In the Bhagavad-Gita great stress is laid by Krishna on the description of his own nature; and naturally so, as all our understanding can only come through him and depends on our recognizing him within us. This can only be brought about by the awakening of our intuition; and as words and sentences are only clothings of thoughts, a language pointing to the development of something beyond thought, may and does contain apparent contradictions, when read and submitted to reasoning. These apparent contradictions cannot be solved except by the development of intuition, and all commentaries on such subjects can only tend to induce a student to do this.
There is in the ninth chapter of the Gita such an apparent contradiction in Slokas four and five, which read:
Fourth Sloka. By me is spread out this whole Universe in my invisible form; all creatures exist in me, I exist not in them.
Fifth Sloka. Creatures exist not in me. Behold my divine Yoga: My Self, the upholder, not in creatures existing, is the substance of creatures.
Thus Sloka fourth says: "All creatures exist in me" — and Sloka fifth flatly contradicts this and says: "Creatures exist not in me."
Now in Sloka sixth we may find a clue — if we seize it. It says: "As the eternal, everywhere-going, great air exists in ether, so all creatures exist in me — thus understand!"
This comparison seems to be the only one which may be taken from the physical plane and explain something. Let us take another and see if it holds good. A brick soaked through with water and then put into a tub containing water, would be such an example; the water is within the brick and the brick is within the water, but there is really no communication between the water and the brick, and only the interstices or empty channels of the brick are filled up with water. The water cannot be said to be the substance of the brick, and the comparison fails.
But if we compare, as Krishna says, ether and air, we find:
First. Air comes next to ether in evolution, it is the vahan or clothing of ether; ether is the noumenon of air, the phenomenon, and the word substance must be taken in the sense Spinoza uses it. Then it explains the words: My Self is the Substance of creatures.
Second. Air being a limited mass, whirling along with our globe in ether-filled space, is therefore in ether, and this explains the words: All creatures exist in me.
Third. Now ether being the noumenon and air the phenomenon, and the phenomenon being unable to exist within the noumenon, thus are explained the words: Creatures exist not in me.
Fourth. What we call air bears this name on account of certain qualities which we detect in it with our senses. These qualities cannot apply to those ether possesses, about which we know nothing, and which must be different from those of ether which is of a different prakritic plane. Therefore the words: I exist not in them (the creatures). Moreover we may pull all of the air out of a closed vessel, while all the ether remains in it, still carrying lightwaves; thus ether does not depend on air and cannot be said to have its existence depending on that of air, or as Krisha says, exist in it.
I think that all the apparent contradictions in the Gita may become cleared up, if we go right at them, when they present themselves to us. First, our intuition must tell us: It is all true. We must not believe it to be true, because someone told us so; but the feeling within our heart must have given us this absolute conviction: It is true. Then only can we try to solve apparent difficulties, and will solve them, although we may not be able to just explain our solutions, as we have them, to others. — M. A. Oppermann