February 20, 2007

Gita XIV-----Freedom vs. Determinism

The problem facing man is the integration of his personality, the development of a divine existence in which a spiritual principle has the mastery over all the powers of soul and body. This integral life is created by the spirit. The distinction between soul and body which links man with the life of nature is not an ultimate one. It does not exist in radical sense in which Descartes affirmed it. The life of the soul permeates the life of the body, even as the bodily life has its effect on the soul. There is vital unity of soul and body in man. The real dualism is between spirit and nature, between freedom and necessity. In the integrated personality, we have the victory of the spirit over nature, of freedom over necessity. The Gita which looks upon both aspects of the supreme affirms that we can spiritualise nature and communicate another quality to it.

The problem of freedom vs. determinism has meaning only with human individuals. It has no application to the Absolute which is above all opposites or to the subhuman species of plants and animals. Man is possessor of freedom. The whole teaching of Gita requires man to choose the good and realize it conscious effort. There are however many impediments to this problem of choice. Man is complex multi-dimensional being, including within him different elements of matter, life, consciousness, intelligence and the divine spark. He is free when he acts from the highest level and uses the other elements for the realization of purpose. But when he is on the level of objective Universe, and feels that he is subjected to the necessities of nature, he is not without hope, for one spirit, operates at all levels of being. Even matter is a manifestation of the supreme. There is an element of spontaneity and creativity inexplicable in terms of mechanical forces even in the lowest forms of nature. Each plane of our being has its own consciousness, its habitual ways of feelings, thoughts and action. The ego should not persist in retaining its obscure and limited consciousness, which is a distortion of its true nature. The light of consciousness stands in its own nature empirical self with its shifting tides of experiences is controlled by buddhi (wisdom) in which the light of consciousness is reflected.

(to be contd.)

February 04, 2007

Gita XIII (addendum)—The Individual self

Our intellectual nature produces self-consciousness; it leads to the emergence of the human individual from its original solidarity with nature. Most of us, by finding our specific place in the social world, give a meaning to our life and gain a feeling of security, a sense of belonging. Any sense of satisfaction and security derived by submission to external authority is bought at the price of the integrity of the self. By developing our inner spiritual nature, we gain a new kind of relatedness to the world and grow into freedom, where the integrity of the self is not compromised. We then become aware of ourselves as active creative individuals, living, not by the discipline of external authority but by the inward rule of free devotion to truth.

The individual self is a portion of the Lord, a real, not an imaginary form of the supreme, a limited manifestation of God. The soul which derives from the Supreme Isvara is not so much an emanation as a member of the Supreme. The soul’s substantial existence springs from the Divine intellect and its expression in life is effected by virtue of its vision of Divine who is its father and its ever-present companion. Its distinctiveness is determined by the divine pattern and the context of the senses and the mind which it draws to itself. The universal is embodied in a limited context of mental-----vital-physical sheath. No individual is quite like another, no life repeats another’s and yet a single pattern runs through all of them. The essence of ego, the distinguishing characteristic of human personality is a certain creative unity, an inner purpose, a plan which has gradually shaped itself into an organic unity.