We still at the beginning of exploring how Gītā is said to be the essence of Upanisad which guide our life for a smoother sailing to cross this ocean of samsāra - life of becoming, keep searching to fulfil this inadequacy of oneself. We also saw the inadequacy is there whenever we can't fulfil what I like (raga) and release myself from what I don't like (dvesa). Like and dislike is just a simpler way to describe raga and dvesa. Raga defines as emotional attachment or depended upon the world to be secure or happy, because I am inadequate to be fulfilled by myself. Therefore I impose security, peace, happiness on people or situation outside of me. Dvesa is aversion or rejection on object, people or situation, where I am not happy if these things are there in my life.
Arjuna's sorrow was caused by raga towards his dear and near ones, therefore causing the conflict between fighting the war or dharma as his duty and withdrawn from the war. By choosing either one will cause sorrow for him, and by choosing neither one also sorrow is there. This situation is also happened in our life. Therefore Arjuna surrender to Lord Krsna, formally asked to be his student, then the teaching begin.
aśocyānanvaśocastvaṃ prajñāvādāṃśca bhāṣase |
gatāsūnagatāsūṃśca nānuśocanti paṇḍitāḥ ||2.11||
The Lord said,
You are grieving over that which deserves no grief, although you talk words of wisdom. The wise drive neither for the living nor for the dead.
This is considered as the first verse of the Lord's teaching, and ŚriŚankarācārya begins his commentary on the Gītā with this verse.
On the very first quarter itself said that "you are grieving over that which deserves no grief". Is it mean the death of Arjuna's near and dear doesn't deserved to be grief? I believe none of us is grieving about the death of Bhīsma and Drona, because we don’t have relationship with them at all. But the death of the people who has strong relationship with us is the source of our sorrow. Caused of sorrow may different from people to people, my caused of sorrow might be your caused of happiness, just like the son who is always puts the importance of his in-laws above, he is the source of sorrow for his parents, but the source of happiness for the in-laws. But death is the only event that uniformly, universally, evokes sorrow. Therefore Bhagavan ŚrīKrsna using death as the material of the teaching. But why he said death is not the cause of sorrow?
There are many caused for sorrow, but the source where sorrow originates or can be obtained is either yourself - ātmā or other than yourself - anātma. If ātmā is the source of sorrow, there shouldn't be a problem. I will always be sad if sadness is my nature - svarūpa, and I will feel very comfortable with the sadness alone. But none of us is comfortable with the sadness, and we are not sad all the time. Therefore sadness is not inherent in me. Whatever is the nature, it will be comfortably there. Just like the nature of water is cool, even we heat it up, it will turn cool in a length of time. Therefore the source of sorrow is not me - ātmā.
If the source of sorrow is other than myself - anātma, why we need to grief upon anything which is not in me. As long as I am not taking anātma as ātmā, not superimpose myself to the source of sorrow, then sorrow is not there.
Q: I know the source of sorrow is not me, but how about the relationship between me that other than me?
A: When there is relationship between two things, these two entities need to be in the same order of reality. There is no relationship between me and my dream sister. It is true that this body has the relationship with another body as siblings by birth for example. They are in the same order of reality. But now what is under the discussion is knowing the reality of myself- ātmā and anātma which are not in the same order of reality. When there is no real relationship between me and this body, how to talk about the relationship towards other's. This will get clearer when we know what is ātmā and anātma.
This analysis of self and non-self is called ātmā-anātma-vivekah. Sorrow is due to not knowing the difference between the self and non-self. This analysis is the Gītā's sole subject matter.
Lord Krsna in his opening statement clearly and plainly stated that there is no cause of sorrow. You are grieving on the thing which is not the cause for grief. Just like a child who cries over death of his/her toys. It is obvious for us, but it is not known by the child. Similarly this fact is obvious for the wise, but not for us.
"The wise people (for whom the self-knowledge is born) don't weep for those who are death or alive." Means death is not a reason for one to be sorrow. Some people can say even though death is not a reason for sorrow for the wise, but I am not the wise one, so I validate myself to be sorrowful. But just ask our self, do we want to get out from this condition? If the wise got the solution, then the solution must be there, and Lord Krsna clearly stated the one who got the solution is one who has self-knowledge, means self-knowledge is the solution to release from sorrow. If self-knowledge is the solution, means the self-ignorance is the fundamental caused.
In the vision of Gītā, the ignorance about the self, taking the inadequacy of anātma as myself, leads to sorrow. There is a distortion on the notion of the self. When the real is unknown, we will take the unreal as the real. Gītā is not a transformation text which transforms us to become a different person, from inadequate to whole, but it just wants us to understand ourselves clearly.
When we talk about the self, means there is non-self which is different from me. The entire world can be divided only into two things. One is me the subject, and other which is object, including the entire world. The book is an object, something other than me, because I am the subject, the knower of the book. Same thing apply to any other objects we can named them. I the subject is different from the object. The seer is always different from the seen. Everyone can say I am not the book, chair, he or she, but where do we usually draw the line between me and not me? Entire world which is not me end at the tip of my skin.
This physical body was born when I was born, this is how my parents told me, even though the memory about it is not there. I know one day when this physical body is gone, I am gone. Whenever I go, the physical body is with me alone, therefore the "I-sense" in the body is there. Thus I conclude that I, the subject, is the physical body. When the physical body is doing particular activity, I say I am doing that activity, I am the doer - kartā. When the physical body is enjoying certain things, I say I am the enjoyer - bhokta. Further, when my physical body is healthy, I am healthy and when my eyes are blind, I am blind. Physical body has its qualities and limitations which we assume to be "I". This is correct to the certain extent, because if the identification with the body is not there, we couldn't function at all. We couldn't bring about any transaction. But the conclusion “I the subject is this physical body", need to be acquired further.
Let us bring back some memories when we were young. We might still remember certain venues we went through and we also remember our teenage year, adulthood till now. Physical states and mind states keep changing, but I am still the same. The awareness "I am” is the same one from twenty years ago till now. Therefore “I” is not subject to change. Lord Krsna said:
dehino'smin yathā dehe kaumāraṃ yauvanaṃ jarā |
tathā dehāntaraprāptirdhīrastatra na muhyati ||2.13||
Just as the (self) embodied in this body must pass through childhood, youth, and old age, so too will it assume another body (at death); with reference to that the wise do not come to grief.
First of all, we need to understand that our physical body is jada - devoid of life by itself. When the vital air is not there, it is just a lump of flesh. And some of us also believe that the soul travels out of the body at the time of death, either enters to another body (re-birth) or goes to some other world. Therefore when a jīva - embodied one, moves from one body to another one, why should we cry for the body which left behind?
Second, when I know myself as a kid, young lady, until now, that “I” is common. The awareness “I” is never change. I assuming all these changes without changing the “awareness I”. That I who have no identification with my physical body and its quality, who objectify my physical body and its changes, is the fundamental I. That fundamental I is the subject who objectifies all the objects other than me. The objectifier is always different from the object which objectified. Therefore I am not the object. I am not any of the things I know. This understanding needs to extend to our senses. Through our senses we hear, touch, see, taste, and smell. We always identify ourselves with the qualities of our senses, because my eyes are sharp, I am sharp, if my eyes are blind, I am blind. The sharpness or the blindness of the eyes are known to me. The knower must be distinct from the known, sense organs.
Some of us are quite objective about the physical body and also the senses. But we do determine a person or even myself based on our thinking. If the mind is calm, I am calm, if the mind is angry, I am angry, and if my mind is sad, I am sad. Few people will say my "my mind is angry but I am fine". I am taking the mental condition as me, but the anger is an object of my knowledge, and me the knower is distinct from it. Therefore I am not the mind. So who am I…..