THE BHAGAVAD GITA - XIII:2
by Paramahansa Yogananda
(Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita)
O Descendant of Bharata (Arjuna), also know Me to be the Kshetrajna (Perceiver) [ Witness - the Universal Spirit & the individualized soul ] in all kshetras (the bodies evolved out of the cosmic creative principle and Nature). The understanding of kshetra [ the known ] and kshetrajna [ the knower ]—that is deemed by Me as constituting true wisdom.
—The Bhagavad Gita XIII:2
This stanza refers to the immanent omniscient nature of Spirit. It is He alone who is manifested as countless souls. A yogi is a possessor of true wisdom who understands that God is the only Kshetrajna, the one Perceiver in creation, singularly and in all souls encased in physical bodies. God is the only subjective, perceptive, and objective principle existing in and manifesting as the cosmic dream creation. It is the Lord Himself who becomes all subjective dream beings. He is the cognitive principle in all sentient creatures and in everything else. He also manifests Himself as all dream objects and as the dream bodies in creation. The understanding of these truths constitutes true wisdom.
The human mind is conditioned to believe in the testimony of the senses, with their substantive "proof" that "I" exist—"I" perceive and feel and think. It is therefore confounded by the paradox that this subjective "I" is naught else but He, the omniscient Spirit. If the likes of man were indeed God, then God Himself would be imperfect and limited. The mind thus concludes that since God is perfect and man imperfect, there must be two subjective principles rather than one. How then do the scriptures attest that all is Brahman, and "thou art That" (Tat tvam asi)?
Something cannot come from nothing; nor can it be resolved into nothingness. Everything that exists has to be supported by an enduring substance that survives the transformations of change. That which changes and yet is permanent cannot be considered finite, for that substance remains the same through all processes of change. But the change itself, because it is not constant and does not remain the same, is therefore finite, limited by the factors of form, time, and space.
For example, water can be heated and transformed into invisible vapor. When cooled, the water reappears as steam and then liquid, which can be refrigerated and turned into solid ice. The ice can be melted into water again. The water thus passes through different changes and forms, while yet essentially remaining the same. It is the process of change that is limited; the resultant forms will not survive changes.
The motion in time and space that we call change is not lasting, for it does not survive time. In this world of relativity, nothing is exactly the same as it was a moment ago. It is said that one cannot bathe twice in the same stream.
Everything in the universe is a stream of relativity that is in perpetual flux. In even inert objects, the constituent atoms are in constant motion, and some decay or change is taking place.
Why then are sentient beings so seemingly far removed from their perfect Essence? Why do beings not know they are Spirit and behave accordingly? The motion of change in the Changeless presupposes cause and effect, relativity—one idea or force that produces an effect that consequently interacts to influence a variant outcome—in an endless proliferation of variables. God's will to create is the original Cause. The potentials or principles to produce the many from the One through interacting relativity are God's creative power, or shakti, Maha-Prakriti. The conglomerate workings of these principles are collectively called maya, the cosmic delusion of multiplicity.
Maya is a cosmic hypnosis that veils the Singular Reality and imposes the suggestions of manifestation. The cosmic consciousness of the One Perceiver, experiencing these transformations of maya, becomes correspondingly individualized as many souls. The soul, experiencing and interacting with the workings and manifestations of cosmic maya, has its own identity, or avidya, individual delusion, and thereby becomes the body-identified ego. Like its essence, Spirit, the soul is ever pure and unchanged. But when expressing outwardly, it is subject to the laws, or principles, of manifestation. Attuned to the divine intelligence of the indwelling soul, the resultant being is pure, noble, and wise. But the more the consciousness yields to the tangled interworkings of Nature operating through the sensory mind, the more limited and deluded the ego becomes. But even if it sinks to the depths of ignorance and evil, the consciousness never loses its divine soul potential. Eventually, the inner magnetism of Spirit will cause that individualized consciousness to seek the way to ascension through the choice of right action that links it to the uplifting divine power inherent in Nature's laws.
A hypnotist may suggest to a subject that he is seeing a ferocious tiger. The subject sees the beast and shrieks in terror. Now the hypnotist only suggested the vision of the tiger, but did not ask the subject to be afraid of it. The fear that the subject felt was self-suggested and came from his own being, from the potentials of emotion and experience within him. Similarly, God, the Master Hypnotist, through His power of maya has suggested to individualized souls to visualize the universe with all its intricacies and details. The perceptions of individualized consciousness, being personalized by avidya (individual delusion), become elaborated by feeling. Under the influence of the sensory mind, feeling expresses itself as emotions—such as fear, attachment, repulsion, desire. The Master Hypnotist did not suggest that individualized souls be afraid or courageous, miserable or happy. These are their own creations.
Emotions are personalized thoughts reacting to the materialized ideas of God's creation. These sensory-conditioned feelings are man's own ideas, the outcome of his individualized interrelation with the materialized ideas of God.
Ideas are finite; they are fleeting, moving along and changing in time and space. But their underlying substance, the enduring consciousness of one's existence, which perceives and cognizes the ideas— and which carries on the diverse operations of willing, imagining, remembering them—is constant. As ego, manipulated by the sense mind, it reacts emotionally and unwisely in response to the circumambient relativity. But when the consciousness is freed from the workings of Nature's phenomena, it shines forth as the soul, the perfect reflection of the omnipresent, omniscient Spirit. Thus is the One in the many, and the many in the One. Both exist, but as eternal and relative states of the One Consciousness.
(God Talks with Arjuna p.876)