Every man or woman thinks and feels that he or she deserves the best. Therefore, every man or woman in his or her own way either begs, requests, prays or pleads to some divine force to grant him what he thinks he lacks, or his family lacks. Man is convinced that he should not lack in anything. If he does not want to lack in anything, why does he not bring everything that he wants with him when he comes into this world? Because man believes he can possess he desires, and when his desires are not fulfilled he feels the lack of both, the mental and the physical possessions. The power in the chapter ‘Lacking’ brings in the realisation of the present - the thoughtless and timeless ‘now’ in which there is no shadow of desire to acquire or possess. An understanding that the mind cannot but experience lacking is a wonderful gift, even though there is no one present to lack. How illusory!
Man spends his life like a dog chasing its tail - round and round in circles - not realising that what he chases can never quite be reached! An absurd way to live, or rather, not to live; so too did the mythological character Tantalus live his life, punished by the gods, by continuously being offered water or grapes, and whenever he reached out to them to quench his thirst or hunger, they moved out of his reach! Happy is the man who, having understood the wisdom in the chapter entitled ‘Lacking’, joins life as it unfolds mysteriously, without lacking anything.
‘Choose but choose rightly’ are wise words to the mind, just as ‘look before you leap’ are. Man chooses because he feels the lack of many a thing. Therefore, he is inundated with right choices to make and, though he chooses meticulously, guided and aided by logic, religion and spirituality, his experiences suggest that he has not ‘looked before he has leapt’. The mind is a huge volume that contains and offers to man many choices, which are gospel to him to help him ‘look before he leaps’. The understanding that arises from a study of just one chapter of that volume, ‘Choosing’, which demonstrates the deceptiveness of mind and the power of the ego, albeit illusory, in influencing such a huge part of man's life, is truly a gift from God. The illusion of choice is so beautiful - but more beautiful by far is the wisdom that reveals the illusion and offers the final choice of choicelessness, without its being a choice!
Man expects as a consequence of the choices he or she makes. The light shed on the life that we lead through the mind's expectations, hopes, fears, predictions - both negative and positive - conjuring up illusions of innumerable variety is a blessed light, gifted by the wisdom of the chapter entitled ‘Expectations’. During the period of studying and reflecting on this chapter, the mind would appear like a threatened beast experiencing anger, desolation, even hatred. There would be a growing realisation, however, that even this illusory and angry beast is life's own manifestation, a form of God Himself, and not in any way 'other'. Yet this growing realisation is not anybody's - it is just there, along with deep gratitude. That God is the illusion as well as the reality is profoundly evident on understanding this chapter.
With choices come expectations: this is inevitable. Without opinions man has no bearing in life, for they act like a compass, giving him a sense of direction to the choices he makes in his life. Opinions assure him that he is not lost, but a wise man understands that opinions do not navigate him to any place of worth or reality. Man is lost because of opinions and this understanding guides him to his true destination. The mind is nourished by opinions in a way of which man has very little awareness. He knows he is 'opinionated', but he has no inkling of the misery and delusion that result. His opinions add nothing to the quality of his life nor do they add one iota of 'added value' to it, yet he is caught in the web of opinion, a web he shares with every other human being. And yet here is the gift of life, providing real understanding of his predicament, in the chapter entitled ‘Opinions’.
Driven by opinions, man succumbs to the mind's passion for making conclusions. He defends them vigorously and imposes them on the less defiant and the less meek. Nothing escapes the judgmental conclusion - even the fragrant flower displaying its beauty for all to enjoy: it's a 'this' or a 'that'; or 'is it really?', 'are you sure?' The child or young man, whose life has taken an unexpected turn, has 'lost his way', or 'he will not make the most of his talents'! Watching the mind bring forward these conclusions, and hundreds such, means that the conclusion just floats away without trace! There is such freedom in enjoying what life provides every moment once there is some realisation of this endless process of concluding, which leads man nowhere, but only confines the 'concluder' in an ever-tightening noose - that is not there! This understanding is offered on a silver plate – as they say - in the chapter entitled ‘Conclusions’.
The moment man concludes, he or she has to explain. He is yet to understand that no explanations bring about certainty in life. There is no choice but to trust life - this realisation dawns on studying this chapter ‘Explanations’. Because the mind does not exist in the present, it is incapable of understanding life and trusting it, so it resorts to all it can rely on - explanations of why things happen, have happened and will happen. Understanding of the wisdom offered in this chapter gradually deepens so that looking forwards or backwards no longer agitates a man. Learning just to witness the mind and understand its nature is the secret - it is not easy though.
Explanations only draw in controversies, but never contentment: a play within a play - such is life and its controversies. Once the ego asserts itself and sweeps all understanding of life aside, it declares its controversial view of life, as it sees it, and is bound to defend it, even to the point of preferring death, about which it has already declared its controversial view! The wisdom of the chapter ‘Controversies’ allows understanding of the fallacy of doership and non-doership, eliminating both and, thereby, eliminating duality too. Duality remains, but only as an illusion: such is the gift of this chapter. The reader will experience profound gratitude for life’s intelligence, gifted through the author of this book.
Such a wonderful trap life has sprung for the illusory individual that he may never find eternal contentment in illusion, if he believes it to be real. How could he when so riven by worry? The drive for the bliss that is so deeply in his own nature keeps him looking where it is not, and looking past where it is. And yet life does not leave him stranded for a moment, for there is always the moment where he is himself - alive and without thought or worry. There has never been an analysis of man so profound as there is in the chapter ‘Worries’. He is indeed a remarkable phenomenon. More remarkable still is the wisdom that reveals this understanding of man and the nature of his mind. So profound is the detail of this investigation that it needs to be studied with patience and great care.
Will complaining that something or the other is wrong in life or with life ever satisfy man? Is there such a point of satisfaction that he could reach? Is he certain that such a point does exist in life? If it does, and he is certain about its existence, there is sanity in complaining so that reaching this point could one day make him content. The chapter ‘Nothing wrong’ deals with this issue, and is a very salutary analysis of every man’s approach to his life, for we all devote a considerable amount of energy in not accepting what happens to us each day. Careful and patient reading of this chapter encourages us to be alive to every moment of life, just as a small child is in the playground. Such attention is given to the emotional swings of the mind that we find it hard to keep steady. The wisdom of this chapter clarifies the web of illusion in which we flounder, or seem to.
The final chapter ‘Understanding’ is a remarkable culmination of this volume. Such is the book's progression that it ushers in the dawning of understanding to the reader. It enables the reader to understand, with gratitude, that life does not regress, and therefore that the process of evolution throughout time, illusory though it is, from the mundane activities to the highly sophisticated and technically astonishing, is the potential of life's intelligence and not man’s. Man is there simply to admire and wonder at God's works - not to claim them.
It is no surprise that life has made man devote much of his life to investigating the remote 'past', and finding great delight and satisfaction in unearthing and identifying prehistoric artefacts, bones etc., and in discovering (and disputing) lost links in the evolutionary process. In this way he may come to understand life’s intelligence involved in this manifested world. More fortunate, however, is that man who investigates his own mind, and with such devotion, to discover the illusory nature of the world he lives in so that his real, innate nature, which is life itself may reveal!
Kaivalya Gita volume 3 is an apt tool for such a discovery!
Peter Julian Capper
MA (Cantab) UK