The Field and the Knower of the Field

Prashant is so well versed with the yoga shastras that the wisdom teachings roll out of him like  lullabies springing from a mother. One day he discussed the thirteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. This chapter introduces Sankhya philosophy, which is the foundation for the Yoga Sutras. The verses are beautiful, describing the difference between spirit “the Knower of the Field”  and matter “the Field” in eloquent prose.

I shall declare that which has to be known, knowing which, one attains immortality; it is the beginning less supreme Brahman, which is said to be neither existent nor non-existent. (13.13)

Also, this is said to be the light of lights beyond darkness, it is knowledge, the object of knowledge, and that which has to be attained through knowledge. It is seated in the hearts of all. (13.18)

The highest spirit in this body is called the witness, the consenter, the supporter, the experiencer, the Great Lord, and also the Supreme Spirit. (13.23)

Prashant explained that no one really understands what is referred to by the “field”, as everyone reads the Gita in English. In Sanskrit, he said, there are three interpretations. One version is to read the “field” as the body; another as an open field in nature; and the third is as a pilgrimage site, a holy field. This last is what Prashant believes is the real meaning in the Gita.

He explained that we have a completely different attitude if we purchase something then if we are gifted the same thing. This body is a gift; “body thy shrine”, as we so frequently quote Guruji. And yet we often treat our cars better than our bodies. If we spend a lot on money on a car, we make sure that it will run well, we purchase good petrol, we wash and wax it. But we are more careless with the body. We eat for pleasure rather than for health, we practice exercise for a photographic body and to be on the cover of Yoga Journal, rather than to cultivate sanctity and piety.

When we go for worship, we have a completely different attitude then when we go to a supermarket. Can we enter the field of the body as if we are going on a pilgrimage? How do we look, how do we enter this space? How do we go into a posture, how do we prepare? When we enter a shrine, we remove our shoes and often wash our hands. We go through a process to purify, to acknowledge that we are entering a sacred space. We turn the senses inward and tune in for a connection, we attune to the breath for the mind space, and the mind to the breath, for the pilgrimage is to the field inside.

Some perceive the Self in the Self by the Self through meditation, others by the discipline of Sankhya and still others by the yoga of action. (13.25)

He who sees the Supreme Lord existing alike in all beings, not perishing when they perish, truly sees. (13.28) 

Translations are from The Bhagavad Gita, Winthrop Sargeant, State University of New York Press, 1994 Edition

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1 Response to The Field and the Knower of the Field

  1. Laurie Freed says:

    Beautiful, Lisa! Thanks so much for sharing this!

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