By your own Efforts, You must lift your self by the Self:
No one can enlighten you!
In verse 14 of Book V, Krishna confirms his profound conviction that in creating man and Nature (Prakriti), God gives autonomy to both. Nature moves in Time as a spontaneous mechanism - guna-maya’s yantra-rudhana - free to change and adapt, but always building on her matrices.
Man’s autonomy means that we are not predestined to those ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ and Fate. God has gifted us all with the built in capability to transcend, by our own efforts, the guna-maya of Nature’s Matrix. Any of us may at any moment Become something finer in our being, and through this autonomous free will acquire a similitude (sadharmya) with God (Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair).
The Lord of All remains untouched by the acts of anyone, whether they be good or evil (V.15). God does not receive the effects. As our consciousness moves down the spiral through the Cycles of Time, the Veils of Ignorance and Delusion fall around our Soul, the Self/Atma, and the eternal Knowledge is surrounded, enveloped and concealed by ignorance (ajnanena). We forget who we are. Lost in the Illusion of Separation, we sink into fear. Anger and greed are born of the fear frequency.
Our Remembrance of the God-within has the power to destroy the delusion of Ignorance. Those who overcome doubt and delusion are said to ‘shine like the sun’ in the sense that they experience an inner illumination (V.16). Abhinavagupta says that such ‘self-luminosity’ is established spontaneously by the removal of doubt (B.Marjanovic).
When your entire being - your thoughts, intellect, and mind - is absorbed in the Self in the Heart, and you are entirely devoted to the God-within knowing that Supreme Being to be the highest, best, and the ultimate goal of all life, then you secure a state of consciousness that can never be lost and you are released from the rounds of rebirth (V.17). Your sins, meaning whatever wrongs you have committed in the Illusion of Separation, are shaken off by the power of Knowledge.
This state of enlightened Self-Luminosity does not mean that you curl up on a mountain, do nothing, and reside in inner bliss waiting to depart your body. The unshakable strength of your Self-illumination allows you to act in this world for the well-being of all creatures (sarvabhuta-hiterata) and yet remain unattached. You will not be drawn back into the webs of maya and the temporal illusory hologram that has kept you spell bound for eons.
The All is all God!
This non-attachment is not cold or aloof or irresponsible. It is compassionate and Loving, the Love that does not need to possess or control another. When you see God in every Eye, and you Know that the All is all God, from the most brilliant beautiful talent to those who are damaged, broken, sad and lowly - you feel connected to others (V.18). You Know that they are you and you Love them as your Self. They are you as the Great Supreme Self moving through their ups and downs, now successful, now miserable, now young, now old. All are held by Time and its cycles.
Heaven on Earth
You do not have to leave your body and fly to any heaven to achieve this Self-Luminosity. Heaven is here on earth when you abide in consciousness with God (V.19).
In the enlightened realization that this universe is proceeding in the unending perfection of its cyclical unfoldment, you hold your consciousness in its primordial state of similitude with the Creator. That state is non-attachment. Just as the Creator remains untouched by our acts, so you too will find that you are not whirled around in confusion by the thoughts of others or by your own acts.
Knowledge of the true structural mechanics of the temporal illusory hologram will keep you from delusion and thus your consciousness will no longer ride the roller-coaster of giddy highs and depressing lows that have swept over you all your lives.
You will find that balance of evenness that liberates you from being bound by the fleeting excitement in the pleasures of success, and the painful equally transient miseries of failure.
Keeping your consciousness firmly rooted in the Self that dwells in the Heart, you will remain clean and without delusion (V.20). When you are no longer tossed about by the external, which is transmitted to you through the five senses, you will at last reach that happiness (sukham) which is imperishable (aksayam). (V.21)
Pleasure is the womb of pain
Krishna now delves into the truth of this polarity universe which is completely ignored in the western consumer society. He spells it out for Arjuna and says that all experiences of pleasure, born of contact with the external via the five senses, are wombs of pain. All experiences of the external hologram are temporal. What feels good now will inevitably be lost and bring pain. All things, including our bodies, have a beginning and an end. The wise are never content with what is temporal and by reaching in consciousness beyond the cycles, the wise seek the eternal (V.22).
Only those who are stolid fools and those who are master of their souls enjoy happiness here.
-The Mahabharata, Shanti Parva 25.28
At some point in my own personal history, as I foolishly kept trying to “find happiness”, I realized that the kind of shallow happiness I had been indoctrinated to look for in fact bears no resemblance to any kind of deeper reality. It is not that God wants us to suffer, it is that God never intended to trap Its Self in the temporal illusory hologram for all eternity. Experiences are meant to be created, savored, and released.
The concept that pleasure turns to pain just wont sell!
Of course you cannot sell people mass quantities of things that promise them perpetual happiness, when there is no such thing. You can’t keep people buying disposable rubbish they don’t need by feeding them false dreams, when they finally do understand the real metaphysical mechanics of the universe. Krishna is saying that there is nothing in the external world that does not bring pain right along with pleasure.
Pain is intended to make us wake up and remember who we are. It is the Creator’s way of protecting all the Selves from sleeping interminably. Here in the Kali Yuga, the pain gets ever more intense, rather like an alarm clock that would ring louder and louder every time you roll over and go back to sleep.
Tranquilizers and mood altering drugs are to my mind one of the most absurd and deadly aspects of our current consumer culture. Emotional pain is coming from your Soul in an attempt to tell you that something is very wrong and that you need to think, to be alone, and reason out the imbalances in your consciousness. But instead, here in the west, we drown all our crucially important and key feelings in a mass of molecules that leave us befuddled, have consequential heinous long-term side-effects, and rob us of any opportunity to evolve and find our way Home.
How can we realize the transitory nature of pleasure and pain (sukha-duhkha) when we are permanently numb? There is something demonic here, some conspired plot to hold us in the hologram, enmeshed in the slimy spider webs of the Matrix, lost in Ignorance.
Real happiness is this Cosmic Evenness that is born when by discipline, you hold your consciousness in the truth of Knowledge and prevail unattached to either desire (kama) and greed, or to anger (krodha). Real happiness is Becoming in Union with the Self and Liberation (moksha) achieved while you are still in the body (V.23)
When you find your happiness within, you will no longer be dependent on people or things. Those transient feelings that you experienced with your lover or when you were crowned Ruler of the World, that later left you flat and wretched, will now be transformed into more subtle feelings that last, feelings of delight within (antararamas) and the radiance of light within (antarjyotis). You will attain the ultimate Bliss of Union with the God-within, the Source of All (V.24).
Jivan-Mukti: Liberation while still in the body
Those who have seen the truth, the ‘seers’ (Rishis), who have conquered doubt by the sword of reason, whose wrongs have been washed away by the power of Knowledge, and who rejoice in the well fare of all beings (sarvabhutahite), return to the Source, the ocean of Bliss that is Home (V.25), and are liberated even while in the body (V.28).
Acts that Deepen Union
Book VI begins with Krishna once again emphasizing that true liberation lies in non-attachment and is not, as some may believe, escapism into ascetic fantasy. Those who leave their families and responsibilities in this world to live in monastic towers, and yet still fail to renounce their selfish desires, will not find the union experienced by an authentic Yogin. Attachment to the compulsions of the small identity-self ego will hold your consciousness in a state of separation from the God-within (VI.1-2).
We can put on a great show; we can become teachers and sell $3000 workshops; we can wear purple robes and sit on a golden throne; we can starve the body or cover it with ashes; but if our costume is only a disguise and our acts are only motivated by the needs of ego to find approval and reward, then our consciousness is still attached to the external and we are little more than phony fools deceiving ourselves. The God-within knows the real story.
The considered and cultivated self-mastery of performing actions in this world, to make it a better place, without being concerned with the results of your actions is a sign of your union with the Creator. When you worry and fret over success and failure, you are merely attached to the consequences of your own frail ego; you are worried over what people will think of you, your concern is your own self esteem through their eyes. The God-within you does not need the approval of any.
Taking altruistic actions is the means of your union with God and such acts will in fact deepen that union (VI.3-4). The best example of this is of course Mother Teresa, the amazing woman who devoted her life to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta India. Now I don’t expect to be like her and I doubt that most of us could be; but no matter what our standards are, every human being knows that here was a woman of great courage who did something so pure and admirable that we all look up to her no matter what our religion may be. She did something that transcended human nature. Mother Teresa was a super hero - a Wonder Woman and we all know it!
Although no one in this world can quite compare with Mother Teresa, there are many many brave souls out there working for the well being of this world. Most of these we will probably never hear about. One person who I find remarkable is Paul Newman. I hope this makes you smile, because I consider Paul Newman as a modern day heroic anomaly.
Here is a man whose good looks, charm, and intelligence brought him money and fame. And what has he done with it? Did he invest in hedge funds run by quants? Or buy himself villas all over the planet? Nope! The gorgeous Mr. Newman created a company which used the system for altruism. As he says, ‘Newman’s Own is shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common good.’ To date he has donated over $200 million to his favorite charities. In a world of the greedy, unconscious, and swollen-headed, Paul Newman is a real hero!
Take note that Mr. Newman did not give away all of his money. He first took care of his wife and children, and then gave to charity. Those who become beggars force others to work to feed them. We must be sovereign in this world, and that means supporting our own basic needs first and then looking out for the well being of the world. How can we be free when we are dependent on others?
Not a couch-potato sport ...
Enlightenment must be lived. As long as you are in a body, you must be vigilant in observing your own consciousness. This is not a couch-potato sport. Indulgence in vain ego sprints will land you back in the gunas rajas and tamas. Many partially enlightened beings have fallen back into to webs of maya’s desire and ignorance. The way Home requires the greatest courage.
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः .. ६- ५..
uddhared ātmanātmānaṃ nātmānam
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ6.5
अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्तेतात्मैव शत्रुवत् .. ६- ६..
bandhur ātmātmanas tasya
anātmanas tu śatrutve vartetātmaiva śatruvat 6.6
You must lift your self by the Self
The mind can be your friend and provide the razor-sharp intelligence required to discern the machinations of human consciousness. The mind can be your enemy and, serving temporal ego, the mind can twist, manipulate, and rationalize anything to justify its own existence (VI.5). Your free will gives you the power in each moment to choose.
No one can do this for you! You have to lift the self by the Self (VI.6). No one can enlighten you. Certainly you can learn from anyone, from a great Master, from Nature, or the check-out girl at the supermarket. There are Masters who do have the siddhic power to give you a momentary experience and help you along your path. But your ultimate enlightenment can only emerge as the result of your own efforts.
Your release from the illusion of separation is between you and the God within you - and no one else. How ‘liberated’ would you be if you relied on any external force to bring you Home?