Gita Talk #12: Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe Give a Damn About You and Me?

Via on Jul 4, 2010

Does the infinitely wondrous universe give a damn about you and me?

Yes and no.

On one hand, the universe (Krishna) is beyond all caring and concern about human beings, and even our existence:

You gulp down all worlds, everywhere
swallowing them in your flames,
and your rays, Lord Vishnu, fill all
the universe with dreadful brilliance.   (11.30)

And the universe also has a little bit different sense of time:

all beings remain within me.
They are gathered back into my womb
at the end of the cosmic cycle—
a hundred fifty thousand
billion of your earthly years—   (BG 9.7)

That’s the “No” part.  The universe doesn’t give a damn.

But at the same time, the universe (Krishna) is also everything moral and human, too:

Understanding and wisdom,
patience, truth, peace of mind,
pleasure and pain, being
and nonbeing, fear and courage.

nonviolence, equanimity,
control, benevolence, fame,
dishonor—all these conditions
come forth from me alone.   (10.4-5)

Whatever in this world is excellent
and glows with intelligence or beauty—
be sure that it has its source
in a fragment of my divine splendor.   (10.41-42)

This all makes sense, if you think about it.

On one hand, the universe looks upon the earth as if from a distant galaxy.  If an asteroid destroyed all humanity tomorrow, the universe would remain essentially unchanged.

On the other hand, the wondrous universe (Krishna) is also the smallest cell in our body, and it’s everything we feel and do, including love, morality, and all we hold most dear:  I am the source from which gods and sages emerge.  (BG 10.2)

That’s the “Yes” part.  Not only does the universe care, we ARE the wondrous universe.

Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe Give a Damn About You and Me?

Yes and no!

Chapters 10 & 11 of the Bhagavad Gita are one of the high points of world literature and spirituality.  The energy, the power, the vision, the message, all are unsurpassed.  In these chapters we have the clearest statement yet of the central message of the Gita, and of Yoga itself:

–The universe is infinitely wondrous.
–Each of us is an integral part of that infinite wonder.
–To realize that infinite wonder all we have to do is to lovingly focus our minds on it.

He who can understand
the glory of my manifestations
is forever united with me
by his unwavering love.

I am the source of all things,
and all things emerge from me;
knowing this wise men worship
by entering my state of being.   (BG 10.7-8
)

What do you you think of Chapters 10 & 11?
What are your favorite passages?
What questions do you have?
What comments would you like to make?

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About Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: "Live at Don Quijote" & "American Gypsy" (Free CD's) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.

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Comments

69 Responses to “Gita Talk #12: Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe Give a Damn About You and Me?”

  1. I think I'm with you (and your reading of the Gita on that, Bob.
    "The universe," as many yoga and new age folks tend to use the term, tends to be simply a less controversial term for a parental "God" outside of ourselves that looks after us and gives us what we need or want, and doesn't give us more than we can take (which, apparently, is why nobody ever has a breakdown or dies), or attract to ourselves by positive or negative thoughts (just like when Anne Frank kept a positive attitude and wrote that she believed people were still basically good despite everything, the kind and loving universe responded by…oops…).
    But, at the same time, if we view ourselves *as* the universe…things are, to say the least, a whole lot more complex and interesting…

  2. […] Gita Talk #12: Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe Give a Damn About You and Me? Gita Talk #12: Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe Give a Damn About You and Me? […]

  3. Jelefant says:

    Yes, Bob, your reading seems quite strong. In The Stranger, by Albert Camus, humanity turns its back on the protaganist, leaving him utterly unloved… "and gazing up at the sky with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe."

  4. originsg says:

    Very much enjoyed this post – thank you – somehow so calming and reassuring to realize how small we are in the greater scope of things. I especially liked the pointer to the "smallest cell in the body" 'n thought you might enjoy another blog looking for tie-ins of biology and science in reference to the yoga sutras – http://sutrascience.wordpress.com

  5. Carol Horton Carol Horton says:

    Krishna to Arjuna: "I am time, the destroyer of all; I have come to consume the world. Even without your participation, all the warriors gathered here will die."

    Arjuna to Krishna: "O Krishna, it is right that the world delights and rejoices in your praise, that all the saints and sages bow down to you and all evil flees before you to the far corners of the universe. . . . Changeless, you are what is and what is not, and beyond the duality of existence and nonexistence."

    We want "the Universe" (or its functional equivalent, a personal God) to care for us in the way that we understand caring: to keep us safe, healthy, happy, etc. We don't want the warriors to die (unless they're the "bad guys" in our eyes).

    So simple in theory but so difficult to put into practice: to face all the things that we don't want to have happen to ourselves and the world and to still connect to and celebrate Spirit or whatever you want to call it . . . I believe in it, but it's not easy.

    Thanks, Bob, for your post. It got me to read the Gita in a way that I haven't for a very long time.

  6. Hi Bob,

    It was interesting to read your perspective on this section of the Gita.

    When I was on the monastic path, we had to study the Gita in detail and were tested on what we read. Your comment as to whether or not the Universe gives a damn about us is rooted (in my mind) in what we deem to be "us". If we view ourselves as being our titles, our bank accounts and so on….yes, the Universe does not give a damn about those things. However, when we view "us" from a Divine perspective…meaning we are our deeds, thoughts and soul…then yes, the Universe gives a damn about us.

    The problem is that we often think we are the labels that are placed on us by ourselves and our society. However, we are more than that. Also, I forget where in the Gita it is said but Krishna tells Arjuna that the ways of the Universe/God are too immense for us to fathom.

  7. Hi, Nadia. Thanks for writing. Good thoughts.

    You don't have to look far to find the place where "Krishna tells Arjuna that the ways of the Universe/God are too immense for us to fathom." This idea is laced throughout the Gita as one of its most important themes, and it comes to a poetic climax in the very chapters at hand here, 10 & 11.

    If you have a moment, I would love to hear more about the "monastic path" and how the Gita and other Yoga texts were worked in.

    Great to hear from you.

    Bob Weisenberg
    YogaDemystified.com

  8. That's fascinating, Nadia. Have you written on you blog or elsewhere about that time in your life? I'd love to read more. Is there perhaps a website about the Vedanta Order?

    I have a deep interest in all current manifestations of ancient Yoga philosophy. Right now I'm just learning about how it first came to America in The Subtle Body–The Story of Yoga in America. Right now it's talking about Los Angeles, where I know you've spent some time.

    Do you happen to remember what the other texts besides the Gita your studied?

    As for the philosophy, the "first test" certainly sounds like the Gita One of my favorite passages is:

    However men try to reach me,
    I return their love with my love;
    whatever path they may travel,
    it leads to me in the end. (BG 4.11)

    Thanks again for taking the time to write. I'm looking forward to your new project. I can't wait to see what your new project is all about. I didn't miss it, did I?

    Bob Weisenberg
    YogaDemystified.com

  9. YogiOne says:

    Bob,

    Much of what is found in religious texts of all sorts reflects simple wish fulfillment fantasies. We want to be safe and cared for, so we project those ideas onto the world and we do our best to create a world that fulfills those needs. Having evolved within this ecosystem and having adapted ourselves and the environment itself so that we are safe here (for the most part), it is easy to see the universe as naturally "giving a damn" about us. I'd say that is an illusion we have created and one that takes us away from our true nature. If you doubt this, put on a backpack and hike out into true wilderness for a few days. Try to provide for yourself there with none of modern civilization's infinite wonders. You will come away with a very different understanding of the universe and how much we have modified the natural world for our own purposes. Often what we take for Grace nowdays is simply the work of the many generations who have come before.

  10. YogiOne says:

    Bob,

    I am not advising others about their spirituality. I'm having a public discussion about spirituality and what constitutes an authentic experience. What others choose to do with those ideas once they have heard them is totally up to them.

    I will also disagree with your belief that highly rational people can simultaneously lack morality and love. Genuine morality and love are highly rational and principled. Without those qualities love and morality fall into one sided passion and self-serving dogma – exactly what the Gita opposed when it was written.

  11. YogiOne says:

    Hmm. I think all religions can be improved. One way to do that is to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the religions. You seem to equate that with judging and condemning. That isn't how I would characterize my thoughts posted here. I think you have to observe from many perspectives to find truth.

  12. Sevapuri says:

    In these chapters i like when Arjuna has seen Krishnas divine form and then starts to recount what he has seen and says "Seeing your billion fanged mouths blaze like the fires of doomsday I faint i stagger i despair ……."its like when i come up against some hardship or some obstacle, i react like Arjuna, running away, instead of seeing the obstacles as part of my journey, this chapter shows me that everything, all forms, everything i can think of that exists and more are part of the divine conciousnes or God and that when i see differances, likes and dislikes then i'm creating suffering and despair for myself.

  13. […] until a recent debate began between myself and Bob Weisenberg on the comment thread of one of his Gita Talks posts. The debate broke off after I wrote a length reply that got lost in the commenting system. I will […]

  14. paramsangat says:

    About chapter 10.__I love the 10.8, ending with "…by entering my state of being" – which I see as you enter your own center of being where your soul-feelings/qualities resides (and is the Universe at the same time as its your own center "within").__Also loving the description of "who/what" the blessed Lord is, starting 10.19.____will be back commenting chapt.11 :)____

  15. paramsangat says:

    The description in chapt.10 (of the Blessed Lords beingness) is more of my taste than in chapt.11. Chapt.11 was to me a lil boring meanwhile chapt 10 was very enjoyable.
    :)

  16. paramsangat says:

    As I understand it The Universe care alot about all of us and wants us to get and experience all that we want. Its us misunderstanding and complicating things with our fears and analyzing. The Universe is not "non-caring" when "bad things happen", instead it has the bigger view where we are all eternal and "bad things" just seem that way when you dont have the distance to it (upeksha).
    Thats my understanding of it.
    :)

  17. […] Where Do We Fit In? Gita Talk #12: Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe Give a Damn About You and Me? […]

  18. […] Gita Talk #12: Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe Give a Damn About You and Me? […]

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