Chapter Seven: 4-5
Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect
and egoism - thus is my nature divided eightfold.
This is the inferior nature, 0h mighty-armed Arjuna; know thou as different from it my higher nature, the very life-element, by which this world is upheld.
CommentaryWhat is nature? It is God's nature! This long-forgotten truth is revealed here. Its realization opens the kingdom of God to all - scientists, biologists, artists and poets, all worshippers of (God's) nature. Therefore let us never forget again that they who think of, admit the existence of, and are devoted to (God's) nature cannot escape the admission of the existence of God.
The five elements which constitute this material universe, and mind, intellect and egoism are all God's own nature - they do not belong to you! This is a startling revelation. The mind is a modification of the same substance - God's nature, though subtler, and so it reacts automatically to the five elements. Even the ego is part of this nature. It is ignorance and misconception to regard it as independent.
So, we are told here that all the material manifestations of the universe are the inferior nature of God. But, just as in our body the life-force is distinct from the skin, flesh, bone, etc., (inasmuch as it can withdraw itself from the body), there is a divine spark in all beings which is called the jiva, the living soul, the "image of God within." This is God's superior nature.
If we adopt the image of God concept, then we find that mirror and image are mutually dependent - one cannot exist without the other. What Krishna suggests here is: God is the reality, mirror is the material substance - the elements, mind, intellect and ego - and the soul is the reflection in that mirror. The reality, God in his essence, is, in a certain sense, beyond the mirror and the image. It is God reflected in matter (including the mind) that is seen as the individual personality or consciousness - the soul. So, we are given a new and beautiful vision here: the entire material universe is the inferior aspect of God - the body of God - and the indwelling spirit or soul is his superior nature.
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