|THIRTEEN: SPIRIT AND MATTER
“Arjuna asked: My Lord! Who is God and what is Nature; what is Matter and what is the Self; what is that they call Wisdom, and what is it that is worth knowing? I wish to have this explained.
Lord Shri Krishna replied: O Arjuna! The body of man is the playground of the Self; and That which knows the activities of Matter, sages call the Self. I am the Omniscient self that abides in the playground of Matter; knowledge of Matter and of the all-knowing Self is wisdom.
What is called Matter, of what it is composed, whence it came, and why it changes, what the Self is, and what Its power – this I will now briefly set forth. Seers have sung of It in various ways, in many hymns and sacred Vedic songs, weighty in thought and convincing in argument.
The five great fundamentals (earth, fire, air, water and ether), personality, intellect, the mysterious life force, the ten organs of perception and action, the mind and the five domains of sensation; Desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, sympathy, vitality and the persistent clinging to life, these are in brief the constituents of changing Matter.
Humility, sincerity, harmlessness, forgiveness, rectitude, service of the Master, purity, steadfastness, self-control; Renunciation of the delights of sense, absence of pride, right understanding of the painful problem of birth and death, of age and sickness; Indifference, non-attachment to sex, progeny or home, equanimity in good fortune and in bad; Unswerving devotion to Me, by concentration on Me and Me alone, a love for solitude, indifference to social life; Constant yearning for the knowledge of Self, and pondering over the lessons of the great Truth – this is Wisdom, all else ignorance.
I will speak to thee now of that great Truth which man ought to know, since by its means he will win immortal bliss – that which is without beginning, the Eternal Spirit which dwells in Me, neither with form, nor yet without it. Everywhere are Its hands and Its feet; everywhere It has eyes that see, heads that think and mouths that speak; everywhere It listens; It dwells in all the worlds; It envelops them all.
Beyond the senses, It yet shines through every sense perception. Bound to nothing, It yet
sustains everything. Unaffected by the Qualities, It still enjoys them all. It is within all beings, yet outside; motionless yet moving; too subtle to be perceived; far away yet always near.
In all beings undivided, yet living in division, It is the upholder of all, Creator and Destroyer alike; It is the Light of lights, beyond the reach of darkness; the Wisdom, the only thing that is worth knowing or that wisdom can teach; the Presence in the hearts of all.
Thus I have told thee in brief what Matter is, and the Self worth realising and what is Wisdom. He who is devoted to Me knows; and assuredly he will enter into Me. Know thou further that Nature and God have no beginning; and that differences of character and quality have their origin in Nature only. Nature is the Law which generates cause and effect; God is the source of the enjoyment of all pleasure and pain.
God dwelling in the heart of Nature experiences the Qualities which nature brings forth; and His affinity towards the Qualities is the reason for His living in a good or evil body. Thus in the body of man dwells the Supreme God; He who sees and permits, upholds and enjoys, the Highest God and the Highest Self. He who understands God and Nature along with her qualities, whatever be his condition in life, he comes not again to earth.
Some realise the Supreme by meditating, by its aid, on the Self within, others by pure reason, others by right action. Others again, having no direct knowledge but only hearing from others, nevertheless worship, and they, too, if true to the teachings, cross the sea of death. Wherever life is seen in things movable or immovable, it is the joint product of Matter and
Spirit. He who can see the Supreme Lord in all beings, the Imperishable amidst the perishable, he it is who really sees.
Beholding the Lord in all things equally, his actions do not mar his spiritual life but lead him to the height of Bliss. He who understands that it is only the Law of Nature that brings action to fruition, and that the Self never acts, alone knows the Truth. He who sees the diverse forms of life all rooted in One, and growing forth from Him, he shall indeed find the Absolute.
The Supreme Spirit, O Prince, is without beginning, without Qualities and Imperishable, and though it be within the body, yet It does not act, nor is It affected by action. As space, though present everywhere, remains by reason of its subtlety unaffected, so the Self, though present in all forms, retains its purity unalloyed.
As the one Sun illuminates the whole earth, so the Lord illumines the
Those who with the eyes of wisdom thus see the difference between Matter
and Spirit, and
know how to liberate Life from the Law of Nature, they attain the