In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 11 - 15. This episode discusses the importance of understanding death, the eternal nature of life and how we are to be centered in stillness during pain and pleasure and to perceive them as fleeting shadows.
Translation used: The Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive: A Radical Translation by Jeffrey Armstrong Available here on Amazon
If you would like to dwell deeper in the Bhagavad Gita, I recommend Swami Gambhirananda's translation with Adi Shankara ji's commentary: Available here on Amazon
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Hello and welcome to the Bearded Mystic Podcast and I'm your host Rahul N Singh. Thank you for taking out the time today to either listen or watch this podcast. Today we're going to be continuing on with the thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita and we'd be looking at verses 11 to 15 today, and we will go through it and see what new things we can discover. Before we start, I would just like to remind you that The Bearded Mystic Podcast has a Patreon page and you can join for $5 a month and you get some extra content on there and there will be some live streams that will be only for Patreon members, do take a look at that. Let's start with the Bhagavad Gita. We're going to look at verse 11. We are now going to be listening to Shri Krishna. Shri Bhagavan said the words you speak appear to be full of profound meaning, but those who are wise do not grieve for those who are breathing or whose breath has gone. This is a very popular line. A lot of people talk about this line and they put emphasis on this line. And for good reason, it has a lot of deep meaning behind it. With these words that have just been mentioned by Shri Krishna, we need to fully understand and fully digest the words that are being said. These words that are said are very deep and they require us to really think about what's being said. If we have to understand these words, we do have to look at the context in which he says these words and although we can acknowledge that his message to Arjuna is it's his friend and he's speaking directly to his friend, but elements of this conversation is going to be universal. Just remember that there are other people listening. Sanjaya's listening to this conversation. It's not that it's just for Arjuna. It's also for the benefit of others too. Obviously we can guess that Shri Krishna knows this and therefore he approaches it in that manner. Say that it's directly just for Arjuna and only Arjuna is meant to take on this message, then we have to become the individual like Arjuna who is going to be taking this message in directly. So we have to see as directly to us, if we really want to understand and digest it. The funny thing is we can easily turn around and say, well this verse is not for me because such and such reason, but is that ego? Are we stopping ourselves from learning when we do this? So it's very important that we take these words directly and understand them. The great thing is is that we have to introspect with these words. When these words are mentioned, we have to really look within and see which part of ourselves doesn't fully understand this? Which part of ourselves doesn't accept this lesson? Even though we know that it has a deep treat behind it. Even though we know that there is depth behind these words, that behind these words, There is something that we need to introspect upon. We need to take a look at ourselves in order to do that. And for that, we need to be honest, and we need to see that these sacred words that are being mentioned and uttered by Shri Krishna that we fully are taking them as directly as possible, taking them as direct teachings as much as possible. Don't just say them or read them. That's not enough. It's time for introspection. Shri Krishna says the words you speak appear to be full of profound meaning. Now in that one line, it's clearly showing that if we think what Arjuna has said is profound and has deep meaning then we do not understand the truth because as Krishna says, it 'appears to be full', 'appears'. This implies that what Arjuna has been talking about is actually lower level of understanding. If we have found, and I have found that Arjuna words have been kind of profound and they have been kind of deep. Maybe I'm understanding it at a much lower level. Now this is preparing me to get away from the 'appearance' and get ready for what is reality and be direct with reality. This is what it's invoking. Although we can see that Arjuna has compassion. He has empathy. He has love. Yet, he also has attachment and we all relate to him because of this. Like Arjuna, we feel, and we still perceived that we are just this body and we are attached to everything that this mind attaches itself to. In this verse, we can already acknowledge that all the lines that Arjuna mentioned before was just an appearance of wisdom, an appearance of deep teaching. But actually, they were just on the basic level, which we should all feel just on a basic level of a human being, as human nature. That should be our basic understanding. Yet there is something much deeper and that's where we as human beings, we'd probably do not do. We have to ask ourselves on the spiritual journey that are we looking to deepen our understanding or are we just happy with things being on the surface level? This is what Shri Krishna's talking about because most of our devotion, most of our wisdom that we think we have, is very surface level and it takes courage to acknowledge this. Like Arjuna, are we under the appearance that we are speaking profound things? Or do we know that we are talking directly about reality? And like Arjuna, we do say grand statements all the time, and we speak of great truth. When someone is under distress, we say such wise words that we've picked up from somebody else. It's not our wisdom. Funny enough, I can recall a conversation with someone. I talked about my genuine fear of losing my loved ones and death. And this person said to me, " Oh, that means you're attached, what's in this present moment? What is here right now?" And I was like, well, what you're saying makes no sense in this context because yes, I am talking about the future of losing my loved ones, but ultimately even if I was to be in the present moment, I have to be with the feeling and address it. Actually the feeling is very real. The way of overcoming that would be through inquiry. I would have a look at, well, who am I losing? This is very direct with verse 11. I would have to look at what I'm losing and who am I losing? Who are these people that I'm talking about that I'm going to lose or myself that who is it that it's going to die and who is aware of this thought that others are going to die? I hope you follow what I'm saying and this person, although they thought they were saying something profound, it was very superficial. And I knew they heard it from somebody else because it was word by word verbatim of what someone else said. Also, it can be seen as spiritually bypassing. Funnily enough, the individual has their own issues with attachment. Which I found quite ironic later on. Although we may not be scared of death, even if you look on a deeper level, if you miss somebody, there is a certain subtle attachment there. And what is that attachment about? You don't want to lose that person. Again, you may say something profound, but if you look on the deeper level, is it a profound understanding and a profound wisdom that you directly experience? That's the difference. Although we may say grand statements, there are more or less deep rooted in fear, and this fear is something we need to look at directly. It takes courage to look at fear and where do we get courage from? It's from profound understanding, from deep wisdom. Non-duality is all about understanding, that's all it is. Understanding the wisdom. That's what it comes down to and we miss it because we do not understand things on a deeper level. But we digress and let's go further. Krishna very beautifully establishes that "but those who are wise." Krishna clearly saying to urgent that what you're thinking from is not wisdom, it's not the wisdom of those that are wise. Even though we may come across special individuals that have deep wisdom, our gurus, our teachers, our coaches, even though they may have deep wisdom, but that does not mean that automatically because you've understood things superficially that we've understood what they have said. This understanding has to become an experience and then a living reality. An experience is also fleeting. It comes and goes, but a living reality is something that is established. So when I talk about understanding non-duality or Advaita Vedanta, it's understanding that there is nothing but Brahman, that understanding has to come from that deep level of understanding, it has to come from a real profound level one that, that wisdom, that understanding has to be an established understanding. There has to be stillness in the mind with that understanding. Krishna also uses a word in Sanskrit. He uses the word 'Pandita' which means those who know the self, who know Brahman. They are authorities of the truth, those who know Brahman. When we talk about knowing, not simply, you know somebody by name, we're talking about that established understanding. " Do not grieve for those who are breathing and whose breath has gone." Why is this? Those who are breathing they're alive. So why would you grieve for those are alive? Yeah, that's reality. They're here and now, they're with us. They haven't gone anywhere. So we must enjoy their aliveness. You must enjoy the fact that they're here in the present moment with us. "Those who have gone" well they're not going to come back in their embodiment that you know them by. So why grieve for them? What's gone is gone. What is here is here. It's a very simple message but to truly understand this, you have to overcome your fear of death. Which is why it's challenging. Don't get under the illusion that just because you can say this line, read it and have kind of an understanding of it. It has to be an established understanding that you understand, that I understand, that there is nothing but Brahman and therefore there is no death. People do not come. People do not go. The real question here is who are these "those" that we're talking about, "those" who leave, "those" who are breathing and "those" whose breath have gone, who are these "those" that we're talking about? Then the question goes but who am I? Why am I grieving? What am I grieving about? This means that I've not understood the Self, the Truth. I've not established myself in understanding Brahman in understanding the reality of the Self. Have I falsely identified with something else? Has that overcome my understanding? My reality? Have I falsely identified as someone that I'm not. This is the question that's being asked really. If we understand the Self according to the Upanishads and other dharmic texts, then we know that there is nothing but the Self, so people come and go, but the Self within and all around is the same. Once we understand the Self within us, and it's a Self that actually does not disappear, even when I'm in deep sleep, this Self is still there because when I wake up it is the one that is aware that I had good deep sleep. Even though my mind was unconscious at that time. This self, this awareness that we're talking about, this Brahman, this formless awareness, it's always here. If it's still there in deep sleep and deep sleep is probably the closest thing I can experience to death. That means this awareness must remain, that this Self remains even after death. If it can remain for me, then that means for everything else too. This has to be understood and we have to utilize this as a meditation and as a deep inquiry and establish ourselves in this. So before we even want to go to the next verse, if you want take a pause and just reflect upon this, that those that are leaving are just like me, those are the people that I see, my loved ones, they're all just an extension of the Self. They are nothing but the Self, as I am. Therefore who goes and who arrives here? Who departs? No one. It's only the Self. Just reflect upon that before we get to the next verse. This is a very direct line and I will like to give a bit of a caution because this direct line can lead to nihilism where we think that life really has no meaning because people come and go. I will come and go, yet this is not the true understanding. I do say that this line can lead you either to mental distress, or it can wake you up. This is why we need to always understand things completely and in context, to fully understand the message and to truly understand whether this will cause distress for us or this for cause us to wake up. Verse 12 as Shri Krishna continues: Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these Kings, and from this time forward, none of us will ever cease to be. Observe the authority in these words and I warn again not to take these words lightly. If we are truly eternal, if we truly are this eternal self, this Brahman, this Brahman that we know that has no beginning, has no end. That is self existent. The question of time also automatically disappears. Therefore if time disappears as a concept and that also means that everything attached to time. Guess what attaches itself to time? Our understanding of how the body ages. Therefore, if we understand we're eternal, we can truly understand the nature of life itself, the understanding of the journey of life. We can feel this, if we sincerely meditate and we get to a place of stillness within the mind, there is an absence of time in deep meditation, there's no sense of seconds or minutes or hours, when you get to that deep level of stillness, you enter that state of eternity and you can really feel it. It's true that in deep meditation, there is no sense of 'I' like there's no sense of individual self and at the same time, there is another way of thinking about this that everything has an infinite nature. Even if you look at things from the sense of the body, the body is just going to enter the ground or if you're cremated, smoke enters the atmosphere. Everything continues, dust to dust, everything carries on. Energy's always transferred. It's never destroyed. In a way, this is exactly what Shri Krishna is saying that never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these Kings and from this time forward, none of us will ever cease to be. So in fact, we will never disappear. If you just look at this from a body standpoint, from the viewpoint of atoms, as energy, we'll never cease to be, it will always continue. Krishna is really guiding Arjuna to remember that his true self has always been here and it will always continue. And the King's in front of him, they've always been and they will never go, this is just a continuous cycle. It's interesting because time in Vedic understanding, time is cyclical. It's a cycle, it's not linear. In the past present and future, we will always be because we are Brahman, this maya will always continue. Brahman is eternal. Brahman has no beginning and is self-existent, as we've established earlier. Adi Shankara ji says that the meaning is that even in all these three times past present and future, we areeternal in our nature as the Self. The plural number in 'we' is used following the diversity of the bodies, but not in the sense of the multiplicity of the self. This is very important to understand very, very important, because what is being understood here is the diversity of bodies, the multiplicity of bodies, but not the multiplicity of the Self. The Self remains 'one', if we have to put a number to it. All we see is the diversity of bodies. So diversity of bodies continue and is infinite in nature, but Brahman itself does not belong to that multiplicity. This is really deep. Let us understand that this transactional reality - Maya is a diversity of bodies and that the unity, the sense of Brahman is formless. The diversity is just in forms. The union, when we understand we are the Self, that deep established understanding that is formlessness. That does not multiply, that cannot be cut up into many pieces. Observe the oneness and sameness in this message that Adi Shankara ji says. Krishna doesn't amplify himself. He shows that there is a oneness in all. He's not extra special when it comes to the Self. In Brahman, we're all the same. Shri Krishna says neither did I not exist nor, you know, all these Kings he's put himself on the same level. He's not made himself extra special here. This understanding is very important and when it comes to the Jiva, the individual self, we may look like we exist, but the Atman is the same as Brahman and it is eternal. Verse 13, Shri Krishna continues: Just as a person grows within them their deha 'perishable body' from childhood to youth to adulthood, and then to old age, so at the death of their deha, their dehi 'immortal consciousness' migrates to another deha. One who understands this is not confused by these changes. This verse can be easily manipulated into a dualistic understanding, but it's actually completely non dual and I'm going to establish why that is. The delusion here will be on multiple levels. That one, we think we are the perishable body and we associate with the Jiva and then we observe the immortal consciousness migrates to another form. Based on that understanding of the Jiva, that it thinks it is the body. Let me go through this with you. The delusion here will be on multiple levels. That one you'll think that you're the perishable body. So therefore you think you are just this body and that's not the right understanding. Or you associate with the jiva and then when we observe the immortal consciousness migrates to another form. Based on the understanding of the jiva, it thinks that it's the body. The jiva always associates with the body, it doesn't associate itself to the immortal consciousness. Therefore, it continues that if you understood that you are the immortal consciousness, there will be no need to move to a different form. You enter the state of Brahman because we are this Jiva, this dehi, this immortal consciousness. Because the jiva is also immortal. It will continue until he gets moksha or liberation. Therefore, we have to understand that the Jiva, as long as it associates itself and identifies itself to the body is going to continue. And even if you think you are an individual soul, it will continue. You have to get to the understanding that there's only Brahman. There's only THAT. You have to be established in THAT. However, if one understands they are immortal consciousness, then does the immortal have a form? If this immortal has no form, then can it migrate, can Itself change? Absolutely no. I established this earlier, but I'm gonna make a bit more clear. What Krishna says is very beautiful and he says 'the one who understands' an intelligent person isn't confused by this. The one who understands is not confused by these changes. If you understand and are established in Brahman, tell me who changes. Tell me what changes? It's because we do not accept the Truth, the Reality, that we are Brahman, that we fall under the delusion, that we are the body, or we are an individual soul. This individual soul has to keep going into another body andwe go into that cycle again. An intelligent person, isn't going to be confused by what Shri Krishna says. They will understand exactly what he's saying because they will see from the point and the living established reality that they are Brahman. The issue of wrong understanding doesn't occur and we have to differentiate between whether we are the Jiva that attaches itself to the body or whether we are the Atman, which is this immortal Brahman. We have to establish our understanding that this Atman is Brahman, therefore it's not going to go through all these changes. Whatever goes through these changes is the body and the jiva, which is the cosmic mind you could say, which has all our vrittis, our conditionings, our habits, our karma, that's the thing that travels forward. And because we associate ourselves to our karma, to our vrittis - our conditioning, our judgments, our emotions, our memories, those are the things that carry on because we associate ourselves to that. But with the right understanding, we understand that none of those things really exist in Brahman. Someone who is based in duality, they will keep thinking that they will keep arriving on this earth, and then they will die and then continue again. And hopefully with each birth, they get closer to liberation, closer to Moksha. That's the incorrect understanding. In Krishna's teaching. We are the Atman, we are Brahman. Here we can address from the perspective of the body that we can have multiple bodies and go through multiple modifications in the body. But the atman is one, there is no difference, throughout all these changes in the body that atman remains untouched and unaffected. Like Shri Krishna mentions here that this body goes through changes. It goes from childhood to youth, to adulthood and then to old age. I've always mentioned this, that there's always a background awareness that has watched all these changes. The one that has observed young age to the one that observes childhood, the one that observes adulthood, the one that observes old age. There's something there that's watched all this and has not been changed by it at all. The watcher has not changed. The watcher has remained the same. There is awareness that remains as it is, this background awareness that has gone through all these changes, modifications in the body has yet remained unchanged and unaffected. This awareness is the atman, and because we understand what this atman is, we understand that this atman is the same one in every body. It does not change. My soul is not special to another person's soul. The soul is one and therefore my loved ones do not go. My loved ones do not disappear. They are the same as Brahman. They are Brahman, they may not know it, but they are Brahman. Verse 14. Listen Arjuna, material experiences like heat and cold or sukha pleasure and dukha pain come and go. They are temporary, and one must learn to endure them. Here the instruction is very clear. Material experiences are related to the body alone. Things like heat and cold, and we need to understand that they're temporary. They come and go. One day you feeling hot, then you feel cold. These are things that changed. The pair of opposites are always changing and interchangeable. We need to understand that they're temporary and that they come and go and that they have a lifespan. Can anyone be happy forever? Can anyone be sad forever? No matter what, there is always a little bit of light and there's always little bit of darkness within. We have to go with the emotions of the body and the mind that doesn't mean that we attach ourselves to the emotions. We allow it to express itself. We do not interfere in the expression. If you feel sad, you feel sad. If you're happy, you feel happy and we just go with them. This is what she Krishna means by enduring them. This is what the mind has to go through. Heat and cold is very direct with the body and pleasure and pain there in the mind. Remember to differentiate what the body experiences and what the mind experiences. The mind will say, I seek pleasure from being in the heat when it's cold outside and then it's the mind that experiences pain when the body feels cold when it wants to feel heat. Yes. This is what is being understood here. Therefore one must learn to endure. One must learn to establish themselves in wisdom. What does she Krishna mean? Endure in the sense of knowing that they are temporary feelings. They're temporary emotions. Pleasure is temporary, pain is temporary. Don't start thinking that there's permanent pleasure or that there's endless pain. Nobody experiences just pain, even though we may think our life is painful and we've gone through pain, and sometimes we think we've only experienced pain in life but actually, there's been moments when you've smiled. There's been moments when you've been happy. You don't have to smile to be happy either. You don't have to be laughing to be happy. This is what Shri Krishna is talking about. Endure in the sense of knowing that they're temporary, it will appear then disappear. Just do not get attached to them. Krishna is also addressing the mind. The more subtle aspects. Practically Krishna is saying, bodies come and go and even your happiness, sorrow, experiences of all kinds come and go. The things that we attach ourselves, our memories, our conditioning, our karma, everything that we say is me. Even this will come and go, memories come and go. Memories could fade in this lifetime itself. Therefore we are not to attach ourselves to the mind because even the mind can change it's understanding. Experiences, they come and go. You can't be on vacation forever, no matter what these personal development coaches say, they all come and go. Notice this very clearly. Krishna does not tell Arjuna to ignore what he's going through. He says to endure, not ignore. He doesn't say let it go. He says endure it. Be with it, experience it. Now, for example, if you said to ignore then it's not practical, right? If you feel cold, then you need a blanket. If you ignore it, then you're going to freeze to death. But you can get the blanket and make the cold more bearable. You can endure it then, that's the key. What we do practically to endure something, we gather all the tools necessary to endure that coldness. What I'm going to say here. If you feel cold, you can be in pain. You can say I'm freezing and it's too cold. I'm so sad or you can approach it in this way, that okay it's cold, I've got a blanket. I can cope with this now. There we go, we in endure Therefore our mind doesn't get disturbed. We need our mind to be at a point where it doesn't get disturbed. If you think about it in the middle of understanding that pleasure and pain come and go, they arrive and depart, and the feelings like heat and cold, whatever pair of opposites you want to use. If we understand that they arrive and they depart, then if you really inquire into that and really feel it, you can sense that there is something that is still, you can sense that awareness that remains untouched, unblemished, that doesn't get modified by any of this. This is where the true endurance comes from. The true strength of endurance comes from that. I hope that what I'm saying is making sense to you. But if you do not understand, let me know, let's discuss it more because maybe through a conversation, I'm able to get it across to you much better. The 15th verse and Shri Krishna continues: The person who is not disturbed by the fluctuations of sukha and dukha pleasure and pain is eligible to reclaim their own indestructable and immortal nature. I love this line because it brings me to the direct experience of Brahman. If you think about it, the person who is not disturbed by the fluctuations of the mind, that inner stillness that's there within the mind, that inner awareness, sukha and dukha, pleasure and pain, the person who doesn't get disturbed by that, who doesn't fluctuate when there's pleasure doesn't get too happy. When there's pain, doesn't get too sad, they just remain established. They just remain happy, it's an eternal happiness that I'm talking about. They're content. That's the word that I'm looking for. They're content. So when they're content, they then become ready. The eligibility opens up. They're able to go to the direct experience of Brahman. That's direct understanding, the established understanding. There's a clear pointing here that one's mind must be resolute and not disturbed by the fluctuations of sukha and dukha, of pleasure and pain. One has to, and should be able to observe this pain and pleasure. This is what you can do to help is observe whenever you go through pleasure and pain and then ask who is it that is observing this? Is the watcher affected by the pleasure and pain, that's fleeting by. This is the thing. Once we are established in that observation, in that awareness, then one is able to reclaim what we always was, always are, and always will be - this Brahman, that is indestructible and immortal. We find that this Brahman cannot be destroyed by pain and pleasure. It doesn't fluctuate in pain or pleasure. It doesn't change in pain and pleasure. It remains as it is. Krishna is really describing what we need to find within ourselves. We have to make that journey towards there and we need to discover it for ourselves. Like I mentioned, these words have to be seen as direct teachings. I, then have to think about getting to that state where I'm not disturbed by the fluctuations of the mind or fluctuations of sukha and dukha, of pain and pleasure. I have to get to that. Then we are able, with that correct discernment, with correct understanding we become fit, we become strong enough for liberation, then moksha, mukti are available to us. Otherwise when we go through the experiences of pain and pleasure, and we think that this body and this mind is going through that experience, what happens is we only attach ourselves to the body and mind and we then wrongly identify that we are just the body and mind. We're not just the body and mind, we're something more. When we understand our true nature of immortality, then do we strive for liberation, then we become free from the so-called mortal form. And this is what we need to get ourselves ready for. If we're going to go through this Bhagavad Gita, we have to be really honest and really sincere in saying we want to attain that deep established understanding that only Brahman is, and that I am Brahman. And this reality is not just for me, it's for everybody. Everybody experiences this, even if it's unconsciously. And with that everybody deserves my respect. Everybody deserves my deep gratitude, my deep compassion because I understand that if one person is suffering. Then I have to get them out of that suffering. And if society is allowing that suffering to occur, then society needs to change and I have to be someone that will call out the social injustice. This will be the right way of living. This concludes verses 11 to verses 15. Thank you for taking out the time to either watch or listen to this podcast. The Bearded Mystic Podcast now only uploads episodes every Sunday, and we're going to be continuing on with the thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita. And do you follow me on social media, details to my accounts in the video description or the show notes to do. Let me know what you think about the podcast episodes and the podcast itself. Thank you very much for listening. Take care everybody. Bye.