The divinity is one. It is eternal, unchanging and everlasting. It is the indweller of all bodies. As the indweller of the body of living beings it is called the atma, the immortal self. As the indweller of the world it is called God. It is the one divinity present in different forms. Just as the physical being can be thought of as the body of the atma, so also the world can be thought of as the body of God.
The body is impermanent, it comes and goes; but the indweller of the body remains the same. Another name for the indweller is atma, the immortal self, the universal spirit, which underlies everything that can be named or spoken of. It is the one permanent unchanging entity which pervades all space and all matter, and which is the basis of all living beings. It may be called God, the atma, or the indweller. Atma and God and indweller are exactly the same. They are the one divinity.
The sacred scriptures provide guidelines for seeking out and recognizing the Indweller; but scriptural teachings in themselves will not be sufficient to know it. You cannot attain the divinity by merely studying the scriptures. Using the declarations in the scriptures as your basis, you have to make a determined effort to develop inner vision. Scriptures can only show the path. They are like guideposts; they give the directions. To reach the goal you have to walk the path yourself. Following the directions given you have to undertake this sacred journey and unwaveringly adhere to it until the goal is reached. For this the Gita has laid out the path.
In the Gita, the directions for the journey commence with the eleventh verse in the second chapter. That is the beginning of Krishna's teaching. It starts with the injunction not to grieve for those who should not be grieved for. Who is it that should not be grieved for? What is the way to prevent grief? The Gita teacher declared that there is no point in grieving over things which are impermanent and transient. Bodies and personalities are impermanent and transient. All the things of the world are impermanent and transient. Krishna said, "Arjuna, all your grief is for nothing."
Each of the myriad of things that can be found in this manifested universe is made up of five basic characteristics:
Each one is. It exists. It has beingness.
Each one shines with an inner light. It has luster. It is innately alive with energy.
Each has a deeper purpose. It has a reason for its existence. It is dear and a source of joy.
Each has a specific name, a category or designation.
Each has a given form, either tangible or subtle. It has a distinguishing feature.
These, then, are the five characteristics that are found in everything that can be spoken of. Whether tangible or intangible, once something has been conceived of, we can say that it exists, it shines, it has a purpose, it has a name, and it has a form.
The first three of these five characteristics make up the eternal truth which never changes. This is the permanent reality. It is the atma, it is God, it is the indweller, it is the divinity. It is referred to in Sanskrit as sat-chit-ananda, meaning existence, consciousness, bliss. For sat-chit ananda there is no birth and there is no death. Sat-chit-ananda may be described as the mark or signature of the divinity. The remaining two characteristics speak of the body of the divinity. Name and form are only transient and illusory. They are really just imagination. So, of the five basic characteristics that make up everything, three make up the underlying divinity which never changes, and the other two are the changing names and forms which make up the world.
Realize that all the created things which you see in the world are artificial. They all have come at some time and will go some time in the future; in other words, they are subject to birth and death. They can be compared to relatives. Relatives come for a while to stay with you and then go back. They will not stay in the house permanently. Just like relatives, happiness and grief come and go. Similarly, everything having name and form is impermanent. To understand spirituality, you must realize that all created things are transient and temporary. Any day these things will disappear; they are constantly undergoing change. Grieving over such things which are impermanent is foolish indeed.
If you want to understand the three underlying qualities which are permanent, you have to develop certain noble qualities and virtues. As has been declared by Krishna in the chapter on devotion, the aspirant who has attained the 26 noble qualities is very dear to the Lord. But there is no need to have all 26 qualities. In a match-box you will find a large number of matches. If you want a fire, you do not have to strike all the matches; only one needs to be struck to provide all the fire you want. If you fully develop one or two of these virtues within you, then the others will also develop of their own accord. But they must become an indelible and integral part of you before you can hope to understand the principle of the atma. In striving to acquire these virtues, you will encounter certain negative qualities within you. They are your internal enemies. They will try to keep you from manifesting these virtuous qualities.
In the previous chapter, the virtues of forbearance and patience were discussed. Now we will take up their opposite evils, jealousy and hatred. Jealousy and hatred are twin thieves. The one cannot live without the company of the other. There is an inextricable relationship between them; they will always take shelter within each other. Hatred may be compared to an underground pest and jealousy may be compared to an above-ground pest. Together they can destroy a tree. Consider a tree which is very green, which is flowering and producing fruit, which is very attractive to look at. When pests enter this tree the tree will become dry within days. One of the pests will go to the branches and leaves above while the other strikes at the roots below. While the one spoils the beauty of the tree the other will try to destroy the very life of the tree. They will always accompany each other.
So it is also with jealousy and hatred. Wherever there is jealousy there will also be hatred, and whenever hatred is visible you will find jealousy lurking invisibly behind. Hatred takes on a particular form. It manifests itself in various ways. For jealousy there is no form; it remains hidden under the surface. It has been said that there is no person in the world who does not suffer from some jealousy; there will be at least a small tendency towards jealousy in every person. To make sure that this jealousy and hatred do not enter your system you have to develop selfless love. Where there is selfless love there is no place for jealousy and hatred to enter and take hold. When jealousy and hatred are kept out, you can have the experience of divine bliss.
Beauty is a form of bliss. Wherever there is beauty you will also find joy. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. What is beauty? Is it the world which imparts beauty to a thing or is it already inherent in the object? We have seen how all things undergo change. Consider all these things which undergo change, how long can they remain beautiful? Only that which is permanent can be beautiful. The one permanent entity is God, and so God alone is beautiful. There is nothing in the world which is more beautiful than God. The most important duty of a devotee is to drink the nectar of bliss which emanates from that beauty. To imbibe and fill yourself with this divinity, which is so full of beauty, there is the need for acquiring certain virtues. In order to develop these virtues you will have to destroy the weaknesses and shortcomings that fester within you.
Jealousy can even come into your relationship with the divinity. It is a form of arrogance, wherein you think of yourself more than you think of the Lord, and become jealous of the undue attention you feel is being given to the Lord. There is an example of this in the Mahabharata, the great epic detailing the war between the forces of righteousness and evil, in which Arjuna fought on the side of good, and Lord Krishna was his charioteer. During that great war, Arjuna was seated in the chariot behind Krishna, who was driving the chariot. On the eve of the war, Arjuna had heard all the teachings explained and expounded by Krishna, which make up the Gita, but he was not yet fully ready to practice them. He felt that Krishna was a very great person, a divine teacher, but he was not able to understand the full divinity of the Lord.
The great war was going on and some of the most fearsome weapons were being employed on the battlefield. On one particular day, Arjuna was battling with the grandfather, Bhishma, who was the generalissimo of the other side, and was considered one of the greatest warrior of that age. During that fight, a number of very powerful and terrible missiles shot by Bhishma entered Arjuna's chariot, but caused no harm to Arjuna. Arjuna fought brilliantly all day, skillfully wielding his bow while directing the chariot, using his feet to push against Krishna's shoulders, who would then steer the horses, to turn the chariot to the right or left.
The battle raged unabated with neither side gaining an upper hand until finally towards the end of the day, Bhishma swooned in his chariot and withdrew from the scene. At that point, Arjuna, exhausted but triumphant, blew his conch to proclaim victory in the fight that had been raging that day. Arjuna certainly had faith in the divinity, but at that moment he also felt a little arrogant. In that moment of glory, he felt that he was responsible for the victory and that, after all, Krishna had not fought, but had only driven the chariot.
It was after sunset when they turned the chariot towards home. As soon as the chariot reached the Pandava camp, Krishna halted it some distance from the tent, turned to Arjuna and said, "Arjuna, please get down and go into the tent." Arjuna who was a little puffed up with egoism thought to himself, 'I fought and won the battle today. Krishna was only the charioteer directed by me. Properly speaking, he should get down first and open the door for me. That would be the correct protocol.' And so Arjuna said to Krishna, "I think you should get down first." But Krishna insisted, "No Arjuna, you get down first." As this interchange continued, Arjuna developed some dark thoughts and began to feel some resentment towards Krishna.
Arjuna said to himself, 'Here I have been thinking that Krishna was so great, and it is surely because I had complimented him and expressed my admiration for him that he is now acting like this, considering himself more important. Well, it is my own fault. But yet, the war is continuing, it has to be fought and I need Krishna, so it would be best if I didn't develop any strained feelings between us. Getting into an argument with him now would certainly not be in anyone's best interest.' So, very reluctantly, Arjuna got down from the chariot. After he got down he stood near the chariot. Krishna continued pressing Arjuna, "Don't stand here. Go into the tent." Left with no alternative, Arjuna entered the tent. Krishna jumped down immediately, leaping a long way from the chariot. The moment Krishna came out, the entire chariot exploded into flames and was destroyed to ashes.
Arjuna and Dharmaraja, his eldest brother, who were both watching from a distance, were astounded. Arjuna asked Krishna, "What just happened here? What is responsible for this spectacle?" Krishna answered, "Arjuna, no one understands my actions. For the divinity there is never any selfishness or egoism. The protection of my devotees is my only concern. The benefit and encouragement of my devotees is my only wish. I kept all those fearsome weapons which were employed by Bhishma and had entered the chariot, harmlessly under my foot. As long as I had my foot on them, they were not able to exercise their powers over you. If I had alighted from the chariot first, these weapons would have destroyed you along with the chariot. You would have been reduced to ashes. Being unaware of this, you asked me to get down first."
The moment Arjuna heard these words of Krishna, he realized his own arrogant and ignorant behavior. He was exhibiting all the signs of jealousy. Finding fault with the divinity and thinking that he was greater than Krishna can be seen as a form of jealousy.
There are a number of important signs of jealousy. Jealousy makes its appearance when you meet a person who has earned greater fame than you. Or it will develop when a person has more wealth than you. Jealousy will also show its head when you come into the presence of a person who is more beautiful and handsome. For students, jealousy will soon appear if there is another student who scores higher marks than you. It is the weakness of ordinary human beings to develop jealousy whenever they come in contact with people who excel them in terms of wealth, position, beauty, intelligence, and other such qualities.
Jealousy will not live harmlessly inside you. The moment jealousy enters all the virtues which you have cultivated over a long time, all the great qualities which you have developed, are destroyed. It ruins the human nature; it strengthens the animal nature; it promotes the demonic nature. It has no scruples. It does not look forward or backward. It is such an insidious quality that you must see to it that jealousy will never possess you. Enjoy the prosperity of others. Enjoy the progress of others. Enjoy the welfare of others. Enjoy the beauty of others. This is true virtue. This is one of the most important teachings of the Gita. Desiring the good of others is a laudable quality which everyone should possess.
There is an ancient story of a devout woman who had a reputation of being completely equanimous and free of jealousy. Even her name meant 'without jealousy'. When the three aspects of divinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, which are the creative, the preservative and the destructive principles of divinity, came to test her, her extreme purity of heart was able to win them over and turn them into little babies. She became like a mother to them. In her presence, they remained happily nestled in her arms.
The three aspects of divinity also represent the three qualities in nature, the active, the passive, and the cyclical, which govern all phenomenal life in the world. These three qualities make up our experiences in the world, and the three aspects of divinity are the substratum of these qualities. Therefore, the deeper meaning of this story is that when you are free of jealousy, everything in the world will be like a babe in your arms. You will be its mother, it will look up to you and follow you. Truly, once you are free of jealousy you will be able to conquer anything.
But it cannot be emphasized too strongly that when you have jealousy, it will destroy all your good qualities. You may think that it will destroy others but in fact it will destroy you, not the others. It will make you sick. You will not be able to sleep well. You will not be able to eat well. Even if you are totally healthy, once jealousy takes hold of you it will cause all kinds of physical ailments to sprout up in you. It is like an inner consumption. Just as tuberculosis creeps in and consumes, so also jealousy weakens you without your realizing it. It can get into you in any number of ways and will ultimately destroy you.
Jealousy is a vicious disease which must not be permitted to gain a foothold. You must feel that God will always bless you with his grace. Even if you are in a lesser position than you think you deserve, you should enjoy the happiness of others. You should be glad to hear of their accomplishments and not feel sad just because they have things which you do not have. Jealousy is all-pervasive in this immoral age. It is prevalent in all types of people, be they worldly or spiritually inclined. It is mostly because of jealousy that people lose their peace of mind and waste their lives. Along with jealousy, backbiting and hatred soon make their ugly appearance. If you are the target of these evil qualities in others, your best protection is the great virtue of forbearance. Here is a small story.
Buddha was walking along the country-side begging for alms. He was approaching a village. Many people in that village had a great affection for Buddha. But just before he reached the outskirts of the village, some young rowdies loitering along the road began to jeer at him. A little surprised at this reception, Buddha stopped and sat down on a rock. He said to them, "Well, gentlemen, what pleasure do you derive from criticizing me?" Without giving any reason, they increased their denunciation of Buddha. Buddha said, "Continue as long as you want." They berated and reviled him to a point where they got tired of their own invective. Buddha's forbearance was so well developed that their hatred could not touch him. At first they were having a good time, but finally, having exhausted themselves without getting the reaction they wanted, they decided to go away.
As they were walking away, Buddha called out to them, "Children, I want to tell you something. In the village just beyond here, there are many people who love me very much. If they were to hear that you have been denouncing me in this vile way, they would cut you to pieces. In order to save you from that danger, I have stayed here on this rock and allowed you to criticize me. In that way I have given you a gift. Without spending a single cent, without making any effort, I have been able to give you so much enjoyment by allowing you to berate me. Rather than feel unhappy with your criticism, I am glad because I have been able to give you some pleasure and spare you from serious harm."
Then Buddha explained yet another important point to them in a way that made an indelible impression on their hearts. "Suppose a poor monk comes to your house and asks for alms. You bring some food out to him. But suppose the type of food you are offering is ritually impure and not acceptable by the monk. What will happen then? Since he has not accepted your offer, you will have to take it back and it will remain with you. Similarly, you are offering me all this criticism. These are the alms you are trying to give me. But I have not accepted your offerings. Well then, you will have to keep them; they remain with you. So you see, all your criticisms are really just being redirected to yourselves. You are not criticizing me at all!"
One can send a letter by registered post to a friend. If the friend does not accept this registered letter, what will the Postal Department do with the letter? It will redirect it back to the person who sent it. If you are criticizing someone but this person does not accept your criticism, then inevitably the criticism comes back to you. Do not think that by voicing the jealousy and hatred you may be feeling, that you will be troubling those to whom these odious sentiments are directed. In truth, you will only be troubling yourself. Jealousy and hatred will create great difficulties for the one who is infected with them. Jealousy and hatred spring from egoism. Here is a small example.
There was a devout religious man who took great joy in cultivating a garden full of beautiful flowers and fruits. Even though he was steeped in spiritual knowledge, he had developed a strong touch of egoism within him. The moment egoism developed, jealousy also entered. When egoism and jealousy make their appearance, hatred automatically joins them. God took a personal interest in this errant devotee. God saw that this person, although he had all the proper religious outer trappings, had nevertheless, filled his heart with poison. God decided to correct him by teaching him a lesson. The Lord manifested himself in the form of an old mendicant and took a stroll by that garden.
The old mendicant went to a recently planted tree and greatly extolled the beauty of that tree. Noticing the garden owner nearby he asked him, "Who is the gardener responsible for cultivating such a fine tree?" The proud owner puffed himself up and said, "Sir, it is I who have brought up this entire garden. I grew this tree and I raised all the other trees that you see here, as well. By my own efforts I developed all these pleasing paths and made this beautiful garden. I alone look after everything here. There is no hired gardener. I am the one who draws the water. I spread the manure. I pull the weeds and I remove the pests. I clean the paths. I am developing these beautiful flowers and fruits, doing all these things for the sake of giving joy to others." In this way he went on repeating I... I... I.
Appearing to appreciate the beauty of the garden, the old mendicant continued to dwell there for awhile, while the owner busied himself nearby, grooming his garden. After some time the mendicant left. A little bit later a cow entered the garden. She was so weak that she was about to fall and destroy the plants that were there under her body. The owner of the garden saw that this cow was about to spoil his beautiful garden. So he took a small stick and threw it at the cow to chase her out. But the moment the stick touched the cow, the cow fell down and died. Now, in his religion, cows are considered very sacred, and should never be molested or harmed. Having thrown the stick from which the cow dropped dead, he would now have to suffer the great sin of killing a cow. He was aghast at this terrible turn of events.
It was not very long afterwards that the same old mendicant came back into the garden. Walking along the path where the cow had strayed, he saw the dead cow and was shocked. He sought out the owner and urged him to quickly come to the spot. The mendicant asked, "Who killed this cow? Who committed this outrage?" When the owner did not answer immediately, the old mendicant asked more directly, "Tell me, do you know who killed this cow?" The owner replied, "Surely it was the will of God. Without the will of the Lord, would she have died just like that? Unless she was meant to die, would she fall down and expire just because a little stick touched her?"
The moment the old mendicant heard this he told the man, "Previously you told me how it was you alone who was responsible for raising this whole garden, how you alone planted and nurtured all these plants and put in all the paths. You were taking credit for all the good things that have happened here. But for anything that is wrong and inauspicious you put the blame on God. You are an arrogant, self-serving fool, so puffed up with your own importance that you won't even acknowledge the Creator's hand in bringing forth all the beauty that is here. You are taking credit for that which belongs to God. You are even jealous of God. If not for the will of God, there would be nothing in your garden."
At this point, the old mendicant revealed his true identity. He said, "I am the Lord himself. I have come to destroy your egoism." The erring devotee fell at the Lord's feet in contrition. The devotee realized how ego had stolen into him, had gained a foothold, and then had completely taken him over. Now, he understood the deeper meaning of the spiritual teachings that he had been mouthing for so long. He realized that everything is imbued with the divinity, and therefore, he should see the divinity everywhere and live his life with the knowledge that down to the minutest detail, everything is under the control of the divinity.
You must take care that you do not develop egoism and its henchmen, hatred and jealousy. Once they take root within you they will be very difficult to eradicate. When you have become infested with these bad qualities you may not be so fortunate as this devotee and get the attention of the Lord so directly, to help you eradicate them. You will not be able to exterminate jealousy merely by reading scriptures or engaging in spiritual rituals. But by making a determined effort to transform your thoughts and develop selfless love, you can destroy this pest. Offer up all your negative thoughts at the feet of the Lord and fill yourself with unwavering love and forbearance.
So long as you have jealousy you can never shine. All the great virtues in you will disappear. The Gita has taught that the primary spiritual practice is to develop ideal virtues and apply them in your daily life. In this way, you create favorable circumstances for yourself. When you lead a virtuous life, you will be able to experience the principle of the atma. But if you do not develop the great qualities and apply them to your daily life, you will never be able to realize the divinity.
The light of the atma is everywhere. It is not limited to any one person or form. It shines as an effulgence, filling the entire universe. It may take any form and any name. It is the very basis of every name and form. Take for example the light that is emanating from a bulb, or the breeze you get from a fan, or the heat you get from an electric cooking stove, or the work you get from an electric motor. The effects are all different. The work done by the motor is different from the breeze obtained from the fan. The light obtained from the bulb is different from the food cooked on the stove. The effects are different, the machines are different, but going through all of them is the one electric current. The same is true for the principle of the atma. In different bodies it manifests differently, but underneath there is the same unity.
The luminosity of the electric light is proportional to the current that flows in the bulbs. The light that shines forth from the bulbs can be compared to the atmic effulgence which shines in individuals. Light has no shape or form, but bulbs come in various shapes and strengths. An incandescent bulb has a particular form; a fluorescent light has a different form. The dining-room bulb may be very bright; the bulb in the bedroom may be quite dim. Because of ignorance you may think that if the one type of electric current powers both the bedroom bulb and the dining room bulb, why should there be a difference in the light? The difference comes about because of the bulbs.
Similarly, there is a difference in the expression of love in various hearts. If your love is wholesome, full and complete, you will be able to manifest the fullness of the atmic effulgence and shine brightly. If you have a narrow selfish love, it will be something like a dim bedroom bulb. It is not a question of current; the potential for providing any amount of current is available and ready. You must change the bulb in order to get a greater light. If you are filled with jealousy, then the power of the light will be very small. If you have the effulgence of selfless love, then the power will be something like a 1000 watt bulb. Therefore, develop your love. It is possible to recognize the divinity only with the help of love.
In order to see the moon, there is no need for you to shine a flashlight on it. By the light of the moon itself you can see the moon. If you want to see and perceive God who is always love itself, then only through love will you be able to see him. It is impossible to see him if you are filled with hatred. Hatred is the very opposite of love. Hatred is something like blindness.
However powerful a light you shine on a blind man, he will not be able to see the light. As long as you have bad qualities, the divinity which is very near will not be perceived. When you are free of jealousy, when you are free of egoism and hatred, you will be able to directly experience the effulgence of the divinity. A person who has opened his eye of wisdom will shine with the God-presence. A person who has closed his eyes with ignorance will not be aware of God. By closing your eyes you will have to search all over for a towel which may be directly above you on a shelf, very close by. If you open your eyes you will be able to place your hand right on it. The wise person whose eyes are open to the divinity and who is not beclouded by ignorance, directly perceives God and reaches him.
You become wise when you become fragrant with virtues. But if you are saturated with bad qualities, with doubts and all sorts of jealousy and hatred, you will not be able to understand anything at all. That is why it has been said, 'Death is sweeter than the blindness of ignorance.' You must free yourself from ignorance. Jealousy is an evil which develops that ignorance. Therefore, students who have very tender hearts, who have a bright future ahead of them and much progress to make, should never give room to jealousy.
If any person in your class gets an outstanding grade you should not succumb to jealousy. You can also work to attain an outstanding grade. If you have not achieved that and you also feel jealous, then you will be making two mistakes. In the first place, you have not studied adequately, otherwise you would have done better; and in the second place, you have darkened your heart with jealousy. Then crying over it is your third mistake. You should not develop these bad qualities which are sure to cause you so much trouble; they can even destroy a whole family which was previously happy and enjoying all the goodness of life.
While explaining these principles to Arjuna, Krishna told Arjuna, "For your evil cousins, the one hundred brothers who have been plotting to destroy the Pandavas' joy and happiness, it is their evil qualities which encouraged them to do all their wicked deeds. People who are jealous attract bad people for company. These cousins have with them their evil uncle, who encouraged them in their enmity towards the Pandavas. He is filled with jealousy. These are all blind people. Just as their father is physically blind, all hundred brothers are mentally blind. They join together and fall in line with one another. But you can be sure, Arjuna, that the bad qualities in these people will destroy them." As Krishna predicted, not even one of these hundred brothers survived the war to perform the funeral rites for their parents. This is the great tragedy of falling into hatred and jealousy.
If you want to really understand the Gita, then you have to start by developing all the good qualities and virtues that have been discussed. Once these good qualities are part of you, you will be able to experience the divinity directly.
Anything you desire can be gotten from a wish-fulfilling tree. The Gita is such a wish-fulfilling tree. It will grant you whatever you are ready to receive. It will give you the level of understanding which reflects your own particular desires. In this age, people are interpreting the Gita incorrectly, because they are filled with so many wrong desires. And so, the Gita has been of little use to them. But, you must develop your virtue and fill yourself with love. Then the lofty message of the Gita will shine within you and inspire you to reach the divinity. To reach the divinity is your birthright. It is your unchanging reality, your undying truth.
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