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

Via Bob Weisenberg
on Jul 4, 2010
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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.

Comments

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

  1. Hi, Ramesh. Thanks for this profound and fascinating response. I'm with you all the way.

    One of the things that struck me as I was reading this is how thoroughly the Bhagavad Gita covers all of these seemingly competing philosophies and ties them up in nice spiritual bow. It's almost as though the author(s) of the Gita were sitting right here thinking exactly what you're thinking above and saying to themselves, How can we tie all this together in a way that makes sense and is really going to turn the reader on?

    I'm thinking they did a pretty good job myself (although to some this array of seemingly contradictory philosophies in the same text seem like just an incompatible mish-mash.) I like the Gita because to me it takes all these things and hammers into a sublimely simple rational philosophy I can embrace wholeheartedly in my everyday life. But it did take some time, patience, and study for it to look like that to me.

    I love studying the complexity of Yoga history and philosophy, but my day-to-day spirituality has to be sublimely, almost ridiculously simple, for it to be any use to me. I personally see this same spiritual approach in the Gita.

    Bob Weisenberg
    YogaDemystified.com

  2. Ramesh says:

    Exactly, Bob. Krishna as spiritual personalty, and Gita as philosophy, inhabits all these sacred philosophical elements, because Krishna explained all these and how they are all tied together as strings of Divine and mundane knowledge. In Him, duality and nonduality merges in exquisite wondrous Oneness. That is why Krishna and the Gita as practical life philosophy is way beyond all these–Vedanta Samkhya, Yoga Sutras. In a sense, Krishna says to us all: philosophy does matter, worldview does matter. Study my ideas and you will learn the middle way, the way to cut through to the core of it all. But what matters most is love for That, love for that infinite wonder of Spirit, that mystical flame of Oneness.
    Moreover, Gita as poetry, as devotional text, as sacred musings stirs our souls, brings out our heartfelt passions, churns our egos, transmutes and integrates our being into awe-inspiring love of life, of Spirit like no other philosophy can. Bob, my five cents worth on this mighty topic!!

  3. YogiOne says:

    What I meant regarding the dangers of the city was "our" as in "human." Dangers of the city are human made. Otherwise I think we are mostly in agreement. Most people who can survive just fine for years in the city will meet their demise fairly quickly if they have to rely only on themselves in a wilderness setting. They generally would simply starve to death or die of dehydration and/or exposure to the elements rather than being eaten.

  4. Yep, beautifully said, Ramesh.

    That's certainly why I love the Gita, and Yoga/Tantra in general.

    Bob Weisenberg
    YogaDemystified.com

  5. iamronen says:

    Well said YogiOne.

    18 months ago we moved to live in a fairly remote village close to nature. I watch things grow, I watch cows graze … and from this perspective Bob, I gotta tell you, that neither the "Wondrous Universe" nor the cows seem to be busy giving a damn or not giving a damn about anything 🙂 They just do what they do …

  6. Hi, Ronen. Thanks very much for participating in this discussion.

    I appreciate your different point of view. After all, if everyone agreed on everything there would be no need for all these competing philosophical systems!

    Regarding Einstein's spirituality, please see Albert Einstein as Yoga Sage. I'm reading his biography now, and there is a whole chapter called Einstein's God that reinforces this brief summary blog.

    As I've mentioned before, Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was one of the most formative books in my life when it first came out. I haven't been back to it lately, but it still resonates very powerfully in my mind. I used to do the same thing as you–substitute Pirsig's "quality" for "God". I've never tried to relate Pirsig to Yoga philosophy, so it was very interesting to hear your thoughts about this.

    I'm not sure what you mean when you say the Gita is not strictly a Yoga text. Could you help me out with that? In mind it is the seminal and central Yoga text, one of the big three along with the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutra. But I'm very interested in hearing why you see it otherwise.

    Thanks again for being a part of this very interesting exchange of ideas. It's very enjoyable and informative for me.

    Bob Weisenberg
    YogaDemystified.com

  7. Hi, Ronen.

    Unfortunately or unfortunately, deluded or not, people like me who are into the infinite wonder of the universe find it everywhere. I can assure you, I would find these cows infinitely wondrous. But then I feel the same way, like Einstein would, about a rock:

    Science and Yoga
    Are soulmates.
    Both find
    Infinite wonder
    Awesome mystery
    And unanswerable questions
    Even in the simplest things
    We see all around us.

    How do the
    Molecules and atoms
    Protons, electrons, and quarks
    Of a rock
    Know how to be
    A rock?

    Science and Yoga
    Both inflame our awareness
    As much by marveling
    At what we don’t know
    As what we do.

    (from YogaDemystified.com)

    You know what? I'm guessing Pirsig would like this poem. It expresses his own deep interest in left-brain vs. right brain thinking and integrates the two, much like his concept of quality.

    Bob Weisenberg

  8. iamronen says:

    I have marked Einstein for reading … will get back to you on that.

    The Gita, as I know it, is later day rehashing of Vedic knowledge. Yoga & Samkhya, along with other Vedis systems of philosophy, predate it. It does not, in my mind, stand shoulder to shoulder with the Yoga Sutra or the Upanishads (of which I don't know enough to relate to with any authority). The Gita is, in my mind, close to a bible – though then I can relate to it more then the one my Jewish heritage carries – it is in that category. I do not experience nor view it as an authoritative text.

    Your suggestion that it has parts which seem slightly ouf of tune with other parts reminds of of echoes I carry of similar relationships between the different parts of the Torah.

    The Yoga Sutra, on the other hand, has substantial intenral integrity to it – it is a tight work – and I believe that some of that is inherited from Samkhya.

    I feel I can teach a lifetime of Yoga without mentioning the Gta. It is a nice-to-have.

    But that's just me 🙂

  9. iamronen says:

    I apologize if any personal disrespect came through my words. None was intended.

    The life I've lived so far has not endowed me with an experience of "infinite wonder of the universe … everywhere". I don't buy it. It may be there – but I do not believe it is human nature to experience it continuously. As long as we are human we are slaves to the body and the senses … and we carry inside us something eternal as well 🙂 Life is a mixed experience of the two.

    My teacher said (excluding my shaky memory) that when Krishnamacharya was once asked about Samadhi – he replied "Death".

  10. Not to worrry, Ronen. I didn't take any personal disrespect at all from your words, just a very interesting difference of opinion. Not the slightest problem. I always learn a lot more from people who have a different view than I do than from those that agree with me. So I'm actually grateful when someone disagrees. (It's also my idea of fun.)

    Bob W.

  11. Yes, we have refreshingly diverse points of view on this.

    To me the Gita is the ultimate Yoga text, even though, the Upanishads and Yoga Sutra are indispensable as well. If you had to choose one of the three, the Gita is the only one that encompasses them all. (Some theorize that the only reason the Yoga Sutra's so surgically cold is that Patanjali assumed familiarity with the other two and was just trying to fill in some procedural blanks.)

    To me, compared to the Torah (which I also happen to be intimately familiar with) the Gita seems like a model of cohesive logic!

    Thanks for writing.

  12. 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 :)____

  13. Thanks for writing, paramsangat. Yes, this is wonderful spiritual poetry, isn't it?

    Bob W.

  14. It probably won't surprise you to learn that my favorite Jewish writer is Heschel, who's spiritual anthology is called I Asked for Wonder.

    Bob Weisenberg
    YogaDemystified.com

  15. paramsangat says:

    🙂 yes, very beautiful

  16. 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.
    🙂

  17. 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.
    🙂

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