Diving into the Bhagavad Gita: To see the all within the one (Chapter 11)
by Coen Van der Kroon
To see the all within the one
How to be(come) an Ayurveda-Arjuna…
Arjuna speaks to Krishna:
"Pasyami devams tava deva dehe sarvams tatha bhuta-visesa-sanghan brahmanam isam kamalasana-stham rsims ca sarvan uragams ca divyan"
"Now I see all the divine forms in you. The Rishis are in you. All the Sages of the Universe, I see them all. And I see no beginning, no end, or no middle. Every form in the Universe is your form."
- The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, verse 15
Every day all of us wake up with the feeling of ‘I just woke up’. But who is the ‘I’ who woke up? It is the same ‘I’ who just woke from deep sleep, where there was no ‘I’ at all, or at least, not one we remember. We might remember an ‘I’ from our dreams, but not from deep sleep. In deep sleep the supposed ‘I’ is not experiencing any separation from the one and eternal awareness. But in our human daily lives, we are finding ourselves as not being in deep sleep. We experience a life in which we participate in a world which presents itself to us in all kind of polar oppositions, and we experience a dual nature in all we seem to be, as well as in all we seem to be doing. We experience a world of limitless forms, and this is what Arjuna refers to when he says to Krishna: “Every form in the Universe is your form." Only we do not experience the last part of the sentence with full awareness: “……is your form."
This chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita, however, is not about deep sleep nor about the non-remembered state of unity in deep sleep. It is also not about the dual nature of everyday life as we experience it – in all its multi-diverse forms. It is a reference to an active and fully aware participation in the duality-within-the-non-duality of divine awareness. How can we understand this, and relate this to our relation with studying and practising the arts of yoga and – particularly, here in this article – Ayurveda?
Let’s try to give up, for a moment, all ‘concepts’ or all ‘phantasies’ about what is awareness, because these dual concepts and phantasies just do not fit in with the ‘real thing’, which in fact is not a ‘thing’ at all.
Then, also for a moment, let us be brave enough – to see the whole (non-)thing of awareness, which then means: with ALL dual things within it, no-thing excepted! Indeed, then you have to be brave and steadfast. You have to move beyond your own ‘I-thing’ (made by the I-maker or Aham-Kar) in that case, as well as beyond all the likes and dislikes that result from the separateness created by that I-thing (in order to continuously reaffirm its own separate I-thing-nessor I-think-ness). In other and easier words, you have to completely lose ‘your-self’ in the surrendering to, and dwelling within, the Self. That is indeed what this very chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is about.
Chapter 11 is about that surrender, about that losing yourself, and here in an active way: while becoming AND being aware of all the duality stories within that oneness, within and as one big Leela, or divine love play, of Krishna. Krishna here, being the symbol of all-encompassing, loving awareness. Nothing exists outside of that, nothing is even possible outside of its borders, simply because it is very essence is borderless-ness.
Ayurveda accepts this non-dual reality as the substratum throughout all of the experienced (and thus everyday) reality of us human beings, of us ‘I-things’. It accepts that, within this world of seeming duality, the oneness of Life always is playing the main tune. It accepts all other tunes and musical notes, even if it is seemingly unbearable head-banging music. It even uses a word for all these aspects of music – namely Rasa – in one and the same breath for being the essence of human experiences on many levels. Rasa is the juice of multiplicity within the One: it represents the supreme alchemy within the Tantra of multiple forms. From the tastes of food to the flavours of emotions. From the melodies in music to the essential juices of life. The varieties of Rasas in life can connect us to the one and only sweet essence of the divine. And Rasa – one word with a multiplicity of meanings – is key in Ayurveda on many levels.
Krishna is giving Arjuna a glimpse of how all aspects of life, all Rasas (or flavours) of the divine, play themselves out within the borderless One, within the limitless One, within the timeless One. Ayurveda, being an applied science – but rooted in the Darshanas (philosophies) of ultimate Oneness (Not-Two-ness), potentially offers us that same glimpse. We SEE all dual things, we WORK with all dual things: we see health and disease, we see happiness and misery, we work with hot and cold, with dry and moist, etcetera – all of these are part and parcel of being and working within a medical profession. Moreover, within the medical profession, there are endless pathologies and diseases, their variations know no limit. However, the same medical profession in and by itself is nothing but the seemingly dual surface of an ocean of unity of Life itself, of Love itself, of Oneness itself.
Ayurveda is often called ‘Nectar of Immortality’: this is not referring to the duality of physical life in time and space (though long life is being promoted indeed, by Ayurveda), but it does, in reality, refer to this Krishna-core of all existence. By studying and by practising Ayurveda with this attitude of surrendering to that which – with our dual minds – we can never understand, we do get the chance to get a glimpse of the Beauty where nothing is excluded: no misery is excluded, no disease is excluded, no ugliness is excluded. However, the glimpse is indeed the ultimate realization that all these are indeed facets or faces of That which is always Happy, ever Healthy and Whole (Holy), and is eternally Beautiful.
Ayurveda, seemingly focusing primarily at the minutest practical details of assessment and treatment of actual patients and diseases, thus – at the same time – is a path of Karma Yoga, completely in line with the essentials of Life put forward in the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna is calling us: be the Arjuna’s of Ayurveda, and surrender to the Supreme while doing your actions precisely and losing yourself in it at the same time. See the Beauty of Life, even in or actually through all the multiple aspects of imbalances and diseases, and all the dual properties of nature. This offers even more than the delight of deep sleep, it offers a possible awakening in full awareness at the same time.
Coen van der Kroon
Coen van der Kroon was born in Utrecht, The Netherlands in 1962. He has an academic background in Greek and Latin Languages and Culture. His MA thesis was on ancient Greek gynecology with a comparison between Hippocratic and Ayurvedic Medicine. This was the start of his interest in and study of ayurveda.