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The Eternal Message Of The Gita-The Seer And The Seen-V

Seer And Seen, Reality
While this realization is accessible to our buddhi, it is beyond the organs of perception and the processes of the mind (Gita, 6.21). But man is trapped in the workings of his mind: Plunged into ignorance, he can only accept the teaching of verse 13.2 through an act of faith, i.e. faith in the sacred scriptures. The Mandukya Karika explains how the conclusions of Revelation are also those which philosophical enquiry is leading us to. For this reason it would not be justified to depreciate 'revelation' and faith, which hold a legitimate place in spiritual discipline. The teaching given by Sri Krishna in verse 13.2 is eminently metaphysical. At the same time His words constitute a 'revelation': He identifies the 'seer' with Himself, who is the Lord.

Now that we have made it our objective to obtain the highest knowledge, we find that we are prevented from doing so by our psychological automatisms. That is why we have to accomplish, indefatigably, the inner work which our intellectual intuition calls forth and encourages. At the same time this inner work is bound to end in an impasse. The words spoken by Sri Ramakrishna in this context are most significant: 'When will I be free?—When the "I" ceases to be.' Now, then, it is not just through an analysis of the mental processes that this 'I' will go. On the contrary, the more it is studied, the more it asserts itself. It is only through a rigorous enquiry that we shall be able to grasp our experiences as an integral whole, and not as a combination of different fragments. The metaphysical intuition is an 'infused' knowledge which comes with the letting go of the ego, when everything has been renounced. (Gita, 18.66)

After letting go of the ego, only one vision remains: that of the Lord, that of the Kshetrajna who is behind all the Kshetras, including our ego. The power of ignorance (avidya) is employed to direct our attention to 'name' and 'form' (nama-rupa) which are constantly changing, and the reality then seems to be divided into innumerable 'seens'. To the sage, however, there is no such multiplicity in the 'seen', and his vision is not attended by mental tension. If the ordinary vision may be compared to a circle, the centre of which is fixed, while its circumference represents the infinity of objects perceived, the vision of the sage, on the other hand, does not have a centre. Or rather, its centre is everywhere and its circumference nowhere, according to the expression of Pascal which was frequently quoted by Swami Vivekananda.

In this perspective the apparent conflict between the 'seen' and the 'seer' is solved. The Kshetrajna is the metaphysical 'reality', the akshara, the Lord. Remaining in each 'seen', the 'seer', 'That which does not perish, when all has perished,' is the infinite possibility of 'seens'. Shankara says that 'our experience of the world is a continuous perception of Brahman'.

About the author

Swami Siddheswarananda

Swami Siddheswarananda (1897-1957) was a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, and for twenty years until his death, the spiritual head of the Centre Vedantique Ramakrichna at Gretz, France. This commentary of the learned Swami on the various themes of the Gita was orginally published in French in the 'Bulletin of the Centre Vedantique' during 1955-57. This article is the fifth instalment of a series of about a dozen articles, each independent in itself. English translation and editing was done by Mr. Andre van den Brink.

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Story first published: Monday, March 9, 2009, 15:12 [IST]
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