Chapter II, Verse 20
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
Spirit is never born; neither does spirit ever die. There never was time when it existed not. Once it is, it existeth always; there never will come a time when it will cease to be. Both birth and death are but illusions. Unborn, eternal, and changeless is this Spirit. It remaineth forever the same. Never can death touch it though the body wherein it dwells turneth into the elementals.
The individualized consciousness (soul) that enlivens the body is never born and will never die. All of its uniqueness ever was and ever will be. The formless soul is not slain when one of its physical expressions is killed.
Freedom is described in this verse. The liberty every human heart yearns to achieve is still bound by the highest laws of creation. To be aware of the entire unique play of individualized consciousness and to also be untouched by any of the experiences or incarnations is the highest state of consciousness within creation. This verse refers to the awareness that is centered in the causal realm. In the causal realm, one is conscious of the pervasive substance, the comprehensive intelligence, the abstract ego and the cosmic mind. (See “Human Design According to Sankhya”.)
Like a teacher overseeing students in a classroom, or a four-star general overseeing multiple divisions of soldiers, the one who is anchored in the causal realm is aware of each individual life as well as the greater context for living. From this higher state of conscious, one observes, directs and experiences all personal activities stretched across the sands of time. The student lifetimes offer exceptional progress and growth. The soldier lifetimes offer timeless lessons of loyalty and community service. The eternal perspective offered by the causal realm grants the ability to act according to one’s best interest in each lifetime. When limited by attachment to a single, present body, each human should tap into the wisdom of the teacher and to the direction of the general through intuition. Arjuna turns to Krishna as his Guru, teacher and military advisor.
For the ignorant who are unaware of the expanded states of consciousness, intuition is present in the form of conscience. The internal dictates of conscience are the best guide to self-improvement. Following one’s intuition is the fastest way to enlightenment, but following one’s conscience is the next best thing.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Compare Sanskrit references to time.
Kadacit – translated as “at some time”, “anytime” or “once”. In this phrase, however, it should not be separated from “na” when the meaning is considered. Na kadacit means “never”. The subtle difference indicates a solid wall of practice versus a porous surface of permeability.
The root bhu is contrasted with the root han throughout this verse. Bhu is birth and existence while han is repression and death. The contrast has a greater significance when the Gita is used as a Sanskrit primer because within this verse there’s a subtle indication of how to support or repress aspects of creation (not just create or destroy) when crafting mantras.
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