Two: The Yoga of Discernment


The Unborn is Indestructible

Arjuna remains crumpled-up in defeated fashion with a long, forlorn frown on his face; Krishna, the Divine Avatar of Immortal Consciousness, addresses him thus:

2.2 Why do you act cowardly, especially in this time of your great spiritual crisis? You are inflicting a grave injustice to those who uphold the Ariyan Spirit. What a shameful disgrace you are inflicting upon your-self; in this fashion you shall never behold the Noble Shores of Suchness.

2.3 Never yield to weakness when it arises in your spirit, it does not become you. Get-up! Forsake this pettiness and Recollect your Rightful Stature: Awaken!

As stated in the last segment the Gita is all about Spiritual Warfare, and Arjuna is in danger of losing his Noble (Ariyan) Spiritual Stature. Krishna wastes no time in “jump-starting” Arjuna’s stalled fortitude. He doesn’t stroke him by trying to gently soothe his cowardly countenance, rather he manly shouts, “Get-up!” Arise and Recollect your True Worth in the eyes of the Unborn. This is somewhat akin to what Jesus said to the disabled man after he cured him—“Pick-up your mat and walk!” No beating around the bush, no kiddy-coating what this Salvific Action is all about—just “get-up” now on your own power and “awaken” to the True Life in the Spirit.

But Arjuna remains adamant. He continues mumbling about how great the opposition is. It is better to grovel-about like a wounded puppy than striking any of these worthy elders-down. He’s giving into a “piteous weakness of spirit” insisting that he’s just not up to the fight. It’s obvious that Arjuna’s [self-worth] was becoming non-existent. He has no spiritual-guts left in him. So, he, who once was the conqueror of armies, again implores upon Krishna, like a frantic wretch, to listen and reason with him about his refusal to engage in his Noble Responsibility—which ultimately is a responsibility to his own Self/Mind.

The Blessed One then addresses him,

2.11 Why do you incessantly continue to lament over those whose spirits are not worthy? You may assume yourself wise-hearted in this matter, but the Truly Wise weep not for those who cling to life or those who are in fear of death.

2.12 Recollect! Was there ever a time when I, yourself, and your precious kin here were not; will there ever come a time when our Self will cease to be?

2.13 The embodiment of this Self will experience childhood, youth, middle-and old age, and then will consequently acquire another embodiment. Yet, this Karmic-Truth does not disturb the Pure Mind.

2.14 The skandhic-body will continue to experience the elements of cold and heat, will continue to be plagued with sensations of pleasure and pain. Yet, the skandhic-body is impermanent. This realization is to be patiently endured and no more.

2.15 The wise-spirit is not disturbed with any sensate sensations, whether good or bad, and so is prepared for the taste of immortality.

The Ariyan Spirit/Mind is impervious to any image of life or death. The Actual-Self is not existent or not ever non-existent in the conventional sense. It IS as Such and No-Thing more. Just be aware that the body consciousness is skandhic-based and hence inadequate for silencing the karmic-chimes of Samsara.  The awakened Self is never perturbed with sensate-based reality and hence can patiently endure whatever comes and is thus better prepared for pari-nirvana.

2.16 There is no Real Substance in the impermanent. Non-Being does not exist in the Real Substance. This certainty can only be perceived by those who See with the Imageless Eyes of the Real Substance.

*This is only knowable through the Lankavatarian perspective. For a closer explanation within the Samkhya philosophy from which this verse was by and large originally spawned, the following by Kendra Crossen Burroughs citing Yogananda is helpful:

“That which is not” is the ever-changing Nature (Prakriti); “that which is” is the eternal Spirit (Purusha in the Samkhya philosophy) or Self (Atman in Vedanta). “The ocean can exist without the waves, but the waves cannot manifest without the ocean. The ocean is the real substance, the waves are only temporary changes on the ocean, and therefore ‘unreal’ (in themselves they have no independent existence). The ocean, in essence, does not change whether it is calm or restless with waves; but the waves change their forms—they come and they go. Their essence is change, and therefore unreality” (Yogananda).[Burroughs, Kendra Crossen (2011-05-10). Bhagavad Gita: Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Illuminations) (Kindle Locations 1577-1582). Jewish Lights Publishing. Kindle Edition.]

2.17 The Unborn Spirit is all-pervading and is indestructible.

The imageless Unborn Spirit is all-encompassing in Its Changeless Stature. It was never born and will never die, hence It Is Indestructible.

2.18 Recollect that the skandhic body consciousness and its sheath of bones and sinews is destructible; yet the Embodied Self that animates this mortal carcass shall always endure; so fight the good fight, the right-fight, Arjuna!

2.19 Anyone who imagines that the Spirit (embodied Self) kills or can be killed suffers from avidya. Hence the True Self is immune from the desire to kill or the fear of being killed.

2.20 Never born, the Self will never die. Nor will Its imageless actuosity ever cease from functioning. Unborn, Uncreate and Ever-Enduring, the Primordial-Self-Same-Animating Mind will never perish once the mortal carcass rots-away. 

2.21 Arjuna, when you awaken and Recollect your Immortal Self, That imperishable Unborn Spirit-Mind, just who is it in your mind that is doing any slaying or who can be slayed?

The uncreated Selfhood does not move. It cannot uncreate, nor, since it is birthless, be uncreated.

2.22 Like discarding a worn-out set of clothing, just so does the Spirit, like a moth emerging from its rotting cocoon, abandon the suit of one’s mortal carcass. 

2.23 No created-thing affects the Self. No-weapon is able to pierce-it. Fire cannot scorch it, water cannot dampen nor submerge it, and the blowing wind cannot ravage it.

2.24 Hence, It cannot be pierced, burned, moistened or withered. IT is Eternal, Unmoving; and fantastically primeval.

2.25 It is Unmanifested, Immutable and Inconceivable. Knowing now the Spirit-Self As Such, what more have you to tremble about?

2.26 The Divine Atman (Self) never enters the unhallowed canals of birth and death. Even if your body-consciousness imagines it not to be so, does your Actual-Self even care about this unwholesome thought?

2.27 Whatever is born will surely die; whatever dies will surely be reborn. Never mourn this inevitability.

2.28 There are always beginnings and endings, and in the middle only intervening material formations. Why express grief for these inevitable consequences?

2.29 Those who attempt to know the Self devoid of the Self-realization of Noble Wisdom, can only speak “about it” given their own limited perceptions and frames of reference.

2.30 The seed of Self-nature is imbedded within all sentient beings. It’s Unborn Nature is Indestructible. Do not grieve for the temple that houses the Immortal Spirit.  

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16 Responses to Two: The Yoga of Discernment

  1. n. yeti says:

    This bitch – slapping Arjuna receives from Krishna is not an exhortation into the moral vacuum, but a reminder of the very essence of spirit which motivates krishna’s indifference to Arjuna’s paralysis of existential ennui. He is reminding Arjuna to detach self identification from the things of mortal life, pointing to the salvific jewel of faith in the indestructible essence of spirit.

    • Vajragoni says:

      “This bitch – slapping Arjuna receives from Krishna is not an exhortation into the moral vacuum, but a reminder of…”

      Heh-heh! He really does rough him up a a bit–like a good ol’ Zen Master of old.

  2. n. yeti says:

    In the old testament, Elias retreats to his cave, fearing things of the world, and he is visited by the Holy Spirit who admonishes him for this and urges him out of the cave and into meeting his duty in life. I feel this is the same essential teaching. Buddha said in the dhp: if something must be done, do it.

  3. Methexis says:

    A year ago or so, the Hare Hare Krishna ISKCONs who came to my door to sell me a Gita for 20EUR. (They said: “20EUR is the recommended price but you can give as much as you’d like” and indeed, the the scrooge that I am, I gave them 9EUR only!)

  4. Methexis says:

    (Hard-cover so at 9€ it was a bargain.)

  5. Methexis says:

    Great Nirvana Sutra (Yamomoto trans.)

    Manjushri said: “You the Buddha say that there are the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure, and that these are the Real. If so, all tirthikas, too, must have real truths. This may not be in the Buddhist teaching. Why so?” (page 186)

    The Buddha said: “O good man! If there are shramanas and Brahmins who say that there are the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure, they are no shramanas and Brahmins. Why not? Because they are lost in birth and death and are far away from the Great Guide. Because such shramanas and Brahmins are sunk in all the desires and despoil Wonderful Dharma. All these tirthikas are chained to the prison-house of greed, anger and ignorance, and assiduously love and take pleasure in these. All these tirthikas know that karma results are of their own making and that they have to reap them, and yet they cannot segregate themselves from them. What all these tirthikas practise is not Wonderful Dharma, not right living, and is not self-support. (pg 187)

    *tirthikas = non-buddhist eternalists

  6. n. yeti says:

    Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Every mystical tradition has the equivalent of a zen beating it seems.

  7. n. yeti says:

    Methexis that verse is not applicable to students of the buddhadharma who should “know all doctrines”. Finding inspiration in the gita is not to reject the wonderful dharma.

  8. n. yeti says:

    I interpret Buddha’s famous disdain for charlatans as distinct from what we are discussing here which is the allegorical encounter with spirit.

    • Vajragoni says:

      “I interpret Buddha’s famous disdain for charlatans as distinct from what we are discussing here which is the allegorical encounter with spirit.”

      Indeed, in particular with such a high caliber as the Gita.

  9. N. Yeti says:

    Yes especiallly when you can get a copy for half price, as Methexis did.

  10. Methexis says:

    “I would like to examine verse 449 from the Padhana Sutta. The verse describes Mara’s ‘defeat’ and reads, ‘The lute fell from the armpit of that one overcome with disappointment. Then that discouraged one disappeared there and then’. Now throughout the sutta the Buddha’s adversary is called by three names – Mara, Namuci or Kanha. Now this last name can be translated as ‘Dark One’ or ‘Darky’ and of course its Sanskrit equivalent is Krishna.

    Now we meet with Krishna under his alternative name of Vasudeva in the Ghata Jataka (No.454), a story very similar to the one about Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana.

    But what is the Hindu god Krishna doing trying to hinder the Buddha attaining enlightenment in the Sutta Nipata? Well, Krishna is probably the most amorphous of all Hindu deities. He can be the insatiable lover, (some Indians even associate the blue color of Viagra pills with Krishna), the adorable child, the trickster, the brave warrior, the noble friend, the thoughtful philosopher, the incarnation of God, etc.

    He is most commonly depicted today playing a flute, and in earlier times, a lute (vina), as in the Sutta Nipata. The best ‘biography’ of Krishna I know of is in Trevor Ling’s outstanding ‘A History of Religion East and West’ (1968).

    But whatever Krishna became later, he started off as an aboriginal fertility god, similar to Pan (you know, dalliancing in the wood with the shepherdesses and playing his pan pipes).

    His aboriginal origins also explain his color, although the Aryan distaste of blackness caused him to become blue as he was gradually incorporated into Hinduism.

    But at the time of the Buddha, Krishna was a popular but minor a god of sensual love and in that role he tried to distract the Buddha from his noble quest.”

    taken from

    • Vajragoni says:

      Your extreme distaste and intolerance for Krishna and anything of Hindu origin is quite apparent in your posts, Methexis. Fact is, this present manifestation of Krishna is on par with other Supra-Avatars of a Golden Age, in league with Christ and Gautama Buddha himself. Truth is not exclusively within the Buddhist brand. You can quote all the “anathemas” you want from those who are recalcitrant within their own spiritual camps (even some of Gautama’s statements have been redacted time and time again to suit the whims of a given community), but when the True Song of Spirit is being revealed, why then I’m obliged to study it and see its revelation in many diverse settings. Heck, if Charlie Manson began proclaiming The Unborn—which can only emanate from the Absolute Spirit of Truth, then I’d be obliged to cover him as well.

  11. n. yeti says:

    Hmmm…have you told zennist about this in regard to the dark principle?

    I think there is some confusion as to what the gods are in hinduism. They are archetypes, similar to Buddhist tantra. Some Buddhists might get stuck in literal interpretations. As the eighth incarnation of vishnu, krishna does have something of the boyish upstart about him and is referred to by arjuna as the agitator. This has many emanations in the stream of mind.

  12. n. yeti says:

    Truth can only emanate from the atman in suchness with krishna, and whether such gods are truth or illusion, it is still fruitful to meditate on consciousness. Once it becomes apparent what we are seeing, the apparent and unseen together suggest another light which makes it possible to see. This is sometimes referred to in buddhism as a dharma eye. Devotional forms may vary but I think their teleological essence is of the same supreme spirit or buddhic nature recounted so inspiringly in this passage. Who does not know despondency, who has not questioned why this is, and found there is better recourse than wavering eternally in anguish. These are things of the mind which arjuna created, and must by him be extinguished to achieve a divine union of spirit of krishna (buddha).

  13. Methexis says:

    No distaste – I just do not possess your certainty that there’s an underlying unity or even sameness behind all these spiritual traditions. If you’re confident they’re all talking about the same, without differencen …. well, I just remain more prudent.

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