Kshetra (the field) and the Kshetrajna (knower of the field)

A central message of the Bhagavad Gita is that of the Kshetra (the field) and the Kshetraajna (the knower of the field)

The importance placed on this can be seen in the verses in Chapter 13 of the Gita.

Kshetra, refers to both the external field of materiality as well as the internal field of the body-mind complex. The external field would include all manifested phenomenal existence, which would include all the objects of sensory perception. That is to say whatever we identify with our everyday sense of ‘this is the world I live in’ is included in the ‘external’ field of Kshetra.

The ‘internal’ field of Kshetra includes physical, mental and emotional components of the body-mind complex.
The range of sensations, conceptual thought processes and patterns as well as the range of emotions are included in the word Kshetra.

The Kshetrajna (‘jna’ signifies knowing), would be the knower of the external phenomenal objects and the internal psycho physical realms.
Ksehtrajna is a quality of knowing which is beyond any conceptual thought process.

Once there is a ‘seeing’ or ‘knowing’ of a particular thought or emotion, there is this understanding that on a deeper level we are not that what is now seen and this results in a shift in what one would otherwise identify oneself as.

A natural progression of inquiring into the external and internal fields would be the seeing of their inter-connectedness and an understanding of their inherent non dual relation, that is diminishing of the gap between what one would otherwise construe as ‘external’ and ‘internal’.

In other words, inquiring into Kshetra includes inquiring into all subject-object conceptions, that is the sense of ‘this is who I am and this is the world I live in’ or ‘this is me’ and ‘this is you’.

The Kshetrajna, the knower of the Kshetra, then is a quality of consciousness beyond subject-object conceptions and reflects our deeper non conceptual nature. This consciousness is also called the non dual/absolute/timeless consciousness and is another name for Brahman.

Since ‘Lord Krishna’ says that he is no other than the Kshetrajna, we can see him as this quality of consciousness.

The Kshetrajna is the one from whom all the modes of external and internal consciousness arise from and return to.
That is a primordial consciousness which is fundamentally not affected by any sense of personhood nor from any time bound experience but rather from which the very sense of individual personhood along with the sense of time arise from and to which they return to.

We can see that to be interested in the message of the Gita is then an interest and a willingness to examine, analyse and to de-construct our fundamental belief (or rather mis-belief) in who we are and the world in which we live in.

In the language of the Buddha, the Kshetrajna can be compared with his depiction of ultimate reality and the Ksehtra with conditioned reality.

On the non conceptual consciousness which changes the very nature of subject and object.

On examining the sense of a subject (the sense of me) and the sense of object (the sense of what constructs the world I live in, including the people and things associated with me), we see that they are intimately related to each other. The sense of ‘me’ and what ‘I perceive’ constantly influence each other and in fact shape each other with the continuation of time. It is not possible to have a sense of who ‘I am’ without the sense of what ‘I percieve’.

An everyday sense of ordinary consciousness is defined by language which conceptualises who I am and who and what I am related to.

Central to ancient indian traditions including Vedanta and the teachings of the Buddha is the existence of a consciousness prior to the subject-object relationship, that is the existence of consciousness where there is no language and is before the sense of ‘I’.

Broadly speaking, practices of meditation are designed to point one towards a glimpse of this consciousness which represents our ‘ ‘true nature’ and the existence of a deeper reality.

Here I look at the movements between the non conceptual and the conceptual consciousness, that is a vivid flavour of a consciousness where there is an absence of ‘I’ and then looking at what happens when ‘I appear’.

There is not much which can be said about the non conceptual consciousness as it transcends the realm of language but however it is possible to speak about the consciousness which arises after one has accessed and abided in the non conceptual for a period of time.

There is in many ways a re-wiring of consciousness which takes place with this shift.
On examining the objects of perception which appear when the sense of ‘I am’ resumes after an accessing the non conceptual consciousness, it is seen that the nature of the objects are changed after there has been an abiding in the non conceptual.
That is to say, that there is a direct relation between the objects of perception and the very fabric of consciousness itself. Once the fabric itself is changed, the objects which now appear are transformed.
Since there is a direct relation between the objects of perception and the subject (the sense of ‘I’) which perceives them, the sense of ‘I’ itself changes.

Hence we are speaking of a transformation of the very sense of ‘I’ and ‘my world’ with an access (particularly for extended periods) in the non conceptual consciousness.
The non conceptual consciousness is another name for the Vedantic term of nirvikalpa samadhi (meditation/absorbtion where there is no sense of subject and object)

If this is repeatedly practiced, there can be a remarkable transformation in the sense of individual personhood, and this is the power of meditation in changing karma.

In the language of Vedanta, accessing the non conceptual consciousness is the access of the avykata (the unmanifested) which is the realm before the conceptual consciousness or the vykata (the manifested).
We see in the very structure of Sanskrit language how the word for person (vyakti) is related to what manifests (the vyakta). That is the individual person manifests out of a deeper depth of unmanifested consciousness.

This is a basic framework for how meditation can lead to a significant transformation and effectively one can find a sense of being reborn in a different world altogether.

On Brahma Vidya

The Upanishads deal with the inquiry into the nature of Brahman (the ‘ultimate’ non dual consciousness).

The investigation into Brahman, is essentially an inquiry into the realm of the formless, that which lies behind all what appears in the phenomenal/form based realms of Nama Rupa (name and form).

In many ways all of what is seen as saguna (with attributes) rituals and worship associated with the vedas can be seen as arising of this understanding of the nirguna (the attributeless less).
The science of Brahma Vidya i at the heart of all what is associated with contemporary Hindu spirituality.

The Upanishad makes a powerful statement (vakya) as ‘Brahman Jagat Karanam’ – that is, all what is seen in Jagat( the world) has its karanam (cause) in Brahman.
Jagat here is seen as the many fold worlds of appearances which are constantly playing out in one’s perception.
These worlds with the various the people and objects in them and indeed the sense of a personal body – mind complex at the heart of these worlds all have their cause in this non dual consciousness.

A belief in this view sends one’s attention and interest into the fabric of consciousness itself which lies ‘behind’ that what is percieved by the senses.

Brahman is seen as ‘Sarva Upadhi Vishesha ‘ which echoes the sentiment of the previous vakya. Brahman is the source of all (Sarva) attributed arisals of phenomena (upadhi visesha)
All objects of perception including the various attributes (physical, mental and emotional) of the body-mind complex which perceive them arise out of Brahman.
The non dual absolute consciousness hence lies before the very appearance of the sense of personhood and the seeming reality inhabited by that sense of personhood. The very sense of ‘me’ and ‘you’ has hence a fundamental and dependent relationship to the ultimate consciousness and in order to understand ‘me’ and ‘you’ and this’ and ‘that’ one’s attention needs to be turned back to the consciousness upon which the very arising of the sense of ‘me; depends upon.
While all what has attributes arises out of Brahman, Brahman itself is beyond attributes (Nirvishesha) and beyond conceptual description.

It is important to understand that there is no negation or denial of the existence of the ordinary sense of a time bound person existing in a reality limited by space (Desh), time (kale) and objects (vastu), but rather the interest is in the inquiry into that which the sense of ‘I’ as well as the sense of’ space, time and objects depend upon.
We can see the grandness of the inquiry.

Brahman is further depicted as the destroyer (‘vidhvasta’) of all the dharma upadhi. That is to say that not only do all phenomena arise out of Brahman, but they are also destroyed by or that they cease to be by being absorbed back into this undivided fabric of consciousness.
Brahman is seen as that out of which all the mental states and the various phenomenal realities arise out of and that to which they are absorbed back into. All the conditioned worlds are reduced to a state of ‘Shanthi’ (peace) by their resolution into this consciousness.
Brahma as a destroyer, Vishnu as a preserver and Shiva as a destroyer are included within the inquiry into Brahman.
The Gods which are worshipped in present day India are depictions of the non material forces of nature which belong to the realm of the avyakta (the unmanfiested) and in Vedanta as well as in Sankhya the attempt is to have a direct insight into the unmanifested itself.

While we say that Brahman is the very cause itself of all what is contained in the manifested worlds, we inquire into Brahman by investigating the various phenomenal realities themselves.
That is to say, by understanding how the various appearances arise, change and cease to be, we are pointed towards that which transcends them which is Brahman.
This rather analytic approach is rather similar to the Buddha’s teaching on Patticasumupada (‘dependent arising’).
It is worth noting that the Buddha was familiar with the systems of Vedanta prevalent at his time and did say that he was not teaching anything new but rather something which was very ancient.
There are indeed many similarities between the ultimate reality as pointed out by the Buddha and the eternal Brahman, particularly if the focus is on actually following the process illustrated by either path and looking at what sort of experiences follow as a result.

Brahman is described as ‘ear of ear’ (shotrasya shrotram), ‘mind of mind’ (manasah manah yad), ‘speech of speech’ (vaachah ha vaacham), ‘ breath of breath’ (praanasya praanah), eye of eye’ ( chakshushah chakshuh).
Brahman cannot be directly known by our conditioned sense organs through which one perceives the everyday sense of manifested reality but rather depends upon a transcendental knowing. The genius of Brahma Vidya, like other traditions of ancient india is that it has a rather mystical and transcendental side as well as one of logic and analysis and indeed some of the greatest contributors to ancient indian wisdom were both mystics and scholars.
The prana (breath) in itself is seen in Vedanta as Jada (inert) and what gives it it’s force lies behind it, in the realm of Brahman.

The view that there exists subtle and transcendental sense organs within a human being which are not yet awakened is one which is shared by a range of ancient indian wisdom traditions and yogic practices were designed to awaken dormant pathways within the being leading to a transformation of the very nature of the sense organs and therefore what is perceived by them.

The investigation of the realms of the avyakta (the unmanifested) does depend on a careful cultivation of the sensory and cognitive faculties and to walk on this path could be a seen as an attempt to understand our evolutionary potential as awakened and developed beings.

Inquiring into Klesha (afflictive nature/’destructive’ emotions) in light of Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakarika.

Transforming Klesha (the afflictive nature/unwholesome or destructive tendencies) is central to meditative practices related to ancient indian spiritual traditions including ‘Buddhism’ and ‘Yoga’.

Here I look at relevant verses from Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika (Fundamental of the wisdom of the middle way) which deal with the operations and nature of Klesha (Klesha is also often translated as ‘destructive’/’negative’ emotions)

Verse 33

The self’s existence or non-existence
Has in no way been established
Without that, how could the defilements’
Existence or non-existence be established

Another translation for Klesha is defilements and include states of anger, fear, jealousy, hatred, arrogance, ignorance, attachment and aversion.

Here we see Nagarjuna combining the view of Sunyata (emptiness) with logic.
From the view of emptiness, it is seen that any internal mental or emotive state does not have an inherent existence, that is an existence apart from something else. The only reason why a state of mind comes into apparent/conventional existence is due to it’s dependence on another factor.
A key part of the path of the Buddha is the emptiness of the self itself, that is the habitual/conditioned notion of the personal ego has no independent existence. The notion of selfhood is neither seen as existing permanently nor as not existing but it’s forever transitory nature and it’s dependence on something other than itself means that it cannot be identified as ‘this is the self’.

Hence Nagarjuna says that if the very notion of the self is such then it would follow that any defilement which one would attribute to the self would be of the same nature. The ability to ‘see’ an emotional state as something impermanent, subject to a cause other than itself and hence not having any solid existence can be quite powerful in the process of it’s release/transformation.

Nagarjuna builds on this in the following verse.

Verse 34

The defilements are somebody’s
But that one has not been established.
Without that possessor,
The defilements are nobody’s.

Here again we see a combination of emptiness and logic.
It is common to have a view of oneself or another as possessing an afflictive/emotive state and holding on to this view is often the cause for dhukha (unsatisfactoriness/pain).
The training in emptiness is a gradual process to be able to create ‘space’ in the very construction of how we view ourselves and others.
Searching for the identity of oneself or another we cannot find that sense of person. Hence if that personhood cannot be found (or established), how can it be said that there is a certain emotive state which belongs to the sense of personhood.
The Klesha in itself can be seen to not belong to any sense of personhood.

This impersonal way of seeing the emotive state can also result in a skilful way of transforming the afflictive/destructive state as the focus can be on working with the emotive state and not with any sense of person.
This view can also prevent a further proliferation/multiplication of the klesha and is a classic example of how wisdom and compassion are developed together.
The wisdom here being insight into emptiness (of self or other) and the resultant compassion would be a skilful way of dealing with the defilement as a sense of impersonal emotion as opposed to getting tangled up with the sense of self or other.

This inquiry is continued in the following verse:

Verse 40

While this action has affliction as its nature
This affliction is not real in itself
If affliction is not real in itself,
How can action be real in itself?

We see how the path of dependent arising is a practical way of dealing with phenomenal situations which arise. While there is indeed a sublime view of ultimate reality, the path to get there is mapped out and it is one which can be used to deal with daily life.
There is an importance on tending to the mind as one tends to a garden – weeding out what is not helpful (and which is based on delusion) and cultivating the flowers which enables one to proceed unhindered on the path.

Coming across an action which is grounded in an afflictive state of mind (either of oneself or the other – and indeed from an ultimate non dual reality there is no fundamental difference as to who ‘owns’ the state of mind) – the inquiry can be on the afflictive state itself. As analysed previously, this state does not have a solid permanent existence of it’s own accord and hence can be established as empty/’not real’ (‘not real’ through the lens of prajna or wisdom).
Hence it would follow that the action in itself would similarly not have an independent existence and therefore there would be no reason to cling on to it and create further mental conceptualisation/fabrication. This makes it easier and very much possible to ‘move on’ or ‘let go’ of the situation or the ‘person’ responsible for the situation.

This view when applied to oneself can create a ground to forgive oneself for any sort of action which one might reflect on and feel that he should not have done that. As it often is, it is can be difficult for an individual to forgive oneself and to hold on to a sense of guilt for what he has committed in the past. A genuine insight into the emptiness of mental and emotional states can pave the way to let go of a view of oneself which would otherwise create further cycles of unsatisfactory samsaric existence.
At the same time, it would be crucial to consciously develop the opposite states of mind (to develop the ‘antidote’) which would then enable action to move ‘forward’ on the path.

To truly be able to transform the various afflictive natures, insight into the emptiness of all conditioned phenomena could be considered to be imperative as shown in the following verse:

Verse 27:

The Victorius Conqueror has said that whatever
Is deceptive is false.
Compounded phenomena are all deceptive.
Therefore they are all false.

The Victorious Conqueror refers to the Buddha.

‘Compunded Phenomena’ refers to phenomenal objects and situations of conditioned reality which can be analysed and broken down in order to clearly see how they came to arise in the first place.
This would also imply an investigation of internal mental and physical states and basically anything and everything associated with the sense of ‘I’ (personal ego).
The word compounded implies that something which is made of different parts and is typical of the inquiry which dependent arising is associated with.

Once either an internal state or an external phenomenal construction is seen as ‘compounded’ via the lens of dependent arising, it can be said to be deceptive – ‘deceptive’ in the sense that one does not hold on to the view of it’s fundamental existence as it is now seen as inherently empty.
Therefore it can be declared to be ‘false’ and discarded.

Applied to the afflictive states of consciousness, once they are seen as compounded (made up of/come into existence due to something other than themselves) they can be seen to be ‘false’.

Comments on Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakarika (Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way)

Some Comments on Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakarika

Verse 14
Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation
Is itself the middle way

The Buddha’s teaching on dependent arising (Paticcasamuppada) is a fundamental part of his route out of conditioned and unsatisfactory human existence.
Through an analysis of dependent arising, one seeks to examine and unpack layers of conditioned pathways in consciousness which are usually built up due to karmic patterns.

As clear in the verse above, the route to Sunyata (emptiness) is through an understanding of dependent arising. Dependent arising deals with conditioned and time bound human existence ( conventional reality). Conditioned human existence is based on the sense of an individual ego living in his limited world habitually constructed out of objects and beings he is identified with and leads to the fundamental delusion of separateness – that he does not see how deeply inter connected he is with all forms of life around him and indeed to the formless itself.
It is then through insight into emptiness, the timeless unconditioned existence (ultimate reality) that one could perhaps start to see ‘through’ the unsolid sense of self and other and see the passage to the ‘other side’.

By seeing something as being dependent and hence having a lack of inherent existence, there is immense freedom as it is hence seen as empty and non binding. A sense of release from the indentified situation, object or being as it may be is hence possible as there is a clear insight into how that particular construction come into apparent existence.

Nagarjuna hence brings together conventional and ultimate reality by connecting dependent arising with emptiness, as also seen below.

Verse 11
Without a foundation in the conventional truth,
The significance of the ultimate cannot be taught.
Without understanding the significance of the ultimate,
Liberation is not achieved.

A glimpse of ultimate reality is only possible through understanding and unraveling conventional reality and this in many ways shows the emphasis on logic and analysis and makes the Buddha rather like a scientist.
This approach can also make the Buddha Dharma appeal to a secular minded person, as a large part of it is on a thorough analysis on the nature of patterned and conditioned consciousness itself, both in the internal realm of emotions, sensations and thought patterns and on the corresponding pathways in the manifested or external realm. This is possible through the various techniques of Shamatha (calm abiding) and Vipassana (insight) meditation techniques.

The path laid out by the Buddha is a route into nirvana (liberation out of conditioned life) and this is through dependent arising.
The depth to which the analysis of dependent arising can take a practitioner is shown in the following verse.

Verse 15

Something that is not dependent arisen,
Such a thing does not exist
Therefore a nonempty thing
does not exist.

Dependent arisen can be used to understand each and every aspect of one’s conditioned life such as the sense of the individual body, the range of emotions which moves through one’s being, the thought patterns and any situation which arises in the field of perception.

Nagarjuna makes a strong statement as he is saying that any state of consciousness associated with life can be examined through dependent arising, and once that’s done, it’s possible to see it as empty.
We also see here how sunyata (emptiness) is far from a nihilistic view on life. Indeed everything can be seen and understood to be empty, to not have an existence independent from something else, but that’s far from saying that it does not exist in the conventional sense of reality.
This is what makes the path extremely interesting from the point of practice as ultimate reality and conventional reality, nirvana and samsara, are constantly influencing each other and can be seen as two sides of the same coin.

This view is illustrated in the following verse:

Verse 64

There is not the slightest diffference
Between cyclic existence and nirvana
There is not the slightest difference
Between nirvana and cyclic existence

Here we see where there is a resolution between ultimate reality and conventional reality in the sense that one sees both of them as the path.

Both arise out of the same ‘ground of being’ – that is the true clear light nature of the mind.
In a sense, conventional reality can be seen as the morphing or change of ultimate reality as per dependent arising (or karma due to body/speech/mind).
Conventional reality could be seen as arising from and going back into ultimate reality, a movement between non dualistic and dualistic experience.



A state of love which is independent of any particular object

An undivided state of consciousness is infused with a state of love which is is independent of any particular object or reason.

This feeling of love is very different from the emotions experienced when one is embodying a divided or fragmented state of consciousness and there is the presence of an ego,w aia sense of ‘I’ atcat of these emotions.

True love is only possible when there is an absence of emotions such as fear and insecurity and this is the case when the being is complete in itself and is not dependent on any object for it’s completeness. The ego constructed by the thought stream can only exist in relation to others. Dropping the ego goes hand in hand with dropping our conditioned sense of how we relate to others.

In a conditioned existence, we tend to live in a world constructed by Nama Rupa (name and form) wherein we are habituated to believe in an existence where there are certain labels and identities on people and things. This gives rise to ‘me’ and ‘you’ and ‘this is who I am’ and ‘this is who you are’ and living like this, is living in a limited and fragmented state of consciousness.

Moving into a state of consciousness which is free from the ego, from phenomena and from time, we find ourselves living in an altogether new place, which feels better. and is infused with a sense of joy, peace and clarity and love is the essence of this state of being.

Moving into this unconditioned state of being, we have moved out of the world of Nama Rupa (name and form) and we might find ourselves living in an existence where people and things are not what we previously thought them to be.
Living like this offers a tremendous creative potential as we are not limited by any concept and any identity.

This state of being is alive with a state of love in the absence of any object. A state of love stemming from pure unconditioned existence when are abiding in our essence.
In the vedanta tradition this is referred to as sat-chit-anand

Embodying this state of being goes hand in hand with developing wisdom – wisdom associated with deeper truths of existence – that we are interconnected with all of life around is in ways which the limited ego cannot comprehend.

The Ending of Time

To break out of conditioned existence, of our sense of existence based on our identification with our body, mind and the phenomenal forms around is, is to enter the timeless.

The notion of time, is closely bound up with the notion of personhood and the ending of time, is the movement out of the limited personhood and out of suffering.

This transformation of consciousness is indeed possible and the path to it is detailed out in yogic and buddhist practices.

Our sense of identification with our body and mind is what gives solidity to the appearance of time and space.
If we are able to erase this habitual association with our body and mind, we enter into a state of consciousness which is free from the sensations and emotions wound up with the body, which is free from the habitual thought patterns wound up with the mind and which is not dependent on any phenomenal appearance.

Entering into the timeless one finds an existence which was previously unknown. The senses, having become refined and sensitised through the process of enquiry, possess the capacity to sense and perceive in a manner which was previously unknown. The traditions speak about the ‘subtle senses’ and the ‘subtle bodies’ which these senses can percieve.

It is very difficult to conceptualise and speak about living in the timeless. It is here that the secrets and forces of nature which are responsible for material creation can be observed.

The timeless does not last forever and soon one finds oneself back in the association with the body-mind and with the world. However, through practice, it is possible to repeatedly access the timeless (or the unconditioned) and to prolong or extend this state of consciousness. And while doing so, to observe and pay attention to what is happening in this process.

Spending extended periods in the timeless has a powerful influence on the organisation of the material world and when one ‘comes back’ into time, or rather when the cycle of creation is started again there is a distinct change in how matter has been organised.

There is also a tremendous force in the timeless which is capable of healing and transforming the obstructions in the body and the mind. When one is in the timeless, there is a feeling of love and bliss which has never been felt before and when one ‘descends’ back into the body along with this feeling, there is an enormous potential to change the conditions in the ‘old mode’ of existence. In a sense, this process is a creation of a new  ‘person’ and of a new ‘world’ in which this person lives.

It is also observed, that in this process of creation – that is when matter comes into existence from the timeless – that the role of the feminine, the divine Shakti or the divine mother is of supreme importance. Again, words are incapable of explaining what is actually perceived. This force, associated with the feminine is the primal cause of creation.
In Vedic and Puranic literature, there are references to ‘kaal ratri’ – the feminine force which is responsible for the movements into the timeless and back into time.

Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga – The Supermind, Overmind and Mind

Sri Aurobindo details out a process through which the process of the evolution of consciousness takes place and a path which takes the being from ignorance to awakening.

An unawakened view of existence, is one of a divided and fragmented consciousness, where there exists an individual ego and the limited world which he lives in. In this perspective, matter and spirit are seen as inseparable, and the being is for the most part engaged in a multitude of material creation and is ignorant of the role of the spirit (or energy) , which is responsible for the creation of materiality.

Sri Aurobindo calls this state as ‘Mind’ and his process of evolution is an ascension from the Mind to what he calls the ‘Supermind’.
While the Mind is a state of division, suffering and ignorance – the Supermind is the pure spirit – a state of ‘oneness’ and of undivided consciousness, where the being is at the source of creation itself. Here, matter and spirit are clearly seen to be separate, and the steps which lead to the creation of matter from spirit are understood.
Here, the being is the master of existence and the creative forces of nature act in accordance with this state of consciousness.
The Supermind is also associated with a divine feeling of ananda (divine bliss) which is impossible to experience in a divided state of consciousness.
This, for him, was the goal of Yoga.

Between the undivided Supermind and the fragmented Mind – are a series of intermediate stages of consciousness and this is what Sri Aurobindo calls ‘Overmind’.
The Overmind begins when the fragmentation of the primal spirit of the Supermind starts to occur and the creation of material phenomena is hence initiated.
The Overmind essentially contains stages of consciousness which detail how the ‘many’ phenomenal appearances are formed from the ‘one’ spirit.
This involves, in the language of the Sankhya, the beginning of the play of Prakriti on Purusha and the role of Prakriti in the creation of multiplicity.

The ‘apparently different’ phenomenal constructions which start to appear in the Overmind, never really lose their essential connection to the one undivided spirit of the Supermind.
Even if it appears that there are different phenomena which are coming into existence, and each form might seem to be evolving as per it’s own laws, they retain a relationship of harmony with each other.
Once there has been a descension from the Supermind to the Mind – a descension into matter from Spirit, it is always possible to ascend back into the Supermind and to separate the matter from the spirit. The phenomenal appearances recede back into the harmony of the spirit and this could be seen as the creation and destruction of a Loka (world).

Hence, in a sense, after having a vision of the Supermind, one is not bound to any creation of material matter. One is free in the ‘becoming’.

It is evident in the writings of Sri Aurobindo that he was as much interested in ‘Being’ as in ‘Becoming’ and the transitions between them. That is, in the pure and undivided ‘Being’ where space, time and causality cease to exist and in the multiplicity of the ‘Becoming’ where the limitations of space, time and causality operate.

Freedom in ‘Being’ and in ‘Becoming’ – this for him was the vision of the seers in the Upanishads.

The divine lila which arises from the impersonal godhead of Sri Krishna

We can understand Sri Krishna as the impersonal godhead; an impersonal and undifferentiated  state of consciousness, which can also be called Brahman. It is from this state of being that all beings come into existence.

As Sri Krishna says in chapter 9, verse 4 of the Bhagavad Gita:

maya tatam idam sarvam
jagad avyakta-murtina
mat-sthani sarva-bhutani
na caham tesv avasthitah

“By Me (or by my maya), in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them”

Sri Krishna can be understood to be a state of consciousness – an undivided and undifferentiated state of consciousness which is the root of all of creation. This state of consciousness can be realised and to realise this impersonal (avyakta) and all powerful state is to become one with ‘Sri Krishna’.

This state of consciousness is said to be impersonal as there is no personal and divided ego which is left when this state is realised. That is, our everyday sense of ‘me’ ceases to exist.

Through the divine Maya (forces of nature) which is associated with the unmanifested (avyakta), the entire universe (jagad) comes into existence.
This is the divine Lila, a play of creation which is full of the rasa of ananda and is more delightful and pleasurable than any object associated with the personal mode of existence.

The forces of nature (Maya) serve this avyakta state of consciousness, that is to say, through these forces of nature, matter comes into conditional/manifested existence in accordance with the state of the avyakta.

When Sri Krishna says “All beings are in Me” he could be read to mean that all of the conditioned Brahman is in him as He is the unconditioned Brahman.
However he also says that “I am not in them” which could be read to mean that if one searches in the conditioned Brahman for the unconditioned, one cannot find it and one will be lead into further multiplicity.

The state of the unconditioned Brahman is one of pure Being where there is no multiplicity and from this state all multiplicity arises through the action of the forces of nature.
However if one wishes to go back into the state of primordial consciousness, one cannot do it by searching for it in the multiplicity of conditioned existence.

To taste the divine rasa of ananda, one accesses  the unmanifested state of consciousness which is pure spirit is and is behind all the play of material form.

Once this state has been reached, one can start to see how the Maya weaves a multitude of existences.

The working of this Maya, is full of unexpected ananda and this is a feeling which is very differenct from the gross pleasures which are associated with a material existence.
This ananda is of the nature of divine love for all beings as one can see how all of multiplicity is arising from one source.

The association of Radha and the Gopis with Sri Krishna is a depiction of how the divine Shakti (the divine Maya) works in the unmanifested consciousness.

It is this Shakti which weaves the worlds of material existences out of the unmanifested Brahman. This Shakti has a non dual relationship with the state of the unmanifested Brahman, that is it comes into existence only in the presence of the avykata state of consciousness.

The Tanmatras (subtle elements/bodies)

In the process of creation, and specifically in the movement between the avyakta (unmanifested) and the vyakta (the manifested) lies the operations of the tanmatras.

The tanmatras, which can be translated as subtle elements/subtle bodies are essentially bodies of subtle matter which precede gross phenomenal appearances. That is to say, before an object takes upon it’s gross form, it passes through a process of creation where it can be first perceived in it’s subtle form.
Tanmatras can be systematically perceived through yogic practices.

Part of the process of awakening is to pay attention to the phenomenal worlds as they appear and to begin to investigate the conditions which give rise to phenomena. It is here that one can investigate and understand the operations of the tanmatras.

It is possible for a practitioner to engage with the world of subtle matter. Needless to say, the laws which govern the operations of subtle matter are quite different compared to those of gross matter.

It is imperative to note that the ability of a yogi to perceive and operate in the worlds of subtle matter are directly related to the state of being in which he is abiding. Non-identification with the gross body and resting in a state of being which is as close to the primal spirit itself – these are the conditions to perceive subtle matter.
To simplify, when a practitioner is in his gross body, he will perceive gross matter and when he is in his spirit/subtle body, he can perceive the tanmatras.
Here we also see the non dual nature between the spirit of the being and the objects perceived by him.

Experientially, the tanmatras are perceived as subtle bodies where the proportion of spirit/energy is greater than that of matter.
The tanmatras are perceived before objects have nama-rupa (name and form).

The tanmatras are perceived in a state of consciousness where the notions of space and time are non existent or are just beginning to come into existence.
A thorough understanding of the formations and de-formations of space and time are possible only through a first hand perception of the tanmatras.