What is Matter? What is Spirit? -

What is Matter? What is Spirit?

What is Matter? What is Spirit?


In Katha Upanishad, one of the teachings is that our Creator has killed our senses.  Message behind this teaching is that our senses have been created extrovert. 

When we find completeness outside that it is like being killed.  We are to use the same senses and find completeness inside.  Try to see inside by listening to more scriptures and satsangs.  

This is how one comes alive.  We need to replace senses with questions.  The one who has a lot of questions of articles, beings and circumstances is killing opportunities to be happy.  

The one who redirects the questions to within and questions turned inwards, ‘Who Am I’ that person comes alive.  

We are going through Prince Arjuna’s questions because we are Prince Arjuna

Review:  Focus of

Question 28: What is Vision? 

 Vision is surrender.  The more we know about the Creator, the more we surrender to the Creator. 

 In Gurustotram, the 2nd verse shares that we are blinded due to ignorance of our Nature.  What’s applied to our eye is ‘makeup’ of knowledge.  

Results in our eyes opening to our Nature and we surrender from what we are not to what we are.  

When Prince Arjuna asks Bhagavan Krishna ‘Let me see you’, Prince Arjuna’s eyes of ignorance are removed. 

When ignorance is removed, who he is and who Bhagavan Krishna is, is known.

Question 29:  What is Time? 

Time is a teacher.  If we are running out of time, it teaches us that we have to be more efficient. 

Bhagavan Krishna is Maha Kala.  He is Time to time.  Even time runs out with respect to Bhagavan Krishna.  Scientifically, time is a measurement of change.  

There has to be an entity to change for there to be a recording of time. 

 This shows existence precedes time and because of existence there is time.  Sthane means ‘All is as all is’.  All is perfect.  

Prince Arjuna comes to appreciate this insight that he is just an instrument.  The instrument is closer to Infinity than a doer is.  

We need to enjoy being an instrument and in second place to Bhagavan. 

Question 30: What is Devotion?  Devotion is Invocation.  Prince Arjuna asks Bhagavan Krishna how he can be even closer to Bhagavan.  

We have to engage in Upasana (like an apprenticeship) to be like the one who is leading us.  We come to feel and see what they do. 

 We need to engage in Upasana with faith that this is important.  One practical gauge that shows this is important to us is that we do not procrastinate.  

The sadhana we engage in that we do immediately shows that we have Shraddha.  A sign of Shraddha is when our day starts with reading, writing, reflection.  

Why is devotion invocation? When we invoke in a subjective science what is revealed is what is already there.  

Bhagavan is ever present in us.  The more we invoke the deeper aspect of us, the more we come to feel what is ever Present.

Chapter 7: Internalize

Chapter 8: Concentrate

Chapter 9: Offer

Chapter 10: Pervading

Chapter 11: Presence

Chapter 12: Practice

Chapters 1 to 6 focuses on Tvam that is Prince Arjuna.  The next 6 chapters focuses on Tat that is Bhagavan Krishna.   Chapters 13 to 18 focuses on Asi. How is it that Prince Arjuna and Bhagavan Krishna are one?


Question 31 – What is Matter?

Prince Arjuna’s Philosophical Question: (Chapter 13, Verse 1) “Prakriti (Matter) and Purusha (Spirit), also the Kshetra (the Field) and Kshetrajna (the Knower-of-the-Field), Knowledge and that which ought to be known –these, I wish to learn, O Keshava. ”

Prince Arjuna wants to know life without limits.  He is coming to sense that even Bhagavan Krishna is an expression with limits and now he wants to know as One without limits and wants to know Infinity.  

In Chapter 12, Prince Arjuna asks who is the better seeker?  One who worships Bhagavan Krishna or worships Brahman.  

Prince Arjuna thinks Bhagavan Krishna is different than Brahman.  Bhagavan Krishan states that he is not just Bhagavan, he is Brahman.  

Lord Krishna’s Philosophical Answer: (Chapter 13, Verse 20) “Know you that Matter (Prakriti) and Spirit (Purusha) are both beginningless; and know you also that all modifications and qualities are born of Prakriti”

Bhagavan Krishna answers what Prakriti is and what Purusha is because they have a relationship.  

Example:  prakriti is the effect (wave) and Purusha is the cause (ocean). Both of these are beginningless because they are expressions of Brahman/Life.  

Brahman is expressing as Purusha and as Prakriti.  Infinity has no beginning and all the expressions also have no beginning.  

If there is an effect there is a cause.  If there is a cause, there has to be an Uncaused cause.  

The uncaused cause is Life that expresses as the cause and effect.   The vikaras are because of the Gunas (rope).  

The nature of Prakriti is Gunas and the nature of Gunas is vikara. The 3 gunas are laziness, aggressiveness and calmness.  

These ropes keep pulling us to sleep, to argue, to read and because these ropes are pulling, there is always change. 

These changes are all born of Prakriti. The effect is made up of qualities and these qualities are always changing. 

There is more to us than what we think or feel.  All of these changes have to have a substratum/locus. 

There is more to you and more to Life.  Body changes, mind changes, the Soul doesn’t change.

Summary:  Prince Arjuna wants to know more about Life without limits.  Bhagavan Krishna answers that life is that which never ends.  All that is changing that is not the purest expression of Life

Practical Question & Answer: What is Matter?  Practical answer is experienced.  Matter is that which is experienced.  Everything that we touched, that we saw was experienced.  If it is experienced, there has to be an Experiencer

Reflection: Why do you continue to identify with your equipments despite observing their changing nature throughout your life? 

Vivekji’s feedback is that we do not have enough role models to show us otherwise. 

If we have a role model that does not engage in articles, beings and circumstances, then we come to understand the possibilities for us to be the same way.

Question 32 – What is Spirit?

Prince Arjuna’s Philosophical Question: (Chapter 13, Verse 1) “Prakriti (Matter) and Purusha (Spirit), also the Kshetra (the Field) and Kshetrajna (the Knower-of-the-Field), Knowledge and that which ought to be known –these, I wish to learn, O Keshava. ”

Prince Arjuna wants to know what Purusha is.  He knows the answer intellectually but wants to feel them now.  He wants to Be this!  

Lord Krishna’s Philosophical Answer: (Chapter 13, Verse 22) “The Purusha seated in Prakriti, experiences the qualities born of Prakriti; attachment to the qualities is the cause of his birth in good and evil wombs.”

Inside of Prakriti is the Purusha.  Purusha is the core and Prakriti is on the surface.  Prakriti depends on Purusha.  

If our life is moving too fast and too many changes, we need to focus on Purusha instead on the Prakriti (example: instead of focusing on the waves we need to focus on the ocean).  They are in the same field. The Purusha enjoys the gunas that is the expression of the Prakriti. 

 Note:  the Purusha that we know is Joy.  In this verse, this Purusha is the relative Purusha.   

This Purusha has forgotten the Absolute and tries to find completeness by enjoying Prakriti.  

When we forget ourself, we are extroverts.   Because Purusha is enjoying, it starts to identify with the gunas.  

The cause of it is that same Purusha is born in bodies that are good and bad.  The Purusha starts to become.

Summary:  Prakriti is the wave and Purusha is the ocean.  Brahman is the water.  Prakriti is expressing as the qualities that are always changing. 

Purusha lives inside the Prakriti that is the foundation for the effect (example: ocean is foundation for waves).  Now the ocean has forgotten what is behind it which is the water and starts to enjoy and identify with the wave and becomes the wave.  

This is almost a scheme devolving.   Prince Arjuna wants to know Life with no limits. 

Bhagavan Krishna says Life is that which never ends.  Here Bhagavan Krishna states that Life is deeper i.e. deeper than Prakriti and deeper than the Purusha as well. 

 Practical Question & Answer: What is Spririt?  Practical answer is experiencer.  Who are we?  We are not the body (Prakriti) we are also not the mind (Purusha).  We are deeper.  We are the deepest!

Reflection: How does the statement, “What is mine cannot be me,” relate to your identity?  

Vivekji’s reflection is that mine is dependent on me and me is dependent on mine.  

These are references and dependent on each other.  If there is a reference, there is a locus.  

This helps us to reflect and know that there is more.

Group reflection: How does the statement, “What is mine cannot be me,” relate to your identity?

Where there is a separation, there cannot be a I.  We identify with articles, being and circumstances.  

Those are areas of our practice.  It is easy to disassociate ourselves in a controlled environment but in the uncontrolled situations where our thoughts are difficult to disassociate ourselves.  

Need a constant reminder of who we really are.  Who we are is really revealed in experiences of high tension.  That’s why sadhana in a controlled environment is so important so that this becomes our default

Individual reflector:  Why do you continue to identify with your equipments despite observing their changing nature throughout your life?   

Key item is false identification and peeling of the layers to identify the true self.  

Learning in a controlled environment is important to help us in the uncontrolled situation.  

Vivekji elaborates that every entity that we depend on for completeness is a kosha (home, parents, children).  

We have to cut those koshas before we disidentify with the 5 koshas.  We need to let go of attachment before removing avidya. 

We have to be intense in our journey.  We can develop intensity by knowing how intense sadness is.  

When we are acutely in tune with sadness, then we become intensely in tune of happiness.  

If we are in a casual relationship with the world, we think it may work out for us.


1. What is the difference between us (Prakriti) and a stone (also a Prakriti)?

Purusha is used in different ways in Geeta.  Purusha is the Spirit that never forgets.  This Purusha is an expression of Spirit that forgets the True Purusha.  It is a relative Self/Purusha. 

A stone and us both have Existence, Awareness and Joy.  The stone can’t reflect as much as we can.  They are exactly the same.  

Only the reflectivity is different.  If there is an effect, there is a cause.  If there is a cause, there is an Uncaused cause. 

If uncausal, there is no cause or effect.  There is only Existence, Awareness, Joy.  There is no cause, no effect, no expression! There is no experiencer.   

2. What is the difference between Creator and Purusha?

Creator that we use is Ishvara/Bhagavan which is Brahman with form and name.  Purusha here is not the Creator. 

 It is essentially the Jiva.  The Jiva has forgotten it’s nature which is Brahman and keeps enjoying and becoming.  

We are more than the body and mind. We are the Spirit.  The Purusha (Purnatva) is Brahman (not the Creator).

3. When and how do we let go of relative Purusha?

When?  Right away


i)           Be clear of the Absolute.

ii)         Be clear of the relative

Once you realize how sad dvaita is, you will let go.  Our nature is to not let go and not hold on to anything.  

This helps us to be clearer about the Absolute Self.  Be clear what dvaita is and what Advaita is.  That is what Prince Arjuna is doing.

4. How to overcome difference of thoughts and purpose in a relationship?

In any relationship, it is difficult if you have competing thoughts and purposes.  One solution is to communicate.  

Finally we have to come to acceptance.  If our purpose is self development and enlightenment, we can practice that without anyone else.  

If the other person doesn’t have the same purpose, we need to work harder.  We can be more vigilant and more accepting. 

By not accepting, the other person will not come to our purpose.  By accepting, there is a possibility for them to accept our purpose.  We need to accept their purpose also.

5. Concept of create and creation is only from the perspective of duality.  Once we come to Oneness, this concept drops off.  Correct?

In Bhagavatam, the Gopis are just reflections of Bhagavan.  Bhagavan is an icon, they are reflections.  

Bhagavan is playing with his own reflections. Bhagavan has not forgotten that these are his reflections. 

That’s why he is happy.  We need to remember the same.  We will be gopis and be so happy.  All this is leela.

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The Chinmaya Mission Northwest Indiana Center was established in 2002. It has now evolved into an organization serving the entire Indian community in Northwest Indiana. Chinmaya Mission is an excellent opportunity for spiritual learning.

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