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The All-pervading Reality

Part 75 of the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

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Light

That light which resides in the sun, which illumines the whole world, which is in the moon and in fire–know that light to be mine (15:12).

In chapter thirty of his autobiography Paramhansa Yogananda has written the following:

“Among the trillion mysteries of the cosmos, the most phenomenal is light. Unlike sound-waves, whose transmission requires air or other material media, light-waves pass freely through the vacuum of interstellar space. Even the hypothetical ether, held as the interplanetary medium of light in the undulatory theory, can be discarded on the Einsteinian grounds that the geometrical properties of space render the theory of ether unnecessary. Under either hypothesis, light remains the most subtle, the freest from material dependence, of any natural manifestation.…

“‘Fiat lux! And there was light.’ God’s first command to his ordered creation (Genesis 1:3) brought into being the only atomic reality: light. On the beams of this immaterial medium occur all divine manifestations. Devotees of every age testify to the appearance of God as flame and light. ‘The King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.’ (I Timothy 6:15-16)

“A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light; to him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land. Free from matter-consciousness, free from the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time, a master transfers his body of light with equal ease over the light rays of earth, water, fire, or air. Long concentration on the liberating spiritual eye has enabled the yogi to destroy all delusions concerning matter and its gravitational weight; thenceforth he sees the universe as an essentially undifferentiated mass of light.”

Everything is light, for everything is God, who is Light (I John 1:5).

Power

Entering the earth, I support all beings with my energy. Having become the watery moon, I cause all plants to thrive (15:13).

Ojas means vitality, vigor, luster, splendor, and energy, including spiritual energy. It is the power which accomplishes all things in the cosmos. It is even the power within the light of the moon, the power that governs the growth of plants. It is not just Divine Power, it is Divinity itself, for God is also Power.

Fire

Becoming the digestive fire, I abide in the body of all living beings. Joined with prana and apana, I digest the fourfold food (15:14).

God is Vaishvanara, Cosmic Fire, which includes all forms of manifested fire, including digestive fire in the bodies of sentient beings. Fire is the most precious external element that human beings possess. In our technological age we cannot image how essential fire is, and how necessary it used to be to preserve fire. The scratch of a match, the flick of a gas-powered lighter, or a turn of a knob produces this vital thing. Now the only time we even see fire is when we cook or make fire for our amusement. It has become as disregarded and taken for granted as God, whose manifestation it is.

In ancient times fire was worshipped or honored as a gift of God and an extension of God’s being. This was true even in early Christianity. Even now in India fire is saluted when kindled for either cooking or light, and devout Hindus in the cities salute the electric light when it is first turned on in the evening.

The all-encompassing Being

What a profound state of consciousness it is to see God in all things at all times–to understand that “in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). To underline this Krishna says:

Seated within the hearts of all, from me come memory and knowledge and their loss: I alone am to be known by all the Vedas; I am the Author of the Vedanta, and the Knower of the Vedas (15:15).

Brahman is in our hearts as the inmost Indweller, the source of our consciousness and life. Since everything comes to us from God; so also does their departure. Knowledge (understanding) and memory of experience from which reason arises, as well as knowledge and memory of our self-nature, come and go, originating in and returning to God. For he is the eternal Antaryamin: indweller, inner guide, inner ruler, the “witness” who dwells within every living being.

What is found as subject in the writings and discourses of the wise–that is Brahman. For there is none other of which to speak. He originates Wisdom, teaches Wisdom, and is the Knower of the end of Wisdom: his own Self, Brahman.

The immortal

There are two purushas in this world–the perishable and the imperishable. All beings are the perishable, and Kutastha is called the imperishable (15:16).

It is not the spirit that is perishable, but its wrappings, the various sheaths or bodies. Yet, the spirit is “perishable” in its experience of those bodies until it awakens to its true nature. In this verse Brahman is called Kutashtha, which means changeless, immutable, and “dweller in the height,” or “on the summit.” Unlike Brahman, we dwell in the bottom lands and undergo suffering and change.

But there is also the Highest Purusha, called the Supreme Self, the eternal Ishwara, Who pervades all the three worlds and sustains them (15:17).

Brahman has two aspects–transcendental and immanent. The previous verse is speaking of the immanent, the personal Ishwara aspect of God. The perishable purushas live within Ishwara and can communicate with him. But our association with the personal aspect of God is meant to end when we ourselves become transcendental and can pass from all relative worlds into that Absolute beyond all relativity.

Since I transcend the perishable and am also above the imperishable, so in this world and in the Veda I am known as the Supreme Purusha [Purushottama] (15:18).

The impersonality of Brahman can seem barren, even antiseptic, to us who are so used to the realm of Ishwara, so Krishna then says:

He who, undeluded, thus knows me as the Supreme Purusha, he, knowing all, worships me with his whole being (15:19).

When we truly know Brahman in its transcendent aspect the response is intense devotion–wholehearted worship. Sri Ramana Maharshi is a perfect example of this. Though uncompromisingly non-dual in his ways and words, he was deeply devotional, often shedding tears of love when hearing the lives and words of saint-devotees of God. How important it is for us to have this perspective as well is seen by Krishna’s closing words in this chapter:

This most secret teaching has been imparted by me; awakened to this, a man becomes wise and all his duties are fulfilled (15:20).

Read the next article in the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: The Divine and the Demonic

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Introduction to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Preface to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Bhagavad Gita for Awakening links:

  1. The Battlefield of the Mind
  2. On the Field of Dharma
  3. Taking Stock
  4. The Smile of Krishna
  5. Birth and Death–The Great Illusions
  6. Experiencing the Unreal
  7. The Unreal and the Real
  8. The Body and the Spirit
  9. Know the Atman!
  10. Practical Self-Knowledge
  11. Perspective on Birth and Death
  12. The Wonder of the Atman
  13. The Indestructible Self
  14. “Happy the Warrior”
  15. Buddhi Yoga
  16. Religiosity Versus Religion
  17. Perspective on Scriptures
  18. How Not To Act
  19. How To Act
  20. Right Perspective
  21. Wisdom About the Wise
  22. Wisdom About Both the Foolish and the Wise
  23. The Way of Peace
  24. Calming the Storm
  25. First Steps in Karma Yoga
  26. From the Beginning to the End
  27. The Real “Doers”
  28. Our Spiritual Marching Orders
  29. Freedom From Karma
  30. “Nature”
  31. Swadharma
  32. In the Grip of the Monster
  33. Devotee and Friend
  34. The Eternal Being
  35. The Path
  36. Caste and Karma
  37. Action–Divine and Human
  38. The Mystery of Action and Inaction
  39. The Wise in Action
  40. Sacrificial Offerings
  41. The Worship of Brahman
  42. Action–Renounced and Performed
  43. Freedom (Moksha)
  44. The Brahman-Knower
  45. The Goal of Karma Yoga
  46. Getting There
  47. The Yogi’s Retreat
  48. The Yogi’s Inner and Outer Life
  49. Union With Brahman
  50. The Yogi’s Future
  51. Success in Yoga
  52. The Net and Its Weaver
  53. Those Who Seek God
  54. Those Who Worship God and the Gods
  55. The Veil in the Mind
  56. The Big Picture
  57. The Sure Way To Realize God
  58. Day, Night, and the Two Paths
  59. The Supreme Knowledge
  60. Universal Being
  61. Maya–Its Dupes and Its Knowers
  62. Worshipping the One
  63. Going To God
  64. Wisdom and Knowing
  65. Going To The Source
  66. From Hearing To Seeing
  67. The Wisdom of Devotion
  68. Right Conduct
  69. The Field and Its Knower
  70. Interaction of Purusha and Prakriti
  71. Seeing the One Within the All
  72. The Three Gunas
  73. The Cosmic Tree
  74. Freedom
  75. The All-pervading Reality
  76. The Divine and the Demonic
  77. Faith and the Three Gunas
  78. Food and the Three Gunas
  79. Religion and the Three Gunas
  80. Tapasya and the Three Gunas
  81. Charity and the Three Gunas
  82. Sannyasa and Tyaga
  83. Deeper Insights On Action
  84. Knowledge, Action, Doer, and the Three Gunas
  85. The Three Gunas: Intellect and Firmness
  86. The Three Kinds of Happiness
  87. Freedom
  88. The Great Devotee
  89. The Final Words
  90. Glossary

Visit our e-library page for Free Downloads of this and other ebooks in various formats.

Read the Maharshi Gita, an arrangement of verses of the Bhagavad Gita made by Sri Ramana Maharshi that gives an overview of the essential message of the Gita.

Read The Bhagavad Gita (arranged in verses for singing) by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri).

Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary

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