India’s great scripture the Bhagavad Gita contains profound lessons for us all. One verse states, “An accomplished yogi sees God in all beings, and all beings in God; that person sees the same God everywhere” (6:29). The text variously explains this key statement.
In our present state, with our dualistic consciousness, when we perceive other beings we more often than not do not perceive God in them. Rather, we perceive the various configurations of their karma: their body, their personality, their actions, and so forth. The Gita makes clear that all these functions are merely the workings of nature (5:14): “It is nature that performs these acts.” So, what we’re seeing when we perceive others are the flutterings of their karma.
Then, how can we see beyond others’ karma, their outer shell, which can be wondrously virtuous, as in a saint, or profoundly evil, as we read in the daily headlines.
The Gita gives instructions on means to achieve spiritual illumination that vary according to one’s temperament. Through dedicated spiritual practice, one may employ inner knowledge (jnana yoga) and selfless actions (karma yoga) in order to become enlightened. There are also secondary practices that are derived from the Gita’s different chapters, such as devotion (bhakti yoga) and meditation (dhyana yoga, which is technically not the same as the meditation technique outlined in Patanjali’s eightfold yoga). Any such practices help to peel away the false layers that cover one’s spiritual Self.
When stripped away of these illusory layers that comprise one’s outer being, all that’s left is God within. From this heightened vantage point, the illumined soul is now capable of perceiving God in others; of seeing “the same God everywhere.” Such a state can be attained in this very life. What are we waiting for?
“He who sees that all activity occurs because of the continual interactions of changing material processes and that his spiritual Self does not act: that person truly sees” (13:30).