Chapter XIII: 20-21
|In the production of the
effect and the cause, nature is said to be the cause; in the experience of pleasure and
pain, the soul is said to be the cause.
The soul, seated in nature, experiences the qualities born of nature; attachment to the qualities is the cause of his birth in good and evil wombs.
Krishna's genius is synthesis and here is a synthesis of subjective idealism and materialism. There are those who say that the outside world is a projection of one's own mind; and others who assert that matter alone is real and that the spirit is the fermentation of matter. Krishna points out that both spirit and matter exist though of course not as two but as God and his nature.
Our experiences of "pleasant" and "unpleasant" are merely subjective (to drink ice-water is pleasant in summer yet agonizing if the teeth are sensitive). However, although butter and lime look alike, one is soothing and pleasant, the other caustic and irritating. There is a mysterious power in lime that distinguishes it from butter. That power is shakti or prakrti or (God's) nature. The entire universe is vibrant with life, prakrti, and that nature functions. The nature of water is to flow; the nature of fire is to burn. Counterpart to this mysterious power is a mysterious consciousness in us which experiences that nature - purusha or the individual soul. The two, prakrti and purusha, seem to understand each other very well indeed.
Since purusha was the experiencer, some philosophers accorded this a superior status and regarded nature as inert. Others saw that the qualities in nature were able to influence purusha and so declared that nature is para-shakti (supreme power) and purusha is powerless without her. (You, the purusha, could not drink water and enjoy the sweetness of honey but for prakriti.) Let us then accept both, together! For nature is God's nature - they are not two but one. A clear understanding of this indivi(sible)duality frees us from confusion, likes and dislikes, craving and aversion - the "ought to be" and the "ought not to be." Nature prevails in God's sight.
Web Editor's Notes