The Bhagavad Gita
In the early part of the first millennium BCE, Indian philosophers found evidence for the beginnings of what we today call the perennial philosophy. It can be stated in three sentences:
- An infinite, unchanging reality exists hidden behind the illusion of ceaseless change.
- This infinite, unchanging reality lies at the core of every being and is the substratum of the personality.
- Life has one main purpose: to experience this one reality – to discover God while living on earth.
One of the ancient texts in which these principles are set forth and discussed is the Bhagavad Gita. The spiritual wisdom of the Gita is delivered in the midst of the most terrible of all possible human situations: warfare – literally on the battlefield itself. On the eve of combat, the prince Arjuna loses his nerve and in desperation turns to his charioteer, Krishna, asking him what to do. But Krishna is no ordinary horse-and-cart driver; he is a direct incarnation of God, and he responds to Arjuna in seven hundred stanzas of sublime instruction that includes a divine mystical revelation. He explains to Arjuna the nature of the soul and the nature of the timeless, spaceless, changeless infinite reality and explains they are not different.
The Gita does not lead the reader from one stage of spiritual development to another but starts with the conclusion. Krishna says right away that the immortal soul is unchanging and always present and that the passing moments of time are illusionary. The soul wears the body as a garment, to be discarded when it becomes worn. Thus the soul travels from body to body, casting aside the old bodies to take on new ones. Just as death is certain for living, rebirth is certain for the dead. But, Krishna reassures Arjuna, the soul is eternal, not subject to life and death. Arjuna will not be able to perceive this essential truth, however, so long as he remains caught up in life’s dualities – samsara, the choices of everyday life in which we are embedded as we move through time.
Like the Buddha’s discourses, the Gita does not teach the attainment of an enjoyable life in the hereafter, nor does it offer spiritual or other methods to enhance one’s powers in the next life. Krishna’s instruction to Arjuna is meant not as an intellectual, philosophical exercise but as a means to arrive at understanding what is truly real.
And Krishna teaches detachment as the only way one can get in touch with one’s basic spiritual nature.
Detachment means not being emotionally entangled with the outcome of our choices. We naturally have the freedom to choose among a range of possible actions in a given moment, but we have no power or say over the results of any act we do.
An extract from Yoga of Time Travel: How the Mind Can Defeat Time by Fred Alan Wolf