We Are Eternal. ~ Vic DiCara

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on Oct 10, 2012
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Bhagavad-Gita, Plain and Simple — Chapter Two.

This is the third installment of my Bhagavad-Gita series. Please click here for the previous discussion.

Section 2:2

Although they were right in the middle of two armies on the brink of war, Krishna began speaking calmly to Arjuna, with a reassuring smile:

“You are using words like ‘karma’ and ‘peace.’ You sound like a wise and saintly person. But do you really comprehend these words? I don’t think so, because those who really are wise and saintly are never overwhelmed by depression. They know that there is nothing to lament over, neither in life nor in death.” [11]

Arjuna would say: “How can there be nothing lamentable? Death is especially sad. When a person dies they lose everything and we lose them.”

So Krishna replies:

“We never cease to exist. I always existed. You always existed. All these people around you always existed. And all of us will always exist.” [12]

This establishes two fundamental points:

(1) The law of “conservation of energy” states that energy is never lost, it merely changes form. This law also applies to life-energy, e.g. soul, which has always existed and will always exist—although it constantly transforms into different forms.

(2) The individual particles of life-force maintain distinct individuality throughout their changes of state. Each individual—be it Krishna, or you or I—has always been and will always be an individual. This is directly opposed to the monistic idea that when liberated life-force loses its individuality and “merges” into God absolutely.

“Life-force constantly changes form. Even in this one lifetime it passes from childhood to youth and eventually to old-age; and after this lifetime it similarly transforms into an entirely new body. People who really are wise are not confused about this.” [13]

Here, Krishna establishes the concept of reincarnation in a scientifically rational manner consistent with the law of conservation of energy.

Arjuna would say: “Yes, yes, but nonetheless the death of loved ones is a very unpleasant transformation to experience.”

So Krishna replies:

“Pleasure and displeasure are superficial things, stimulated by the contact of our senses with desirable or undesirable objects and situations. Pleasure and displeasure are just sensations, like hot and cold; they come and go on their own just like winter and summer. Don’t make important decisions based on superficial sensations. Tolerate them and never let them dissuade you from doing what you must. That way, you will not incur karma and will become liberated.” [14-15]

Arjuna’s inability to fight arose from him realizing that, win or lose, he would suffer terribly. Krishna’s response is that pleasure and displeasure is not a crucial factor in the decision making process of wise and moral persons. They always do what they must; be it pleasant or unpleasant. So, their actions are free from personal motivation, which means they accrue no personal karma and quickly attain a natural condition of unmitigated joy—“liberation.”

The ability to tolerate superficial problems rests on sound awareness that one is separate and distinct from those problems. We are eternal, and our problems are temporary.

So Krishna explains:

“Something that can be destroyed never really existed; and something that truly exists cannot be destroyed. People with real vision see it this way.” [16]

Arjuna will ask, “Well, what ‘really exists’ and cannot be destroyed?”

So Krishna replies:

“The thing that cannot be destroyed is everywhere, pervading everything. It is impossible to destroy the indestructible.” [17]

Life-force is everywhere in the universe, giving energy to matter. Life-force is everywhere in the body, giving consciousness to it.

Arjuna will now ask, “What ‘doesn’t really exist’ and is always destroyed?”

So Krishna replies:

“The body of the indestructible and infinite soul is destructible. Therefore fight!” [18]

“Someone thinks he is a killer. Someone else thinks he is killed. Neither of them knows the truth: The soul cannot kill or be killed.” [19]

By giving up his duty as a warrior, Arjuna will not be able to stop anyone from dying.

Can the eternality of the soul be used to justify murder? Yes, it can. In the case of Bhagavad-Gita, it would require ignoring the fact that Arjuna was forced by his social duty to do something that involves killing. He does not seek to kill, rather he seeks to avoid it. A twisted person will, of course, ignore this or rationalize it to be similar to his or her own situation. Any beautiful shape can be twisted or marred into something horrible by a sufficiently twisted and horrible person.

Krishna continues:

“Never created, never destroyed; without past, present and future; it is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. It is not killed when the body dies.” [20]

Krishna references this passage from Katha Upanisad (1.2.18) to footnote the authenticity of what he has explained to Arjuna.

“Arjuna, you know that the soul is indestructible and eternal, unborn and undying. So why do you fear that you will hurt or kill anyone? When the soul relinquishes one form it takes another; just like you get new clothes to replace old ones that have worn out. Life-force can never be destroyed or damaged: you can’t cut it with a blade; you can’t burn it with flame; you can’t dissolve it in water, nor erode it with the wind. Unbreakable, unburnable, insoluble, un-erodible life-force pervades everything and is everlasting, immovable and eternally independent. The self-realized describe it as non-manifest, beyond-conception and without actual transformation. So, if you understand this, why should you lament?” [21-25]

Arjuna might say, “Maybe I don’t really believe or understand this!?”

So Krishna says:

“O hero, even if you think life is constantly created and destroyed; why lament? If life comes from nothingness, then when it returns to nothingness, what’s to worry about?” [26-27]

Thinking that life comes from, and returns to, nothingness is just another type of reincarnation. If life comes from nothingness, then death is just a “return to square one.”

Krishna has presented two versions of reincarnation—one involving an eternally distinct soul, and another not involving such a thing. Arjuna will want to know which theory Krishna prefers. So Krishna says:

Courtesy ISKCON

“There are many, many opinions about it, because the mysterious soul is very difficult to understand, either by direct perception, inference or discussion. But my friend, take it from me: eternal and indestructible life-force dwells within all bodies. Therefore no one should grieve.” [29-30]

Krishna states his opinion that reincarnation involving an eternally distinct quantum of life-force is the more accurate of the two theories.

Sometimes it sounds like Krishna tells Arjuna not to cry for anyone, which seems very cold-hearted and without compassion. However, this is a mistake. Compassion is at the very foundation of the Vedic cultural ethic that Krishna and Arjuna live in. Krishna is not saying, “Do not lament for anyone.” He is saying, “No one truly has any need to lament. No one falls into any truly lamentable condition.” This is essentially the same thing, but the slight difference of wording in the first gives the misleading impression that Krishna is cold-hearted.

 

To continue reading, click here.

 

Vic DiCara (Vraja Kishor das) practices Gaudiya Vaishnava sadhana in Southwestern Japan. His blogs are Bhagavatam by Braja and Bhagavad Gita Plain and Simple.

He is also a practicing astrologer, prolific writer and former guitarist and song writer in the popular underground spiritual-punk band, 108. His astrology website is available here.

 

~
Editor: Thaddeus Haas

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Comments

52 Responses to “We Are Eternal. ~ Vic DiCara”

  1. E.C.Horback says:

    Oh, how interesting to bring up this counter question about the role of compassion & the ‘temperature’ of the heart. The whole BG discourse sort of addresses this issue of what is actual compassion in the eternal sense. It is Krishna’s personal relationship with Arjuna (friend, family member, devotee) that allows them to partake in this dialogue in the first place.

    Isn’t there an excerpt of the Mahabharat where Krishna wakes up to see both Duryodhona & Arjuna at his bedside? I think some of these early narrations between these family members highlight the tenderness that exudes between the words. Thank you Vic for bringing out these subtleties in your realized words.

  2. jason says:

    This chapter touches me deeply. I mean man! As a father, my biggest fear is losing one of my sons. It's hard to focus on the eternal when I'm so attached to the souls that are within these particular bodies.

    Any advice Dauji?

  3. Timmy_Robins says:

    "(1) The law of “conservation of energy” states that energy is never lost, it merely changes form. This law also applies to life-energy, e.g. soul, which has always existed and will always exist—although it constantly transforms into different forms."

    Actually this law doesnt apply to "life energy, e.g soul" nowhere in scientific literature will you find anything that remotely resembles that . You cant use the laws of physics to explain philosophy or religion it is dishonest and misleading.

    There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to back up what you are saying.

    None of this is Science.

    No matter how much you want this to pass as Science , it is not going to happen unless ofcourse you can produce real evidence and some peer reviewed research , until then this are just stories…entertaining and probably inspiring for some but nothing more than stories.

  4. @undefined says:

    Nice thoughts. I actually never thought of it in terms of scientific proof because it sounds so intellectually obvious. Good that you brought it up. Hopefully, science will be able to answer such questions sometime in the future.

  5. Padma Kadag says:

    Unfortunately when we are discussing science and religion , those who argue for science have a tendency to want to be exclusive. I am not sure why this is. I can understand that science is rather slow in evolving and is relegated to grants and endowments for specific fields of research which incur a profit. Those who are spiritual seekers should be driven by a insatiable hunger to know "why" and truth. Our spiritual "paths" these days are nothing more than self help. The hunger for answers is diminishing. Science could be more inclusive and welcoming without the usual discounting of spiritual paths due to no "proof". As I said, science is slow to enter this arena primarily because it lacks profit. Thats ok. Certainly the christian fundamentalists might accept that evolution was created by god. I see no problem in using scientific verbage to aid in explaining spiritual concepts. Though I do think that it really isnt all that important.

  6. Padma Kadag says:

    One more thing…spiritual seekers in the west are caught in a trap of explaining away our spiritual paths. We use a language of logic and science rather than poetry. Even between each other, I am Buddhist and you are Hindu, our english interpretations do not match. The spiritual seeker should be driven by a hunger of knowing not by external verification. Many many books and intellectualization in a language being usurped by scientific verbage is rapidly creating more confusion and dumbing down authentic paths.

  7. jason says:

    Dauji,

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have the hardest time NOT being attached to the bodies that currently house the jivas of my sons.

  8. […] Bhavagad-Gita, Plain and Simple—Chapter Two, Texts 31-53 This is the fourth installment of my Bhagavad-Gita series. You can find the previous discussion here. […]

  9. Vic DiCara says:

    I wanted to sort of "close" with a comment… Krishna presented the soul as life-energy, which like all forms of energy is never created or destroyed, but changes from one form to another quite regularly. Some protested that we cannot measure this "life energy" directly by empirical means. I explained that we can clearly measure it's effects. How different is this from ANY form of energy???

    Every (or most) form(s) of energy is some type of motion of electrons. What is an electron? Can we measure it? No, actually – we can only measure it's effect: it's charge. When we try to measure it directly it eludes us, we don't know if it is a particle or a wave or if it is here or there.

    Think about LIGHT, too, another very important form of energy, almost always used as an analogy for the soul. Can we measure light – yes but only by it's effect: illumination, and often, heat. If we try to directly measure it… what is it? Is it a particle, a photon? Is it a wave? We SORT OF know, but we don't EXACTLY know.

    This is the nature of energy – it is beyond our subjugation. Life-energy, the most refined and sophisticated of all forms of energy, certainly is not going to break this rule. We can measure it by it's effect: life, consciousness. But if we expect to pinpoint where it is, or what it is, we should be surprised when our instruments give no data.

  10. […] or any other formal spiritual practices I do, like prayer and mantra, so really, who cares, and why should […]

  11. […] Death is supposed to be so scary and heart-wrenching. And though at first we may experience these emotions, if we are honest with ourselves—letting go of anyone else’s expectations that we must stay sad and hold on to this grief—we know that the person who is leaving physical form is okay, that we who are staying in physical form are okay. We’re not really losing. […]

  12. […] We Are Eternal. ~ Vic DiCara (elephantjournal.com) […]

  13. Thanks for the good writeup. It in truth was once a leisure account it. Look complex to far introduced agreeable from you! However, how could we keep up a correspondence?

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