Chapter 11 – The Cosmic Vision
Yoga Teacher – Govind Das
What a life. What an incarnation. What a lila. At this very moment I am so blown away by all of the abundance and grace that is available to us should we choose to seek it. That’s really always the case, isn’t it? How we choose to see things is entirely up to us. Even the challenges, of which there are many, are just “grist for the mill.”
Chapter 11 is perhaps the most famous of all parts of the Gita. When Robert Oppenheimer the father of the atomic bomb first saw his creation explode he said “I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds” (Verse 32) which ironically portrays Krishna in the state we seem him in the least. That’s what I’ve always found so interesting about this chapter. Normally when we praise Krishna, or sing of Krishna or speak of his pastimes we’re cultivating the mood of the sweet blue boy playing out in the fields of Vrindavan who is wooing the cowherd girls (the gopis) with the sound of his transcendental flute. That part of his lila is so sweet, intoxicating and such a far cry away from the fierce nature that Krishna reveals to us here.
Also in Chapter 11 I’m not sure which is more extraordinary; Krishna revealing his cosmic grandeur in fierce form or the fact that Arjuna has attained samadhi to the point of being able to experience Krishna, the lord of lords, in this way. Both are very compelling transformations to meditate on. At the beginning of this story Krishna was only Arjuna’s charioteer and “spiritual advisor” and now he is the supreme personality of God. And Arjuna was of the mere warrior class and now he is able to attain complete visions within samadhi. For the sake of discussion, let’s focus on Arjuna.
Arjunas tale is more like ours because he is of the material world and is very much caught up in the role that he has to play. In this case it’s the role of a warrior prince. But the actual role itself is irrelevant. We all have our roles to play and some may be based on the illusionary forces of maya to be more important that others. But everyone, no matter their roles, all share similar qualities – no matter what happens in life you’re going to stand on that battlefield of life needing to make the difficult decisions just as Arjuna is doing in our story. Arjuna here has paid such close to attention to Krishna’s instruction that he’s now able to take into action and reap the benefits of this practice of yoga.
Now it goes without saying that not all of us in our lifetimes are going to have such grand displays of the Cosmic Vision that Arjuna is having at the feet of Lord Krishna.
Verse 7 “Behold the entire cosmos turning within my body, and the other things you desire to see. (8) But these things cannot be seen with your physical eyes; therefore I give you spiritual vision to perceive my majestic power.”
This is very interesting because Krishna granting him power here has been based off of his righteous intent of action that have been displayed in the previous chapters. Therefore, the work we do everyday is so important. Little by little through “the stuff we do” we might get little glimpses of the wonderful and terrifying nature that is God.
When I read this chapter I feel scared like Arjuna did after Krishna says “I have already slain all these warriors; you will only be my instrument.” The mere thought conjures up so many intense energies and karma’s that we need to work with. I choose to see it this way – God in the form of Krishna has already fought all our hardships for us and it is our action that makes them realized. Grace, action. Grace, action. Etc.
Tonights 830 pm Yin class with Govind Das was extraordinary. After 10 days of difficult strong asana it was so sweet to settle into a juicy slow yin class that opened me up to receive everything that was floating inside my body and through my mind. I feel like Arjuna on the battlefield when he discovers the power of the divine – sometimes it’s simply beautiful and sometimes it comes in the form of stuff we need to work on.