Thursday, March 27, 2003

What would Krishna say?

The entire foundation of Indian spiritual philosophy is based on the Bhagwad Gita , the quintessential guide to living our lives as perfected human beings, as divine incarnations who have somehow, under the influence of Maya, forgotten that our true nature is Absolute Truth, Absolute Existence and Absolute Bliss. But while caught in this time-space-ego bound spider web we are not conscious of this Universal Oneness that inter-connects us all, that makes us all move and swirl and twirl and fall and soar as a whole. Like it or not, we have no choice in this, just like each wave in the ocean can rejoice in its uniqueness for a little while, but soon enough, it has no choice but to flow back into the ocean.

Krishna, though, advocated with great alacrity and flourish, that the only way out of the web was to go deeper and deeper into it, with no expectations of escape or reward before, during or after the struggle. And only this process of unconditional participation in the game of life would eventually break the spell of delusion and liberate us from this quagmire of hope and frustration, pleasure and pain, love and hatred, life and death. But the only way out was through it, with dynamic dispassion and sublime detachment.

The stage for all this brilliant philosophizing is the massive battlefield of the longest, deadliest war in ancient India. Between Kauravas and Pandavas, two warring kingdoms of the same dynasty. The bloody saga is replete with hidden agendas, massive campaigns spreading misinformation and distrust, crafty generals, weak kings, arrogant heirs, back-stabbing ministers and manic lust for power and precious resources. Oh, and a hopeless, hapless populace that has no voice or choice over its own destiny.

Arjuna, the mighty warrior on the side of Good (a relative term, depending on who is recording history, I guess) enters the battlefield and scans the teeming forces of Evil (again, relative) facing him and goes: Jesus! (no, not Jesus, he had yet to make his entry. Well, Shiva!, then) I can't fight these people. They are my own flesh and blood: uncles, cousins, teachers, friends and elders. Nothing good can come out of this war, only bloodshed, despair and widespread destruction! People will lose trust in their kings and governments, children will die due to malnutrition and neglect, the ecology will be permanently destroyed and no man will ever trust a friend a brother a lover or a human being ever again. Why are we creating this catastrophe? Why am I participating in this Sin against humanity? What good can possibly come of such indiscriminate and wide-scale destruction?

And Krishna, Arjuna's charioteer (god incarnate to his many devotees in later times as viewed through the rosy filters of passing time) delivers the highest, grandest and disbelief defying philosophy of the Bhagwad Gita. His passionate eloquence, pristine logic and brilliant presentation blew huge holes into Arjuna's defenses of grief, anger, despair and self-doubt.

Regardless of whether one can fully comprehend the complexity, richness and sheer audacity of Krishna's logic, the essence could not be simpler and more lucid:

-- I always was, I always am and I always will be, Eternal, Unbound and Absolute.
-- I am Brahman, the Pure Consciousness while in my Unmanifested State.
-- I evolve from Brahman into this Universe of matter and energy. And I involve from matter and energy back into Brahman. And this evolution and involution is the nature of Reality for all eternity.
-- As the Universe I express myself through many many forms, shapes and names. Each time I embody a form, I come into the grips of Maya and forget who I really am. I believe that I am this separate, individual body, mind and soul.
-- While in this state nothing can convince me otherwise until I seek the Truth in desperate earnestness from the deepest core of my being.
-- This Truth is mine to have. It is within me, it always was. And when I see it, I also see through the delusion of this self-imposed prison of fear and craving, hating and loving, living and dying, destroying and reconstructing.
-- This Truth is simple: that while I'm in the game, I must play the game. The only way out of it is through it.

And so I do. I must. There is one difference though: now that I know the Truth, I can play the game but not lose myself in it.
And that's when I can live and love and fight and strive in spirited participation yet unconcerned detachment. That's the reality of the game. It can't be won and it can't be lost. It just has to be played for the sake of playing it.
Don't despair because we are all playing the game. Some of us have realized the bigger scheme of things and therefore can play without losing our Self completely in it. And some of us, who haven't gotten it yet, will continue to play in blinding unconsciousness and complete Self delusion until it's their time to search within.

But each one of us has to go through this process for ourselves. There is no short cut and there is no grand prize at the end.
For there is no end. There is only freedom when my last strand of Maya dissolves and I step out of the Chakra of life and return to my state of Absolute Brahman.

So, what then of war and resolutions and sanctions and weapons of mass destruction? Who's good and who's evil? Who's winning and who's losing?
Who is really experiencing all of this? Me? You? Or me as you and you as me? Or All of us in all of us and as all of us? As one complex, inter-connected, temporarily deluded but eternally perfect Whole?