkatesananda

The Song of God - Introduction - Swami Venkatesananda - enlarged 4th edition – 1984 - published by The Chiltern Yoga Trust, Cape Town, South Africa
1998 - 2017

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