In this verse, the Bhagavad Gita teaches that cooperation with nature is essential: without acknowledging and caring for the devas – the gods, the multi-living dimensions of nature – life is not possible. In his book Gita Wisdom, Joshua Green describes devas as “empowered beings entrusted with regulating air, light, water and other natural functions.” Through a mutually beneficial relationship with nature, a person will be able to discover the supreme God who is the cosmic reality behind nature, including all beings and things. It is interesting to note that the Sanskrit word bhavayata (may you cherish, may you increase the well-being of), which is found several times in this verse, is actually a causative form of the root word bhu, which means “to be” or “to exist.” So the verse is saying more than that through mutual cooperation, both humans and the devas will prosper; it is saying that their very existence is mutually dependent.
This message is urgently relevant to our times–a time when humanity has become out of balance with the world of nature, the world of the devas. Yoga seeks to regain that balance by striving to live life in harmony with the natural world-the real world. What is reality and where is it? Does it only exist in the sights and sounds we can see and hear with our physical eyes and ears? Can we really communicate with it?
There are other worlds, multi-dimensional realities. These worlds exist in the winds… in the subtle atmosphere. Most humans cannot see the other beings who live in these worlds, but nevertheless they are there – devas, elemental beings, angels, elves and fairies. They are the ones who take care of the living world. They are the guardians of the rivers, oceans, mountains, forests, flowers and all physical forms in the natural world. They are also the guardians of the animals, helping them to live in ways that are sustaining. Pan is one of the many names for the god or deva of the world of nature, including the elemental, animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. He is nature. The prefix pan- means to be everywhere, to exist beyond the confines of three dimensional space and time, with no limitations on form. We acknowledge Pan when we use words like panacea, pandemic and even Pan Am (Pan=everywhere + Am=being; also short for America). Nature exists everywhere. Even though we may not be able to see all of it, that doesn’t mean it is not there; it only means that we have limitations to our perception. There are other ways of seeing besides physical sight. One can perceive through means of feeling–see the world feelingly.
Many humans think that, while we are also animals and part of the natural world, we are a special case and can live above the laws of nature. We exploit the natural world as if we had a right to, without thinking about the happiness or welfare of the earth and her creatures. We enslave animals, destroy and manipulate the plant world, strip mine for minerals, dam waterways and poison the air. We act as if the earth belongs to us. But before we can act that way we have to think that way.
Our thoughts are very powerful. Thoughts can create their own elemental beings that will be set loose to inhabit the atmosphere around the person who is thinking these thoughts. A person who cannot see devas and fairies will also not be able to see their own thoughts manifested as elemental forms in the air around them, but nonetheless they will feel the presence of these subtle forms. These forms will affect how they feel about themselves. They may have days when they feel under the weather, stressed or bored. They may find themselves in a state of anxiety thinking that someone else has caused a problem in their lives, when in fact it was they themselves who set loose a negative thought which swirled around itself and formed into an elemental spirit which is now harassing them.
If we want to live a happy life, we must take care with how we think, speak and act, not just toward other people but also toward nature. We must continuously strive to have good, kind helpful, benevolent thoughts and to express those thoughts in sweet speech and song that honors and enhances. Our physical reality is made of these subtle vibrations solidified. Most people aren’t aware of how powerful their thoughts and words are; they go on day after day living in realities they don’t like and spending their time blaming others for the things in their world they don’t like, when all along they are the ones who have created these things by thinking, speaking and acting selfishly and destructively.
The other inhabitants of our physical, natural world–the other animals, trees, plants rivers, etc.–seem to have more of an understanding of the multi-dimensional complexities of reality. Perhaps that is why most animals would never do the kinds of terrible, hurtful things to others that we humans seem to do without a second thought. Perhaps the other animals realize clearly how thoughts, words and actions impact upon all of creation, seen and unseen.
The health of the many components of the living world that we can all see–the plants, trees, rivers, lakes, animals and all that is–is only possible because of their connection to the nature spirits of the “unseen” worlds. It is with the help of these spirit beings that the natural “seen” world is able to flourish. It is the same with us?without the help of the nature spirits, we will not be able to flourish, and as the passage from the Gita says, ultimately we will not be able to exist unless we can develop a mutually cherishing relationship with nature and nature’s caretakers–the panoramic world.