The Bhagavad-Gita: Chapter 13 Devotion by Means of Discrimination of the Kshetra from Kshetrajna

Devotion by Means of Discrimination of the Kshetra from Khetrajna

The Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 13

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From the Judge Rendition


“This perishable body, O son of Kunti, is known as Kshetra; those who are acquainted with the true nature of things call the soul who knows it, the Kshetrajna. Know also that I am the Knower in every mortal body, O son of Bharata; that knowledge which through the soul is a realization of both the known and the knower is alone esteemed by me as wisdom. What the Kshetra or body is, what it resembleth, what it produceth, and what is its origin, and also who he is who, dwelling within, knoweth it, as well as what is his power, learn all in brief from me. It has been manifoldly sung by the Rishis with discrimination and with arguments in the various Vedic hymns which treat of Brahman.

“This body, then, is made up of the great elements, Ahankara — egotism, Buddhi — intellect or judgment, the unmanifest, invisible spirit; the ten centers of action, the mind, and the five objects of sense; desire, aversion, pleasure and pain, persistency of life, and firmness, the power of cohesion. Thus I have made known unto thee what the Kshetra or body is with its component parts.


Is this saying that everything that most human beings  think we are, we are not?


Krishna appears to be saying that everything other than Atman is 'not-self' or the body and is perishable.  So you are probably right, Tamiko, as we tend always to think of ourselves as somebody or other.


Broadly speaking what is the process upon which we shift identity from non-self to Self? Isn't this what Krishna is inviting to do?


Is "Atman" or the spirit totally separated from its manifestation?  The answer may be both, yes and no.  Vaguely, I remember Krishna said, having pervaded this universe with a fragment of myself, I remain.  In this statement, it seems Atman is in the world as well as not in the world; it is the perceiver (Atma) and the power to perceive (buddhi).   As taught in Theosophy, Atma is too pure to descend down to the gross planes and uses layers of vehicles to express itself.  Looking at it from this angle, the spirit is not totally disassociated from its creation.    



From the standpoint of the Atman all of creation is a illusion would be one one to look at it.  But there are many levels of illusion and from each level what is below might seem unreal and the plane we are on is real.  You might say there are necessary illusions which allow us to function at a different levels or planes.  When we play a game we abide by the rules, for the game to function.  But we know the rules are arbitrary to some extent, say like in freeze tag where you are allowed to go outside the park sand box.  After the game is over we step outside the sand box freely.  The Sage can operate at any or all levels but is aware of the relative nature of things.  Where does the Sage's calmness come from?


Reply by Tamiko Yamada on February 4, 2015 at 9:49pm

Is this saying that everything that most human beings  think we are, we are not?

Response :

Not only that. Even our notion of what body is, let alone the notion of Self, is so narrow that we virtually are in utter darkness, as personalities. Yet we think we have made great progress in science ! We think mere physiological machine is body, and no more. Here Krishna is defining what "body" consists of. He calls it Kshetra, a very expressive term, meaning "Field" literally, or "field of action" of the Knower of it, Kshetrajna.

If we consider each one of the things mentioned as parts of Kshetra - body, and think of how they came to be so, ie., evolved, and for what purpose, and for whose purpose, the inquiry will unfold, as it proceeds, the whole cosmology and spiritual psychology. It is worth inquiring into each one of the component parts of the "body."


Might we equate Kshetra or Field with concepts like plane of consciousness or a metaphysical hierarchy?  Thank you Ramprakash for your response to my question above.


A very thoughtful point you have made Tamiko. I dwelt upon what the Secret Doctrine teaches. According to my limited understanding :

1. We have to distinguish between "Field (Kshetra)" and the "Knower of the Field (Kshetrajna)."  First is the objective phase of manifestation - Matter; the second is the subjective phase of the same - Spirit or Consciousness. 

2. These two--Spirit and Matter-- are opposite poles of manifestation, acting in opposite and  contrary ways, for Spirit is consciousness per se.

3. The two are mutually complementary. One without the other is impossible. Spirit without matter is impotent, bare infinite abstract potentiality, and remains unexpressed; on the other hand, matter without spirit is insentient and chaotic, from which no intelligence and consciousness can ensue by itself.

4. This is beautifully allegorized in Sankhya Karika : Purusha (Spirit) is lame; Prakriti (Matter) is blind; neither by itself can accomplish nothing. So they mutually agree to cooperate with each other. Purusha mounts on the shoulders of Prakriti and directs her where to go; Prakriti carries purusha, as directed, to the goal and the end, which is their common destiny.

5. Yet Spirit and Matter are not two different and independent realities but the two manifesting aspects of One, Absolute, in which they are synthesized. One in essence in the unreachable / unknowable ABSOLUTE, but two opposites in manifestation. In other words. ONE is essence and dual in manifestation.

6. So that, in truth, there is no spirit without matter, nor matter without Spirit. Spirit is sublimated matter, and matter is crystallized Spirit, ever conjoined at every point in the infinite manifested universe.

Reg. plane of consciousness and hierarchy, my understanding is : given in the following post.


Reg Planes of consciousness and Hierarchies. Can be a little lengthy. pl pardon me.

Of the progressive stages of manifestation of the universe from and in ABSOLUTE, it may be said ;

What first appears in Absolute when time strikes for the universe to emerge from the UNKNOWABLE is :

a power, an influence, called unmanifested Logos. Monas or Monad of Pythagoras. neither spirit nor matter but synthesis of the two.

Geometrical symbol of it is, point in the circle, or central point of a sphere.

2nd stage : A power thrills through the Precosmic Root Subst


Sorry. Saying it again :

Reg Planes of consciousness and Hierarchies. Can be a little lengthy. pl pardon me.

Of the progressive stages of manifestation of the universe from and in ABSOLUTE, it may be said ;

What first appears in Absolute when time strikes for the universe to emerge from the UNKNOWABLE is :

a power, an influence, called unmanifested Logos. Monas or Monad of Pythagoras. neither spirit nor matter but synthesis of the two.   

Geometrical symbol of it is, point in the circle, or central point of a sphere.

2nd stage : A power thrills through the Precosmic Root Substance in and through which the Unmanifested Logos has emerged, on which it moves, and differentiates it. 

Thus is formed the first precosmic differentiation : Spirit-Matter = the two opposite contrary forces, like centripetal and centrifugal forces.

Geometrical symbol of this stage is Diameter of the circle, point becoming diameter, differentiating the circle into two hemispheres.

Which two produce their progeny - universe in Idea (Ideal Universe)

so now we have the first precosmic triad, the necessary prelude to cosmic construction.

Symbolized geometrically as 

                                            Triangle in a circle

This is Hiranya Garbha in the Puranas = resplendent golden womb of the universe. It is the Archetypal World in which Archetypes and Ideas of all that is to be in the universe is there in the germ, all in one, potentially.

This is Second Logos.

In this womb is gestating the Creative God (Brahmaa) who will construct the universe, after he is born. 

Upto this stage it is PRECOSMIC differentiation = Primary Period.

At the end of gestation, the creative God, Brahmaa, (Demiurgos of Plato), hatches, as it were, out of the Egg.

Then begins Secondary Period = evolution of constructive powers of manifested universe.

This manifested God, Brahmaa becomes dual again as Spirit and Matter, Purusha and Prakriti. Spirit and Matter are now differentiated, and stand opposite of each other, as it were.

                        Geometrically cross within the circle.

This is Third Logos or Creative Logos. Represented as :

                      Manifested creative Triangle without the circle 

                  Brahmaa - Brama Viradj - Brahma Vach in Hindu cosmogony

                                Kether - Chokmah  - Binah in the Jewish Kabala

                                      Spirit - Matter - synthesis of the two

This dual manifested Brahmaa is not a single entity, but the synthesis of SIx formless Hierarchies of Intelligence, synthesized by the Seventh. 

This primordial first Hierarchy reflect in themselves the Ideal Universal Plan in the Second Logos, and according to that plan, emanate in their turn, from their own essence, the next series of Hierarchies. = the second Seven = which are again six synthesized by the seventh.

The second seven, similarly emanate from them selves the third series of Hierarchies, which are again six, synthesized by the seventh.

It is this third and the last series of Hierarchies--lower order of creative Angels--who fashion our physical world from their own essence in accordance with the plan transmitted to them by those orders higher than themselves.

Each of these Hierarchies are dual in nature : spirit and matter or male and female, or cosmic Ideation and Energy of that Ideation.

The whole manifested universe of seven planes of consciousness and seven states of matter are fashioned by the Hierarchies from their own essence.

Humanity is the highest expression of Manifested Logos consisting of the seven great Hierarchies.

They are in us, and we in them. 

Collectively, the manifested Logos = the synthesis of seven creative Hierarchies, is the Heavenly Man or Adam Kadmon of Kabala.

Every thing, every being on any of the seven planes, is a mirror of the Heavenly Man.

Humanity is as yet an imperfect expression of the Heavenly man. 

In the Key, HPB sums up this in one pithy aphorism ;

Humanity is an emanation from Divinity and is on return path thereto.


From the Johnston Rendition


This bodily being, O son of Kunti, is named the field; and who beholds it, him the wise call the knower of the field.

And know Me to be the knower of the field, in all fields, O son of Bharata; the knowledge of the field and of the knower of the field, esteem to be knowledge indeed.

What the field is, of what nature, what are its changes, and whence it is; and what the knower is, and what his power is, that briefly learn from Me.

[By the Seers this has been celebrated in many varied hymns; and by the verses of the Brahma-Sutras, full of firm wisdom, it has been set forth.

The elements, self-reference, understanding, the Unmanifest; the ten powers that perceive and act, mind, and the five fields of perception,

Desire, hate, pleasure, pain, bodily unity, intellect, will; this is the field, briefly set forth, with its changes.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on February 5, 2015 at 8:10am

The following again has so much debt and is so helpful in daily life that even though it is a little long too shorten it would not do it justice.


"In the Glossary Kshetrajna is defined as, "Embodied spirit, the Conscious Ego in its highest manifestation; the reincarnating Principle; the 'lord' in us." It is the KNOWER as distinct from the KNOWN.

As we usually have to clear away false ideas before we can find the true ones, so Krishna is explaining to Arjuna what constitutes his body before he attempts to help him to grasp what Spirit is. And on reading the long list of elements that make up the body we are struck by the fact that all that Arjuna had thought to be Life itself is here taught to be but "this perishable body."

Ahankara is the egotistical principle in man, the tendency to identify with forms and conditions. It is the chief cause of most delusions, but at the same time it is the cause of our cyclic return to incarnation, the only condition in which we have the possibility of discovering what we truly are. Forms are constantly changing, and since change cannot judge change, this tendency to identify with these forms and conditions affects both our intellect and our judgment. It is easy to understand that to make any kind of a judgment or evaluation of that which is changing we must do it from the position that is, at least relatively, changeless. And we can as readily see that behind each position of relative stability in the world of manifestation there must be that which is even more mutable. And so on up to THAT which causes all change but participates in none. This, Krishna tells us, is our True Self, the "Perceiver who never ceases to perceive."

The body, including all that Krishna has enumerated, is a part, and perhaps the main part, of the "book of Nature" from which we are to learn. If we identify with any aspect of this instrument, with its thoughts or feelings, we have given up the position of the observer, the learner. We cannot make impartial judgments and the experience is  wasted.                                       But even when we say, "I feel so and so," or "I think so and so," don't we have in the back of our minds the sense that those feelings and thoughts will eventually change, that we are separate from them, and are somehow permanent? Do we not, in most cases, make judgments of our thoughts, feelings and perceptions, and try to make them more true? These "relative" positions from which we evaluate change are the steps up which we must eventually climb to the Self of All, the Kshetrajna, the KNOWER within. To put it another way, the WE can and must retreat within to the eternal changeless by persistently seeking the meaning in all we contact in the priceless "Book of Nature." within. 

If the body or instrument of ours is a part of that "Book of Nature," why do we have to destroy it? Why did Arjuna have to conquer the Kurus?

To answer this we will ask the obvious question. Is there not a difference between destroying something and destroying our attachment to it, destroying our identification with it? Yes, Great Nature and our nature are our text books and our research has to begin, and possibly finish, here. The root of all ignorance lies in the misconception of our essential nature. Deity, Krishna, is within.                                                                                                                                  It might be considered that the "ten centers of action" are the senses and the five powers of the mind - thought, will, feeling, memory and imagination. These powers could be thought of as the inner generators of attachments because without them the senses would have no direction. It is not difficult to see how desire, aversion, etc. are avenues through which Ahankara operates. We are prone to take the position that we are those desires, those tendencies, those thoughts and feelings and forget that WE are the Perceiver that stands behind them, uses them and, hopefully, learns from them.                                                                                                                 All that has been listed by Krishna so far is Kshetra, the body, distinct from Kshetrajna which is the soul who knows. It is not easy to "let go" of our identification with our personal mind, our feelings, our pet ideas etc., but the Gita says to gain wisdom of a spiritual kind we must rise above them."


Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on February 15, 2015 at 1:22pm

If we have a strong tendency to identify with forms and conditions, if we are habituated to this, then does it not make sense to set up countervailing practices to do the opposite.  I am not this body, I am not this mind, I am not my personal history, I am not my likes and dislikes etc.  Is this not part of the fabric of reversing this trend in consciousness?  It seems to me the more we do this the more able we become to look at our lives more honestly and without all the convenient editing we usually do.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on February 15, 2015 at 10:37pm

Many spiritual teachers have urged students to perpetually ask the question: Who am I? for the very reason you state here Grace.

Permalink Reply by Samantha Province on February 16, 2015 at 11:14am

Please forgive me for getting a little autobiographical. :)

In my own spiritual development I have found the following passage from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj to be very significant:

Discover all that you are not -- body, feelings,thoughts, time, space, this or that -- nothing, concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.

When this was first pointed out to me I became almost immediately convinced that the lack of identity with any single thought or perception I may have was not just an intellectual belief to hold on to but a reality that was immediately present. As he says, observation itself demonstrates that you are not that which you observe. This realization immediately catapulted my perception into what contemporary spiritual philosopher Ken Wilber calls the causal state, the last state of consciousness prior to nondual realization.

I found this to be absolutely terrifying. This was a hard pill to swallow after having invested myself so heavily in lower manasic identifications and desires. In the following months many more unwanted shifts in consciousness occurred, usually triggered by my spiritual reading. But after this sort of knowledge there is no turning back.

W.Q. Judge writes towards the end of his first essay on the Gita that

[i]n coming to the conclusion of this first chapter, we reach the first abyss. It is not the great abyss, albeit it may seem to us, in our experience, to be the greatest. We are now vis-a-vis our own despair, and doubt its companion. Many a student of theosophy has in our own sight reached this point — all true students do. Like a little child who first ventures from the parent's side, we are affrighted at what seems new to us, and dropping our weapons attempt to get away; but, in the pursuit of theosophy it is not possible to go back.

Because the abyss is behind us.

...We are in the great general circulation and compelled, whether we like it or not, to obey its forward impulse.

In Letters that have Helped Me, W.Q.J. writes that after the student has dispelled the notion that "he himself really does anything, knowing that the actions all take place in these three natural qualities, and not in the soul at all," he must

place all his actions on devotion. That is, sacrifice all his actions to the Supreme and not to himself. He must either (leaving out indifference) set himself up as the God to whom he sacrifices, or the other real God -- Krishna, and all his acts and aspirations are done either for himself or for the All. Here comes in the importance of motive. For if he performs great deeds of valor, or of benefit to man, or acquires knowledge so as to assist man, and is moved to that merely because he thinks he will attain salvation, he is only acting for his own benefit and is therefore sacrificing to himself. Therefore he must be devoted inwardly to the All; that is, he places all his actions on the Supreme, knowing that he is not the doer of the actions, but is the mere witness of them.

And that is where I have been at for some time, an unenlightened being struggling with whether to make my sacrifices to myself or the Supreme. But at least I have been able to make this struggle with greater knowledge and awareness.

Our lack of identity with anything subtle or coarse that we may observe is something that is accessible to rational scientific investigation and available to all immediately.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on February 16, 2015 at 3:27pm

Samantha you bring up many interesting points here.  I am reminded that in the study of mysticism you often hear about two opposing yet complimentary experiences and exercises of the mystic: via negativa and via positiva.  Put in the language of the Voice of the Silence you might say: "The Voidness of the seeming full (via negativa) and the Fullness of the seeming void (via positiva).  You get the mystic who speaks of radical oneness, nothing being real except the ONE (Zen philosophers).  And you get the mystic who speaks of the euphoric experiences of feeling at one with all creatures, with all creation (St. Francis, Walt Whitman). 

I think what this points to for me is a flow,  a process if you will where voiding leads to new affirmations and affirmations become crystalized and require voiding. 

In regards to our own identity, something so extremely hard to let go of, both processes are needed from time to time.  Wisdom comes from knowing which medicine to apply. Mr. Judge gives the advice that the golden talisman is duty.  How can we help our fellow man?  This will help us wind our way through the maze.  

We should never let go of the profundity of the Who Am I question.  Remember that for Plato the Perciever and the Perceived become one at the highest levels of knowledge.  To know is to become.

Permalink Reply by Samantha Province on February 18, 2015 at 9:43am

I'm very fond of this passage from the Gnostic Gospel of Philip:

It is not possible for anyone to see anything of the things that actually exist unless he becomes like them. This is not the way with man in the world: he sees the sun without being a sun; and he sees the heaven and the earth and all other things, but he is not these things. This is quite in keeping with the truth. But you saw something of that place, and you became those things. You saw the Spirit, you became spirit. You saw Christ, you became Christ. You saw the Father, you shall become Father. So in this place you see everything and do not see yourself, but in that place you do see yourself - and what you see you shall become.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on February 19, 2015 at 10:59pm

Please tell us Samantha why this passage means so much to you?  It is not doubt thought provoking. And what is the connection you are making to this particular chapter of the Gita?  What is the connection between seeing and knowing?

Permalink Reply by Samantha Province on February 22, 2015 at 4:38pm

Thanks for your questions Tamiko!

To truly know is to see. Gerry pointed out "that for Plato the Perciever and the Perceived become one at the highest levels of knowledge." The quote from the Gospel of Philip emphasizes this point; "what you see you shall become." At this level of prajna-viveka, there is only the one.

This is the same as what Krishna says in the chapter of the Gita we are discussing.

He who seeth the Supreme Being existing alike imperishable in all perishable things, sees indeed. Perceiving the same Lord present in everything and everywhere, he does not by the lower self destroy his own soul, but goeth to the supreme end. He who seeth that all his actions are performed by nature only, and that the self within is not the actor, sees indeed. And when he realizes perfectly that all things whatsoever in nature are comprehended in the ONE, he attains to the Supreme Spirit.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on February 21, 2015 at 1:39pm

Hi Samantha:

Discover all that you are not -- body, feelings, thoughts, time, space, this or that -- nothing, concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive .”

The term “catapulted” is a great choice of word.  There are times when we become so attune to the truth behind an idea, that it has the power to catapult us into another state of consciousness, not unlike an electric current going through our being.  This is the difference between appreciating a concept on the mental level from “realizing” the reality behind the words.  These glimpses of truth, like fireflies lighting in the dark, help us to strengthen viveka, our spiritual discrimination.  The power of the above quote, I can imagine when read in a particular state, can shake us to the core because it tears down the illusory building blocks that make up our so-called “reality.” 

Thank you very much for your sharing. 

Permalink Reply by Samantha Province on February 22, 2015 at 5:03pm

Thanks Barbara! I'm so glad you appreciated it!

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on March 6, 2015 at 9:07pm

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on February 15, 2015 at 1:22pm

If we have a strong tendency to identify with forms and conditions, if we are habituated to this, then does it not make sense to set up countervailing practices to do the opposite.  I am not this body, I am not this mind, I am not my personal history, I am not my likes and dislikes etc.  Is this not part of the fabric of reversing this trend in consciousness?  It seems to me the more we do this the more able we become to look at our lives more honestly and without all the convenient editing we usually do.


That is precisely what the Teachers ask us to do--to constantly think and think that "we" are not the body, the mind, the emotions, the ideas, concepts, beliefs.

"The Spirit in the body is called  Mahaeswara, the Great Lord, the Spectator, Admonisher, the Sustainer, the Enjoyer, the highest Soul, Paramatma."

One Self in All and all in One Self; Self of one is Self of All  Universal Brotherhood.

Mr. Judge says : Realization comes from dwelling upon the thing too be realized."

It must become a life-time meditation : during the day, before falling asleep, upon waking, and, at the time of death, that should be last thought.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on March 16, 2015 at 10:22pm

This also points to the importance of the concept of the Void in Buddhist teaching. The natural process of Nitya Pralaya (Ceaseless Dissolution) also becomes the discipline of the student who seeks to void separateness.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on March 6, 2015 at 8:17am

10 centres of action seem to be :

Hands, feet, organs of evacuation, speech, and reproduction = the 5 organs of action ; karmendriyas.


Touch (skin), taste (tongue), smell (nose), hearing (ears) and sight (eyes) : 5 organs of sense : Jnanendriyas.

Mind is mentioned separately, as Mind is the 11th sense, the Master sense " the "Raja of the senses" = chitta, chetas, the Lower Mind, the thinking principle.

Ahankara is Spiritual Ego, as it a ray of Mahat, and Mahat is Buddhi itself.

"The unmanifest, invisible spirit" - English rendering of Sanskrit Avyakta. 

Avyakta is undifferentiated precosmic Root Substance, called in Sankhya philosophy, and even in Vedanta, as Pradhana,, a correlation of Mulaprakriti, the basis of objective aspect of the manifested universe.

Cohesive power which holds all these together is the longevity of the body, which is the direct effect of the Karma of the embodied Soul. 

It is Desire, insatiable thirst for sensational life in the earthly tabernacle which we so love, brings all these principles together with a certain longevity for the Kshetrajna - Knower - to experience life.It is Desire which generates our bodies in endless reincarnations.

Desire, aversion; pleasure and pain; and host of pairs of opposites, are the great duality of Nature, or life, without which there would be no existence, as manifested universe is pervaded by duality.

This body is to be destroyed, or rather, the cause which procreates the Kshetra (body) birth after birth, is to be destroyed to escape involuntary rebirths. In other words, Avidya - Ignorance is to be destroyed with the sword of Janana, spiritual Discrimination.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 11, 2015 at 4:59pm

Next Paragraph from Judge Rendition

“True wisdom of a spiritual kind is freedom from self-esteem, hypocrisy, and injury to others; it is patience, sincerity, respect for spiritual instructors, purity, firmness, self-restraint, dispassion for objects of sense, freedom from pride, and a meditation upon birth, death, decay, sickness, and error; it is an exemption from self-identifying attachment for children, wife, and household, and a constant unwavering steadiness of heart upon the arrival of every event whether favorable or unfavorable; it is a never-ceasing love for me alone, the self being effaced, and worship paid in a solitary spot, and a want of pleasure in congregations of men; it is a resolute continuance in the study of Adhyatma, the Superior spirit, and a meditation upon the end of the acquirement of a knowledge of truth; — this is called wisdom or spiritual knowledge; its opposite is ignorance.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 11, 2015 at 5:01pm

From the Johnston Rendition

Humility, sincerity, harmlessness, patience, uprightness, reverence for the Teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-control,

Freedom from sensuous longings, selflessness, perception of the defects of birth and death and age and sickness and pain,

Detachment, freedom from absorption in sons and wife and household, perpetual balance of mind, whether the wished or the unwished befall, Undivided and faithful love of Me, a dwelling in the solitary place, shunning the multitude, (10)

Steadfast perception of the Oversoul, an understanding of the goal of true wisdom,—this is declared to be wisdom, and whatever is other than this is unwisdom.

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on February 13, 2015 at 7:32am


These first qualities do not seem so far off. Many people we know are free from self-esteem. hypocrisy and injury to others. The qualities get a little more difficult as we go on. Respect for spiritual instructors is foreign to the Western mind because we have not had the knowledge of nor the rational behind the existence of Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas as part of our educational heritage. Self-restraint and dispassion for objects of sense are difficult for us because of having been raised in an atmosphere of both scientific and religious materialism.

But why are we directed to meditate upon birth, death, decay, sickness, and error?

The answer to this is probably evident to most students who are familiar with the doctrines of the Universal Law of Cycles and that of Reincarnation. Everything that is born in time will end in time. As Krishna says in Chapter 11, "...not one of all these warriors here drawn up in a serried ranks shall live.... They have been slain by me." All forms and conditions come into being, have their life according to their need, and come to an end; and if we identify with these we not only fail to learn the lessons that they set out, but we experience the pain and disappointment at their death. Krishna is saying that if we spend some time thinking along these lines it will be easier for us to develop the quality of dispassion for objects of sense, and to center our attention on the life and meaning within.

It is the attachment that causes the trouble. Yes we have to do our duty towards the family, and toward the nation. These are steps in the growth of responsibility that must eventually reach to that of the whole of humanity. It is the "self-identifying attachment" that clouds our position of observer and perceiver from which we can make right judgments and learn the resident lessons. The teaching is that once we have done our whole duty to the family, then we are karmically free to devote ourselves completely to study, contemplation, or work for humanity. Not until.             In the rest of the paragraph Krishna is saying that there is a higher duty, the duty to the Higher Self within, to the Self of All. He is giving the same message - be concerned with your every thought and act that they be the best you can do, but be not concerned with the results; the Law will take care of them. Center your heart in the unchanging Perceiver, the one Consciousness.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on February 13, 2015 at 10:24am

Margreet thank you for this.  Might you say more about how you see the relationship between the higher duty spoken of at the end of your quotation, and our ordinary duties to those people immediately around us?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on February 15, 2015 at 6:08pm

Interesting question.  I would think the more we understand our Higher Self by performing our higher duties, the more we are able to see our ordinary duties with the right perspective.  Based on this understanding, we invariably perform our ordinary duties with dispassion and detachment.  The deeper meaning we gain, the more our relationship with others and even toward our own selves change.  It is only by adopting a spiritual orientation are we able to see our mundane existence in the proper light.     

Conversely, the more we perform our ordinary duties to our best ability, the more we loosen the shackles of our past actions, giving us more freedom to focus on our higher duties.  There is a dynamic relationship between the lower and higher;  The higher gives meaning and direction so we know the right thing to do.  The lower provides opportunities for us to “live out” the deeper truths.  

As our consciousness becomes more established in Reality, we begin to see the lower as an expression of the One Life, and the boundary between the higher and lower become more faint.

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on February 16, 2015 at 10:29am

What stands out most for me is the importants of a true understanding and application of Universal Brotherhood, we all are a ray of the divine essence which is at the root of Unity and unless there is a reasonable awareness of this there is no true reform possible.  All of us start each new incarnation with a different set of tendencies that need transformation and find ourselves with the family, friends, country etc. where this soul experience is necessary and since this is the same for all of us, each station should be respected. We all have a tremendous task to fulfill and with concentrated attention, if possible every moment of the day (some might call it mediation), we need to gain and share knowledge, be charitable, patient, non judgmental, becoming indifferent to pain and pleasure and above all be compassionate for in this we truly feel the sense of unity.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on March 5, 2015 at 11:34pm

Thank you for the inspiring words.  You make us want to live our lives better.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on March 6, 2015 at 8:44am

Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on February 13, 2015 at 7:32am

Margreet, you said :

" Respect for spiritual instructors is foreign to the Western mind because we have not had the knowledge of nor the rational behind the existence of Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas as part of our educational heritage. "

Not that the West did not have this quality. West only lost it after the fall of Mysteries and with the advent of ecclesiastical Christianity. Plato's dialogues, works of Neoplatonist Sages, such as, Iamblichus, Porphyry, Proclus etc are full of highest devotion and supreme knowledge. In the Greecian Mysteries the true relationship between the Teacher and the disciple prevailed as well as in the East. Gnostics and Nazarenes ascetics flourished in the Dead Sea area.

Theosophical Movement of 19th-21st century is a prelude to the revival of Western Occultism. Teachers have emphatically said so.

Let us also not forget that it was in American Theosophists that HPB found loyalty and unflinching devotion, whereas Indian Theosophists, who ought to have known better, betrayed her ! 

It is in the West that Theosophy is most actively propagated even today.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on March 16, 2015 at 10:18pm

And it is important to remember that East and West are mere conventions of speech.  What is Japan?  Are we East East?  You know what I mean.  The Mysteries have been part of humanity from time immemorial.  They were systematically attacked in Europe but preserved elsewhere.  Ultimately there is no East or West.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 26, 2015 at 9:03pm

Next Judge Rendition Paragraph

“I will now tell thee what is the object of wisdom, from knowing which a man enjoys immortality; it is that which has no beginning, even the supreme Brahman, and of which it cannot be said that it is either Being or Non-Being. It has hands and feet in all directions; eyes, heads, mouths, and ears in every direction; it is immanent in the world, possessing the vast whole. Itself without organs, it is reflected by all the senses and faculties; unattached, yet supporting all; without qualities, yet the witness of them all. It is within and without all creatures animate and inanimate; it is inconceivable because of its subtlety, and although near it is afar off. Although undivided it appeareth as divided among creatures, and while it sustains existing things, it is also to be known as their destroyer and creator. It is the light of all lights, and is declared to be beyond all darkness; and it is wisdom itself, the object of wisdom, and that which is to be obtained by wisdom; in the hearts of all it ever presideth. Thus hath been briefly declared what is the perishable body, and wisdom itself, together with the object of wisdom; he, my devotee, who thus in truth conceiveth me, obtaineth my state.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 26, 2015 at 9:05pm

Next Section Johnston

What is to be known I shall declare to thee, knowing which thou shalt gain immortality: the beginningless Supreme Eternal, which is neither being nor non-being,

With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes and head and face everywhere, possessed of hearing everywhere in the world, That stands, enveloping all things,

Illuminated by the power that dwells in all the senses, yet free from all sense-powers, detached, all-supporting, not divided into powers, yet enjoying all powers,

Without and within all beings, motionless, yet moving, not to be perceived is That, because of its subtlety, That stands afar, yet close at hand, (15)

Undivided among beings, though standing as if divided, and as the supporter of beings is That to be known, whither they go, and whence they come,

Light of lights also is That called, beyond the darkness, It is wisdom, It is the aim of wisdom, to be gained by wisdom, in the heart of each It is set firm.

Thus the field and wisdom and what is to be known are briefly set forth; My beloved, understanding this, enters into My being.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 27, 2015 at 11:23pm

Next Paragraph in Judge rendition

“Know that prakriti or nature, and purusha the spirit, are without beginning. And know that the passions and the three qualities are sprung from nature. Nature or prakriti is said to be that which operates in producing cause and effect in actions 1; individual spirit or purusha is said to be the cause of experiencing pain and pleasure. 2 For spirit when invested with matter or prakriti experienceth the qualities which proceed from prakriti; its connection with these qualities is the cause of its rebirth in good and evil wombs. 3 The spirit in the body is called Mahesvara, the Great Lord, the spectator, the admonisher, the sustainer, the enjoyer, and also the Paramatma, the highest soul. He who thus knoweth the spirit and nature, together with the qualities, whatever mode of life he may lead, is not born again on this earth.

“Some men by meditation, using contemplation upon the Self, behold the spirit within, others attain to that end by philosophical study with its realization, and others by means of the religion of works. Others, again, who are not acquainted with it in this manner, but have heard it from others, cleave unto and respect it; and even these, if assiduous only upon tradition and attentive to hearing the scriptures, pass beyond the gulf of death. 4

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on March 2, 2015 at 7:20am


"...the object of wisdom is not any of the forms, instruments or faculties, but is the CAUSE of all of them. It is that which makes all of Being and Non-Being possible. To bring it a little closer to our comprehension, it is THAT which can make possible the Majesty of Great Nature, the wondrous nature of the Great Teachers who periodically come to help, and the beauty of the Divine Laws that lead to the magnificence of the human potential in each of us. Without this divine plan, or IDEA as Plato called it, Life as we know it would be possible.

Can we use this wisdom? The philosophy teaches that if we, in all we do and see, look for the cause, look for the overall meaning, we will begin to contact this higher wisdom and approach the goal of a universal perspective, true clairvoyance. When we recognize that there is Law at work in all Life and try to see its working in what we meet, we move our consciousness to the plane of Law and enjoy the panoramic view that is its characteristic.

It has been suggested that we must take the "overall" view, the view of the Universal Soul of which we are an extension. And to do this we must ask ourselves such questions as, "What are the effects of this thought or action going to be on the community, the race or on humanity?" and "What are the effects going to be in the future?" These will begin to move our attention and our center of consciousness to the plane of meaning, the plane of Ego, the plane of Egoic sight. Meaning arises out of a universal and eternal perspective.

As stated in the earlier chapters, Arjuna's spiritual progress is measured by, determined by, the correctness of his perception of his Teacher. Here he is told that this Being is "wisdom itself, the object of wisdom, and that which is to be obtained by wisdom," a difficult concept to take in, but one that must be held in the mind as a rule against which all other concepts are measured. He has gone through many stages and in this chapter has been told of the very highest, the indescribable, the unknowable, that is the REAL in every being and in every form. He has been told that he must seek this "real" in every form and in every act and devote himself to that changeless ONE.

Permalink Reply by Sunil Goel on March 3, 2015 at 12:26pm
By the way, I think that nature/Prakriti has a beginning. I say so as this nature has an end on realization when no more karmas are added to the intellectual sheath. Something which has an end has to have a beginning. Maybe we call it beginningless since we can't point out when it began. The fact may be that the lord first manifested in the nature at some point. Thereafter, because of the karma theory, the Jiva (ie., the subtle body or more precisely the intellect part in the subtle body known as intellectual sheath) came and went again and again in a cycle and is still continuing and always will........till it is freed of all doer ship and attendant karma phalas and remaining actionless, departs this body.

This is my understanding pls.
Permalink Reply by Samantha Province on March 3, 2015 at 8:24pm

Greetings Sunil.

In the esoteric understanding prakriti remains eternally even after realization. Purusa can not manifest without prakriti and is in reality one with it (see Mahatma Letter #10 as well as the article "What is Matter and What is Force"). Further, creation with a beginning and an end is the mark of a mortal human craftsman. "Isvara" is eternal and the "creation" of this Isvara mimics its "creator" by being temporally eternal.

Hope this is somewhat helpful!

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on March 4, 2015 at 8:07am

Hi Sunil,

Maybe we can compare prakriti with a picture screen where all the images play itself out but when the movie is done only the screen remains, hope that this is helpful.

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on March 4, 2015 at 8:26am

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 43, No. 11, September, 1955 
(Pages 500-506; Size: 20K)


Yet Prakriti is ever called Maya, illusion, and is doomed to disappear with the rest, the gods included, at the hour of the Pralaya. The esoteric doctrine teaches that while Mulaprakriti, the noumenon, is self-existing and without any origin -- is, in short, parentless (Anupadaka) -- Prakriti, its phenomenon, is periodical and no better than a phantasm of the former. Thus the assertion: "There is a difference between manifested and unmanifested matter, between Pradhana, the beginningless and endless cause, and Prakriti, or the manifested effect." Pradhana is the noumenon of the seven-fold differentiated Prakriti. But in their origin Spirit and Matter, or Purusha and Prakriti, are but two primeval aspects of the One and Secondless.

Permalink Reply by Sunil Goel on March 4, 2015 at 11:47am
Thank you Margreet. I tend to understand and agree with your explanation. Otherwise Prakriti and Brahman will be two separate entities......then the question will remain how did Prakriti come about, which is nothing but a desire of Brahman to be manifested. And this manifestation goes back into unmanifest state at the time of cosmic dissolution. But the subtle body, in the form of intellect continues and manifests and unmanifests till that intellect has become one with Brahman, which is called videhamukti.
Permalink Reply by Sunil Goel on March 4, 2015 at 11:50am
As for the movie screen example, the blank screen would be, in my opinion, more comparable to Brahman which is the substratum and not the Prakriti.
Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on March 4, 2015 at 12:09pm

Yes,I agree, thank you 

Permalink Reply by Samantha Province on March 4, 2015 at 12:58pm

Actually in the esoteric understanding mulaprakriti, which is matter in its undifferentiated state, is identical to parabrahman. The Mahatma KH writes, "we believe in matter alone, in matter as visible nature and matter in its invisibility as the invisible omnipresent omnipotent Proteus with its unceasing motion which is its life, and which nature draws from herself since she is the great whole outside of which nothing can exist" and “the One reality is Mulaprakriti (undifferentiated Substance)—the 'Rootless root.'” If there is any primacy prakriti is more fundamental than purusha because without prakriti purusha is only an abstraction

Permalink Reply by Sunil Goel on March 5, 2015 at 4:42am
Dear Samantha, Geetings!
You have a very valid point but in the end it all boils down to the same thing. Ultimately there is just one reality, you may call it moolaprakriti or Brahman. Except that logically speaking, matter may not be able to become a spirit. But spirit, in the name of Brahman, is all powerful and can have the power to project a world of names and forms and hide this fact from the Jiva, till the time the Jiva starts enquiring into "who am I?"
Permalink Reply by Samantha Province on March 5, 2015 at 9:38am

Greetings again Sunil!

I misstated the problem in my previous post. While prakriti without purusha, its energy, would be inert and thus anabstraction, purusha without prakriti would be a merenothing. A motion without something to move isn't anything. And if we say that matter can not become spirit, where then did matter come from? If we assume for the sake of argument that it is spirit that generates matter, then we must also grant that matter is not fundamentally different from spirit since spirit can not generate something absolutely different than itself. Thus matter and spirit are not ultimately different and matter may become spirit. Further spirit is not a conscious principle in and of itself and is only conscious in relation to matter. Mahatma KH writes, "we yet hold that a purely immaterial spirit cannot be an intelligent conscious ruler nor can he have any of the attributes bestowed upon him by theology and thus such a God [is] but a blind force. Intelligence as found in our Dyan Chohans, is a faculty that can appertain but to organized or animated being — however imponderable or rather invisible the materials of their organizations. Intelligence requires the necessity of thinking; to think one must have ideas; ideas suppose senses which are physical material, and how can anything material belong to pure spirit? If it be objected that thought cannot be a property of matter, we will ask the reason why? We must have an unanswerable proof of this assumption, before we can accept it. Of the theologian we would enquire what was there to prevent his God, since he is the alleged creator of all — to endow matter with the faculty of thought; and when answered that evidently it has not pleased Him to do so, that it is a mystery as well as an impossibility, we would insist upon being told why it is more impossible that matter should produce spirit and thought, than spirit or the thought of God should produce and create matter."

I hope I don't seem too contentious; while the one reality may be called either mulaprakriti or Brahman, it is still important that we grasp better what the constitution of this one thing is so that we may divest our minds of all things that do not have truth as their basis.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Sunil Goel on March 5, 2015 at 12:52pm
Greetings Samantha. It depends upon how you define abstract. Even space is abstract but we know it exists. If there is an effect, there has to be a cause. All incorporeal entities are not tangible. Moolaprakriti is an effect. It is undifferentiated matter in the form of energy. Remember E=Mc2? So Prakriti is nothing but Parabrahman. Brahman is the efficient and the material cause of Prakriti. There is no beginning for Parabrahman but Prakriti has a beginning in every cycle and resolves into Parabrahman at the end of that cycle. It comes back up again because of the latent tendencies of unrealized jivas that it has "carried" and creation or Prakriti takes place so that these tendencies/karmas can fructify. Abstract is a very confusing word.......usually it means something which cannot be perceived by the five senses. In that way, of course, Brahman is abstract as it is not perceivable. But that doesn't make it non existent....if there is smoke, there has to be fire. A mere nothing becomes everything in that that it is because of that nothing that everything else exists. The nothing is the Parabrahman. The Parabrahman's nature is consciousness and its power is Maya (covering and projecting). This projection which is an extension of Prakriti is very real but doesn't exist in all periods of is temporary. And something which is temporary cannot be the knowledgeable creator of this cosmos. There is no concept of time and space before the manifestation of Prakriti. Brahman alone was. Brahman was there before the Big Bang. It is because of the Big Bang that time and space were created. It is this intelligence, the Brahman, that enlivens our intellect which then enlivens our sense organs. Our intellect and senses by themselves are inert. This intelligence may be blind to our senses of perception, but it is THE cause because of which animation or sentiency comes in other beings. The mind, intellect, senses and body all come out of Prakriti.....the thinking part comes into the mind as the mind and intellect are the purest forms of the assembly and it is in the mind that the consciousness enlivens the mind first. When the sunrays fall upon water, the water warms up.......similarly because of the purity of the mind and its proximity to consciousness, that is where consciousness rests and becomes a part of 'I'. Thereafter it is the mind which organizes, plans and starts developing likes and dislikes. So Brahman does endow the mind-intellect the faculty of thought. The thoughts arise because of previous karmas/tendencies left over in the mind (which is permanent till realization) and because of which this samsara cycle keeps on running. It is a very difficult concept but abstract reasoning is required and the grace of the Lord is required.
Permalink Reply by Samantha Province on March 5, 2015 at 1:27pm

Hi again Sunil!

Mulaprakriti is no more an effect than Parabrahman, with which it is identical. However if we are to divide prakriti and purusha in a relative manner we will find that prakriti is more ontologically primary than purusha because we can abstract purusha away from prakriti and conceptualize it as merely inert. However, were we to abstract purusha from prakriti we wouldn't have inert purusha but merely nothing. Because purusha is ultimately identical to energy it needs a substance to energize. I hope this has been more clarifying.

Theosophy denies that mulaprakriti is differentiated, thus it is not temporary. Theosophy also denies that Parabrahman is a "knowledgeable creator of the cosmos." Parabrahman as such is unconscious and can only be called a creator in a metaphorical sense.

I believe the following will be very helpful in setting forth the Theosophical understanding:

These articles by David Pratt have also been very helpful to me in grasping Theosophical teachings:

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on March 5, 2015 at 11:52pm

In Theosophical metaphysics we cannot ultimately divide Spirit and Matter.  Matter is crystalized Spirit, Spirit sublimated Matter.  I believe this is one way to state the teaching. It is the foundation behind the principle of Radical Unity so crucial to the whole framework of the Philosophy.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on March 6, 2015 at 12:55am

Last Section from Judge:

“Know, O chief of the Bharatas, that whenever anything, whether animate or inanimate, is produced, it is due to the union of the Kshetra and Kshetrajna — body and the soul. He who seeth the Supreme Being existing alike imperishable in all perishable things, sees indeed. Perceiving the same Lord present in everything and everywhere, he does not by the lower self destroy his own soul, but goeth to the supreme end. He who seeth that all his actions are performed by nature only, and that the self within is not the actor, sees indeed. And when he realizes perfectly that all things whatsoever in nature are comprehended in the ONE, he attains to the Supreme Spirit. This Supreme Spirit, O son of Kunti, even when it is in the body, neither acteth nor is it affected by action, because, being without beginning and devoid of attributes, it is changeless. As the all-moving Akasa by reason of its subtlety passeth everywhere unaffected, so the Spirit, though present in every kind of body, is not attached to action nor affected. As a single sun illuminateth the whole world, even so doth the One Spirit illumine every body, O son of Bharata. Those who with the eye of wisdom thus perceive what is the difference between the body and Spirit and the destruction of the illusion of objects 5, go to the Supreme.”

Thus in the Upanishads, called the holy Bhagavad-Gita, in the science of the Supreme Spirit, in the book of devotion, in the colloquy between the Holy Krishna and Arj una, stands the Thirteenth Chapter, by name —


Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on March 7, 2015 at 5:01pm

Last Section Johnston rendition

Know that both Nature and Spirit are beginningless; and know that changes and powers are Nature-born.

Nature is declared to be the source of cause, causing and effect; Spirit is declared to be the cause, in the tasting of pleasures and pains. (20)

For Spirit, resting in Nature, tastes of the Nature-born powers; attachment to these powers is the cause of the Spirit’s births, from good or evil wombs.

The Supreme Spirit, here in the body, is called the Beholder, the Thinker, the Upholder, the Taster, the Lord, the Highest Self.

Who thus knows Spirit, and Nature with her powers, whatever may be his walk here, such a one enters not into rebirth.

Through meditation, some perceive the Self within, through the self; others through the Yoga of thought, and others through the Yoga of works.

Others not thus knowing, worship, hearing from others; and they also cross over death, intent on the truth they have heard. (25)

Whatever being is born, whether stationary or moving, know, O bull of the Bharatas, that it comes from the union between the field and the knower of the field.

He who beholds the Supreme Lord dwelling ever the same in all beings, not perishing when they perish, he indeed beholds.

For beholding everywhere the Lord who dwells in all things, he of himself injures not himself, and thus goes the higher way.

But he who perceives that works are altogether worked by Nature, and that the Self engages not in works, he indeed perceives.

When he perceives the manifold nature of beings resting in One, and their diversity also springing from That, then he enters the Eternal. (30)

As beginningless, and not divided according to the powers, this Supreme Self, unchanging, even though dwelling in the body, O son of Kunti, neither works nor is stained.

As from its fineness the all-pervading ether is not stained, so the Self, though everywhere embodied, is not stained.

As the one sun illumines all this world, so, O descendant of Bharata, the knower of the field lights up the whole field.

They who, with the eye of wisdom, perceive the distinction between the field and the knower of the field, and the liberation of being from Nature, go to the Supreme.

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on March 9, 2015 at 8:22am


"In the footnote on page 123 of S.D.11, it states, "The highest sees through the eyes of the lowest" in the manifested world; Purusha (Spirit) remains blind without the help of Prakriti (Matter) in the material spheres; and so does Atma-Buddhi without Manas." Krishna's next statement are analogous in that they show that in manifestation body without soul or soul without body cannot produce or progress. The reincarnating Ego can not learn the necessary lessons except in a vehicle of the material of this plane. We don't progress while the body is asleep nor when we are out of one during the after death states. It is here we have to realize our true nature.

How do we see the Supreme Being? What do we look for?                                                   Going back to former chapters, is it the Law at work in these forms that does not change? Is that the meaning that we are to look for? Is that as close as we can get at our stage to perceiving the Supreme Being?                                                                                                                 The Philosophy tells us to let our minds go even further, to the cause of Law, to the cause of Spirit - if we can. There is THAT which is changeless but causes all change, all growth, all aspiration and divine justice.

Then who are we? Are we Spirit? Are we the Spirit in the body? Are we Soul? We know we are not the body, but which are we?                                                                                                The answer is that because we are all these we are the most wondrous and awe-inspiring beings that can be conceived by the imagination. And being all of these, and having free will, we are any one or combination of these that we think we are. We are an eternal consciousness that can attach itself to the world of matter, or we can rise to the higher parts of our nature and see through our spiritual eyes. We decide who we are by taking the position, by acting for and as the one we want to be. That is why Krishna keeps telling Arjuna how important it is that he try to understand the nature of the Highest within him, the Krishna.

The idea of reflection can be of help in forming some concept of what Krishna is, trying to understand. We can think of all forms, the leaf, the bee or the grain of sand, and even conditions or relationships, as partial reflections of the potentialities within the Supreme Spirit. Prakriti, or Nature, is the mirror on which these reflections take place, constantly coming and going but at all times rooted in the Changeless. The Supreme Spirit does not act in this nor is it affected by these reflections.

Krishna has given us another aid by using the metaphor of the sun. The sun causes everything to happen, to grow and to die, yet it remains unaffected. One can also think of all forms in Nature as embodied sunlight as in the leaf; and that our bodies, although more complex, are the same. The ancients said that there is a Spiritual Sun behind the visible one, that it is beyond our knowledge yet the object of wisdom, and that mediation upon this fact, and the fact that IT is within us, will bring us closer to that illumination of which Krishna speaks."

When in living our life we search for the cause of things we learn to free ourselves from this great illusion produced by nature and become illuminated, this process takes lifetimes but with devotion and constant effort we can reach the goal.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on March 9, 2015 at 10:15pm

We thus can dimly visualize that "we" are changeless Perceiver, Knower, Kshetrajna, the knower of Kshetra. As the Perceiver is Changeless, and that which is changeless cannot but be eternal and immortal, and there cannot be two eternals or two immortals but One, therefore there is but One Self or One Consciousness, manifesting in various vehicles of differentiated Prakriti as many degrees of progressive intelligences -- all striving to realize their true Being to be but ONE.

Universal Brotherhood comes out strongly in these reflections.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on March 18, 2015 at 1:07pm

Margreet it is always wonderful if you can add your own thoughts to the quotations you post.  Give us both.

Permalink Reply by Sunil Goel on March 10, 2015 at 2:33pm
Anything other than one Brahman is dependent upon Brahman, with Brahman being the substratum for all manifestation (pls note that there is no creation). Whatever we can perceive or infer or judge is., all things internal to the body and outside are dependent upon that one Reality, Brahman. And that Brahman is me. I can experience my awareness of objects and emotions. But the one reality on the back of which all these physical and mental experiences are riding on is Brahmans consciousness. I know I exist. I know I am....I know I am writing, etc. To whom are all these thoughts is the intellect sentient, etc. it requires a lot of contemplation, removal of doubts and internalizing the spiritual study so that it becomes a part of our personality....just as we know who am I upon waking up. It should become not second nature but first nature.
Permalink Reply by Peter on March 11, 2015 at 7:24am

Can there be something, any thing, which is other than Brahman?

Permalink Reply by Sunil Goel on March 11, 2015 at 10:47am
Greetings Peter
You are right of course. Technically. Whatever is other than Brahman is, as if. The Prakrit has been manifested out of Brahman, but from the point of view of worldly human beings, till the time they do not realize this fact, the world is very real to them. So we can say that the Prakriti and its offshoots are seemingly true. It is this Prakriti and its further bodies that have to be negated by a student of philosophy. The Prakriti is as true and existing as there are dream objects and people in a dream. Upon waking up, all dream objects are sublated/transcended. The definition of Truth or Real is that which exists in all periods of time and in fact which exists before and after the time principle also. That consciousness is the permanent truth which is never negatable. This is my understanding Sir. But would love to hear the views of learned philosophers.
Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on March 11, 2015 at 10:33pm

There is a very beautiful passage from an ancient Hermetic treatise quoted in the S.D. i. p. 287. It seems relevant to the ongoing discussion :

"Reality is not upon the earth, my son, and it cannot be thereon. ... Nothing on earth is real, there are only appearances ... He (man) is not real, my son, as man. The real consists solely in itself and remains what it is ... Man is transient, therefore he is not real, he is but appearance, and appearance is supreme illusion.

Tatios : Then the celestial bodies themselves are not real, my father, since they also vary ?

Trismegistos : That which is subject to birth and to change is not real. ... There is in them a certain falsity, seeing that they too are variable. .....

Tatios : And what then is the primordial Reality ?

Trism. : That which is One and alone, O Tatios ; That which is not made of matter, not in any body. Which has neither colour nor form, which changes not nor is transmitted but which always is."

This is quite consistent with Vedantic teaching. Many of the Hermetic Fragments belong to the Secret Doctrine. 

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Peter on March 17, 2015 at 11:21am

Greetings to you too, Sunil - that's a very nice response.  I imagine that each tradition or system of thought has to find its own way to explain how it is that if everything is One (or non-dual) how, then, do we account for the diversity we find all around us in the world?  All the conceptual frameworks no doubt fall short of the ultimate truth, yet each (hopefully) point the individual to something beyond the domain of relative truths, at least well enough to inspire us to travel the path of spiritual inquiry.

I wonder - do we negate prakriti and the world of forms or is it our ignorance that requires negating?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on March 18, 2015 at 1:25pm

Sunil and Peter;

Does this line of thought lead to the question: How do we live in a world of illusion (relativity/ levels of prakriti or matter) but not get caught up in it? Is there a danger in leaping to the notion of everything being unreal and overlooking the wisdom that needs to be acquired for living harmoniously with the seemingly endless evolutionary scheme?

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on March 18, 2015 at 10:23pm

Gerry, that is a very important point you have made. Can we just supinely sit back and say all is illusion and become indifferent to life and duties ? By saying Brahman is the only reality, all else illusions, does realization of the truth dawn on us ? We are studying Bhagavadgita. Does not Krishna teach that the royal road to perfection is through right performance of duties with heart joined to renunciation ?

Even Krishna Himself, though a perfect Being, is indefatigable in action.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on March 20, 2015 at 9:12am

"Can we just supinely sit back and say all is illusion and become indifferent to life and duties?"

It strikes me that this is the mistake several ancient cultures fell into, including the Indian. Take the wandering sadhus as a fine example: when they take the idea of illusion to an extreme, thus ignoring all responsibility in life, they fall into the "path of err", as one of the Mahatma's called it.

"Illusion" is, in my opinion, not a good translation for Maya, and it leads to all kinds of misconceptions. The term Maya has much more depth of meaning to it than the English term Illusion. And Avidya has a much deeper meaning than that of simple Ignorance, I think. With Maya and Avidya, we're dealing with fundamental processes of world-building, are we not? We're dealing with innate powers that are used in order to build/establish/experience all the complexity of the manifested world.

So, to my mind, one cannot simply remove prakriti anymore than one can remove purusha, since the two are one, and, according to the SD, the two are but graduated values along the same line (spirit and matter being but two relative "poles" of the same one spirit-substance, which in itself is inseparable from reality, in my understanding). To rise above the ignorance of imagining ourselves to be separate beings, we do not rid ourselves of prakriti, for the very nature of understanding (buddhi), which is used to facilitate that realization, is composed of prakriti. I suppose we merely rid ourselves of false-notions and false-perceptions of what it is in itself (i.e. we go from being caught up in the phenomena to perceiving the noumena behind it).

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on March 21, 2015 at 3:15pm

Responding to what you say here one might say Man is the bridge between Heaven and Earth.

Permalink Reply by Peter on March 20, 2015 at 11:43am

Gerry asks: Does this line of thought lead to the question: How do we live in a world of illusion (relativity/ levels of prakriti or matter) but not get caught up in it? Is there a danger in leaping to the notion of everything being unreal and overlooking the wisdom that needs to be acquired for living harmoniously with the seemingly endless evolutionary scheme?——————————————————————

Gerry, perhaps another way to look at it is that we only begin to develop ‘the wisdom that needs to be acquired for living harmoniously’ when we start to question and doubt whether the world really exists in the way that it appears.  

The Buddha taught that ignorance is the first link in the 12 Nidannas, those links in the chain that keep all beings bound to the wheel of illusion and suffering.  Those who would escape from suffering need to learn to distinguish the real from the unreal, to stop grasping after that which is temporary and which has no existence in its own right.

The very first instruction that Krishna gives to Arjuna is to point out to him that he mistakes the unreal for the real.  Arjuna has mistaken the reality not only of his own true nature but those of everyone around him on the field of conflict.  It is only after Arjuna learns about the true nature of the Self that he is then in a position to learn how to act in the world.

Plato’s allegory of The Cave is another example of needing to question the reality of the world around us before arriving at the truth. 

Of course, it requires persistent study, reflection and contemplation to explore and develop a firm understanding of what it  means for the world of appearances to be unreal or illusory, and we would probably need to explore what that terms ‘unreal’ and ‘illusiory’ actual mean in relation to our experience and the spiritual discipline we each may follow.

Every branch of human endeavour has its excesses, so it would be surprising if the search for the ultimate truth did not have its share.  But I would say, that on balance the greatest danger to living harmoniously with others comes from not questioning the reality of the world of appearacne in which we live out our lives. 

Just my two cents worth.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on March 21, 2015 at 1:19am

"Every branch of human endeavour has its excesses, so it would be surprising if the search for the ultimate truth did not have its share.  But I would say, that on balance the greatest danger to living harmoniously with others comes from not questioning the reality of the world of appearacne in which we live out our lives."

It is precisely excesses in carrying out the idea of reality of Brahman and unreality of Jagat, on the part of later Adwaitees which resulted in the advent of a counter-revolutionary sect of Dwaita Vedanta in India. The latter staunchly hold to the dogma that Jagat  is real, that soul is different from not only universal soul but souls differ from each other, and that soul can never under any circumstance become one with the Universal Soul. Their theological tenets fly in the face of the Srutis, and have millions of followers.

Masters say that extreme of anything will recoil on itself and produce its opposite. Ecclesiastical excesses  in the west gave rise to materialism of science.

Permalink Reply by Peter on March 21, 2015 at 7:37am

Hi Ramprakash,

I'm not familiar with the specifics of historical development in India.  It seems to me that there will always be distortions arising with regards to any spiritual doctrine, whether it be the doctrines of Advaita, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam & so on, including Theosophy.  I guess our job as students is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.  In other words, just because a doctrine becomes distorted through the years doesn't mean we should minimise its importance, decry its value or see it as a danger to assert.

Theosophy itself asserts there is an Underlying Reality and that the whole universe of forms is an illusion.  That's something to really ponder on and take to heart, I would think.  But, as we have both pointed out, that doesn't mean we just abandon the world or our responsibilities in it.  For those members less familiar with Theosophy, I've put a few salient passages below, from HPB. I'm sure you are already familiar with these:

"…everything is illusion (Maya) outside of eternal truth, which has neither form, colour, nor limitation."  (Key to Theosophy 148)

'…outside the ONE Reality, nothing is better than a passing illusion — the whole Universe included.'  (Key to Theosophy, p178)

"The Universe is called, with everything in it, Maya, because all is temporary therein, from the ephemeral life of a fire-fly to that of the Sun. Compared to the eternal immutability of the One, and the changelessness of that Principle, the Universe, with its evanescent ever-changing forms, must be necessarily, in the mind of a philosopher, no better than a will-o’-the-wisp. Yet, the Universe is real enough to the conscious beings in it, which are as unreal as it is itself."  (SD I 274)

"The Eastern pantheist, whose philosophy teaches him to discriminate between Being or ESSE and conditioned existence, . . .believing but in One Reality, which is eternal Be-ness, the “causeless CAUSE” from which he has exiled himself unto a world of forms, he regards the temporary and progressing manifestations of it in the state of Maya (change or illusion), as the greatest evil, truly; but at the same time as a process in nature, as unavoidable as are the pangs of birth. It is the only means by which he can pass from limited and conditioned lives of sorrow into eternal life, or into that absolute “Be-ness,” which is so graphically expressed in the Sanskrit word sat."  (CW VIII 111)

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on March 22, 2015 at 3:04pm

Another point to add to this is that this illusion concept we are talking about is manifestation itself, the creation of divine hierarchies and myriad spiritual forces that mirror divine 'realities' one level to the next of differentiation. "The Divine Dance."  We tend to think of illusion only in negative terms because the English word brings along that connotation. Illusion is creation and manifestation and without it we would not have very much to talk about.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on March 23, 2015 at 1:56pm

A very important point, I think. This is one reason why I'm so hesitant to use the term "illusion" at all when dealing with Maya. HPB says of Maya that it is "the cosmic power which renders phenomenal existence and the perceptions thereof possible." Now that's something to contemplate deeply, and it goes much further than the English term "illusion", which, like you say, has a built-in negative connotation.

If we look at Maya in terms of a "power", then we can reflect on the saktis (SD I:292-93). And from there a whole world of expanded meaning seems to open itself to us, far above and beyond mere "illusion".

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on March 21, 2015 at 3:20pm

Maybe another way to state my question is: How might we live so that we are engaged in the world but not "of" the world? Isn't the admonition to detachment from the fruit of our actions connected to this relationship?