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Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe Give a Damn About You and Me? (Gita Talk 9)

October 17, 2011

(This week we are discussing the climactic Chapters 10 & 11 of the Gita.
For next week please read Chapter 12)

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)

What do you you think of Chapters 10 & 11?

What are your favorite passages?

What questions do you have?

What comments would you like to make?

All Blogs in the Series:

Welcome to Gita Talk:
Online Discussion of the Bhagavad Gita. (Round 2)

Ongoing Resources:

Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations

Yoga Demystified

The Original Sixteen Session Gita Talk

Join Gita Talk Facebook Group for weekly notices
and to meet fellow participants.

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  1. Tilopa permalink

    It's a relief to hear Arjuna's whinning quiet down a bit and for him to realize that his childhood friend is none other than the master of time and space! Not like it was too hard to tell in the first place(maybe him being blue would have given it away)!

  2. victoria permalink

    My favorite verses are the last two of chapter ten. I will quote from Easwaran’s translation since most of us already have Mitchell’s at hand.

    “Wherever you find strength, or beauty, or spiritual power, you may be sure that these have sprung from a spark of my essence.” “But of what use is it to you to know all this Arjuna? Just remember that I am, and that I support the entire cosmos with only a fragment of my being.”

    I probably respond more easily to Easwaran in general because the language is poetic and to these verses in particular because the ideas are familiar. Because the language is still strange to my uninitiated mind, the BG leads me to enjoy again thoughts & prayers I have known since childhood. Such are God/Jesus saying “I am” and that the holy spirit is within each one of us.

    Since the BG is such an important text, I am glad that Krishna says he will accept devotion no matter to whom it is directed. I am glad I am not asked to switch religions.

    Nicely, because the BG is so long, this reading experience has encouraged me to live with a few basic truths: behave rightly, detach from outcome (which I need to do so often,) the divine is within us & our best is good enough.

    I did not like the BG at first because it seemed to ask of me to believe in dogma, and I resist that mightily no matter where the pressure issues from. Now having read more glorious chapters I can throw a whole bunch of verses in the “disregard” pile, along with dogma and other stuff from the Bible.

    So basically, encountering old thoughts in strange territory causes me to greet them happily, with a “hail fellow well met”

    • Hi, Victoria.

      I love your commentary here, which corresponds to my own zig-zag path loving the Gita. I love it for all the reasons you cite, and had the same problems with it on my first and second readings (partly because of the version I happened to start out with).

      It was partly the desire to help other people get through that that motivated me to start Gita Talk and do all the work constructing Gita in a Nutshell

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

      Bob W. Editor
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  3. Tanya Lee Markul permalink

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  4. Great question! I've been feeling a bit beaten up by the Universe for the past few days. I love that the Gita points us back to a sort of neutrality about these things…the Universe is wondrous and infinite and since we are part of it and in it – so are we. The enormity of all of it helps me have perspective on problems that are really just a teeny tiny drop in a vast ocean.

    My favorite from these chapters:

    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)

    Love it. Don't want to over-analyze. Just feel very uplifted by that statement.

  5. victoria permalink

    Bob, in that zigzagging path to love the Gita, what kept you trying?

    • Hi, Victoria. Two things.

      First of all, I was already steeped in the writings of Stephan Cope and Rod Styker, and I knew they were Gita-driven.

      Secondly, I found a lot of power in the text from the beginning, so I figured I just had to dive back in and engage with it more.

      Ultimately, the better translations and commentary of Schweig and Mitchell were critical as well, I think. (I came upon Easwaran's later.) After 5 or 6 versions, I started to want to discuss it with others, so I started the first Gita Talk.

      From that I finally decided I might be able to explain what I had learned to others, in a way what would not be so tortuous as my own path, so I did all the work on Gita in a Nutshell.

      Great question. Thanks.

      Bob W. Editor
      Facebook Twitter

  6. victoria permalink

    Thanks for answering re: zig zag path. Am reading Easwaran's Upanishads and am loving them. Now I look forward to reading the next chapter of BG with new insight. Now I understand one has to meditate on a regular basis to access state of dreamless reality more easily. I understand how BG is a handbook managing our current "reality" (am I right?) I think I now know what BG is talking "about." These two texts seem easier to understand as a bundle. If any one else out there can share the story of their zig zag path towards appreciating the BG I would be grateful. Zigging and zagging about describes how I reach different levels of understanding.

    I am especially relieved to be expanding upon my existing understanding of our human spirit, rather than at square one in a totally strange religion. Hope I make sense.

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