11/10/05 Tapestry of One, a book on the "Axis Age," when the greatest minds in antiquity suddenly appeared together on earth: Buddha (influenced by the Upanishads), Lao Tzu and Confucius.
Copyright © 1993-2005. Mel West. All rights reserved.
The Tapestry of One (continued)
by Mel West
Knowledge and Judgment:
l. Practice discipline in my protection,
with your mind focused on me;
Arjuna, hear how you can know me
completely, without doubt.
2. I will teach you the totality
of knowledge and judgment;
this known, nothing else
in the world need be known.
3. One man among thousands
strives for success,
and of the few who are successful,
a rare one knows my reality.
4. My nature has eight aspects:
earth, water, fire, wind, space,
5. This is my lower nature;
know my higher nature too,
that sustains the universe.
6. Learn that this is the womb
of all creatures;
I am the source of all the universe,
just as I am its dissolution.
7. Nothing is higher than I am;
Arjuna, all that exists
is woven on me,
like a web of pearls on thread.
8. I am the taste in water, Arjuna,
the light in the moon and sun,
OM resonant in all sacred lore,
the sound in space, valor in men.
12. Know that nature's qualities
come from me-lucidity,
passion, and dark inertia;
I am not in them, they are in me.
15. Vile, deluded sinners are the men
who fail to take refuge in me;
their knowledge ruined by magic,
they fall prey to demonic power.
16. Arjuna, four types of virtuous men
are devoted to me:
the tormented man, the seeker of wisdom,
the suppliant, and the sage.
17. Of these, the Disciplined Man of knowledge
is set apart by his singular devotion;
I am dear to the man of knowledge,
and he is dear to me.
18. They are all noble, but I regard
The Man of Knowledge to be my very self;
self-disciplined, he holds me
to be the highest way.
19. At the end of many births,
the man of knowledge finds refuge in me;
he is the rare great spirit who sees
"Krishna is all that is".
20. Robbed of knowledge by stray desires,
men take refuge in other deities;
observing varied rites,
they are limited by their own nature.
23. But finite is the reward
that comes to men of little wit;
men who sacrifice to gods reach the gods;
those devoted to me reach me.
25. Veiled in the magic of my discipline,
I elude most men;
this deluded world is not aware
that I am unborn and immutable.
26. I know all creatures
that have been, that now exist,
and that are yet to be;
but, Arjuna, no one knows me.
30. Men who know me as its inner being,
inner divinity, and inner sacrifice
have disciplined their reason;
they know me at the time of death.
The Infinite Spirit:
3. Eternal and supreme is the infinite spirit;
its inner self is called inherent being;
its creative force, known as action,
is the source of creatures' existence.
4. Its inner being is perishable existence;
its inner divinity is man's spirit;
I am the inner sacrifice
here in your body, O Best of Mortals.
5. A man who dies remembering me
at the time of death enters my being
when he is freed from his body;
of this there is no doubt.
8. Disciplined through practice,
his reason never straying,
meditating, one reaches
the supreme divine spirit of man.
11. I shall teach you,
about the state
that scholars of sacred lore
the state ascetics enter,
freed from passion,
which some men seek
in the celibate life.
13. Invoking the infinite spirit
as the one eternal syllable OM,
remembering me as he abandons his body,
he reaches the absolute way.
15. Reaching me, men of great spirit
do not undergo rebirth,
the ephemeral realm of suffering;
they attain absolute perfection.
Let's take a short rest here. Reaching me, men of great spirit do not undergo rebirth, the ephemeral realm of suffering; they attain absolute perfection. These words best summarize the keystone of Buddha's teaching. Buddha concluded that rebirth meant condemnation to future suffering. Therefore, to avoid suffering one ought to reach for the one ineffable state which Buddha called Nirvana. That state, unlike the state of which the Great Spirit speaks, is Final Extinction. Buddha offers a slight twist in the conclusion. Let us go on:
20. Beyond this unmanifest nature
is another unmanifest existence,
a timeless being that does not perish
when all creatures perish.
21. It is called eternal unmanifest nature,
what men call the highest way,
the goal from which they do not return;
this highest realm is mine.
28. Knowing the fruit of virtue
assigned to knowledge of sacred lore,to sacrifices, to penances,
and to acts of charity,
the Man of Discipline
transcends all this
and ascends to the place
of pure beginning.
The Sublime Mystery:
3. Without faith in sacred duty,
men fail to reach me, Arjuna;
they return to the cycle
of death and rebirth.
4. The whole universe is pervaded
by my unmanifest form;
all creatures exist in me,
but I do not exist in them.
5. Behold the power of my discipline;
these creatures are really not in me;
my self quickens creatures,
sustaining them without being in them.
6. Just as the wide-moving wind
is constantly present in space,
so all creatures exist in me;
understand this to be so!
7. As an eon ends, all creatures
fold into my nature, Arjuna;
and I create them again
as a new eon begins.
8. Gathering in my own nature,
again and again I freely create
this whole throng of creatures,
helpless in the force of my nature.
9. These actions do not bind me,
since I remain detached
in all my actions, Arjuna,
as if I stood apart from them.
15. Sacrificing through knowledge,
others worship my universal presence
in its unity
and in its many different aspects.
17. I am the universal father,
mother, granter of all, grandfather,
object of knowledge, purifier,
holy syllable OM, threefold sacred lore.
18. I am the way, sustainer, lord,
witness, shelter, refuge, friend,
source, dissolution, stability,
treasure, and unchanging seed.
19. I am heat that withholds
and sends down the rains;
I am immortality and death;
both being and nonbeing am I.
Another short rest is in order here. When the Great Spirit says He is immortality and death, both being and nonbeing am I, we must ask, therefore, what would be the highest state for man to achieve. Obviously the highest state would be to be One with the Great Spirit. Buddha concluded that the highest state would be nonbeing. How he arrived at this is a mystery. We would presume that he presupposed that Being brought Suffering; therefore Nonbeing would have to be the greatest freedom from suffering. But if the Great Spirit is both Being and Nonbeing, by his nature He represents a higher state, even though, for Himself, it involves Suffering. That state is not only the actualization of His Being but also the Awareness of the State of Being and Nonbeing. Krishna tells us that The Disciplined Man becomes like him, being detached from Being to the extent that one can Act with all the virtues necessary to fulfill the Purpose that is desired of him. The Great Spirit must also honor this same situation, fulfilling His Purpose with detachment. One can be detached and still function for Society as a responsible, honorable person. Buddha did not seem to appreciate this perspective.
23. When devoted men sacrifice
to other deities with faith,
they sacrifice to me, Arjuna,
however aberrant the rites.
24. I am the enjoyer
and the lord of all sacrifices;
they do not know me in reality,
and so they fail.
25. Votaries of the gods go to the gods,
ancestor-worshippers go to the ancestors,
those who propitiate ghosts go to them,
and my worshippers go to me.
27. Whatever you do-what you take,
what you offer, what you give,
what penances you perform-
do as an offering to me, Arjuna.
28.You will be freed from the bonds of action,
from the fruit of fortune and misfortune;
armed with the discipline of renunciation,
your self liberated, you will join me.
29. I am impartial to all creatures,
and no one is hateful or dear to me;
but men devoted to me are in me,
and I am within them.
31. His spirit quickens to sacred duty,
and he finds eternal peace;
Arjuna, know that no one
devoted to me is lost.
32. If they rely on me, Arjuna,
women, commoners, men of low rank,
even men born in the womb of evil,
reach the highest way.
33. How easy it is then for holy priests
and devoted royal sages-
in this transient world of sorrow,
devote yourself to me!
Fragments of Divine Power:
1. Great Warrior, again hear
my word in its supreme form;
desiring your good,
I speak to deepen your love.
2. Neither the multitude of gods
nor great sages know my origin,
for I am the source of all
the gods and great sages.
4. Understanding, knowledge, nondelusion,
patience, truth, control, tranquility,
joy, suffering, being, nonbeing,
fear, and fearlessness...
5. Nonviolence, equanimity, contentment,
penance, charity, glory, disgrace,
these diverse attitudes
of creatures' arise from me.
8. I am the source of everything,
and everything proceeds from me;
filled with my existence, wise men
realizing this are devoted to me.
11. Dwelling compassionately
deep in the self,
I dispel darkness born of ignorance
with the radiant light of knowledge.
15. You know yourself through the self,
Krishna; Supreme among Men,
Sustainer and Lord of Creatures,
God of Gods, Master of the Universe!
16. Tell me without reserve
the divine powers of your self
powers by which you pervade
20. I am the self abiding
in the heart of all creatures;
I am their beginning,
their middle, and their end.
32. I am the beginning, the middle,
and the end of creations, Arjuna;
of sciences, I am the science of the self;
I am the dispute of orators.
33. I am the vowel a of the syllabary,
the pairing of words in a compound;
I am indestructible time,
the creator facing everywhere at once.
37. I am Krishna among my mighty kinsmen;
I am Arjuna among the Pandava princes;
I am the epic poet Vyasa among sages,
the inspired singer among bards.
41. Whatever is powerful, lucid,
splendid, or invulnerable
has its source in a fragment
of my brilliance.
42. What use is so much knowledge
to you, Arjuna?
I stand sustaining this entire world
with a fragment of my being.
The Vision of Krishna's Totality:
Arjuna, see all the universe,
animate and inanimate,
and whatever else you wish to see;
all stands here as one in my body.
18. You are to be known
as supreme eternity,
the deepest treasure
of all that is,
the immutable guardian
of enduring sacred duty;
I think you are
man's timeless spirit.
29. As moths
in the frenzy
fly into a blazing flame,
in the frenzy
enter your mouths.
31. Tell me-
who are you
in this terrible form?
Homage to you, Best of Gods!
Be gracious! I want to know you
as you are in your beginning.
I do not comprehend
the course of your ways.
32. I am time grown old,
creating world destruction,
set in motion
to annihilate the worlds;
even without you, all these warriors
arrayed in hostile ranks
will cease to exist.
33. Therefore, arise
and win glory!
Conquer your foes
and fulfill your kingship!
They are already
killed by me.
Be just my instrument,
the archer at my side!
53. Not through sacred lore,
penances, charity, or sacrificial rites
can I be seen in the form
that you saw me.
54. By devotion alone
can I, as I really am,
be known and seen
and entered into, Arjuna.
55. Acting only for me, intent on me,
free from attachment,
hostile to no creature, Arjuna,
a man of devotion comes to me.
2. I deem most disciplined
men of enduring discipline
who worship me with true faith,
entrusting their minds to me.
4. Mastering their senses,
with equanimity toward everything,
they reach me, rejoicing
in the welfare of all creatures.
5. It is more arduous when their reason
clings to my unmanifest nature;
for men constrained by bodies,
the unmanifest way is hard to attain.
10. Even if you fail in practice,
dedicate yourself to action;
performing actions for my sake,
you will achieve success.
11. If you are powerless to do
even this, rely on my discipline,
and reject all fruit of action.
12. Knowledge is better than practice,
meditation better than knowledge,
rejecting fruits of action
is better still-it brings peace.
13. One who bears hate for no creature
is friendly, compassionate, unselfish,
free of individuality, patient,
the same in suffering and joy.
14. Content always, disciplined,
self-controlled, firm in his resolve,
his mind and understanding dedicated to me,
devoted to me, he is dear to me.
17. He does not rejoice or hate,
grieve or feel desire;
relinquishing fortune and misfortune,
the man of devotion is dear to me.
19. Neutral to blame and praise,
silent, content with his fate,
unsheltered, firm in thought,
the man of devotion is dear to me.
Knowing the Field:
1. The field denotes
this body, and wise men
call one who knows it
2. Know me as the field-knower
in all fields-what I deem
to be knowledge is knowledge
of the field and its knower.
5. The field contains the great elements,
unmanifest nature, the eleven senses,
and the five sense realms.
6. Longing, hatred, happiness, suffering,
bodily form, consciousness, resolve,
thus is this field with its changes
defined in summary.
7. Knowledge means humility,
sincerity, nonviolence, patience,
honesty, reverence for one's teacher,
purity, stability, self-restraint;
8. Dispassion toward sense objects
and absence of individuality,
seeing the defects in birth, death,
old age, sickness, and suffering;
9. Detachment, uninvolvement
with sons, wife, and home,
in fulfillment and frustration;
10. Unwavering devotion to me
with singular discipline;
retreating to a place of solitude,
avoiding worldly affairs;
11. Persistence in knowing the self,
seeing what knowledge of reality means-
all this is called knowledge,
the opposite is ignorance.
12. I shall teach you what is to be known;
for knowing it, one attains immortality;
it is called the Supreme Infinite Spirit,
beginningless, neither being nor nonbeing.
13. Its hands and feet reach everywhere;
its head and face see in every direction;
hearing everything, it remains
in the world, enveloping all.
15. Outside and within all creatures,
inanimate but still animate,
too subtle to be known,
it is far distant, yet near.
16. Undivided, it seems divided
understood as their sustainer,
it devours and creates them.
17. The light of lights
beyond darkness it is called;
knowledge attained by knowledge,
fixed in the heart of everyone.
18. So, in summary I have explained
the field and knowledge of it;
a man devoted to me, knowing this,
enters into my being.
20. For its agency in producing effects,
nature is called a cause;
in the experience of joy and suffering,
man's spirit is called a cause.
21. Man's spirit is set in nature,
experiencing the qualities born of nature;
its attachment to the qualities causes
births in the wombs of good and evil.
24. By meditating on the self, some men
see the self through the self;
others see by philosophical discipline;
others by the discipline of action.
26. Arjuna, know that anything
inanimate or alive with motion
is born from the union
of the field and its knower.
28. Seeing the lord standing
the same everywhere,
the self cannot injure itself
and goes the highest way.
30. When he perceives the unity
existing in separate creatures
and how they expand from unity,
he attains the Infinite Spirit.
31. Beginningless, without qualities,
the supreme self is unchanging;
even abiding in a body, Arjuna,
it does not act, nor is it defiled.
32. Just as all-pervading space
remains unsullied in its subtlety,
so the self in every body
33. Just as one sun
illumines this entire world,
so the master of the field
illumines the entire field.
The Triad of Nature's Qualities:
11. When the light of knowledge
shines in all the body's senses,
then one knows
that lucidity prevails.
12. When passion increases, Arjuna,
greed and activity,
involvement in actions,
disquiet, and longing arise.
13. When dark inertia increases,
obscurity and inactivity,
and delusion, arise.
14. When lucidity prevails,
the self whose body dies
enters the untainted worlds
of those who know reality.
15. When he dies in passion,
he is born among lovers of action;
so when he dies in dark inertia,
he is born into wombs of folly.
16. The fruit of good conduct
is pure and untainted they say,
but suffering is the fruit of passion,
ignorance the fruit of dark inertia.
17. From lucidity knowledge is born;
from passion comes greed;
from dark inertia come negligence,
delusion, and ignorance.
19. When a man of vision sees
nature's qualities as the agent
of action and knows what lies beyond,
he enters into my being.
20 Transcending the three qualities
that are the body's source, the self
achieves immortality, freed from the sorrows
of birth, death, and old age.
24. Self-reliant, impartial to suffering
and joy, to clay, stone, or gold,
the resolute man is the same
to foe and friend, to blame and praise.
25. The same in honor and disgrace,
to ally and enemy, a man
who abandons involvements
transcends the qualities of nature.
26. One who serves me faithfully,
with discipline of devotion,
transcends the qualities of nature
and shares in the infinite spirit.
27. I am the infinite spirit's foundation,
immortal and immutable,
the basis of eternal sacred duty
and of perfect joy.
The True Spirit of Man:
11. Men of discipline who strive
see him present within themselves;
but without self-mastery and reason,
even those who strive fail to see.
15. I dwell deep
in the heart of everyone;
and reasoning come from me;
I am the object to be known
through all sacred lore;
and I am its knower,
the creator of its final truth.
19. Whoever knows me without delusion
as the supreme spirit of man
knows all there is, Arjuna-
he devotes his whole being to me.
20. Arjuna, thus I have taught
this most secret tradition;
realizing it, one has understanding
and his purpose is fulfilled.
The Divine and the Demonic Man:
Fearlessness, purity, determination
in the discipline of knowledge,
charity, self-control, sacrifice,
study of sacred lore, penance, honesty;
2. Nonviolence, truth, absence of anger,
disengagement, peace, loyalty,
compassion for creatures, lack of greed,
gentleness, modesty, reliability;
3. Brilliance, patience, resolve,
clarity, absence of envy and of pride;
these characterize a man
born with divine traits.
4. Hypocrisy, arrogance, vanity,
anger, harshness, ignorance;
these characterize a man born with demonic traits.
5. The divine traits lead to freedom,
the demonic lead to bondage;
do not despair, Arjuna;
you were born with the divine.
7. Demonic men cannot comprehend
activity and rest;
there exists no clarity,
no morality, no truth in them.
8. They say that the world
has no truth, no basis, no god,
that no power of mutual dependence
is its cause, but only desire.
9. Mired in this view, lost to themselves
with their meager understanding,
these fiends contrive terrible acts
to destroy the world.
10. Subject to insatiable desire,
drunk with hypocrisy and pride,
holding false notions from delusion,
they act with impure vows.
11. In their certainty that life
consists in sating their desires,
they suffer immeasurable anxiety
that ends only with death.
12. Bound by a hundred fetters of hope,
obsessed by desire and anger,
they hoard wealth in stealthy ways
to satisfy their desires.
16. Confused by endless thoughts,
caught in the net of delusion,
given to satisfying their desires,
they fall into hell's foul abyss.
17. Self-aggrandizing, stubborn,
drunk with wealth and pride,
they sacrifice in name only,
an hypocrisy, violating all norms.
18. Submitting to individuality, power,
arrogance, desire, and anger,
they hate me and revile me
in their own bodies, as in others.
19. These hateful, cruel, vile
men of misfortune, I cast
into demonic wombs
through cycles of rebirth.
20. Fallen into a demonic womb,
deluded in birth after birth,
they fail to reach me, Arjuna,
and they go the lowest way.
21. The three gates of hell
that destroy the self
are desire, anger, and greed;
one must relinquish all three.
22. Released through these three gates
of darkness, Arjuna,
a man elevates the self
and ascends to the highest way.
Three Aspects of Faith:
3. The faith each man has, Arjuna,
follows his degree of lucidity;
a man consists of his faith,
and as his faith is, so is he.
4. Men of lucidity sacrifice to the gods;
men of passion, to spirits and demons;
the others, men of dark inertia,
sacrifice to corpses and to ghosts.
6. Without reasons, they torment
the elements composing their bodies,
and they torment me within them;
know them to have demonic resolve.
14. Honoring gods, priests,
teachers, and wise men, being pure,
honest, celibate, and nonviolent
is called bodily penance.
15. Speaking truth without offense,
and reciting sacred lore
is called verbal penance.
16. Mental serenity, kindness,
and purity of being
is called mental penance.
17. This threefold penance
is lucid when men of discipline
perform it with deep faith,
without craving for reward.
18. Wavering and unstable,
performed with hypocrisy,
to gain respect, honor, and worship,
that penance is called passionate.
2. Giving up actions based on desire,
the poets know as "renunciation";
relinquishing all fruit of action,
learned men call "relinquishment."
4. Arjuna, hear my decision
it is rightly declared
to be of three kinds.
5. Action in sacrifice, charity,
and penance is to be performed,
not relinquished- for wise men,
they are acts of sanctity.
6. But even these actions
should be done by relinquishing to me
attachment and the fruit of action-
this is my decisive idea.
8. When one passionately relinquishes
difficult action from fear
of bodily harm, he cannot win
the fruit of relinquishment.
9. But if one performs prescribed action
because it must be done,
relinquishing attachment and the fruit,
his relinquishment is a lucid act.
11. A man burdened of his body
cannot completely relinquish actions,
but a relinquisher is defined
as one who can relinquish the fruits.
17. When one is free of individuality
and his understanding is untainted,
even if he kills these people,
he does not kill and is not bound.
20. Know that through lucid knowledge
One sees in all creatures
a single, unchanging existence,
undivided within its divisions.
21. Know passionate knowledge
as that which regards
various distinct existences
separately in all creatures.
22. But knowledge that clings
to a single thing as if it were the whole,
limited, lacking a sense of reality,
is known for its dark inertia.
23. Action known for its lucidity
is necessary, free of attachment,
performed without attraction or hatred
by one who seeks not fruit.
26. An agent called pure
has no attachment or individualism,
is resolute and energetic,
unchanged in failure and success.
27. An agent said to be passionate
is anxious to gain the fruit of action,
greedy, essentially violent, impure,
subject to excitement and grief.
30. If one who knows activity and rest,
acts of right and wrong,
bravery and fear, bondage and freedom,
understanding is lucid.
33. When it sustains acts
of mind, breath, and senses
through discipline without wavering,
resolve is lucid.
37. The joy of lucidity
at first seems like poison
but is in the end like ambrosia,
from the calm of self-understanding.
38. The joy that is passionate
at first seems like ambrosia
when senses encounter sense objects,
but in the end it is like poison.
41. The actions of priests, warriors,
commoners, and servants
are apportioned by qualities
born of their intrinsic being.
47. Better to do one's own duty imperfectly
than to do another man's well;
doing action intrinsic to his being,
a man avoids guilt.
48. Arjuna, a man should not relinquish
action he is born to, even if it is flawed;
all undertakings are marred by a flaw,
as fire is obscured by smoke.
55. Through devotion he discerns me,
just who and how vast I really am;
and knowing me in reality,
he enters into my presence.
56. Always performing all actions,
taking refuge in me,
relying on the discipline of understanding,
always keep me in your thought.
58. If I am in your thought, by my grace
you will transcend all dangers;
but if you are deafened
by individuality, you will be lost.
59. Your resolve is futile
if a sense of individuality
makes you think, "I shall not fight"-
nature will compel you to.
60. You are bound by your own action,
intrinsic to your being, Arjuna;
even against your will you must do
what delusion now makes you refuse.
61. Arjuna, the lord resides
in the heart of all creatures,
making them reel magically,
as if a machine moved them.
64. Listen to my profound words,
the deepest mystery of all,
for you are precious to me
and I tell you for your good.
66. Relinquishing all sacred duties to me,
make me your only refuge;
do not grieve,
for I shall free you from all evils.
70. I judge the man who studies
our dialogue on sacred duty
to offer me sacrifice
through sacrifice in knowledge.
71. If he listens in faith,
finding no fault, a man is free
and will attain the cherished worlds
of those who act in virtue.
74. As I heard this wondrous dialogue
between Krishna and Arjuna,
the man of great soul,
the hair bristled on my flesh.
78. Where Krishna is lord of discipline
and Arjuna is the archer,
there do fortune, victory, abundance,
and morality exist, so I think.
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