The Bhagavad Gita, like any text or doctrine rigorously indebted to the religious genre of literature, presents the (post)modern or skeptical reader with all the things that Krishna attributes to “cynical people:” perhaps nothing but misery or frustration (83.3). In the same sense, it is an awesome text due to its absoluteness. The word “metaphysics” in philosophy has recently come to designate a form of thought which perpetuates the belief in the necessary or absolute existence of any entity. Like every promotion of faith, the Bhagavad Gita formulates a clear-cut metaphysics that attempts to evaluate existence, nature, the universe, human life, etc. and asserts a pre-established sense to reality. The most obvious way to begin to ground a pre-given sense of reality is to assert an other-world concealed behind our everyday world. To respect its complexity, let’s assemble some of the axioms to Krishna’s metaphysical claims:
- The Atma (True Self), Brahman (God or Godhead) and Purusha (life force) necessarily exist (43.12).
- All beings are contingent upon God, who is absolute, and so if a being exists, it exists necessarily through God (53.18-19).
- Similarly, God splits into nature and spirit (Divinity), one being non-real, the other real, and God is not dependent upon nature (the non-real), but nature is dependent on God (70.12).
- Although God looks over nature, the latter operates by itself and is contingent upon karma (action), whereas God is divorced from all worldly action or karma itself.
- Therefore, God, Atma, and the Life Force are not natural, they are divine, or we could say that nature is God’s lower (non-real) nature, and divinity is its higher nature (16.26-27).
- All desire is worldly and linked to pleasure and pain. Therefore, the world does not guarantee any pleasure that is not overwhelmed by pain, or since the world does not offer a permanent feeling of pleasure (i.e. bliss) because of the prospect of death, then the belief in a realm beyond death and life becomes the most important goal (73.29).
- Since desire is bad because it entangles us in karma (non-reality), uncompromising duty is what is required. Insofar as man’s only real objective is union with God, duty not only refers to duty to authority or society, but more explicitly to rendering all works and all desires to God (in order to better realize our unity with God, etc.).
- Duty is the sign of our devotion to God which is necessary for our union with Him. In this sense, in order to attain true bliss and be “intoxicated” with God, we must cultivate the correct mental attitude, the “worshipful” attitude (54.21, 46.30).
- Finally, to indicate why the worshipful attitude is important, let’s examine a single passage: “This is a universal law, Arjuna. The sum total of all thoughts and feelings during the whole span of your life condense into a single state of mind at the time of your departure from the body. You assume a particular mental makeup at the instant of death. Whatever occupies your attention throughout life will inevitably be your consciousness at the moment you die—and to that realm of consciousness you will go…Any moment may be your last, so treat each as the last because your thought at that instant is the foundation on which your next birth is assembled” (77.6-7).
- The only thing remaining is to do God, be God, see God in all things, think God at all times, believe devoutly that we are One with God before and after death, and fear the worldly thoughts that continuously come to conceal such consciousness at any moment: Krishna asserts, “this is absolutely true; give up any doubts” (41.10).
This list seemed necessary in order to highlight some of the fundamental frameworks through which the Gita attempts to coax the reader throughout its argumentation. However, even the word “argument” would be very misplaced, because to want to argue with God, whether face to face on the battlefield or within our own minds, is to cut short any relevance any sort of argument could ever have. And Krishna/God makes abundantly clear that it does not matter which God or what kind of worshipful attitude we assume, only that we do assume such an attitude under pain of deciding against our union with reality, i.e. God. God may not roll dice, but one certainly does not roll the dice with God, let alone against him.
In essence, the crux of the metaphysical theory supporting this religious view of the world is to place a rather cumbersome and awkward responsibility on the part of all mankind, namely that we must deify ourselves simply through knowledge in God. Yet this knowledge is in fact faith, and this faith is in fact the very means through which society or the state, i.e. the political arrangements/powers that be, take on all their power. For to wonder at the fact that there is something rather than nothing can easily lead to a religious outlook; but it is only the next step to wonder at the fact that there is society rather than chaos, and from there to assert the necessity of an all-knowing, all-powerful Godhead.
When we are told that our bodies are merely instruments for God, then ipso facto they become plastic for social power, gearing up our bodies to lubricate the cogs which we have become in the social machine. If the world isn’t real, along with our actions and the karma that follows (except for the “mental attitude” that culminates our life), then it follows that society and political power aren’t real either. If we accept that society is a given and that no desire should or could change things, then we can do nothing but accept duty as a means of penance for the sin of being. Seeing all things in God and bowing to all things through God become the same thing.
Krishna asserts that the ignorant or the unbelievers are the cause of their own sorrow, that they cause themselves to be separated from God, and that they waste their lives. More importantly, they will never find bliss in a union with God. However, it remains valid that some would rather will their own sorrow than be beholden to a God who can do the same. Furthermore, we will find no bliss in God, and, more importantly, we certainly do not find happiness in the idea in the necessary existence of God (for this is the true issue at hand). The question is: by doing away with a doctrine based on a sanctimonious and metaphysical absolute need, do we cause our own downfall, or bring about our True-Self-overcoming? If the latter, then we must be able to show how the (non)-necessary (non)-existence of God would not bring about the destruction of the universe or humanity (32.22-24).