Affirming Personal Ignorance

Chapter II, Verse 29

Sri Nerode’s Translation:

29

Some look upon the soul as wonderful; others speak of it as marvelous; others again learn that it is a wonder; still there are others who understand it not at all, though they hear of its wonders. (In other words, some realize the beauty of the soul – those who long to hear and speak of its wondrous powers. Still there are some who hardly can perceive its meaning and significance. Soul, Spirit, and Atman mean the same; i.e., Self.)

 

Helpful Translation:

The individualized consciousness (the soul) may be described as miraculous. However, those who live their lives without a single experience of life beyond the body cannot comprehend the soul at all.

 

Commentary:

A businessman meets a new business person at a cocktail party. They begin their conversation with safe topics that they are certain to agree upon, like the weather, or a subject where disagreement is easily accepted, like their favorite sports team. The evening progresses and their conversation turns to work, to personal matters and finally to politics and religion.

Consider that getting to know another person is essentially a “dance of denial”. A limited state of consciousness (the ego) seeks out others to affirm its state of ignorance. There’s not much fun to be experience in an illusion, if others do not agree upon the illusion with you. For example, the avid outdoorsman is unlikely to find much in common with a gamer who stays inside for hours at a time.

The weather is a safe topic because basic sensory experiences are similar. For those relationships that we cherish, we develop a habit of agreeing with the person without respect for our own experience. Politics and religion are difficult because each person seeks out a different experience from their community life. Government laws and religious morals limit how the ego may express itself in a community setting. Thus, politics and religion are difficult subjects to discuss. Sincere agreement on the details of either is rare.

Empathy is a greater state of ignorance than sympathy. The empathetic person says “I know exactly what you mean.” While the sympathetic person says “I have had a similar experience. See my scars to prove it.”

Few people have actually experienced the great freedom of soul consciousness, and few want to experience this freedom. Each person has chosen to play this game of ignorance. Yet the ego does not want to be left behind in any manner. If a respected saint describes the soul as wonderful and powerful, the empathetic response kicks in to say, “I know exactly what you mean.”

Rare is the individual who has both experienced the unlimited nature of consciousness and then remained in a body to describe that state to others. The college graduate does not become an elementary school student a second time. Consciousness progresses. The soul moves forward to the next challenge.

For the two business people who met at the cocktail party, after a long conversation they found their areas of agreement. They “agreed to disagree” on those topics where their perspectives differ. In this manner, the ego protects its ignorance. Even a larger intellectual construct that incorporates multiple belief systems is still another form of ignorance. Anytime consciousness is limited to a body, it is only able to wonder about the meaning of life. Only through non-attachment can a soul perceive the universal state of living in the “now”.

 

Easter Eggs:

Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:

Clues to Sanskrit use in this series of verses is about how subtle variations impact creation.

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Ancient History

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