Children enjoy playing with masks. The more distorted and grotesque the mask, the greater the thrill. The secret of their amusement is the fact that they know the masks are different from them. They are immune to the aberrations of the masks.
You are an amalgam of matter and Spirit. Body, mind and intellect are matter. That which breathes life into the inert matter is Spirit. The Spirit is the real You. Body, mind and intellect make the mask. The word ‘personality’ comes from the Latin ‘persona’ which means mask.
Ignorant of your real nature you wrongly attribute the distortions and limitations of the body, mind and intellect to yourself and suffer. Being matter, body, mind and intellect are susceptible to the influences of the world. But you are the Spirit. Nothing in the world has the power to affect you. You command the world. Yet today you are victimised by the world and are weak, powerless. Totally at the mercy of the environment.
The Gita exhorts you to awaken to your own glory. The mask of body, mind and intellect is provided only for you to enjoy the playground of the world. Instead today it has become the source of stress and distress, anguish and agony.
One who understands the difference between matter and Spirit is empowered, happy and unaffected by the fluctuations in the world. Krsna epitomises this state. With the mask he was endearing, charming, charismatic. Everyone adored him. Even the gopis, exasperated by his mischief, forgot their anger when they saw his captivating smile. Divested of the mask He was awesome, worshipful. Like when He showed the Universal Form to Arjuna in chapter 11.
All you have to do is understand the distinction between the mask and the real YOU. Then the distortions inherent in the body, mind and intellect will only entertain you. You will not agonise over them. Your interface with the world will be perfect, evoking accolades and laurels. By yourself you will be a repository of grace, happiness and power.
Chapter 13 begins with Arjuna asking Krsna, “What is the difference between matter and Spirit, field and Knower of the field, knowledge and That which is to be known?” You labour in the field of matter, oblivious of your true nature as Knower of the field. Once you know the distinction between the two you become the Knower of the field.
Krsna’s brilliant exposition delineates the two so systematically that this chapter stands out in its clarity and subtlety. He gives the analogy of the field and says – The body is the ksetra, field. Know Me as the ksetrajna, Knower-of-field in all fields. He divides the field, matter, into thirty-one segments. The Spirit is different from them.
Verses 8 to 12 describe knowledge as the twenty qualities of a jnani, person of knowledge. He says – This is knowledge. All else is ignorance. That which is to be known, jneyam, is Brahman, the supreme knowledge, the final Goal. Krsna gives a brilliant description of Brahman, using paradoxical terms as Brahman is beyond the grasp of the intellect.
Krsna gives the distinction between prakrti, matter, and Purusa, Spirit. While Spirit is one, matter undergoes changes and is born in good or bad homes according to the gunas or qualities. Spirit expresses Itself differently in different types of people. In the wrong-doer It is a mere witness. As one purifies oneself Spirit becomes approver. Then It takes the role of protector and fulfils one’s endeavours when one becomes more unselfish. Further It enables one to enjoy the world and wield power. In the end when one removes all obstacles Spirit reveals Itself as the supreme Self. Krsna assures us all that one who knows Purusa and prakrti as well as the qualities is not born again, whatever be his lifestyle. He becomes Spirit.
One gains moksa liberation by divesting one’s desires through action. Subtler desires are sublimated through knowledge and the last traces overcome by meditation. The ignorant ones incapable of this path can still evolve and go beyond death by surrender to the wise. One who sees the one unifying Force in the variety of things and beings becomes Spirit.
The Spirit neither acts nor is tainted by actions. It remains untouched like space and lights up all of creation just as the sun illumines the world. Develop the jnana caksu, eye-of-wisdom, and you will perceive clearly the difference between Spirit and matter and go to the supreme Self.