Conversation held on Thursday April 26th, 2018 at 12 Noon EST.  

“When he perceives that the variety of beings have one center from which all expand, then he is at one with brahman.”  (Chapter 13,  line 30)

Summary of Ch 12 and 13

Chapter 12 begins with a question from Arjuna: Who are the foremost adepts of yoga? Those who attend to you with devotion they constantly practice, or those who seek out the imperishable that is unmanifest?  Krishna’s answer is that both reach him, but the second group has a a much more difficult task ahead of them, requiring greater toil, “for their goal is not manifest and the embodied attain it with hardship.”  We learn in this chapter what has only been indicated by implication prior to this point, that both the one who tends with devotion to Krishna, and the one who attend to the inexpressible Unmanifest,  remains “equably disposed to everyone and everything and have the well-being of all creatures at heart.”

Chapter 12, Krishna presents the Shamkyan idea of Prakriti and and Parusa to Arjuna, in terms of the “field and the guide.” This body is the field, he says, and the one who knows this field is the “guide”. Krishna is the guide of all fields. Lines 5 -10 he explicates this idea by providing different examples of what the field and the guide each are.  At the neon of the Chapter, Krishna says “Those who with the eye of insight realize the boundary of field and guide, and the mode of separation from the Prakrit of begins, attain the ultimate.” (line 30)

Opening Question

 Those who with the eye of insight realize the boundary of field and guide, and the mode of separation from the Prakrit of beings, attain the ultimate. (line 30) How are we to understand the boundary of field and guide, and why would this lead to the ultimate?

Observations and Reflections

We were left at the end of the session with more questions than we had arrived with – which we at least understand as a good thing. We’re in a better position to look freshly at the reading, now that we’re clearer about what we don’t understand. One of the things that seems to be gaining in clarity is our sense of the different paths that are made available, paths that lead to attaining the ultimate realization. In Chapter 13, Krishna explicitly names three different paths: the path of jnanayoga or introspection, the path of bhaktiyoga or the path of the yoga of action, karmayoga. Which one is Arjuna’s? He appears to us to be the recipient of either the second yoga, bhaktiyoga, or the the third yoga, the yoga of action. karmayoga. Krishna’s constant advice to Arjuna is to be intent on acting for him. At the top of p123, in Chapter 12, Krishna lays out the possibility of bhakityoga and karma yoga together.

“Fix your mind on me alone, let your spirit enter me, and ever after you shall dwell within myself. Or if at first, you cannot hold your spirit firmly fixed on me, still cherish the desire to reach by repeated yoga. Even if you are incapable of repeated application, be intent on acting for me, for by doing acts for myself sake you will also attain success. Or even if you are incapable of acting thus, though you are inclined to me, at least restrain yourself and renounce the fruit of your actions.”

It appears that there are several stages here: first the attainment of bhakti or exclusive yoga, following upon fixing the mind solely upon Krishna and “entering into him”. The passages describing sitting and placing the breath between the brows so on. But then a concession: if at first this proves to be too difficult (to hold the spirit firmly), at least stay intent on “repeated application” or practicing.  

He goes on to say: if  practicing is not possible, what can one do? While acting, or while performing all actions, be intent on Krishna. But (as in the above) if this proves too difficult, then at very least renounce the fruits of actions.  

Either being intent on Krishna in all actions, or if not that, merely renouncing the fruits of actions, would be “karmayoga”, the yoga of action.  Arjuna would be the recipient of both yogas, but in his most immediate situation in front of him, it would seem he will be following the karmayoga path.

The description of Prakrit and Parusa, from Shamkyan thought, presents yet another way of looking at the ultimate attainment, the Great Lord, Supreme Soul. (13.20)  The three paths, jnanayoga, bhaktiyoga, and karma yoga, all have the same goal.   

Next week: Chapters 14 and 15


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