Chapter 57 — Krishna on the Abandonment of Desire and Result of Tranquility

Lord Krishna said:—

Look here, O Arjuna! The great wonder about this subject is that the picture appears before the canvas upon which it is drawn. The painting is prominent, but the basis on which it exists does not appear. This is all as wonderful as a block of stone that floats on water or a gourd which sinks, as in a magic play. The universe resting in the emptiness of the Divine Spirit appears like a picture on the tablet of the mind. Say then, how does this ego, the self knowledge of your substantiality, arise from the bosom of the empty nothingness?

All these are the vacant production of emptiness, so they are equally swallowed up in the empty womb of an infinite emptiness. They are no more than hallow shadows of emptiness stretched out in empty air. 5 This empty air is covered with the snare of our desires, stretching as wide as the sphere of these outstretched worlds. The band of our desire encircles the worlds as their great belt. The world is situated in Brahman like a reflection in a mirror. It is not subject to partition or obliteration because it is identical with the receptacle in which it exists. The nature of Brahman as a permanent emptiness is inseparable from his essence. No one could ever be able to divide empty air in half or remove it from its place.

Your ignorance of this has made you accustomed to your desires, so although you are filled with every virtue, it is hard for you to get rid of your desires. He who has planted the smallest seed of desire in the soul of his heart, though he may be very wise and learned in all things, is confined like a lion in the cage. 10 Desire which has become a habit grows as rank as a thick wood in his breast unless its seed is burnt away by the knowledge of truth so it cannot sprout anymore. 11 When the seed of desire has been burned, the mind is no longer inclined to anything and one remains untouched by pleasure and pain, like a lotus leaf in water.

12 Now therefore, O Arjuna, remain calm and quiet in your spirit. Be brave and devoid of all desire in your mind. Melt down the mist of your mental delusion by the heat of your tapas without desire. From all that you have learned from my holy lecture to you, remain in perfect tranquility with your reliance in the Supreme Spirit.