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Manorama: Knowledge in the Bhagavad Gita

Yoganonymous chatted with Manorama about what it means to be a “knower of the field,” a phrase that appears in Chapter 8 of Bhagavad Gita.

Q: It is mentioned in Chapter 8 of the Bhagavad Gita that one wants to become a knower of the field. Firstly, what is the field in the Bhagavad Gita?
Manorama: The field is a metaphor for the manifested life of body, mind. Chapter 8, verse 1 reminds us that the field is the body and mind, while verses 5 and 6 say that the field also includes the elements, egoism, intellect, the unmanifest, the senses and objects of the senses, desire, hatred, pain and pleasure, mental intelligence, and courage. The field is the world we live in and the way we are all trained to live in ordinary life.

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Who is the knower of the field?
In the context of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is the knower of the field. In the context of yoga overall, the Luminous Self is the knower of the field. Wisdom is another word for knower of the field. And in theBhagavad Gita, Krishna signifies the highest knowledge.

How do you become a knower of the field?
You develop the skill of watching your thoughts rather than following them. To restate it, you have to practice experiencing your Self beyond thought. This is what we do in the Luminous Soul Meditation practice: You practice feeling what you are beyond thought, so you can then feel beingness, which exists underneath thoughts. Regular practice gives you the needed skill and strength. The more you stay with beingness, the more you will understand the field.

It’s like this: When you practice watching your thoughts you learn to see things as they are, not as you wish them to be. You can also acknowledge the cyclic nature of manifested life, i.e., that it has a beginning, middle, and end. And you move into a deeper place of being. The experience of being is not nothing. It is life changing, and divine.

There is becoming a knower of the field, but can you know the knower of the field?
No. The knower of the field is awareness itself. As I mentioned before, you learn the art of being through witness consciousness. Essentially, you have to practice being still beyond thought and letting the beingness meet you. When you practice in this way something happens, you grow immensely. There’s also a kind of surrender into the present moment that happens. There is nothing beyond being the knower of the field. Knower of the field is synonymous with being the seer.

At this stage, you merge into the understanding that the rishis and rishikas (seers) experienced of profound light within you.

How can a student of yoga grow his or her knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita?
Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge the discomfort that comes when we walk through a transition. When you stop doing one thing and open your Bhagavad Gita book it can feel a bit like walking into the unknown. In other words, it is a transition point. Transitions can feel awkward and uncomfortable. It’s important to acknowledge this. So you can ride out the discomfort and grow your practice.

My suggestion is really simple. I’m a big believer in simply sitting with the text and reading it. I also advise students to chant two or three verses at a sitting. I suggest this even if they don’t know Sanskrit yet. That’s because the Sanskrit is so inspiring.

Thanks for your time today and for sharing about the field in the Bhagavad Gita
It’s my pleasure and privilege to share about the tradition of yoga. Thanks for having me here.