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Gita in a Nutshell #8: Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe Give a Damn About You and Me?

January 12, 2011

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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

#7: Is the Gita Asking Us to Repress Our Emotions?

#9: Different Yoga Strokes for Different Yoga Folks

(Complete contents at
Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations
To receive notice of each weekly blog,
please join our Facebook group.)

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  1. I think these passages really tie in to the concepts of last week's discussion about emotion. It's not about not caring or not showing emotion. It's about coming from a place of equanimity where we can experience the full range of emotion but still have a greater perspective. The Universe (or Krishna) is the perfect example of this. How we achieve this equanimity is by truly knowing, understanding and practicing 10.7-10.8;

    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)

  2. Bob, thanks for directing me here- love the post. Great question, and wonderful reflections.

  3. Pamela permalink

    I just keep asking myself why. Why make it so we are so cut off from our basic nature of goodness, why do we have to work so hard to get a glimpse of this other world- thiis aspect that ties everything together and explains eveything. Is it that when we realize what exactly we are made of all of these opposing views become straight forward and obvious. Why is this missing key, there all around us all the time but we can't see it.

    I think to get this, you have to be so far on the path, that only then does it make sense. Meer mortals like myself, just think, help.

    • Perhaps the problem Pamela is that we ask 'why' in the first place? Perhaps if we learnt to turn off that part of us that questions and analyses, we'd find that what is left is the wonder and love that Bob describes.

      Love, Ben

    • Here's a poem that answers your question quite directly I think, Pam. To me Yoga is not about working hard at all. It's about just relaxing and paying attention:

      Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?
      How did it make you feel?
      Did it fill you with wonder and awe?
      Did it startle you out of your ego?

      Did you feel the infinite grandeur
      And timelessness Of the universe?
      Did it make you feel small
      Yet in a strange but unmistakable way
      Infinitely large, too
      As infinite as the universe itself?

      Spiritual enlightenment
      Is when we suddenly realize
      That we’re staring at the wonder
      Of the Grand Canyon
      Each and every moment
      Of each and every day.


      • love this thanks for including me

      • Pamela permalink

        Thank you for your responses. I think I was trying to be honest about my mind running around itself, needing to find answers. I appreciate the advise on giving in and letting go – and the grand canyon, I completely get. Ego is a terrible thing to see, well it is for me, I am so immersed in it, that even when I do connect to the other realms which happens pretty frequently I am still brought back to this life so totally.

      • Hi, Pamela. You are not alone. What you say is true for all of us to some extent. It certainly is for me. Maybe that's why they call it a Yoga "practice"!

        This reminds me of Mother Theresa's memoirs, published after she died. This paragon of absolute sainthood was in reality struggling all her life, right up to the end, with despair and frustration with God. This doesn't make her any less wonderful, just completely human like the rest of us.

  4. Beautiful discussion, Bob. It's fascinating just how different translations are from one another. In the versions I have (Gandhi's and Easwaran's) I think the authors are a bit more direct and literal in their translations from the original Sanskrit verse, but I love how Mitchell's wording is so poetic. Your article reminded me of the oh-so-often-quoted WIlliam Blake poem:

    "To see a world in a grain of sand,
    And a heaven in a wild flower,
    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
    And eternity in an hour."

  5. freesoul permalink

    If I believe in that I am divine, than the universe must give a damn. And this supports my statement
    "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)

    I also believe the universe has its own sense of order which at times I can't understand and I try not to but try to live in that flow of the universe. It allows me to know that I belong to the whole and therefore, I can say "yes" to your question. I see the soul in all things and I see the divinity in all beings (and yes it is hard at times w/some whose light is dim, yet their divinity is within), it is everyone's birthright.

  6. Alan H permalink

    Short answer: Not likely. Most likely answer: No. You say "But at the same time, the universe (Krishna) is also everything moral and human, too." How do you know that? Isn't it anthropocentric to project the concept "human" and the the concept "moral" (which as far as we know doesn't exist beyond the human) onto the universe?

    When the universe begins to show guilt for destroying people in earthquakes and hurricanes, I might reconsider. Until then, color me unconvinced.

  7. john permalink

    Thank you so much for this experience…. just stumbled upon it recently. Wonderful questions & thoughtful discussions. I especially enjoyed Frank’s perspective and will contemplate his words … it is difficult to believe that the universe which is infinite beyond my understanding cares or pays attention to me & my little ego … we are a small planet at the edge of a galaxy in the backwater of the vast universe of billions of galaxies … it seems a bit funny to me that we think we are so special … it seems just another aspect of ego … I like the idea that what we are is “connected” not “special” … part of the stardust of stars that exploded millions of years ago and somehow gave birth to life – like the old Crosby, Stills & Nash song … we are part of the universe, but how does our sense of what is moral fit into it all … is not our sense of morality built on considering not just our own desires & wants but those of others & the greater whole? I am not sure I see that in the wider universe which swallows stars & destroys galaxies in a constant cycle of creation & destruction …. do we, out of ego, just need to believe that we are so special that the universe cares about us? and yet I feel so blessed and I remember Jesus’ words about considering the birds of the air and the lilies of the valley … the last paragraph of Frank’s thoughts –
    “Waking up is realizing “I” am not inside my body, looking out on a universe that is separate from me. “I” am what the whole universe is doing right here and now and “YOU” are another of the infinite ways that the totality of the universe’s various causes and conditions comes together doing whatever the universe is doing right where ‘you’ are here and now!” seem quite profound & give me something to think about in answering this question. Thank so much for this “space” & this opportunity. j

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Gita a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations | elephant journal
  2. Gita in a Nutshell #9: Different Yoga Strokes for Different Yoga Folks | elephant journal

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