No-one is separate from the Lord
Discourses on the Bhagavad Gita* - Part seven
   
  by Swami Nirliptananda
Courtesy of Share International



London, England, UK

The Bhagavad Gita leads us on the path to a high realization of God through which we are able to have a clearer vision and understanding of life, because God Himself is the knower of everything and the nearer we get to Him we also get to know things with a greater clarity. As Lord Krishna said, the objective is to obtain That after which nothing more remains to be obtained; to achieve That after which nothing more remains to be known. Such is the objective of the great teaching of the Bhagavad Gita. Lord Krishna did not say that practising the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita is meant only for a few people. He did not say that at all. He said that it is meant for everyone who likes to put effort into practising it, not just reading or just studying it but putting something of its teachings into practice. The Law Giver Manu said that one who can read is better than one who is illiterate; one who can retain what he reads is better than one who can only read; one who can understand what he reads is better than one who can only retain what he has read; but better than one who can understand what he reads is one who puts into practice what he understands. "That is what we call Karma Yoga — the Yoga of Action — and what we call seva — selfless service. Seva is the highest form of sadhana, the practice of meditation. Not only knowing, but putting what we know into practice, that is what is necessary in our life.

Peace of mind

When we practise meditation — concentrating on one object only, like a Deity for example — our mind becomes more concentrated. With a concentrated mind we will gradually experience peace of mind and, as Lord Krishna said, this peace of mind is happiness. Without peace of mind we will not be happy. The grace of God rests with a true seeker of the Lord. A true seeker finds joy in listening to the teachings, the glories and the praises of the Lord, like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, who listened very keenly, attentively, with eagerness, full of joy and happiness, to Lord Krishna. This is what the Bhagavad Gita should give us. By reading and by listening to it alone, we should find happiness. Its message is very relevant to our whole life, spiritual and practical. It helps us on our path.

Lord Krishna said: "Neither Avatars nor Sages know My birth for I am the cause of all, I am the origin of everything, I am the Source of all beings; whatever exists in this world comes from Me. There is no-one, no entity, separate from Me." We cannot exist without God, just as we cannot live without life. When life leaves our physical body, it becomes an inert object. The life force within this world is called Atma — the Soul, the Source of everything — which is really sustaining the whole universe: the living and the nonliving, everything in this world we know of. The Lord is Paramatma — the Supreme, the highest Atma. The Atma is like a spark of fire. As the sparks shoot upward and fall back into the fire again, going back from where they came, so birth and death are only intermediary phases along that journey of going back home; we have to — and we will — return to our Source.

As Lord Krishna said, He is the origin of all that exists, including the great Sages and Avatars: from Him everything and everyone has come and is coming into existence, and when we know Him as birthless, the Lord of all creatures, we are not deluded, we are freed from all sin, and we realize the Truth. Not realizing this Truth is the problem of the world. When we realize that God is without beginning and that everything comes from Him, through that realization alone, and because of that realization alone, we will be liberated — from sins and from this world of suffering and we will know that everything in this world belongs to the Lord. And when we realize that we are only His keepers, we are only His instruments, we shall use things according to our necessity and we shall get attached to Him only, trying to become One with the great Lord of this world, the sole possessor of everything. We will reflect that we have this realization by living more carefully, and we will glorify Him and sing and praise His glory all the time out of gratitude for what we have received from Him and for what we have achieved in this world through His grace.

Knowing that Lord Krishna is the Lord of all creation is not a matter of intellectual or mental knowledge; it is a true knowledge which we call ‘Self-knowledge’, the true understanding that we have attained through our sadhana. By tapasya — austerity — we destroy all our sins and by knowledge we attain liberation, life immortal. Without tapasya there is no serious spiritual sadhana through which true knowledge is achieved which purifies our way, rids us of our sins, and liberates us.

Discrimination, knowledge, non-delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, self-control, tranquillity, happiness, misery, existence, non-existence, fear, fearlessness, non-injury, equanimity, contentment, austerity, charity, fame, ill-fame, these different dispositions come from God, also those that are negative, for the positive as well as the negative come from God. Only when our nature is negative we see negativity, like when we mistake the shadow of something for the substance, because there is no knowledge to differentiate between the substance and the shadow. By praying to God, positivity develops within us and through that positivity we get true knowledge. Dispassion comes through the grace of God: knowing [how] to distinguish between what is good for us and what is not good for us, between the false and the real. When we can discriminate between these, truthfulness, forgiveness and self-control will develop within us. Self-control means the control over our passions — the senses of sight, taste, hearing, smelling and touch — and allowing only that which brings good to us, that which purifies our mind, our nature; and trying only to achieve that which brings peace and inner satisfaction; not that which brings excitement, which excites the passions, which corrupts our nature: these types of things are not good for us. Self-control is to guard ourselves against such negative types of things.

Furthermore, the continuous repetition of a mantra keeps our mind under control and prevents other things from coming into the mind. When other things are prevented from coming into the mind, our nature becomes purified. When our nature becomes purified we attain a state of tranquillity, of inner stability. Otherwise the mind remains restless all the time. It is good not to speak too much, to observe silence — the tapasya of the tongue — and if we have to speak at all, to speak only that which is necessary, and if we have to speak, let it be pleasant, let it be creative.

There are other tapasyas, like that of the physical body, of our eyes for example; they all serve to achieve tranquillity and happiness and, even more, to attain a state of fearlessness. The whole world is governed by fear, thus we fear the law so we do not do anything against it. The ultimate fear is the fear of death. But when knowledge comes, we realize that this physical body will die — and that we are not this physical body. This realization comes through the practice of tapasya, the practice of sadhana. Through this practice pure knowledge develops within us, and through the realization we get from that, eventually we will not come back into this world of birth and death. And, more than that, our mind becomes in tune with God all the time, with our Source: Sat-Chit-Ananda — of Peace-Knowledge-Bliss. From that comes contentment, fearlessness and a clearer understanding and vision of Reality.

So, when we know that Lord Krishna is the origin of everything that comes into this world, that very moment, that very instant, this very life — not in another life — we become liberated from this world of distress. Being truthful, fearless, content, self-controlled, tranquil-minded and charitable are the characteristics of those who have attained true knowledge: Self-knowledge.

Charity means that we give to worthy causes. Our lower-nature is not charitable but possessive. Therefore Lord Krishna advises us to be charitable, so that the negativity within us will disappear and our true Self will manifest.

* The Bhagavad Gita, or ‘Song of God’, one of the sacred Hindu texts, recounts the dialogue between Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, and Arjuna, His disciple.

Part Eight: The purpose of life is to realize who we are

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